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GEARING UP: NEWBORN ESSENTIALS LIST

FIRST OFF: SIGN UP FOR AMAZON MOM.

Buying your Baby Stuff of Amazon is:

1) VERY VERY AFFORDABLE and

2) GIVES YOU FREE TWO-DAY “PRIME” SHIPPING PRIVILEGES.

GEAR:

  • STROLLER — You want the City Mini by Baby Jogger. I say this because I have had a lot of strollers, and this is the one I wish I’d had from the start (hated my Bugaboo, and my Maclaren broke). The City Mini fully reclines – which means you can use it from birth – and you can buy a car seat adaptor, which means it’s also a travel system. And it’s a very smooth ride, and incredibly light, and most importantly: it folds with one hand. You can actually, honestly, close it with one hand while baby is in the other. Oh, and it’s less than $250, which is a huge deal considering the “fancy schmancy” strollers are now going $800 and up.
  • DOUBLE STROLLER — If you’re having TWINS / SECOND KID, you want the City Mini Double, for all the same reasons. We love ours. Lighter, more flexible, more adaptable, easier — the perfect perfect stroller. Believe me!
  • CAR SEAT — You need an infant seat AND a convertible seat. Don’t get talked into just having the convertible. You need the infant seat so you can actually take it in and out of the car when your kid is passed out in it. Get the GRACO – it’s the highest rated and almost every piece of “you can use your car seat with this” bit of gear is compatible with the Graco. (Oh, and you should get a BRITAX when you move up into the convertibles. Or a DIONO RADIAN. I have been converted to the SAFETY FIRST RADIAN because it has a higher weight limit and it is narrower and doesn’t require you to buy a minivan to move 3 kids around. I have 4 kids, so I had to buy the minivan, but still, I am way into the DIONO RADIAN seats.)
  • SWING –- Unfortunately, this is a must have. They are truly ugly but a total lifesaver. that said, you have to get the Fisher Price Cradle And Swing, which is the one the majority of kids like (as opposed to other brands, which I often hear complaints about). I resisted this purchase for about a month after Diddy was born. Resistance is futile. Thanks to Pancake and Sausage, I even had TWO of these swings taking up space in our family room for six months or so. (Yes, you do need two of these if you’re having twins).
  • BOUNCY SEAT –- so you have somewhere to put the kid when she’s not sleeping or swinging. You don’t need an electronic one – that’s why you have a swing. And you don’t need a fancy schmancy designer one, because they’re hard to clean (learned this the hard way). Get the Baby Bjorn bouncer – it’s around $150 and clean and modern and streamlined, and someone always has one to give away free, promise.
  • MONITOR –- Get a video monitor, not an audio one. We like our Summer Infant Video Monitor. You want the video so you can see what the kid is actually DOING while she screams. Screaming while sleeping you won’t want to get up for … screaming while standing and banging her head against the bars of her crib might be another story. THAT SAID: VIDEO MONITORS ONLY WORK IN RANGES UP TO 300 FEET. We learned this the hard way when we moved into our new house. If you live in a large house, buy a PHILIPS AVENT AUDIO MONITOR with two-way talk … That way when one of you is pissed off about the hour you’ve spent in the nursery at 2 am while the other person is “sleeping,” you can yell into the monitor for them and they can yell back at you 😉
  • WHITE NOISE MACHINE –- will work wonders calming your kid in the early weeks. The Sleep Sheep ain’t bad, and they now make a smaller, travel version, too. That said, most of them only have 45 minute cycles and some kids wake up as soon as the cycle ends. You can also download an app for your phone and let it play all night …
  • DIAPER BAG -– get something light with lots of pockets. Also insulated bottle compartments are cool. Right now I’m carrying a StorkSak, which I love, but a Le Sport Sac bag is also grand because it’s so very very light. These are girly options. Guys: there are lots of daddy versions now that are pretty cool. But I leave it to you … Just be sure it HAS REAL CLOSURE (zips, snaps, whatev) so the kids can’t dig through it. And insulated pockets for bottles! AND IT MUST BE REALLY REALLY LIGHT WHEN IT’S EMPTY because these damn things get heavy FAST.
  • SLINGS / BABY CARRIERS -– I have gone through LOTS of this stuff. If you’re into quick and convenient, you want a SLING in the early days – I like my New Native (sized larger for Dads) and my Peanut Shell (sized smaller and in cooler fabrics). Baby wraps are fun if you have a little more time on your hands – I had an Ultimate Baby Wrap I wore a lot with Diddy that I found I had less time for when I had 2 — and then 4 — kids to wrangle. If you’re not into wraps — or for when the baby is bigger — avoid the Baby Bjorn and go for the ERGO instead – the Bjorn is aggravating on back and shoulders while the ERGO distributes weight better and is useful longer as kids age.
  • STROLLER SLEEPING BAG –-this sort of thing is good for winter babies. It slips right over the straps of your car seat or stroller and you just pop the baby in it. Not a necessity in LA, but a must-have in NY.
  • PACIFIERS –- babies need to suck, and it takes a while for them to find their hands. Most kids like pacifiers – some don’t. Buy a few and pray your baby likes them. That said, you want to get rid of the pacifiers early rather than late — three year-olds don’t like to give ’em up. I generally wean the paci as soon as the kid can find her fingers — or when I’m swaddle-weaning / sleep training. I figure as long as the kid is crying about one thing, she might as well be crying about EVERYTHING getting past it all at once.
  • PLAYMAT / BABYGYM – you want one with bright colors, like the Tiny Love. Or you could buy the really cool wooden one I saw at Ikea and was so lusting for but couldn’t justify buying because I already have a perfectly fine playmat.

