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Friday, October 26, 2012

New Baby Tech Kit

I was recently asked by a family member to provide some recommendations on what “tech” to buy when expecting a new baby. Much of this is subjective, and there are so many arguments as to what one actually “needs”, but I thought I would repeat those recommendations for the benefit of anyone that might be expecting a little bundle of pain…err.. I mean joy. If you can’t spend money on your own tech anymore, you might as well invest your time and money on stuff that can benefit your child, or even preserve your own sanity.

So here is the list of what I like in no particular order. Some of this isn't strictly “tech” but I thought I would include it anyway. Links are provided for Amazon in most cases, but all are available elsewhere:

The New Baby Tech Kit

Baby Swing: This was a lifesaver. It was often one of the only ways we were able to get either of our children to sleep.

Eneloop Batteries with C and D Spacers: Rechargeable batteries are very important as you'll go through batteries like there’s no tomorrow. The C and D spacers allow you to use a standard AA battery in something that needs C or D size batteries (like the baby swing above). I always liked the Eneloop brand and they have a great reputation. 

Car Seat and Stroller Frame: This goes without saying, but make sure you get a good, safe, car seat. We originally bought the Chicco Cortina Keyfit 30 Travel System because the Keyfit 30 seat was the top rated seat by Consumer Reports in 2010. The police officer that inspected my car seat installation even said that she wishes more parents bought that seat. While I would still recommend the seat, I wouldn't recommend the whole travel system as the stroller itself is big and bulky. Instead get the stroller frame linked above (which wasn't available when I needed it) and then transition to a lightweight stroller like this one when the child is older. 

Newborn Diapers: Not too many though as they will quickly outgrow them. I may have been too much of an overprotective dad, but I liked the Pampers Swaddlers Sensitive diapers as they are really soft and have a useful wetness indicator strip (which can be handy when they’re newborns but isn't needed once they are older). I've found excellent pricing on diapers at Amazon (especially if you use their Subscribe and Save option). 

My Brest Friend or a Boppy: Either are very useful for feeding the baby. My wife preferred the My Brest Friend, and I preferred the Boppy. 

WiFi Video Camera: This has been very useful and comforting to have. Read my review for more on why I highly recommend one of these.

DECT Baby Monitor: I wanted a baby monitor that wouldn't interfere with my WiFi connection, and this Philips monitor with DECT technology fit the bill nicely. The monitor is very compact and has great battery life. I went with separate audio and video monitors because I just couldn't find a combined unit that I both liked, and could view over the web when away from home.

Pacifier: Neither of my boys ever cared for pacifiers, but they are sometimes useful to have on hand. The one I've linked to is the same kind we were given in the hospital, and the only kind my oldest son ever (sometimes) liked.

Wipe Warmer: They'll tell you in new parent classes that you don't need a warmer. They are right. You don't NEED a warmer, but you'll WANT one. I noticed my oldest son complained far less during diaper changes when the wipes were warmed. Be careful to add water to the wipes or they'll dry out though. The model linked to here is the same one we have and it has served us well. 

Wipes, Lots of Them: You'll go through loads of wipes like there’s no tomorrow. I've always liked the feel of this particular brand, but any will do. 

Soothing Music CD: We loved this calming CD and used to play it while we rocked our boys to sleep in the swing.

Gripe Water: I'd never heard of this stuff before my kids were born. Often it is the only way we can end a screaming fit and get the kids to burp when they won't burp otherwise. It’s not medicinal so you can use it as often as you want. 

Infant Tylenol: One of the few safe drugs you can give a child when they are very young and very sick. You can get it anywhere like Target or Walgreens. I'm sure it's just my kids, but my oldest son loves this grape flavor from Walgreens but will gag on the cherry flavor. 

Butt Paste: I still giggle like a little boy when I say that. This is essential for diaper rash. We have liked the "Butt Paste" brand, but Desitin is popular as well. 

Diaper Bag: This one is fairly obvious, but I mention it only because this was the only one I found that felt “manly” enough for me to carry as well. Make sure to pick a good quality bag as you'll have it with you everywhere. The model linked here has a number of useful pockets. 

Bottle Warmer: My oldest son never cared one bit if he had milk right from the fridge. My youngest son, on the other hand, won't take it at all if it isn't body temperature. I liked this one, but any will do (NEVER microwave the bottle; it will ruin the milk). 

Bottle Drying Rack: Awesomely useful, and cool looking too!

Baby Bottles: I can’t strongly recommend a specific brand here since babies may all react differently to the various nipple types, but we used Dr. Brown’s bottles and they worked well. I like to tell myself that the myriad of parts I struggled to clean each day helped prevent gassy screaming fits, but I’ll never really know.

Bottle Brush: Get a few. Essential for cleaning bottles, and they wear out quickly.

Pack and Play/Bassinet: We found it very comforting and convenient to have our boys sleep right in our room the first couple of months and the bassinet feature of this pack and play came in handy. Strangely, our older son never actually wanted to play in this so it eventually became a time out spot.

Breathable Bumper: This is the only bumper I'd even consider using on a crib and it came in handy to keep the kids from getting their feet stuck in the slats. It’s not really needed until they start moving around in their crib (4 to 6 months).

Vibrating Bouncer Seat: Almost as useful as the swing mentioned above, but cheaper and more portable.

Jumper: Both of our boys went nuts with delight in this thing. Great investment!

Pacifier Wipes: Useful for cleaning everything, especially dropped bottles or pacifiers. 

TemporalEar, and Rectal Thermometers: These are actually very important the first couple of weeks as what will later be defined as a low to medium-grade fever, is a much bigger deal when they are newborns. The temporal thermometer is the most convenient for quick checks. I then check with the ear thermometer if I'm a little worried, and finally with the rectal if I'm really worried. 

Medela Freestyle Breast Pump: Medela seems to be one of the best pump brands, and likely the same brand you'll see in use at the hospital if you request one. I highly recommend the Freestyle pump as I saw how valuable it was for my wife to have a cordless pump as a working mom. It is expensive, but I think you’ll quickly discover what a pain in the butt corded pumps can be.  

Snotsucker with Extra Filters: You might want to vomit all over yourself thinking about what this does, but the thing really does work and prevented a lot more screaming than the standard bulb aspirator (You'll want one of those too though. Grab one from the hospital).

Amazon Mom: You've clearly seen by now that I love Amazon, and once you've experienced the slow sapping of time or desire to go out and buy things those first couple of months, I think you'll like it too. Their free two-day Prime shipping is awesome. Even if you don't want to pay the $80 a year it normally costs, I highly recommend signing up for the free three month trial as you'll find it handy for the first few months. If you do decide to pay for it, keep in mind that you also get tons of online streaming video (ala Netflix) that you can watch through the devices like a Roku or an Xbox 360.

And last but not least...

The Apple iPad: When I first heard of the iPad in April of 2010, I wondered what I would do with it. I didn't have to wonder long though as it became a lifesaver for me when my oldest son was born in June of 2010. He wasn't a good eater and we sometimes had to sit on the couch for hours trying to get milk into him. The iPad was great because I could easily use it one handed while I held the bottle in the other hand. Try doing that with a laptop! I know, I know, all the mothers out there are rolling their eyes and telling me that I should cherish the days when my little boys were young and I could feed them in my arms. Yes, I agree with that, but I only need oh so much cherishing in a single day. Dads...get yourselves and iPad.

I am sure there are plenty of things I missed here. What about you? Any must have items that you'd add to this list?