Sunday, December 30, 2007

Baby Gear Reviews- 5 Months Later

Back in August I wrote a review of Landon's baby items at 3 weeks old. When we were shopping and registering for stuff I kept wondering what we'd need after those first few months. With a small apartment and budget, I really wanted things that would last beyond the newborn phase. So here's an updated list of what we have and what we like:


  1. Storkcraft Rochester Crib w/ Drawer: I still love this crib. It was $200 and looks great. Landon has slept in there since he came home from the NICU. I hear him babbling to his mobile and the cars on his bumper when he wakes up, and it's roomy enough for him to roll around in. He'll be in here until he graduates to a big boy bed (I have no idea when that happens, but I'm pretty sure it's a ways off).
  2. Ultimate Crib Sheet: very nice to have when your baby spits up all over the crib- just unsnap the sides and put on a new one over the still clean fitted sheet. It's soft on top and waterproof underneath. I've also found that his drool soaks through the normal sheets and starts to smell- this is quicker and easier to change every few days.
  3. Changing Table: I still really like having this- I know you can use any surface with a pad, but we found this one in the same wood as the crib for about $75 and I like the rails and security it provides. Plus, the extra shelves come in handy for larger items and stuffed animals.


  1. Graco Snugride Infant Car Seat and Stroller Frame: I still love this whole set (especially the stroller) and would highly recommend you get something like it rather than a giant travel system. Unfortunately Landon is getting too heavy to carry around in the car seat. We'll continue to use it a while longer, but we've begun looking for a convertible car seat (if you have any recommendations, let me know!). I'm really, really going to miss the stroller and the ability to just pop him in and out of the car base and stroller frame.
  2. Chicco C6 Umbrella Stroller: This is our regular stroller. It's lightweight, sturdy, and collapses easily, but I've noticed my feet constantly hit the wheels. It's a great stroller, but next time I'd go to a store and try out different ones before buying to make sure it fits my height and stride.
  3. JJ Cole Bundle Me: necessary if you live somewhere cold. It keeps him warm in Chicago winter weather without a coat or heavy clothes- we just stick a hat on his head and we're off. It's roomy and will last him as long as he fits in his infant car seat.
  4. Fisher Price Baby Papasan Chair: this thing was a godsend for about two months. Landon did all of his sleeping in here all swaddled up. I would absolutely buy it again, just for those two months, but it really isn't a playtime bouncer (the toy/mirror are pretty boring) and he quickly got too big for it.
  5. Fisher Price Infant-to-Toddler Rocker: this is his our fun chair. Landon loves it- at first he just looked at the toys, then he was able to hit them, and now he grabs them and tries to stick them in his mouth. We often take the toy bar off and hand him other toys or books to hold while he's in there. I love that it will grow with him (it can be used as a rocking chair up to 40 lbs.) and wasn't too expensive. I think you need some kind of chair to safely hold the baby while he entertains himself and you get stuff done. I move this all around the house with me.
  6. Diaper Genie II: love this. There's lots of diaper pails out there, but this one is very simple to use (you only need one free hand, a very good thing) and has kept his room stink-free. You have to buy refills at $6 a piece, but they last for a while- after 5.5 months, we're only on #3.
  7. Sure Comfort Deluxe Tub: this worked well, but we only used it for the first 3-4 months (now he takes baths in the big tub with mommy or daddy). I think this a good model and it is nice to have even now for a quick wash when he spits up all over himself during the day.
  8. Evenflo Expressions Plus Highchair: we love this- it's compact, folds up easily, has 3 reclining positions for the back, 7 height positions, and is nicely colored. The tray is wide and snaps off to go in the dishwasher. I was sad we couldn't get the cool Fisher Price booster that snaps onto a regular chair (we don't have a kitchen table or chairs), but now I'm really glad we had to get a normal high chair. We stick him in here all the time to play with toys and books, and it's tall enough to let him see over the kitchen island and watch me cook or do things around the apartment (it's on wheels).
  9. Baby Bjorn Baby Carrier- Active: I wanted to love this, but we haven't used it much- maybe we would have if we lived in a warmer climate and spent more time out and about. It worked well for me on Landon's fussy days when I just couldn't hold him anymore, but buying a swing quickly rendered it unnecessary. It was a gift, but if we'd bought it, I would have wished we saved our money.
  10. Fisher Price Cradle Swing: like the papasan chair, it was priceless for the months we used it, but it didn't last long. It was expensive and big so I didn't get one at first, but having a colickly, acid-refluxy baby made me change my mind. I think it just depends on your situation- I'm glad we have it now for future babies and Landon spent many, many hours (and took many naps) in here between months 2-4, but he's already lost interest and it's getting small. I'm sure there are more interactive swings that would last longer, but the soothing, quiet nature of this one is what made it so magical.


