Thursday, January 18, 2007

Baby paraphernalia, round two

Remember how last summer, I wrote about how I love to spread the Gospel of the Bouncy Chair to potential parents or gift-buyers far and wide? I got the chance to do so again yesterday at Ann Taylor. The best part: the mom-to-be's eyes lit up, and she said, "Oh yes! I so want one of those! I think my sister is going to get us one!"

Ah, that feels good, knowing that others will soon come to love the bouncy chair, too. Now that William is nearly nine months old, he no longer uses his bouncy chair. First of all, he's too big for it, and second of all, it would be boring to him at this point. So his basically just acts as a catch-all for all the debris that has no permanent home because they're in regular rotation: his jacket, his coat, the two or three hats he wears the most, the blankets that I throw over his car seat, a random pair of shoes, etc. In fact, you can't even really see the bouncy chair anymore; it's covered in stuff. But it's there, quietly doing its new job, just as you'd expect it to. We'll probably pack it away pretty soon, though.

But it got me thinking. Now that we're past the bouncy chair stage, new things have come to be the Must Have items in our lives. And I've discovered other things that would behoove all new parents to procure. Knowing some people who might find such a list useful, I thought I'd actually write this down. So, without further ado, and in no particular order, I am going to pontificate on such things here. Okay, in no particular order except for the first one.


The No. 1 thing that you will need, once you get beyond the real do-or-die basics like diapers, wipes, receiving blanketse, and onesies: A Philips head screwdriver. You heard it here first, folks. Everything in Baby Land seems to require this tool. I'm constantly prying off the back of the nursery monitor receivers to put in fresh AAA batteries. The back of the music box that came with the Pack n Play also has to be unscrewed. The swing needs batteries. The classical music box on the exersaucer. And even the sainted bouncy chair has a battery chamber that requires a screwdriver to get into.

Which is a nice segue to the reason fo the screwdriver: the batteries. Now, at one point, I had half thought I'd be one of those earnest parents who mostly eschewed battery-powered things in favor of good old-fashioned learning toys like blocks. Well, I still love blocks, and we do have a lot of them, but so many toys and baby items, including some downright cool ones, run on batteries these days that it's hard to avoid them. And in some cases (see bouncy chair), you probably wouldn't want to. So while William seriously digs playing with his whisk, his Mardi Gras plastic cup (Orpheus 2005, just in case you were curious), his blocks, and his strainer, he also happens to really love some of his toys that run on batteries. Right now, that includes his piano and his piggy bank. I think his brain will be just fine. Anyway, stock up on AA, AAA, C and D batteries. And get a lot, or spring for a charger and a couple sets in each size. Those monitors alone eat batteries.

What else? Well, it couldn't hurt to pick up a Fisher Price crib aquarium. William sort of ignored his for the first few months, but once he realized what it did, he developed a definite affinity for it. He can turn it off and on by himself, so it is ready-made entertainment--plus when we turn it on for him, it serves as a cue that it's time to sleep now.

The swing and the Baby Bjorn (spring for the kind with the lumbar support if you're over 30) were great when William was little (read: when he weighed less). He's spent a lot more time in his exersaucer (the Baby Einstein version) since he basically outgrew those. You all know that we call the exersaucer his "office," since that's where he gets down to the serious business of playing and making calls on his toy cell phone. It takes up a fair amount of floorspace, and yes it's a big old mess of brightly colored plastic, but it is worth it. Trust me. We throw his whisk, his strainer, a couple of rattles, and some other toys on there, and he's happy as a clam most of the time, throwing the extra toys off onto the floor and listening to them clatter around.

We love the Nuby sippy cups with the soft silicone spout, although I bought a new kind with handles by Gerber the other day, so we're going to experiment. I use a random odd assortment of plastic bowls and spoons to feed him with, so nothing earth-shattering to recommend there. But we didn't start using those until William was about five months old anyway, so those need not be on the new parents' radar, I'd think. Hmmm. What else....

Oh yes! They're not cheap, but oh, I love them. Robeez. Darling little soft leather shoes that actually stay on the baby's feet. Well, most of the time. William is devious: he manages to pull his off somehow half the time, and the other half the time, he just chews on his foot, Robeez and all. We have a royal blue choo choo train pair that he's about to outgrow, and someone gave us a gift of the navy blue baseball kind that we're about to pull out. I'm trolling for some new ones for the spring, too, but I can't make up my mind which ones to get. We did have a darling pair of brown Robeez knock-offs from Target, but William cough ate a big hole in one of them, so they've been officially retired. But for new babies, they're just decorative, not necessary. But heck, it's fun to dress up the new baby sometimes. You gotta live a little to make up for the middle-of-the-night feedings, right?

The lady in Ann Taylor asked me about diaper bags, and I realized that I never did find the Perfect Diaper Bag. We've used several, with varying degrees of success. I like the little Day Tripper bag by Lands End because it fits most of what you need for short jaunts during the day. Plus, it has a solid padded strap, and it's a black microfiber fabric, so it doesn't scream "Baby!Baby!Lookattheducksgeesesheepbearspuppieseeeeee!" I bought a larger version of it, but I hate it. It's huge and unwieldy. I carried it on the plane to Natchez last summer, and as I walked down the aisle, I accidentally whacked a few people in the face. I prefer not to carry a diaper bag that could double as a weapon. Your mileage may vary, of course. The current diaper bag in use is a black quilted Amy Coe number from Target that has these two little straps that allow the bag to hang from the stroller handles. In fact, that's why I bought it; I use it when I know I'm going to be using the Maclaren stroller, since that stroller's basket is so small. But you could probably just use a plain old backpack, and do just fine. Whatever works for you. Just make sure you carry plenty of wipes and a couple of gallon ziploc bags.

