small space living (with a baby!) // the roundup

Now that we’re approaching Avery’s first birthday (next week!) I thought it might be helpful to do a year-end roundup of baby stuff. Specifically, I wanted to focus on how we live small (and somewhat minimally) while also accommodating a baby. As we’ve remodeled our home over the last 7 years, we’ve carefully selected every product and material and I like to think we apply the same (somewhat OCD) approach to baby gear. Now, this is specific to our situation and everyone is different – I think the best piece advice I could offer would be to evaluate your own needs and don’t just go for what’s trendy. Our general approach has been to limit the amount of stuff while also realizing that some things are either essential or well worth the benefits they afford. Could you get through the first year with less? Probably, but this has been a good balance for us. A few other general notes before we begin:

+ When in doubt, don’t buy it until you really need it (this is what Amazon Prime is for, right?).
+ Better yet, create a well-crafted registry, buy used or take advantage of hand-me-downs. (Almost everything listed below was a gift, bought used or heavily discounted.)
+ Try to find products that do double-duty or that will last for several years.
+ Buy things in neutral colors (an impossible task sometimes!) so that they don’t become an unwanted focal point and so that they can be passed down to future kiddos.
+ Accept that some baby products are ugly but they will work and that (sometimes) that’s ALL THAT MATTERS.
+ You don’t need special baby versions of everything. Be wary of marketing ploys.

Finally, with a small house you can’t always have areas that are completely off limits to kids. Therefore, our goal is to make our house reasonably safe (we’ve had to do very little baby proofing) and accepting of small kiddos.

Everything is designed, but nothing is sacred.

Now, the specifics: [I did a lot of research but obviously didn’t test out every product out there. We also weren’t paid to endorse any of the products listed here.]

gear

Baby gear is some of the most valuable yet bulkiest purchases you’ll make. Fortunately, I think we found a good balance of first year essentials.

Strollers: We own a regular stroller (a BabyJogger City Mini) and carseat stroller frame (Chicco Keyfit Caddy). There are times when I wish I had a more lightweight umbrella stroller, but I haven’t been able to justify the purchase yet (maybe when we retire the stroller frame and I’m not having to store three different strollers!). I chose the regular stroller because it was reasonably priced and well-reviewed. It has lots of bells and whistles but isn’t terribly fancy. I bought it shortly after Avery was born but really, I could have waited till she was 6 months old or so. The stroller frame is more essential during the first six months (though I still use it on a regular basis) and is great for quick trips to the grocery store or shopping. (You can take it on more “rugged” terrain but there’s no suspension system so expect lots of bumpiness.) I considered buying a carseat attachment for City Mini stroller but it didn’t get great reviews and the whole setup seems rather bulky.

Carriers: Initially, we had a Baby K’tan and a BabyBjorn “Comfort” carrier. I loved the K’tan (easier to put on than the Moby) and used it all the time for the first 6 months or so. Once Avery got a little bigger, we transitioned to the BabyBjorn. It was fine and I liked that she could face in our out, but it is a structured carrier and not that easy to pack. Plus, it wasn’t that comfortable. A few months ago I tried a friend’s Ergo and was smitten. Originally I resisted the Ergo because I thought they looked frumpy. Funny how things change after you have a kid. I found a used brown one in good condition (seriously, what’s up with some of the new crazy patterns?). We use it mostly for walking around the neighborhood (Bailey is still not great at walking with a stroller) and travel. During a rough week of teething and separation anxiety, it was the only way to get her to nap.

Carseat: We went with the much-loved Chicco Keyfit 30. No complaints. She still has another inch or so to go before we’ll need to transition to a convertible carseat, but haven’t decided on exactly which one to get yet. I am looking forward to not storing the carseat in her nursery.

Misc. Gear: Most of the other things we purchased were for the newborn stage and were covered in this post and this post. I’m happy to say that the bassinet, swing, bouncer, bumbo and play gym are all packed away now. They were well worth the space and questionable aesthetics, but it feels good to have our space back (except for, y’know…all the toys and books that are now everywhere). We also own a Graco Pack ‘N Play that we use mostly for travel and store in the top of her wardrobe. (Due to our small bedroom, we used the bassinet during the first couple of months.) On a regular basis I don’t use a diaper bag (for short trips I have an emergency diaper and wipes in my purse), but I did finally get this one when she was around 6 months old. It’s sturdy and does the job, but really any medium size tote bag (preferably with a few pockets) would work just as well.

