Baby Prep Brain Dump

Updated November 2018

Congrats again on the impending baby!

Here is our giant baby brain dump that we’ve been sending it to folks we know having babies for the last couple of years and it has (reportedly) been useful.

It’s really long and overly detailed. All you really need for the baby are some clothes, a place to sleep and a way to feed them. A lot of this stuff is just gold plating. Hopefully you find the info useful when you go to make a registry or start a list of the stuff you need.

For registries, Amazon was great. (Some of these links are Amazon affiliate links, and as an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases.) Target I’ve also heard ok things about. We relied heavily on a book called Baby Bargains which has a lot of info on brand comparison, saving ideas, and what you do and don’t need.

Some advice - anyone you know with kids, even if they’re not necessarily that close, feel them out a little for hand me downs and borrowing. Most people with kids have a stockpile of baby stuff they’d prefer to get rid of or lend out, and handing it down feels good versus letting it sit around.

General brands we’ve liked: Skip Hop (everything is super adorable), Aden and Anais (so soft!), Pampers for diapers and wipes, Boon, OXO, Robeez, Bog, Graco, Chicco, Fisher-Price.

Stuff I’d definitely recommend registering for/getting in general, with the ones we have as a reference:

  • Portable Crib. We have a Graco Pack n Play (not sure exactly which one, but similar to this Aspery), but really any kind of portable crib is great. We used this in place of a mini crib or bassinet with Elliott when he was brand new and sleeping in our room in it. We used an Arm’s Reach Mini Co Sleeper with Cora which we borrowed from a friend. It’s useful to have a smaller version of the crib at first for the baby to sleep in your room (if you do that). The Pack N Play was good in place of a bassinet or other small crib because it’s useful after the brand new baby phase (you can use it for years, and we still pull ours out when friends/family with babies come over and have need).

  • Portable crib sheets. Usually a standard size, but different from crib sheets. We have 2 of these and 2 is probably the right number.

  • Fisher Price Rock n Play. This was one of our MOST used baby items for 0 - 6 months. It is awesome to have a spot to stash the baby that you can easily carry from room to room. Unfortunately, it was recently recalled. If and when they release an updated version, we’d probably recommend it.

  • Car Seat. Chicco KeyFit 30 is our infant car seat. We really like it. Comes in lots of colors - this link includes the caddy which I describe more below.

  • Crib mattress. We have the Sealy Soybean crib mattress. It worked out well 5 plus years on after two little ones.

  • Crib. I don’t think they sell the exact one we got at the time. I did enough research to conclude that the new ones all have to pass the same safety standards so it was more aesthetic than anything. I think we spent around $200 on a new basic white one.

  • Crib Sheets. They’re all pretty good and standard size. You’ll probably want 3 of these. We have 4 or 5 and that was probably more than we needed. But I liked switching up the patterns! You don’t need bumpers (and they aren’t recommended for safety reasons.) We had a dust ruffle thing just for looks which you don’t need but I enjoyed having. :)

  • Changing station of some kind. We use my childhood dresser and it’s worked great. We use one drawer for the diapers and stuff. I think this is more functional than a separate piece of furniture that’s just for changing.

  • Changing pad. The LA Baby Waterproof one is great!

  • Changing pad cover. They’re all pretty much the same. Pick the patterns you like best. You’ll want at least 2 of these. We had 3 and weren’t sorry.

  • Stroller. We have the City Mini Baby Jogger stroller. We like this a lot. You can get an attachment to snap the baby seat in (a huge time saver in the first 6 months). The GT version has a better basket and adjustable handle, so if I did it over again I’d pick that one. It can be set to jog or regular mode, and is really narrow compared to other strollers, so good for the city and small shops. The City Mini Stroller is now the Wirecutter favorite. For Cora we borrowed a Chicco stroller caddy from friends because the huge basket and super easy snap in/snap out was really nice for the first several months.

  • Ergo baby carrier. We LOVE it. We use it for hiking as well as walks. We used it for Elliott until he was 3.5, and still use it for Cora. If you want to use it right away when the baby is born you should get the infant insert as well.

  • Diaper Genie. Helps control the diaper smell and easy disposal in the baby’s room/area.

  • Baby shampoo and wash. We use Shea Moisture Baby Shampoo. It’s got real ingredients and smells great. We buy it at our grocery store, which I think is a bit cheaper than Amazon.

  • Breast pump (if nursing is planned). I have the Medela Pump In Style Backpack. This pump has been good for me, I’d recommend it.

