New parents and parents to be are constantly bombarded with “you need this” and “your baby cannot possibly survive without XYZ”. After a year of parenting, this is our list of the 10 most useful/needed baby paraphernalia. It does not include some of the basic necessities like clothing, shelter, and food.
Without further ado, here is our list.
# 10 – A Car Seat
If you are planning on driving anywhere with baby, you have to have a car seat. The law requires it and some hospitals won’t let you leave with your newborn until you have one. Frugal Boy is on his second car seat after outgrowing his newborn seat. This one should last him until he is ready for a booster seat.
# 9 – Crib
Some kids sleep in their cribs, others do not. Frugal Boy is a bit of both and spends part of his nights in his crib and part with us in our bed. Cribs also double as a holding cell for when you need to get something done without worrying about the safety of your judgement impaired offspring.
# 8 – Pocket Snacks
I get cranky when my blood sugar gets low. Shae gets cranky when her blood sugar gets low. Frugal boy… well you get the idea. Having a ziplock bag full of cheerios stashed in a coat pocket or diaper bag has saved our hides quite a few times from murderous scream fests. The moral of the story is to bring snacks every time you leave home.
# 7 – Pacifiers
Before Frugal Boy was born, we told ourselves that we would never use pacifiers. Those were a cop out and it was lazy parenting. Our baby wouldn’t need a pacifier. Hahahaha. Frugal Boy made it to about three months and then we gave up and pacifiers became a staple baby item in our house.
# 6 – Activity Saucer
Do you want to know our secret to making dinner and keeping Frugal Boy away from the hot oven? The neglect-o-matic 3000, also known as an activity saucer. Plop junior in there and you can go about your cooking without having to box out a kamikaze baby from 3rd degree burns.
# 5 – A Stroller
We actually have two strollers. A jogging stroller, shown below, and a travel stroller. Winter time hasn’t been very conducive to using either, but even in the colder weather they still get use. A stroller would be higher up on our list if there wasn’t an even better alternative [hint: keep reading our list]. With that said, both strollers will take a long time to outgrow and will be used well into the future.
# 4 – Breast Pump
As a working, breast feeding, mom a breast pump has been indispensable for Shae. She started with a hand-me down pump from her sister-in-law (you can buy new fittings) and later bought a newer model to help keep up with demand. The pump has easily paid for itself given the high cost of formula.
# 3 – Boba
The Boba carrier has been our go-to gear for walks, hikes, putting Frugal Boy to sleep, and keeping him out of trouble around the house. In many other cultures, baby wearing is the normal thing to do. Not only does your baby love being snuggled up close, it also lets you have both hands free. Another perk is that strangers are far less likely to touch your baby when out in public. For some reason, strollers seem to broadcast a “come touch my baby message” and people seem to have no qualms in walking right up and invading your baby’s personal space. With the Boba, that is never a problem.
We started with the Boba wrap and moved to the carrier after Frugal Boy outgrew the wrap. The carrier supports both front and back carry. Frugal Boy has gotten to the point where front carry is uncomfortable for the back after any extended duration.
# 2 – Cloth Diapers
Having a baby means changing a lot of diapers. I mean, a LOT of diapers. We chose to pay a bit more upfront and use cloth diapers instead of disposable. It is a decision that we do not regret for even a second. Cloth diapers just feel right, especially from an economical sense and an environmental one. What’s that, Frugal Boy just hosed down the changing table and the fresh diaper? Who cares, just throw it in the laundry and get a clean one out. I personally find myself much more proactive in changing diapers when he is in cloth because it doesn’t matter if he is wet or dry. It’s been an hour since your last diaper change and you smell kind of funky, okay, let’s change your diaper. Oh, and the whole, we need to add diapers to the grocery list and try to find some coupons to knock down the price is a conversation we’ve had a total of zero times. Yay for one less thing on the grocery list.
That brings us to our #1 “must have” baby gear/equipment/etc. What could possibly be more important than the first nine items on our list? Drum roll please…
Help. That’s right, a babysitter or a relative or a friend. Basically anyone but your spouse so you can get some time away from baby and recoup a bit. Having a date night with your spouse on a regular basis is super nice and let’s face it, parents can be boring to kids. Having a safe environment that they can explore new things in is great for those sponge like minds.
Come to think of it, I don’t have any photos of Frugal Boy and his babysitter. I should, since he loves going to the sitter’s house. Not only is it a new set of toys to play with, but more importantly, there are other KIDS to play with, watch, and learn from. Kids that can match his energy levels.
The old saying goes, “it takes a village to raise a child”, so don’t feel like your spouse and you have to do it all on your own. Get help, even if it means paying for it.