Here’s your opportunity to run off at the mouth

November 19, 2006 at 3:21 pm | Posted in M'ijo | 35 Comments

For all of you parents out there who felt thwarted by the “please don’t tell my life is going to change” command in the previous post…

We have been thinking about the possibility that a Real Baby may enter our lives sometime in the not too distant future. This means that some Real Baby Stuff will need to enter our lives. There are some things I strongly suspect we can live without, and you already know I have a penchant for silly baby clothing but what do We Really Need? I know I’ve seen some good lists on people’s blogs, but of course now I can’t seem to locate them. Keep in mind that GB will probably be at least six months old when he comes home, but we’ll visit before that.

Pili seems to think that we need a copy of “what to expect the first years” but I’ve heard scary things about it. Book recommendations?

Come on. I know you have opinions.


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  1. I liked the What To Expect for pregnancy, but not post-baby. We had a copy of Penelope Leach (Your Baby and Child, birth to age 5). However, I mostly relied on calling my mom (“Number Two son’s got these weird spots all over his face, but nowhere else…”).

    I would definitely recommend any sort of book that has the typical childhood disease symptoms listed somewhere — you do not want to be looking up symptoms on the internet for a baby (“Let’s see, he’s either teething or has bubonic plague…”)

    At some point before GB arrives, you ought to be able to line up a pediatrician. If this is someone who clicks with you ask what book they recommend…

  2. Get one of those mirrors you put in the back seat so that you can see GB while he’s backwards in the carseat.
    A baby monitor–with video if you can swing it. It’s great to know what they’re up to w/out having to go into the room and possibly wake them.
    Exersaucer. This will give you a chance to shower while GB is safe and entertained.
    I actually liked What to Expect. Skipped what turned me off, but the chapter on baby viruses was pretty spot on.

  3. There’s a chart of symptoms in the back of what to expect that I found very useful 🙂

    Of course, you’ll be needing a copy of “When You’re a Parent with Diabetes”, if you don’t already have one.

    When high chair shopping, look for something that doesn’t have nooks and crannies. Good in an english muffin, terrible when cleaning pureed peas off a high chair.

    For baths I prefered an inflateable one like this:

    Have fun shopping 🙂 I was in a Babies R Us store recently: terrifying! But fun 🙂

  4. I only have a girl, but judging from the amount that I sell everyday at my store apparently, the pee-pee-tee-pee are actually quite useful! Moms come back and get extra ones all the time, though the first pack is usually a gift from a well meaning friend.
    My absolute must have as a mom was the absolute best high chair, but we needed one that was stylish too, because we are not plastic-patterned fabric people. We ended up with the Swan, wich we really love (to this day, it’s her desk chair)

  5. If he’s six months old when he comes home then you may not need a pee-pee tee-pee, but if you’re changing him early on, have a cloth or something handy. Well, either that or spare clothes 😉

    My stock suggestion for new mums and dads is to make up the cot/crib/bed in layers (eg: waterproof mattress cover, bottom sheet, top sheet, second waterproof cover, bottom sheet, top sheet etc). Then when accidents or illness happens in the middle of the night, all you have to do is rip off the top layer and you have a bed already made. So much easier than trying to find bedding at 3am and making up the bed/cot/crib when you can barely keep your eyes open.

  6. I am a huge lover of the Baby Whisperer. Skip the smaller book and go for the Baby Whisper Explains All (or something similar). It’s great–everything from sleep to feeding. Solid info. Not as scary as What To Expect…

    Lots of onesies. Sleep sac (I love the Halo Sleep Sac because it comes in many sizes). Go for toys that serve more than one purpose–it can be a stacking toy for manual dexerity but also a music toy but also…you get the idea. Blow up bathtub that fits inside the real bathtub. Stoller. Toy corral (necessary once the child can move. Keeps things organized and the baby safe). Ergo carrier (I don’t own this, but I will get it the next time we have a child because the Kelty carrier kills your back after a while).

    Avent bottles convert to sippy cups. So if you can start on an Avent bottle, you can save yourself some money down the line. I don’t know if you’re going to breastfeed, but you may still want to do a few bottles just so Pili could feed as often as you.

    Soft, plastic coated spoons. Small plastic bowls (you’ll probably start solids soon after you bring your son home). Highchair. Strap-on booster seat with tray if you eat out a lot. You can’t use most of them until they’re a bit older, but if people want to get you a gift…

    I could probably come up with 3000 other items. You’re right–the peepee tee pee isn’t worth it 🙂 I’ve only been peed on once or twice and I also take huge risks and change diapers slowly.

