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Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Baby Buying Guide: What You Really Need (vs Want) w Lussobaby


Okay mamas, it's confession time: How many of you are or were overwhelmed with all the information out there for what to buy when you have a baby? From the furniture, strollers, & gear to the diapers (disposable? cloth?), toys, and all of the other bits and pieces these little creatures require it can sometimes feel a bit overwhelming. And everywhere you go you're probably getting more ideas, more suggestions that it can become hard to narrow down what you'll probably really need vs. what you'll want (and frankly is just plain cute and fun for you to buy). 

So when I found out I was pregnant with #2 I thought it would be interesting to look back at all of the items I thought I needed with Ari and share my reflections on what I've actually used & liked as a Mom. It's also worth thinking about what you can register for instead of having to buy yourself. Because it's been more than 2 years since I started scoping out what I needed for baby #1 (aka Ari) and the products available are always changing & being upgraded, I thought I'd get some help investigating, so I got in touch with Lussobaby, a Vancouver- based company specializing in all things baby. Who better to help than the people who work in the industry and know all the latest products & trends?


Since natural, eco- friendly options are a focus of mine, I asked Shima about the importance of choosing eco- friendly/ natural/ green products when it comes to their little ones and here's what she had to say: 
It's important for the future of our kids that we keep the environment safe & healthy for them. There are a lot of health risks such as asthma... off- gassing from products in the nursery, etc. We like to educate our customers to help them make the best purchase choices for them... It's important that we help our customers choose the right products based on their family. lifestyle, and budget.

Because there are always new products being introduced I wanted to find out what's changed in the two short years since I started shopping around for Ari. While the overall products don't change much, it's the features that keep evolving & improving. Here are some examples from Shima:
Products that are really popular include the Halo Bassinet, Ergo 360, and 4 Moms Momaroo (complete with Blutooth, a remote, etc). Products being introduced now aren't 'new' so much as they are innovative & building on what is already out there. Manufacturers are making upgrades and improvements on what  is already available to make them even better for consumers; there is a focus on making things easier for parents.

Shima and her right- hand gal, Alannah, were lovely & showed me some of their favourite products in the South Granville Lussobaby location. I enjoyed a fun afternoon with them and Lisa from Lisa Porter Photography learning about some of the newest products on the market & comparing them to what was available a few years ago. See below for my Needs vs Wants with baby, complete with suggestions from Lussobaby.

Please note that these are my personal recommendations with suggestions from Lussobaby on the latest product upgrades & options. For product- specific safety concerns I recommend contacting the manufacturer directly. 


Furniture
A lot of these make great registry items for family & friends to go in on. Some items may be more 'splurge' items than others and you'll figure out which items are more of a priority for you (ie do you save a little on a chair so you can splurge on a nursing chair?). Make sure you communicate which items are your top priorities to anyone who has offered to buy or chip in to help pay for these big ticket items.

Cradle/ Bassinet: Important for when baby is sleeping in the room with you. Ari only slept in hers for a few weeks until she turned into a major wiggle worm and I wanted to give her more space to stretch her little limbs. Opt for a more basic option (see here and here) if you don't plan on using one for long also consider that if you have a big baby they won't actually fit in some bassinets for very long) or go all out with a more deluxe option like this Halo Bassinet (great if you have limited space & want to keep your bumpkin in your room for as long as possible).


Crib: Here's where things can start to get pricey quick. On a basic level, you want to make sure the crib you choose is safe and meets current safety standards (see a good basic crib here). If you're picky about style and design be prepared to spend more (check out this Natart Allegra beauty, similar to the one shown above). Something to keep in mind when you start scoping out cribs is if you would like to save in the long run and buy a convertible option; they cost more up front but you'll get a lot more mileage out of them. We opted for a crib that can be converted into a double bed, and there are plenty of 3 and 4- in- 1 options that offer in- between stage(s) for toddlers (see here).

