Wednesday, March 31

Shopping For Baby? The Honest-To-Goodness Must-Haves (and a Special offer from The Cuddly Bunny!)

Moms-to-be these days are absolutely bombarded with advertisements for baby products, but are all of these must-haves really, well, must-have? With a few friends expecting babies right now (and a couple more who are hoping to be) I thought this would make a valuable topic to explore.

Some baby gear can wait (your baby won't be in the exersaucer or jolly jumper for at least a couple of months) and you can count on receiving some things as gifts after baby is born (receiving blankets, onesies, toys, and gender-specific outfits) so when doing your pre-baby shopping, focus on the items you'll need to have waiting when your little one arrives.

I consulted Marnie Scott, manager of The Cuddly Bunny (both an online business and a small-town store located in Port Perry, Ontario), to see what she considers to be essential pre-baby shopping. Keep reading for her advice, and to find out how you can save 10% on your next Cuddly Bunny purchase!

Marnie's Top Ten (with my thoughts in parentheses, of course. I'm sure my loyal readers have noticed my fondness for these curvy little creatures):

1. Car seat (three-in-ones are an economical choice as they will last the longest, but removeable infant carriers are very convenient, especially if they fit in your stroller. Refer to your seat's directions, but your baby must ride rear-facing for at least the first year. You should install your seat well in advance of your due date, and you might want to consider attenting a carseat clinic to ensure it is installed properly.)

2. Bassinet, crib, or travel cot (I went with a bassinet for the first three months and moved to a standard crib afterwards.)

3. Diapers, wipes, and skin care products (I have to admit that I used disposables, but it's worth stressing that cloth diapers have come a long way and are definitely worth exploring. Have a couple of bags of newborn-sized diapers ready to go, as well as wipes and a gentle all-in-one wash. I also kept zinc oxide cream on hand to use at the first signs of any diaper rash, and while it worked like a charm on my girls, all babies are different and will respond accordingly. You'll have to go with trial and error.)

4. Baby bath tub or bath seat  (Marnie recommends the Daphne Bath Seat, shown at right, as it allows for hands free washing, prevents baby from slipping when they have little head control and is portable. "They", meaning the experts who both educate and scare the heck out of us, advise against bath seats and rings, but the fear is that they will be taken advantage of and used as safety devices which they are not intended to be. I used a small plastic tub inside the big tub for the first few months, then moved to a bath ring when my girls could sit up independently.

5. Layette and linens, including a waterproof change pad (You will want a few sleepers, onesies, hats, and socks, but as I said don't go crazy, as these are popular gift ideas. We aren't supposed to be using bumper pads or puffy quilts anymore, so the required linens are just fitted bassinet/crib sheets, a few blankets, both receiving blanket-style as well as some soft and cuddly ones, some washcloths, and perhaps a hooded towel. If you're planning for a second child, going gender specific might mean completely repurchasing when the next baby comes -- and really, what if that ultrasound wasn't right?? We've all heard those stories!)

6. Sleep sack (I highly recommend swaddling your baby, and The Cuddly Bunny carries a few products including the Kushies Swaddle Blanket - shown at left - which would make an excellent gift for a pre-baby shower or newborn. Swaddling is recommended up to the age of 3 months.)

7. Soft music or a Sleep Sheep for the nursery  (Huh? If you're wondering about the Sleep Sheep, it's a stuffed toy which makes soothing sounds such as mother's heartbeat, crashing waves, etc. Sort of a white-noise machine for the newborn set. With Frannie, we rocked her to the first track of an instrumental lullabyes CD before putting her down drowsy, but awake. Eventually she would hear the first few notes and immediately start to squirm and fuss, knowing what was coming, but then settle knowing that resistance would be futile!)

8. Bottles (more on those later), and nursing necessities (If you are planning to breastfeed, nursing pads will be essential to avoid the oh-so-embarrassing leak marks, and even if you are bottle-bound, your milk will come in nevertheless and a few pads might come in handy. Next, you absolutely must get nipple cream. The Cuddly Bunny carries a lanolin-free product called  Earth Mama Angel Baby Natural Nipple Butter. Lanolin-free is good in case of a wool allergy, or if you're worried about trace pesticide or antibiotic residue which may be found in lanolin. When pregnant for the second time, I was given lanolin-based Lansinoh and it made a night and day difference compared to my first breastfeeding experience -- when I used nothing-- so quite frankly I didn't care what was in it.)