  • Bottles. Our babies both liked Medela ones the best (which come with the Medela pump and you can get more). Dr. Brown’s they also liked fine. Bottles are a pain to wash. At day care, babies will use 5 a day and an average bottle has about 5 pieces. Paul is partial to the bottles that are easiest to clean, and our kids haven’t been too fussy about it. The Medela bottles have the fewest parts. If you are hand washing, Paul likes the Born Free bottles since they are wide mouth. In a dishwasher, Dr Browns are probably a little easier than Born Free (easier to disassemble and reassemble).

  • High chair. We started off with my own high chair I used as a baby which was solid walnut and lovely, but a real pain to clean and get the baby in and out of. Then we got the Fisher-Price Booster Seat and we loved it. It’s easy to clean and super portable if you want to go to a friend’s house or something. Just straps on a chair.

  • Diaper bag. We never found one we really loved, but we liked the Diaper Dude and we used the Built Go-Go later on.

  • Baby blankets. You don’t need to put these on the registry because you will get TONS as gifts no matter what. If there’s one you just love though, go for registering for it.

  • Swaddle blankets. We have Swaddle Me swaddle blankets and the Halo swaddle blankets, which are great. We also have the Miracle blanket, which really keeps the baby from getting out of the swaddle, but they’re more irritating to put on.

  • Diapers. We went disposable. We researched cloth, but decided in the end it was going to be a lot of work to scrape poo and wash that much. Pampers is our go-to brand. There are a lot of Pampers varieties. We’re partial to Pampers Swaddlers diapers and Pampers Natural Clean wipes (the baby fresh scent is not to our liking). We buy both in bulk on Amazon. With Elliott, we tried a few different brands of diapers but each led to more blowouts. So we just stuck with Pampers.

  • Burp cloths. Aden and Anais is good. We also liked Gerber flannel ones. Cloth pre fold diapers are also good for this. The thin crappy ones are NO GOOD. Sometimes the kids are really spitting up and you want to have enough fabric to sop it up. Having a bunch of cloth diapers is pretty useful for diaper changes, too. If your kid is blowing out, you can throw a few of them down and not worry about messing up nicer burp cloths. I think we have these cloth diapers.

  • Solid feeding stuff. We just got the cheapest stuff pretty much and it worked fine for the beginning. This is bowls, spoons, sippy cups, etc. They are light and you don’t get attached. But they also break down, get chewed up, etc, and we recycle a lot of them. As the kids get older, we’ve been getting nicer stuff. We have some new spoons which are metal with a rubbery handle and some glass cups with silicone wrappers.

  • Amazon Family. You should consider Amazon Family. It’s like Amazon Prime with some extra kid related discounts. We had it set up to automatically deliver diapers, wipes, diaper genie refills, and more monthly.

  • Clothes. Any and all brands have been fine for us. The cheaper ones maybe aren’t quite as durable, but especially when they’re new they grow out of their clothes crazy fast. Also, they’re going to poop, pee, and spit up all over everything, so I’d just as soon have cheaper stuff so I don’t feel as sad about ruination. That said, we registered for a few more expensive special things if I really loved the look of them. :) I’d recommend registering for mostly 6 month (3 - 6 months), 9 month (6 - 9 month) and 12 month (9 - 12 month) clothes because people tend to buy a lot of 0 - 3 month stuff even though babies are only in that size for a little while. Some things to think about:

    • Seasons. Don’t register for a snowsuit in a size the baby will wear in the summer (learned this the hard way).
    • Sleep n Plays are great, especially if they have zippers. These are basically footie pajamas that little babies wear for sleep or during the day. I’d recommend several of those in various sizes, remembering seasonality again for warm v cool weather.
    • Shirt onesies, long and short sleeved
    • Leggings/Pants
    • Socks/booties (a set of 6 or so in a few sizes maybe)
    • Hats (another thing people like to buy so maybe just a few)
    • Snowsuit and/or bunting (these usually come with hoods and mittens and boots attached)

Nice to have

Nice to have, and I definitely appreciate having this stuff, but not completely necessary:

  • Aden and Anais muslin blankets.

  • Nosefrida. Great for colds and not as disgusting as it seems

  • Crib Mattress pad. A good idea to have a few of these, helps protect the mattress from blowouts and such. I think they’re all pretty standard.

  • Umbrella stroller. We didn’t have one of these at first, but they’re so useful for travel. We chose one that was relatively inexpensive (maybe $60 or so?), and it was through Toys R Us which is now defunct, but Wire Cutter has some recommendations: https://thewirecutter.com/reviews/best-umbrella-strollers/.