Bedding: First, make sure you know what size crib mattress you'll need if your crib doesn't come with one. When it comes to sheets and blankets, all I'll say is this: choose what you like & feel comfortable with. At the very minimum you'll need a crib mattress & fitted sheet; a mattress protector to go under the fitted sheet is also a good idea to protect against leaky diapers & spit up. You can keep it basic with just these items or go all out with a bedding set, just be aware of safety precautions surrounding bumpers, blankets, and other items in the crib. This is a topic where there are a lot of opinions and recommendations, so do your research and find out what you're comfortable with.


Change Table: While I think change tables are a fine option, I like it when furniture can multi- task. We went with a dresser & topped it with a change pad and basket filled with diapers, wipes, etc. It also seems to be a popular style choice as well. Opting for a dresser is also a good idea if space is limited, since you can reduce the pieces of furniture in the room and dedicate a drawer to changing needs. If budget is also a concern, think about how much use you think you'll get out of a change table vs a dresser. If you plan on having several kids, it may be worth it to buy a change table and simply sell it when your kids have outgrown it. Otherwise I'd opt for the dresser option since it can grow with your kids and provide much- needed storage when they're older.

Having a little fun testing out nursing chairs at Lussobaby!

Nursing Chair: I'll admit, before Ari was born I was a bit of a skeptic when it came to nursing chairs. What's the big deal? It wasn't until she was born and I was nursing her that I had my 'aha' moment. A few days in my back was getting soar and I was so tired and craving somewhere we could both be comfortable. There are plenty of options that glide or rock, but make sure you test them out for comfort (a great thing to test out while pregnant and uncomfortable! ;) ). When I was searching I couldn't find a glider/ rocker that suited my style, but there are so many amazing options out there that combine style and comfort (like the Dutallier Fogo one in the photo above; also see here and here for 2 other examples). A great budget- friendly idea is to find a rocking chair you like and load it up with blankets & a few squishy pillows. We ended up going with a regular, non rocking/ gliding chair that will fit in with the rest of our furniture when it's no longer in the baby's room; if I'd known then what I know now, I would have spent more time looking into these when I was pregnant instead of waiting until Ari was born and making a rushed decision.

Highchair: As I mentioned above, the nice thing about a highchair is that you won't need one right away. If you're trying to stretch your budget or would rather put your money elsewhere, this is one item that you can take your time with. I went with an option that didn't had any cushioning or fabric so that it would be easy to clean. Other good things to keep in mind when comparing options is foldability and how storable it is (some are really bulky and take up a lot of room), mobility (wheels), and style. Overall I'm still happy with my choice but would consider a foldable option that I can tuck out of the way if I were to do it over again (I've also developed a soft spot for some of the wood varieties available in terms of style like these).

One other note about highchairs/ booster seats: I really wanted a Bumbo. They're great portable options that you can plonk pretty much anywhere. I ended up buying one myself and got the tray to go with it. They're great for babies when they're quite small and young since they don't need to be able to sit up unassisted. However, make sure you think about how long you'll actually use one for (if you have a rolly polly baby they probably won't fit in one for long given the way the openings are made for their legs). These are a cute item but I'll admit maybe more of a want than a need, and there are definitely more price- friendly options that will probably get a lot more use (see here and here for 2 ideas I like).

Gear
Like furniture, all of the gear that comes with a baby adds up fast. And the thing about gear- car seats, strollers, etc- is that you'll want to figure out what features you are looking for and figure out the products available and at what price points. Safety tends to be a top priority when it comes to items such as car seats, and every Mom has her own preference in stroller features, so I find that these items tend to be a little more time consuming to research and decide on. Talk to friends about what products they like & bought and why. The highest price tag definitely doesn't always equal the best product and you'll definitely want to go into stores and test them out for yourself  to figure out what is important for you (I spent more time testing strollers than I care to admit).

