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:
Safety above all. We don’t want Adrian to injure himself or be injured by the toys and other items we purchase for him.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
We also have a handful of random toys to round out the (small) toy basket:
Burp cloths: Start with a dozen. Buy more if you want to do laundry less frequently.
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.