Saturday, September 20, 2014

Baby Prep Series : Buying the Big Stuff

     Justin and I were so lucky to receive A LOT from friends and family before Henry came. Justin's best friend and his sweet wife even gave us an AWESOME jogger and diaper genie. Between gifts and hand me downs there was very little we had to buy.

  With that being said there are three pieces of advice I think I can give about all that baby STUFF.

Say Yes to Hand-Me-Downs

I have made it a policy to always say yes when people offer us old clothes, toys, and gear. We have been REALLY lucky to receive some awesome hand-me-downs from friends who probably could have sold their stuff and made a bit on it. To those friends, you know who you are, THANK YOU.

Even old clothes come in really handy. I have probably bought Henry a total of 4 pieces of clothing on my own. Between gifts, my mom and hand-me-downs he has more than enough.

Make sure your friends, family , and neighbors are aware that you are happy to accept hand-me-downs. If you have the storage start stocking up! We don't have a ton of storage, but we have been able to pack in quite a bit. Once Henry grows out of a size I make sure and trim down those clothes by about 1/2. I keep a special lookout for friends and neighbors who could use secondhanders and give them the clothes and toys I am not able to store. Sometimes it feels like Grand Central Station around here when I get a box or two of clothes and consequently start trimming down what we've already got, but I think it's a good system; we do use almost every item that comes our way at least once, then it's put to even more use by those families I've been watching out for.

Hand Me Down shirt and gifted hat/jeans. 

I have even let people know that "Hey, I've got a list of people who could use stuff if I don't." I think that makes them feel even better about sending stuff my way.

Get the Big 3

While there's a lot of baby gear that's pretty much unnecessary , there are some high-cost items that you just plain need to have for baby.

1) A good car seat. 

Car seats run anywhere from $40 to $250. I found our's secondhand from a "Buy and Sell" page. It had been used 1 year and originally ran for about a hundred, plus it went with my stroller. I paid $50. It's been a great car seat, I especially like the triangular handle which makes it so you can shift your grip when the thing starts giving you a dead arm.

There are two things that I think I might come to regret though. Firstly, after I bought the thing secondhand I happened upon a couple blogs and comments talking about how you were putting your baby at risk buying seconhand because if the car seat had been in an accident it could have invisible cracks in the plastic that would result in your baby being ejected through the vehicle in a burning inferno disaster with a sign saying "This mother doesn't care about her child." My Mom thinks that's super ridiculous and our car seat has worked just fine for us, but there is a less rational part of me that suffers from a fit of anxiety about it from time to time.

Secondly, it's just a plain old infant car seat. The law here in AZ is that babies have to be rear facing until they're two and Henry's definitely not going to make it that long in this car seat. I find myself wishing I had just bought the convertible ( which carries infants-2 then converts to a front facing for your 2-4 year old) and saved myself $50. However, I have been told that it's nice to start with the infant seat because you can carry the baby around in it where the convertible has to stay in the car.

 I'll leave you to pro and con this purchase for yourself, but just be aware that it's a pretty big cost. If I had some time before my baby was coming I might buy a Target giftcard with $100 or so bucks on it and save it exclusively for that car seat. You don't want to buy the seat itself ahead of time as the laws and standards for car seats are constantly changing and you'll want an up-to-date piece of equipment.

2) A Stroller.

I LOVE our jogger. We only have one car so that thing has mobilized me in ways nothing else could. It motivated me to start getting back into shape and it's been fabulous for everyday use too. My advice is to get yourself a jogger and just use it as an everyday stroller. I mentioned earlier that we got ours as a gift so this may be an item you might think about putting on a registry. I registered for mine at Target. It's not one of those super expensive joggers, but I love it. For those interested it's the Babytrend.

 I have contemplated getting a little umbrella stroller for those few times where we're in crowds and such, but really there haven't been too many instances in which I've felt uncomfortable with mine.

3) A Breast Pump.

I had NO IDEA how much I would use a breast pump. It is absolutely essential for working mothers who plan to breastfeed, but even staying home I have used it quite a bit. It is so nice to have an electric, double pump too. The double pump takes you from being tied-up (haha see what I did there) for up to 40 minutes to being able to get quite a bit done in 10-15. I substitute teach so the quick pumping has been a BIG DEAL for me, but also you don't want to be stuck to a pump for very long when your chubster starts crawling TRUST ME. I use the Medela hospital grade pump. They sell it for around $220--and extra parts for it-- at Target.

