Baby Stuff

Posted on March 15, 2021 · 16 mins read

A colleague at Stripe had a baby a few months before Adrian was born, and shared his list of baby items and learnings with me. Adrian is nearly seven months old, so I figured I’d pay it forward and do the same.

We have a few guidelines for baby buying:

  1. Safety above all. We don’t want Adrian to injure himself or be injured by the toys and other items we purchase for him.

  2. Be mindful of space. “The rent is too damn high,” so we don’t have a lot of space. We were in an 840 sq.ft. one-bedroom apartment until a month ago. We are now in a two-bedroom apartment, but remain aware of the fact that space is not infinite. And, while babies do need more items than we anticipated, you don’t need everything at once. It’s okay to put off buying things until age/developmentally appropriate.

  3. Be cost conscious. Every dollar spent on baby stuff is a dollar that isn’t going to personal- or college-savings. We have no one to impress, so you won’t find any UPPAbaby in our car or home. (I mean no disrespect to those that like UPPAbaby or other expensive brands.) Also, let’s be honest: everything babies touch will end up with spit-up if not some other bodily fluid. This would bother me a lot more if I knew I spent a lot of money on said item.

  4. Reuse when feasible. Seeing all of the baby clothes, toys, cribs, etc. at Buy Buy Baby and Carters made me hyper-aware of the potential environmental impact of buying all new items. We don’t want to contribute to the waste so we try to buy as much as we can from a local consignment shop, Mommy’s Trading Post. We can decrease our environmental impact, support a local business, and get items at a significant discount. Win, win, win!

  5. All babies are different. Babies are their own person and have their unique likes and dislikes. Something that worked for us may not work for you. Be patient with yourself and your baby until you find the right solutions (another reason to buy second-hand).

Taking all of this into account, here are our opinions on the items we’ve purchased over the months.


We use Target’s Up and Up brand for diapers and wipes. They are cheap and get the job done. We tried Huggies (since that’s what the hospital provided) and Pampers brand diapers, but went with Up and Up for the lower cost. Same for the wipes. Skip the wipe warmer.

We tried breastfeeding, but Adrian never had a good latch, so all feedings have been via bottle since he was a month old. To the mothers out there who may face this issue, it’s totally fine if your baby is a formula baby. You are still a good mother! To the partners, remain supportive and take care of mom and baby. There is a lot of stigma around formula feeding, and this can cause a lot of pain and anguish if breastfeeding fails.

Adrian drinks Target’s Up and Up gentle—purple box—formula. We tried a few different samples of Similac to help with spit-up, but Adrian spit that up too. The pediatrician says this is normal, so we went back to the Target brand since it’s cheaper. The spit-up has decreased as Adrian has gotten older.

Note that we primarily shop at Target since there is one about three blocks from our home. If you’re also a Target shopper, I recommend getting the Target Red Card. The instant 5% savings really adds up over time!

We have a backpack-style diaper bag. It’s nothing fancy, but has various compartments to help keep things separated. Ours stays stocked with a plastic changing pad, two bottles, formula and dispenser, burp cloths, diapers, hand sanitizer, and a backup outfit.


  • Snoo: a couple folks at Stripe suggested trying the Snoo. The cost—$1300 (although, it seems the price has gone up!)—was quite surprising; however, it’s not so bad once you do the math. The marketing copy claims an additional 1 hour of sleep per night. The bassinet is good for the first six months of life. 1 hour per night, times two parents, times 180 nights = 360 extra hours of sleep. At sticker price that’s $3.61 per hour of sleep. However, as I mentioned earlier, we try to buy second-hand. It turns out the Bay Area has a great market for used Snoos, and we bought one from a family in Sacramento for $800 (or $2.22 per hour of sleep) via Craigslist. Six months later, we sold it for $800 (or $0 per hour of sleep). If you buy a Snoo, checkout the community at r/SnooLife for tips.
  • Pack ‘n Play: We debated between getting a crib or a Pack ‘n Play, and ultimately we decided on the latter given the compactness and portability. Adrian spent about four months in the Snoo, and has been in the Pack ‘n Play since then. We added a mattress, so he isn’t sleeping on the hard surface, and a waterproof cover under the sheet. We may get a convertible crib later, but I estimate Adrian will be in the pack ‘n play until he’s about a year old.
  • Taking Cara Babies (TCB): This is a sleep training program that was recommended by many friends, and we started using it at four months old, after we sold the Snoo. We were initially doing bedtime at 10PM, and hoping Adrian would sleep until at least 6AM. The Snoo helped with this, but Adrian usually woke up around 3AM and 5AM. At 5AM, we put him in bed with us, and he slept until about 7AM. The major takeaways from TCB for us were (1) do bedtime around 7-8PM and (2) wean the baby off of nighttime feedings. We had much better sleep after three nights of weaning.
  • Baby Merlin’s Magical Sleep Suit: The suit came recommended through TCB and we were able to pick up two from Mommy’s Trading Post. Swaddling was always a struggle since no matter what we did, Adrian was always able to wiggle his hands free and wake himself up. However, the first night we put Adrian in the suit, he fell asleep within a couple of minutes and stayed asleep for almost the entire night. We haven’t looked back since. And for a bonus, he looks adorable in his “spacesuit.”
  • Soothers: We’ve used some form of white noise generator with Adrian almost since the day he was born. His favorite is the Soothe & Glow Seahorse, which we call Soothie. We also have a portable owl soother that we use in the car or in his room, if Soothie isn’t doing the trick. We tried the larger nightlight owl but returned it because the volume was too low.


