Baby items: What you really need in the first weeks

There are lots of baby items out there, and if you read any of my posts around the time when we set up our baby registry, you know how overwhelmed I felt about all the choices.

Now that Corban has been with us a whopping FOUR weeks (!) I can say with confidence that most of the stuff on your typical baby registry isn’t necessary from the start, and there are definitely some items you might not even think about that you want to have on hand from the day your baby comes home. Aside from the obvious (car seat, diapers, wipes) here’s a list of what I’ve found to be newborn and new mom essentials.

Newborn essentials:

Pack ‘N Play: No, you don’t need a play yard for your newborn. What you do need is a bassinet and a changing table, and our Pack ‘N’ Play provides both those things. For the first few days, we would keep it in the family room during the day for easy diaper changes and move it into our bedroom at night. Now we just leave it in our bedroom. Since the nursery (and big changing table) is on the opposite side of the house, it is so nice to have it all right next to our bed for nighttime feedings and diaper changes. The one we ended up purchasing is similar to this (floor model for a discount – score!) but I can’t find the exact model online.

Sleep Sack: Our hospital sent us home with a Halo sleep sack, and my grandma gave us one as a shower gift. Baby should be warm and swaddled at night, and these things make that super easy.

Bottles: I registered for bottles, but if we hadn’t been given them I don’t think I would have felt the urge to buy them before baby’s arrival. I was planning to breastfeed, after all, so why would we need bottles in the beginning? Well, when C got jaundice at only a few days old, the doctor instructed us to supplement him with formula for a day, to get his digestive tract moving and grooving and expelling bilirubin. I’m glad we had the glass bottles I picked out on hand.

Medela micro-steam bags: This is another registry item I didn’t think we’d use in the beginning, but I’m so glad my cousin (a new-ish mom herself) got them for us. They allow you to sanitize bottles, breast pump parts and other things in the microwave. Way easier than boiling!

“Feminine hygiene products:” Um, yeah, pads. Go buy some of those right now if you’re pregnant. The hospital will probably send you home with some that are bigger than your baby’s diapers, but after a couple days you’ll be fine with thin ones. But buy a lot, because you’ll most likely be wearing them for a few weeks, and this is probably not an item your husband will want to go out and buy for you.

Cradle or baby lounger: Our Pack ‘N’ Play also came with a cradle attachment that was so nice in the first few weeks. While you want to hold baby as much as possible, you simply can’t hold him every minute, so it provides a cozy place for him to lie. We recently bought the Boppy newborn lounger (Peter calls it the “Bopper”) for a smaller and more portable option, and it’s really nice too.

Baby Connect phone app: I swear by this app! It keeps track of and charts absolutely everything for you – feeding times/intervals/sides, pumping, diaper changes/poop colors, sleep, weight, activities and much more. It was so handy when the pediatrician asked how often and long he was eating and how many diaper changes he was needing (they ask at every appointment) to be able to open the app and know the exact answer. At $4.99 it is pricy for an app, but a total steal considering how useful it is. It will remain helpful beyond his infant months too.

Diaper rash cream: We didn’t start using this until it was too late and C was crying every time he pooped from the pain of a chapped butt. Now we use it at every diaper change – either Burt’s Bees or Carter’s brand depending on if we change him on the Pack ‘N’ Play or in the nursery.

New nursing mom essentials:

Breast pump: The hospital sent me home with a brand new set of tubing and accessories, so even though I had done nothing with the hand-me-down breast pump my friend gave me, it was good to go when Corban’s pediatrician recommended I pump for a feeding to see if my milk had really come in. There are actually quite a few scenarios when you would want to try pumping in the early days, so it’s probably good to have one from the start if you’re planning on buying one at all. And, side note, after using a breast pump, I realize there is nothing to fear about using one second hand. The pump itself doesn’t touch the milk – even the tubes don’t. Only the bottles and the suction things you attach to the breast come into contact with the milk, and you can probably get those new for free from your hospital.

