Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Baby Contraptions

This post is somewhat of a continuation to my Baby Stuffs post. A couple of my friends are pregnant for the first time and have asked for my advice/thoughts on various baby topics. I decided to write up a few posts explaining all my thoughts and opinions for them.
So - without further ado - all you ever wanted to know about tripping hazards baby contraptions.

There are so many baby contraptions available nowadays that it can be overwhelming trying to figure out what you need when you're having a new baby. I have a couple friends currently sorting through what they want/need for their soon-to-arrive babies. I love me a good baby contraption and I love to talk about the pros and cons of each. I'll try not to bore you too much, but here are some of my thoughts on what to consider when purchasing some baby contraptions of your very own.

I think when you are trying to decide what (large) baby items to buy you first need to consider how much space you have. It is so easy to let your house be overridden by baby stuff (just ask my husband). But if you think ahead and plan you can keep the clutter at bay.

Baby contraptions seem to fall in a few different categories - there are lots of different ways these could be broken up but this is how it makes sense in my head.

Are you lookin' at me?
First, there are the bouncy seats, rockers and bassinets. All of these serve a similar purpose - they are a safe place to lay and entertain baby. Some of them will have mobiles or toys attached. I would recommend getting at least one item from this category as it's super helpful to have somewhere to lay baby when they're sleeping or when they're just happy to watch you as you go about your chores. Keep your eye out for these on craigslist or at baby sales because you can find them at a fraction of their retail price and it's super easy to clean their covers.
I have this bouncy seat and this rock 'n play. I bought both used and have been happy with both. If you buy a used bouncy seat just make sure that it still sits up at a good angle. The seat will begin to sag as it gets used more and more (and as baby gets bigger and bigger).
I have friends who LOVE their rock n' plays, but I'm a little partial to the bouncy seat because it has the vibrator and toy attachment. I just recently bought the rock n' play when I found it for a good price. I wanted something to keep upstairs so I wouldn't have to lug the bouncy seat up and down the stairs all the time. Some of my friends even use the rock n' play as their bassinet for the first couple months before they move baby to the crib. So, if you're looking for an item that can serve double duty you should definitely take a look at the rock n' play.

Once baby wants to sit/stand more you move into the realm of jumpers and exersaucers. These allow baby to do a little more standing and a little less laying, and they have lots of toys attached to entertain baby. Baby needs to have very good upper body control - especially head control - to use these. Most of my friends would say getting something from this category is a must as it allows you to get things done around the house while baby is awake. However, space can be a big concern with these, so if you're tight on space I'd go with an exersaucer or a jumper that hangs in the doorway. If you have a little more room you can go for one of the larger jumpers.

Fun for all ages!
Another great baby contraption is the swing. I've heard some people say their babies didn't like the swing, but both my boys have loved theirs (and John still does!). Joseph slept in the swing pretty well but generally wasn't interested in it otherwise (except for about a 1 month span when the mobile kept his attention). John loves the swing, but isn't quite as interested in it lately. He used to *literally* sit in the swing for 4-5 hours a day and he would cry if you took him out - he LOVED it - he would sleep for a couple hours, wake up, watch the mobile or enjoy his reflection in the mirror, go back to sleep, wake up, repeat. This is the swing we have, and I love it. I splurged and bought it new, but I was looking for a swing that I could plug into the wall so I didn't have to constantly replace batteries. I also like that you can change the direction the seat is facing and that the seat has two different reclining positions. I also happen to be pleased with the songs the swing plays. If you have the space I'd definitely recommend this swing, but I wouldn't recommend our swing if you're tight on space. There are plenty of other space-conscious swings out there that you could look into.

There are other miscellaneous play items like a play mat or a Bumbo. I really like our play mat and would recommend it to others, but definitely don't feel like it's a necessity.
I also like the Bumbo, but if I'm to be completely honest it doesn't get used all that much. I'm really glad I only paid $18 for it at a baby sale. The Bumbo is certainly something you can do without - especially if you have large babies. For smaller babies it can be great, but the overall consensus among my friends is that they're a waste of money (unless you plan on using it to feed baby, then it *might* be worth paying full price).

