What to Get When You're Expecting-- Part 1

Whew, it's been a while since I posted here. What's new? Adam lost his job. We moved to New York. Allen turned one last week. It's been an interesting 2013 so far. Anyways, a cursory glance at my facebook feed tells me that EVERYONE I know is pregnant, most of them first-time parents! So I thought I'd pass on my top list of baby do/do not buy (good news! You don't have to spend as much money as Babies R' Us would have you believe!). I know everyone's list is different, so feel free to disagree with me, but this is my slightly minimalist list of parenting purchases for baby's first year.

YES-- a baby carrier. Every mom needs a baby carrier-- it's a hands-free way to do what you need to do while simultaneously filling your baby's need to be close to you. Allen is what I jokingly refer to as my velcro baby-- he has a more intense need than most babies to be near me, and screams bloody murder nearly every time I put him down. My back-carrying Boba has been an absolute lifesaver-- if I had to throw out EVERY baby item- diapers, clothes, toys- and save only one thing, this would be it. Sometimes, I even chuck Oscar in there when he's being rowdy in a public place. A ring sling is great for the newborn stage, and a soft-structured carrier (SSC) is great for 3 months and onward. Just make sure to get an SSC with a good, wide bottom that supports the entire bottom and thigh (like Ergo, Beco, or Boba) instead of dangling baby by the crotch (Baby Bjorn, Infantino).

Old picture of Adam and the boys going for a walk! Oscar's face is great.

NO-- a crib. This isn't for everyone, but my family has personally done great without ever owning a crib. We just slept with the baby in our own bed. I recommend co-sleeping if you're planning on breastfeeding-- I had a couple months of getting up in the middle of the night to feed Oscar when we were on the learning curve, but since then, I have never gotten up in the middle of the night to feed. Having figured it all out with Oscar, I actually found Allen's newborn stage to be extremely restful-- I got up once a night to change his diaper, and that was it. The rest of the time, I woke up for the ten seconds it took to latch the hungry Allen on, and fell back asleep. I especially recommend co-sleeping if you'll be breastfeeding and working-- sometimes, when mom works, baby does something called reverse cycling where they sleep a lot during the day when mom is gone and wake up a ton during the night to feed and reconnect. Bring baby to bed, and voila!-- mom gets to sleep, baby gets the closeness s/he craves, everyone wins. This means I recommend taking the money you'd otherwise spend on a crib and YES--Queen- or king-sized bed.

If you decide to take this route, be absolutely certain to research safe co-sleeping practices!

For naps, we had a crib mattress on the floor, for reasons which tie into the next item:

NO-- a playpen or exersaucer. I am a strong believer in babyproofing the house so my babies can move freely to explore. I want them to be a part of my world and learn- while I'm there to watch and guide them- appropriate behavior around table edges, breakable objects, and stairs. It gives me peace of mind; it helps them develop motor skills and investigate things that interest them, instead of viewing it all from behind a mesh curtain or a chair that limits their movements. If I really can't spare the attention to make sure Allen is safe, I put him in the baby carrier.

YES-- Sensorial toys. One little joy of mine is being on the lookout for toys that will give my babies the biggest sensorial bang for the buck. By that, I mean toys that give them exposure to all sorts of different sounds, textures, smells, tastes, patterns, and timbres. For this reason, I avoid purchasing plastic toys-- they all pretty much feel, taste, and fall on the floor the same. Instead, I look for things around the house or in nature for the kiddos to explore. Out of all the stuff in the house, Allen's favorite toy right now is... get ready for it... a PINECONE!! You REALLY, truly don't have to go big-budget for toys.

Allen enjoying his little sensory basket. Right now, it has a wooden dinosaur, a pinecone, a wool yarn ball, a sea shell, a metal ring with old metal keys, a felt embroidered letter, a fabric/wood bead teething ring, and a lavender sachet.

YES-- a good kid's TV show. Science has proven that TV makes children aggressive, stupid, cancerous, and insert bad adjective here. But sometimes, I like to take a shower unaccompanied by the pounding of four little hands pounding on the door. Sometimes, I'm working on something hazardous and need both of them out of the way. Sometimes, I like to enjoy a little "grownup time" with my husband, interruption-free, secure in the fact that my kids will stay glued to one spot. If the price for a little parental sanity is that the kids have to watch half an hour of Thomas the Tank Engine, then I think it's a good tradeoff.

Read Part 2 for bath time, feeding accessories, and more!

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