Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Favourite baby gear roundup: 0-3 months

First time parents almost inevitably acquire a plethora of items for their new bundles of joy, via direct purchases, baby showers, hand-me-downs, loans, arrival gifts, freebies and sweepstakes. When it comes down to it, you really only really need a few things for baby, however there are many other items which can make life a lot easier and more pleasurable when the li'l one arrives.

So how does a parent-to-be separate the awesome from the so-so and the downright crappy among the many hundreds of potential baby products out there? Well, there are numerous great review sites out there which can certainly help. I spent A LOT of time on these sites when building S's registry, lemme tell ya! :) That said, ratings and reviews only get you half way; in practice, you need to actually use the stuff to determine which items end up kicking butt for your own family!

On this note, I thought I'd do a roundup of Chris 'and my favourite baby-related gear up until this point, to commemorate S's 3 month birthday! (Happy, happy day to our pear-fect little monkey!) I've purposefully left out the basics such as car seats and bassinets/cribs, as well as cloth diapering items which deserve their own discussion! The Top 10 items are more or less ranked according to relative awesomeness, with #1 being our favourite. (Note that by "our", I mean mostly mine, with some input from Chris ;) The honourable mentions are other items we love, but didn't quite crack the Top 10. I'll repeat the roundup at 6, 9 and 12 months (perhaps longer) to paint a picture of what's changed and what's remained in our favourites list!

Enough preamble. Here we go!


The Top 10:

#10 - Sassy Ring O' Links. This is one of the main "holdable" toys I regularly give to S at this point. The links are small so they're easy to hold and gnaw on, there are lots of bright colours and they can be connected in many different ways to hold baby's interest. Plus, the large black & white ring in the middle can be attached to a car seat or stroller handle with the links or other toys for baby to look at and/or play with on the go! A fun and versatile toy!

#9 - Moby Wrap - I blogged about this puppy about a month ago. Fast forward to today and I still love having S snuggled up snoozing against me - the best feeling ever! :) That said, I don't use it every day like I originally planned to. Some days, she doesn't seem to be in the mood and other days, we're out and about. Plus, I don't feel completely hands free when she's in there so I usually end up watching TV or on my laptop. But all in all, I still love it and it's the only carrier I use with DD.

#8 - Bunch Farmers stain remover stick. This stuff rulez on EBF poop stains! We've had some nasty blow-outs onto diaper covers and a few clothes, and in most cases, the stains come out in the wash when treated with the BF stick. By comparison, I forgot to treat one pair of pants which got pooped on (see #12 above) and it was still badly stained when it came out of the wash. True test will be when S's eating solids; I hear carrots are a particularly bad offender! :)

#7 - Bravado Body Silk Seamless Nursing Bra. $50 for a bra? Isn't that nuts? Well no, not really considering how awesomely comfortable, well-fitting and high quality this thang is. Plus, the detachable flap reveals the whole boob rather than a mere peephole which makes feeding less awkward. I wear the snot out of mine and it's still in great condition. Highly recommended.

#6 - LeapFrog Spin and Sing Alphabet Zoo. This toy is virtually guaranteed to elicit a smile from S, even when she has her grump on! She loves watching the wheel spin and listening to the music and animal sounds, and she's even starting to reach out and make the wheel spin herself! Great toy, and Chris and I both find ourselves "spin spinning a letter" for her at least once a day!

#5 - Fisher-Price Rainforest Bath Center. Chris is in LOVE with this tub, and he's in charge of bath time so this one makes the top 5. :) He is a big fan of the mesh part, however now that S has surpassed the 10 pound weight limit we're starting to bathe her in the tub directly which requires a bit more dexterity. I'm personally looking forward to the day we begin bathing her in the big tub! That'll simplify things and create more opportunities for fun play time!

#4 - Grab Apple by The First Years. This is currently the hand-holdable toy of choice we give to S. The apple's "skeleton" is perfect for her little hands to grab onto, and the stem and crunchy leaf combo is great for mouthing (and likely teething as well, when she moves on to that fun phase!) This toy will hold her interest for several minutes at a time, which is pretty dern good for a 3-month old! (I shot a video of her holding it the other day - will post this on her upcoming 3 month development post.) Finally, the apple is super easy to clean, which is always good for a toy. Two thumbs way up!

#3 - Baby Einstein Neptune Ocean Adventure Gym. Another Kijiji purchase which rocks our socks! We started laying S in the gym at about 6 weeks old, and from day 1 she was completely enraptured with the octopus! Before she was learning motor control, she'd smile and coo at it, and now she likes to pull on the links hanging from its tentacles as well. We also like how the toys are interchangeable; we often hang her Infantino plush jungle friends (see below) on there as well. The gym is great when we just need a few minutes to do something - e.g., grab a drink or throw in a load of laundry. Definitely a great product for a pre-crawling infant!

