I mentioned last week that I had been wanting to make a (short) list of baby care items that I have found indispensable in these first few months. I love living in a small house (less to clean, it feels like we use every room), but one of the challenges is finding space for all the stuff. Before Cora was on her way, we were already filled to the brim, and I really didn't want to add clutter with a bunch of seldom-used baby items. I'm also pretty obsessed with the aesthetics of my space, so I didn't want a bunch of plastic that stood out from my decor. Most importantly, though, I just don't like to buy new, cheap stuff (read: made in China).
Everyone talks about how expensive a baby is, and how much stuff you need, but I think it's very possible to get by with less. You don't even need a crib! So, many of these items on my 'short list' are luxuries. Also, each baby is unique, so it's not necessary to stock up on things long before baby arrives. I wish I had known that not all babies like all bottles before we got the expensive Dr. Browns!
So, the things couldn't have lived without (or wouldn't want to!):
Our slings--hotslings style, but made by me, one that fits me and one for E. Cora spent several hours everyday in one of our slings for first 3 months. We still use them when she just can't get to sleep on her own or when we go out and about.
The bouncy chair. This was the one frivolous purchase I made, based just on how cute it was (and the price didn't hurt!). I have to have a shower every morning, and this is my solution. From about the third week, I propped Cora up in the chair on the bathroom floor and got ready (by myself! It's amazing how such little things feel like bug accomplishments when you have a new baby.) This has worked so well that I'm starting to worry what I'll do when she outgrows the chair! She also sits in it sometimes while E and I eat dinner together. (We still eat in shifts a lot of the time, though.)
A borrowed co-sleeper. For us, having Cora sleep in our bed was a necessity and a pleasure. She was fine in a play yard bassinet for a few weeks, but it got harder and harder to put her back down after nighttime feedings. A friend of mine said, "If someone tells you that they never brought the baby into the bed with them, they're lying." It worked for us, and it does for many people. I was paranoid about having a tiny baby in with us, so this container gave us peace of mind as we shared sleep. Since 4 months, she sleeps in her crib next to our bed.
A swaddler and a sleep sack. Cora needed to be swaddled to stay asleep even though she was always trying to get out of her wrap. This swaddler is stretchy and has velcro to keep it tight, so we were able to contain her flailing arms that always woke her. Now that she has outgrown swaddling, a sleep sack works like a blanket, but she can't kick it off.
A foldable baby bath tub (can't find one online). I wanted to wash her in the kitchen sink, but in reality, it just grossed me out. So this sits down in the sink. And it was really helpful when she was tiny and floppy and slippery!
Car seat and frame. The car seat is a necessity, but I knew we wouldn't need a stroller system since we would wear her on most outings. Going stroller-less has worked out well--I just put her in a carrier and run into Target or the post office. We even attended a few parties when she was tiny! However, I do take Kobe on long walks and had looked at this cart that the car seat snaps into. My dad emailed me a craiglist alert when he found one used. It's not the smoothest ride, but it has held up for probably a couple hundred miles of walks.
And last, not the most fun item, but I couldn't have gone back to work without my pump. When I found out I was pregnant, E's co-worker, who was a new dad, gave him this advice: "Buy the best breast pump you can afford." I thought it was weird/endearing that two guys were discussing this subject over lunch, but I can now see how important this is. I've been really happy that I didn't skimp on this purchase (but I did use a coupon!) since I use it almost every day, and it makes this necessary task as convenient as possible. I do, however, look forward to Friday afternoons, when I can put it away for a few days!
These items plus a small collection of onesies have gotten a lot of use. You really can do it with just a handful of quality items. And for those luxuries, most can be found secondhand, which is great when you don't know how much they'll get used. We have a bumbo--also from craigslist--which is fun, but not necessary at all. I feel like we've succeeded at not going overboard with baby care items, but now the challenge will be controlling the accumulation of toys. I'm planning the same approach: quality, not quantity and secondhand whenever possible. Oh, and it helps if the design works with my decor:)