Infant 101
August 10, 2010 12:56 PM   Subscribe

We are having our first baby soon. Yay... Any info and advice appreciated. What is your trusted brand, tip and trick on selecting baby formula, diaper to crib. What about car seat? Would a cheap one from wal-mart would work? I mean all the car seats in the market has to meet the current safety standards, right? I went through most of the old AskMeFi thread, but if there's one you particularly like, please do link.
posted by WizKid to Health & Fitness (53 answers total) 38 users marked this as a favorite
There are disposable diaper pads, which come in various sizes... these are insanely useful, especially when things get messy. I always use a stack of 2, with the top one disposed, and the second one if things get really bad. If you get those, and a metal waste can with a foot operated metal lid... you'll have a much easier diaper changing experience.

Welcome to the club.
posted by MikeWarot at 1:08 PM on August 10, 2010

1. Buy a copy of "Baby Bargains" - available at most bookstores, well-written, well-researched and will save you TONS of cash.

2. ALL formula is subject to minimum nutritional standards. Expensive formula is NO BETTER for the kid than the expensive kind (unless WizBaby has a medical condition which requires the pricey kid). Nursing - while initially a pain in the ass and not an option for everyone - is free and INSANELY convenient (can't tell you how nice it was to not have to worry about packing bottles!).

3. Not all baby stuff is okay second-hand. Clothes, carriers, bouncy seats, high chairs: yes! Crib mattresses and car seats, not the best idea. Cribs, not a good idea unless manufacturer information is clearly visible, manufacturer belongs to the local juvenile products trade association and crib is less than a few years old.

4. You need 10,000x less stuff than you think you do. As my sister told me when I was panicking: "You need a tit and a towel to wrap the kid in - and the towel doesn't even have to be CLEAN!"

5. Carrying the kid on your body is much much much easier than using a baby-bucket carseat as a carrier or using a stroller. If your back can handle it, wear the kid now (Baby Bjorns are nice and on sale on eBay ALL THE TIME) - stroll them when they're 20 lbs. and ornery.

posted by julthumbscrew at 1:08 PM on August 10, 2010 [6 favorites]

Oh, and store-brand perfume-free baby wipes: buy in the biggest package you can find. You don't need a wipe warmer or a specific "changing station" or a baby kimono - you DO need a 700-pack of wipes!
posted by julthumbscrew at 1:09 PM on August 10, 2010 [4 favorites]

Whichever partner is not actually giving birth should take as much time off work as possible. Not only will it allow them to share a profound experience, but the birth-giving partner is going to be exhausted, overwhelmed, and will need all they help they can get.

If possible, have family plan to visit soon after the birth. A newborn is overwhelming, you'll be exhausted, and you'll appreciate the help.
posted by bitterpants at 1:12 PM on August 10, 2010

The best advice anyone gave me was to put her to sleep at the same time every day (in this case 7:30pm). To this I'd add, be a sleep Nazi as soon as you can; letting them cry hurts but you only have to do it a few times. The result of this was at 4.5 months, she started sleeping though and has remained a very good sleeper. Once you've got your sleep back, everything else falls into place.

If you want brands, I like Baby Bjorns, MacPacks, Co-Pilot bike seats and Maxi-Cosi car seats. I'd buy the expensive car seats, mainly because they're more durable. I wouldn't bother with a bottle warmer (never used it). I'm not hugely into dummies myself (as if they fall out, they wake up and cry) but some people are. But, yeah, the sleep. That's the big one.
posted by rhymer at 1:13 PM on August 10, 2010

You need a rear-facing infant car seat at first -- and you need it to bring the baby home from the hospital, so that's got to be one of the earlier decisions. Not all car seats fit in all cars, so make sure the one you choose does -- especially if you have a smaller car. I've heard that is useful, but unfortunately they don't seem to have any data for my car so I have to use anecdata from the web as a guide to which carseats fit and which don't (and apparently most don't).
posted by rabbitrabbit at 1:15 PM on August 10, 2010 [1 favorite]

Back to the pads.... they are disposable underpads... they come in various sizes... here's an example,-23-Inches-by-36-Inches/ID=prod3249379-product

Slip these under the baby, right before changing, and you'll save a lot of grief.
posted by MikeWarot at 1:19 PM on August 10, 2010

I mean all the car seats in the market has to meet the current safety standards, right?

