Who says there’s no time for reading with a baby?

Protip: if you can eat a bowl of Indian food off your stomach, you're probably not sleeping well.

Protip: if you can eat a bowl of Indian food off your stomach, you’re probably not sleeping well. Also, RIP dangly necklaces. I miss you.

Before Connor made his appearance into the world everyone made sure to tell me to do all sorts of things that would never happen again once I had a squirming miniature human being to contend with. Some of these activities were indeed worth taking one last final breath of, while others were almost cruel because by the time I was told to enjoy them they were no longer feasible. Examples included:

  • Going to dinner and a movie without paying the equivalent of an extra $25/movie ticket in babysitting fees
  • Sleeping: sleeping in, sleeping at night, sleeping without a baby monitor turning on every time someone in another room breathes enough to alert a monitor. I consider this is a cruel one because by the time everyone told me to “sleep while I could” I was so pregnant that sleeping comfortably was a distant, longing memory
  • Taking baths: I took baths while pregnant but seeing as I was never a bath-taker pre-pregnancy I actually just sat in warm water wondering what people tend to do while taking baths. Typically this is how my inner dialogue would go in the bath: “Hm. Okay. So. Relax. Hmm. Do you take a shower after to wash off the human-filth water you’ve been soaking in? How do the movies make such luxurious bubble baths that last indefinitely? Am I too old to make bubble beards while the bubbles are still there? Is the point of the bath that you can make bubble beards on your face without judgment? Does every pregnant woman’s stomach get so chilly because it’s sticking out of the water? No, seriously, everyone takes a shower after sitting in your own human soup, right?” And so on.
    Clearly baths are not my forté.
  • Reading for fun

are you a cowThis last one is the rumor I’d like to dispel: reading for fun. Who says that you can’t read for pleasure (i.e., not books about parenting styles, food, sleep, or that-thing-they’re-doing-in-Brooklyn-with-babies-now) while having an infant? I personally have read many books of all genres during my time as a new mom. Here’s a quick gander into my reading list*.


The Very Hungry Caterpillar

very hungry caterpillarA scientific glimpse into the life cycle of the metamorphosis of the caterpillar while also touching on yo-yo dieting. The caterpillar’s existential moments learning he is, in fact, a beautiful butterfly even after a weekend of eating nothing but junk food is encouragement for us all.


Make Way for Ducklings

make way for ducklingsSubtitled: “The importance of location in real estate” or “The benefits and potential pitfalls of raising a family in an urban environment.” Come learn how to explore real estate and why the first three rules of real estate truly are: “location, location, location.” While raising a family in the middle of the city might still be considered unusual, the main characters Mr. and Mrs. Mallard certainly do find the benefits outweigh the costs in the upbringing of their young ones.


Llama Llama Red Pajama

llama llama red pajamaAn exploration into the complexities of the mother-son relationship. While insightful and ending on an inspiring note, beware of abandoned story lines (e.g., Llama Llama wanting a drink – where does that drink go?!?! We may never know. It’s probably up in The North with Bran and Rickon).


Bear Snores On

bear snores onLearn how to be social when all you want to do is sleep and everyone is having fun around you! This one has been especially poignant for me as a new mom. I would perhaps classify this as “self help.”


Chicka Chicka Boom Boom

chicka chickaAn action-packed cautionary tale of mob mentality and its dangers. This might especially speak to Millennials: where sometimes after going out on your own you fall back and need help from relatives (thanks, jobless recovery recession!), eventually you’ll branch out on your own again. You go, Glen Coco!


We’re Going on a Bear Hunt

going on a bear huntA field guide for putting your entire family – including the dog – in very serious peril and being unprepared for weather, hiking, and animal encounters. I especially relate to this as whenever I encounter any sort of inclement weather I never seem to have the right apparatus with me despite owning every apparatus known to mankind to battle inclement weather. Bonus points for accuracy of panic when bear is actually encountered.


*In all seriousness, these are all spectacular books I have memorized and will personally attest to their enjoyability for little ones and their parents, over and over and over again. I seem to have tricked you into reading a list of some of my favorite baby books. The books mentioned are linked below for your purchasing enjoyment if you do not own them already. 

