Wednesday, May 23, 2007
Question for Fellow-Mama's
What are the top ten things you couldn't have survived your first year of parenthood without?

A couple of our best friends are having their first baby and when they asked for advice for building their baby registry, I couldn't even think of ten must-haves.

I know that my husband and I are a bit laid back when it comes to gadgets and gizmo's for child rearing, but you'd think that with two little ones (one still IN her first year), I could've at least come up with 10 things. Not so.

On the flip side, I was quickly able to name off several things we most certainly didn't use.

The big bulky swing, for example. Neither of my kids were fans of that. Or even the beloved Diaper Genie. Perhaps our son was just extraordinarily stinky (which is quite possible), but we just didn't find it all that useful in either containing the stench or adding in convenience to our lives. To the contrary, my husband bemoaned his chore of pulling a long chain, like dirty-diaper sausage links, from the bucket.

We've found that plastic grocery bags work just as well - same concept, and they're free.

Like I said though, we're really laid back, and we might be a bit overly frugal when it comes to things of this nature.

The only things I could think of to register for were diapers and wipes - because those are the only true definites. Your child will poo and you will need to clean it. Where you clean it, if the wipes are warmed in a warmer, or if they're pulled from a fancy diaper bag - those are all extras, non-essentials.

As for Pack 'n Play's and Strollers? Sure, I like ours. I'm glad we have them. The travel system is probably the most useful "big" item - we love the portability of newborns from car seat to stroller with just the click of a latch.

But, the Pack 'N Play? We probably should've used it more to make it more worth it. Lila can't stand it. It is useful for travel. Insta-crib. But even then, Lila is good to sleep just about anywhere we lay her, so long as it's safe. So even a Pack 'N Play for travel hasn't been a necessity.

And everything else is up to the personality of the child. The Boss loved pacifiers, Lila won't touch 'em. My kids love(d) their exersaucer - it trumps the swing ten-fold. But, that's also a matter of personality. My kids like to be up and in action, hands going, feet going, things moving at their command. Other kids? Maybe they're calmer, who knows? (I'm holding onto that swing, just in case I'm someday blessed with a snuggly little child who just wants to rock and listen to music...)

So, back to the question: What are the things you couldn't have survived the first year of parenthood without? And if some of your "must haves" are things I've listed as "non-essentials" - I'm interested to hear if they've been useful for you.

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Blogger Julie said...

Ten? Well, ok.

The car seat, obviously. I didn't have a travel system and in fact didn't even get a stroller until she was about 8 months, and never once missed it.

When I did get a stroller I opted for a jogging style, since we are more frequently on sidewalks, park trails, and streets than smooth malls and stores. It's smoother and more useful for us than a typical 4-wheel one, and I'm really glad I waited until I knew our needs before we bought.

I did, however, live and breath with my sling. I had homemade ones and preferences vary by parent and child, but I don't know how I would have functioned with out it. At age 2 we still use it periodically, such as when rushing through airports. Soooo much easier than a stroller.

If she's nursing, a good pump, a few boxes of breast pads, and some storage bottles are critical.

A good diaper bag, with room for all the necessiites but not overly big is worth its weight in gold.

A good grooming kit, with nail clippers that are easy to use and a brush.

A medical kit with a fast and accurate thermometer.

A monitor ONLY if she's in a big house. Our 900 sq foot house is way too tiny to need one at all. We can hear her blink from any room in our house.

A boppy if she's nursing. Or even if not.

That's all I can think of for "must haves". I suppose a bottle warmer is nice if you do bottles but those never caught on here.

Blogger Mella said...

Awesome, Julie - thanks for the thoughtful list! My sister-in-law uses a sling, and I think it looks like the most comfortable way for a baby to be carried. And, you're right, it must be way easier than manuevering a giant stroller through the mall.

Maybe I'll have to pick one up for my next little one...

We didn't use a monitor in our condo either, which was under 1000 square feet. We bought one when we moved, but with the layout of our house we hear everything anyway. It made a decent nightlight for a while though.

I had a bottle warmer, I think we attempted to use it once and then forgot all about it. Totally not worth it, for us at least (and we formula feed exclusively.)

Blogger Owlhaven said...

Yes, definitely a good baby carrier-- maybe an Ergo or a Hug A Bub. A rocking chair. And if friends wanted to get together for a big gift, how about a few visits from a cleaning service? As young mom I'd have been in heaven to have my bathrooms deep-cleaned every couple weeks for the first few months...


What about a great wife to take care of the kids? I know I couldn't do/have done without one.

Blogger Novice said...

Owlhaven, that cleaning service idea is FANTASTIC!

Mella, about your Diaper Genie...really? Dang. The Boss must have had some Super Poop. Hmmm...or maybe my little man just has really weak smelling poop. Though if he does, I shudder thinking what the strong stuff is like. I don't know what I would have done without mine.

I didn't think I would need the swing, but mine loved it so much, I was glad I had it.

That's the real challenge. You never know what you're really going to need until you HAVE the kid for a while.

Oh, and i tell you the truth...niiiiiiiice. Shoots and scores.

Blogger dillyweed said...

