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?

 

My favorite baby cold weather gear

cold cold cold coldDespite the months going at warp speed it is magically still winter. I recognize that I have literally zero rights to complain compared to those people in, say, Chicago or New England so all I’ll say is: folks, I feel ya. I’m so sorry. Hang in there. Eventually all that snow will melt and you will remember that your cities are some of the most beautiful and fun places in the world and there is, in fact, a reason you live where you live.

Does that help? No? Well, can’t blame a gal for trying, n’est pas?

After having lived in Chicago one of my obsessions is cold weather gear. I have these really awesome earmuffs with headphones built into them so I can still talk on the phone or listen to podcasts while I’m out and about. I have more coats than really should be legal, each good for various weather and temperatures. It was only a matter of time before I could start investigating cold weather gear for babies and come up with a few of my favorites. So, without further ado, here are three of my most favorite winter gear for babies that don’t involve 5 extra layers of zippers and snaps.

1. Zutano Fleece Booties

zutano bootiesSo you’re thinking, “Oh, with this lack of sleep she has finally cracked. She has gone off the rails and is now suggesting $21 for a pair of baby socks. HA!”

But hear me out. Please.

These are not just baby socks. These are the most ingenious little baby feet warmers of all time. They snap up and around the ankle (with two different options for width) which is key for a few very important reasons:

  1. They stay on the baby’s feet – which, if you’ve ever clothed a baby you know is close to miracle of God
  2. They are really easy to get on the baby’s feet – which, if you’ve ever clothed a baby you know is also a miracle of God

These little puppies are also adorable, which helps as well. Finally, they are warm, which is actually the entire point, now that I think of it. I really cannot recommend these things highly enough. You only need one pair, and you will love them more than $21 worth. I promise.


2. JJ Cole Stroller Bundler

Bonus: it actually has a little head fleece container thing in case you're a negligent mother who forgot their child's adorable hat and/or it's not actually that cold out.

Bonus: it actually has a little head fleece container thing in case you’re a negligent mother who forgot their child’s adorable hat and/or it’s not actually that cold out.

The concept of these is so simple it’s genius. Essentially this thing is a sleeping bag with holes in the back to put the straps of the stroller through so you don’t have to put your child in 45 layers of clothing because the warmth of the bundler will make him warm.

I had a bundler that was an “infant” size apparently from France that Wee Connor grew out of around 3 months old. I would probably recommend going with the “toddler” size because it’s not so huge as to be unuseful and will last you a long time. For reference: Connor is around 26″ and the “toddler” size fits him perfectly with room to grow.

I bought the “Urban” version (as opposed to the “Original” or “Arctic”) because the outside is waterproof for inclement weather and because all the moms in Chicago seem to have bought that one so I figure if it’s warm enough for them it should be warm enough for North Carolina. I have put Wee Connor in there and he has never been cold, even when we’ve been out for a long time.

(Note: apparently you should never install these in a car seat like you would in a stroller seat because of safety issues. JJ Cole also makes an infant car seat blanket thingy that is meant for that.) 


3. A good (lined) hat that buttons underneath the chin

Please note: no riding up of the hat, baby warm and snuggly, and ears are covered. It's as close to a mom win as I can get.

Please note: no moving of the hat, baby warm and snuggly, and ears are covered. It’s as close to a mom win as I can get.

When it’s really cold out hats are a must. Undoubtedly you will receive a truly unprecedented number of little baby beanies for your little one.

However, put them away until you meet warmer days. What you actually need when the going gets cold is a hat that – in some way – can be fastened underneath the baby’s chin. Not only does this mean his ears are entirely covered but the hat can’t come up and off in car/stroller/baby-wearing rides.

When the stores aren’t busy switching out for summer gear despite everyone still being in total winter mode these can be found everywhere. I got mine from Nordstrom and it was a Mini Boden. LL Bean also makes some adorable hats that are warm and perfect. The one I bought is fleece-lined, adorable, and worth every penny of the $20 it cost. Also, it came with little matching mittens that I can’t seem to figure out how to make stay on my baby’s hands.


The list is short, but those are my most favorite cold weather items for the baby that don’t involve 15 extra layers that you immediately will need to remove due to a diaper change the moment everything is zipped up.

Do you have any others? What are your favorite winter weather items?

First impressions: UPPAbaby Mesa

mesa1A few days ago a knock came on our door and at it was the infant car seat we had registered for: the UPPAbaby Mesa! (UPPAbaby’s car seat)

Let me say this right now: we could not be more blessed to have the parents we have on both sides. Wow.

For those who don’t understand the difference between car seats these days (because I had literally no idea going in) let me give you a rundown from my understanding. Which is minimal.