Lanolin: If you’re pregnant, go buy some now just to be sure you have it from the moment you start breastfeeding. Lanolin is a soothing Vaseline-like gel that helps heal and prevent nipple irritation. Use it after every feeding and for sure before pumping. Lansinoh brand is great and you can buy it in the nursing/feeding aisle at Target. I’ve also heard it works great for chapped lips.

Bra pads: This is definitely one of those things I didn’t really give much thought to. I put them on our registry, certain that no one would buy them, just because they were recommended along with the other breastfeeding supplies. But as soon as your milk comes in (3 to 5 days after birth, I think) you will need them or you’ll be going through a lot of bras and shirts! My friend Litzy coincidentally did purchase them off our registry and gave them to me (along with a disclaimer that it was the weirdest thing she’s ever bought someone) when Corban was four days old. Perfect timing! I should also mention that if you’re using lanolin, the pads function to protect your shirt or bra from getting stained.

Camis or nursing bras: I have to be honest, I wore nursing bras for a few days, then realized they were kind of just getting in the way because you have to wear a nursing friendly top anyway. Now my nursing mom uniform is a cami with built-in bra and a cardigan. My favorites are my Gap maternity camis. They are long, fitted and supportive (if you’re not huge-chested).

Breastfeeding pillow: You can definitely just use a regular pillow on your lap, but I love the (unfortunately-named) My Brest Friend pillow. It is the perfect height for a newborn to rest on while feeding and it has a pouch to store your lanolin or whatever else. It also buckles around you, so it stays securely in place. I still haven’t figured out how to make the Boppy helpful for feedings – it’s kind of bulky and awkward at this point – but some people love it.

Unless I’m forgetting something, that’s pretty much all we needed for the first couple weeks. Really, not much. Baby just eats, sleeps and poops (hopefully) for the most part. I’ll do another post soon on the other items we’ve started using now that C is a few weeks old. And the next installment of Corban’s birth story will be up soon too!

36 weeks

As I type out “36 weeks” I am in shock that I am this close to the end of this pregnancy! I wouldn’t say it’s flown by, but this whole I-could-pretty-much-go-into-labor-any-day-now thing really crept up on me.

No picture today – yet! We had our friend Anna Sparks take maternity photos today, so you’ll have to wait till we get a pic from her to see this week’s bump [updated] and here is one in the style of my weekly photo, only much more professional.

I feel mentally prepared (I think) to welcome our baby into this world, but there are still a few things that need to happen before that day arrives:

  • Receive/set up bassinet that my cousin is sending us (or buy Pack ‘n’ Play, which I’m going to wait till after our final shower on Tuesday to buy with our registry completion coupon)
  • Set up appointment with pediatrician (we have one recommended by our neighbor, but need to meet him and do whatever you do to officially become a patient)
  • Get new tubes for breast pump (after the great used breast pump debate, I never updated you on my decision. Basically, my friend Michelle gave me her Medela Pump In Style. I am cool with it since after changing out the tubes and everything there is really nothing else that touches the milk. And I know who it’s coming from, so there’s no weirdness with that. And it’s free – thank you, Michelle.)
  • Wash baby clothes/blankets/etc.
  • Install car seat and have it safety checked.
  • Call the company that handles unpaid leave for me at work and officialize my maternity leave.

There are also some things that aren’t absolutely crucial, but I would really like to get done:

  • Set up crib
  • Finish organizing/arranging/decorating nursery
  • Purchase glider for nursery
  • Cash in gift certificates for prenatal massage (from Peter as an early Christmas gift) and pedicure (shower gift from my friend Litzy). They sound sooo good right now, but I just need to find the time!
  • Buy all the miscellaneous baby items we still need (this also involves figuring out what those items are…)

Current symptoms

Yeah, life with the bump is not getting any easier. Sleep is tough. Rolling over is tough. Getting up after sitting for a while is painful.

My feet are very swollen and at times it feels like I am walking on water balloons that could burst at any moment if I bend them the wrong way.

Baby still likes that right rib, only he/she is getting bigger and stronger and sometimes putting an undue amount of pressure on it.

