February 23, 2016

Having a baby? You will die if you don't have these things.

I've planned on having a baby, been pregnant, given birth, and now have a baby. There's a lot of stuff that goes along with the whole infant thing and I know it's a hot topic in the blogging world as to what you actually need for this wonderful stage of your life. So, if you're thinking of having a baby, pregnant, in the process of giving birth, or now have a child you're probably dying for my "must have" list of baby gear. Or, as we call it in this household, baby crap.

Chocolate. Seriously. There is no time in your parenting journey that chocolate will not be necessary. Trying to conceive? Chocolate. Pregnant? Chocolate. Giving birth? Chocolate (when the nurse isn't looking). Have a baby? Chocolate. Are you seeing a trend here? Chocolate.

Clothes that fit. I am incredibly cheap so this was a tough one for me. Maternity clothes are very expensive and often the quality just isn't there. There aren't a lot of places to shop where I live, so my selection was limited. In my experience, Motherhood Maternity is hugely expensive and the quality is terrible. Thyme Maternity had better quality and good sales, but some things, like their bras, seem good but aren't. I was warned against them, didn't listen, and later paid the price.

I didn't want to spent $50 on a pair of cotton maternity leggings because it seemed like a rip off. When I was in my third trimester I bit the bullet and lived in them for the rest of my pregnancy. Just do it. You jumbo thighs will thank you later. Sometimes comfort and savings just don't go hand in hand.

That said, I wore a belly band before people even knew I was pregnant to accommodate the ever attractive bloating I was experiencing and loved it. I wore my favourite pants up until I gave birth thanks to that thing and it helped me fit into a lot of normal people clothes post-pregnancy, too. It got hot in the last month of my pregnancy but my thighs were too big to fit any of my old shorts or capris so I bought a clearance pair of capris that fit over my thighs and wore them for my last month at work. They're a size bigger than I was before I got pregnant and they fit me perfectly right now. Totally worth the $12 I spent on them. I did the same thing with a pair of shorts for the summer. My belly band saved me a ton of money on maternity pants.

Towards the beginning of my pregnancy I bought a couple of low-band maternity jeans. Learn from my mistakes and don't do that. Even if they're on clearance, you won't get a lot of mileage out of them. I thought I'd wear them post-pregnancy, too, but no dice. They were fine in my first trimester, but after that they made my displaced belly fat bulge over top. That only gets worse after you have a baby. They also added extra pressure on my bladder since I was carrying so low. Instead, go for full panel pants. They're so much more comfortable and you can reasonably wear them up until the last few weeks of your pregnancy, when nothing fits over your belly anyway. Then you just wear dresses and XXL shirts.

If you can, buy used. Most of my maternity shirts I got from Value Village and I'm still wearing them nine months later. Unless they have side ruching, it's impressive how many shirts can double as normal people clothes.

Dresses and shirts in bigger sizes and long lengths are also really good for covering the baby beer belly. I wore long Old Navy tank tops the whole time in my usual size. They didn't get stretched out and I still wear them all the time. I got some button up shirts off their clearance rack in a size up that worked, too. The thing is, you can wear your normal buttons ups with belts over tank tops to look just as put together. Keep in mind, though, that rib cages spread and boobs grow, so things that used to do up suddenly won't.

Loose non-maternity clothing is great because it doesn't cost as much, isn't weird and cutesy (because when you're pregnant you need to dress like you did when you were eight), and can be used afterwards for breastfeeding and hiding the post-baby jelly belly.

The bottom line is, I recommend getting a couple things that fit, no matter what they cost. You're going to be uncomfortable no matter what so investing in a couple things that fit really well will help. For me that was pants and leggings. I only ended up buying one good pair of leggings and everything else was used. Next time I'm going to buy a good pair of jeans and something I can wear to work. The belly band can work for everything else.
Some people get maternity coats but I just didn't do mine up. I don't spend a ton of time outside in the winter and my core temperature was a lot higher while I was baby incubating. Even in -40 I was fine with my parka unbuttoned for everyday life.

Nursing bras are also good to start with, but I got mine from Thyme and they stretched out weird after a month or so. Next time I'll bite the bullet and get a couple high quality ones. I just wear a regular bra now that I can pull the cups down on now that my supply has evened out. I got a couple from Aerie for $20 so they're good quality but also cheap enough that I don't feel bad abusing them. I've had them for several months now and they're no worse for wear.

Used. Baby crap is expensive. While I wish we had a million dollars to buy non-ugly baby gear we just don't. Sometimes you have to accept the fact that you're going to have a Disney character swing in your living room because the price was too good to pass up. (Free. It was free.) Take the ugly with the cheap and the free and reinvest it in your chocolate stash. Your baby won't know and later on you can just reinforce your hipster cred by calling it vintage. Just make sure you clean it really well before using it. And don't buy used chocolate. For obvious reasons.

Video monitor. I know these things comes off as incredibly creepy, especially since there are some terrifying stories of them being hacked, but we love ours. It's a Levana and runs through our WiFi directly camera to monitor so, even though I'm not a tech expert, I don't think it's the kind getting hacked. It's especially helpful when we're trying to do things in the yard or garage that take us out of earshot but still keep us in close proximity. And, bonus, it plays lullabies. Grumpy Parker is a big sucker for lullabies.

A good car seat. As far as I'm concerned, all car seats currently sold in stores are safe and you don't need to spend a million dollars to get a good one. But, and this took a while for me to learn, not all car seats are created equal. We've been fortunate enough to be loaned and then given our two bucket seats. The first one we had was the one our nephew used and the second is from a friend. I am all about borrowed car seats as long as they're not expired and haven't been in any accidents.