Other books currently on the consistent rotation (i.e., I can recite) include but certainly are not limited to: 

  • Goodnight Moon
  • Anything by Sandra Boynton (Doggies, But Not The Hippopotamus, Happy Hippo, Angry Duck, The Going To Bed Book, etc.)
  • Madeline
  • Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See?
  • Little Blue Truck
  • Giraffes Can’t Dance
  • Green Eggs and Ham
  • Are You My Mother?

Registry Lookback: Hindsight Is 20/20

Sophie. La. Damn. Giraffe.

Sophie. La. Damn. Giraffe.

When you have your first baby, you would be shocked at this newfound ability you have on the internet. You suddenly become a master of finding articles everywhere with something along the lines of, “10 Baby Registry Must Haves!” or “20 Registry Items You Forgot You Needed!” or “If you don’t buy or register for these items your child will in no way survive and if they do somehow make it to adolescence their chances at an Ivy League education are out the window!” [paraphrased].

I read these articles diligently, buying and putting all the items I thought I had to have on there, thinking carefully about my lifestyle, my apartment, and my baby’s future college education. Some things I struck gold on. Others? Eh. But in this 8 month (excuse me, what?!) look-back I thought maybe I could help add to the noise of the registry “must haves” list and help sift through what was worth the splurge and what wasn’t, and what was it like to have this stuff on a day-to-day-to-month basis.


Stroller: UPPAbaby Vista

  • Model I purchased: UPPAbaby Vista
  • Hindsight opinion: Go for the UPPAbaby Cruz instead
This has since been redesigned, but very similar. via

This has since been redesigned, but very similar. via (now $859)

A stroller is probably one of the biggest ticket items on a registry, and everyone has a different opinion on what you need according to your lifestyle. And the reason is because you do need different things according to what you’re going to be doing. I live in a city and use my stroller literally every day. Literally every. single. day. My friends who live in suburbs? Not so much. They opted for the travel system that includes an infant carseat. I wrote a blog post back in the day about the stroller debate and I had it narrowed down to two options: The UPPAbaby Vista and the City Mini Elite, based on what I valued most in a stroller: large undercarriage storage (the single most important thing for a stroller in my opinion), good handling, ease of use, ability to put an infant carseat on top. The UPPAbaby won out, and it is by far the stroller I see the most in Chicago (I hardly ever saw one in Charlotte when I lived there).

It's like the Vista, but edited via

Cruz: It’s like the Vista, but edited via ($499)

However, if I had to do it over again, I would still get an UPPAbaby, but I would have opted for its slightly “smaller” cousin, the UPPAbaby Cruz. The Cruz handles just as well, has just as large a storage underneath, the seat can turn and face you or out, and the infant carseat can still go on top, but the Cruz has a few key differences:

  • Cheaper – please see below re: bassinet
  • No bassinet is included. This might be a bad thing for some people, but Connor despised the UPPAbaby bassinet with the fiery passion of a million suns, unless it was attached the stroller and moving, which lasted about 2 months. The money saved on the stroller could have easily been allocated to a bassinet that was comfortable or to more coffee. Either way, it could have been spent in a much better way. I have read a lot of people have had the same experience with the UPPAbaby bassinet as well.
  • Slightly narrower – the Vista is so wide. No, seriously, it is so wide. Even when I wasn’t taking public transportation all the time in Charlotte, I couldn’t get it through aisles in stores in the mall. It handles great, but it becomes truly unwieldy in some places.
  • Lighter – no matter what your lifestyle, you will find yourself schlepping the stroller in some way, be it into your car, into a closet, onto the bus, etc. With the “normal” seat in, the Vista weighs in at 26 pounds. This is also an unwieldy, large, bulky, odd-to-hold-onto 26 pounds. The Cruz is just a little bit lighter, which would also assuage my guilt when kind strangers insist on helping me up/down stairs (Midwestern kindness never fails!).
Connor taking up too much space on public transportation. (I swear I don't do this during rush hour!)

Connor taking up too much space on public transportation. (I swear I don’t do this during rush hour!)

When I got the Vista, UPPAbaby claimed I could expand on it and add more seats, etc. to it. Then just as Connor was born, they completely redesigned the stroller and every attachment to it and unapologetically refused to make the new attachments, rumble seats, etc. backwards compatible, which means that in the future with more children, I will not be able to easily find the parts to make my stroller a 2+ kid stroller. To say this is disappointing and a slap in the face by UPPAbaby is an understatement. But nevertheless my lesson has been learned: do not buy things thinking that a company will keep its word even a year into the future. Buy for now, not for 2-3 years from now.


