Several of our friends are expecting soon, so we thought we'd jot down some things that we've found useful over the past four months. The rules change all the time, but we were the type of minimalists who thought we could get by without every battery-powered, gaudily-colored plastic item Graco makes: our parents got by without them, right? Hahaha.
A changing table. Our nursery is small, and from its former life as our guest room is partly occupied by a queen bed. Adding a crib, glider rocker and stool didn't help the space problem, especially since all of the new items required lots of room around them to navigate well in the dark. We figured we could save some space and money and just use the bed as a changing table. A week into our little adventure, as our backs spasmed from leaning over to change her 12 times a day, we decided we were wrong. It took us another three weeks to order and return one from Target (it came damaged), and finally get and assemble one from Burlington's Baby Depot that we liked.
A Costco membership. We've been members for a few years, but never with the gusto and consistency of recent months. That whole "350 diapers the first month" thing unfortunately isn't a myth, but thanks to Costco we were well stocked. You'll want to buy lots of every size battery too, to power all the other items. Many of Costco's "heat and serve" food items were also lifesavers to us during the most sleep-deprived times: the shepherd's pie is still a favorite, and lasts us quite a few meals.
A play mat. One of the many good tips we got from Erin and Geoff (in fact I think we don't own ours, it's on loan from Shannon), Sophie loves sitting in her boppy pillow and playing with the toys that dangle from the tent poles. Oddly enough, I've never seen Eliot playing with them (I bet Geoff & Erin are happy about that too!).
A swing. This is probably the bulkiest baby item we have at the moment, but it really comes through in a pinch. She's almost outgrown it though, which seems hard to imagine looking back at the first pics of her in it! The swing is usually good for a 20-minute break from walking her around and dancing, and if we're lucky she'll fall asleep in it for a bit.
A bouncy seat. This is the living room staple, very light and portable: it's usually good for at least 20 minutes. Yesterday she napped in it for a long time on the back deck while we did a bunch of spring-time yardwork. It's easy to forget and leave the vibration switch on though, which can chew through the batteries: most other powered baby items seem have a timer-off feature.
Books. Baby literature is a big industry. There are lots to choose from but there's not a lot of time for sorting through for the best advice. Here're the ones we've found most helpful:
Also, it's not a book but we found the Baby Center website to be a great resource.
And that's pretty much all we can think of right now. We'll try to update again as we learn more!