This high chair has 3 (three!) different trays layered one on top of the other.
It was great for those days where I just didn't seem to get the
tray cleaned before the next feeding time.
Speaking of feeding there are so many options for high chairs, booster seats, Bumbo seats and so on. You should really look at how much space you have in your kitchen. If you don't have extra space for a high chair you should consider getting a booster/high chair that attaches to one of your kitchen chairs. Also keep in mind how easily the chair/tray can be cleaned - because you will be cleaning it. A lot. I got this high chair after one of my friends (Hi, Julie!) recommended it. She did a lot of research and by the time I was ready to buy a high chair I just didn't have the energy to analyze all the different options. We had extra space in our kitchen for a full high chair, so this worked for us. I love that it has so many different options for seating your child. We actually keep the booster portion of the high chair at my parents house for when we visit (although I may take it back if we ever have a need for 2 boosters + a high chair).
The only thing I don't like about this high chair is the fact that the sides of the seat cushion can be unattached....by a baby. Once Joseph figured out how to undo the seat cushion he did it at every. single. meal. Since then, he's been banished to this booster seat. I originally bought it for extra seating when my sister was coming to visit with her toddler because it was so cheap, but I LOVE it. It definitely isn't for babies who are learning to sit because it doesn't have the shoulder straps, but it's really great for toddlers and super easy to travel (in a car) with. We even take it with us to pot-lucks at church - because an un-contained Joseph at meal time is not a pretty sight.

Cute baby. Awesome stroller.
Magic Kingdom here we come!
We're all about containing small children in our household - so let's talk about strollers. Oh strollers. There are so, so many options here. Do you want a snap-n-go? An umbrella stroller? A jogging stroller? The list goes on. Unfortunately, your budget probably doesn't, so you really need to evaluate your needs here.
A snap-n-go stroller is really nice for small babies who sleep a lot. The ability to transfer them in and out of the car without having to wake them is a huge benefit. Snap-n-go's are also generally inexpensive (although when I just looked them up they were much more expensive than what I remember), very light weight and fold up compactly - but this kind of stroller will only last you as long as baby is still in their infant car seat.
If you plan on running with baby, then it's probably wise to look into jogging strollers. Just be aware that these strollers tend to be very heavy and bulky.
Umbrella strollers are nice because they're generally inexpensive, lightweight and fold up very compactly. The one major drawback to these is that they generally don't have much room for storing baby paraphernalia.
My parents graciously bought us our City Mini with the car seat attachment. I loved the snap-n-go capability with Joseph. I took him on walks and out shopping a lot, so I really liked that I could just transfer him from the car to the stroller or vice versa (I didn't use the car seat attachment with John at all - I just reclined the seat all the way back). I also love that the stroller is lightweight and folds up compactly (and can be folded with just one hand!!!). The stroller also steers really well. I loved my City Mini so much I ended up getting the Double City Mini when John came along. I could be a sales rep for Baby Jogger and sell City Minis - that's how much I love this stroller. I feel it's the best of all the stroller worlds - lightweight, has snap-n-go capability if you buy the attachment (for about the same price as a snap-n-go stroller), folds up compactly, and has plenty of storage.
I do have lots of friends with various other strollers, and they're all happy with their choices so don't let my blathering on fool you. There are other strollers in this universe.

Finally, we've got pack n' plays. I don't have too many thoughts on pack n' plays other than they're great for travel or having an extra place for a baby to sleep when a friend with a baby comes to visit. I've never used ours for playing, but I suppose you could do that - it is called a pack n' play after all. Bottom line - get a basic model for travel. You don't need all the extra stuff that will only drive up the price. Something simple, like this, will do just fine.


Jamie said...

Great suggestions. Just thought you should know that the bumpo was recalled if you have one without straps. Babies R' Us and Buy Buy Baby will take them back no questions asked and give you store credit for the original cost. I just took mine back and got about $45 in store credit. My nap nanny was the same and Buy Buy Baby took it back and gave me 140$. You do not need receipt or original packaging. It also doesn't matter if you bought it there or not.

Betsy said...

Thanks Jamie! I do know about the Bumbo recall, but did not know I could take my old Bumbo to any old Babies R Us or Buy Buy Baby - good to know. Thanks!