Infant Carseat: UPPAbaby Mesa

This is the carseat strapped into the stroller.

This is the carseat strapped into the stroller.

  • Model I purchasedUPPAbaby Mesa
  • DebateGo with infant carseat or just with a convertible carseat that will take them through toddlerhood?
  • Hindsight conclusionIf you travel a lot or need to be in cabs, the infant carseat is a godsend. Otherwise, I would probably really consider the convertible carseat option.
  • Would I buy this model infant carseat again? In a second.

As a carseat, I have 0 complaints with the UPPAbaby Mesa. (I wrote a blog post about it a while back, and all of it is still true!) It’s gorgeous, safe, doesn’t take up too much room, fits easily into a sedan, is easy to use, and, as the pinnacle of amazingness, it’s easy to install. 

I bought the infant carseat to use with the stroller. At the time I was in the market, the Vista needed attachments to use (while the Cruz did not) with their own brand of carseat (one of the major improvements with the redesign is that issue has since been resolved). I used this system a lot, but looking back on it – did I need to? When I weigh the options I think I lean down onto the side of “I’d do this again”, but not by much.

hahahahahahahaha. ha. ha. ha. hahahaha. I am so mean.

hahahahahahahaha. ha. ha. ha. hahahaha. I am so mean.

Since the invention of the infant seat it’s been almost universally accepted that babies go in the infant seat, then to a convertible carseat when they outgrow the infant one. You see this often: moms hauling their itty bitty babies in the carseats out of the car so as not to disturb them sleeping. This model is also helpful because itty bitty babies need something to be contained in for months. What they don’t tell you is this: carseats are heavy. And truly some of the most awkward things in the world to haul around for any distance longer than 5 feet. And heavy. Did I mention heavy? Because they are so heavy. Without a baby inside of them they are heavy, and then you add this baby-thing that just keeps on growing and getting heavier by the minute and this model of taking the baby out with the carseat becomes truly unsustainable. When I realized I could just put the baby in an Ergo carrier (or some carrier like that) and walk around the grocery store, my eyes were opened. Many restaurants have also stopped allowing you to put the carseat on top of a toddler seat, which is part of the appeal of the infant seat as well.

On the other hand, though, the infant seat (and specifically the Mesa) has some definite advantages:

  • Traveling – if you are traveling the infant carseat is a godsend. The ease of installation into a rental car is unparalleled.
  • Cab rides – in large cities you technically aren’t required to have the infant in a carseat, but…if you feel safer, you can have the infant seat without the base, then strap the infant seat into the stroller. This is quite ideal, honestly. While I’m strolling around town, though, I put the normal seat on since it’s much more comfortable.
  • Size – this is Mesa-specific, but this carseat only takes up one spot in the back seat of any car. I’ve had it in the back of a Prius, our Acura TSX (that we sold for our next car), our Subaru Forester. I don’t know how, but the seat somehow just fits into any car with ease.

So where do I come down on this? It’s hard to tell. After about 2-3 months, the carrying the carseat around with a baby in it (sans stroller) became almost impossible, but traveling and cab rides with the infant seat is a million times better than just having a convertible. I guess I would do it over again, but if you don’t really travel all that often or ride in cabs with a baby, I think I would advise just going straight to the convertible carseat and taking the baby out with an Ergo/carrier or stroller, since the infant seat will become a permanent fixture far sooner in your car than you think it will.


Baby Food Spoons

  • IMG_2769Type purchasedEl cheapo spoons from Buy Buy Baby. I think they were these. Later, I purchased more from the grocery store that were about the same price, I think these. (I purchased more on the pro tip from my mom that if you give them a spoon to hold they magically eat more with less fuss, so I typically use two spoons at every meal. Trust me, it works.)
  • HindsightAbsolutely do not purchase expensive baby food spoons (such as these). If the baby is hungry, he will eat off any apparatus you put near his mouth. He cares not one lick what you spent on baby utensils.

This was on the advice of a fellow mom in Buy Buy Baby when I was first purchasing spoons for Wee Connor’s first solids: “Oh my goodness, no, don’t even bother with those expensive baby spoons. If they’re hungry they’ll eat. There’s no difference at all.” This woman knew what was going on. Save that extra money on baby spoons for more coffee. In case you haven’t noticed “save the money for coffee” is a common piece of advice I give a lot.