Most people are really sweet to me and tell me I am one of those women who only gains weight in my belly when pregnant. For the most part, I think that’s true (and I feel really lucky), but it’s kind of the entire mid-section that’s bigger, not just the bump. One woman in the cafeteria at work (who I think is the same woman who made the weird comment I mentioned in this post) told me she can tell I’m nearing the end because my face is starting to fill out. I don’t know how she would have any grasp on that since I don’t know her, but I kind of have to laugh at the thought that she might be the only person being honest with me. I think my face has filled out a bit, but perhaps not noticeably to others.

And again I feel lucky, because I’ve only really gotten two weird/borderline rude comments over the past 8 months, and both were from the same woman.

In other news…

My co-workers threw me a lovely shower at work on Thursday. This was my only shower that involved animal masks. Which is an awesome addition to any party, in my book.

(Giraffe and pup, a.k.a. me being tall and Jackie being… an attack dog)

(Elephant and bear, a.k.a me smiling even though my trunk hides it and Enrique smiling because that’s what you do when you’re in a bear mask)

(Zebra and lion, a.k.a. Nancy looking cute and my hair threatening to turn into a full-on mane)

There were many more mask photos, just not taken on my camera. I think I wore nearly all of the maybe 15 masks at some point.

(Cake design inspired by this very blog)

(Lots of yummy homemade food)

(Some of the ladies in my department)

It was so sweet, and I was once again taken aback by the generosity and love poured out from the people in my life.

On a much more serious note

Another very busy week ahead. As overwhelming as life feels for me right now though, I would like to ask for prayers for my friend Michelle (mentioned above, who gave me her breast pump), who will be having a double mastectomy this Wednesday. Michelle found out she had inflammatory breast cancer a few days before her 30th birthday and the very same day I went to the doctor and took my official pregnancy test (we actually go to the same doctor). It’s crazy to think that as long as I’ve been consumed by this baby growing inside me, she has been consumed by cancer treatments and all the fear and unknown that comes with that. Her strength and trust in the Lord over this time has been a constant reminder to me that no matter the issue, large or small, God is in control. It has helped me put things in perspective when my problems were the center of my world and helped me realize that it’s God who should be at the center. So please pray for a successful surgery and recovery, no more traces of cancer and strength and comfort for Michelle and her family this week.

Milestones

I feel like I’ve hit some major milestones in the past few days. Let’s take a look:

+I finally figured out how to get home from the hospital without getting lost and having to whip out my iPhone. This is a big deal because it’s in downtown Waukesha, which is the most maddeningly designed city (think: all roads curve, are on an angle and lead you in every which direction. You can feel like you’re going in the right direction when you’re actually going the opposite way).

+I made it to 34 weeks! Today the doctor said from this point on if I go into labor, they won’t try to stop it. But we’re all really hoping I won’t for 5-6 more weeks.

+I know all about breastfeeding, thanks to my class last night (which I could not convince Peter to join me for, so he had to listen to me relay everything I learned to him after class). This really boosted my confidence in this arena, although it is kind of daunting that the baby will need to nurse for about 45 minutes every 1 to 3 hours (8 to 12 times a day) for the first few weeks. Makes me tired just thinking about it. Maybe I’ll do a separate post on some tips and things I learned during class.

+I finally decided on what I’d like to do for maternity leave and went over it with my editor, the newsroom’s administrative editor and someone from HR. Just need to make a couple calls to the company that handles unpaid leaves to make it official. I’ll elaborate more on my plan in another post.

+I saw a different doctor within the practice today (my doctor was out with the flu) and was refreshed by the new perspective. I really like my regular doctor, but it was just nice to hear from someone else. He was very thorough in going over my chart with me and explaining little things like how at my next appointment my doc will check for dilation(!) I know that sounds creepy, but it’s another milestone. I’m also relieved to have met and liked one of the other docs who could possibly deliver my baby if mine is on vacay (we’ve got a holiday child, after all).

