Tuesday, May 3, 2016

10 Must Have Baby Gear Items

Pinterest has been an interesting place to find info on preparing for parenthood all over again.  The lists that I have seen for new parent 'must haves' have been interesting to say the least.  When I read some of these lists I think that they must have been made by parents with no financial limitations and not necessarily reasonable for many families.  Having a child is obviously an expense, but it doesn't have to break the bank.  Some of the things that you need can be purchased used, or even borrowed for a time.  Others may be best purchased new.

In preparation of Baby #2 I have been trying to figure out what I need ...and of course...what I don't.  We live in a small house and kept some of Son #1's baby gear, but some had to go due to lack of storage space.

Besides being a little 'greener' I like to think that I've turned into a bit more of a minimalist since having our 1st child.  My must-have list is a little more basic than others I've seen. 

Here's what I've placed on my must have list this time around:

1. Crib/Bassinet/Co-Sleeper - Babies need somewhere to sleep and while I don't think that all three of these options are necessary, having one of these sleeping contraptions is going to be necessary for most new parents.  We have been super lucky and had both a crib and a Cosleeper gifted to us from friends who no longer needed theirs.  

If you are buying a used crib or lucky enough to be gifted one, it is a good idea to check that it hasn't been recalled due to safety concerns.

2. Playpen - While play pens aren't necessarily a must-have for every parent, I do recall finding ours VERY helpful.  Having somewhere for baby to nap/sleep when travelling to visit friends or family was invaluable.  It was also nice to have a safe place to set baby down while I ran to the washroom for a minute, had a quick shower, or even while I attempted to cook a meal.  We kept a playpen in the living room which was just close enough for me to pop my head in every few minutes and assure him I was still there but kept him out of harms way while I tended to whatever needed to be done....like go for a pee without a child strapped to me for a change. Luckily, this is one of the items that we stored from son #1, but had we not kept ours we would have looked for a used one at yard sales, consignment stores, or websites where individuals sell their used items.

3. Diapers - Whether choosing to use disposables or cloth, diapers are pretty much a must have and a necessary expense.  With Son#1 I used disposables to save my sanity. With Baby #2 we're going cloth.  Diapers are expensive, but using cloth can save you money, over time.  And if using cloth you can always purchase them used which can an additional savings. In addition to being a huge money saver, it's also a greener alternative to adding thousands of diapers to a landfill. 

4. Onesies/Sleepers - Clothes are a necessity.  But designer cloths are not.  In my opinion, a few onesies and sleepers are all that is really needed for the first few months.  As I sort through our baby cloths stash I realized that was all we really dressed Son#1 in for the first year. He was comfortable and it was easier for me than trying to wrestle him into outfits.  We didn't win any fashion shows...but we were comfortable and saved a lot of money by keeping things simple.  Again, clothing is one of those items that can be purchased used, or borrowed from someone saving their stash for their next child.

5. Baby Blanket and Swaddle Blankets - I don't think you need a tonne of either of these.  A couple baby blankets and a handful of receiving blankets is all that's needed.  Blankets are nice to keep them toasty in their car seats or stroller when out on a cool day.  And receiving blankets are useful to swaddle baby for comfort and also as a spit up guard for parents.  Feeling a little self conscious breast feeding in public? I used a receiving blanket when I wanted a little privacy or to block out distractions while breastfeeding.  And one of these over the shoulder while carrying or burping baby saved us a lot of laundry and wardrobe changes.

6. Car Seat - Having a car seat is important.  Safety is important - especially for these precious little ones. I would usually suggest purchasing this item new to ensure that it is in working condition and not damaged in an accident.  However, if you know someone (someone you trust) with a used car seat that is less than 5 years old and not on the recall list, you may want to consider borrowing this item. We were gifted a used carseat from a friend but learned that it was on the recall list when we looked it up. The car seat ended up being one of the only items we purchased new. I shopped for sales and then ended up redeeming points on our credit card which saved us nearly half the cost.

7. Stroller/Baby Carrier - Some parents say that strollers were useless to them and others have said that they didn't use their baby carriers (I.e. Bjorn, Beco Baby, Ergo, Mai tai, etc.). I found both extremely useful and they were both on my must keep list from Son#1's baby gear.  Some babies are small and light, others not so small and not so light. Mine was a heavy weight and I fully expect that Baby #2 will be a future football player or something of the like.  My arms and back got (very) sore from holding him so much. It was nice to have options to lighten the load. A stroller was great for going for long walks. It got us both out of the house for some fresh air and exercise.  If I didn't already have these items (which were used when I bought them), I would buy them used again.  No need to spend big dollars or top of the line, as long as they work.

8. Rocking Chair - I debated adding this to my must have list because I didn't have one for Son#1 and made it through alive.  But then I thought back and I realized that had we owned a rocking chair, I would have felt a little more alive than I did at the time. Son had sleep issues and colic.  Every evening we put him to bed and every time he woke in the night we rocked an 10.5lb baby to sleep (and that was what he weighed at birth - he only got heavier with time...).  My back was nearly broken and my arms felt like they were filled with cement, aching horribly.  I loved spending that time with Son, but having a rocking chair likely would have made it a LOT less painful and much more enjoyable.  For me, a rocking chair rates pretty high on my must have list.  Used, borrowed, whatever. It doesn't have to break the bank as long as it works.

9. Baby Monitor - While not absolutely necessary, it certainly offers peace of mind to parents.  I figure that as a parent I am nervous enough about the safety of my child. At the very least, a monitor offers peace of mind that baby is okay in their crib without the need to be checking on them quite as often.  It doesn't replace the need for us to check on them altogether, but can at least alert us to their needs a little more quickly.

10. Diaper Bag - At some point every parent leaves the house with their baby.  And when this happens, it's important to be prepared for the expected. Baby will poop, pee, spit up, and need to be changed for one or all three of these occurrences. There's nothing quite as unpleasant as being caught in one of these situations without the supplies you need to make baby and you cleaner and more comfortable.  

What I think the misconception is though, is that diaper bags have to be some sort of specialized state of the art bag.  Not so.  Use a back pack or a tote bag you already own. It will work just as well as long as you can fit a few diapers and a change of clothes in it.

Needs vs. Wants
With every purchase I make (whether it be baby related or not) I try to make the differentiation between needs and wants.  If it's something we need it goes on the list, if it's something we want, it doesn't always make it on the list. But what I've indicated as a baby 'must have' may not be for another parent.  And obviously what I list as a want may be a need for another.

Have I missed something?  
What would you add to your must-have baby gear list?

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