Top 10 baby buys that you won’t regret

So, you’re having a baby, or just had one. Congratulations! Welcome to the wonderful world of parenting! And the sort-of-confusing world of what to buy for your little one. Whether you are looking at pacifiers, bottles, cups, diapers, wipes, strollers, high chairs, potties, etc., there are just so many options out there, with all kinds of pros and cons. Researching is good, asking friends is good, reading reviews is good.

But wait, your little one just pooped all over you.

Is reality settling in yet?

“Ok, so what do I really need?

Since I have three kids, I get asked this question a lot. And mostly by moms who don’t want to fall for the fluff, and want the real deal. And not to mention, a good deal. Most of us don’t have money to throw away on big fancy names. $300 on a rocker that my baby will grow out of after 4 months? No, thank you.

And if we plan on having more than one child, we would like to repurpose our things. I don’t have all the answers, and I don’t claim to know what every mom needs. But living with three children means I have tried a bunch of things, and even fallen for some of the fluff. But through the fluff, I picked up a few things that didn’t cost an arm and a leg, and have lasted a long time.

Here is a list of the top 10 baby buys that I have not regretted. Not only are they awesome, but they have lasted through at least 2 kids. Which says a lot about baby items.

1. OXO Tot spoon and fork – I love these utensils. Doesn’t hurt that I snagged them at a clearance sale at a local grocery store, but they are seriously the best. Strong, durable. My toddler easily is able to put food in his mouth without dropping half of the spoonful. Plus they have a nice rubber backing that helps them stand against the plate and not fall in. oxo

2. Tommee Tippee straw/sippy cups – They might be a bit pricier than the Nuby and Munchkin brands, but these are great cups. Spill-proof and easy to clean. No more gunk getting stuck inside the straw or 2 million parts to remove before being able to actually clean the spout/straw.

3. Fisher-Price booster seat – Love this chair. It’s reasonably priced, saves space, and not only is it easy to clean, but it can be adjusted for height, which helps when the little one is getting bigger. Plus it snaps together making it perfect for travel. One downside: It doesn’t recline.

boosterseat

4. IKEA KALAS children’s tableware – When it comes to kids’ stuff, cheap isn’t the only factor. It’s gotta work. Experienced parents will tell you that quality matters. So if that means spending $200 on a stroller, parents will do that. But when the stars align and you get the perfect combo of price and quality, it is truly a wonderful feeling. That is what I feel with these plates, cups and bowls. You get 6 for $2, plus they are kid-friendly and strong. I am not a big fan of the utensils. I also like that when guests with kids come over, I can color code plate and cup so we know whose is whose.

5. Boppy nursing pillow – This is a great pillow. It’s the pillow that keeps on coming in handy. Not only did it save my back during pregnancy, but it helped me nurse my littles ones. My kids also used it for tummy time and naps. Not to mention, it was awesome when I was flying with my almost 12-month-old and couldn’t use the bassinet. I just used the Boppy on my lap. Plus, the whole thing is machine washable. Enough said.

boppy

6. Baby Jogger City Mini stroller – I know what you might say. Baby Jogger is not a cheap brand. The newer single stroller models cost around $250. But I can’t rave enough about the patented one-hand fold. It’s a strap in the middle of the seat that you pull and the stroller collapses down flat. Plus the wheels pop off with the touch of a button, making it a breeze to stuff it in a tight place. And it is durable. The suspension of this stroller is unbelievable. It just rolls off curbs, and up onto the sidewalk easily. If the price is scaring you, you can be happy knowing that this is a stroller that you can find for a great deal, if you just look around. Older season’s models drop down to about $150, and with free shipping offered at most sites, you can’t beat it. I would even recommend searching around on Craigslist or eBay. The quality of the City Mini is so great, that even at secondhand, it’s a great buy. One downside: It is heavier than an umbrella stroller, but I ccityminian easily have my toddler at my hip, and fold it down with one hand. Can’t beat that.

7. Stroller hooks – I am in love with my stroller hooks. I have the Mommy Hook and the OXO Tot hooks. It makes shopping with a stroller so easy. Plus the OXO hooks double as a handle grip for older kids to hang onto so they don’t get lost. Both of these hooks are metal so they are durable. Beware of plastic hooks, which can break or snap off during travel or when folding up the stroller.

8. OXO Tot straw and sippy cup cleaning set – This is a great item to have around the house. Not only does it help clean the nooks and crannies of your sippy cup collection, but they are together on one handy clip that easily hangs onto a hook in your kitchen. You get a straw brush, lid/pump parts brush, and a sippy spout cleaner. You don’t have to worry about stashing multiple cleaning attachments and then losing them.

9. Stride Rite shoes – Any parent knows that shoes and clothing can become an expensive part of raising a child. They outgrow clothing so fast, that before you know it you are buying a new wardrobe for your 5-year-old. Pants are good at the waist, but too short. Shirts are too tight. Some kids jump sizes. And with shoes the bigger problem is, if they aren’t comfy, your kid will not wear them. Would you? Since having my first born, I have been buying Stride Rite shoes. And they have been worth it. I passed on almost every pair to my second daughter, and even after she outgrew them, I was still able to pass them down. They are that great. But I must say that the price tag on most of their shoes has me doing a double take. So I go to the outlet stores for a look, and I stock up on their coupons that are printed at the bottom of every receipt. $5 off a pair of shoes can be a big help for families on a budget.