+We bought our first diapers on Sunday. This involved Peter scoping out the diaper aisle at Target while I wandered around, then him showing me which were the best deal (Luvs were on sale), us staring at them blankly for a few minutes, us staring up and down the aisle blankly for a few minutes, then Peter grabbing two packs of 8-12 pound infant diapers and tossing them in the cart. It’s one of those things, like toilet paper, in which there are WAY too many options and no way to tell while standing in the store which are the best. Thank you, Peter, for making a decision for me. We originally had planned to try cloth diapering, but once it sunk in how much laundry we’d have to do and how much trial and error cloth diapering involves, it no longer seemed worth the $$ savings (which were minimal anyway). Our decision to use disposable diapers has removed a layer of stress from my life (and our life after Baby arrives) and that alone makes it the best decision for us.

+We also set up our Diaper Genie II on Sunday. Peter got amusingly frustrated, claiming it was stupidly designed and impossible to set up (if you ask him about it he’ll probably get hilariously worked up). Meanwhile, I cursed the refill dispensers as I attempted to get them ready. In the end, I figured out the refills and the Genie just needed my tender touch to make it cooperate.

+I (think I) had my first Braxton-Hicks contraction, which actually has a semi-funny (looking back) story to go along with it. Will explain more in a separate post.

Now I just need to make it to Missouri and back this weekend without going into labor!

32 weeks

“Dear Baby, I am now, as of today, 32 weeks pregnant! There are only eight short weeks left before your due date. It has never felt more real, and yet it all still seems like pretend. I am so incredibly excited to hold you in my arms, yet the idea of being responsible for your life and upbringing is still a bit frightening to me.”

That’s an excerpt from the letter I just wrote Baby Sherwood. I wrote one at 13 weeks, describing my feelings and details about that stage of pregnancy, and finally got around to writing the one that I meant to write at the end of the second trimester. I have no idea if our child will ever enjoy reading the letters, but even if he or she doesn’t, I think it will be fun for me to go back and relive this moment in time. I tell the baby things like what names we like, how I’m feeling, where we are with preparing for his or her arrival and just how much I already love him/her (the English language really needs a gender-neutral personal pronoun!)

Anyway, here’s this week’s photo, this time in a more form-fitting outfit at my sister’s request:

[Note the tail escaping across the frame.] My sister is right though – most of my weekly photos are in outfits that don’t exactly show off the bump. This is because we take them every Sunday after church and I just leave on whatever I’m wearing, which has tended to be a skirt or dress a lot of the time. Not so this week!

This reminds me that I created a “Belly photos” tab at the top of the blog last week with all the photos and links to the weekly updates, so you can see my progress and my sometimes terrible fashion choices all in one spot now!

So, as you can tell from the above photo, I’m really pregnant now! Really as in, for real. Sleeping comfortably and getting in and out of bed are challenging. I’m starting to feel puffy in spots, notably my ankles (from certain angles, they’re cankles) and fingers, which I only noticed because I couldn’t get my engagement ring off the other day! I think I’ll just leave it on for the rest of the pregnancy so people don’t think I’m a punk unwed high schooler. And I’ve been trying to put my feet up whenever I get the chance.

Weekend update

This weekend I was traveling yet again, back to my parents’ house 1.5 to 2 hours away for my brosef’s 20th birthday dinner and wedding dress shopping with my sis. It was an easy trip, but with the exception of Thanksgiving, we are DONE traveling for the rest of this pregnancy! I have spent more weekends away than at home over the past month or so, and I really need to focus on getting the nursery ready and that sort of thing on the weekends. My weeknights are almost always filled with something, either a Bible study, childbirth class, social event or meeting of some sort, so I’m hoping that calms down a little bit over the next few weeks too.

I always do enjoy my travels though. It was great seeing all my extended family at the birthday dinner, spending time with my mom and sister while shopping and visiting a friend’s new house. These semi-spontaneous little weekends will be a lot more complicated when we have a child and all the baby stuff that has to come with us.

In other baby news

I took our carseat out of the box this afternoon and started to read the instruction manual. So many safety concerns! My pregnant brain couldn’t handle it all at once so I need to go back and finish reading it later. Biggles, of course, hopped right in to test it out.

