Strollers, and High Chairs, and Breast Pumps … Oh My!

We spent the afternoon at Babies R Us last Sunday. Walking into the store was like sensory overload. I’m sure I resembled a deer in headlights. There are so many foreign-looking gadgets and pieces of equipment to explore. Which one is best? How much does it cost? Do I need one of these? What is that thing, anyway? You would think the store would make an effort to sort of ease us into this experience, but no.

We  did our best to inspect it all. Everything from strollers, to carriers, to pack n’ plays, to bathtubs, to rocking chairs. I can’t say that the trip left me any more confident in my ability to choose the right items … but maybe I am a little more aware of what’s out there.

Here are my observations from this, our first, experience at the baby store:

A tip for the person who designs the store’s layout: Don’t put the breast pumps right inside the front door, okay? Put them somewhere in the back where I won’t be faced with them until I’ve ramped up to that kind of trauma. Couldn’t we start with something a little easier … maybe crib bedding or stuffed animals?

Whose idea was it to make baby carriers weigh three tons? Seriously, most of them weigh more than my baby will weigh when he’s born. How am I going to make it across a parking lot with the ten pound carrier, the ten pound diaper bag, and the ten pound baby? I guess I better start lifting weights now.

Since when are strollers required to be the size and shape of a small SUV? We might need to buy a bigger car to haul all of this stuff. We spent at least an hour folding and unfolding them, attaching carriers and unattaching them, inspecting edges for potential injury-makers, trying to identify mystery clips and fasteners, and rolling the contraptions up and down the aisles. Even after all of this research, I’m not sure that we identified a “best in show.” It seems that buying a stroller is kind of like buying a house … you spend days identifying all of the pros and cons and then finally just pick the one that fits best in your budget, even if it only has one bathroom and a loud neighbor.

Is a swing a necessity? How about a bouncy chair? Should we pick just one or bust the budget on them both? The store could do a little here to help me decide. Provide some user feedback, or ratings, or comparisons or something.

Pack and Plays seem to be getting more and more complex. They have morphed from the simple playpens of our childhood to these all-in-one contraptions that include a changing table, a bassinet, a night light, a storage compartment, a vibrating sleeping surface, and music.  And again, they are just so BIG, even when folded up. How many of these bells and whistles are really a necessity, anyway?

How do you decide on things like diapers, wipes, diaper rash creams, and pacifiers? There are SO MANY to choose from and I’ve heard that babies typically prefer and/or tolerate only a particular brand, so you have to try them all out. How do I know which ones to add to the registry if I don’t know which ones my baby will like?

What will my baby sleep in? There are so many choices: bassinets, Pack and Plays, cribs, and a myriad of co-sleeping contraptions. It’s enough to make your head spin.

And what’s with the baby monitors that transmit video? Do I really need to be able to see my baby while he sleeps?

I don’t know. I guess we’ll figure it all out eventually. It probably won’t be until after the baby arrives, though. I wonder what the return policy is on a bouncy chair?

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10 Comments on “Strollers, and High Chairs, and Breast Pumps … Oh My!”

  1. Carola Says:

    Hi Nicole,

    after two babys….I can give you some “advices”.
    But I hate writing….so lets talk on the phone….whitch means I need your phone number!!!

    I think I have some answers to your questions….

    Carola

  2. Lyrehca Says:

    Here’s my two cents:

    Get as much as you can from friends whose kids have outgrown stuff. That way, you can see what works for you and your kid once he has arrived, and you won’t feel bad if you end up not using it.

    Craigslist is awesome for getting stuff very inexpensively.

    And whatever you register for, you can always return, unopened, for the store credit.

    Re: your specifics. You can likely rent a breast pump from your hospital, which makes sense if you end up not nursing for whatever reason.

    See if you can go to a smaller baby store (i.e., not Babies R Us) and see if you can test out different slings and carriers. Again, I used a fantastic simple sling borrowed from a friend for my newborn, then upgraded to a secondhand Bjorn (bought off of Craigslist) for when the baby got bigger. Test out what works best for you before you buy (or get as a gift).

    Buying a stroller was like buying a car. The Graco Snap and Go worked great the first few months for us (the car seat snaps out of the car and into the lightweight stroller). I then won an UppaBaby stroller in a raffle, which is terrific. Keep in mind if you’re walking in malls, on city streets, jogging, hauling it into a car trunk, etc. Some strollers are great for off-roading, others not so much. The pricier ones tend to be a smoother ride if you are running/exercising a lot.

    Swing: that’ll be up to your kid. Mine loved his, others have hated it. Can you borrow one or get one cheap secondhand?

    Ditto for the bouncy–your kid may love it or hate it. I had one for upstairs (convenient when you want to shower and keep the baby safe on the bathroom floor in a bouncy) and one for downstairs (for some hands-free dishwasher emptying). And again, both were borrowed.

    We did buy a Pack and Play new, and used it as a sleeping area in our family room. We eventually used it when we travelled with our baby. Ours just had a mobile and a basic mattress. WOrked great.

