Friday, January 12, 2018

Baby Registry Essentials, Tips, and Tricks

I present to you my LABOR (get it) of LOVE. And it is a LONG one. I’ve been working on this for weeks now because I remember feeling so overwhelmed when it was registry creation time for our first baby. All of these products are ones we’ve known and loved and used twice through and would 100% recommend. I did not include nursery furniture, though I can absolutely help with this if anybody has questions, but typically these pieces are purchased outside of the registry. Speaking from experience, you get PLENTY of clothes and blankets (these tend to be VERY popular gifts, either during the shower itself or after the arrival of your little bundle), so I would hold off on registering for any. Personally, I would only stock up on basic white onesies (either short or long sleeved, depending on the season), some zippered sleepers (more on these later), and a coming home outfit from the hospital, which was always special to me and something I wanted to take time in choosing and purchasing myself. I also want to note that this registry is geared toward breastfeeding, because I was able to do so with both of my babies. I used a Medela pump (Pump in Style Advanced), which was provided by insurance (and should be for all of you as well, so no need to register for one!), and everything recommended below is tailored around that. A quick note here: sometimes you get a few options to choose from when selecting your pump from your insurance company, but I highly recommend Medela because ALL of its corresponding pieces and parts can be found at nearly any store (Walmart, Amazon, Target, etc.) Some of the lesser known brands, while sometimes really well reviewed, don’t have replacement or extra pump parts readily available at your local store. I don’t have experience with formula feeding, so I’m not able to recommend anything in terms of bottles, types of formula, etc. I’m sorry! This guide is the best advice I’ve got, and I sincerely hope that this is helpful to some of you new mamas (and dads!) out there.

Step one: Choose a place (or two) to register. I highly recommend creating an Amazon baby registry for oh-so-many reasons, but first and foremost because their pricing is almost always the best (meaning you’ll get more of what you need at your shower) and their return policy cannot be beat. I had a glitchy monitor that I returned a YEAR later, no questions asked, for a full refund. You’ll also find things that work for you, and things that don’t, along the way, and Amazon is so good at accepting back nearly anything. You get a 10% completion discount (15% completion discount for Amazon Family members, more on that later) and unbeknownst to most, their registries are universal, meaning that you can add items to an Amazon Baby Registry from ANY site if you don’t find what you want on Amazon alone. I’d also recommend choosing one brick-and-mortar store for grandparents or those weirdos out there (just kidding...kind of) who aren’t as comfortable shopping online and want to pick something out in person. You can start your registry as soon as you want, and just keep it visible to you, so you can add things along the way leading up to your shower. As soon as you’re ready for the world to see it, you can make it public and searchable for your guests. 

Step 2: Go shopping! A trick of the trade: I’d also recommend adding items for the toddler years and beyond to the registry (potty seat, childproofing equipment, baby gates, plates, spoons, sippies, booster seats etc.) with a lower “priority setting”, which you can customize on your Amazon registry, because these items then also become eligible for your registry completion discount. You can scoop these up 60 days before your baby’s arrival date and up to 60 days after (I’d use gift cards received to cross some of these items off the list). If anybody needs ANY recommendations here, please do not hesitate to ask. I live in a toddler paradise. If you’re a second time mom and reading through this, I’d also recommend a registry for YOU, because you can create one, keep it visible to only you, then shop from it yourself with the registry completion discount since you’re likely not having a shower the second time around. You can also sneak some things on there for big brother or big sister that will also get discounted. Win-win.