He quickly decided the box it came in was more interesting.

In other other news

We were two of those chumps who forgot to set our clocks back last night, so we missed out on our extra hour of sleep! Luckily, when we were 5 minutes into our drive to church the choir director called me to let me know of a change in singing plans and tipped me off that it was only 7:40 a.m., not 8:40. So we turned around and made use of our extra hour by going grocery shopping.

Speaking of choir, writing that just reminded me that I have practice right at this moment. Ugh! I blame the pregnant brain again. Gotta go!

The nursery: Inspiration board and new rug

I left you yesterday with the before pictures of the nursery (a.k.a. current guest bedroom). Oh, the suspense! 😉

The one thing I knew about the nursery from the beginning was I didn’t want to paint the walls. They are a very pale blue color that I think is pretty and relaxing. No need to mess with that. So the next step in my mind was finding a pretty rug that I could use as the base for the room’s accessories (and to cover up some of the burber carpet that isn’t very cozy).

I looked at just about every rug on Wayfair and Home Decorators and in a rare moment of decisiveness, picked one out. That was the base of my inspiration board on Olioboard (great site for collecting design ideas for a room).

The idea is to keep the changes simple. We’re just sprucing up the room for Baby.

I kept being drawn to turquoise, and decided that it would be a fun accent color. We already have a bookshelf almost exactly like that one in the room, and it would be easy to paint it. I picked up two mirrors at Target that we can paint the same shade of turquoise.

The first step, though, was buying the rug. Once I knew just how it looked in person, it’d be easier to plan.

Let me just preface this series of photos by saying Biggles really likes this rug. It has a new-car smell to it and it’s really soft, so after I rolled it out he proceeded to rub his body over every square inch of it.

Basil was a little more cautious about it.

My thoughts: it’s actually a different color than I was expecting. The photo on Wayfair looked gray with yellow designs. In reality, it’s more like light blue with tan designs. But I still really like it and think it will work in the room. It’s also very thick and soft. I kind of don’t blame Biggles for wanting to roll all over it.

So that’s progress, people! We have a rug.

Of course, after the shower, the room just looks like this:

I actually sort of attempted to pile things by category as I unpacked them, but there’s definitely still a lot of organizing to do.

I’d love to know, where do you go for design inspiration? I usually start with a rug (which can take years for me to pick out – I’ll tell you about that later) or browse Young House Love and other blogs. This was my first time using Olioboard, and now that I have a computer that isn’t super slow, I love it!

Researcher woman

I am so sick of researching items!

For the past couple weeks I’ve been constantly reading Baby Bargains, checking out reviews online and basically obsessing about finding the perfect baby products, both for our registry and for us to buy ourselves. I’ve also been obsessively researching two big purchases I’ve been putting off for a while now: a new computer and a DSLR camera.

The camera, I feel, is a baby purchase, because though I’ve been wanting one for quite a while now, the desire to take high quality shots to document all the “moments” of our new family life makes me more motivated to pull the trigger. The computer becomes more of a necessity each day as my poor 6-year-old Powerbook gets slower and more frustrating to use. I’m writing this on Peter’s PC because my laptop’s power cord stopped working yesterday and the battery life maxes out at a whopping 15 minutes, so I need to get another cord before I can even open it again. And when time becomes even more of a premium after the baby arrives, I will not be able to afford wasting it waiting for pages to load just to do a simple Google search.

But I digress. Back to the researching. It is consuming me.

Some of it is very fruitful. For example, reading reviews of bouncers has given me a lot more detail about what to expect (or not expect) out of certain models. I learned that even though this one is so super cute, you cannot remove the cloth to clean it, so when it gets soaked in pee from a diaper leak, well, that pee is at the mercy of spot cleaning only. No thanks.

But some of my research is crossing the line and beginning to waste my life away. I actually spent a solid 20 minutes researching teething rings the other day and was disappointed when one of the brands I was eying didn’t have any user reviews online. For a $5 teething ring set! I need to get a grip.