True, yes, but there are light years of usability differences between cheap and expensive.
Naturally don't buy the most expensive one on blind faith, but try a couple out and you'll see latches work smoother, they pull tight easier, etc when you go up a few price points.

We have a Britax in "Cowmooflage" because, hey, Cowmooflage but also because their website has pretty clear videos to help you get the thing in correctly, which is important to a somewhat nervous parent dealing with a car seat for the first time.
posted by madajb at 1:22 PM on August 10, 2010 [1 favorite]

Pampers Swaddlers Sensitive has a strip on the front of the diaper in sizes Newborn & 1 (and maybe bigger, not sure) that changes color when the baby pees. THIS IS THE BEST INVENTION EVER. You need to track newborn urine output to make sure they're peeing enough, but they pee so little it can be hard to tell. The "pee strips" made it so easy. (I think they're called "wetness indicators" but we call them pee strips.)

I do like the disposable changing pads, especially for travel, but at home I kept a roll of paper towels next to the changing area and put a few under him when we had a diaper blowout. This works too. I don't think I had any disposable pads the first time we had a blowout, but paper towels were handy and I just stuck with that. :)
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 1:30 PM on August 10, 2010 [2 favorites]

We like Britax carseats-easy to use (and install!) and very durable fabric. I'd start out however with a travel system rear facing car seat that enables you to move the baby in and out of the car and in and out of the stroller undisturbed. If you're going to breastfeed, I'd suggest a Boppy-saved the hell out of my back. One weird thing-I used two different kinds of diaper cream-one a cream (johnson and johnson I think) and the other an ointment (A&D). Some rashes seemed impervious to one or the other. The cuter the socks, the less likely they will stay on her feet-buy the inexpensive kind in the big packs, they aren't very pretty but they stay on the wigglers. Get a couple extra changing pad covers because you'll go through them often, same on crib sheets.

The thing I used most and didn't expect that I would is a little baby papa-san chair that is sitting in my living room even now. I kept both my daughters in this seat all the time when they were little-I'd just move it around the house-perfect for when I wanted a shower or was folding laundry, whatever. My second slept in it when she refused her crib in fact. So I'd get something like that.

Good luck and Congrats!
posted by supercapitalist at 1:32 PM on August 10, 2010

99.9% of baby stuff is available in excellent condition for cheap on Craigslist or via friends. Do not buy anything new except for a carseat (and even with a carseat, a trusted friend/relative may have one that hasn't expired.)
posted by k8t at 1:34 PM on August 10, 2010 [1 favorite]

I disagree about the cheapie baby wipes-- in my experience the cheap ones leave stuff behind. Splurge a little for the nicer ones.

Get a BJs or Costco or Sam's Club membership-- you'll save on diapers, wipes, and formula. They often have generic versions of formula for much cheaper. Target does too-- and many people love the Target diapers (although they didn't work for us).

In general, don't start off by buying huge things of wipes or diapers-- try smaller containers of a few brands so you can see which you prefer.

I can't recommend the book "Healthy Sleep Habits Happy Child" by Dr. Marc Weissbluth enough. If you follow his suggestions you won't have to "train" the baby by letting him cry it out. instead, the baby will soothe himself to sleep. We can put our 5 month old down in her crib and say goodnight, and leave the room, and she will go to sleep on her own. It's invaluable.

If you're feeding formula you'll need more bibs than you can possibly imagine.

You can buy almost anything you need for equipment much cheaper on craigslist.
posted by miss tea at 1:37 PM on August 10, 2010

Baby formula will depend on what your baby likes. They do taste a little different from brand to brand though they're all nutritionally standardized. If you're going that route, I'd suggest starting out with the cheapest, most easily available brand out there as formula is super expensive and if your baby ends up preferring the most expensive brand because that what she started with and is therefore familiar with, you'll be stuck with it. but if your baby ends up being lactose intolerant or needing low-allergen formula, you'll just have to suck it up.