FURNITURE:

  • CRIB – We’re actually very happy with our $99 Ikea cribs. And I say this after having spent $600 on a Netto Cub crib when Diddy was born — after we put it together, Mr. Big (Ideas) and I looked at each other and said, “How is this piece of particle board crap any better than Ikea?” Which is why we went with Ikea for Gaga. And then bought another one for Pancake and Sausage. Ikea has the baby thing down to an art. Really.
  • CHANGING TABLE –- or dresser with a Contoured Changing Pad on top works find. That said, I have found that actual changing tables put the kid at the exact right level for constant changing … we have a dresser with a changer on top, and it’s a little less comfortable for me.  Lots of changing tables convert to dressers if you spend a little money on them, anyway … and a pretty changing table really dresses up that Ikea crib 😉 One cool option is the Room and Board changing-table top … LOVE THAT.
  • BASSINET / CO-SLEEPER –- We had Diddy in our bed, in a Snugglenest, for 14 weeks, for convenience sake, because I was nursing. We did the same thing for Gaga. There is also a lot of thought that co-sleeping like that helps bonding, yadda yadda. That said, around 14 weeks I was unbelievably grateful to move Diddy into her crib, and Gaga into a co-sleeper NEXT to the bed, and was DYING to get Gaga out of our room completely. But honestly,  you really don’t need a co-sleeper. You can use a basic PACK-N-PLAY, too. Regardless:  Babies are LOUD LOUD SLEEPERS. They’re not that fun to have in bed / near your bed. Nursing moms need them close just because they can roll over, grab kid, latch on boob, and pass out again. Adopting / bottle-feeding Moms don’t need that so much … you gotta get out of bed anyway, so putting baby in a crib in another room isn’t the worst idea. That said, if you’re getting out of bed a couple of times at night, you really need a SUPER COMFORTABLE rocker or glider.
  • ROCKER / GLIDER –- After my brief but uncomfortable love affair with a gorgeous vintage rocker we bought on eBay, we bought a fully upholstered Dutalier which I adore and which is less ugly than you might think and available in many colors.
  • HIGH CHAIR – Totally unnecessary until your kid is 6 months. The best fancy option is the Stokke Tripp Trapp, which can be customized for all ages and comes in lots of colors and looks cool in all environments. Or you can go with the $14 highchair we bought at Ikea and that we love love love. For $5 more you get a tray, too!

BEDDING:

  • SWADDLING BLANKETS – Most kids like to be swaddled, though there are exceptions (Gaga hated it). Mr. Big (Ideas) loved the MIRACLE BLANKET – I could take it or leave it, but it is very Daddy-friendly. Otherwise, the bigger the swaddling blanket the better – I love the ULTIMATE RECEIVING BLANKET. Also you want some muslin versions – they are perfect for warm weather, and to drape over strollers and car seats in the sun without cutting off all airflow to your kid. Also there is now something called the WOOMBIE, which zips up, and was great for Pancake and Sausage.