And then there’s the issue of over researching something that is so subjective that you can’t be sure it’s a smart purchase until Baby tries it out. Some kids love certain swings, others couldn’t care less. You don’t know how your child will react until you try it out.

I think at this point I just need to take a break from research and go with my gut based on what I know so far. I can’t imagine it’s worth all the stress and time spent! This probably is a good metaphor for parenting, too. There’s no way I will do everything perfectly, so I’d better get used to doing the best I can and letting go of the things that don’t matter.

[But I will eventually share my heavily researched picks with you in case it helps you out!]

A mystery bag

I came into work yesterday morning to find this sitting on my chair:

No, not the cat. The bag of baby clothes!

It’s filled with some adorable little outfits. The ducky onesie at the top actually has little duck feet. Swoon! I’m tellin’  ya, there are plenty of cute gender-neutral clothes out there.

But I digress.

This lovely bag of goodies was accompanied by no note, no email, no Facebook message, no tweet nor any other indication as to whom it is from. Obviously, it’s one of my co-workers, but I can’t figure out who!

Most likely, I had a conversation with someone at some point, probably a while ago, and they asked if I would like some hand-me-down clothes, and I said yes, of course. But it’s true what they say about pregnancy brain. I am just plain forgetful and ditzy these days, so if that conversation did indeed happen, I don’t remember whom it was with.

I’m hoping the mystery person will reveal him or herself so I can give a proper thank you. Until then I’ll keep racking my brain. I did contemplate sending out a newsroom-wide email but decided that might be too much.

But this brings me to a larger point. We have been blessed by so many generous friends and acquaintances over these past few months that it makes my heart swell. I have only had to buy a couple pieces of maternity clothes because people have lent me – or even just given me – theirs. We have a nice little start to baby’s wardrobe thanks to hand-me-downs (from kindred not-finding-out-the-gender parents especially) and early gifts. I have more pregnancy/first year books than I can possibly read (but I’m still trying to skim a lot of them!) I even appreciate all the advice veteran parents have offered. #lovefest

But I’ve been adamant about sending thank you cards, so I will not be able to sleep until this anonymous donor is identified. [Actually, that’s a lie. I sleep 9 hours a night and can’t drag myself out of bed in the morning. But you get my point.] Time to get investigating…

Bargain stroller

About that exciting purchase I alluded to yesterday

A jogging stroller!

The InSTEP 5K Single Jogging Stroller, to be exact. The tires are flat and it could use a bit of dusting off, but it seems to be in excellent shape otherwise. And you can’t beat the price: $25. Thank you, Craigslist!

This model is discontinued, but probably cost about $100 originally. It’s not a high end jogging stroller, but for $25 it’s worth the risk that it might not be perfect. I can’t wait to use it next summer! I might actually take it for a test run this week, if I can overcome the embarrassment of pushing a 20-pound weight around the neighborhood in a stroller. Peter suggested putting a blanket over it so it looks like a baby.

Since we were able to find such a great deal on this running stroller, it made our “regular stroller” decision a lot easier. I had been debating between three models:

The BOB Revolution CE. A true running stroller made by runners for runners. Has options for fixed or swivel wheel (you want fixed for running, swivel for everything else) and can hold kids up to 70 pounds. Probably the best running stroller out there. The downsides are it’s pretty big (I think it’d be a bit tough maneuvering around at a festival or something, and would probably want to get a little cheapie stroller for that) and it’s expensive, at $469.

The Baby Jogger City Elite. Smaller and lighter than the BOB, but apparently can hold kids up to 75 pounds. Again, fixed or swivel wheel options. Pretty maneuverable. Nice adjustable handlebars to accommodate different heights. Not recommended for serious (like double digit) runs (though that’s probably debatable) and hefty pricetag at $399.

The Baby Jogger City Mini. This one is actually not a jogging stroller at all, though I know people who have run with it (probably not long distances though, as it has a swivel wheel only). It is highly recommended by practically everyone for its ease of use – you can actually fold it up with one hand. It’s the smallest of the three and the easiest to maneuver, though the weight limit is 50 pounds. Price is more reasonable at $239 (or $179 in one of the uglier colors).