Yes, a cheap Walmart car seat will work. We didn't end up spending a ton on the infant seat because they outgrow it fairly quickly. In fact we got ours used and passed on to someone else. We did pay the higher price for a Britax convertible seat since I think we'll get a lot more use out of that. But for our secondary car, we got a cheaper Cosco Scenera convertible, which is totally fine though perhaps not as cushy as the Britax Marathon.

Disposables or cloth? Mostly what you end up with in either category is a matter of trial and error. if you're going the disposable route, get a trial size versions of a couple brands to try them out. Usually the brand's website have special offers to look for. Every baby has a different shape and some diaper brands work better than others, depending on the baby's physique.

Also, your hospital will probably send you home with a crapload of stufff, including diapers and wipes.
posted by otherwordlyglow at 1:39 PM on August 10, 2010

store-brand perfume-free baby wipes: buy in the biggest package you can find

wipes are the one thing that got me doing Amazon's "Subscribe & Save" thing- every two months a CASE of wipes shows up on my doorstep, without any thought required on my part. Cheaper too. So freaking awesome. Diaper sizes change, kid preferences change for so many other things, but wipes are totally fungible and useful for a really long time.

Also: go to the hardware store now and buy a battery charger and a slew of rechargeable batteries. The swing, the bouncy seat, etc., chew through batteries like crazy but the rechargeables quickly pay for themselves. If there is something you use frequently (like a swing) then have an extra set for the charger, so that you are always charged up and ready to go. I got so that I could swap out the dead batteries for a fresh set before the swing came to a stop.
posted by ambrosia at 1:39 PM on August 10, 2010

You're going to hear a ton of advice.

But the best advice I ever received was LISTEN TO YOUR BABY and LISTEN TO YOUR INSTINCTS.

Some babies are chill and fine with sitting in a swing for a bit. Other babies, like mine, hate swings. Some babies are totally good sleepers from the get-go. Some babies can't fall asleep without help and would cry for hours on end if left to fall asleep on his own. That was Baby Zizzle. Other babies are different from Baby Zizzle --- like all the ones who can sit still for five minutes at 20 months of age.

You will know your baby. You will learn to listen to your baby's cues. You will, eventually, learn what they mean. But at first, you'll just go through the motions. Are you wet? No. Are you hungry? Yes. Okay. Then later. Are you wet? No. Are you hungry? No. Are you tired? Ahh, okay. And so forth.

Some kids are a lot more higher needs than others. Some require more from their parents than others. But you will figure out what your baby needs, and it will be different from what other babies need.
posted by zizzle at 1:40 PM on August 10, 2010 [4 favorites]

Response by poster: I was looking at two car seats ( one and two ) on wal-mart site. Any thoughts?
I think I received a mail from Amazon about some Britax seats. I'll check that too.

Thanks for all the advice so far and keep em coming :-)
posted by WizKid at 1:42 PM on August 10, 2010

Stroller advice: I refused to believe that a more expensive stroller was worth it, but after Kid #1 went through 3 cheap, crappy strollers, I got a Maclaren which lasted not only for kids 2 and 3, but I gave to a friend for her 2.

Totally worth the $.
posted by dzaz at 1:45 PM on August 10, 2010

Cheapo burp rags. Buy in bulk. Like a triangular bandage, you can do practically anything with them. Changing pad? Si. Swaddler? Hai. Emergency blanket? Ja. Privacy shield for nursing in public? Oui. Emergency puppet bunny? Da. Back up diaper until you the wash is dry/you can get to an open drug store? Yes.

Definitely hit consignment stores. Your child will go through clothes faster than you'd like to believe.

Our kids were happy with Nuk binkies. They hated thumbs.

Get a Mighty-Tite. Every car latch system I have encountered sucked ass. The people who design them either were part time line backers or never had to actually install a car seat. Past experience found me with one foot on a hard point and a knee in the car seat pulling like there is no tomorrow, trying to get the damn thing safe. With a Mighty-Tite, you use a ratchet and lever to crank the tension - yay for mechanical advantage! Unless you're a body builder and you don't get one ahead of time, go to your local fire department before your spouse's due date and ask a fire fighter install the seat for you.