Car Seat(s): Here's an item that has a very wide range in price and can take a lot of time and attention when researching since it relates to safety. It's not hard to spend a few hundred dollars on one, and you may need to buy more than one (did you know they have expiry dates?). I opted to buy 2 separate car seats: a 'bucket' infant car seat that I could click in to the car & pop onto my stroller with an adaptor and a 3- in- 1 option that I bought when Ari was about six months old that converts from an infant to a toddler car seat & then  to a booster seat. I am a big fan of the bucket styles that are easy to click in and out of cars and strollers since you can transfer a sleeping baby without waking them, plus it's a little less of a juggling act; for strollers you usually just have to purchase an adaptor, unless you purchase a complete travel system (a stroller & car seat set). I went with the Graco Snug Ride 35 and have been more than happy with it; it's easy to install and click in and out of the car and stroller. If this is a feature you'd like in a car seat, make sure you find out if it's compatible with your stroller & vice- versa. You may have to change up your choice in one to get your top pick in the other. I'm not as in love with the 3- in- 1 option I bought; it's bulky and a little cumbersome to adjust. However, it was fairly easy to install and overall has served my needs, so I can't really put it down too much. My friend has this car seat which I frankly like more than mine and I know she's been really happy with it.

Since car seats can be an overwhelming item to research, I asked Shima, the founder of Lussobaby which she felt was a good overall option. Because she hand picks every item that her stores carry, I knew she could make a good recommendation: "One of my favourite products is the Britax Click Tight carseat series (see here and here for two options), which eliminates the risk of error during installation and is simple to install. This series makes it easier to be safer; 80% of car seats are installed incorrectly, which means they won't be able to do their job if the vehicle it's in is in a crash". If I were starting from scratch, I'd definitely be looking into one of those. (PS- if you're really nervous about installing your car seat(s), your local fire hall can inspect and/ or install it for you to make sure it's installed correctly). Go into different stores, ask lots of questions, read online reviews, and figure out what option will suit your lifestyle and needs.

Make sure you test out strollers & look for features you like.
Stroller: I have found this to be a very personal choice among the women I know and the prices definitely range (check out this stunner, the Mima Kobi 2G, for a beautiful high- end example). We all have different lifestyles and routines and it's funny how much our stroller choice is reflective of this. Like car seats, I say start by asking around and doing some online research about features (what's included/ can be added on, such as second seats and car seat brand compatibility). My sister- in- law had a stroller I liked, which ultimately informed the kinds of strollers I was interested in, and I knew going into stroller shopping what my priorities were: ease of use/ foldability; car- seat adaptor friendly (and which brands it was compatible with); convertibility (2nd seat option available); and storage (BIG bonus for shopping/ diaper bag, etc).

I ended up going with the Baby Jogger City Select and am very happy with my choice. Despite the name, this particular model isn't a jogging stroller, but that wasn't a top priority for me anyways. I recently purchased the second seat kit from Lussobaby for when baby #2 arrives and know that we'll get a lot more mileage out of it, which is part of why I chose this stroller; I'll be able to pop the bucket on top and have Ari's seat below. When #2 gets a little older, I'll be able to have both bumpkins in the stroller and configure them in a variety of ways, rather than having to purchase a double stroller. Just make sure you consider the added costs that these different additions and features can add up to. These can make great group registry gifts, where several people can contribute to a stroller set up that you'll love.

Travel Systems/ Adaptors: As I mentioned above, certain car seat/ stroller combos will require an adaptor so you can attach the car seat to the stroller frame. Make sure you purchase the correct adaptor for your car seat manufacturer (ie if you have a Graco car seat, make sure you buy the adaptor for Graco car seats, not a Britax, etc). If you purchase a travel system the car seat and stroller should fit together without an adaptor.

