We’re about 2 1/2 months into parenthood, so I thought it would be a good time to update you on how the nursery (and related baby products) are working out for us.
In general, the nursery is great. Its proximity to the living areas hasn’t been an issue and actually served as a secondary hang-out space when family was in town to visit. (These photos were taken a few days ago, without any tidying up or staging first.)
Although I was wary of the dresser size, it’s worked out just fine. I like having a little counter space next to the changing pad and the drawers provide adequate storage for diapers, wipes and clothes. The wardrobe isn’t terribly organized but it’s functional and I like that everything is easily accessible.
I moved our old IKEA full-length mirror next to wardrobe – Avery likes to “stand” on the edge of the dresser and check herself out and sometimes I lay it horizontally on the floor during tummy time. I’m also happy to report that the air plants are still alive! I water them about once a week and they seem happy enough in their glass vessel homes.
Avery hasn’t exactly tested the limits of the IKEA crib, but I have no complaints thus far. (Bailey never could figure out how to get his tennis ball out from under the crib.)
The original plan was to build a bench/cubby for under the window to hold toys, books, etc. That project didn’t get done in time but now I’m not so sure we really need it. More importantly, this is some of the only available wall space left in the house so I think we might need to preserve it for larger toys (custom-designed dollhouse? what?) down the road. I’m not a big fan of keeping the stroller in here, but I think with a little tweaking we can find a good place for it in the mudroom. (I also didn’t take into account the baby monitor in the nursery design, although I think I can come up with a way to put it on the dresser while discretely running the wires that go to the movement sensor.)
Many people advised us to get the best glider we could afford and they were right. I spend so much time in that chair and it has held up remarkably well to both frequent use and frequent projectile spit-up. If you have a comfy chair or couch it may not be totally necessary but this is the only non-Eames chair in our house. I’ve also found a few uses for the squirrel coat hook, like the k’tan or bath towels. Avery likes to stare at its silhouette but I remind her frequently that squirrels are not to be trusted.
In addition to a simple and functional nursery, my other pre-baby goal was to acquire only a minimal amount of baby “stuff”. I did a ton of research and since many of these items directly relate to living in a small home, I thought I’d share with you all what’s working and what’s not.
1. The Bassinet:
Even though our house is small, we planned to keep Avery in our room for the first month or so. We didn’t have enough space for a pack ‘n play so I looked for more compact options. Although a co-sleeper would have probably fit between our bed and the wall, I liked the idea of something that could be multi-purpose. One day I came across one of those “Best New Baby Products for 2012” lists and saw this Rocker/Napper from Tiny Love. Although it was new and didn’t have much in the way of personal reviews it seemed like the perfect thing for us (I also liked that it wasn’t too colorful or obnoxious.) The rocker is essentially a bassinet that reclines up to a semi-reclined position (for babies with acid reflux I’m guessing) and then to a lounge chair of sorts. It has a rocking base with kickstands on both ends, which I found to be quite handy. The rocker has a vibrate setting and also comes with a removable mobile (that plays a few songs and lights up). The pad isn’t plush, but comfortable enough. It doesn’t have a removable cover so I opted to wrap a receiving blanket around it for the inevitable spit-up.
The pros – it’s lightweight and easy to move around the house (we even put it in the back of our car for our road trip last month), the different functions keep her entertained and at different phases of development (she’s just now batting at the mobile) and it was fairly inexpensive.
The cons – it doesn’t fold down or disassemble easily (not great for travel), Avery nearly outgrew it as a sleeper by the time she was 8 weeks old (this is in part because she was swaddled and thus had her legs stretched out) and the mobile comes out but doesn’t rotate freely to different positions.
All things considered, I’d use it again for sure.
2. Baby Carriers:
As far as baby-wearing goes, there seems to be two categories: the sling/wrap (like the Moby, K’tan, or various other products) and a more structured carrier (like the BabyBjorn, Ergo, Beco, etc.). Most of the structured carriers aren’t designed for newborns, so we’ve relied mostly on our K’tan these first few months. (We do have a used BabyBjorn “Comfort” but have only used it a couple of times as she’s not quite big enough just yet.) Lots of people love the Moby wrap, but I was a little intimidated and instead registered for the K’tan. The idea is similar but a bit less complicated to put on (or so it seems). Avery is small enough that she’s easy to carry this way and almost immediately falls asleep – the few times she’s freaked out on me I’ve put her in the K’tan and she quickly calmed down. Like most wraps, there are a half-dozen or so different positions that can accommodate your baby as she gets bigger and has better control of her body.
(The photo above was taken at the Seattle Design Festival a few weeks ago.)
3. Strollers + Carseats:
Truth – I was intimidated by strollers. I remember being about 5-6 months pregnant and spending a Saturday morning watching stroller reviews on YouTube (and subsequently rolling my eyes at myself). Although people seem to make a really big deal about these little rolling carts, I was relieved to find that there are some well-built (and affordable!) options out there. After much research and polling of other parents, I decided to go with both a stroller and stroller frame.