Diaper Champ versus Diaper Genie? This is only a useful debate if you're going the disposable diaper route. We have a Diaper Champ. It rules. No special name-brand read: expensive) bags required: just use regular old kitchen garbage bags.

And since we're about to make the transition to a new car seat, I'll touch on that, too. You've all probably read about the controversy over a recent Consumer Reports article on infant car seats. Another article came out this week, too, I believe, correcting some erroneous info in the first one. We have been very pleased with our Graco Snugride bucket seat, which always gets top safety ratings and isn't expensive. I'd totally recommend that brand to anyone. Plus, it's so handy to be able to carry the baby around in the bucket, stick the bucket in the stroller, and not have to constantly undo and redo car seat straps. I'll be sort of sad to banish it to the garage in the next few weeks, even though William has nearly reached the height and weight limits. His new Britax Marathon convertible seat arrived with the FedEx guy yesterday. Man, that seat is enormous. But it will be William's seat for the next few years, so we wanted a sturdy, comfortable one. Hopefully, I can fit it into my car. It only has to be rear-facing for three more months. I"ll have to give a review of it later.

So. Those are my off-the-cuff remarks. I know that some of y'all out there have opinions, too, and here's the place to post them. Add a comment and add your two cents. Stuff you love, stuff you hate, stuff you wished you'd known when you became a parent, or stuff you wish you had gotten. Or stuff you never used and think is a waste of money. (For example, we never bothered with a wipes warmer. I think it was Phuong who pointed out that the baby ought to just go ahead and get used to room-temperature wipes since who carries a wipes warmer out of the house with them?)

Opinions? I had to delete a spam comment below that was a "make money fast" come-on, but I would love to have real comments from y'all...

P.S. My screwdriver came from the toolbox full of tools that I've collected over the past 15 years or so, courtesy of my dad. The screwdriver has come in handy many, many times!


Anonymous said...

I'm glad he's enjoying the crib aquarium now. How exciting to be able to turn it on and off by himself! The other items I can't really comment on since they were not around during my tenure as a baby wrangler. I do remember that pots and pans and a spoon to beat on them were always a hit. Also,Tommy Tippee was the cup to have. Love, Mama Dee

Anonymous said...

P.S. We did have a swing that was a lifesaver when we were sitting down to dinner and David or Mark would suddenly "tune up". It would quickly calm them down so we could eat in peace.
Love, Mama Dee

Anonymous said...

I just sent this to my pregnant youngest sister and to my mom - thanks!


Anonymous said...

Apparently I'm about to be an aunt - Chris' middle brother and his wife are expecting - so this will be incredibly handy! And it will keep me from calling my mommy friends from Target and saying "honestly, what do these people REALLY need to have to make their lives easier because I'm pretty clueless here."


Anonymous said...

I have to second most of your recommendations - particulary the rechargeable batteries. Love, love, love our Graco snugride carseat (with travel system stroller), swing (personally recommend a cradle swing that moves in both directions), Diaper Champ (but be forwarned it does not keep out the odor as well for toddler diapers - still much easier and less expensive to use than the Diaper Genie), Baby Bjorn (pay the extra $$ for not only the extra lumbar support but ease of getting baby in out and out by yourself) and the exersaucer.

My addition (and I know you used yours a lot too Jennifer) is the Bumbo seat. I honestly do not know how I lived without it with Jake! Great place to put your baby once they have support of their head. Gives them a new perspective on the world, thus keeping them entertained, easy to put them in because it does not have straps to buckle. Later on you can use it to both bathe and feed your baby in. Also a great prop to photograph baby in cute outfits before they can sit on their own. Does not take up a lot of space and is quite portable. I used mine from 8 weeks until Jadyn started to crawl.

That's my 2 cents,


Anonymous said...

Addendum – I just noticed all my misspellings! Yikes, that would be the mommy brain at work. Please forgive me. At any rate, I also wanted to add that while a pack-and-play (playpen) can be a great bedside sleeper and travel crib, I personally did not use all the bells and whistles with my 2 children and recommend a scaled down version instead of those with diaper changing stations etc.


Jennifer Larson said...

Egads! I can't believe I forgot to list the Bumbo seat! Definitely a 4 star product here. We've even used it as a makeshift high chair when we're traveling, since it's small and we can just throw it in the car. William spent a lot of time in his, and I can't imagine what we'd have done without it.

Anonymous said...

Mama Dee, et al.,
Was Tommy Tippee the orange cup with the big eyes and the white feet? That's the one I remember from my earlier years.

Anonymous said...

Re Tommy Tippee - I can't remember exactly what it looked like - think maybe there was a bear on it - and maybe it was yellow? The great thing was the weighted bottom so it never tipped over completely. Maybe Eleanor's version was a variation of the original. Does anyone remember?