High chair? Whatever is cheap. Buy a dollar store shower curtain, cut it in half and put it on your floor under the high chair. You'll see.

I was a big fan of pack-n-play for travel, but when your baby is small, a removed drawer works fine as a cradle.
posted by plinth at 1:45 PM on August 10, 2010 [3 favorites]

I had the exact opposite experience with strollers. I researched and bought the big deallie one with teh bells and whistles and it was just wonderful. It was also a huge pain in the ass to take anywhere and I ended up using the $20 umbrella stroller about ten times more.

We used washcloths instead of wipes (bought a wad of one distinctive, unmistakeable pattern and those were wipe washcloths, not used for anything else) and it was so much better than wipes.

My son slept in a pack and play til he was old enough to try to climb out, and then we put a futon mattress on the floor (and about 1/3 the way up the wall). Eventually he was ready for a normal twin bed.

When the little one starts to walk, look around your house. I don't believe in making every space child-proof, of course, but there's a balance; how much of your time do you want to spend saying no no no no no no no?
posted by lemniskate at 1:58 PM on August 10, 2010


You don't need to get absolutely everything now. Get a few basics like so many have suggested here. After that, get things as they're needed.

Also, remind family and friends that a gift card to Target is the best gift.
posted by redyaky at 2:05 PM on August 10, 2010

Get the best car seat you can afford. When you start planning car evacuation routes and visualizing disasters in your head while driving, you're gonna want equiptment you can trust. Also I second having people signed up to bring food while you're staying close to new will be so wiped out and not want to do any thing but snuggle babe. You don't need any of the crap you might think. With a six month old I can tell you our essentials are and were; wipes, diapers ( have some cloth on hand cuz a day in loose cloth will instantly heal a diaper rash), a moby or an equally supportive carrier ( they will come in so handy when baby wants to be held but you need your hands), car seat, some blankets, a light blanket for public nursing, a few high quality bottles,baby safe all natural soap, a couple of binkies and that's pretty much it. And a rocking chair would have been nice. Around 2 months my baby got interested in a play gym, which I got off craigslist for 20 bucks and 4 months she got interested in a jumper with some toys and music. I think the more shit you get them the harder it becomes for them to entertain themselves. You don't need a baby bath (just put a couple cloth diapers under their head in a couple inches of water in the tub), you don't need wipe warmers, bottle warmers (use heated up filter water), fancy toy doohickeys, expensive clothes ( they grow so fast get cute cheap stuff from thrift stores), an expensive crib, or whatever else they say u need. Our baby has a crib she has maybe slept in twice. Babies need food, love, clean butts and safe places to sleep and ride. Get the essentials now and get the other stuff as baby gets older. This way you can see what they like before you buy it. Good luck, relax, and a million congrats. U will fall in love!
posted by madmamasmith at 2:07 PM on August 10, 2010 [1 favorite]

Unless you are ridicuously close to a Target, sign up for Amazon Prime. Nearly all baby stuff can be bought through them cheaply and you can pay (not a lot) for 1 day delivery.
posted by k8t at 2:08 PM on August 10, 2010

Definitely a new car seat - that's the one thing I insist on new with this 3rd we're expecting. And even though the some convertible seats say they're for newborns up, I vastly prefer the infant carriers as long as baby will fit. Graco Snugride has a new seat that I think goes to 32 pounds. That's the one I'll probably be getting.

Wipes: I used to insist on the Pampers sensitive. Now I love the Kirkland wipes - the Costco brand. You can get them through, which I love and swear by, so definitely check them out.

Gear choices are pretty personal. We got great use out of a swing and a vibrating bouncy seat. Those can definitely be purchased used.

I also swear by slings and other baby carriers. We so very rarely used any stroller - and we have several - but the sling got daily use in and out of the house. Look into different styles and I bet you'll find at least one that works for you.
posted by Lulu's Pink Converse at 2:14 PM on August 10, 2010 [1 favorite]

Ps I breastfeed mostly but sometimes she likes a bottle of the.hard stuff so we give her Earths Best formula....unless they have a dairy allergy stay away from soy...
posted by madmamasmith at 2:14 PM on August 10, 2010

My advice for all new parents: Amazon Prime. Seriously, it was like a small miracle that we could, in our sleep-deprived haze, click a button and someone would deliver to our doorstep packages of diapers, wipes, formula, extra crib sheets, towels....anything we needed. And for $3.99 they would get it to us in 24 hours! Once we found the various brands/types that The Girl liked, we just ordered in bulk via Prime. Saved us both $$ and sanity.

