Monday, October 15, 2012

BABY GEAR: The Nursery

Stocking up on baby gear can be quite a daunting task; with so many different options available to consider, it can be hard to tell which items are truly needed, which brands are the best and how to buy everything without breaking the bank.  Our plan of attack was to purchase the essentials gradually in my second and third trimester so we would have everything we needed by the time the baby arrived. We did a lot of research into all the gear available, reading through hundreds of reviews and visiting stores multiple times to compare products in person.  We really wanted to buy wisely and not end up cluttering our home with lots of unnecessary baby gear that didn't get much use. We wanted to be cost efficient but not sacrifice on quality either, there really is no point buying a cheaper product that wont last.  For easy reference I divided up all the gear we needed into categories such as nursery, bath time, feeding etc and I'll be sharing my list of baby gear in each category one blog post at a time, starting with the nursery.

My main nursery essentials are (Click to jump to a specific section)

Crib - For us this was an absolute essential, some people choose to go with other sleep options such as a pack & play or bassinet but I knew right off the bat that I wasn't too interested in anything other than a traditional wooden crib.  Pack & plays are great for traveling but they usually come with a really flimsy mattress so I couldn't see myself using it very often and decided to skip it altogether.  We also skipped the bassinet because I wanted our baby to just get used to sleeping in the crib from day one.
Cribs can be quite expensive and there are so many options to choose from so it was a tough decision, I went back and forth for a while and narrowed it down to either Graco Lauren or Graco Sarah shown below.

Graco Lauren// Graco Sarah

They were both reasonably priced under $200 and my mind was pretty much made up until I stumbled upon a three piece crib, dresser and changing table furniture set on sale for $199!  All three pieces for just $199? There had to be a catch right? Not really. The picture below shows the stock photo of the 3 piece set we ended up buying from Walmart, this furniture set is called the Deluxe baby room by Nursery 101 and we chose the dark walnut color

The set looks great , the price was unbeatable and best of all the crib had all the main features we were looking for which were;
-Stationary sides, since drop rail cribs are now considered unsafe
-Easily converts into a toddler bed and then a day bed, which means our baby can use this for a long time
-Three different height levels for the mattress.

I'll be honest I was skeptical about buying this, the price just seemed too good to be true especially since it wasn't available in stores for us to visually inspect and see how sturdy it was. I first verified that it wasn't on the recall list and then had to rely on the reviews I saw on the website. We decided to order it and our plan was to return it if we didn't like it. But we loved it!  I really have no complaints about the crib whatsoever.  See further down for details on the dresser and changing table.

Crib Mattress - I think most people would agree that when it comes to comfort of a bed, the mattress plays the biggest role.  We wanted our baby to have good quality sleep and wake up feeling
well rested so it was important to invest in a good quality firm mattress. I came across lots of cheapies in the store some as low as $35, but it was easy to tell the difference in quality. The cheaper mattresses were lighter, slightly thinner and way too soft.  We ended up choosing a mid-range mattress: Sealy Ultra rest crib & toddler mattress. All the great things about it are listed below

Basically it is great because:

  • It's Super firm (204 coils to ensure firmness)
  • Has steel border so shouldn't sag in the middle, 
  • It has a waterproof cover and special stitching  so moisture can't get inside it to build up mould and unlike other waterproof mattresses it doesn't have a rubbery or plastic feel.
  • Has air vents to keep the mattress fresh
  • Fits cribs and toddler beds
  • Has a 15 year warranty

Crib sheets

The Sealy baby mattress that we bought, came with two free Gerber crib sheets as part of a bundle. Avoid those crib sheet at all costs! They are incredible small, they barely fit the mattress. It seriously takes two people and immense effort to get the sheets on the mattress. And when you finally get it on, its so tight that it pulls the mattress very taut and makes it feel uncomfortable to lie on. Our baby was miserable sleeping on this mattress until we went out and bought Carters Easy-Fit crib sheets like the one shown below. They are so easy to put on, but still fit tightly on the mattress. What a difference good crib sheets can make!

Mattress Protector  Technically our mattress doesn't need a mattress protector since it is waterproof, but we still wanted to have an absorbent barrier between the sheet and mattress. We bought the Sealy SnugFit Crib Mattress Pad


Depending on the season and your baby's preferences there are so many blanket options out there. Our favorites are the Aden & Anais swaddle blankets, they are a bit expensive but are the best option out there. They are 100% cotton muslin,very breathable, large and get softer with each wash.

We also like the Garanimals receiving blankets, they were pretty great in the beginning, they are firmer and stiffer like the hospital blankets so they are great for swaddling in the beginning although they are small and she quickly outgrew them. I now use these as covers for the changing pad.

Last but not least we have the Circo blankets
 These are more "traditional" blankets they are thicker cotton more like fleece. So even though I bought them to use in the crib, I prefer to use them to cover her in the car seat when we go out now that the temperature has started to drop.

We also tried wearable blankets like the miracle blanket but didn't like them. More details on that in upcoming posts.

