Thursday, April 12, 2007

Opinions from Mamas

Experience tells me that women love to share their opinions. Okay, by and large, humans love to share their opinions. And human mamas, I think, have a lot of opinions.

So, mamas*, here is your chance to share your opinions. Steve and I need to register for baby gifts very, very soon, as shower invitations are going out within days (if they haven't already been mailed). Guests will be surprised to look up our Babies R Us registry and see that it doesn't exist :)

We're planning to go this weekend, but the fact is, we have no idea where to begin. So I want to know what you think. What baby item could you not live without? What did you learn the hard way was a total waste of money? What did you really think of your Boppy pillow/stroller/nursing stool/car seat/fill-in-the-blank? As you weigh in, a few things to keep in mind:

  • Steve and I want desperately to keep things SIMPLE. We don't want every square inch of our living room to be filled with plastic containers to stick a baby in/on/under. We don't want three thousand gadgets and gizmos with flashing lights and tinny music (is it any wonder so many kids have ADD these days?). We want to spend money (ours, and other people's) wisely, and we want to encourage simplicity and creativity in our kids.
  • We are both avid readers and are all about building a library for our kids. We would much rather have a bazillion books than a bazillion toys. So I am definitely open to your book recommendations, especially because I started an registry!
  • I am planning to breastfeed.
  • I am strongly considering cloth diapering and would love to hear any recommendations on that front.
  • I am 95% sure we're going to skip the infant car seat/travel system and start right off with a convertible car seat. If you have passionate opinions on why this is a HUGE mistake, I'll certainly listen, but I'm pretty convinced otherwise, for several reasons (see this article for more thoughts on this if you're curious).
  • I'm especially interested in your input on slings and baby carriers. I have heard nothing but great things about the Ergo, but am also interested in a sling type carrier.
  • Changing tables? Most people say they are a waste of money, that you should just get a pad and use the top of the dresser. I would wholeheartedly agree, except that the dresser in the nursery will be built into the wall, so that's not possible.
  • Cribs? Consumer Reports says not to buy used, mostly for safety issues. What do real mamas think about that advice?

Please weigh in with a comment or two or ten below!

*Of course you dads are more than welcome to contribute your thoughts...I just figured there are a whole lot more moms who read my blog :)


Kat Coble said...

Have you been following the similar conversation over at Jonathan Hickman's? He's getting a lot of feedback there directed for for Papa, so you might want to do your dearest a favour and see what they've got brewing.

I think right now the #1 suggestion is an androgynous diaper bag.

Amy said...

yep, I saw he had posted it...I figured my readership is vastly different so I'd get some additional opinions. thanks for reminding me though!

TKB said...

I highly recommend the baby carrier carseat- yes eventually you will have to buy one of the convertible kind- but they will both get good use. If you have another child someday the older one uses the convertible cs and the baby uses the infant one.
Also- infant car seat carriers are proven more safe- you will understand why when you have the baby in it and installed. Not to mention- it is such a headache to not have one- especially when they transition out of it around 7 months or so. You can take it anywhere- in a restaurant- on a shopping cart- to a movie to the park and the baby can sleep and play in it. It is an absolute life saver- something I couldn't live with out.
Hope this helps.
And I bought a used one- a really nice used one. THey also tell you not to do that- but....

TKB said...

I just read the article- don't let that freak you out- take it from experience. You can live with out it- maybe with number one- but when you are chasing after number 2 or three while holding tiny fragile baby- you will be glad you have a safe haven for your little one where she is buckled in- you don't realize how often you need a free hand in public places. But if you aren't planning on going anywhere- then you don't need one.

Amy said...

Beth--where are you getting the info that the infant seats are actually safer than the convertible ones?

A friend of mine has a four-month-old who's already 20 lbs...which is the size limit for a lot of infant seats, I much for a lot of use out of it.

I totally understand the need for a free hand--that's why I'd use slings/an Ergo carrier--seems more comfortable than those heavy, awkward bucket carriers anyway. I've carried those around before--not a fan!

Something to think about though--I'm not at all discounting your input. Thanks for taking the time to respond!!

Amy said...

Hmm...I did some googling and just read something about the whole having two bases for two separate cars thing. How much of a pain will it be to transfer a car seat between my car and Steve's? Whereas with an infant seat, for a while we could just have a base in each car...

Anonymous said...

I will try to jump from where other people left off.

I would definitely agree with the infant carseat for your baby. If you ended up just buying the convertible one, you would have to stuff it with blankets to keep the baby from sliding around in it- it is much wider than an infant seat. I have a travel system with the two bases and stroller included and I LOVE it. It makes life much, much easier. Even if you don't get the travel system, a second base is only about twenty dollars.