And even now, 2+ years in, we use Amazon for bulk dried fruit, snacks, toddler wipes...anything that we know we'll need a case of.
posted by griffey at 2:18 PM on August 10, 2010 [2 favorites]

One simple thing - avoid buying boy or girl colors if at all possible, that way you'll be all set for the next round, whatever comes along. Or, if a friend has a child, it makes it easier to donate.
posted by infinitefloatingbrains at 2:22 PM on August 10, 2010

Something I doubt anyone would assume on their own: carseats have expiration dates. It's related to the plastics and other materials they're made from degrading over time. I think the idea may be a little controversial, but at least be aware of it and do some reading so you can make an informed choice.
posted by needs more cowbell at 2:31 PM on August 10, 2010

We had a Chicco Keyfit combination car seat/bucket/travel system thing which worked pretty well, but you only use the bucket when they are really small (unless you have a giant Popeye arm). For our other car we have a Britax car seat that can be installed either front- or rear-facing. We just switched to front facing--that's the kind of exciting news you'll soon be boring friends and relatives with. The only drawback for us: if you have any plans to put your little dude in a jog stroller like the wondrous Bob Revolution, Chicco buckets don't fit out of the box--you have to make a small adjustment.

We have had great results with for a lot of the simple stuff--they ship very, very quickly and their prices are good. And I definitely agree that you should not cheap out on the wipes. We use Lansinoh and they are very effective. If you use cloth diapers, put one underneath your little dude and save your diaper pad cover.

Overall, congratulations! All the cliches everyone goes on and on about are true. If you are a male type, this book is funny and was a great help to me.
posted by Kafkaesque at 2:50 PM on August 10, 2010

How could I forget the Boppy.... we loved that thing... a general purpose instant safe place to put an immobile infant. It instantly turns any suitably large flat surface into a place to let the baby sit.

Covers are good because it will get messy.
posted by MikeWarot at 2:50 PM on August 10, 2010

If you're using disposable diapers, I highly recommend Luvs brand. They are inexpensive, hold their contents well, and seem to be just as good as the more expensive Huggies that I started out with. Also, as a hint, go to the Luvs website and sign up for their savings! I get coupons in the mail every couple of months, and if I use those at Walmart, I can get a box of diapers (like, 96 count) for $12.50. As for wipes, I DO go with Huggies on these because, as stated above, the cheaper ones sometimes just don't get the job done.

Also, seconding the Boppy! I used that thing so much. It's awesome. As a hint though, purchase an extra Boppy cover, as our covers needed to be changed out frequently due to spit up, drool, etc.

Congrats on the new one!! Enjoy the adventure. :-)
posted by I_love_the_rain at 3:00 PM on August 10, 2010

Check out the forums at the moms there have lots of great advice.
posted by meringue at 3:03 PM on August 10, 2010 [1 favorite]

Honestly, after having my baby a few months ago, the best possible advice I can offer is as follows:

Don't Panic
Always bring a towel

Everything else you can take or leave based on your own opinions, style and budget. The towel and the temperament though? 100% necessary.
posted by sunshinesky at 3:07 PM on August 10, 2010 [1 favorite]

I have an almost 5 month old and had absolutely no idea what I needed before hand. If I had to go back and do it all over again, here's what I would have gotten:

Car seat: Consumer reports rated Chicco Keyfit as the best. We got the Keyfit which is rated up to 22 lbs. Baby is now almost 18lbs. Yes, you read that right. I would have gotten the Keyfit 30 which would have gotten us that extra 8 lbs before we had to go into convertible car seat land. They also sell it as a combo with a stroller. Stroller has been awesome so far.

Diapers: seconding, thirding, whatever on the Pampers with the stripe that turns blue when little one pees. Best. Invention. Ever. Now that Baby Leezie is in Cruisers, I am bummed that they no longer have that option.