  That said: wean the swaddling at around 4 months!

  • SLEEP SACKS -– For when you’re done swaddling. They are little tiny baby sleep bags, and they are  the best invention ever. Buy several – your kid may use two each night in the beginning (killer poop).
  • BUMPERS for the crib -– Yeah, they’re cute, but a pain in the ass when you’re changing the sheets. Plus once baby can roll over, they’re a safety hazard and you have to get rid of them anyway. I say skip ‘em to begin with – the nice ones are pretty expensive anyway.
  • MATTRESS – This is one thing I did shell out for, because baby spends many many hours every day on the mattress. I bought mine at giggle.com. Buy a two-sided, dual- firmness, infant / toddler convertible mattress that you can flip over when your kid is old enough for a softer sleeping surface.
  • CONTOURED CHANGING PAD – for the changing table. One with four sides is perfect and you can find these on Amazon.
  • LAP PADS – To put on top of the changing pad covers, so you can just constantly launder these, instead of constantly changing the changing pad covers. Get 8 of these.
BATHING:

  • BIG HOODED TOWELS – I’d buy four per kid, considering the poop factor.
  • BABY BATHTUB – in the beginning, the kitchen or bathroom sink works fine. Then you need a bathtub solution – we liked our Eurotub for Diddy, but it’s big and not workable if your bath tub has glass doors that get in the way of you having full access to the tub. For Gaga, we went with a Washpod, but that only works for the first six months. Then you need some sort of seat for the tub until baby is a confirmed, strong, sitter-upper. I used the PUJ in the sink with Pancake and Sausage — best one yet. Buy it on Amazon. It’s amazing.

FEEDING:

  • PUMP – If you’re nursing, buy the AMEDA PURELY YOURS, NOT THE MEDELA. The Medela molds. The Ameda doesn’t. Buy the AMEDA. Or RENT FROM THE HOSPITAL — Hospital-grade pumps really are better. For the twins, I rented a machine in addition to my Ameda — I kept the hospital pump in my office and the Ameda in my car and it was a perfect system. Also, the hospital pump rental is tax-deductible!
  • NURSING PILLOW – If you’re nursing, don’t bother with a Boppy. Get a MY BREST FRIEND. If you’re nursing twins, however, I’d recommend getting a MY BREST FRIEND TWIN PILLOW and a Boppy, so that if for some reason you aren’t tandem-nursing, you can nurse one kid in your arms, and prop the other up in the Boppy with his bottle. Or if one’s done first, you can put him down while you burp the other. Honestly, for the twins, I had TWO Boppys — that way, if someone else was feeding them, it was easy to prop them both up with their bottles and move on.
  • BPA FREE BOTTLES – This is my only “crazy mommy” thing, I think. When Diddy was a baby, all the Bisphenol A stuff started to surface and I threw out all our bottles and bought really pricey BPA-free Born Free bottles. Luckily, there are now more and cheaper BPA-free brands. Buy BPA-free. There is no way to know how bad this shit is for our kids, so why risk it …

CLOTHES:

INFANTS GO THROUGH A MINIMUM OF THREE CHANGES OF CLOTHES DAILY, and TWO SETS OF PAJAMAS NIGHTLY at the start … poop is an amazingly explosive property the like of which you have never imagined until you have kids. So think about how often you are willing to do laundry when you shop for your layette – assume you’ll go through 5 SETS OF CLOTHES A DAY. I like to have at least three-days worth of clothes on hand.

  • ONE PIECE OUTFITS LIKE PAJAMAS – At the very beginning, one piece outfits with feet are essential because you really can’t keep socks on a baby. Babies kick off socks. That said, this is less of an issue for summer babies than winter babies. If I had to do it over again, I’d heavily weight our early wardrobe with one piece outfits like this (as opposed to shirt / onesies + pants + socks).
  • ONESIES – Lots of these are essential – as undershirts in winter, and complete outfits in summer.
  • HATS – Winter ones or summer ones, obviously







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Sarah Kate Levy

Once upon a time I wanted to be a novelist in NY. FOUR KIDS LATER I'm a
screenwriter in LA who blogs about parenting, partnering, and the decline of civilization / my home.

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