Nowadays you have two basic kinds of car seats to schlep your baby around from place to place in a vehicle: the “infant car seat” and the “convertible car seat”.

The infant car seat is smaller and can easily be popped out of the base (the doohickey it sits on in the car) and into a stroller/on top of a high chair/into the main shopping cart area, etc. You don’t have to take the baby out to get it into the stroller, and they only go up to 35-40 pounds. After the baby gets too big or the entire ordeal becomes too heavy, you graduate to…

The convertible car seat. The convertible car seat can be used rear-facing (which you are supposed to do, by law, at least a year and a minimum of 20 pounds, but longer if possible/ideally). The seat then goes front-facing when they are older. These are obviously a little bigger than the infant car seats since they then go forward up to 70 pounds(ish) and you take the baby out of the car seat in order to do anything with them.

Some people only use a convertible car seat from birth, which is cool, but it seems a little harder in terms of the schlepping around and restaurant maneuverability when the baby is super young, which is why we registered for the UPPAbaby Mesa – an infant car seat – and will also be registering/purchasing a convertible car seat for later.

My husband and I have one car between us, so our needs are a little different from many people in terms of getting car seat bases, etc. However, with the infant car seat you can purchase JUST the base (the doohickey the seat clicks into and out of) so you can transfer the seat across multiple cars without buying separate seats for each car.

Now that we’ve gotten that cleared up, let’s get back to the seat!

Here’s one of the vain reasons I like this car seat: it looks nice. It looks sleek and no muss/no fuss. Here are the other reasons I really like this car seat as well…which I will explain further down.

  • The base itself is very thin, which in any car is a godsend, but especially a sedan since our furry baby (dog, I have a problem, I know) needs his room too when we all go in the car together!
  • The pop out is SUPER easy and you don’t need eyes to use it
  • No threading to adjust the seat for the baby
  • Because this car seat is relatively new on the scene, it doesn’t fit with a lot of strollers but DOES fit with the stroller we chose, the UPPAbaby Vista. (I wrote about the stroller a little while ago.)
    • Side note: you DO need an adapter for this car seat to work with that stroller, which is baffling since they’re the same brand.
    • Side side note: oh well. You can’t win ’em all.
  • The install is so easy, even I feel confident in doing it.

mesa pop outThe “pop out” – what the heck am I talking about? When you’re in the car you need to be able to pop the seat out of the base easily. Some seats have buttons, but the UPPAbaby Mesa has a super easy lever that you can just feel for in the back of the seat to pop the seat out and go on your way. Love that.

Now, no threading? Have I started sewing? What am I talking about? Trust me, when I first started this journey that would have made literally zero sense to me. Basically in car seat talk, “threading” is the norm for how you adjust the various aspects of the seat, such as height for the head and then how tight the straps are. As the baby gets bigger and plumper you need to adjust the head rest higher and the straps out. Most seats use a mechanism called “threading” where you have to take the straps OUT of the seat, and re-thread them through another hole to adjust the seat up. But not the Mesa! It’s so simple that even my husband and I could do it.

And that’s saying a lot.

Here’s me adjusting the length:

And here I am adjusting the…girth? Width? Whatever you call it:

mesa level indicatorFinally, the install of the actual base is so easy it’s a little bit mind-boggling. Since our car is a 2004 it has the LATCH system available, which means that there are special little hooks you would have no idea existed unless you needed to put a child in the backseat of your car. Essentially these hooks come out, and you pop the seat in. In order to get the Mesa correctly installed, you pop the hooks in, and literally just press down on the back of the base until it’s tight. In Buy Buy Baby they have a fake car seat with LATCH system to show how the different car seats install, and this one took less than 1 minute. No, it took me less than 1 minute. If we ever need to transfer the seat to another car, I will have 0 doubts that we will be able to put it back in safely. It even has a little level indicator to show you if you need to adjust the level of the seat for optimal…level-ness. I truly cannot stress enough how easy this seat is to install, which is important since anything to do with baby gear seems to throw my husband and I in for such a loop that we sit confused and frustrated for hours after.

As you can see, it’s really easy. Like, REALLY easy. The rest of the features of the UPPAbaby Mesa don’t really differ from other infant car seats (sun hood, adjustable handle, etc.), but really, the adjustments and the day-to-day ease of use make this car seat stand out, which is good, because the price also stands out. Like I said, we are so blessed to have the parents we have, but really, if you can, take a look at the UPPAbaby Mesa.

First impressions: so glad we chose what we did.

Here’s the seat on the stroller!

uppababy all together

Oh my god, there is going to be a PERSON in there.