Hits and Misses: Play and Everything Else

So, we have covered all of the baby gear, feeding and sleeping/soothing essentials that got us through the first year in earlier posts. For my final baby item list, I’ll share a few of B’s favorite toys, as well as hits and misses for a bunch of random items that don’t really fit into any of my prior categories.

 Play

Baby Play college

A random sample…

We registered for a few toys before B was born, but didn’t really go crazy stocking in those early months. Infants don’t really do all that much, after all, so you can pretty much stick to the brightly colored toys that can be hung on the handle of a car seat or dangled in front of baby’s eyes as they learn to focus. Our best purchases included the Sassy Go-Go Bugs (the only thing that kept her quiet on car rides), the Emily Doll by Lamaze (which continues to be one of her favorite things) and the Baby Einstein Ocean Adventure Play Gym (great for tummy time).

Of course, we purchased the ubiquitous Sophie the Giraffe. It is ridiculously priced at $23 (I’m pretty sure you can get something similar in the dog toy section of the dollar store), but she has been chewing on it since she was a little over two months old and it seems to be the only teether that really gives her relief.

At around four months, we broke out the activity saucer and when we realized that she really liked jumping, we scored a Jumperoo in great condition from a local parents’ list serve (If you decide to get these larger items, you can definitely get by with just one or the other. If the jumper hadn’t been such a steal, I wouldn’t have gotten it!) By the time she hit the six month mark, she let us know that she didn’t really like being confined and our usage of them tapered off. But, it was nice to have these items during the time when she was too young to sit up on her own and when I needed a place for her to hang out for a few minutes while I got ready for work. They are still sitting in our living room, so she does play with the toys occasionally while she is standing/cruising around.

At Christmas time, our family members bought out half of Toys R’ Us, and her collection exploded. The nice thing about most of the toys she has, though is that the age range and functionality are broad enough that she will probably be able to still get some use out of them for at least the next year or more. She plays with the Kick and Play Piano, Sit-to-Stand Walker, Ballapalooza, Poppin’ Park Elephant, and Baby Einstein Take-a-long Tunes almost every day.

Of course, there are a few drawbacks to all of those toys mentioned above. Specifically, they all make noise, light up and consume a ton of batteries. Make sure to balance out the crazy with a few simple items. You can’t go wrong with the classic toys that you  stacking rings, a shape sorter, some blocks (we have big foam ones that are easy for her to handle as well as the traditional wooden alphabet blocks that she likes to bang together or knock over if we stack them up for her) and a ball, if you ask me.

Everything else

 Books

I will probably be the kind of parent who might say no to buying a toy, but will always say yes to buying a book (or five). I started B’s library while I was pregnant, and she has already exceeded the capacity of the bookshelf in her room. We have a wide variety of story and picture books, and I’m so excited that she loves to be read to and can pass a fair amount of time flipping through the pages. I could probably do a full post just on books alone, but needless to say, I don’t think you can have too many!

bumbo

Bumbo

We got a lot of use out of this seat between four and six months old, before B could sit up on her own. I would pop her in to it every morning, when I was getting ready for work. She just enjoyed watching all of the action and I felt like it was easier to interact with her and narrate what I was doing when she was sitting upright. I know there are mixed reviews about the safety of this item (it was recalled in 2013 when it was reported that a few babies fell out of the seat), but as long as you use the included restraint belt and keep the seat on the floor, I don’t see any real issues with it.

JJ-Cole-Original-Bundle-Me--pTRU1-8101196dt

JJ Cole Bundle Me

If you are here on the East Coast, you know that we had a ridiculously cold winter. You can’t really put a baby into a thick snowsuit or coat and safely buckle them into an infant car seat. And, piling on blankets is just a pain. This car seat bunting was a lifesaver. We would dress B in a few layers and zip this up around her. She stayed nice and toasty we were outside, and the top layer easily zipped off when we ducked inside.