9. Diaper Bag (Let's be honest. Your carryall does not have to be something which is marketed as a "diaper bag". Various backpacks, fashion purses and tote bags will do the trick, but some bags are designed with special features such as side pockets for bottles, waterproof materials, etc. I had originally intended this post to be strictly about economical choices, so again, pick up at $30 bag at Zellers and you'll be fine, but I just had to show you this gorgeous Magz Bagz Mezza Messenger...at $110 it's no steal, but isn't it beautiful? Now, if you plan to have 4 kids, you can average it out to less than $30 per child, which really is a bargain. Click on the link to see other colours and patterns.)

10. Stroller (Ah, the stroller. Mommy and Daddy status symbol of the third millenium. This could be a lengthy post all by itself, but here's the bottom line: shop around and buy what you need.  We have a small umbrella stroller for going in and out of shops, etc., jogging strollers, single and double, for our dirt and gravel roads, and a Snap N Go, which is a simple metal frame on wheels which the infant carrier snaps on to. Research abounds on the various brands and styles of strollers, so check out the features and costs, being realistic about what you actually need.)

For moms-to-be who are overwhelmed about registering and choosing baby items, Marnie says "first-hand experience is the best form of research. Speak with as many new moms as possible." She also advises taking advantage of free services like new parent consultations, offered in stores such as The Cuddly Bunny, and registering at a store "with a knowlegeable sales staff who will explain the products to you and answer any questions you may have." Finally: "Plan ahead. Ensure you have the necessities well in advance of your due date. Being prepared early will relieve stress."

As for the moms I know who are back in babymaking mode after a few years away from it (you know who you are!) I asked Marnie about what has changed in the last few years that these moms need to know about. The highlights:
-no bumper pads, and use sleep sacks or swaddlers instead of crib blankets, to help prevent SIDS
-try organic skin-care products, which "offer a chemical-free alternative. Baby's skin is 5 times thinner than an adult's," she says, "therefore they are much more susceptible to chemicals."
-choose glass or BPA-free bottles if bottle-feeding. With Frannie I favoured the plastic Avent, which were recalled right around the time of Maggie's birth. They do make BPA-free now, but at the time I went with BornFree and was very pleased.
-cloth or chlorine-free disposable diapers are the safest choices

These are updates that your mother and mother-in-law might not be aware of, and it may take several reminders, and perhaps reference to quality literature (such as this blog post, of course!) to make them realize that times have changed, and no, you can't use the bumper pads from your childhood crib, put baby down on her tummy, or use your cousin's hand-me-down bottles.

So, there's the lowdown. Thanks to Marnie for sharing all of her expertise, and also for this great offer for This Mom  Loves readers: use code 032810 and you will receive 10% off your next Cuddly Bunny purchase, either in-store or online (mompreneur marketplace items excluded).

Did we forget anything? Are there any other items that you think parents absolutely must purchase to be ready for baby's birth? Leave a comment and let us know!

14 comments:

Anonymous said...

I do have to say that the BEST thing that I bought for my newborn would be the JJ Cole Bundleme Original Infant cover. I had a December baby so definitely needed something for those cold days and this completely eliminated the need for a snowsuit or a blanket and baby would stay warm. It was comforting knowing that baby was going to sweat or have to worry about blankets covering their face. Absolutely great and would definitely recommend it to any parents who is going into the colder months with a baby in the infant carrier.

Carrie said...

Wow! Now I'm feeling overwhelmed. I better print off your list of things to get. Thanks for all the tips and making us "Moms to be" aware of that store. I will have to check it out. As for all other moms, please do offer your input as well. We'll take all the advice we can get!

Anonymous said...

If you're going to nurse, I recommend a breast pump - makes it easier to sneak away for a few hours (or get a few extra hours sleep). Also, Daddy can have some bonding time and give the milk to baby in a bottle.

Crystal said...

Not so important with a first baby but with subsequent babies I found I had not enough arms so a must for me was a baby carrier. I used the front carrier with my second child and a sling with my third. However, I just read about some risks associated with the slings. With the first baby I had everything out of the box and assembled months before the baby arrived. By the time the third baby arrived I realized less is more. I downsized everything, even the diaper bag.

KL said...

I took a trip to Cuddly Bunny a few weeks ago and it is a great store! Lots of unique baby accessories and a nice atmosphere. The one thing that I would like to splurge on for baby #1 is the diaper bag - hoping that it will last a long time. I have my eye on a lug bag!

Colleen said...

Hi from another Cuddly Bunny!
Everyone has there own 'musts' depending on their household.
In our house, we require very little: BUT the items we do NEED or SPLURGE on include:

Baby carrier.
The RIGHT baby carrier for the RIGHT person. Remembering that not all baby carriers suit all people or all babies. Not all carriers are equal. When Marnie states that it can be helpful to register at a store that can provide you knowledgable honest support, this applies heavily to purchasing or registering for a baby carrier!