Baby Monitor: I think most Moms & Moms to be have these on the tops of their lists. They not only give you piece of mind, but help you keep an eye on baby without disturbing them. For a budget- friendly option, a standard monitor is just fine (see here for an example), but video monitors have definitely gained in popularity in the past few years (see here and here for two examples). I have a basic sound- only monitor, but I like that the video monitors allow you to see baby and determine if they're just stirring a little or actually waking up; this can be especially helpful during sleep training. If I was registering for baby now, a video monitor would be one of my top picks.

Jolly Jumper/ Playmat/ Activity Centre/ Swing: I will say this much about these items: these can save your sanity! There were plenty of nights where the Jolly Jumper & exersaucer were the only things that would keep Ari happy while I cooked dinner. And playmats are great to entertain young babies. Exersaucers come in a variety of styles; we got one that transitioned from a playmat to an exersaucer, to an activity table & it's been one of the most- used toys in our house. If you're lacking in space, opt for something like the Jolly Jumper that doesn't take up much space & get easily taken down & put away when not in use.

Diaper Bag & Contents
A lot if not all of these items will seem pretty obvious, but they are definitely items you'll need and it's a good idea to keep a stash of them in your vehicle in case you run out of them in the diaper bag (or forget the diaper bag at home!). ;) You might also find it useful to keep a basket or container of wipes, diapers, burp cloths, etc in several rooms of your home to tackle messes quickly instead of having to run to the baby's room every time. 

Diaper Bag: This might sound silly, but a diaper bag can be a very personal choice. Like a stroller, you'll want to consider your own lifestyle & needs and find a diaper bag that suits you. If you're not a big fan of one that 'looks like a diaper bag' there are so many stylish options now available (backpack style ones are great if you want hubby to tote it around without protesting). Make sure you consider things like the handles/ straps (Are they durable? Will they stand up to lots of use/ weight? Is there a shoulder strap option?), inside pockets (to keep all the bits and pieces organized & easily accessible), washability, and closure (you don't want everything to come popping out of the top!). You might also forgo your own purse- so you have one less bag to carry/ remember- and opt for toss a clutch or small bag with your keys, wallet, etc; if you think you'll do this, make sure the diaper bag has plenty of room for everything you'll be packing around (I bought a Skip Hop one & it's taken a beating; here is an example of another one I love by this company).

Wipes: You'll need plenty of these; keep a stash in your car & lots at home.

Diapers: Whether you opt for cloth or disposable, you'll go through lots of these. I had every intention of going with cloth, but once I saw how much other laundry my little lady created, I scratched that idea. I'm not proud to admit it, but there it is. Some babies are also sensitive to one or the other, so you ultimately may not have a choice & have to go with whatever option works for your bumpkin (I was allergic to disposable, my brother was allergic to cloth, so there's no way of knowing ahead of time). Borrow some cloth options from friends to try and see who has a few disposables on hand so you can test out different options/ brands and figure out what your preference is before you drop a ton of money on them.

Wash Cloths: Stock up & keep a stash in the diaper bag, on your change table, in the bathroom, and anywhere you keep a selection of items for baby in your home. Aside from their obvious use at bath time & to wipe up, they come in handy for lots of other uses; to help dry baby's bum at changes before you pop on a fresh diaper, and to help sooth soar gums when dampened and popped in the freezer when baby is teething, just to name a few.

Burp Cloths: These things have a million different uses, from their obvious use to absorb spit up, to a nursing cover, change mat cover, car seat cover, light weight blanket, etc. Stock up on these since you may go through several a day (especially in the beginning and/ or if your baby tends to spit up a lot).

Bib(s): You'll be glad you have these to protect your babe's outfit from spit up (and eventually food), to wipe up drool, etc. Again, if your baby spits up a lot, these can save you from having to swap outfits as you're trying to head out the door. I love the bandana styles that have become more widely available in the past few years as a cute & stylish twist on this classic. Soft & simple bibs are great for when baby is younger (see here for an example), larger, more durable ones are great when you start introducing food (see here and here for some good examples). 