Wipes: the only ones I haven't liked are the organic ones. Go figure.

Burb cloths: the ones from the store actually are kind of sucky. Great ones: William Sonoma white dish towels. Seriously.

Swaddles: many, many, many.

You will need more clothes than you think, in larger sizes than you think.

Bottles: we've liked the Playtex Ventaire and Dr. Brown's, but that is a really personal choice. Baby Leezie had a wee bit of spitting up problem (due in part to our complete ignorance about the difference between a fast and slow nipple) so the bottles we ended up getting were designed to minimize spit up.

For mom: ambien. Seriously. Otherwise, I couldn't sleep because I was on edge waiting for baby to wake up.

You will do more laundry than you thought possible and wash more bottles than you thought possible, but it will all settle down sooner than you think. Best of luck!
posted by Leezie at 3:28 PM on August 10, 2010

Get lots of sleep now. Not that you can store it up or anything. But use that all-access VIP pass to Dreamland before it's permanently revoked.

I don't know if you've seen this previous AskMe, but it contains a lot of tips that I definitely appreciated reading before my son was born. Somewhere in there was a great piece of advice: Remember that it's the baby's first time too, and they don't know if you're doing it right or not either.
posted by Kabanos at 3:39 PM on August 10, 2010

Second buying the clothes in a size larger then you think you need. Baby theBRKP is 8 months old and already wearing clothes sized for 12 months. I generally take current age and add 3 months. When he gets to a year, I'll go to six months. From naked to over-sized clothing, babies are cute no matter what the attire (or lack of).

Nthing Craigslist for big items. We saved hundreds of dollars on a crib by purchasing it off of Craigslist. Ask for the manufacturer, model name/number and any other identifying information and look it up on the CPSC's website. If the seller will not give you that information, move on to the next one.

When trying out strollers or any other piece of baby equipment, ask yourself "is this piece of equipment something I can manage by myself with a screaming, wiggling child?" Stroller wise, we choose a Baby Jogger City Mini, which is light and possibly the easiest stroller ever to open and collapse. I used the same criteria for the crib and babywearing, (an Ergo that I love, love, love)

If family members and friends offer to help buy the big items for you, let them. Seriously. Mr. theBRKP and I both have excellent jobs and could afford to buy crib, stroller, car seat and other baby equipment ourselves. But we were able to use the money saved from the generosity of our family members to help finance my (unpaid) maternity leave.

And don't forget to have fun. Right now diapering theBRKP is a huge pain right - until I look at the expression of absolute glee on his face.
posted by theBigRedKittyPurrs at 4:19 PM on August 10, 2010 [1 favorite]

I can't give you any specific recommendations, since I'm childless (wow, that sounds bad), but I just want to say: be extra careful to do your research when buying a crib, car seat, etc. Often there are product recalls and sometimes (surprisingly often, from what I understand) baby products are recalled (or "voluntarily" recalled) and yet still available on store shelves or, of course, being sold second-hand.
posted by 1000monkeys at 4:23 PM on August 10, 2010

Also, depending on your area, start looking into daycare well before you need them. I know some of the centers around here have a year long waitlist! Year long!! Family daycares are harder to find and are far less visible, but often less expensive and sometimes far better. So talk to friends, coworkers, family members, and any other person or parent you can think of months before you need a daycare.

If you're thinking of going the nanny route, you can likely get in on a nanny share with another family, or you can probably find one who is leaving another family, so ask around about that like you would for a daycare.
posted by zizzle at 4:35 PM on August 10, 2010

btw, if you or your partner don't mind an extra load of laundry every couple of days, you can saves tons of money on cloth diapering. Best part is, the second kid is pretty close to free once you've collected a good diaper stash.
posted by sunshinesky at 5:18 PM on August 10, 2010 [1 favorite]

Sign up with the CPSC to get emails for recalls on children's items (or any items). My son's favorite toy was recalled because two children choked on parts. The store where it was purchased never had the bulletin up until I took it to them.

Take more with you rather than less. This applies to diapers, wipes, clothing and food. For some reason the day you don't take three changes of clothes will be the day that your child has monster wees and poos.