Heads up if you have a pet, they like to chew on the plastic parts so keep it out of reach. If you find yourself buying extra parts like I do, check Goodwill first ( guys I promise that's not gross the plastic parts don't touch your breast or the milk so you're good). I got my extra part set at Target for like $26 on sale then saw the same thing at Goodwill for less than $2.

If you think you might end up applying for WIC while you've got a little one, hold off on saving up for that pump. You can rent a WIC pump for free for the first year if you qualify.

Don't Overpurchase

My final piece of advice for this post is not to get caught up thinking that you need every little thing for your baby. Some things are more important for different climates, some things depend on your personal situation, and some things are just plain unnecessary. Talk to other moms in your area and find out what things were important for them. As much as you want to plan ahead, a lot of the "stuff" you need will depend on your child. I went out and bought quite a few sets of pacifiers and Henry won't even look at them. Think about your current family dynamic and ask the people close to you what equipment will be important.

Next post I'll go over the less costly stuff you can pick up at yard sales, etc.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Baby Prep Series : Build a Flexible Wardrobe

   A friend of mine asked me to write a post about what baby items are truly necessary , and how to prepare for baby well before he or she arrives. I am so happy to oblige that I think I'll do a series.  I am certainly no expert being a new mom myself, but I have learned quite a bit in the last 10 months and it will be really fun to share what I know with you.

    Start Now

Even if your baby is little more than a thought, there are things you can do to start preparing to expand your family. Motherhood brings a lot of changes, to you AND your wardrobe.

            Start Building A Flexible Wardrobe

Nothing can prepare you for the drastic bodily changes that occur during pregnancy. You might look at pregnant women and think "She looks pretty much the same except with a basketball under her shirt." You're wrong. EVERYTHING grows and EVERYTHING stretches and you will be utterly amazed at how stinkin' huge you are in the end. Facts of life my friends.

I made the mistake of thinking I could sneak by with a few maternity tops and 2 pairs of maternity jeans. By the end I was wearing my mom's housecoat around feeling like a blimp. I wish I had invested in more maternity pieces because I felt awful about myself and I was uncomfortable in t-shirts that were much too tight. So even if that day is far off, you can start getting ready for family life right now by picking up a cute maternity top/dress from the sale rack every now and then. I wouldn't go too crazy buying maternity pants though---the fact is your bottom is probably going to expand much more than you can even imagine at this point.

So large...and this is the good pic. Those are my faithful maternity jeans that I wore pretty much everyday. I chose a sweater and scarf to minimize the hugeness. 

It took me a good while to get back to my normal size, and during the interim I did not fit into a single piece of my pre-pregnancy clothing. At that point I was sick of rotating maternity clothes! For the post-partum stage you are going to want a couple pairs of basic black yoga pants with a panel. You can pass them off for slacks if you pair them with the right top and they won't bother your incision and such if you end up having a c-section. You might also think about picking up a pair or two of stretch jeans/slacks 2 sizes bigger than your usual size-you'll thank me later. Also, my mom bought me a really cute PJ outfit for my baby shower. It's PJ bottoms, cutesie top and a long sweater with a cinched waist. BEST INVESTMENT EVER! My Mom says it's the best gift she's ever bought me because I wore...ok so much. I've almost worn them out and it hasn't even been a year!

This was probably really silly of me, but I simply did not realize how ill-fitting my clothes would be post pregnancy. Even though I am back to my pre-pregnancy size, I am shaped differently. Before I got pregnant I guess I thought that once I lost the baby weight my old clothes would be just fine--this has not been my experience.

On top of this, breastfeeding presents a clothing conundrum. While breastfeeding you'll want to wear tops with easy access to the goods and you'll probably be quite a bit bustier than usual. Bearing these factors in mind, you can stock up on button-up shirts with a little more room up top.
Got this thin, buttoned blouse at Target. It was a splurge but it's been a life saver. It's one size larger than my usual size (which as you can see in the picture was necessary even 3 months post partum).
Even back at my pre-pregnancy weight a lot of my shirts are too short. (Thanks to the breastfeeding bust).

If you know a family is in the near future, you can start prepping by making your wardrobe more flexible. There are also a few key purchases and suggestions I have for all that baby gear so stay tuned for the next post.

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I am a videographer located in Goodyear, Arizona. Visit my site to check out my best work and the Stories Told blog.