For a while I was leaning toward the City Elite, since it seemed to have the best of both worlds (made for running, but also easy to maneuver).

But now that we have a decent (or at least passable, hopefully) running stroller, the City Mini is definitely the best choice. I have heard nothing but good about this stroller, and it will be great for everyday use, travel and tight spaces. Now the only question is do we get one of the less attractive colors (primary blue or bright pink) and save $60, or go for the lovely light green and gray model we’ve been eying (linked above). Hmmm. What would you do?

Bargain hunting

I’ve started checking Craigslist almost every day for certain baby items, and some of the deals out there are too good to pass up. Last week I bought a new, in-the-package, unfortunately named “My Brest Friend” breastfeeding pillow for $18 (usually retails ~$40).

I started scoping out some deals on Medela breast pumps, but I’m a little nervous to pull the trigger on a [very reasonably priced and good-condition, sanitized] used pump just because I’ve read that you’re not supposed to buy a used pump, period. For safety reasons. But what I don’t understand is how it’s OK to rent one from a hospital? Anyone have thoughts on this? By buying used, I could potentially save $200+.

I did find a decent-looking running stroller for $25 on Craiglist and am waiting to hear back from the seller. I don’t see how that could be a bad purchase. The risk of it sucking is worth $25.

But my mom found the best deal of all. A great-condition Baby Bjorn for $0. That’s right, free. From a garage sale where they were apparently giving things away.

I gave it a test drive last night with Basil. She wasn’t too into it.

We finally registered

Or, at least, started to register…

My mom has been begging me for several weeks to decide on where to register so she can send out baby shower invites. On Sunday I finally did.

This was definitely something that I’ve been putting off. I get way more overwhelmed than I should about decisions like this. Heck, I get so overwhelmed by all the toilet paper options at the store that I put it off until there are approximately four squares of toilet paper left in our house and then I beg Peter to go buy it. When I am faced with the toilet paper aisle, I become obsessed with finding the perfect marriage between price and quality and the seemingly simple decision becomes far, far too complicated (can someone just tell me which brand is the best value?).

So you can imagine how daunting picking out baby products seems to me.

The best piece of advice I’ve gotten so far in this pregnancy was to buy the book “Baby Bargains.” It finally came in the mail earlier this week and it already has been a lifesaver. The authors review every product imaginable (to me) with the perfect amount of detail based on a nice mix of research, parenting experience and reader feedback. They also spend a decent amount of time just explaining what features are out there on different products and why you might want them (or not). Basically, this book has introduced me to the world of baby junk and helped me form some educated opinions in a very short amount of time.

Of course before I could start putting those newfound opinions to work, I had to decide where to register. I had been browsing message boards and blogs for several weeks now and collecting advice on different stores. Yesterday, it basically came down to Buy Buy Baby and Babies ‘R’ Us. “Baby Bargains” helped me make the final decision by highly recommending Buy Buy Baby.

Phew, one decision down!

Buy Buy Baby is owned by Bed Bath and Beyond, which is where we registered for our wedding, so we kind of knew what to expect. It was, in fact, exactly like our wedding registry experience except everything in the store was baby-related. An associate walked through the store with us and, with incredible patience, explained and demonstrated most of the big-ticket products. We were like clueless puppies armed with a scanning gun and lots of questions, like, “Why do you need this?” and “What does this do?” [Thankfully we didn’t get laughed out of the store or told we were unfit to be parents.]

When it wasn’t completely overwhelming, it was actually fun! Peter got gun-happy and scanned almost anything I showed more than remote interest in. I got to test drive the strollers I’ve been eying (that’s about the only thing I’ve put significant thought into so far). And we both came to the mutual decision that we do NOT want a kit to make a plaster mold of my pregnant belly. [Googling that led me to this and this, which are equally, if not more, ridiculous.]

We still have a long way to go and lots of editing to do, but I’m just glad to have it started. FINALLY. Once we get closer to completing our list of things to buy and register for, I’ll share some picks.

Now I have to ask, any recommended brands/items?