Personal Products for Mom & Baby
You're probably already so focused on baby that you've forgotten that you're going to a need a few things for your own comfort, especially when it comes to nursing and those first few weeks. Baby's sensitive skin also requires gentle products that won't irritate it (I haven't got this listed below, but another good thing to consider is the laundry detergent you will use for baby's clothes, etc)..

Nipple Cream: This is one of those products I wasn't even aware of until friends & family around me began to get pregnant. I was horrified about what I heard can happen to this sensitive body part when you first start nursing and was very grateful my sister- in- law bought me a tube as part of my shower gift. Go out & get some now. Don't wait until baby arrives to see if you'll need it, this is definitely one product you'll be glad to have on hand when the time comes. I went through almost the entire tube during the first months of nursing.

Nursing/ Bra Pads: Another item I didn't know I needed until I started nursing. Luckily I received some at my baby shower & they were used on a daily basis for the first month or two of nursing. These little inserts act as an absorbant layer to protect your bra and clothes from leakage (they can also help keep you more comfortable since you won't be damp, and avoid embarrassing wet spots on your shirts).  I have both the washable cloth variety & the disposable ones and prefer the cloth ones (see here), but you'll figure out the option that is most comfortable for you.

Nursing Pillow: As with the nursing chair, I didn't appreciate this item until I had Ari and my back started to ache from nursing. I did purchase one in advance, so had it on hand and am so glad I did. This sucker got packed around the house to wherever I might settle for a feed & got plenty of use. Mine is one of the smaller ones available, so my only advice on this would be to check out the bigger options (here is a good example complete with a back support & pocket for a water bottle) that are a bit more sturdy. They're a little cumbersome to pack around when you go out, but the added support and comfort is well worth it. Added bonus: they're perfect for propping up baby after a feed! :)

Nursing Cover: In a pinch a burp cloth will do the trick, but I love how nursing covers are made to fit around your body for nursing coverage (here is a beautiful option). The strap around your neck holds it in place & most have a piece of curved plastic at the top so you can easily look down at your baby to help them latch, etc. This was another item that got plenty of use & I already have it ready to go for when #2 arrives.

Just a few of the natural baby products Lussobaby carries- see below for my faves.

Body Wash, Shampoo, etc: As tempting as it can be to want to buy all of the bath & body products that are scented (who doesn't love that lavender or classic baby shampoo scent?) unscented options are less likely to irritate a baby's sensitive skin. If you've followed TPB for a while, you'll know I'm a big fan of natural products. Some of my favourite brands include Dimpleskins (I love their Bum Bum Balm) and Coco & Tini. Original Sprout and Aleva Naturals are also popular natural lines. 

Teething: Camilia drops were another sanity saver in our house. I prefer natural options and love these drops, which you can give up to several times a day (great to help baby settle before naps & bedtime if they've got teething pain). We also had an amber anklet for Ari which I swear by (see here for some amber teething options). I also have some regular teething medicine on hand just in case; teething necklaces and toys are also good to have as safe options for baby to chomp on when they need to sooth soar gums.

Bottles: I went for basic when it came to bottles and nipples and luckily Ari didn't go through a variety of options before we found ones she would drink from. I had friends that had to go through quite a few before finding bottles/ nipples that their baby liked, and if your baby is picky I'd suggest borrowing from friends or just buying one of a kind to test out until you find one your baby likes before stocking up.



Breast Pump: I couldn't live without one of these, but not all Moms use them, and these can get up there in price. These are another registry gift idea that would be good for several people to go in on. I'll be completely honest, you can feel like you're a cow being milked, but if you're engorged and/ or want to encourage your baby to feed from a bottle you'll be grateful for one of these. The manual varieties are definitely the more budget- friendly options (see here for an example), but can be tiring on your hands; if you can afford to buy an electronic option or have friends/ family willing to chip in towards one my vote would definitely be for one of those (see here and here for two options). 