Step 3: Become an Amazon Family member. I’m working on a post on what is worth buying on Amazon, price wise, and spoiler alert: it’s most things baby. If you have Amazon Prime, you can also add on an Amazon Family membership free of charge. Otherwise, you’ll have to sign up for $99 year, which gets you free 2-day shipping, just like Prime, AND 20% off diapers, baby food, and more through subscribe-and-save. We subscribe-and-save to diapers, wipes, baby food pouches, baby wash, and lotion, all arriving on our doorstep at different intervals (most once a month), in addition to toilet paper, paper towels, several cleaning products and cosmetic products. This keeps the bulk out of our shopping carts during weekly grocery runs, the products are typically cheaper, and nothing is more convenient than delivery to your door. If you find that baby is growing quickly and sizing up in diapers, you can change the subscribe-and-save size at any time. If you find that you have plenty of baby wash on hand, you can click a button to skip a month. Eligible baby products are an automatic 20% discount, but if you subscribe and save to 5 products total, per month, the additional products are also marked down 20%. I could talk all day about this, really, but the convenience of this service is absolutely worth it, 100 times over, let alone the 2-day shipping for all of the things in your life that you’ll accidentally forget about but don’t want to leave the house to get with a new baby. 

Step 4: Have baby! You’re about to embark on the most amazing roller coaster that will test you in ways you can’t even imagine, and there’s nothing more incredible in this world than creating a new life. You got this, new parent. Just know that your instincts will almost always be right, everything is a phase, and by the time you Google and try to figure out why baby is crying, not sleeping, spitting up, or whatever the case may be, the phase will be over and you’ll be on to the next. You were MADE to be this baby’s mama (or dad), and there is NOBODY that can take care of them better than you. You are a part of them, always, and they are a part of you. Together, you will navigate these uncharted waters and grow together beyond your wildest expectations. Happy adventures, new parent. You will be great. 

Infant Optics Baby Monitor: We have used 4 monitors. Not because we are crazy people, but because so many are glitchy and several have just stopped working all together. Which brings me to the DXR-8. This is BY FAR the best monitor we’ve owned. You can adjust the view with the arrows on the monitor, both side-to-side and up-and-down (great for when the camera gets accidentally bumped out of place so you don’t have to physically go into the room to adjust it), it has the ability to add up to 4 cameras (for any future babies), has an exchangeable wide-angle lens that allows you to see the whole room for those toddler years when they tend to get up and out of bed, has a temperature indicator to show how warm or cold it is in baby’s room, and has  2-way talk so that you can talk to your kiddo through the monitor (when they are a little bit older) to tell them to get back into bed, or to settle down, or to please, please,  please sleep FOR JUST ONCE IN YOUR LIFE. Sorry. Venting. Moving on.

Baby Bjorn Cradle: This gives me all of the nostalgia of my babies sleeping in this beautiful bassinet. I’m a big proponent of keeping baby in your room for the first 4-6 months of life, mostly because you’ll be feeding all through the night anyway, and it makes life easier to have baby at arm’s reach instead of getting out of bed every time. I also liked having my babies close to me, especially in those early weeks, just to be able to roll over and check on them every so often. This bassinet is really a beautiful piece of furniture with breathable mesh siding, and can be gently rocked to get baby to sleep. You don’t need the pricy Baby Bjorn cradle sheets to accompany this. This set, here, fits just as well and is much cheaper.

Boon Lawn Drying Rack with accessories here and here: Ah, the amount of pump parts you’ll go through. I can still picture my sink overflowing with flanges, bottles, shields, and membranes at the end of every work day. With Oskar, I hand washed everything with this soap, but with August I put most things in the dishwasher. Sorry second child. Both lived, so the choice is yours :) I love this drying rack, both because of look and function, and we still use it for sippy cup parts. 

Itzbeen Pocket Nanny: This little gadget turned into one of my most used baby items, but everybody is different in this department. I mostly (99% of the time) used it for nursing, to time our sessions and to keep track of which side I nursed last on (for anybody new to nursing: you always begin with the side you last nursed on). You can also use this to track how long baby sleeps, how long between diaper changes (which you will need to monitor those first few weeks), or anything else of your choosing with the additional button. Some of my friends just used their phone timers, but I really liked this gadget and kept it in a little basket next to my glider with nipple cream and a big tumbler of water—nursing essentials. 