#2 - Country Save laundry detergent. I originally picked some of this stuff up for doing cloth diaper laundry, as it's allharshstuff-free and very reasonably priced compared to other detergents recommended for this purpose. Now, we do ALL our laundry in Country Save. It gets everything nice & clean and neutral-smelling - i.e. no flowery or mountain spring-y scent (which may smell good but means that chemicals are still kicking around!) Since we have a front loader, we get 80+ loads out of a single $11 box - less than 14 cents / load! The one downside is that it can be hard to find and many folks need to order online (and therefore pay shipping). Thankfully, the Extraordinary Baby Shoppe in downtown Waterloo carries it. I'm tempted to buy several boxes the next time I'm there just in case they stop selling it in the near future!

#1 - HALO SleepSack. This thing is THE. SHIZ. !! Since S has been big enough to wear her sack (10+ pounds) we've completely done away with blankets in her bassinet and crib. This makes us feel secure that she's safe and not getting all caught up under loose blankets, and it gives her more mobility to do her patented crib rotations. :) We currently have her in a micro-fleece jobby for the winter months, and have an organic cotton one waiting for when she's a li'l bigger. Our #1 baby product!! :D

Honourable Mentions:

- A super-soft polka-dotted polyester blanket from "Blankets & Beyond". Try as I might, Google was not my friend in terms of drumming up an exact image, however it came with a little pink teddy bear and is similar to this one by Piccolo Bambino. It's a perfect size and warmth for snuggling S in one of her various chairs during naps, and she likes to suck on it too. :)

- Sassy Flutterby Teether. This was one of the first coloured toys that really fascinated S! I included a video in her 2nd month development post showing her cooing and smiling at it. So why didn't it make the Top 10? Well, it seems to have lost its luster at just over 2 months. Now, it may elicit a brief smile but that's about it. I suspect it may re-enter the list soon enough when she's teething, however.

- LeapFrog Baby Counting Pal. Earlier on, S mainly liked to look at the caterpillar's happy face and listen to the music. Now she still enjoys this, but she also likes to touch the different textures hanging below the numbers. All in all, a nice multi-faceted toy.

- Twinkle Twinkle Little Violet. This li'l pal plays your choice of lullabies or environmental sounds in either 10 minute or 20 minute durations and also cradles a moon that glows, creating a type of night light. Little Violet became part of our night time routine once we moved S to the crib in her nursery. I play either the music or sounds during our pre-bedtime nursing session and then put her down with it still playing. I'm not sure to what extent the sounds are soothing to S, but I kinda like it in the background while I nurse her before bedtime. :) S also likes to look at the glowing moon when she's sleepy.

- Infantino Plush Jungle Friends. S loves her jungle friends! She likes to look at them hanging from her gym as well as hold and mouth them. It also amuses her greatly when we make them "talk" to her using different voices. (According to Chris, the lion has a Spanish accent :)

- Footed pants. No particular brand; just the concept. They allow S to wear her cute onesies in the winter (when it's chilly) without the annoyance of those little socks which constantly come off her feet! Unfortunately she had a big blow-out on one of her two pairs of these, so we may end up buying some more. :)

- Carter's sleepers. Of all the ones we've tried, these sleepers are the most practical, well-fitting, and adorable. We especially loved "Squeeze me" and "Mommy Loves Me" in the 0-3 month size, so we were somewhat wistful when S outgrew them. :'(

- Kiddopotamus SwaddleMe. These were the shiznit when S was less than a month old. They make swaddling SOOO easy. Since we got the 2-pack, we always had one handy and never had to do a "real" swaddle with a receiving blanket (which is good, because I tried during our prenatal class and it was somewhat of an epic fail.) S didn't really like her arms tied down, so we swaddled her just under her armpits and this worked well.

- Cozy Cover - As I mentioned in an earlier post, I nabbed one of these bad boys on Kijiji for a mere $5. This particular brand is no longer sold, but many similar "shower cap" styles are currently on the market, such as this one from Summer Infant. Basically it's a thick, elasticized blanket which goes over the car seat to keep baby warm and shielded from the elements, without extra material between her and the seat which is considered unsafe by carseat manufacturers. A couple downsides - it's a bit awkward squeezing S in and out of the opening, and the fit isn't perfect on our Graco SnugRide (it tends to droop a little bit) but otherwise, it's great!


Well that's that. Hope you enjoyed the roundup! Also curious if readers out there have any 0-3 month "must have" items which didn't make our list?


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