As your baby starts to sleep longer at night and when you start to wean, pumping can help you save breast milk & keep you comfortable. Plus, if you want to indulge in a well- deserved night out, having pumped milk in bottles will allow you the chance to leave baby with someone else so you can enjoy some grown up bevvies guilt- free (a lot of Moms will 'pump & dump' if indulging in several drinks and/ or drinks with hard liquor).

Breast Milk Storage Bags: If you pump your milk, these are great to store & freeze milk you don't use up right away & can use later. If you produce a lot of milk and/ or miss a feed you'll be glad to know your breast milk won't go to waste. These can seem a bit pricey, but provide a safe & sterile storage option for your breast milk in the fridge & freezer.

Sleep Sacks: These are basically a wearable sleeping bag for baby (see here). These are a great safe option to keep your baby warm at night that they can't wiggle out of and that reduce concern about having blankets in the crib. These come in different sizes to fit as baby grows & different fabrics/ weights depending on the time of year. We had a few for Ari and I was especially grateful for our fleecey one during her first Winter because I was nervous to use heavier/ warmer blankets and this allowed me not to worry about her being warm enough during the night.

Swaddles: I know there are mixed opinions about swaddling your baby, so do what you feel comfortable with. Ari slept best when swaddled as a newborn & that's what worked for me/ us. I found that cotton & muslin swaddle blankets that were lightweight & stretchy were best (see these beauties from aden + anais- a little pricey, but you'll get your money's worth), but I also tried the swaddlers with velcro (see something similar to what I used here) and liked them for nights she was particularly wiggly & would wake herself up from moving; the zippered varieties are also a popular choice.

Sterilizer: A good ol' pot of boiling water works, but if you're short on time and want an option that's fast, these are great to have. My sister- in- law gave me a microwave sterilizer and that sucker got used at least once a day for the first few months (see here and here for 2 examples). Pop in pacifiers, bottles, nipples, and breast pump parts & have them sterile & ready to use in minutes. Mine will be getting a lot more use soon with #2. ;)

Diaper Pail: I totally admit I did not see what all of the fuss was about with Diaper Genies, etc when it came to stocking the nursery and opted for a regular trash can with lid. I now have a greater appreciation for them since changing countless dirty diapers. The trick is they seal away the stinkiness, so every time you toss out a diaper you don't get hit with the odors from previous changes; I'd say the only major downside is the cost of the bag refills and maybe that they're not the most stylish looking things. These help keep the room smelling fresh and clean and while you can live without one, I'm definitely considering buying one for when #2 arrives (I don't think there's a strong enough scented candle to mask the odor of 2x the stinky diapers!).

I am sure other Moms would add other items and maybe take some of mine away, but overall I hope this is a good basic list to help you narrow down what you'll want to buy & register for. I'd love to hear from other Moms what they would add to the list!

Shopping in comfort! ;)
How cute is this original artwork by Vancouver co Shenasi Concept?

A big thank you to Shima and Alannah from Lussobaby for their help & collaborating on this post! 


Lussobaby was founded by Mom, Shima, who hand- picks the items carried in her two stores with a focus on eco- friendly, and unique products from companies whose visions are in line with Lussobaby's. The products are selected based on their superior quality, affordability, and innovativeness. The company also is proud to stock a variety of local brands in an effort to support businesses and individuals in the community it operates in. Shop online on the Lussobaby website or in- store in one of their Vancouver locations. You can also find the store on Facebook Twitter, & Instagram. If you're having a baby, make sure to check out the Lussobaby Baby Registry!


Please note: I received no endorsements or financial compensation for the products included in this post. All products are ones that I have personally used and/ or were recommended by Lussobaby based on my request for information on product upgrades & options, safety concerns, and popular choices with their shoppers (Moms like you). This post is intended for general information purposes.

A huge thank you to Lisa Porter for contributing her time & talent to this post!


Photo Credits: Lisa Porter Photography 

March posts sponsored by Little Dreamers Consulting