Mother Love Nipple Cream: Pretty sure childbirth was on the same level as my bleeding nipples in those first few weeks. Don’t let anyone tell you that nursing won’t hurt if you’re doing it right, because I worked with every lactation consultant under the sun and made sure our latch and positioning was spot on every time, and it still brought me to tears. What people DON’T tell you is that if you fight through it (which admittedly is one of the hardest things I’ve done the first time around) it gets SO MUCH BETTER. The pain miraculously disappears the 2 week mark and suddenly, it’s all worth it. I’ll save all of my breastfeeding thoughts for another day (and post), but this Nipple Cream was my favorite and applied much more evenly than Lanolin, which is also good, but sometimes is harder and more difficult to spread. Apply this after EVERY nursing session, allow your nipples to be exposed to air for as much as possible, and also apply breastmilk to any open wounds. This was an absolute must-have product for me. 

Medela Nipple Shields: These will save you from nipple pain those first few weeks and will protect them under bras and clothes. My hospital provided me a set after delivery upon my request, so make sure you ask.

Tucks Medicated Cooling Pads: Let’s talk vaginas. These Tucks pads will bring you so much relief after delivery that nobody should live without them. Including these on my registry checklist because moms need love, too. Sorry not sorry. I’ll share my pad-sickle recipe (is that the right word) another time.

Pumping Bra: There is nothing worse than shoving your boobs into a vacuum 3+ times a day, but these are the things we do for the babies we love. A pumping bra is an absolute must so you can do human things while in the pumping room, like scroll your phone, read a book, adjust your makeup, whatever…all while producing liquid gold for your little cherub.

5oz bottles: If you have a Medela pump, try the Medela bottles FIRST. This way you can pump into and feed from the same bottle instead of pouring milk back and forth from Medela bottles to another brand and creating double the dishes for yourself. This set is the correct size for babies 0-6 months (my experience). If you’re sending baby to daycare, you’ll start with 2-3oz of milk per bottle, every 2-3 hours. 

8oz bottles: Same bottle as above but bigger for when baby starts eating more. These also come with medium-flow nipples, which have a faster flow, but our babies continued to use to slow-flow until nearly a year. 

Spare Pump Parts: If you plan to breastfeed, and will be returning to work, just do yourself this enormous favor and register for a set or two of extra pump parts. There is nothing worse than going home after a long day, only to have to wash and dry the one set of parts you have in order to get them ready for the next day. 

Sleep Bras: The little known facts of breastfeeding, until you’re actually doing it. Your boobs will leak, and they will leak something crazy. You will now need to sleep in a bra. Fun times. Since I despise bras, and assuming you do too, I highly recommend something wireless, soft, cotton, and as comfortable as they can possibly come, like this little bra here. Line your sleep bra with nursing pads, below.

Nursing Pads: Again, your boobs will leak. You will need these to line your bra, both day and night, until your supply starts to stabilize a few months out. Even then, if you get off schedule, expect to spring a leak.

Boppy plus Waterproof Cover plus Regular Covers: I’m sure you all know the Boppy. A staple of breastfeeding that you should take to the hospital with you when you deliver to have the lactation consultant show you exactly how to position both it and baby. I’ve found that in the very beginning, it’s easiest to prop the Boppy higher on my lap by placing a pillow underneath it. Make sure you don’t hunch over when nursing, or your back will start to really bother you. Anyway, you’ll also need waterproof covers and then regular covers. Make sure you first put the waterproof cover and THEN the normal cover on. The more you wash the pillow itself, the quicker it wears down and falls apart, and the waterproof cover is perfect for protecting it from the inevitable spit ups or poops that will occur. Boppies get smelly REALLY fast.

Burp Cloths: These basic Gerber rags got the job done just fine and were used constantly to wipe up messes, dribble, drool, upheaved milk from tummies, etc.

Nursing Cover: For breastfeeding on-the-go. Keep one in your diaper bag because babies get hungry all the time.