  1. Gymini Total Playground Activity Mat: I think it's nice to have some kind of play gym, but it doesn't have to be this one. I like many of its features: the sides snap up to make a mini barrier around it, the big mirror, the toys can be switched around, and the bars can be removed leaving just the play mat to roll around on, but Landon never figured out the kick pad and I think that's what makes this one so expensive. As a gift, it's awesome, but if you're paying, you could probably do just as well with a cheaper one.
  2. Fisher Price Rainforest Waterfall Soother: we didn't use it at all for the first five months- I wasn't even sure why I registered for it, but we've been trying some light "sleep training" on Landon (basically just getting him to fall asleep on his own without having to be rocked until he's a dead weight in our arms) and it's a lifesaver. Now when he gets sleepy, I put him in his crib, turn off the light, and turn on this soother. He'll fuss a little, but is captivated by the moving water and sounds and quickly quiets and watches. The movements slow, the music gets quieter, and by the time it's done playing, he's asleep. We also use it if he wakes up at night- it gives him something to look at while he's trying to figure out how to fall asleep.
  3. Symphony-in-Motion Geometric Shapes Mobile: the best mobile, ever. He still adores it and I can depend on it to keep him busy for a full 15 minutes (this is not a "go to sleep" mobile, it's definitely for entertainment and you can swing it out of the crib at nighttime). It's pricey, but it's the reason I can take a shower every morning and it hasn't gotten old even after looking at it multiple times a day, every day. He still squeals and pumps his arms and legs like crazy- it was also the first thing he ever babbled to.
  4. Little Superstar Sing Along Stage: Christmas gift from grandma and grandpa. Great fun- lots of lights and sounds, and it isn't too big. It's already made him better at sitting up on his own.
  5. Books: this was the most important thing to me for Landon to have. He loves anything bright and made of cloth or plastic so he can stick it in his mouth. Dr. Seuss is already a favorite as is Chicka Chicka Boom Boom.
  6. Bumpo chair: great- he likes sitting in this and holding his books. Not necessary if you have a bouncy chair, but we got it as a gift and I'm glad we have it. There was a recall because people are dumb and despite the smooth bottom and lack of any restraints, they would place the seats on counters or tables and leave baby unattended. The recall just involved Bumpo issuing you a giant warning sticker telling you not to do this. Ours came from Target, but I can't find it online anymore- maybe they stopped selling it after the recall. I hope not, it's a useful little seat.
  7. Teethers!! The big plastic ones you put in the freezer haven't worked for us- I think the cold on his hand bothers him and they're too big for his mouth. These blocks are fantastic- they can go in the bath, squeak, and are perfect teethers. Baby Einstein makes a duck with rubber teethers attached and it's Landon's best friend (he's talking to it right now).

Clothes, Diapers, etc.

