Thursday, March 10, 2011

A relatively new dad's perspecitve on baby gear

I started jotting out a gigantic Google Buzz response to an article by the fantastic Mint blog but figured that a long-form blog post was probably more appropriate.

The article was specific to baby gear buying for new parents and it had some really good advice about what to buy, borrow and skip. Since I'm the father of a 10 month old daughter, I have some opinions.

For my childfree friends with no interest in kids, you can probably skip this post. But if you're gonna have them some day, you should book-mark this article for later (and maybe my blog post too).

It was spot on in its assessment of bottles, crib mattresses, and convenience feature sheets (The Ultimate Crib Sheet is great, we have two).

As far as infant car seats and bases go - these are great in the early days, but if the baby's not going to be in a second car that much then I would advise to skip the second base and just buy a full sized convertible car seat for the second car - you're going to have to buy one or more eventually anyway, and the infant will fit just fine. The Graco MyRide 65 is an excellent option (we have 2). We bought a second base and I wish we hadn't. The base in my car got very little use because my wife was home with Abby for 12 weeks and then our daycare is very close to our house - but I realize this depends entirely on your situation. Certainly if you're splitting daycare duties and have to drive anywhere for any length of time in more than one car, 2 bases is worthwhile. (Update: Alison points out in comments that there are safety issues putting a wee infant in the convertible seats and you're best off using an infant carrier - good point, and one I overlooked). Our daughter outgrew her particular model (23 pound limit) at about 7 months - she wasn't too heavy, but too tall. Although there are models that you can use up to 30 pounds that detach, they are hard enough to swing around when she's 20 lbs, much less more than that. At that point, you're better off carrying her into the car.

We bought a digital ear thermometer, though our doctor told us they don't work that well with infants and you're better off taking her temp under the arm. I like to use the ear thermometer on myself though.YMMV.

Baby Monitors are great inventions and if you can afford it, get one with video. Unfortunately there's a lot of crappy, overpriced ones - we're on our 2nd model, 3rd unit since Abby was born - the first two died on us, and now we have a Motorola one which I'm pretty happy with so far. It's a little more expensive than the previous model we had, but hopefully it will not die on us.  (the other one's being returned again for future use with another child and I would not recommend it at all). You may want to buy a second cheap audio unit as a backup and for traveling, etc. as well.

I agree with only two things in the borrow section - exersaucers and pack and plays. We barely use our pack and play and unless you travel a lot, you probably won't either. We may end up using it as a holding area as Abby continues to get more mobile,  but so far it hasn't really been needed. And when we did travel where there wasn't a crib available, we rented equipment and that was money well spent, because we didn't have to drag a ton of stuff with us.

However, if you're a breastfeeding working mom, or supporting one, the Boppy and pump are must haves. I would even suggest buying more than one pump if you can afford it. It helps so that potentially one doesn't have to be lugged back and forth to work, and there's spare parts in a second one if anything goes wrong (try finding a power adapter for a Medela in-style at a local store, they don't sell the damn things except on the internet - which is how we ended up with a second pump). If you're on your first kid and planning to have more, chances are you'll end up needing to buy more than one anyway.

The Bumpo I could go either way on, perhaps why it's in the borrow section. It's one of those things that's great when your kid is starting to be able to try to sit up on their own, but it has a limited shelf life. We used it as a feeding chair for a few weeks too, but the dedicated booster seats are much better for that once your child doesn't have issues sitting on their own.

I don't have most of the stuff in the Skip section, we didn't buy a Diaper Genie, but we did get the Diaper Champ which uses regular trash bags. It's worth it when they are wee little, but my daughter's room still smells shitty after a couple of diapers end up in there, so I don't think it works very well once they transition to solids. We skipped the warmers and the other stuff. We did buy a nice la-z-boy recliner which has worked great rather than one of those uncomfortable gliders, and as a bonus, you can use it for general relaxation long after a glider has outlived it's purpose.