This was supposed to be an e-mail for a particular person, but then I decided the whole world (yes, the whole world reads my blog) could benefit from my vast knowledge and expertise.
When I was pregnant the first time I knew very little and did NO research when I went to register for my baby bath (no traditional shower for me. We had boys and booze). I therefore made A LOT of mistakes and wound up replacing things on my own later. I am sure that there are some people who are going to disagree with me, but I'm going to just say it anyway. For the most part Evenflo sucks. There, I said it. I hate my Evenflo stroller, Evenflo swing, Evenflo high chair, Evenflo breast pump, Evenflo pack n play. I LOVE my Graco Duo Glider stroller (I can't speak for the single ones out there) and the Graco pack n play I have is MUCH sturdier than the Evenflo I bought my MIL. I have found that Graco is much more reliable than the Evenflo products, but not everything I have is Graco. So, here are my specific recommendations:
1. Swing-- My best friend gave me her Fisher Price Papasan Cradle Swing when she moved to Texas. It is SO much nicer than my traditional Evenflo. It goes side to side as well as front and back and is really good for newborn infants as well as the older infant. I can't wait to use it from day 1 this time!
2. High Chair--I had such a hard time cleaning my old Evenflo. Food would get into the tiny crevices and it was just such a pain in the neck. Years later I finally bought the Fisher Price Space-Saver High Chair which fits right onto a regular chair and is so much easier to clean. It also converts to a booster seat. I'm not using it as one because I knew I'd need it as a high chair again. Instead I'm using the Fisher Price Healthy Care Booster seat (I'm starting to see a pattern that I swear I did not realize before!). I actually have two of these--one for the Princess at home and one I keep in my car for when we are out. Interesting side note--after the Princess started sitting in the booster seat and SkyWalker moved out of it we had a little back and forth over whether or not he needed one. I decided to buy a cheap one that would just give him a little extra height but not be as fancy as the one we have. Guess what? Buy cheap, and you get cheap. Very quickly we (I) decided he didn't need it at all and it is now sitting under our craft table where the baby dolls use it or it's used as a quick stool to see out the window.
3. Car seats--I originally had the Evenflo infant car seat (part of travel stroller system) for SkyWalker. When I was pregnant with the Princess Consumer Report had that controversial car seat issue and the Evenflo did not do so well. I think the report was later retracted, but I had already been thinking of getting a different infant car seat. I knew I had to get the double stroller and was strongly thinking of the Graco Duo Glider and I don't think the evenflo seat would have fit in that. So I just got the whole travel system that came with the Graco Snugride infant car seat. Although I never had any real problems with the evenflo infant seat, the Graco did seem a bit nicer.
I lucked out with the convertible car seat. I did no research and just picked out the Cosco Alpha Omega. When it was time for the Princess I did a TON of research and picked out... the Cosco Alpha Omega 3-in-1. I think there's an updated version now. It converts to a booster seat as well.
For those wondering why you would have an infant seat AND a convertible seat (because those can also be placed backwards for infants), here's why: when your infant falls asleep in the car it is a MILLION times easier to pick up the removable infant seat from the base and put it into your travel stroller or bring it inside the house and the baby STAYS ASLEEP. Once you move to that convertible you have to take the baby out of the seat increasing the odds of it waking up. I don't care if you only use the infant seat for a few months because you have a big baby (I got 6-7 months out of it) it is WORTH it.
A couple of months ago I was thinking about booster seats but SkyWalker is not 40 pounds yet. You've got to be 4 years and 40 pounds for most of the seats. A friend let me know about the ones with the backs-- 3 years and 30 pounds--and my problem was solved! I bought the Graco Turbo booster. It also converts to a backless booster for when your child weighs enough. So when SkyWalker is 10 he should be in it. I don't have him in it yet because the 5 point harness car seat is still the safest for him, and when he's in the booster he'll be in the BACK of the van. It's already in the car and he knows this, but we're not moving him until we need to (for those of you who know my van--SkyWalker will be in the back in the 3rd row all by himself, the Princess will move her car seat into his current position right behind the driver's seat, and #3 will be in the spot where she is now, behind the passenger seat and next to the automatic sliding door.)
4. Breastpump-- you CANNOT GO CHEAP. If you think you are going to breastfeed and will need to pump you need to get the best. And guess what? I still used my pump when I was working part time. I had the evilflo and used it for a couple of weeks when I realized that cheap is cheap. I bought the Medela Pump in Style Advanced. It was so much nicer and easier and more comfortable. And reliable. And I got better results. There might be an updated one now. I am hoping that this time around I can get away without pumping at work (it's only 1 night a week!) but I still plan on pumping every morning so I will definitely get my money's worth out of it. Remember when the Princess was born?
