Getting Geared Up

It only took one trip to a baby superstore to realize that we have absolutely no idea what we actually need for our nursery.  Luckily, we were able to escape the store before the sales associates started circling us like the weak prey that we are. Thanks to some great suggestions, I’ve now made my way through both The Baby Gizmo Guide and Baby Bargains, but I’m still a little unsure of what is essential vs what is “nice to have.” How do you find a price point for items that is somewhere between this razzmatazz and something that should have been recalled last month?

So I call upon you, experienced parents, for your sage wisdom. What are the absolute essentials we need to be hunting down? Do we need a glider? How about a humidifier? Baby’s first espresso maker? We know we need a crib, but do we need the super Optimus Prime edition? (“It’s a hat, or a brooch, or a pterodactyl!”– two points for the knowing that movie quote). Please keep in mind that we’re looking at a child who’s probably at least a year old– I know that already knocks down our punch list of items quite a bit.


13 thoughts on “Getting Geared Up

  1. Here’s the good news that helped settled my zipping crazy mind before patenthood – stores are still open after the child arrives. Very few *must* haves, regardless of what Babies r Us tries to tell you. But in answer to one of your questions, gliders are good when bottle feeding. A one year old will probably only be down to 1-2 bottles a day, and may be able to feed themselves. No for bouncers and swings – the kiddo will be too old. I recommend getting to know the kid first and what it seems like might be something they might want/need.

  2. Ok so maybe not a parent yet – BUT agree with Julia that a one year old should be just about off a bottle. (Bad for the teeth to use one after a year.) However gliders are awful comfy and rocking baby to sleep may be something you will want to do. I think must-haves for an over one year old to come home to are: crib, baby monitor, high chair, dishes/utensils/sippy cups for baby, stroller, car seat, baby proofing supplies, diapering supplies, a digital thermometer, and a reliable pediatrician to call. And stuff to keep the baby occupied – simple toys like stacking rings, cups, etc.

  3. Kathleen, I struggled with the same “need vs. want” questions when Babies R Us gave me their ridiculous list of registry items. I did want to suggest the Combi Cosmo Stroller to you; it was suggested to us by a NICU nurse and mom, and other moms ask me about it regularly. It’s light (less than 15lbs), very compact, and has a carrying strap (especially nice for petite moms). The basket is small but not a big deal if you’re carrying or attaching a diaper bag anyway; it is not made for jogging/off-roading.

    I was hesitant to buy a glider because they’re expensive, but it’s actually turned out to be really nice for rocking and reading to Zoey now that she’s older. And it gives me a place to sit if we’re hanging out in her room! We use a cool mist humidifier every time she’s sick so it’s nice to have on hand even though we don’t use it often (and if a pediatrician won’t prescribe something, your healing options are usually humidifier/saline drops/keep them hydrated). And I wouldn’t call it a “need” but I take her Skip Hop Pronto Changing Station everywhere – there are many brands.

    If I had it to do over again I would not buy her the fancy bedding set for the nursery; the only thing we really use from it is the sheets. Finally, using Amazon Mom/Amazon Prime for diapers, wipes and other nursery items and toys has saved us a lot of money. I hope that’s not too much advice! I’m happy to give more info any time. Lots of luck to you and Brian in this journey!

  4. I agree with the glider comments – I didn’t think we’d need one at first but I have been happy to have one. We got ours at Babies R Us using a coupon, but not one of the crazy deluxe versions – just the least expensive one they have. It’s perfectly functional and comfortable and not as bulky as some of the others.

    Regarding cribs, this was partly an aesthetic thing, but we ended up going with an IKEA crib. We like the simplicity of IKEA stuff, it matches 90% of the stuff that’s already in our house, and we couldn’t really justify spending $1000 on some big sleigh-crib thinger. The IKEA crib also transitions into a toddler bed so that’s nice. We also got an IKEA mattress and it’s been great.

    Humidifiers aren’t essential, I don’t think, unless you know that your house is on the dry side. However – babies tend to like white noise, which a humidifier (or any number of things) will help with. For Josie we have a small white noise machine that helps drown out household noises and dogs barking outside.

    One piece of sage advice I received that I’ll pass on is to NOT get a baby wipe warmer. Little babes have to get used to getting their bums wiped with cold wipes, so that when you are out and about and have to clean them up, they won’t freak out because they are used to warm wipes.

    You’re right that since the babe will be older you won’t have to think about lots of newborn-related accoutrements. You could start out with the minimum, and then get more as you go, depending on the baby’s needs and disposition and temperament. Parents-to-be are inundated with lists and websites giving you information about ALL the important things you must have, but if you get too much beforehand, it might go unused. And really, the most important thing is you! And lots of love and cuddling and toe nibbles and such.

    Oh, and congrats to you and Brian on this journey – we are so excited for you!

  5. @Kathleen – I think baby’s first espresso maker can likely wait…at least until ‘Aunt’ Lisa gets out to visit!! 😉

    Also, I sincerely doubt baby will care if his or her crib comes from Pottery Barn Kids or Crate and Barrel versus Target…just make sure it’s safe!! I also second the humidifier and saline drops. And Becky is totally right – avoid fancy bedding sets. They are SUPER expensive, and bumpers are a suffocation hazard – I get angry at Babies R Us every time I go in there and see all the different suffocation hazards they sell. I think I may have told you this before but I, too, dislike the baby superstores! (Also, they still sell baby walkers – ALSO hazardous.)