Avery can’t really benefit from a stroller till she’s sitting up on her own, but I liked that the Baby Jogger City Mini seat could lay flat (also makes great lakeside lounge chair). Other perks – it easily folds down for compact storage (critical for small houses like ours), it’s well-built, comes in pretty colors (like brown!) and will accommodate Avery until she’s 50 lbs. (at which point she better be walking on her own two feet). It also has a decent storage basket (important for things like clothes shopping) can go off the beaten path without being a full-on jogging stroller and has a gigantic sun shade (which I’m hoping will also serve as an umbrella of sorts…when it actually decided to rain again). The downsides – you have to buy a separate “parent console” to get luxuries like cup holders and the handle height isn’t adjustable.
For quick errands and walks I opted for a stroller frame that’s compatible with her carseat (a Chicco Keyfit 30). The girl loves to sleep in her carseat so it’s a real benefit to be able to move her from the car to the stroller frame without waking her up. I bought the coordinating Chicco stroller frame (very similar to the more common Snap ‘n Go) and it’s been great. It has a big basket (which I’ve used as an impromptu grocery cart), two cup holders and a compartment perfectly sized for an iPhone. (The handle also rotates 180 degrees which makes a world of difference squeezing into crowded restaurants.)
I registered for the Chicco Keyfit carseat because it was affordable, got good reviews and everyone seemed to own one. I have no complaints – it’s easy to use, durable and comes in decent color options.
4. Misc. Products That We Love:
Finally, here’s a rundown of some miscellaneous products that have been true lifesavers:
WubbaNub pacifier: Avery’s “lamby”, our friend Erica brought this to us in the hospital and it gets used every single day. We do not leave the house without it.
Fisher-Price swing: I resisted a swing for a long time but finally caved about a month ago. After a formal Facebook poll, I ended up with this Fisher Price one, purchased used on Craigslist (from another little Avery!). It’s gigantic but not nearly as obnoxious as some of the other ones out there. The one thing the Tiny Love Rocker doesn’t do is swing and this contraption does the job forward to back and side to side. It also plays a few ditties, has a spinning mobile and a mirror for self-reflection. Best of all – it plugs in to the wall so NO BATTERIES. I know it’s only a matter of time before it will have served its purpose and is back on Craigslist so we don’t mind it too much.
Sleep Sheep: my parents got this for us and I had no idea how much we’d rely on it. Basically it’s a stuffed animal that makes different white noise sounds – a stream, rain, the ocean and whales. We never use the whales – that’s just creepy coming from a sheep. We have the smaller travel version but it seems more than adequate for home use. (We also have a Munchkin white noise machine and image projector which we’ve just started using and is equally mesmerizing.) The idea of course is that white noise mimics the sounds from inside the womb and helps them fall asleep. Admittedly, it has also helped me fall asleep on more than one occasion as well.
Bath Sponge: when we were remodeling the kitchen we joked about having a sink big enough to wash a baby in. Maybe it’s old school, but it’s worked beautifully so far. We just use a $6 bath sponge – that and the pull down sprayer on the faucet makes bathing very easy. (Note: we also have the Puj tub. I was really excited to use it but the reality is that our kitchen sink is too big and our bathroom sink too small for it to work well.)
Other products that we love? For one, anything by Aden + Anais (we have their swaddles, burp clothes (which can also be used as bibs) and crib sheets). We also get a lot of use out of our Boon drying rack, Angelcare monitor and Skip Hop crib mirror. Oh, I can’t believe I nearly forgot – The Miracle Blanket. We started out swaddling Avery in the Aden + Anais blankets but switched to TMB (we received a couple from people who obviously knew what was up) when she was about 4 weeks old. It works so well that we haven’t dared put her to bed at night without it. To put it bluntly, it’s like a baby straight-jacket. That concept felt a bit uncomfortable to me at first but she seems to like it and hasn’t Houdini’d her way out yet.
The one thing I haven’t needed (yet) – a diaper bag. I’ve been sporting a fashionable ziploc bag of necessities that gets shoved into my Orla Kiely purse and that’s worked fine so far. (I know things will change when she gets bigger and starts eating solids and playing in the dirt.) Actually, I’d love to upgrade to an Orla Kiely diaper bag but man oh man they’re spendy!
Last but not least…birth announcements! Our friend Jenny (owner of Wendu Ink) designed and produced these gorgeous letterpress announcements to commemorate Avery’s birth. I love them. It’s always such a privilege to work with a designer who just gets it.
(Thank you Jenny!!)
Ok parents, are we all on the same page here? Any must haves that aren’t on our list or advice on living small with a baby? Suggestions for 3-6 month old essentials that we should stock up on?
Disclaimer: I haven’t been paid or perked for any of these products…just thought I’d share my experiences in the hopes of helping out some other parents-to-be!