I would even say that if you're not sure you'll breastfeed but you're going to try to get this pump anyway. You can always return it or sell it if it's not used. Keep it in the box and if breastfeeding is going well the first few days, open it up!
5. Bottles--I tried a few different bottles and for breastfeeding moms I really like the Avent ones. I don't know anything about formula feeding but I think there are different bottles that are best for that. The ones that really cut down on gas and whatnot. With breastfeeders the shape of the nipple is really important. And I would strongly recommend that you stay with the newborn nipple no matter how old your child is if you want to keep breastfeeding. Once you go to the older nipples with faster flows babies start to prefer that and it's hard for moms to keep up!
6. Monitors--we have a 2 story (actually 3 if you count the basement/office) house so we need good monitors. The Graco ones we had at first had too much static. I bought the Sony Baby Call Monitors and we still use them. As with all electronics there is occasional static or interference but much less with the Sony than we had with the Graco ones. We've been pretty happy with them. I don't use the monitor to hear my baby breathing. I turn it down low at night and actually keep it in the bathroom off of our room rather than my nightstand. We use them to hear crying we wouldn't normally hear or when I go outside with SkyWalker. If you have a one floor house and your baby's room is right next door, you may not even need a monitor. I just bought the Summer Video Monitor since #3 will be sharing a room with the climbing Princess. I don't think anyone actually *needs* a video monitor. I don't intend on staring at my infant sleeping... but with two in the room I really want to know if that cry in the middle of the night that I would ordinarily ignore is because of the Princess climbing in the crib or throwing things into it. I don't normally run up the stairs at the first cry... but if I can see that the Princess is screwing around... then I'll be running up the stairs. I will be honest, I have it set up now and it is WICKED cool being able to see if she is actually in her bed or if she's messing around in her room. I don't need to see the whites of her eyes but it's nice seeing her position. Particularly with the attic door right there.
7. Co-Sleeper-- I LOVE the Arms Reach Sleigh Bed co-sleeper. I love it because I'm a breastfeeding mom who needs to feed every 2 or 3 hours for the first few weeks. I love it because it is attached to my bed but the baby is not IN my bed. There's a separation so there's no fear of rolling over or hurting the baby. And I particularly love the sleigh bed style because it is so crib like and I think it helps in the natural progression to the crib. You can also use it as a bassinet when you have the 4th side attached (instead of open and next to your bed). It's more expensive than I think the regular bassinets that most people have are but I just love it. I'm not even sure what brand my crib is... my mother bought it and we picked it out at the store together and it's just fine. I don't feel very strongly about cribs. I just trusted my mother.
8. Bouncy seats--I don't have an actual bouncy seat. As in, it doesn't bounce. I have the Fisher Price Infant-to-toddler rocker (2 of them). It vibrates and that was GREAT for SkyWalker. It helped break up his gas. Right now both of them are in the living room as rockers and the Princess still likes to go and sit in one. She turns on the vibrations by herself and chills out for a minute or two. SkyWalker also likes to sit in it but usually when the two of them are pretending they are trains and they sit in front of one another and move them along the floor. I really hope that I can use one for the baby and not have to buy a third!
9. Walker-- I had a walker. SkyWalker was never big enough for it and I got rid of it. I am glad. Walkers are dangerous. I would go with a stationary exersaucer for keeping the baby occupied and then the Playskool Walk n Ride for helping the baby to walk.
I'd love to hear what other moms would recommend as well! I know a couple of soon to be first-time moms who would benefit from all the info they can get.
Added 7:57 pm
I KNEW there was something I was forgetting!
10. Bumpers--The first time around I got the traditional bumper that matched the baby blanket (that wasn't used until well after a year old when the bumpers were off). I hated them. They got in the way of the drop side crib rail--I definitely need that rail because I am 5 feet 1 when I stretch--they were a pain when I changed the sheets. And SkyWalker would sleep with his little head shmushed against it. I didn't use them at all for the Princess. That was fine while she was swaddled (with a swaddle me blanket. Velcro is so much easier than trying to secure a regular blanket!) but once she wasn't she would get her legs and arms caught. This time around I have the new (to me) mesh bumpers. They keep baby's limbs in the crib while allowing the baby to breathe through the mesh. I am also hoping that it will provide a little visual barrier so the baby is not staring at the Princess when he/she should be sleeping! It comes in two sections, one for the main part and one for the drop side rail. So much easier than the original one I had. And instead of a million little ties all over it has velcro at the edge. I loves it!