    Use the diapers they give you in the hospital and continue from there. You won’t know now if your son has a sensitivity, so don’t go nuts until you come home (and your husband can run out and get what you need.) You also get a lot of samples (diaper cream, etc.) when you leave the hospital. For wipes, I just stuck with the local warehouse brand, unscented. You may want to try Seventh Generation if you are concerned about the chemicals in the conventional brands (I tried their diapers, hated them, and went back to Pampers.)

    Your kid may never use a pacifier–don’t stock up until you know for sure.

    The sleeping question is a good one–we used a (borrowed) bassinet and co-slept when necessary, then moved our son to his crib at 3 months, where he still sleeps today nearly three years later.

    And finally, the baby monitors that transmit video are helpful once your kid starts standing up and moving around int he crib. In the first few months, an audio one is all you need (and may be all you ever need).

    Ask some of your friends who have already had kids what their likes and dislikes are. One more tip: the Miracle Swaddling Blanket (sold online–Google it) was worth every penny.

    Sorry to go on and on–hope something here is useful for you!

    • nici Says:

      Wow, this is GREAT information. Unfortunately, we don’t have many friends who have baby gear that we can borrow, but we are thinking of looking at second-hand items. We expect to hit the garage sales pretty hard this spring!

  3. saffy Says:

    Hi,
    Just found your blog. Congratulations on your pregnancy 🙂

    Lyrehca has some great advice there – my little bit of experience (with a 6 month old) is that as a pregnant person I was SUCKERED by all the products out there on the market. Truth is? I’ve onsold a lot of things that I thought baby would need and didn’t – mostly the non-essentials – things you think you’ll need to entertain baby etc that you just don’t need/use or get given as gifts and then have double ups.

    Strollers: we have 2. One tiny one that comes out in the car, and another bigger one for walks in the suburbs. It was worth buying 2 – from TTC I vowed that I wouldn’t be one of ‘those’ mothers taking an enormous stroller into a cafe.
    Baby baths – ours only used her for about 8 weeks (and she was 6 weeks early, so “2 weeks”). I wouldn’t buy one again.
    Baby carriers – we eventually got it down to 2 (after a few rash purchases). A baby bjorn and a homemade (by someone on a site like etsy) sling. Hands down I prefer the sling, dh prefers the BB.
    Breast pumps – shudder. I expressed for 6 months. Started with a hospital rental and then went to a Medela Swing. I also bought an electric Avent pump. Hated the Avent. The Medela did us proud.
    Bassinets – if you buy one and are worried about storage later, I’d choose one that had a wooden collapsible frame and a sturdy fabric ‘bed’. We got one of these: http://www.cariboostore.com/cariboo-bassinets-folding.php
    For diapers we mostly went cloth. Not ‘old school’ cloth – more the fuzzy buns cloth. Easy to wash and saves for our wallet and the environment too. We found some good brands of eco diapers out there too. I’d stay away from anything with purfumes in it even though they do smell nicer.
    Monitor – we went Angelcare. Probably slightly neurotic, but I figured that peace of mind after the joys of a T1 pregnancy were worthwhile.
    These would be one of the best things I’ve found for our baby – totally worth the investment – I’ve become a merino addict: http://www.merinokidsusa.com/baby-sleep-bags.html

    All the very best!! 🙂

    • nici Says:

      Thanks for weighing in! I was wondering whether the smaller “umbrella” stroller was a good purchase. And a special thanks for the breast pump info. Those things really scare me!

  4. sweets Says:

    So true… And on the size of strollers – mine completely fills the trunk of my car – there is hardly space for anything else in it!

    Do be careful with the shopping and lists etc. There are tons of products out there which is unnecessary…

    And a word of advice on baby slings – wait until you can try it out in the store with your little one. I did this and found that he was not comfortable in some of them – if not most. that way at least you will not end up with an expensive sling which you end up not using!

    • nici Says:

      Thanks for the tip about the carriers. It does make perfect sense to wait until we can try them out to see which one holds the baby best.

  5. Margie Says:

    Agree with Lyrehca on borrowing a lot of things in the beginning, if you can. But it’s not that necessary because babies don’t need that much right away. As long as there is a place to sleep, food and diapers (and love!), you’re good to go. My advice is to create a cash gift baby registry with depositagift.com You can register for the idea of things, but you really get the money, and then when you have a better sense for what you want, you can buy it. Plus you’ll have more resources available once the baby is bigger and you need other things. I wish I could have used them when I had my kids, but its a newer site, so now I am recommending it to all of my friends. SO much more practical and way less overwhelming.

  6. Suzanne Says:

    Hey!!

    Truer words have never been spoken… Oh my goodness. I had never walked into a Babies R Us store until I went to register… way to get a pregnant woman’s blood pressure up!! Whooo! I used the book Baby Bargains as a guide, but even that contains so much information, most of which includes “it just depends on YOUR baby” that it was enough to spin me out of control! After registering, and re-registering, and changing my mind, having nightmares, and eventually just becoming totally overwhelmed with it all, I have finally decided that, well, I’ll figure it out when she gets here!! I’ll get MY bottles, etc. of choice and if she doesn’t like them, I’ll return the unused ones, and try again. That’s all we can do right?!? Good luck!! 🙂


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