I may not have 10 entirely unique ones, but here's mine:
1. Doorway jumper - a must have for me when I need to shower and the little guy is awake and wanting to be active.
2. Our exersaucer
3. Highchair. We have both the portable one as well as the big one and we've used both (especially when going to a friend's house).
4. Breastpump
5. Diaper Champ
6. Waterproof Pads for changing table, at night during nursing, and in crib to catch spitup messes and save me from an extra load of laundry!
7. Stroller - any kind that fits your needs.
8. Camera - if you saw the massive amounts of photo albums we have just from the first year, you'd see how much we used our cameras!
9. Moms Group/friends.
10. My husband.

Blogger In the Mix said...

We wouldn't have survived our first year without a sling (for me) or our Baby Bjorn (for my husband). They were lifesavers.
Our little guy didn't love his swing either. It mostly took up precious space.

Anonymous Jen said...

One thing we found indespensable which is not listed here was a baby seat that attaches to the end of the table (you just kind of slide it on, I hope you know what I'm talking about). We used ours instead of the high chair at home so our kids could join us at the table - with the high chair they seemed more like a satellite and less part of the family dinner. It was easy to fold and take with us to restaurants and the homes of family & friends. Plus it was cheap! My kids are older but when we got ours it was under $30.

Blogger Mella said...

Oh, Mary, a cleaning service IS a fantastic idea! Thanks!

Novice, I had to laugh when I read your list for our friend, because I'd just written this post and thought Oh my! it really must be a personality thing, swings and whatnot. The diaper genie though, yeah. We weren't impressed. Though, The Boss does stink. So, maybe it was just him. Either way, the plastic bags have worked great.

Dillyweed, I did actually recommend the exersaucer to her - my kids love theirs. I always though my son would've loved a jumperoo too.

In The Mix, thanks for the note - I think I'm leaning towards recommending a sling/baby bjorn for sure. My husband always wanted one for himself...

Jen, that's another great idea! My sister uses one, and it's great for restaurants. No need to put the little on in one of those icky high chairs!

And, I Tell You The Truth, I love you.

Anonymous kathy said...

Our must-haves were:
1. Diaper Champ (we like it better than the Genie)
2. A great crib mobile (not the cutesy kind, but the ones that are stimulating and grow with your baby)
3. A sling - both my kids were happier in the sling than the bjorn-style carrier, and I could carry them into toddlerhood in the sling
4. Lap pads - the waterproof pads for your changing table that can double as burp cloths
5. An exersaucer and/or door jumper
6. Stacking cups - they're a great toy that grows with your baby, and they're travel friendly and compact
7. Hyland's teething tablets - do wonders to comfort a teething baby
8. I second the cleaning service.
9. travel swing - must have for showers, and then you can pack and store it.
10. We used our Pack N Play like made for the first 6 months. It stayed in the playroom and the new baby slept in all the time (except at night). It was also a nice changing table to use downstairs.

The suggestions from others above are great too. I guess even at 17 months it's been a while since I've had a newborn!

Blogger Mella said...

We used the teething tabs for our son too.

It did work wonders and we loved them until my mother took one look at the label and said "No wonder he calms down, it's got belladonna in it!"

Apparently belladonna is a form of nightshade, which is poisonous. Of course, I'm sure the dosage is safe enough, and I've never read or heard anything to the contrary about Hylands, only good things.

Blogger Mella said...

Oh - and stacking cups! Great idea!

Blogger david C said...

Here are a few things that we used in the first year in no particular order:

Avent Steam sterilizer for the microwave. Faster than boiling and can be done anywhere (we travel a lot)

Travel system for sure... Safety first for baby and convenience with the in-car socket.

About a million of those little tiny flanel cloths. We did not use wipes on our baby because she has a very sensitive bottom and even the organic ones affected her.

Those cloth change pads.. lots of em. With the bladder and bowel control of a newborn it was great to drop the dirty one in the big pile and take yet another fresh one out of the drawer for the next change.

What we did not use: the change stand. ( still change her on the counter in the bathroom or the bed.. (Waste of money for us and eveyone whe talked to)

Echo the comment on the jolly lumper, that is popular. We also own tons of bibs from the dollarama. We also have lots of chew toys from there...

That is our two cents worth..

P.S. the diaper geanie did not work for us either.. plastic bags and the ability to ignore the smell seemed to work better for us.

Blogger Mella said...

David - So nice of you to stop by in the midst of your world travels! (Have I mentioned lately that I'm incredibly envious?)

Oh, and I said the same thing to my husband about the changing stand - not worth it. We use the bed, or even the carpet, with a blanket or cover down. We're all about convenience anyway.

Blogger Susanna Rose said...

First off Mella, I fully support and second every single one of your beliefs you expressed in your last post! It's actually quite funny cause if I had not gotten married, I probably would have been a single missionary in eastern Europe as well! I've always had a heart for that area of Europe for some reason!!!:) Thanks for your gentle openness!


P.S. I found your story in Family Circle finally tonight!!! My husband's grandma lets me have her issues after (and sometimes long after;) she's read them and now, I'm reading "the simplest of acts!" You are awesome and I feel so thrilled to somehow know the writer !!!!

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