  1. Outfits: Landon pretty much lives in the footed sleep-and-plays from Carter's. They're easy, keep his legs and feet warm, and you can put a onesie underneath for an extra layer. I've discovered I prefer ones with snaps around the crotch instead of a zipper all the way down. I almost never dress him in two-piece outfits that don't involve onesies- he has no hips (do any babies?) and the pants ride low, exposing his giant belly. It looks chilly.
  2. Burp cloths: we use a 12-pack of cloth diapers and they're great. Absorbent and inexpensive.
  3. Bibs: have lots of these. We go through at least 3 a day because of the drooling and another 2 from meal time.
  4. Diapers: we used Pampers Swaddlers and are now on to Pampers Cruisers. I know I should try the store brands to save money, but each Pampers pack has a coupon inside and I can usually find them on sale at the grocery store. He's never had a leak in these, so I just pay the extra dollar. We use store brands for almost everything else. (And FYI, in Chicago I've found grocery stores- Dominick's or Jewel- are the cheapest place to buy diapers and formula, though oddly, not wipes or baby food)
  5. Dr. Smith's Diaper Ointment: the best diaper rash cream. Landon had a stomach virus and developed a really bad one; we tried Desitin, A&D ointment, Boudreaux's butt paste, and finally this expensive stuff and after 2 days the rash was almost gone. Worth every penny.

So that's a lot of stuff- and to think I bypassed entire sections of Babies R Us (and have so far held out on getting any kind of exersaucer, though I'm quite sure Landon would love it). Most of the big stuff was used in stages: first the papasan and the swing, now the rocker and high chair, so it's not as bad as it seems. For advice from other new moms, see Magic Cookie's baby product reviews from when her son was a newborn and the list Shelley's doctor gave her when she found herself with a baby several weeks earlier than anticipated. And please add your own reviews or favorite items in the comments!


  1. I wish we'd skipped the travel system. We've been using the Snugride seat and frame ever since Sam was born and I love it--it's so compact and easy. I've taken her out for a ride once in the "big girl" stroller (the travel system one), and it's weird to have her not facing me!

    I'm with you on the Baby Bjorn, too--we have it and just never got comfortable with it. It was nice when we flew to Chicago over Thanksgiving, though--my husband carried her around in it in the airport.

    Check craigslist for a used exersaucer--I got mine and our Bumbo both from craigslist. Sam loves the exersaucer because she can stand in it.

    I have to admit that I was one of the stupid parents who put her baby in the Bumbo and up on our kitchen island. Honestly, I'd seen pictures on the site of kids in them on tables, and it never occurred to me that she could possibly get out of it. Eeeep, how dumb. I of course ceased that behavior immediately!

    We just got the Sing Along Stage but I haven't taken it out of the box yet. And books were also important to us, and we have tons, but surprisingly no Sam I Am. :-)

    Great idea for a post. I might rip off the idea for my own blog (mostly read by family) to take stock of our gear for future reference.

    Happy New Year!

  2. LL,
    Thanks for your posts. I've read every comment. I was able to look back through your blog this morning to see all I've missed. And I have to say thank you for the smile. The picture of Landon in the chair is great. You are blessed.
    Oh, and good luck with the extra skin. Wish I could give you some comforting and positive words on that, but alas, I cannot. Not sure that there are enough sit ups in the world for that. :)

  3. I am going to update the baby registry as we speak!

  4. (also updating my registry)

    thank you for the thorough reviews!

  5. Great post! I did get the peach a jumperoo, which she's loved (and she's gone from zero interest in standing to absolutely loving to be held upright). It's gaudy and takes up too much floor space IMHO, but worth it. And I get to pass it on to my sister (and new niece/nephew) in a few months! :)

  6. here's the bumbo site:

    oh, and totally get an, used, whatever, it's definitely worth the money. When Gavin was a baby, he'd sit in it for over an hour, just playing and bouncing, and watching me or the dog. If I tried to pull him out before he wanted to get out, he'd complain. Cooper is starting to be the same. On Christmas day he spent 45 minutes in it while we were cooking, just playing and watching the dogs. They're kind of big, but I think there are a few nowadays that fold down somehow.

  7. I have to agree with the other exersaucer comments. My daughter is 5 months old and LOVES to be in the exersaucer. Its big, gaudy and noisy but its such a lifesaver. She spents alot of time in it, yelling and giggling the whole time. We love it because it gives us a chance to make dinner or get something done without her even noticing we were doing something else!