Something soft and cuddly and all there own.
For our second son, I selected the cutest organic cotton/fair trade bonding doll from PEPPA.

Diapers
We selected cloth diapers and low impact disposables.

Clothing
For our second child it was Hatlet all the way, to pepper his handmedowns with little colorful pieces that also allowed him to be his own crazy self!

In our home, we cosleep and wear our babies. I also nurse my kids past 1 year. Each of us at the Cuddly Bunny come armed to our position with different perspectives and different families and mutual respect/regard. I feel that this diversity within our staff helps us empathize with the needs of our customers!

Colleen said...

Crystal, I feel I need to comment on this " some risks associated with the slings"

It sounds yuou are referring to the recent recall of the Infantino Slign Rider? Please know that the risks associated with this particular carrier are with a position that this carrier advocates. The Sling Rider facilitates a 'chin to chest' position, known within the babywearing community to put a child at risk for compromising the airway.

A PROPER sling company and proper babywearing educator ONLY advocates and demonstrates carries that ensure a nice open airway.
For MANY years now, the Cuddly Bunny has only ever demonstrated carries for newborns such as the upright Tummy to Tummy position for new babywearers and sling users for this very concern. It is the easiest carry to teach that ensures that the airway is nice and open. Its very rare when we ever teach or advocate the use of the semi reclined position (not to be confused with the cradle carry associated with these terrible happenings with the Sling Rider by Infantino)

This is definitely not a NEW topic within the sling educated community tho it has come to an unfortunate head requiring the recall of products such as the Sling Rider by Infantino and thorough media coverage: which unforunately is a touch misguided: lumping some fantastic well designed and SAFE products into one category.

This is yet another reason why it is vitally important that when we shop for our children, we are purchasing items from people who KNOW what they are selling and when appropriate: teach the individual how to safely SAFELY AND CORRECTLY use the product.

I had someone say to me' surely you don't provide a sling lesson to EVERY person who purchases a sling from you' TO which I reply, 'why yes, yes we do.'

This Mom said...

Thanks for the clarification, Colleen. We often hear "recall" and jump to conclusions without having all the details. You've certainly educated me just with that comment.

I borrowed a sling from a friend to use with my second daughter, but of course didn't have the benefit of a personal sling lesson. It's so great that you offer that at The Cuddly Bunny.

Colleen said...

Aye. As someone who has studied Early Infant Attachment theories and delved into child rearing anthropology as a hobby, a concept such as wearing babies is something I feel is very important where appropriate.
There are so many benefits, that I fear candidates who could benefit wfrom babywearing (at ANY age), may be deterred because of recalls of poor made or researched products or by sweeping statements (Consumer Reports) that are not substantiated nor appropriately clarified when compelled ;)
If readers would like to learn more definitely take a look at the material posted to http://www.thebabywearer.com

I do wish to note that the positional concern with Infantino is the very same concern that many advocacy groups have had with extended use of Infant 'Bucket' style carseats.

Anonymous said...

Some of the must-haves seem excessive. Our first is 5 yrs old. Before he was born we thought we MUST have so many big items (stroller, snuggly, exersaucer, swing, mobile, etc etc etc). Several of my family members had babies at the same time and, looking back, we certainly would have done well to buy time-shares in these items rather than each of us outfit ourselves with more baby stuff than we could fit in our apartments! For example, our first son used his exersaucer from age 4.5 mos until 8 mos. And bumbos came along when we had our third. She LOVED it for about a month. I'm glad that one was borrowed instead of purchased.
Planning for baby has become more work than planning a wedding!

This Mom said...

I absolutely agree -- several of the items "anonymous" just mentioned (e.g. exersaucer, swing) were left off the list because you certainly don't need to have them waiting before the baby is born, and even then, borrowing (or accepting hand-me-downs) is terrific. We used one swing that had been through ten children. No kidding. Much of the gear mentioned in this post can also be borrowed or purchased second-hand, but be careful with safety-related items such as car seats and cribs.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for all of the suggestions! I'm definitely saving this one for the future!

buzz buzz said...

Great list, we were lucky to have a lot of things given to us by friends; things we used and lots we did not, however we did use the swing,a sling (baby hawk) and a baby monitor just about every single day.

Jason Matthew said...

Shopping for baby clothing can be quite difficult, especially if it is the parents’ first time to have a child. They are not oriented on the specific needs of their babies. There are some parents who do not know that there are some clothing materials that are actually harmful to the skin of their kids.


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