I am going to be using a sling with this baby (I didn't with David), but I know that with having two, I will need both hands more often. When you just have one it isn't a big deal. But I am sure it will still be nice to have your hands free and it will be helpful for things like shopping and going to church while the baby is still an infant.

I am also thinking about cloth diapering this time and I am meeting with a lady in May. I will let you know what comes of that meeting. I know that it will be more work, but it will save so much money and waste. Do people have any idea how much of the garbage in landfills is actually diapers?! It is insane.

As for changing tables, in David's room we have a dresser with a changing pad on top and that works perfectly. In the baby's room (I wanted to have separate changing places so that they wouldn't wake each other up) we are going to put the changing pad on top of an old desk with a set off plastic drawers under for storage. So a changing table is not a necessity. You can always go and buy some piece of second-hand furniture that is the right height and just put a changing pad on it.

And cribs, I would by a new one. I have heard of MANY children getting their heads stuck in the older cribs. I just wouldn't chance it. But don't feel like you need to buy an expensive crib. Just get one that seems sturdy and one that doesn't have places where those little fingers can be pinched (a lot DO, so check for that!). Since I know you are planning on having more kids, I wouldn't recommend buying a crib that turns into a toddler bed. Since our kids are going to be only 21 months apart, neither one will get the use the toddler bed, so we ended up having to get David his own big boy bed, so that the baby can have his crib.

The ONE "gadget" that I would highly recommend would be a swing. I found it to be SO useful, not only to calm the baby/child, but for times when I could not possibly hold him (i.e. cooking dinner or cleaning with products that I didn't want near him). It creates a safe place and an enjoyable one for the baby.

Oh, and as for breastfeeding, get a GOOD PUMP! Medela Pump in Style if BY FAR the BEST. If you are planning to pump exclusively, you will need a good (hospital grade) pump, and this is definitely the best. It is expensive, but definitely worth the money since you will be using it for years (on your other children, as well).

Ok.. this was REALLY long. Email me if you have an questions :)

Anonymous said...

I am an early childhood teacher and so books make me think. Books with rhythm are great to read young infants. Books such as Dr. Seuss. Also I have read a TON of stuff on how good it is to read your young child poems everyday so they are picking up on the rhythm of language. Good luck!

TKB said...

Hi Amy-
I can't remember where I heard it- you can probably find it in baby books or on the internet. I have tried just about every gadget out there- and I read books gallore- and have a thing about safety. I might have learned that at the carseat installment clinic we did- when we found out we were doing a terrible job installing our seat. It is a big deal. You would think any carseat would fit in your car- but some install better than others and we had a really tough time installing the rear facing convertible car seat- it wasn't very secure. I prefer it when you can turn them around because you can get a tighter fit. Definately have someone show you how to correctly install the seat. There you be no movement when you wiggle it around. I highly recommed the gadget "mighty tight" it saves a lot of time in getting the belt tight enough. I can't tell you how many times I was sweating and getting a work out just trying to install a silly carseat. THat is why the two base thing comes in handy. Also- the slings don't work as great as you think- and they hurt your back as well, and some babies don't like them for quite a while- just fyi- I had the sling, and the bjiourn and the kind that fits your body.
Anyways-- learning by trial and error will be the best for a first time mom- you'll figure out what you like and what you don't like really quickly.
I also recommend a cheap pack n play- I thought I would use it when she was tiny- but I used it so much more when she was older for overnight trips and naps. All the bells and whistles are just a headache to put together- it the basic one that is a snap to put up and tear down. My 150$ graco one broke within a year. And a use an old one from the 90's that is much simpler.

Anonymous said...

Amy, we tackled your question over at Home Ec 101.

Anonymous said...

My sister used these for her brood. It's ingenius. When they're old enough to be drinking from bottles and slightly more self-sufficient than newborns, it's THE BEST!

Anonymous said...

Okay, I realized the link didn't work all that well. Try this...

Hope that's better. :)

Suburban Turmoil said...

DEFINITELY get a removable infant seat. You do NOT want to take a sleeping baby out of the seat every time you get out of the car- trust me. And my 4-week-old actually sleeps in his at night! Nothing else will do. Honestly, I can't imagine how much more difficult both babies would've been if I didn't have a removable infant seat.

I LOVE my Graco SnugRide with EPS car seat. It was one of two to pass the Consumer Reports test and it's so comfortable, my baby actually SLEEPS in it at night- Nothing else will do! Also, the base is wide, so no problems with it overturning in the car (unlike our last infant seat).