10. Diaper bags – The essential baby item for a mom. It’s got to be durable, but nice, too. The straps can’t be cutting into your shoulders. It must hold every thing needed for an emergency, and still be light enough to tote around town. It’s a tough purchase. After having bought multiple diaper bags over 7 years, I have to say I like Storksak and Petunia Pickle Bottom for their line of good quality, yet sensible bags. Yes, they are pricey, but again, if you look around, you can find really great deals for older models. I got my Storksak on Amazon.com, and Petunia Pickle Bottom has regular outlet sales where you can save 60% off their bags. My diaper bag must be durable to withstand spills and scratches, easy to maintain, multiple pockets, and look like a nice bag. I have found all these qualities with my Storksak Olivia bag, and my Petunia Pickle Bottom weekender.

This list isn’t complete, but if you think of something to add, please comment!

The power of prayer

Sometimes you forget as a parent that there are many things out of your control. You just kind of get used to being the one feeding, cleaning and comforting, that when other issues come up and you can’t solve them, it just breaks you.

I thought I would have the handle on parenting now. I mean I have three, so it should just come naturally, no?

My last two have a 2-year gap between them – exactly two years. And they have been a handful, to say the least. My eldest always wanted to please and had an easygoing nature. Meanwhile, my second daughter is sassy and stubborn, and my son is clingy and well, a boy.

At one point I was dealing with changing two in diapers, two having tantrums, two wanting to be fed, two who needed naps, etc. Sigh. I was exhausted and always losing my temper. (Well I still lose my temper, but I am working on it.)

And when the going got tough, when I felt like just hanging it up and calling it a day, I never thought about God. I consider myself a person of faith, but I am sad to say that at times I lost hope. Sometimes we really underestimate the power of prayer. My husband would see me during these trials of mommyhood and say, “Why don’t you pray?” And I would respond, “I’ve tried. It’s not working.” But that was because I wasn’t really praying. I was complaining.

So then I prayed. I prayed like my life depended on it. I prayed not for potty training success, but rather, patience during potty training. I prayed not for an easy weaning, but for calm in my heart during the difficult days/nights ahead.

It worked. I couldn’t believe it. I mean, I know God has power over all things, but I just couldn’t stop thanking Him. In two weeks I potty trained my stubborn daughter and weaned my clingy son. Sure, there were accidents and rough nights, but the monster within had disappeared. It’s as if God knew my weaknesses and therefore made the process somewhat easier so that I wouldn’t lose my patience or be as frustrated.

Thank you God. Thanks for helping me up when I felt like a lousy mom. Thanks for giving me those little wonderful moments to remind me that mothering isn’t all about discipline, dirty diapers, and tantrums. Most of all, thanks for giving me hope that things will get easier if I just be patient and calm.

Now, excuse me while I break up a fight with a smile.

With or without kids?

Sometimes as a parent you find yourself searching for that little sliver of peace. That small moment where you can drink a cup of coffee without wondering what your little one is doing in the kitchen. Or type up a blog post without being interrupted by someone having to use the potty.

I would get desperate for that moment. In fact, some days I would get more frustrated searching for that peace, instead of just being satisfied with my situation.

Now some might think – how can a mom be satisfied by always running around tending to others without tending to her own needs? It’s not that easy, but true satisfaction as a mother comes when you finally accept your situation and let it fall naturally around you.

After I had my third child, I had a good friend who I would talk to about parenting and making time for myself. She told me something that I had never heard before: That I couldn’t expect a free moment to be carved into my day when I was fulfilling my job as a mom. It was truly an “aha” moment for me. But it got me thinking to all those times I would be trying to deperately check my e-mail over breakfast, only to have a 1-year-old swiping at my phone. Instead of accepting that I had a child who wanted my attention, I would get upset at the fact that I couldn’t check my e-mail in peace.

I never realized that as long as I am being needed as a mother, I had to accept that position and make my own time. It wasn’t going to be handed to me on a silver platter.

So finally after three kids I found out the secret to parental bliss: Making “me” time work. My friend also said something else important. I had to literally make time for myself. Bathroom visits, showers, going outside to dump the garbage, couldn’t count. It had to be specifically labeled as such. So I started weekly classes, which were at a walking distance. These weekly trips allowed me a chance to clear my head while walking, and in class I was in an adult setting. I would talk and discuss things with other adults, think with other adults. It felt good!

While I am still navigating these waters of creating a satisfied life as a mother, I am learning that I need to stop feeling frustrated when I don’t get my way. I have to make it work because my kids need me in different ways right now, and they don’t understand what I need. I can’t expect them to understand either. It just isn’t fair.

So here I am trying to savor the moments with them while building them into smart, kind people. If I don’t get to pray with the long, deep prostrations of before, it’s OK. Even with the 2 minutes I do get, I will pray for patience and peace in my soul.

We only have these few precious moments with our children when we can tend to their characters so let’s make the best of that time. Later when I finally get my peaceful coffee break, it will be all the more sweeter.