Car Mirror

I have been so thankful for this mirror when I have been on solo car trips with B, and now that she is older she is entertained by her reflection on car trips.

nose frida

The Nosefrida (aka the Snotsucker)

We were fortunate that B had only one really bad cold during this first year, but we more than go our money’s worth out of this strange looking little gadget. Basically, you place the end of the tube at the baby’s nostril and use your own suction to draw all of the gross stuff out of their nose. Disgusting in concept, but it works much better than the bulb aspirators that they give out in the hospital.

Nail files

Baby nails are super sharp and they grow like weeds. B has probably had more manicures in her first year than I have had in my whole life. The idea of using those tiny clippers that come with infant grooming kits on squirmy little hands freaked me out, so I have pretty much only used files to keep her nails in check.

genie

Diaper Genie

I know that there are mixed reviews on the necessity/durability of this product, but I am glad that we have one. We haven’t had a problem with diapers stinking up her room at all. The drawbacks include the expense of the refills and the fact that it isn’t them most well-made product. Somehow, we broke the interior mechanism that traps the diapers, but Chester managed to rig it up again so that it works.

gerber-sidesnap

Side Snap Shirts

During B’s first couple of weeks at home, she lived in these shirts, a diaper and a swaddling blanket. They were the easiest thing to dress her in and didn’t interfere with her belly button while it was healing.

Diaper Bag (or two)

Really, what you need is a rolling suitcase to tote along all of the things you will need for even a quick trip out of the house. But, it would probably be impossible to drag that along behind you will pushing a stroller or carrying a baby. You might want to have a couple of different diaper bag options on hand to choose from, once you figure out how much you will be bringing with you on a particular day.

Big Bridget gifted me a lovely Kate Spade diaper bag, which I use for day-to-day outings. It fits all of the essentials, including diapers, wipes, an extra outfit, a bottle/snacks and a couple of toys. I have a small clutch purse that I throw my ID, phone, keys and lip gloss in and we are good to go!

However, for occasions where I can’t pack light, I use the Kelly Moore bag that Chester gave me for Mother’s Day. I actually came across the brand when I asked Google to suggest a brand  that could be used as a diaper and camera bag. It has a ton of pockets and comes with Velcro dividers that let’s you create spaces for all of the baby and camera essentials you will need for a full day or two out of the house.

Photography

Chester and I have always enjoyed photography as a hobby, so we both had pretty decent DSLR cameras on hand before B was born. And, we booked three sessions with a fabulous photographer, who captured some beautiful images while I was 35 weeks pregnant, when B was just ten days old and just a couple of weeks ago to mark B’s first birthday.

You are going to want to document every second of your baby’s life, so a quality camera and/or a session with a professional photographer are worthwhile investments. I treasure each and every one of the photos that we have taken over the last year (even those in which my hair is a mess and I’m not wearing any make-up).

 Misses

BU-Play-Tray

Bumbo Snack/Play Tray

We never really used this item. It was a pain to put on and take off, and she wasn’t really snacking or playing independently during the time period that we used the seat, anyway.

tub

Eurobath by Primo

I picked this tub based on the suggestion of Baby Bargains. It’s nice and functional, but I didn’t realize that it was humongous. We have no place to really store it in our tiny bathroom, so it sits on the floor of B’s bedroom when it’s not in use. Drives. Me. Crazy.

“Outfits” for newborns

 As I mentioned in a prior post, stock up on those easy to use one-piece pajamas those for the newborn days and save the cute pants/tops, dresses, and skirts for the days when you actually will be out and about in public and you are less afraid that you will snap your baby’s neck when you put something over her head.

Shoes

Adorable in photos, pointless in reality. They just do not stay on.

So, this concludes my brain dump of all of the baby things. Hopefully, if you are trying to put together your own registry or pick out a few items for first-time parents these posts provided a helpful starting point. I can only imagine all of the gear that we will have to make room for as we get ready for year two!

 

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