Crib Mobile

I fell in love with this Fisher-price precious planet 2-in-1 projection mobile.

Again this is another product that is designed to grow with the baby, not only does it have the traditional rotating toys, it also projects images on the "screen" almost like a slide show and once the baby is older the images can be projected directly onto the ceiling. It plays music, nature sounds and heartbeat sounds. This keeps our little one entertained for quite a while, the one downside is how low the volume is. You can barely hear it even on the highest setting.


  Dresser & Changing table We needed a place to store our baby's items such as clothing, cloth diapers, bibs blankets etc so for us a dresser was essential. I had originally planned on getting a dresser changing table combo, like the South Shore Savannah table shown below. It basically has the raised sides on the top for extra safety and you just add a contoured changing pad, and it also has two dresser drawers.

However once we decided to buy the Nursery 101 crib set that I mentioned earlier, I was kinda forced to use the changing table and dresser that came as part of the set. I didn't really want a "stand alone" changing table because I thought it would be a waste of space, but I actually ended up needing the extra shelving! The pictures below show the changing table and dresser that came with the crib we bought.

 Here are the pros and cons of the changer and dresser

- They compliment the crib well and look great as a set
-It comes with a waterproof changing pad, which is thinner than other changing pads but still works great.
- The changing table has a safety rail all around it, and a safety strap that is attached to the table itself and not just to the changing pad.  This is really important when your baby gets to the squirmy stage where they try to climb off the edge during diaper changes.
 -The shelves under the changing table are really spacious and provide lots of storage room for diapers, wipes, and any other baby items you may have

- The dresser drawers don't have rollers which means they don't open as smoothly and as quietly as new dressers that have rollers. This isn't a big issue considering how good the price was, but when its 3am and your crying baby needs a change of clothing yet again, you will really appreciate a smooth opening drawer that works with one handed operation.
-The dresser drawers are a bit shallow, so they fill up quite quickly
- The changing table is a bit low for me. I'm 5ft 11 and feel like I have to stoop slightly to comfortably use this table. Perhaps if I had bought a thicker changing pad that would have helped raise the height a bit.
 -The crib, changer and dresser are all made out of pine wood which is solid, but the inside of the drawers isn't pine, it is a cheaper ply wood which can easily be pushed out of place especially if the drawer is overloaded.

Overall I'm still really happy with all three pieces of furniture, I use them all daily and have definitely gotten my money's worth.

I went back and forth over this decision, I didn't think it was really necessary at first, but a few weeks after the baby was born, we ran out to buy one and were so happy we did. It makes such a difference to have a comfortable place to feed and rock your newborn to sleep. We didn't want to spend a lot of money on this so we were happy to find the Storkcraft - Bowback Glider Rocker and Ottoman on sale in Espresso to match the crib, dresser and changer. All in all its pretty great, very easy to assemble, and the fabric is really nice. Randomly it might squeak a little, and there were a few loose stitches on one of the side pockets, but overall I do love this glider. My little one is nearly 6 months and we still use this a lot.

[9] Video baby Monitor We didn't really think we needed a video baby monitor, it seemed like an unnecessary added expense, especially since we planned to have the baby's crib in our room for the first year. My awesome mother-in-law surprised us with the Motorola baby video monitor

This monitor is amazing, I can be in any room in the house and not have to worry about straining to hear her if she cries, especially if the water is running in the kitchen or bathroom. Not only can I hear her with the monitor, but she can hear me too because it is a two-way monitor. It has in fared night vision, so I can still see her clearly even if the room is totally dark and it even tells me the temperature in the room. It also plays music for the baby too.  The great thing about this monitor is that you can expand it by adding more cameras, so you can have several cameras showing different angles of the room or several cameras in different rooms but you still only need one screen. 

Swing- We received the Fisher-price  My little snugabunny cradle N swing as a gift. I really wanted to buy it because I fell in love with it at target but thought it was too expensive so I was happy to receive it as a gift. I love the neutral colors and how sturdy it is. It swings sideways as well as from front to back and plays many different songs. The chic little birds rotate around, and the leaves go up and down. Best of all it has a big mirror at the top and babies love mirrors! The only down side about it is that in the beginning even on the lowest setting the swing is a bit too vigorous for a newborn we had to put a blanket it in and let it drag on the ground to slow it down. Now that she is older and heavier we don't have the issue any longer. The plush fabric also traps quite a bit of heat, so if your baby is a sweater they may not like to stay in this for long.

  Sleeper - What a coincidence that a different person gave us the  Fisher-price  My little snugabunny Rock n' Play Lightweight Plush Sleeper as a gift too! It matches the swing above perfectly!!

They look great together and this sleeper is just amazing. Our baby hated sleeping in her crib in the beginning and always wanted to be held. This sleeper was the perfect solution because it allows the baby to sleep in semi-reclined position and cradles her in such a way that she feels as though she is being held. We still use this everyday. It folds down easily so would be perfect for travelling.