  7. High chair that’s adjustable for height and easy to move around.


    You can never have too many cloth diapers.

    I ditto the lasagna method of making the bed.

    If your home has more than one storey, then get 2 changing stations. You really don’t want to have to climb up and down everytime you change a diaper. (def. of a changing station is anyplace you have all your diaper changing accoutrements, including a trash can. It doesn’t have to be a specialized thing. Dressers work well.)

  8. My brother’s partner seemed to really enjoy The Hip Mama Survival Guide.

  9. No experience in what is actually useful, yet, but I just wanted to CoNgRaTuLaTe you both! GB is adorable!

  10. I hated all the books, so no recos from me. If you find one that is better at giving a range, like “babies might walk between 9 and 18 months”, rather than just saying “by 10 months, your baby should be walking”, please let me know!

    Here’s my big list that I pass around. Brands where listed are my personal opinion of course.

    Nursery: crib, mattress, 2 fitted sheets, 2 waterproof mattress pads, dresser & changing table (if you want to splurge, i really love bellini because the changing table is HUGE and baby can go front to back rather than side to side on it), bumper (i like the breathable bumpers), hamper, rocker/glider, diaper genie (don’t let people convince you that the champ is good), baby monitor (Angel Care motion sensor so you don’t have to keep getting up to check if he’s still breathing)

    Travel: stroller (if you’re walking in the city a lot vs. car/store type of life, get one with big sturdy wheels, like MacClaren Techno vs. Triumph), car seat (Evenflo Triumph 5 is #1 on Consumer Reports and less expensive than Britax), baby carrier (i LOVE the Ergo), diaper bag, stroller sun umbrella (Pepony), rain cover (comes with many strollers), mirror for the car

    Home: baby bath sling, though you won’t need it once he can sit up on his own, which I think is around 6ish months (how quickly we forget!), high chair, dishwasher basket for bottle nipples, baby bottles, cloth diapers for burping

    Drug store: comb and brush, baby scissors/nail clippers, thermometer, nasal bulb aspirator, A&D, diapers, wipes (including travel case), tylenol liquid for infants, shampoo/body wash, moisturizer

    Oh! and pick stuffed animals that are washable, that stand up to a LOT of wash. We like the Ty animals, I think they are called Fluffies– one size up from Beanie Babies and we have four Cows and four Monkeys so we can wash daily (he sucks on them and they get pretty disgusting). Not that you can predict which animals will be his favorites but you can try!

  11. There are lots of choices and they really depend on your family and your preferences. That said, I will recommend the following:

    1) Ergo – if he’s starting out over 9 lbs., he’s gonna be a goodly size when he comes home to you, and your back will love you if you get an Ergo. Pricey, but worth it. He’ll be WAY too big for you to be happy carrying him in a Bjorn.
    2) I would also get some kind of sling for quick in and outs but we are baby-carrier-happy around here. But carrying babies is SO excellent for bonding.
    3) We love Dr. Sears’ Baby Book for baby care questions.
    4) I was opposed to the Exersaucer on principle (principle being “I don’t want huge pieces of plastic in my house”) but we ended up getting one second hand and Natalie loves it. It’s useful to keep her out of danger but close at hand while we’re cooking or showering, etc.
    5) A Britax carseat. They are very very safe, very easy to install, and though expensive, an investment in your child’s safety that will last several years, working out to cents per day in the end.

    A word on those carseat mirrors – they can be projectiles in a crash so car seat safety experts recommend that you don’t get them. We don’t have one, which is sometimes annoying but survivable.

    My main shopping tip is look at Goodwill, consignment stores, Craigslist, and local parenting listservs for clothing and gear OTHER THAN carseats. You can get so much that way and save a lot of money.

    BUT, the main thing GB will need is love, and you’ve got that covered!

  12. I hated all books. They only seemed to be telling me everything I was doing wrong. I went with my gut for just about everything and the Ped’s are no more then a phone call away for that weird rash that will inevitably show up at 7am on a Sat.

    We’re ditching the highchair for when/if they next one comes. I like booster seats better and A eats better when she’s at the table with us.

    A good stroller. Some people hate the travel systems, I personally loved mine and it held up well…Although at six months, depending on size, he might be ready for a convertible car seat instead of the infant.