Rocking Chair/Glider

  • Type purchased: West Elm glider
  • Hindsight: Go with a rocker/glider that is comfortable and you love. I say this is absolutely worth a “splurge.”

IMG_3637In designer nurseries nowadays I see these chic minimalist rockers that look oh-so-Pinterest-worthy. All I see when I look at that stupid thing is, “numb ass and sore neck.” After 8 months, I am still more glad of the glider I purchased from West Elm than any other baby purchase I made. Get a rocker or glider that when you sit in it you go, “ohhh, that is sooo amazing,” because even at 8 months in, you’ll be reading in it, rocking in it, and generally still spending a lot of time in it. At the beginning, you’ll snooze in it.

I love my glider. I love the way it feels, I love the way it looks. I love everything about it.

Get a rocker or glider you love. I can personally attest it’s worth it.


Baby Food Maker

  • Type purchased: Beaba Babycook Pro
  • Hindsight evaluation: I use this almost every day and love it. However, if you’re really debating on cost, an immersion blender and steam basket will accomplish the exact same thing.

I make almost all of Connor’s food because I’m a crazy person. I registered for a Beaba Babycook Pro and use it all the time.

Here’s how it works: you put the food you want into the steamer basket. There are 3 lines on the blending container, and you fill it with water (up to 2 for fruits only, 3 for meats/veggies), you pour the water into the top like a coffee maker, put the steamer basket into the blending container, plop it all onto the machine, close it, and hit the button. When the machine beeps, you take the steamer basket out, reserve some water, then blend it all up in the blender basket. It’s a one-stop-shop and makes making baby food as easy as making coffee that takes up almost no counter space. I use it to make a few baby portions at a time.

The only complaint I have about the Beaba is its capacity is limited. At first this isn’t a problem – the baby doesn’t eat a ton and so you don’t need a ton of food. But then the baby starts doing this thing called “growing” and “needing food” and you need more and more food. Or you want to make more “complex” recipes (one of Connor’s favorites is poached salmon in spinach with crème fraîche…it sounds much fancier than it actually is). That’s when you probably need something more hefty.

I guess what I’m saying is that it’s all personal preference. I think the Beaba is one of the reasons I’ve really stuck with making Connor’s food, and for things like mashed sweet potatoes/parsnips, simple meat/veggie mixes, fruit purées, it can’t be beat. For larger scale makings, I cannot recommend an immersion blender highly enough. I have this one, which came with a mini cup for food processing, and it has not failed me once.

Perhaps a nice compromise would be to get the Beaba with two cooking areas, so you could potentially make more at once, or make an entire dinner’s worth of meals, but I feel like that’s getting a little too nitty gritty.

And if you don’t like cooking or making food, then spend your time and energy elsewhere! I stopped making homemade applesauce because it’s not cheaper, it takes a lot of time and effort, and the store sells applesauce in large, nice jars, already puréed. Same with oatmeal! Everything in moderation, including moderation. Vaya con dios!


Highchair

  • Type purchased: Boon Flair Pneumatic Pedastal Chair
  • Hindsight Evaluation: I love this chair. I could not have been more right in selecting this chair.

Sometimes you just get it right, and this was one of those times. This highchair has been absolutely amazing, and for all the reasons I thought it would be amazing, and then some. Here’s a quick summary:

  1. It has wheels. Why are wheels important? Well, despite telling Connor that I had read many books on French babies and their impeccable table manners he apparently is still a baby and food seems to get everywhere. Wheels allow me to literally roll him to the kitchen for a quick mopping of face and hands.
  2. There are no corners to it. Please see above re: food everywhere. No corners means that I am never digging food particles out of strange crevices because there are no crevices. Easy wipedowns are clutch.
  3. It’s the most stain resistant item in my house. I don’t know how or why, but this white plastic it’s made out of seems impervious to any and all stains, including blueberries.
  4. It has a high back, which is nice for support when the baby is younger.
  5. The cover for the table part fits in the dishwasher. This. is. so. clutch.
  6. The seat is adjustable up or down, which actually has come in handy more often than I thought it would.

Again, I am adamantly in love with this highchair. I cannot recommend it enough.


So there you have it! Those are some of the items I see on a lot of baby registries and my honest opinions on where I went right and wrong.

Do you have any must-haves or must-haves-that-shouldn’t-haves?