Al and I were talking over the past couple days about the baby clothing and supplies that we've found most useful (and that we've wanted more of), so I decided to share our list. Your mileage may vary, of course; a few of the things we've liked best were specifically dismissed as useless by Baby Bargains, the pediatrician who spoke at our childbirth class, and relatives. Likewise, a few recommended items have gotten almost no use at all. Remember that every baby is different—and that stuff that might be great for a city baby born in November or December would be superfluous for a suburban kid born in July. These are just our observations.
Herewith, our list of The Indispensibles:
The gray felt BabyGap hat Allison and Lester got us. They also got us a matching coat, which we haven't had occasion to use yet, but the hat gets daily use. Austen seems to like it when the brim falls down over his eyes when he's in the car seat/stroller, and that same brim helps seal out the cold when we carry him in the Baby Bjorn outdoors. The handy chin strap keeps the hat on, unlike the hats we got from the hospital, which constantly ride up and eventually fall off.
The bundleMe fleece carseat liner we inherited from nj and Morrisa. I don't know if they ever used it (it's possible; Northern California winters can be damp and chilly), but it's absolutely necessary here in frigid Philadelphia. (Well, usually frigid; for some reason, it's been near 60 lately.) Austen seems very cozy and happy in it, and when we zip up the sides, it bunches up nicely to form a windbreak in front of his face without impairing his breathing.
Several mid-weight suits with feet, preferably with easy access to the diaper area. Al prefers the ones with zippers; although I am completely inept at working the snaps, I like the ones with snaps across the crotch and down both legs because they provide better access to the diaper. I don't mind the zipper ones, even though you have to unzip the whole suit to change a diaper, but I have no use for suits that snap only down one leg. We have about five suits in Austen's current size, and we bought another one today because they're easily soiled with spitup and diaper leaks. Why we like them: They're perfect for around the house, which we like to keep at a brisk 65-70 degrees, and for under the fleece carseat liner when we go out for walks.
The hooded terry-cloth towel Jean got us. This was the only hooded towel we received as a gift, and I don't know why it didn't occur to us to buy more before Austen peed on this one right after it came out of the wash. We got a second one today with the same giraffe design that's on the shirts, booties, and bib Jean also got us, so that we'll always have a clean one ready at bath time.
The pile of spitup bibs that everyone got us. This is one of the things that Baby Bargains said was virtually useless, so I didn't tap our stash until recently. I finally decided to give them a try when I got sick of running through all our footed suits in one day because the collars were soaked with spitup, and I've found them quite useful. I prefer the ones with velcro closures to the ones with string ties (easier to get on and off a wiggling child), and my favorite is the SUPER soft fuzzy blue one with the bear face on it, which
I think my cousin Margaret my sister got for us (thanks, Lisa!). It's not only incredibly cute, but also fairly absorbent and soft enough to wipe a newborn chin with.
Baby socks. I live in perpetual terror of one of these accidentally making it into the wash outside of the mesh bag, but they're essential enough that we've set up a system where baby socks go in a separate laundry pile rather than discontinuing their use. These are the items that the pediatrician declared to be useless, because "babies kick them off anyway," but Austen keeps them on long enough to do some good (and often for all of the 48 hours or so between baths). When the washer was broken we often ran out of suits, so Austen would hang out in a Onesie or a gown, and his feet would get cold. We still use the socks when Austen wears a gown, and also under the footed suits if we're taking him outside in the Baby Bjorn. (Thanks to my sister for getting us about 8 pairs, and to nj and Morrisa for giving us another dozen more.)
The aforementioned mesh laundry bag. Without this, I'd have to hand-wash the baby socks or risk losing another washer to the black hole known as Sears Repair Service.
Super-soft baby washcloths. We haven't been able to find anything like these in the stores around here, so we're grateful to have gotten about four or five of them in the boxes of hand-me-downs from nj and Morrisa. They're small, thin, and as mentioned, super soft—easy to manipulate during bathtime, and not too rough for Austen's delicate skin.
The peri bottle we got from the hospital. This was supposed to be for me to use post partum, and if I'd realized when Al stashed one in the suitcase that he intended to use it for Austen's bath, I would have horked another one. As it is, we're currently sharing. Anyone who's had a baby will know what I use it for (hint: it's called a "peri" bottle for a reason); at bathtime we use it as a hand-held shower to rinse any soap off the kid.
Fleece sleeper bags. These are similar to the suits, only without the feet. They obviate the need for blankets, keep Austen cozy, and also give his feet room to move—but not too much room. We had one (the first article of baby clothing we ever got), and we bought two more today.
In addition to the above items, we're grateful for our large stash of Onesies (thank you Lisa, nj, and Morrisa), which are great alone and under suits, and t-shirts, which are perfect under the sleeper bags. We also recommend:
- The Diaper Dekor diaper pail (thanks Lisa!), which is easy to use and good at containing smells, though since it's the only pail we've used, we have nothing to compare it to (well, it's DEFINITELY better than a plastic shopping bag from Whole Foods hung on a doorknob).
- The bouncy seat (thank you Tony and Maria) is also a key apparatus for any mom who wants to take a shower or pee without holding the baby while doing it. For obvious reasons, we keep ours in the bathroom.
- A Boppy (thanks Mom and Dad), which saves my arms while breastfeeding. Al uses it too, when he's trying to calm Austen at night (mine aren't the only arms that get tired holding a kid). Some people swear by the My Breast Friend nursing pillow, which I haven't tried, but the Boppy works fine for me.