  13. has a pretty good article with a nice, manageable list of things you need so i recommend looking at that

    I hear good things about Sears (the author)

    And there’s a book about baby bargains in other words, what’s essential and how to get it without getting sucked into the Baby marketing industry

  14. Ix-nay on What to Expect – it can make you nuts. We like Sears and Sears, since it’s a little crunchier (and does include info on things like baby-wearing and adoptive breastfeeding), though it still needs a healthy handful of salt. And definitely yes on the Ergo, it’s worth the splurge (about $90 but then you won’t need any others). If he’s under 7 months when he comes home, a Bumbo seat is not necessary but nice – more portable than a high chair, and it can go right on the table and keep him out of trouble. They can also sit up in them as early as three months – makes it easy for them to stuff whatever toys you give them directly into their mouths (they’re around $40 but you can get them on Craig’s list for $15-20).

    And thanks for the offer of the position as Official Baby Stuff Advisor. I’ll email you our must-have list later tonight!

  15. What do you really need? What do you really need? You really need a diaper bag that will hold everything you might possibly take with you and baby that doesn’t look, well, stupid. Unless, having a gawdy diaper bag is totally cool with you. I have this great big and plastic pink and white thing that I STILL use for outings. Obviously, I’m not so cool. I’d say you need diapers and wipes, but don’t buy too much of any one size or type because sensitivities abound (especially for wipes) and you might not end up being in a size for long (for diapers). I always used a LOT of receiving blankets (for icky spit-up). Also, those vibrating bouncy chairs were a LIFESAVER with my son, who was quite colicky. I bought a fisher prices swing that eventually turned into a high chair and after that a booster seat that ran the gamut of uses for TWO children. It was fabulous. That’s my two cents on that!

  16. Figure out a good system to keep all the paper you’ll be collecting from doctors – immunization records, etc. Also a permanent way to capture “firsts” – word, steps, etc. I was less than organized and 17 years later can’t find everything. And it’s important – our school district just put out a hep B pronouncement for which I had to show proof that our senior had had the entire battery of shots or he couldn’t attend school. It took forever, was finally found in the last envelope in the last file.

    The same system can collect all the school stuff, too.

    Everything else you’ll figure out as you go. So much fun thinking about those days!

  17. Ditto what third mom said about the paperwork. Kids seem to generate a ton of it, way more than I would have expected. We bought a really cute ‘baby’s file folder’ kind of thing at a super shi-shi baby store. It cost way too much ($30) but has pockets for everything. All her paperwork’s in one place. Our tax records? Missing. But Val’s stuff is together.

    Books are hard to suggest because they’re all so different. We keep Dr. Spock on the nightstand, keep What To Expect in the bathroom but didn’t throw it away.

    Ditto on shelling out for a good stroller. One-hand fold has been a terrific thing on my MacLaren Techno XT.

    We went through a bunch of slings and just moved up to a Kelty Kids backpack. It’s huge but comfy, Val can see out over our heads and she loves it. For easy in-and-out we have the Combi hip sling (not the real name) which doesn’t feel as secure as my Kelty Kids frontpack but is quick to get her into and out of. Of course, that’s the one she likes the least.

    The Britax car seats are ridiculously easy to install and move.

    I can’t think of anything else off the top of my head, hope this helps even a little.

  18. get an ergo.

    life saver.

    SO worth the 92 bucks.

    6 months, huh? Earth’s best baby food, formula, diapers, diaper cream, TYLENOL, IBUPROFIN, Baby fingernail clippers, dipaer bag, baby wipes, did I mention teh TYLENOL and IBUPROFIN. Because um, in case I didnt – get TYLENOL and IBUPROFIN. 🙂

    When they wake up randomly at 2am, and you,just.can’t.figure.out.why? It’s teeth! damn buggers trying to pop into the mouth. Hurts like a MOTHER F*cker! So um, Tylenol and Ibuprofin.


    Feel free to ask for more info – I’ll see what else I can come up with.

  19. Get a Britax car seat, a covertible one that’s good up to 60 lbs or so. They’re expensive, but worth it.

    I have an extra hotsling, if you’re interested in trying that. I’d be happy to send it to you once GB gets home. I love mine. You can check out the website ( to see if it’s something you’re interested in using.

    I have a Combi City Stroller that I love, love, love. It collapses flat and then folds in thirds and has a strap so you can sling it over your shoulder. I use it all. the. time. If they made a double one, I’d go buy it.

    I don’t have any baby books. I found most of them to be next to useless.

    Get a dresser with small drawers. We found one at the Salvation Army. It has 8 drawers, two across, four down. It’s terrific for tiny clothes.

    Get 6 pairs of socks in each colour you want. Those little buggers will get sucked up into the washer/dryer like you wouldn’t believe. Ditto for onesies.

    Baby gates. Trust me.

    Blanket sleepers. Fantastic things, because babies can’t seem to keep the covers on them for beans.

