Twinks Gets Fit...

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Babies have a lot of stuff.

Plus stores like to tell new parents and parents-to-be that they need it ALL. If you take a look at the "must-have list" they hand over with the almighty registry scanning gun, it's a bit overwhelming. Here I'll tell you about some of my favorite things..and some things I think are way over-hyped. I'm no expert, but in my crash course of parenting so far, here's what I've come up with:

Chicco Keyfit Car Seat/Travel System
This system is fabulous for many reasons--for one thing, the car seat is one of the highest rated for safety. Secondly, it's great for tall parents because the handle adjusts. It has a big sun shade. It's a smooth ride. It's a bit bulky in the car, as are all travel systems, but once you get the hang of it, it's quick to get in and out of the car, fold and unfold. One of the models is good up to 22 pounds, the other is 30. As with all car seats, I could not imagine carrying Little in it up to 30 pounds so I don't mind that ours is the former. It just clicks into the base and you're good to go.

Frugal tip: We got ours from when they were having a sale. As you'll notice, the Amazon link to the left has the best price as $400. We got ours for $230. Shop online and find a coupon. To do this, type the store name and "coupon code" into Google. More than likely, you'll find something. (Except Amazon--those are like unicorns)

Gerber Birdseye Cloth Diapers
These would qualify as the "traditional" style cloth diapers, but fear not, we
don't use them for that purpose. We found that these make terrific burp cloths. They're
big and soft and absorbant. We have the white ones, but they come in different colors as well.

Fisher Price Ocean Wonders Swing
The Hubs and I have to laugh everytime we see yet another person with this swing. We have it, his mom has it, our daycare provider has a couple of them...they're definitely popular and for good reason. It's an adorable swing. We happened to get ours for less than half price (Thank you, BabiesRUs clearance section), but ours is without one key feature that we highly recommend: A power cord. Trust us. Get one with it. You will save oodles of cash not having to buy 4 D batteries all the time. (I don't believe the photo/link for this is the one with the power cord.)

Rechargeable batteries
Speaking of batteries--do yourself a favor and invest in rechargeable batteries (and obviously the charging unit.) You will go through so many AA and AAA batteries. We got ours at Costco for AAs, which has been a lifesaver since I'm a bit of an obsessive picture-taker. During maternity leave, I could burn through a minimum of 4 a day. The rechargeables actually last way longer.

Playtex Ventaire Bottles
Yes, Dr. Brown's are all the rage, however, we found even the slow nipples were too fast for Kaelyn when she was a newborn. We also tried Born Free and Soothie brand. She was having a lot of gas issues so we decided to give these a try and we won't use anything else. They're easy to clean and the only time they leaked was when I had a mommy moment and didn't secure the bottom. We prefer the wide bottles and just upgraded Kaelyn to the 9 oz size (she's getting about 6oz for each meal).

Fisher Price Precious Planet Happy Giraffe Bouncer
I swear, Fisher Price isn't paying me for endorsements. (Dear Fisher Price executives, If you would like to sponsor my humble little blog or send me products to review, I'd be more than happy to oblige.) Bouncers were definitely the gift people seemed to love to give. We have two, one upstairs and one downstairs. This is our downstairs one and the reason I'm giving it 2 enthusiatic thumbs up is because it seems so very comfortable. I would like an adult-size version, as a matter of fact. Now, we don't use the toy bar very much, but it's super cute and the lion even makes noise. We also like the different settings for her legs. You can adjust it to cradle her more or to sit more like a chair.

Oh and the price seems a little steep, but do a little comparative shopping and I'm sure you can find it cheaper.

Sound Soother
Ours is a Sharper Image sound soother with something like 50 sounds, which I've had for years. (Little is still in our room) Really, any good sound soother will work. Just make sure it doesn't only have a setting to stop after 15 minutes or something. Kaelyn will wake up the second it turns off so we keep it going all night. We love the ocean waves setting. (There are probably 6 different versions)

Baby Bjorn Baby Carrier Original
Buy one. We tried on so many carriers trying to find the comfiest and cushiest and this beat them all (and I was really trying to not jump on the Baby Bjorn bandwagon.) If you're tall, get the XL version--XL=extra long straps. This is great for times when Kaelyn doesn't want to be put down, but we need to get something done. She also now loves the height and being able to see everything and they say it's good for babies to be carried. (The whole Attachment Parenting phenomenon.) I used it at the zoo and we like to use it in stores (especially Costco).