Since you're breastfeeding, I highly recommend an electric pump- They're expensive, but so freaking worth the money. In the early days, you pump for some relief. In the later days, you can pump bottles for babysitters and when you're out. We rented the first time, but ended up spending more than we would've if we'd bought an electric pump, so this time, I invested $200 in a really good one (Medela Pump in Style- I actually like it better than my hospital grade one that I rented). It was my one extravagance. Also, Soothies (available at any drugstore) really helped more than anything else with the pain of breastfeeding the first few days. It will probably hurt for the first two weeks- after that, you shouldn't be in pain anymore and if you are, something's probably wrong with the latch.

Don't buy a lot of things like slings/swings/bouncers until after the baby is born. My first didn't like her swing and was fairly independent so she didn't need a sling, but she practically lived in her Baby Bjorn bouncer. A simple wire bouncer is best- you don't need an expensive one with all the bells and whistles. My second baby is much clingier, so I ordered a Mayan sling right away. You'll learn your baby's personality pretty quickly and can judge then what your baby needs without wasting lots of money.

I registered for and received a Baby Einstein play mat and my infant loved it from the time i put him in it at a few days old. It's expensive, but if you can get it as a gift, it's well worth the money- one of the few things a small baby can actually "play" with.

My first baby LOVED Mr. Brown Can Moo (the board book edition) from a VERY young age.

Good luck!!

Anonymous said...

Hi, found you through NiT.

We did the infant carseat with the first child, but not with our second one. We combined the money we would have spent on two seats and bought the Britax convertible. It's just as safe (if not safer), just as comfy, and a better value in the long run. If you use a sling or baby carrier as I did, you won't miss the infant seat at all.

Best wishes!

Unknown said...

Hi! Here from NiT. I wrote a post on this topic for a friend last year. You may want to take a look!

Christina said...

Hi Amy, I've read your blog off and on for awhile now, but never commented before. Sorry! I guess you are right. Moms have lots of opinions they want to share! Here's my two cents worth.

I applaud you for your view on simplicity. Don't worry about toys for awhile. The first few months your baby won't need them anyway.

Let people know that you want books. I had a book shower for my first. It was great! Board books are the best for babies, but it was nice to recieve hardback copies of classics that my son (now 10!) will have to own.

For breastfeeding I highly recommend a nursing pillow. They are very easy to make if you sew. I just put one together for my sister for about $8 with fabric much nicer than you can buy. But Boppys work great too. I'm short so I liked the homemade one better because I could stuff it a little better. With the Boppy I had to use an extra pillow for the first month when my daughter was small.

I used disposable and had a infant carrier. I had small babies (6 lb 8 oz ave.) and the carriers were great. If you think you might have a big baby then I can see why you would want to go straight to a convertable seat. But I used the carrier with my youngest for over a year because she wasn't 20 lbs until 16 months!

For my last baby my husband bought me a Baby Bjorn active style. It was expensive, but oh, so worth it. I wish I had owned one for my other two. I carried Emily in that thing for 6 hours one day helping with VBS. She just slept ( 6 weeks old) and my back was not hurting at all! They are amazing. If you have any issues with your back, I would highly recommend it.

We borrowed a changing table for the first two and are using a pad on a cute little desk for the third. If you are buying a pack and play many of them have changing stations and we used that with Emily also.

We did buy our crib used. It was a high end crib that we have used for all three. You can measure the slats to make sure it's safe. If you can find one that has been used at grandmas house it will be practicaly brand new!

On buying used, things like swings, bouncy seats, exersausers, and jumpers have a relatively short life and therefore are at secondhand shops, garage sales etc all the time for cheap. Babies have their own preferences, some love these things others do not. I've always found it helpful to wait a bit, borrow what you can, buy used if I can, then turn around and sell when I'm done (or give to a friend).

I hope you have a great shower, and congratulations!

Anonymous said...

I'm with you about being simple, but since I've not yet acutally USED my baby items yet that are stacked in the nursery, there's not much I can say about them!

I will try to find out about cloth diapers for you because a girl at my church did tons of research and just ordered a bunch and loves them. They have inserts and are leak proof and can grow with the baby. I'd like to get some too, once I get over the initial hump of figuring out how to take care of newborn twins . . .

I'm going with the twin version of the snap n' go stroller frame. Here's the link for the single version:

I also was hesitant to do the infant carrier/car seat thing, but among twin moms, every single one recommended it. But I didn't want to spend a huge about of money, so I'm going with buying the infant carriers and a frame for the stroller. It gets great reviews from people who've used it. Then, when they grow out of that, I'll get a nicer double stroller. That may be something you can do too. It might be an option if the infant carrier you want doesn't match the stroller you ultimately want to get.