    IKEA has some really adorable baby bedding at excellent prices. Babys R Us is ridiculously expensive for that sort of thing – $200 for a crib set is obscene. I got Boo’s bedding at IKEA for $25.

  20. I’m in the “hate the ‘What to Expect books'” camp, but I don’t have a suggestion for a good substitute.

    My number-one essential: baby quilts, believe it or not. I always had my son in the same room with me, generally camped out on a quilt on the floor. Handy, cheap and washable, and it let him see everything around him (and me see him) without him feeling constricted or fenced in. I had a porta-crib, but never used it because quilts were so handy. Once he was mobile, he’d be in the Exersaucer if he needed to be contained.

    Everyone told me to stock up on zillions of onesies, but I never used them past about 6 weeks. You might buy just a few at first and see whether you find yourself using them or not. To me, they were just one more hurdle to jump in the Diaper Change Olympics, and I hated them. Jackets and blankets kept him plenty warm. Speaking of that, you can never have too many receiving blankets. Try to get them oversized – the standard small ones only work for a few months.

    As far as the peepee teepee things go, a baby washcloth over him while I was changing him did fine.

    My son would never take Ora-Jel when he was teething, but I swore by Hyland Teething Tablets. They come in a little pink and blue package. I called them his happy pills.

    If you’re nursing, you NEVER want to run out of Lansinoh!

    Then of course the usual things like infant Tylenol, ear thermometer, aspirator and the like. Diaper rash paste. That sort of thing.

    I also had a My Brest Friend pillow. Idiotic name, but it worked better for me than a Boppy did.

  21. You don’t actually need much for an infant, which is to say, as long as you have some clothes, diapers, and cloths for mopping up spit up and whatnot, and a place for the baby to sleep, and food, you’ll all be fine. You can figure out the gear as you go along.

    That said, we loved, loved, loved our sling. Having an easy way to carry the baby was wonderful.

    A good medical refrence is also a great idea.

    Food in the freezer is good, so you can still eat while you are tired and overwhelmed.

    A blanket for the floor, so you can play games on the floor be comfy–good for promoting bonding.

    We had a Peg Perego high chair which I didn’t like–too hard to clean. Were I doing a baby again, I might get just a booster seat that attaches to a chair.

    So exciting!

  22. I think the What to Exp. book is fine. You have to take everything with a grain of salt. I use it as mostly a reference, looking things up in the index. The beginnings of the chapters sort of lay out the general milestones that babies might experience each month. Even though my boys were preemies and have been late on everything, it still gave me a reference point. I think attachment parents would not like it, probably, as it doesn’t say a whole lot about co-sleeping or wearing your baby, and it’s pretty much pro-vaccine. I find Dr. Sears creepy, but I do occasionally look at his website for info on illnesses. I do the same for Dr. Spock, who I generally like. Keep in mind that many things are available on the internet these days.

    I don’t know if you’re doing cloth or disposable diapers, but I really, really like the Diaper Champ diaper pail. It uses regular garbage bags and contains the stink very well (and that’s coming from a twins parent!). Dr. Brown bottles are good for preventing babies from swallowing air… they’re a pain to clean though, so get a Dr. Brown’s bottle scrubber. Our monitor is great- Summer, model 02170. We used to have a cheaper one, but it pooped out, becoming all staticky after a couple months. Oh oh oh! THIS BIB is the best ever. I think everyone should have one:
    In fact, send me your address, and I’ll get you one. THAT is how much I love this bib.
    Still so excited and hopeful for you!

  23. Fuzzi Bunz
    Britax Boulevard
    Vaccine Research
    Irrational hatred for all things made by Cosco and most made by Evenflo and Graco
    Fancy happy stroller
    Basic knowledge of eBay
    Camera on hand all. the. time.
    8 oz microwave safe cup on hand at all times to catch your melting heart.

  24. 2 dozen cloth diapers, either chinese prefolds or unfolded, for cleaning up spitup, wiping anything that needs wiping (baby, mommy, or gear), tucking next to a sleeping head in a carseat, and many many many other unexpected uses.

    And what everyone else said about the Ergo, I hope, since I just asked for one for my birthday. Your baby will be too big for a bjorn to be comfortable.