Babyganics Wipes: We’ve used these wipes since day 1 and we’ve never had diaper rash. They’re unscented with no alcohol, parabens, sulfates, phthalates, or artificial dyes. I really like the thickness and the strength of the wipe, which we also use for noses, faces, and hands.

Pampers Swaddlers: These have always been our go-to diaper. Small babies pee such a small amount that you won’t be able to tell when they are wet. Swaddlers have a line that turns blue when there is moisture, which will save you useless diaper changes when they don’t really need it. As baby grows (and pees more), it will become more obvious when a diaper change is needed, and you can transition to a cheaper make, like Target brand diapers. After 4+ months, you’ll also need overnight diapers, which are bulkier and retain much more moisture for longer stretches of sleep.

Contoured Changing Pad: This one seems to be everybody’s go-to and is a universal size.

Changing Pad Covers: I like these prints. I’d make sure to have 3-5 changing pad covers on hand.

Changing Pad Liners: These little liners are so handy for teeny tiny babies. It’s so much easier to just toss these liners in the wash than to remove the entire cover, especially when you’ll need to wash them nearly every day during those early poop-splosion days.

Ubbi Diaper Pail: Here ye here ye. If you’ve listened to nothing I’ve said so far, LISTEN NOW. Do NOT register for a diaper pail needing ridiculously expensive and custom sized garbage bag liners. You will go crazy with both the spend and the inconvenience of needing refills so often. This diaper pail contains smell so well because it’s made of STEEL, not plastic (which tends to absorb smell), and takes any garbage bag you want to use. It’s also sleek and neutral, and comes in a variety of colors. It’s so good that we bought two, one next to each changing table in our home. It’s a littler pricier, but the investment pays off.

Milestone Cards: The sweetest little cards you ever did see to document baby’s milestones with a picture.

Closet Size Dividers: These are especially handy for the first year when you tend to receive a lot of clothes as gifts in various sizes. They keep everything organized, neat, and tidy.

Baby Hangers: I really like the velvet because they are non-slip for all of those teeny tiny little outfits.

Zippered Sleepers:  Another subject I’m passionate about, right here. Do you know how many times you’ll be waking to feed and change, new mom/dad? Every hour or two, all through the night. If not more. Repeat after me: do not waste your time with anything that isn’t a zipper. Who wants to be buttoning pajamas at 3am? Not me. Anyway, we really like this brand, and these sleepers are the softest and coziest ever. I’d register for 5 different sleepers. Two newborn sized and three 0-3 months sized.

Miracle Swaddle If you want any resemblance of sleep in those first few weeks and months, this is your new best friend. You’ll later graduate to sleep sacks, and we really love these for summer and these for winter. This miracle swaddle seems a little tricky, but watch a few Youtube videos to get the hang of it. You’ll get it in no time. August slept snug as a bug in this thing.

Owl Sound Machine: This little guy is the best because he creates white noise all night long, and also has a little nightlight. Most sound machines turn off after 10 minutes or so, but whose baby falls asleep in 10 minutes? Not mine.

Pacifiers: Babies are picky about pacifiers, but ours both loved MAM. These are orthodontic, meaning they don’t mess up baby’s pallet for proper alignment of teeth, and also have breathable sides for sensitive skin. I’d register for a few and try them out with baby before buying any more.

Baby Bjorn Bouncer and Wooden Toy: Life saver, right here. This chair went EVERYWHERE with us, and is still used to this day. August sat on counters in this thing while I was cooking so he could remain eye level with me. He sat in the shade outside in this during the spring and summer months. We took this for 4th of July fireworks for our 3.5 year old to sit in without the infant harness that buttons off. This is one of my most-loved baby products and I recommend this to everyone.

Activity Mat: Perfect for baby to learn to swing, bat, grab, and eventually roll. My love of elephants runs deep, so I had to choose this one.

Jumperoo: This is great for ages 6 months +, when babies gain more head control and like to be upright. Everything on the jumperoo makes noise, lights up, or is engaging to play with, and the whole seat pivots 360 degrees. 