  • Glider/Rocker. Any is probably good but we got ours off of Craigslist for $100 and you can probably do the same. We got a Shermag brand one.

  • Baby tub. We had the Comfort Deluxe Newborn To Toddler Tub but I think most of them are pretty decent

  • Hooded bath towels. 2 or 3 is plenty.

  • Pacifiers. Our kids like the NUK brand a lot, but this is apparently pretty specific to each kid. I’d maybe get a couple of some kind to start and then you can try other brands out as you like.

  • Baby Bjorn bibs. They catch food better than anything else for actual feeding time. Our kids weren’t very drooly so we didn’t use the cloth drool catcher bibs much.

  • My Brest Friend Nursing pillow. Love it!

  • Sleep sack. Most brands are pretty good - these are for when the baby is too big to swaddle (can roll over) but too little for blankets (under a year or so).

  • Humidifier. We have this humidifier but never used vicks with it. I would say we used this, but only 5 or 6 times. Not a must have.

  • Hamper. Not a must have, but they’re fun and cute. We have this hamper in green.

  • Storage bins. Not a must have, but useful and cute. We have these bins in green.

  • Baby hangers. Useful if you’re going to hang some of the baby’s clothes. I use them a lot. Any brand is pretty good.

  • Monitors. We didn’t like ours and in our current house (different from when Elliott was a baby) we don’t really need it. You might not either with your house layout.

  • Activity gym. Good for 2 - 5 month olds. We had the Infantino Twist and Fold

  • Books. People will get you these (especially if you ask for them in lieu of cards at your shower, which I recommend!) but if you have favorites go ahead and register. It turns out that there are a lot of really bad kids books. I’d probably register for a few, and be prepared to hide some you get as gifts so you don’t have to gouge your eyes out reading them for the hundredth time. Sandra Boynton writes great books for little ones http://www.amazon.com/Sandra-Boynton/e/B000AP9SWQ. You can also look at which books won awards. And books with animals are always fun.

  • Toys. Maybe find a few you like and register, but these won’t matter for the first 2 months and people get you soooo many. I think we only registered for 2 or 3 and that was plenty. Sophie the giraffe is well loved by all babies it seems.

  • Jumperoo. I bought a used one for $20 and Elliott loved it. Might be worth registering for one, like the Fisher-Price Animal Activity Jumperoo

  • White Noise machine. We had the Graco Sweet Slumber Sound Machine and it’s good.

  • Grooming kit. I couldn’t find the one we have, but this is similar. Comb, nail clippers, etc.

  • Thermometer. An in-the-ear one has served us well, but I know some folks do the forehead kind

  • Bumbo chair. I’d say this is borderline whether it’s really a nice-to-have. I mean, we used it and it’s kind of fun, but we’d also have been totally find without it. Helps them learn to sit up and gives you another place to put them.

Heard good things about

Stuff we haven’t used but have heard good things about:

  • K’tan baby wrap

  • MacLaren or Jeep brand umbrella stroller

  • Tommy Tippee bottles

  • Comotomo bottles

Stuff we would not recommend or just didn’t miss:

  • Wipes warmer

  • Expensive baby clothes (the cheap stuff is durable enough and cute)

  • Moby wrap (just a lot of work to wrap it around you)

  • Vibrating seat. Some people swear by them but we didn’t have one.

  • Swing. We actually borrowed one from a friend for Cora, but didn’t have one for Elliott and didn’t really miss it. Cora liked it fine and it helped with crying sometimes, but we didn’t really need it. Some babies LOVE swings though so it’s kind of a toss up.

  • Bottle warmer

  • Bottle drying rack. Although Paul might disagree. We just used our regular dish rack.

  • Baby wash cloths. You don’t really need them, a regular wash cloth is fine.

Random thoughts

A few other things:

  • Join a local parents group if you can find one. We were in a group of 7 other families with babies all born within 6 weeks, and it was so nice to share concerns and relate to folks who had babies the same age. We also became very close friends with one of the other couples and Elliott is still BFFs with their son, Jake.

  • Join the email or social network group local to your area. It’s been super nice for finding free or inexpensive used gear, asking for recommendations, and you almost certainly have an email list or Facebook group to join that’ll cover your neighborhood.

  • Consider baby classes. Likely your hospital will have them! Suuuuuper nice to refresh yourself on baby care, prepare for labor, etc.

Woo! I hope that helps! Feel free to call or text us ANYTIME with questions. We are so thrilled!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Yay baby!

Alicia and Paul