  25. Congratulations again on expecting your son!

    I’m a bit of an oddball, but I think high chairs are a waste of money. Booster seats work just as well, and they’re cheap and portable. Here are some things that I find helpful with the kiddos at work:

    –TONS of receiving blankets–you can’t have too many
    –tons of bibs, both the lined kind and those soft molded kind for when he starts solids
    –a good diaper bag
    –stacking cups, balls, and other manipulatives for infants
    –Craigslist and used stores are great for clothes and stuff, though not cribs or car seats
    –a durable stroller

    Also, I’ve found the Baby Bargains book by Alan and Denise Fields to be helpful in giving recommendations on brands. A lot of the stuff you can live without–you don’t need an exersaucer or a pack and play–but if you choose to get them, the Fields book is helpful re: brands.

    And above all, congratulations again! I’m very happy for you!

  26. When my son was 6 months old, I wished Baby Orajel came in vats. The nighttime kind is stronger.

    The Tylenol and ibuprofen are important to have on hand, too, and not just for teething. When our little guy had a very high fever, we ran him to the ER in the middle of the night, and all they did was give him a dose of Tylenol. They instructed us to alternate Tylenol and ibuprofen. Of course, I’m still glad I took him to the ER to get him checked out, but now I’m not so panicky when he gets feverish–I just begin the OTC meds as they suggested.

    We also had a wonderful white-noise maker called the Sleep Sheep that helped our son a lot during his first 8-10 months.

  27. My boy is 6 months old now & here is some of the stuff I am using every day…

    Changing Table – try to get it at the right height so you don’t strain your back. Diapers (duh), clothes – fun fun fun – Laundry basket for baby clothes, spit up rags, changing table covers, sheets, bibs and all my clothes that get pucked on. Some type of scent free laundry detergent.

    To put the baby down now & again we have a vibrating chair & a swinging chair (both cheap – second hand) & an exercauser that was given to us. Some good blankets for the floor.

    Carriers… Moving Around –
    We have a moby wrap we Mainly used when he was little. People RAVE about the Ergo though I don’t have one yet, we have a bjorn but he does get heavy in it. A GOOD stroller — A good carseat

    diaper bag monitor swaddler – I love the miracle blanket

    a bowl or 2, spoons, tarp for under a feeding baby, good baby soap, soft washclothes, hoodie towel, we bathe with him so we dont use a baby tub.

    camera & extra battery


  28. I have Dr. Sears baby book here if you want it? Let me know and I will put it aside for you. It’s very AP. I also have Katie’s sling that I am ready to give up. It’s a mesh water sling and I love it. It’s like a rite of passage to pass it on if you want it!

  29. Ooops….I forgot to add that I have a baby monitor with 2 receivers if you want them!

  30. One last thing…if you want to wait on the Ergo and try him in it when he gets home, we have one and still use it for Katie (she loves being carried in it by Cheryl at almost 4 years old) definately a most excellent buy! But you can try ours and see if you like it before you sink $92 bucks into something.

  31. Having been trapped in a hotel room with a 5 pound baby I can tell you that the book that saved our lives was The Happiest Baby on the Block! While you can say that its mostly geared to newborns, I say the info in that book is helpful at a variety of stages of infancy. As for the ‘stuff’ bible — Baby Bargains
    is brilliant!! It pretty much breaks out what is necessary, what is total hype and what is just nice to have. Then it tells you about the best places to get the stuff. BRILLIANT!!!

  32. I second (or fifth) the Ergo. I actually have one I can send you if you’d like…Alexander prefers to walk everywhere now and I’d like to send it off to someone who’d get use out of it.

  33. I can’t add to what everyone else said, but congrats and Happy Thanksgiving!

  34. Penelope Leach, Penelope Leach! She’s my hero.

    Six months? Hmmmm. That was when I started purging a lot of things and taking it to the consignment store. I’m trying to think of what you must have for an older baby, but coming up short. Our son doesn’t necessarily like to play with toys–he likes real things. He’s a little over a year now and really into blocks.

    Get a very plain high chair that doesn’t have lots of places to clean. We got a fancy one that was supposed to be easy clean up and it is always a major mess. I wish we would have gotten one of those wooden ones that grow with the baby.

    You’ll need to get saftey locks to put on all the doors/drawers that have chemicals in them. You might want baby gates if there’s some place you want to keep him out of. That can wait depending on if he can crawl or not. Our son started crawling at 5 months but I think he was early. We got an excersaucer with a detachable seat so it becomes an activity table and that has seen a lot of use. Our johnny jump up saw a lot of use as well.

  35. Buy “The Baby Book” by Sears and Sears (husband and wife…pediatrician and nurse) It’s EXCELLENT.

    You’re correct to stay away from ANY KIND OF “What To Expect” books.

    Also, I LOVE Huggies diapers. I’ve used them several times a day for 6 years straight and I’d never recommend a different diaper.

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