Seconding the necessity for clothes larger than you think. My son wore newborn clothes for about two weeks, and progressed rapidly to 2T at one year old.

Have fun being a parent! It's the toughest job you'll ever love!!
posted by littleflowers at 5:23 PM on August 10, 2010 [2 favorites]

One more thought. Test strollers for your comfort. You're the one lugging, opening and pushing it.
posted by littleflowers at 5:28 PM on August 10, 2010

Just popping in to say that not all babies are huge! Mine wears clothes sized for babies a couple of months younger than she is, and boy were we caught short at first because we'd followed the advice to always buy big. Of course, we have plenty of clothes for her to grow into as a result, so it's fine, but I am always struck by how confidently and generically everyone says that there is no point in buying the smallest size. Sometimes there is!

Diapers, incidentally, are the one thing that you really won't want to use in a size too big. Loose clothes (up to a point) are cute, gapping diapers are a big mess.
posted by redfoxtail at 5:31 PM on August 10, 2010 [1 favorite]

Congratulations! Becoming a first-time parent is crazy and terrifying and wonderful.

We love our Chicco stroller and KeyFit infant car seat combo. Baby J is hitting 8.5 months and just coming up to the 22 lb limit on the car seat, so we got some decent use out of it. Also putting in another vote for the Costco Kirkland wipes, and Penaten diaper cream in the round container is the best out of the six types we've tried so far.

We bought our high chair, Exersaucer and Jolly Jumper off Craigslist, and if I'd thought of it earlier, would have definitely gone that route for the bouncy chair and swing as well.

Get a safety gate whenever they go on sale so you have it before you need it. If you're interesting in a sling or baby carrier, bring the baby with you to the store and test them out--you may need to go a few times. Good luck!
posted by sillymama at 8:38 PM on August 10, 2010

I'm sure it's already been said... but you need Baby Bargains. It is THE book to answer these questions.
posted by bluedaisy at 9:02 PM on August 10, 2010

I'm seconding Baby Bargains. The authors have a website where you can find updates, discussion, etc. Baby Bargains is like the Consumer Reports of baby gear. They also do Baby 411, which is alarming but handy.

I'm sure you have "What to expect the first year", but if not, definitely pick that up.

Someone upthread mentioned the Pack-n-play. This is on Amazon right here, and by the way the ratings are also a good source of information for baby stuff. We've got two (yes, you read that right) pack-n-plays, one for upstairs as his crib, and one for downstairs in the kitchen as a play yard.

Note that just about every single drop-side crib (over 2 million, I think) has now been recalled due to safety issues (just google "drop side crib recall" for a good scare). We're using our pack-n-play as a crib, and are not ashamed to admit it. Hey, it cost $65, it's already been with us across the country by car (twice) and it's still going strong. The baby will be in a regular bed pretty soon, anyways.

Oh, and congratulations!
posted by math at 9:40 PM on August 10, 2010

Find out if there is a mother's club in your area (a local non-chain baby store will know) and join it! They will probably have a forum, mailing list or something with a searchable archive. They should also have lots of people selling things their kids are growing out of, and some kind of organized way of getting you into a playgroup with other parents. It's so much better than any book... Although Baby Bargains really is an awesome book.

And just so I also give you some actual advice: my experience with car seats, strollers, and pretty much everything else is that more expensive always means bigger and heavier. There is a price that will get you a safe and convenient car seat that won't require you to get an Escalade. For us, it was $99 for a Baby Trend Flex Loc. Love that triangular handle, and fits nicely in the back of a small sedan.
posted by hammurderer at 9:43 PM on August 10, 2010

my two cents:
car seat - we got the Graco Snugride, and it worked fine in a compact car. Being able to plug it into a stroller was nice. This is one of the few things I'd get new.

formula - if you're going that route, you'll get some samples at the hospital. If junior does well with a particular brand, stick with it - they're all basically the same. Definitely don't do soy unless there's a specific medical reason.

clothes. Thrift stores are the way to go here. Your baby will grow super quick and barf on everything you like. Plus, you'll be amazed at how many people will give you hand-me-downs.

there's a whole industry set up around getting you to buy a bunch of crap, or else you feel like a bad parent. (diaper wipe warmers are the example I usually use here) Resist this. You really don't need all that much in the early days - diapers, blankets/clothes/hats, crib, car seat, bottles.

