Monday, November 19, 2012

Crayon-Approved Mommy Gear Part Two

Missed Part One? Make sure to read it here.

Before I get into items 6-11 I wanted to take a minute to explain why I chose to make my own moby-style wrap instead of just buying one at the store.  As usual, it really boiled down to cost. Moby wraps retail starting at $40 and go up from there depending on their color and if they have a screen printed design. Being as cheap budget concious as I am, I couldn't justify spending that kind of money on what is simply a giant rectangle of knit fabric. (Not lying...that's all it is.) I especially couldn't do it when I wasn't sure if I would like using it or not. (I did mention some pretty big down-sides in part one.) There are several tutorials online for making your own moby and I chose the one I linked based on that extra piece of structured cotton fabric. Instead of buying 6 yards of knit, cutting it down the middle and then only using half of it, I could buy 3 yards, cut it in half and sew the ends together. Half the fabric, half the cost. (The 6 yards of knit would still have brought me up to around $35.)  You can't do this unless you add on the structured fabric, because this center seam is directly where the baby sits when wrapped.  The moby has the potential to split at this seam, but the extra panel of non-stretchy fabric prevents this from happening. Using this logic and a 40% off coupon at JoAnn the total cost for my fake moby was around $15. Bonus: It's super cute and there isn't another wrap like it in the whole world.  : )

6. Travel System. We decided on the Chicco Cortina Keyfit 30 after playing around with all the options at Babies R Us. This is another one of those items that is on the pricier side, but well worth the cost.  I like it because the infant seat snaps into the car base and the stroller (which is what a travel system is designed for) so I can buckle baby in and go from house, to car, to stroller, to store and back again without having to take her in and out constantly.  This is especially nice when she has fallen asleep, because I can move her where I need without waking her up. Since we have 2 vehicles, we got a second car seat base and she can be snapped in to either without us having to deal with buckles, latch systems, and reinstalling the seat every time we want to ride in the other car. We specifically chose this system over others because of the way the stroller folds up (it was also lighter in weight than the Graco models), the fact that it can be used up to 30 pounds (which is higher than other infant seats), and it has one of the better safety ratings compared to other travel systems. The only thing I have a problem with is that it takes up a lot of room in the back seat of my car (I drive a mazda 3). So much room, that we had to place it in the center seat in order for the front passenger to have any leg room at all. Nick's car has a slightly larger back seat (He drives a Saturn Ion) and it fits much better there. The infant seat was also the only place Avery would sleep for the first 2 weeks after we brought her home.  We have now learned that she hates to sleep on her back and the reason this worked is the curve of the seat kept her upright enough to be comfortable, but she could still stretch out in it.

7. Cloth Diapers. We use BumGenius 4.0's for normal wearing, and on wash day or when we're away from the house we use the FLIP system which is made by the same company (Cotton Babies). The FLIP's have the benefit that they aren't quite as bulky to pack in the diaper bag which I why I like them for outings. This woman is practically my clone when it comes to why I love these things. She even has a doxie.  I heart her explanation, so go read it. Unlike her though, we just double up the inserts at night and call it good. The FLIP's can also use disposable inserts, which would be nice for longer trips away but we haven't tried them yet.

8. Pacifier Leash. You can see how to make your own from this post. My kid can eject that pacifier with a force great enough to launch a rocket.  It either ends up on the floor or inexplicably underneath her when she's in her swing or car seat.  Rather than cleaning the thing off constantly, we just keep one clipped to her (or us, or the visor on her car seat) at all times.  It makes it a lot easier to find it too.

9. Sound Machine. Avery can fall asleep without the white noise, but for some reason at night it'll only last an hour or two.  We started using this machine from Homedics, and now when she stirs in her crib she'll go right back to sleep. We can get a solid 5-6 hours before she wakes and by that time she's ready to eat.  Most of the time she'll have a snack and then zonk out again right away. I don't think that's too bad for a 3 month old...

10. Camera. You want photos. All your relatives want photos. Your kid is going to have a lens shoved in their face constantly.  The one on your cell phone is great when they are still, which basically means only when they're sleeping.  Baby smiles and expressions also change lightning quick, which means by the time you press the button it's already gone. You need something with a faster shutter speed if you don't want 5000 photos of a blurry baby.  Invest in a decent digital camera and you'll thank me later.

11. Thrift Store. Obviously, this is the item I do not use every day.  But it truly is your best friend.  Finding one specifically tailored to kids is even better.  We go to a shop called Once Upon a Child. Registered for an item and you find you hate it, or received something you know you'll never use but you've got no idea where the gift giver purchased it so you can't take it to be exchanged (and you don't want to be rude by asking)? Or did you find a baby gear item you love but you aren't willing to fork over that much money again? Enter your savior the thrift store. Once Upon a Child will buy used clothing and gear from you, and you can purchase slightly loved items at a steep discount.  They'll either give you cash or you can choose to take store credit for a higher payout percentage.

While we loved much of the clothing we were gifted for Avery, a lot of it was simply the wrong season. (It gets cold in Michigan. Go figure?) She was born in late summer, so all of the clothes were short-sleeved because that's what stores had stocked at the time she arrived.  Now that she's finally into those sizes it's 40 degrees outside, so she'd be freezing if I put her in them.  I can go into Once Upon a Child and usually walk out with 6 to 10 outfits for her for under $30.  And since most of the infant apparel is what people registered for but couldn't return to the store, 90% of it is BRAND NEW and still has the tags on it! One of my favorite finds was a pink zippered Detroit Tigers Hoodie.  It was in perfect condition, and probably cost around $50 knowing ball-park apparel prices.  I paid $4.50 for it. And just last week I found a new, high end brand, Christmas dress for her (we wanted one for a formal portrait) for $1.

They also have great deals on gear too.  I mentioned that we have 2 bouncy seats.  I wanted one for our bedroom upstairs because I wanted a place to set Avery down when I was getting dressed in the morning. She'd be awake and want to play but would cry if I left her laying in the crib while I was trying to get around. I paid $12 for it at Once Upon a Child, instead of shelling out another $40 at Babies R Us. I also love that they stay up to date with safety standards and recalls.  They had a Bumbo play seat with a tray that I was interested in last week but refused to sell it to me because it was missing the seat belt. Bumbo has the seat out on voluntary recall because of the belts, and the store is holding it for me until the conversion kit comes in the mail. When it gets here Avery will have a new spot to play and practice sitting up for half the cost!

And that's my list! Have any items you think a new mom needs to keep sane?

Update!  We got our new seat and she loves it. It's funny to watch her though because she's more interested in how to get the tray off than the toys sitting on top.
That black blur would be Moose running around behind her...

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