If you don't really care about baby gear, go ahead and skip this post. It is really long.
Most of these aren't really necessities, but they are what has worked well for us. Every baby, mama, and family is different so you might need to do some trial and error before you find what you love.
Something that I've had to learn the hard way is that everyone will think you're doing something wrong as a mom. You don't make homemade baby food so you're poisoning your baby and he will be fat. You don't cloth diaper so you are not only poisoning your baby, but also the environment and there won't be any world left for your baby to enjoy. You let your baby watch 20 minutes of TV and he is destined to be a mindless zombie couch potato. Or you don't want your baby to do something and now you're too overprotective and your baby will be living with you until he is 34.
Be gentle to mamas, world. Most of the time it isn't appropriate to interject "advice" to an unsuspecting parent. And mamas, just do your best. You can't do everything, but your baby will love you any way.
When I was pregnant with Ez, we were very tight financially. All I wanted was a crib and car seat to put my mind at ease since those are things babies really need, and were the two things I read you shouldn't buy secondhand (from people that you don't know) for safety reasons.
We got this crib. It works as well as it should. We got the mattress from Wal-Mart, too.
We just use fitted crib sheets (we have 4) and a crib skirt. I got the crib skirt at Goodwill. Ezra was gifted the most blankets out of all the babies, so we didn't have to buy those.
My dream crib is a Jenny Lind.
++ Car seat
We bought a Graco SnugRide 22 (That is the maximum weight. There are also 30s) in Barrett. It works how a car seat should. Ezra has probably put more miles on his than any baby ever.
Our pediatrician said they are recommending babies stay in rear facing seats until they're two. No problem there. Ez is tiny and we can put off purchasing a bigger seat.
++ Diaper bag
The hospital gifted us a Vera Bradley diaper bag. I know. It's just a perk of living in the Midwestern hometown of VB. Jeff exchanged it at the store for the print I wanted (Happy Snails). I'm not normally a quilted purse kind of lady, but I like this print, it reminds me of home, and it was a $100 bag for free. It came with a changing pad which has been well used.
Any good sized bag with pockets (I especially like the outer pockets on the sides for cups and bottles) would work, though. I'm actually wanting to convert to a small backpack or messenger bag style because this one is getting too big and is really heavy after carrying it on your shoulder for hours.
++ Baby carrier
I really love babywearing. I don't
really know a lot about the psychology benefits of it, I just like
having Ezra close. We've never really carried him around in his car seat
unless it was at the grocery store and he wasn't old enough to sit up. Babywearing was pretty natural for us.
We had a Infantino carrier, but
apparently they are generally bad for baby's posture or core or something.
I ordered a free (plus shipping) Seven Sling and wish I had done it sooner. I only got to use it for a
month before Ezra got too big and hurt my back. It would be perfect for newborns.
We have a Beco Butterfly II coming soon. It was on sale this week for $75 at Frogmama. I chose it over the
Ergo because it is supposed to be less bulky.
I have never used a wrap carrier, but I think they're pretty easy to make. I plan on making some for the next baby just because I like the way they look (I'm vain).
Even though I love
"wearing" Ezra, there are times when a stroller has been preferred. And
you may not even need a nicer baby carrier. It just really works for us
for when we travel with Jeff and end up wandering malls. My mom gave us a
basic umbrella stroller which is nice when we don't want to lug around
the big stroller and for when we do, we have a Graco Trekko stroller
that is "all terrain."
I really like it, but in retrospect I would have
bought a smaller "big" stroller like this Jeep stroller. Or I really, really love the look of bassinet strollers, but didn't find out about the inexpensive First Years Wave until after we bought ours. I don't know if they even still make them. :(
I've been eyeing the Britax B-Ready for when we have two beans. We'll probably go for something less expensive, though.
++ Pamps, then Target dipes.
When Ezra was first born, we used
Pampers Swaddlers because they came highly recommended. And they were
fantastic, but we were wondering if something cheaper would work for us.
Around size 2, we converted to Target diapers. We've had no problems
with them and they are a lot cheaper. I read somewhere that a lot of
people have success with this formula, Pampers as newborns then switch to Target. We've also tried Wal-Mart diapers
and had success.
We've almost always used Target wipes. When we lived in NY, we had a BJ's membership and used their wipes. That is also where we bought our Pampers.
I would love to use The Honest Company diapers if it was in our budget or try cloth diapering if we didn't travel so much.
I don't know if this is a necessity for all babies, but it is for us with how much we travel. We bought this one in Pasadena. It came with the bassinet feature, so Ezra slept in it in our room for the first few months when night feedings were plentiful.
Hotels do offer roll-away cribs/pack-n-plays, but in our experience they're kind of gross. Definitely bring your own sheet. I wish we would have splurged for the more expensive Pack-N-Play only because the ones I've seen have thicker mattresses than ours and Ezra sleeps in his so often.
I really wish we had gotten this earlier. We didn't get an Avent pump until Ezra was four months old. It would have been really nice to have some bottles pumped so Jeff could get up for nighttime feedings, too. I don't use it any more, but I think every breastfeeding mom should have one.
Also, lanolin cream, breastfeeding mamas. Definitely something to bring to the hospital.
++ Aiden + Anais blanket
These are all the rage. Most people get them in a four pack, but I only have a star one. It was on clearance on American Eagle's kids website. We didn't use it to swaddle very often because we had Swaddle Me's that were a lot easier. I use it for when I'm nursing and want to cover up. It's more breathable than a lot of the nursing covers that are like grown up bibs.
There are lots of muslin swaddle blankets on Etsy. I love these ones.