Read The Happiest Baby on the Block. This has all the secrets to understanding what's going on with a newborn. It only goes through three months, though - after that, you're on your own :-)
posted by chbrooks at 10:09 PM on August 10, 2010 [1 favorite]

I feel more like giving advice than gear recommendations. Here goes:

Resist the urge to buy tons of stuff before the baby gets here. The only gear you need for a newborn is a car seat and diapers. At least 50% of the crap you buy ahead of time won't get used, because the baby hates it, or because it doesn't work right, or because someone will give you their old one.

When the baby comes, you and your co-parent are in charge and you need to establish that, politely and firmly, with everyone. If this is your first child, this will be a change in the dynamic of your relationship with your parents/in-laws. Don't take it for granted that this change goes smoothly without your actively making it happen.

Those first couple weeks are hard. Really hard. You might choose to have family around to help. You might choose to keep them away. But expect to be exhausted and emotional and plan accordingly.

Things get a lot better after the first two weeks.

Breast feeding can be extremely frustrating, but stick with it, it's worth it.

Everyone is going to ask you if they can do anything to help once the baby is born. You will need to tell them exactly what to do. The best use of this offer is to have them bring you food.

It's natural to be anxious in the last month or so of pregnancy. Be comforted in the knowledge that when the baby is born you will know instinctively exactly what you need to do. Trust me.

Stressed out parents are bad for baby. If the parents are calm, the baby will be calm.

People who spend more time reading parenting books than reading their baby's face are doing it wrong.
posted by Slarty Bartfast at 10:55 PM on August 10, 2010 [1 favorite]

Spend money on your stroller. Seriously, you will be using it all the time and if you and the babe aren't comfortable it won't be worth it. Spend money on your carseat. We had the Graco snug-ride and now have the Britax marathon. For the second carseat, get one that will stay rear-facing for as long as possible. So much safer. We also loved our swing (FisherPrice Rainforest.) Really got us through the first few months.

Don't spend money on wipes. We like the cheapest huggies ones and the kirkland brand. Pricier ones didn't work for us. Talk with other parents to find out where the best deals on diapers are in your city. Also, don't bother with wipes warmers.

Buy 50 cheap bartowels or washcloths. I cannot tell you how much you will use them. Please believe me. We go through them all the time, and they are cheap enough to just throw away if we have an emergency. When the kids were little, we used them as burp rags. Now we use them to wipe up their faces after meals and snacks.

Swaddling is the way to go. There are special swaddle blankets that simplifies things. Buy the book "Happiest Baby on the Block". It is like magic.

Finally, trust your instincts. They will not fail you.
posted by ms.v. at 8:58 AM on August 11, 2010 [1 favorite]

Two books about sleep: the previously mentioned Dr. Marc Weissbluth's Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child and Dr. Richard Ferber's Solve Your Child's Sleep Problems.

The Weissbluth book is the day-to-day practical guidebook. The Ferber book (don't let his undeserved reputation scare you off, he's quite kind in his approach and is a respected figure with the vast majority of pediatricians) is explicitly about solving problems but the first chapter is a must-read summary of our understanding of infant and child sleep science.

Understand sleep before the child is born and you're miles ahead of most people.
posted by werkzeuger at 10:06 AM on August 11, 2010

My two suggestions, don't worry too much about what you need to buy.

Second, try to find a copy of Happiest Baby on the Block. If you don't have time to read it after the baby is born, check out the DVD. It's useful, easy to remember advice for dealing with a crying baby.
posted by drezdn at 11:10 AM on August 11, 2010

But, don't feel too obligated to use up a box of potentially small diapers before going to the next size up. Blowouts are common.
posted by chookibing at 12:43 PM on August 11, 2010

I'll throw this one in the mix: don't assume that wipes are even necessary. We've never used even one (good-quality paper towels + spray bottle water for #2 diapers, nothing for #1s), and not only has our kid stayed plenty clean, the diaper rash has been minimal compared to what seems to be the average among friends' babies.
posted by Bardolph at 1:58 PM on August 11, 2010

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