Adrian still uses bottles; although, we are trying solid foods and a sippy cup. We tried Philips Avent, Dr. Brown’s, and MAM bottles after receiving all three in a sampler…from Target. The Avent and Dr. Brown’s bottles have anti-colic vents which I assume worked given we never had issues with colic. We didn’t like the MAM bottle because the seals leaked too frequently. The Dr. Brown’s bottles had a similar issue. Frequent curses were uttered nightly when the top leaked!

We use the Avent bottles exclusively. We stopped using the anti-colic vent, so there is less to clean, and bought some of the “natural” bottles from Mommy’s Trading Post. At this point we use about seven bottles each day. This is down from around 10-12 bottles per day a few months ago.

Although we don’t like the Dr. Brown’s bottles, we do like their formula dispenser. The rounded opening (versus the triangular opening of the other brand we own) is much easier for dispensing. I highly recommend formula dispensers to simplify bottle making on-the-go or for early-morning feedings.

Stroller/travel system

We went with the Chicco (pronounced “key co”) Trio Bravo because that’s what Adrian’s slightly older cousin has, and we wanted to ensure compatibility when traveling to Texas, which we did for Adrian’s first month of life. We didn’t have enough space in the trunk for both the Snoo and stroller, so we left the stroller at home for the trip. Surprisingly we were able to attach Adrian’s 2020 car seat to his older cousin’s 2010 stroller! The older stroller was quite bulky, so we used a second-hand KeyFit Caddy for much of the trip. We’ve been happy with this system. It’s light enough that Michelle can move Adrian between the car and stroller without assistance. The Chicco KeyFit is also one of the highest safety-rated car seats on the market.

Our research showed the more expensive strollers are functionally equivalent to cheaper variants or brands. In some cases, you literally pay $100 for a special color or “leather”. Keeping this in mind, we prioritized durability, ease of collapsing, and (light)weight. Looking back, we would add the ability to easily clean to that list.


Most of these toys aren’t suitable until the baby can hold their head up, but the pacifiers and swing can be used on day one. Note that the prevalence of Fisher-Price toys is purely coincidental.

  • WubbaNub pacifiers: This was one of the first toys we bought. The WubbaNub consists of an Avent pacifier attached to a plush toy. We have an elephant (named Echo) and a giraffe (named P.G., short for Pacifier Giraffe). The plush toy is easy for the baby to grab and re-insert the pacifier when it falls out. The price is high for a pacifier, but worth every penny.
  • Cradle swing: The swing is a great helper for us. Adrian is calmed by the rotating star projection, so we put him in the swing if he gets too fussy or we simply need both arms to cook, work, etc. We have a Fisher-Price model that we purchased second-hand for about $45. It swings, plays a few different sounds, and has the rotating star projector. It can be controlled via Bluetooth, but we don’t use this functionality. At six months old, Adrian is close to outgrowing the swing. I suspect we’ll sell it before he reaches eight months old.
  • Play mat: The Fisher-Price Deluxe Kick & Play Piano Gym has kept Adrian entertained for hours. He’s now able to pull the toys off the arch and chew on them individually.
  • Activity center: This has been a lifesaver. Adrian can play in this thing for 20+ minutes, while we focus on other tasks. We opted for the Skip Hop 3-stage activity center because it’s safer than other bouncers or walkers, helps Adrian learn balance, and grows with him over the years. There are two variants, but they are fairly similar. We bought the silver lining cloud variant because that’s all that was in stock.
  • Jumper: This is the least-safe toy we own, which is why we don’t use it frequently; however, Adrian enjoys it when we do hang it up. The biggest issue with doorway jumpers is babies can swing to the side and bump their heads. We mitigate this by putting large pillows in the doorway to limit movement and potential impact and having a parent right next to him at all times when in use. The Evenflo ExoSaucer was quite cheap at $25. Just be prepared for the horrible spring sound!

We also have a handful of random toys to round out the (small) toy basket:

  • Rattle
  • Cloth book from Ikea
  • Skip Hop hedgehog ball (good for chewing, according to Adrian)
  • Fisher-Price Game & Learn controller (so Adrian won’t grab my controller when playing games!)
  • Dimpl Stack


  • Burp cloths: Start with a dozen. Buy more if you want to do laundry less frequently.

  • Rechargeable batteries and charger: There seems to be some collusion amongst battery and toy manufacturers that requires all toys to use three batteries. Not two. Not four. Three. We bought a 12 pack of rechargeable AAA batteries from Amazon, and keep them at the ready for Adrian’s toys and remote controls.
  • Clothes: We go to Mommy’s Trading Post for most of Adrian’s clothes. They tend to have high quality clothing at Carter’s prices.
  • Bath tub: We’ve used a 4-in-1 tub since week one, and are currently on stage three.
  • BabyConnect: We learned about this paid app through our baby registry. You can track virtually everything baby-related and have multiple children and caretakers on the account. There are several baby-apps out there, but this one gives us both high-level and granular data with visualizations. This has been a life saver and we cannot imagine parenting without it.

This ended up being longer than I expected, but I covered pretty much everything we’ve purchased. I’ll reiterate that I’m a proponent of consignment/second-hand shops. You support a local business, reduce resource consumption, and save some cash. If you have questions about any of these items, or something you’re considering buying, just ask.