Swing: Truly and honestly, I do not think I could have survived without a baby swing. This is what both boys snoozed in during the day and during especially sleepless nights. Make sure you get one that plugs in, like this one. Otherwise, you’ll need to invest in about a million dollars worth of batteries. 

High Chair: We have this one and really like it. It’s neutral and wipes clean (don’t ever get a fabric highchair), and folds away super easily. The tray is also dishwasher safe.

Bucket Carseat and extra base: We have the older version of this carseat and it’s served us really really well. I like what you get for the price point you get it at. If you are a two car family, you’ll want an extra base for the second car. The bucket seats clip in and out of the bases, which are more permanently installed. Our boys transitioned into a convertible car seat, below, around 9 months old.

Stroller: This is the stroller that complements the bucket seat, above. Meaning that you can clip the car seat on top of the stroller until about 6 months or so, when baby can transition to the stroller with harnesses. You can technically register for the complete travel system, which includes the car seat and stroller, for cheaper than they would be individually. However, it may be nice to keep them separate so you're more likely to get both at your shower, since the travel system is a high ticket item. Up to you!

Convertible Carseat: We have this one and cannot say enough good things about it. It’s a little more oversized, so if space is super tight, this one might not be the perfect choice for you. For any of you SUV or minivan parents, look no further. It has two cup holders, one for drinks, one for snacks, harnesses that adjust SUPER easily, and a customized recline for rear-facing babies (they’ll stay rear-facing until 2, at which time you can turn them to face the front if they meet height and weight requirements). If you are a two car household, you’ll want to register for two of these, since they are more permanently installed in your car. 

Baby Bjorn Pack n Play: Lots of schools of thought when it comes to the pack n play, I’ve found. Some parents are into the napper/changing table that clip on top of some pack n plays. For us, we preferred a separate bassinet and a changing table farther away from a sleeping space. Which led us to this Baby Bjorn. It is the LIGHTEST and easiest to fold pack n play out there. It is so simple to travel with, and we’ve taken it everywhere. It folds up in about 30 seconds, and is assembled even quicker. We really love the carrying case that the pack n play fits into (also very easily, I might add), which can be checked as luggage if you’re flying with baby. This one was a homerun choice on our behalf, and I’m confident that you guys will love it too. 

Bathtub: I have no strong opinions here, but this is what we used. We used the sling until the boys outgrew it, then removed it for more independent sitting. 

Burt’s Bees Baby: We’ve used this from the very beginning and purchase through the subscribe and save option. 

Washcloths: Self-explanatory as to why these are needed. We really like the Aden and Anais brand. These washcloths have held up so well after infinite washes and are so soft with cute patterns. I’d get 2 packs of 3, which will serve you just fine.

Lotion: The best we’ve used for our boys’ eczema prone skin. It’s gentle, fragrance free, and keeps their skin soft. 

Temporal and Ear Thermometer: This one is great because it has gauges for both the temple and ear. Temple is a winner for when they’re sleeping and you suspect they’re sick, so they can stay asleep as you swipe their forehead to take their temperature. An ear reading will back up your temporal reading. And finally, you’ll also need a rectal thermometer. Fun!

Brush, Comb, and Nail Clippers: A convenient little set that gives you all of the essentials.

Crib sheets and waterproof mattress protector: No strong opinion here, other than I really like these prints! Make sure you register for 3 crib sheets and 2 waterproof mattress protectors.

Pack n Play sheets: Also no strong opinion here, except I really like this company and the prints it offers. If you enroll in daycare, you’ll need to send in pack n play sheets, since they typically nap babies in them and the sheet is required to be fitted. 

Ergo Carrier: I LOVED this carrier from about 4 months and up. I had big babies, and I carried them until 18 months or so in this. I must say, however, the Ergo isn’t great for the infant stage, and I highly recommend the Solly wrap.


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