There are lots of things to think about or plan out before a baby is born.
When you’re at the hospital, and preparing for the new baby to be discharged, they’ll ask the mother a couple of things. Two of the questions:
- Does your baby have a proper place to sleep?
- Does the baby have a safe way to get home?
We considered it bad juju to buy any baby stuff before our son was born, but we still planned out some of our decisions in advance.
Some things can be decided on after the baby is born. Diapers, wipes, formula, newborn bottles, and clothes? These can wait until after the baby is born – that’s what we did, and we weren’t worse for wear. But we also received a lot from family and friends.
Where Will the Baby Sleep?
The first thing we talked about in advance was about where our baby was going to sleep. Did we want to buy a full-sized crib? Which crib? From where?
We decided to hold off on buying a crib, until we could figure things out. But we still needed a place for the baby to sleep. Newborns sleep a lot, and they need a safe place to do it.
So, the decision was made – we’d start off with a Graco Pack ‘N Play. Why? Because we figured we would need one anyway. It provided a safe place for our son to nap and sleep for the night, and gave us time to better figure out what “real” crib to buy.
These multi-purpose contraptions often have a “newborn napper” place for newborns to rest, a “bassinet level” for older newborns and infants to rest, and a lower level for infants above a certain weight or capability.
Our son napped and slept in a Graco Pack ‘N Play for the first 3 weeks of his life. After that, we went with an Ikea Gulliver crib.
Part of the reason we put off on buying a “real” crib was because there are lots of other secondary decisions that need to be done. Which mattress? Which crib sheets?
And as mentioned, we didn’t want to buy things in advance, due to superstitions. Some of the cribs on my shortlist were often out of stock, others had somewhat length shipping times. We needed a sure-thing solution, and one that wouldn’t cost much more money in the long run.
After my son was born, and before he was home, I picked out the features I wanted, and bought the Pack ‘N Play at Babies R Us.
Later, I bought another Pack ‘N Play from Amazon, shown above, and then my daughter’s Pack ‘N Play came from Buy Buy Baby.
I’ll talk about all the little micro-factors that go into the “which Pack ‘N Play?” decision another time.
- With bassinet, without napper: ~$60-70+
- With bassinet, with napper: ~$85-90+
- With bassinet, napper, changer, or other premium features: ~$125+
I would caution you – don’t over-buy on features. We didn’t, and I still didn’t use all of the doodads and features that came with the Pack ‘N Plays. My son didn’t really like the “Newborn Napper” on his Pack ‘N Play, and the changing table feature on all three of our Pack ‘N Plays were less convenient and more straining that putting the baby on a changing pad on the floor.
Buy Now(via Amazon)
If you go another route, just be sure that you’ll have everything you need, and have it assembled, before your baby’s first night at home.
How Will the Baby Get Home from the Hospital?
Another must-have? An infant car seat.
This is the one thing that we bought for our son before he was born. I installed it, went to a car seat safety check, had the installation corrected, and then the base sat in my car, ready to go.
When it was time to buy a second base for the car seat, for my wife’s car, Graco had made an update that made it far easier for just one person to install. The one that came with the car seat required two people and a lot of grunting. The new base only took one person and a little grunting.
I would definitely recommend everyone gets their car seat installation checked. I bought a car seat before my daughter was born, and had it checked too. That time, it didn’t need to be corrected – it was perfect. But, I was told that my son’s straps could have been a little looser.
Maybe I’ll write more about my car seat experiences another time. But in the meantime, here are some of the tips I followed:
1. Don’t Over-Buy Based on Specs
I bought a Graco SnugRide Click Connect 30 – I believe it was at a “brick & mortar” Target location.
When researching the purchase, I saw that there was a higher-rated Click Connect 35 model, which had a higher weight rating. To support the higher weight rating, it was slightly larger and heavier.
Carrying an infant carrier-type car seat isn’t a big deal when you have a newborn. But once that newborn is an infant, and then a big infant, a little extra weight becomes a bigger deal.
Neither of my kids maxed-out the weight limits on their infant carriers – they both moved to rear-facing fixed-in-place car seats before that.
2. Keep in Mind “System” Aspects
If your family has more than one car, you will probably want more than one base.
Our safety check advisor recommended using the seat belt over LATCH, and that’s what we did. And when we bought another base for the car seat, it made seat belt installations ridiculously easy.
Our daughter’s car seat installed very securely using LATCH straps.
Still, the point is that the base matters. And how does the infant carrier remove from the base? Our daughter’s car seat was more premium-priced than our son’s, because it matched the stroller we already had. It was so much easier to attach to and remove from the base.
Some stores, such as BuyBuyBaby, allow for quite a bit of pre-purchase hands-on testing, allowing you to see first-hand what you’re buying.
Baby gear can change year to year, and so sometimes you cannot rely solely on others’ experiences in online reviews.
We couldn’t decide on a stroller right away, but luckily Graco made an infant car seat carrier – a sort of mini stroller that worked with the car seat. It wasn’t too expensive – $85 according to my Amazon order history, minus a little bit due to a promo they were running at the time.
Buy Now(Graco Click Connect 30 Car Seats via Amazon)