Thursday, June 5, 2008

Material Mama

"I spoke to a woman with a masters in finance-- and all she wanted to talk about was her diaper genie."  -Miranda, "Sex and the City"

To care for a baby, you really don't need much of anything. A car seat if you have  a car, somewhere for the baby to sleep, diapers, and some clothes for the baby. This is not a post about what you need.

I like to think of myself as a non-material girl. I spend more on books than I ever would on shoes.  Brian and I were together for years before we owned a car, for a decade before we owned a TV. I truly believe less IS more. But put a Pottery Barn Baby catalog in front of me, and I'll get misty-eyed.

20070411_061549_hider My latest favorite discovery is Bebe au Lait, or as they are more widely known, Hooter Hiders. In the "old days" (about 2 wks ago for me), if you needed to nurse in public and maintain some privacy, you'd use a receiving blanket thrown over your shoulder. There were three problems with this.

  1. The baby would pull the blanket down at random moments.
  2. In the summer, the blanket would feel uncomfortably warm for you and the baby.
  3. You couldn't see under the blanket, which makes proper latch a challenge.

This nursing cover solves all three---it can't be pulled down, it is made of super light material (and even has a terry-cloth corner pocket for convenience), and, best of all, it has a rigid neckline sewn-in, so that you and your baby can see each other the whole time. Maybe in a perfect world, there would be no need for covers of any kind, but in this world, I feel more comfortable nursing with a little privacy. They come in beautiful patterns~mine is black and white. Love it!

Target has started carrying them too. I imagine a lot end up on Ebay after the baby is weaned.

And, since Miranda mentioned it, we prefer the diaper champ over the diaper genie. I feel bad enough about not using cloth diapers; the long plastic sausage of diapers would put me over the edge. The champ is much simpler---Sean can toss diapers in there for me:-)  Still, poopy diapers go immediately in the outside trash can because I don't think anything can really fight that odor.

21Kk8X8XZBL__SL500_AA197_These are Nolan's pacifiers of choice. He's not very keen on any pacifier (at least when held by me, Bri tells a different story), but these are one piece, so there aren't icky corners to clean out. Safe silicone, latex free. 412XWV4K0DL__SL500_AA280_

We're fans of the Baby Bjorn, our swing, and this little ducky we use once our babies can sit up. You don't waste a lot of water (as you would filling a tub for 6 month old) and the sides are soft. Best $10 I've spent.

41pZl2-lxlL__SL500_AA280_  This isn't our exact swing, but it has the most important feature, an open top so you can easily lift baby out without worrying about his head. We've never used the toy tray that came with ours, and I find all mechanical music annoying. Equally annoying are the toys people insist on dangling in front of a newborn's face. Maybe when they're older, but babies just want to look at people (and ceiling fans). If you have a swing, you don't need a bouncy chair, and vice versa.

Probably my favorite thing we purchased when expecting our first is our glider. It is a cheap chair from Sears or JC Penny's, but I've nursed all 3 boys in it and read many a story with a boy on my lap in it. Even cheap chairs aren't cheap, but it is a splurge that I found worth it.

On the opposite end, things I wouldn't recommend are baby wash cloths. They're too small and feel so cheaply made---same with most baby towels, especially those hooded ones. Cute but flimsy. A quality towel is better. Nothing seemed to provoke my boys' eczema more than those washcloths.

Also those small burp cloths that are only 4 inches wide. Useless. I recommend prefolded diapers or Gerber's burp cloths that are as wide as a cloth diaper.

We also liked, for the slightly older baby, our Roo Baby plastic bib with the pouch, our backpack diaper bag (we 515u7LphmdL__SL500_AA240_ stole the idea from Angie and got one from Lands End that came with a changing pad...don't think they still make theirs, but it is great to have arms free when traveling with a babe), and Joseph Garcia's Sign with your Baby series, as well as Signing Time DVDs. I still believe being able to communicate with sign language saved our boys a lot of frustrations and tantrums.

Parents enjoy preparing for a baby's arrival, and companies know this. Be wary---so much is marketed that is unnecessary (hello, wipe warmers and baby comforters?!). And one person's favorite item might be a complete waste to another.

I'll leave comments on for a change so you can share your favorite baby shower gift or what you found most useful/useless when you became a parent. Please share your favorites!


  1. Just wanted to say thanks! I'd been debating buying a nursing cover, and enjoyed your review and all the other recommendations.
    Also love the Sun Kil Moon song playing!
    A good, electric pump is the other essential I would add to your list, though too $$ for a shower gift!

  2. My fav gifts: boppy pillow and a copy of The Nursing Mother's Companion.

  3. Best gift for a new mom: gift certificate to a cleaning service!


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