My nephew's car seat is Winnie the Pooh (not my first choice) and has really annoying straps to adjust. You had to go around back and loosen and tighten them individually. When Parker started hating his car seat the straps were a real pain to adjust because we were loosening and tightening them every time we put him in and out of it. It was a nightmare. The one we got from our friend is blue (hallelujah!) and has a heaven-sent strap right between the baby's feet that tightens and loosens all the straps at once. It's like the difference between lace up shoes and slip-ons,

I'm sure the centre strap pull (that's the technical term) is standard on everything these days but, if for some reason you're given the choice, 110% get the car seat with the centre strap pull. Your screaming baby will thank me later.


Do you notice in the above picture how the top of the seat tapers in at the top where the baby's head goes? Another thing we love about our new to us car seat is that taper that helps Parker's head not loll from side to side while he falls asleep in there.

I also recommend getting a car seat that will last longer. We live in the frozen tundra here, and my goal was to keep Parker in that bucket seat as long as possible. His goes up to 30 lbs or 30", but a lot of them only go up to 22 lbs. Unless you gave birth to Gumby, your child will likely reach 22 lbs before 30".

I have no advice for the post-bucket seat car seat purchase, because we're just starting to explore our options for that now. I've heard good things about both the $90 and $380 options and I value your opinions on the matter.

Big nursing pillow. This isn't a necessity as I know a lot of people just use regular pillows to nurse, but I loved my big pillow. I had a little one for the first couple weeks, but life got so much easier once my big pillow came into my life.

I don't use it anymore but when Parker was smaller it helped free up my hands so that I could go on my phone, drink coffee, or talk enthusiastically while he ate.

The only thing I don't like about it is that it doesn't come with a cover. You can buy them but they cost almost as much as the pillow. I usually just lay a burp cloth down on it, but it's kind of gross now, especially since you're not supposed to put it in the washing machine. There's only so much spot cleaning someone can do before it's a lost cause. After knowing what my pillow's been through in the last few months I recommend splurging the $30 for a brand new one.

Accessories for your breasts. Yep. Nipple cream. Use it. Love it. Bathe in it. Be smarter than me and bring it to the hospital.

Breast pads. I tried fabric and disposable ones and am fabric all the way, except for when I wore my sports bra. They do show through your clothes more, but they feel less like a feminine hygiene product and more like clothing so I think it's worth it. I kept both on hand. Some people need them more than others, though, so maybe you'll be fine. I had a very generous supply, though, and used them for several months.

As far as I'm concerned, you don't need a nursing cover, swing, or electric double breast pump. They're bonuses that you may or may not use.

I say if you can avoid it don't use a swing. Parker didn't use it until he was a couple months old because he just didn't like it and we didn't realize it could recline (d'oh!).

I had a terrible time using an around the neck nursing cover and ended up going without and getting a nursing infinity scarf for times when polite company dictates I use it. If you wear a loose shirt with a tank top underneath it'll draw less attention to you and cover things just as well.

On that note, I didn't get a single nursing shirt. They're wildly expensive and I just wear a tank top I can pull the neck down on. I haven't had any stretch out yet, but they're $6 vs $40 so replacing it won't be a pain at all.

I do have a double electric breast pump. I bought a middle of the line one and am happy with it. I don't think the double pump is necessary since I find it far too awkward to do both sides at a time. I haven't tried a manual pump, but I like the ease of the electric. Sometimes, though, I find that expressing manually is more effective, so it can be a hassle to try and fill a bottle. I think having a pump is wonderful but pumping is a pain and I'm not sure that I needed one as high tech as I got because Parker's never taken more than two bottles a week, and it's significantly less now that he's sleeping through the night and a more efficient/discreet eater.

Honourable mention here should go to our fishy aquarium and Zipadee-Zip. We can no longer afford to send Parker to college because of the cost of one of those Zipadees (the dollar hurts so bad!) but it's well worth it for the through the night sleeping he does.

Seriously, though, the only thing you absolutely need to take care of a baby is diapers. Whether they're cloth, disposable, or made from fig leaves, you need something to try to catch the poops. And yes, I did say try. 


  1. I love all of this and will be bookmarking this post. ;)

  2. I think I'm the only person who never used a belly band. I bought three maternity shirts, two pairs of pants, and two crappy pairs of leggings. Oh! And a tank top or two. All on major sale. I refused to buy anything else until I found an $11 maternity dress at Target at 38 weeks. I bought it and wore it almost every day until I gave birth. It was amazing. I managed to rotate my clothes and use cardigans and oversized sweaters so it didn't look like I was wearing the same things over and over. I agree completely with the full panel maternity jeans. So much more comfortable. The low band was great until about 6 months, and then I had to constantly adjust it. It soon felt like it was going to crush the baby.

    My MIL bought us a carseat good only until 22 lbs, with boyish polka dots. Sigh. I was anxious for her to grow out of it only because our new convertible seat was so much prettier. It has the center pull to adjust the straps and I love it.

    Amen amen amen on no nursing cover. Waste of time and energy. I'm always the only mom nursing without one and I don't care. The tank top under a flowy shirt is my go-to. It's easy and draws less attention. I hate pumping, but I will only use my electric now. My manual pump does nothing for me. Most women here can get a double electric pump free through insurance, otherwise I never would've spent the money. But if you have to pump, I say it's worth it. But truly, nothing is more important than chocolate.

  3. The majority of my friends use nursing covers. And they are second or third time moms. Don't they know by now that it can be so much less complicated?! With the shirt-up-tank-down method, I can hardly even see any of my boobs myself! So inconspicuous.

    1. Amen. Especially when babies get grabby, that's really the end of it, isn't it?


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