    In case you are interested, here is a link from my favorite parent reference,, (which happens to be maintained by where I did my residency – full disclosure here, no financial gains for me by plugging it 😉 All the articles are pediatrician reviewed, and I think contain some helpful info. Here is the page with links to selecting safe baby products:

    The AAP also has safety guides at their site, – very helpful info there too. Some of it goes overboard (A whole page dedicated to Lawnmower safety? Really? I thought that would be common sense.) but it’s mostly helpful I think.
    The table of contents page:

    High chairs:
    General safety tips:

    (Sorry for the lengthy post, I wrote my previous one on my smartphone on my way to work!) 🙂

  6. No baby espresso! How old will your baby be when you come home?

    You need onsies and dipes the first month and lots of cotton blankies:) Strollers w/ big wheels, cup pocket and catch-all~don’t need much more. The small strollers that collapse down are very useful~light weight is handy. More later.

    Big movement back to non-disposable diapers. Might want to try a hybrid approach (use non-disposables at home, but disposables on the road?). More later:) How exciting! What is the time frame?!

    Bridget Kelly Ries

  7. We made it to about 22 months with a standard rocking chair and Henry isn’t too much worse for wear. At 22 months we acquired a free glider from someone who was getting rid of furniture so now we have both 🙂 I actually prefer the standard though.

    We have made it through until now without buying much of anything new ourselves aside from reusable cloth diapers (awesome) and one car seat. Hit up all of your friends and relatives with kids and you can get almost anything on loan. Many many of the items only get used for a couple of months before they are outgrown or unnecessary.

    Best of luck and very excited for you!!! Feel free to call or email us with any questions.

  8. Thanks everyone for your comments! Please keep them coming! The interesting part is that we’ll be purchasing several temporary essentials in China, as we’ll be there for almost a month with our new child– from what we’ve learned from other adoptive families, the weight limit of luggage really limits what we *must* bring from the US.

    As for timing, we won’t be traveling until early 2013. However, it is fairly likely that we’ll be getting a referral during the holidays, which is already a crazy time of year. As soon as we accept a referral, then our attention really recenters to arranging for medical care, treatment, surgery, etc depending on what our child’s specific medical needs. I know the last thing I’ll be wanting to ask then is whether or not we’re getting ripped off by our choice of stroller! (and I won’t even get into the fact that I like to crazy-overprepare for everything!)
    @ Lyndsey- I’m really happy to hear that IKEA worked well. I did a quick survey of some of the models a few weeks ago, and I thought they looked just fine to me, and at a fraction of the cost of some of those crazy models!!!
    @Becky- I’ll have to check out that stroller model. Brian and I have recently tested out the UPPAbaby gLuxe, but we’re still fairly open.
    @Bridget– I was totally kidding about the espresso! Though it does really seem as though the baby market is absolutely flooded with useless crud. We’ll be posting soon with a little more info about our timeline and all the fun that is in store for us!

    Anyone have any thoughts on the infamous pack-and-play?

  9. Kathleen,

    Less is more! I was a hybrid diaper user, cloth at home and disposable when out. Onesies are awesome and I actually only ever owned an “umbrella” type stroller which was so easy to use in the city as it was small and lightweight. We used a backpack carrier for the times we hiked with the kids when they were too small to go on their own. I like the idea of the IKEA crib that converts to a toddler bed too! I never had a glider or a rocking chair, but I did use one of those IKEA chairs that sort of bounces. If you have an iPod, then some speakers and lull-a-bye music might be a nice addition to the nursery. I am not the best at singing, so sometimes I liked listening along with the baby….just be careful not to set up any kind of ritual for sleep (or anything else for that matter) that will be a problem for you later! Like my mom, who literally cannot fall asleep without a fan going in the room. I skipped humidifiers and sat in the closed up bathroom with the hot shower running for a bit when it was needed. Finally, there is the pacifier – is it evil or the best thing that ever happened to moms? I had one who would never even think of using it and one who loved it. I would suggest that you have one around, because at that desperate moment when you realize nothing else will soothe your child, it can be a lifesaver. Best of luck in the jungle of retail for babies!

  10. @ Teresa- It’s funny you mentioned the carrier, because that was the first thing we started looking for when doing the grand retail hunt. From what we’ve read and seen, it’s a great asset to be able to “wear” your child when you’re in-country. Aside from being slightly more hands-free for some major international travel, it provides a great sensory experience and opportunity for attachment with your child. It’s a sad but true fact that many of the institutionalized children we’ll be visiting will have rarely been held. Perhaps more shocking, it’s fairly likely that Brian will be the first adult male our child will have ever met aside from an occasional visit from a physician at the children’s home (traditionally, caregivers at such facilities in China are almost always all women). If Brian’s wearing the little guy or gal, they’ll have to get used to my better half pretty darn quickly!

    As for music, the one thing I promised myself is to only play music for my child that I would want to listen to again and again and again. Barney’s Greatest Hits? I think not.
    Thanks for the advice!!

  11. Have I got the money-saving latte maker for you!! It will be at LEAST three months before it will be recalled for safety issues. They never knew the steam wand would be a problem in the crib!

    No, I predictably don’t have any input, but love and best wishes as you navigate the insane world of

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