++ H&M skinny baby jeans
I love these jeans. Ezra has a bright blue pair that is 2-4 months size, and at 13 months he is just now starting to outgrow them. (Granted, he is kind of on the small side.) What I really love about them is that they have the little elastic and button system on the sides so you can make them bigger or smaller. And since they are skinny jeans, if they are too long you can cuff them and they stay cuffed. Also, I feel they are more gender neutral than flared or wide leg jeans.
++ Baby swing
Our swing provided much needed relief for me when Ezra was teeny. It was gifted to us by one of Ez's many grandparents. He enjoyed being in it until about six months. Ours is currently on loan to a family with a brand new baby girl.
++ Thrift store clothes
The Goodwills in the Fort Wayne area had all of their 0-12 month baby clothes in bins for 98 CENTS. We stocked up when we lived there. I had troubles finding 9-12 month sizes in thrift stores. I like solid, striped, and other more classic baby clothes best and I've found lots of shirts and jeans at thrift stores. The hardest thing to find at them has been pajamas.
Other places I like to get Ezra's clothes are Target, Old Navy, and H&M. Wal-Mart has some good ol stripes and solids, too. Most of Ezra's PJs are from Wal-Mart.
We didn't have to buy a lot of 0-6 months clothes because we were gifted so many.
Around three or four months Ezra spit up a ton (which is normal). We used teething bibs to keep as much moisture as possible away from his skin. He had six teething bibs, but that wasn't even enough. Luckily, Jeff's grandma sent us a lot of flannel bibs.
He's teething now and wears the teething bibs and bibdanas. I plan to DIY some bibdanas whenever I can get to a store.
For feeding bibs, we got a five pack of Cutie Pie polyester waterproof bibs. They work great. Sometimes the pocket catches his food, sometimes not. They are super easy to clean because you just run them under water and scrub off food residue.
I bought our Bumbo off of Craigslist and bought the tray at Wal-Mart. The reason they were recalled is because parents put them on elevated surfaces and didn't watch them closely so the babies fell out. You can get a harness if you buy one used. We don't put ours on elevated surfaces. I did a couple of times, but it made me too nervous even though I was right next to him.
Also, I've read articles about how Bumbos are really bad for posture and developing the core--if you leave your baby in it for a long time. We only had Ezra in his for short amounts of time. It wasn't a baby-sitter.
Overall it was nice to use as a portable high chair.
Ezra basically only had two toys that he liked to play with when he was this small. His rattle and his activity gym. I would recommend the gyms with the two crossing bars instead of the one. When Ezra figured out he was strong enough to reach up and pull his gym down, he destroyed it. He also had a little plastic mirror toy, but it didn't keep his interest for long.
Toys are a little overrated. Ezra has been very spoiled in the toy department, but so far his favorite activities are pulling the DVDs and books out of their shelves and taking the pots and pans out of their cupboards.
++ Balls (and other toys)
Ezra plays with all of his toys, but the
ones he's loved most are the balls. He loves chasing his soccer ball
around and thinks its HILARIOUS when Papa throws a ball into the air and
it disappears and then reappears.
I'm hoping to get some blocks and push cars soon. I've kind of been crushing on all the Montessori toys on Etsy for their classic shapes and lack of battery necessity. This site has amazing toys, too.
We've been collecting the old Fisher Price toys for the nostalgia factor and because they are awesome. The record player is super expensive right now because its so hip, but I really want it. They sell a new version, but I think it needs batteries.
Also, Ezra LOVES baths and bath toys.
++ The cheap Ikea highchair
This highchair had been recommended to me by a few different people, but for some reason I still thought I needed to look around. I didn't.
Ezra was 9 months before we got a high chair. Before that we fed him in his Bumbo with the tray.
What I really love about this highchair is that it is SO easy to clean. We borrowed a Graco one at Thanksgiving, and it was kind of a pain to clean the fabric. You can put the cover in the washing machine, but its faster and easier for me to just wipe down plastic. My friend even sticks her in the shower.
This walker was made famous by Rockstar Diaries, but it really is the best priced and best looking (in my opinion) walker. We got ours from Ebay and it was less expensive than the Amazon listing in the link. The musical instruments on the front are fun, too.
++ Boon snack ball
My friend posted this snack ball on Pinterest as one of her favorite baby items. It's nice and compact for the diaper bag, and doubles as a toy on Sundays when Ezra won't sit still in Sunday school.
++ Food pouches
For how often we are on the run or out of town, these have been a lifesaver. Quite a few of the hotels we've stayed in don't have mini refrigerators. We've bought a lot of different kinds, but the Target brand pouches are the cheapest. They are smaller than a lot of the others, but are still less expensive per ounce.
++ Eating accessories
We have Re-Play divided plates, Muchkin plastic spoons, and a lot different sipper cups.
Any divided plate works pretty much the same, but these are some of the only ones I could find that weren't shallow. Ezra just got his first plate/bowl/silverware set and it has sharks on it.
The first cup we bought was the Nuk learning cup when he was 6 months. It was awesome and Ezra did really well with it, but the nipple cracked and I couldn't find replacement nipples for the cup at stores, just replacements for bottles. So then we tried the Nuby cup, not the kind with the straw. It worked well but got moldy at the spout. Then we bought another type of Nuk cup made by Gerber Graduates, but it's too big for Ezra's hands right now.
So our current winning sipper cup is one from the Dollar Tree. They have a hard spout (which Ezra likes to chew on), are BPA free, and spill proof (they actually do leak a little, but it was only a dollar). I couldn't find a picture of it online, but we have a blue one and a green one. I think they also make pink. They don't have handles, and hold around 4.5 ounces I think.
*NOTE* We are so, so grateful to everyone who has given us things for Ezra. You all are so sweet.