    We got one of the fancier ones, but I found it on craigslist for half the price and its still in perfect shape. Worth every penny!

  8. I should pick up an ultimate crib sheet -- for now, our solution is just to blot and put a light blanket over a wet sheet. So far wet sheets have been a rarity, but I doubt that will continue forever. Anyway, just to do regular laundry, removing the bumper to get the sheet off is a huge pain.

    We just got a Maclaren Volo for an umbrella stroller -- I LOVE this thing. Quite a price tag for an umbrella, but it's almost as nice as a regular stroller and is so light and easy to handle.

    I would suggest buying almost anything you mentioned used -- the BundleMe and Baby Bjorn in particular, since they each have a pretty limited lifespan. I loved my Bjorn but stopped using it about a month ago and upgraded to a Beco carrier. The Beco can be used in a front, back, or hip carry and distributes weight much better than the Bjorn.

    I have a diaper genie too. I would recommend the Diaper Champ, since it uses regular bags. You have to change them more often as the baby gets older and the diapers get larger.

    We also have a Symphony in Motion mobile, but the one with farm animals. It used to keep K mesmerized when he was younger. He still likes it and we use it to keep him entertained during diaper changes.

    Books: soft books by Roger Priddy are great for newborns and up. They have interesting details for baby to feel and grab, the covers are crinkly, and the pages are easy to turn.

    Bibs: buy large bibs at the beginning and you can use them later when baby starts eating solids.

  9. Get the exersaucer! Someone else said "new or used, it's worth the money." Our six month old son LOVES his. We got the Fisher Price Jungle themed one. We bought it used at a second hand baby store (new it was about $80, used $35.) Either way, it's an investment you won't regret!

    Also... I started reading your blog back in October and I keep coming back to it. Our babies are so close in age, so are we (I assume) and it's comforting to know that there are other young, working mommies out there that are making it work, even with all the hiccups in the road. Thanks for always posting such honest and detailed posts.

    Happy New Year :)

  10. Agree 110% on the Graco stroller frame. I was so sad when my son outgrew the infant car seat because that meant I couldn't use the stroller anymore. That was a great stroller for tall people, nice big basket, handy cup holder and so lightweight and easy to lug around. I recommend it to everyone.

    As for a convertible car seat, we spent the extra $ and got a Britax Boulevard. It has been SO WORTH IT. It is incredibly easy to install so I'm not as hesitant to move it from vehicle to vehicle if I need to (and don't worry if I've done it correctly), and my son is uber-comfortable in there. I'm so glad we got it. Another one I recommend to everyone.

    Let me also sing the praises of the exersaucer (though my older son enjoyed it more than my younger, they both used the heck out of it). Is fantastic for feeding finger foods in (on the snack tray it comes with) when the baby gets a bit older. I love my Diaper Champ, as it's easy to use and takes regular trash bags. We have it here in the living room, and no trouble with smell at ALL!

  11. I'm with Andrea - we have the travel system, and Matthew has been in it maybe half a dozen times, to walk to the park by our house - I never pack it with us to go anywhere! And I agree with you on how I will miss the carrier when he outgrows it! We have not installed this yet, but we have bought the Britax Boulevard for our next seat. I'm just reeealllly goona miss the portability of the carrier, so I'm not in any rush as long as he still fits in it!

    Re: the ExerSaucer - they are great - Matthew has to be in the mood for it, but when he is, watch out! - if you have a good place for it, then it's nice. But even in our living room (and we have a fairly decent-sized LR), it is such a space hog! Plus, I wish it had wheels so that we could move it from room to room with ease. So if you are lacking space, beware...

    And lastly, the Bumbo seat is great! I think the recall is silly, but I'd read somewhere that the old packaging had a picture of several babies sitting in these seats LINED UP ON A TABLE! C'mon, now...

    Happy 2008 - Here's to a better year for the 3 of you! kg

  12. Don't bother with the cheapo generic brand diapers unless you must-- I tried some, and the extra laundry was not worth the price savings, seriously.