I've heard great things about Baby Bjorn carriers too.

Also, I'm borrowing lots of things like bouncers, exersaucers, etc. from people from church. That way we don't have to buy them or store them afterwards, because in reality, they don't use them long.

Anonymous said...

Oh, and hosptials usually rent out breast pumps. I don't know if it's necessary to buy one of those $300 ones if you're planning on breast feeding exclusively. My hospital rents them for $45 a month. I don't plan on using it unless an emergency. Otherwise, I have a manual for if I want to go out or something. Avent has a good manual.

Oh, a good book with product recommendations is "Baby Bargains" by Denise and Alan Field.

ErinOrtlund said...

We do have an infant carseat, but most of the time, I take the baby out of it and stick him in the sling. Sometimes we will take it out of the base, but really, I prefer the sling.

Are you going to be working? If not, I see no reason to spend a lot on a breastpump. I just have an Avent Isis manual pump--works fine for expressing the odd bottle here or there.

You really don't need much, and so many purchases can be put off until after the baby is here and you have a better idea what you need. Cloth diapers are great! I have heard it recommended to start out with disposables in the initial weeks though--because even though cloth is not much work, it can feel like it if you start with them as you are healing, trying to establish breastfeeding, and operating on little sleep.

Anonymous said...

Hi! Congrats on your baby. I'm a friend of Mel D.'s, and she encouraged me to stop on by and share all my opinions. =)

I'm all about simplicity. (Check my blog title out if you need proof. ;o) Babies don't need as much stuff as people think, so you're off to a good start with your list of requirements.

I actually respectfully disagree with most of the commenters on the car seat issue. Stick to your guns and go with a convertible. That article (which I have read and recommended many times) is spot on--car seats are for cars. I find that convertibles are much easier to install safely. We get more use out of our convertible seats. Consider a Britax Marathon or Sunshine Radian (cheaper--great deal), both of which are safe, sturdy, and last from 5 - 65 lbs. I have used both.

Many have mentioned breast pumps. If you're going to be staying home, I would say don't bother with an expensive, fancy electric one. I find the simple, cheap hand pumps to be more effective, more comfortable, and not at all inconvenient. They're actually more discreet, as they make no strange pumping noises. I know many moms who work and actually prefer hand pumps for their comfort and ability to go anywhere discreetly. I use the Medela Harmony. I have also used and loved the Avent Isis. (I no longer recommend their bottles, however, as they use an unsafe plastic.)

If you need a more heavy duty pump, consider the Ameda Purely Yours. It has all the features (more, actually) of the Medela Pump In Styles, but is far cheaper and well-reviewed.

I have been cloth diapering for 4.5 years and through two children now. (As I type, I have a full load of diapers hanging on the line in the back yard.) I strongly recommend it, but I would overwhelm you with the book-length comment I could write about it. Please feel free to email me (serinatoman at NOSPAMyahoo dot com) and ask as many questions as you want. Alternatively, check out great sites like and's Diapering Forum.

We don't generally allow any toys with batteries. Our families know this now and respect it in their gift choices. It's easier to get folks used to your choices now than to figure out how to take noisy gifts away from your kids once they've opened it and decided they love it.

For books, I recommend reading _Honey For a Child's Heart_ by Gladys Hunt. She's a wonderful Christian author who encourages beautiful language and pictures in children's literature. Half of the book is a recommended reading list for children birth through teens--I still refer to this when choosing books for my kids. Also, check out folks' wishlists for inspiration. You can check out my kids' wishlist by visiting my blog and clicking on the "links" tab at the top.

On slings: I love and highly recommend the Ergo. You'll never regret its purchase. It's especially perfect from the 5 month and over crowd. I can still wear my two-year-old in it. Check out for lots of great sling articles and helpful forums. If you're going to purchase one other sling to start with, consider the Moby Wrap. (Google for it.) It's perfect for newborns and up, easy to use, and soooo comfortable.

On changing tables: don't buy one. I use the floor most of the time. If that isn't appealing to you, consider putting an extra bed in the nursery for changes (and nights when you're wanting to stay close to a sick baby). If the baby will be sleeping in your room (like mine did), then use your bed for changes. Just get a couple of nice, big, portable changing pads (you can make one out of old felted wool sweaters, or buy one from any baby store) and keep one in the living area and one in the baby's room.

Whew. Hope that was helpful. Sounds like your instincts are already great--trust them, don't over buy, and enjoy your baby. Beyond diapers, a sling, clothes, and breasts, baby's don't really need much.