It's definitely worth the price (actually, the price has dropped because when we were shopping it was $79), but being the frugal deal-finders we are, I got it on eBay for less than $30 shipped.

Medela Pump in Style Advanced Breast Pump, Backpack
I remember how we laughed that the breastfeeding class we took seemed to be sponsored by Medela, but it's for good reason. They're the best. Worth the price. I tote this thing around with me to work and yesterday, in my cold-induced stupor, thought that "My Buddy" jingle would fit perfectly. Oh and get extra bottles and the car charger...and get their brand of lanolin cream. (A lactation consultant pointed out that Medela's version has healing properties/ingredients that other brands don't.) Trust me.

You might be able to find this a bit cheaper--try They always have coupons, but honestly, that's a decent price for it.

Side note: Lansinoh pumps are crap.

I shall continue to sing the praises of this WAHM's company. Great quality, great price, and they work/wash great. The Hubs says this was our best purchase. The one-size, all-in-one style is awesome and I can't get over how cute they look. We love the snaps version. Now, like all cloth diapers, they're bulkier than disposable so expect to buy up a size in shorts, pants, etc. For Kaelyn, we use one liner during the day and two at night. (Each diaper comes with two.)

As odd as it sounds, we both love washing these. In fact, the Hubs usually beats me to the punch to wash them. He bought one of those rolling clothes racks to hang them up to dry. (They'll last longer if you air dry them.) Tip: If you live in the dry desert like us, try hanging them in garage...or in our case, roll the clothes rack out to the garage. They dry in no time.

Savings-wise, here's the breakdown for right now:
Kaelyn goes through 10-12 diapers a day. She'd probably be in size 2 disposables, which comes in a box of 184. Each box is $42 and she'd go through almost 2 boxes a month. That's $84/month in diapers. Nubunz currently has their diapers going for $8. We have 40 diapers=$320. Sooo the diapers have pretty much paid for themselves at this point. Since the number of diaper changes decreases as she gets older, let's just say she'd got through a box and a half a month until she's potty-trained. To be hopeful and conservative in my math, let's say she's potty-trained at 2 years. $63 x 20 more months=$1260 savings. (Can you say "front load washer and dryer"??)

Now, this math takes into consideration that she is 100% in cloth diapers. We were really fortunate that our daycare provider is all for cloth--all the centers said no. Based on that, though, you can see how much you could save if you have multiple children.

Cloth isn't for everybody though. Our diaper bag would be a lot lighter and less bulky with disposables, for example and I definitely get the convenience factor of disposables.

Planet Wise Bags
These are incredibly functional bags. They are lined with waterproof PUL to keep the water (or spit up or pee or poop) away from everything else in the diaper bag. We have the small size (pictured left, but in the stones print) for short trips out. They're great for soiled outfits, bathing suits and cloth diapers. This one is pretty small, but would work for most people and is nice and compact in the diaper bag. We also have a large size (in geometric shapes), which we use for daycare or longer trips out. It will fit a LOT of diapers, but it's almost too big. I think if I could do things over, I'd opt for a small and medium size. We also have a pail liner from this same company for our step trash can we use for the cloth diapers. It also has the waterproof lining.

There are a LOT of fabric pattern choices--we just opted for the gender neutral ones. All of these bags wash well (we wash them with the diapers every time) and are made of quality materials. Now, I will say that when I was shopping for these, I tried and tried to find a bargain to no avail. Everyone has them for the same prices. Just make sure to find a store that offers free shipping.

First Years Microwave Sterilizer
This things is fantastic. It's made sterilizing bottles, breastpump supplies, and binkies a breeze. We have a sudsy bowl that we throw everything in, then we rinse, and fill this thing up, microwave 5 minutes, and voila. Some people prefer the dishwasher organizers, but we just don't run our dishwasher enough.

Sleep Positioner

Before Kaelyn was born, I had read how sleep positioners are a waste of money so I had sort of written them off. I wouldn't buy it until you know you'll need it, but Kaelyn wasn't a fan of her crib or lying on her back. We started using this sleep positioner in her pack 'n play and it's made a world of difference. I think it makes her feel cozy and secure, rather than having a lot of wide open space. It also has a little cushion for her head, which helps to prevent flat head issues.

I'm not sure the pictured sleep positioner is the one we have. The wedges are mesh to allow airflow. You get the idea though

Well, that's all I can think of for now. I'm sure I'll post more must-haves as I think of them.

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