Things we didn’t need: A super fancy stroller system or any of the “accessories” marketed for carseats and strollers. If we didn’t own a car and relied mostly on walking or public transportation, I would have likely put more emphasis on the stroller, but for our needs a middle of the road option has worked out well.

sleep

Ahh, sleep. The category you will blindly throw money at. Our essentials:

Crib: IKEA, $129. Done. One year in and I have zero complaints.

Blankets and related items: When Avery was a newborn we swaddled her in Aden and Anais blankets and then discovered the The Miracle Blanket. Once she started rolling over we switched to a Halo sleepsack. Now that she’s older, we use either our Aden and Anais blanket or one of the swaddle blankets (we received two 4-packs and that seems to be plenty).

Monitor: We use this AngelCare monitor that also monitors movement. It’s peace of mind and allowed us to sleep better when Avery was still a newborn.

Soothers: We own two white noise machines and their purpose is two-fold: the soothing sounds help Avery fall asleep and they also mask outside noise that is inevitable in a small house. We have watched movies and hosted dinner parties while Avery slept. We used the Sleep Sheep (we actually have the smaller travel version) more during the first 6 months, then when it went on the fritz we switched to our Munchkin sound machine (it also has a projector, which we seldom use). It has a decent selection of music and nature sounds, but if I were to do it all over again maybe I’d try to set up an ipod docking station (or something similar) so we could create custom playlists. The other major soother for Avery has been her Wubbanub pacifier. Yes, we are a one pacifier family. It’s a miracle that it has not been lost yet.

Things we didn’t need: Lots of sheets (we have two and it’s been fine), a fancy crib, a mobile. We also had way too many lightweight receiving blankets (we liked the Aden & Anais ones so much we rarely used the others).

food

Mmm, food. This is the category that has evolved the most from birth to 12 months.

Nursing: Since this was Avery’s exclusive food source for the first 6 months, I felt it important to include here. Fortunately, breastfeeding does not require a lot of extras – the most valuable products for me were: our Monte glider, a Boppy nursing pillow and my iPhone. I know gliders aren’t for everyone, but I use ours multiple times, every single day. (Some quick math tells me that in the past year I’ve sat down to nurse somewhere close to 2,000 times!) And that’s where the iPhone comes into play…I didn’t use any formal apps, but it was a great tool for keeping track of feeding times and catching up on my social media. We didn’t rely heavily on bottles, but I used a Dr. Brown one during the first few months and then a couple of Lifefactory bottles after that. (I never needed anything more than the 4 oz. version but I bought some of the sippy cup tops and will try those with Avery once she’s a bit older and doesn’t rely on cups with handles.)

Solids: At six months we introduced solids and acquired more kitchen stuff. Because our house is small and we didn’t really have space for a stand alone high chair, we opted for a space-saving Inglesina table chair (installed on the island) as well as the Stokke Tripp Trapp. We use both, although I prefer the table chair most days because I like having Avery there while I’m prepping food or doing dishes (and I like to think she feels more included). It also stores compactly and is great for travel. We also took it to restaurants before she was big enough for the standard restaurant highchairs. As for accessories, I carved out half of a drawer for cups and utensils. (We don’t really use plates or bowls yet.) I try to stick with gender-neutral colors (which apparently means green!) and am still experimenting with different products. The infant spoons and bottle brush are OXO, the cups are IKEA and Lollacup and the drying rack is from Boon. (I bought 4 other types of cups, but those two are my favorites.)

Things we didn’t need: A fancy highchair with tray, a dishwasher basket (for small items it was just easier to wash by hand), a bottle warmer, 9 oz. bottles.

bath

I’m lumping bath and safety together because I’ve found you really need very little (yay!) to get the job done.

Bath: As a newborn, we used an inexpensive bath sponge in our kitchen sink. As she got bigger and could sit up, we transitioned to the regular tub, using a non-slip mat from IKEA. (I did receive a Puj tub that I was really excited about, but then realized that our bathroom sink is too small and our kitchen sink too big for it to work properly.) Avery didn’t require many bath toys and was happy with these Skip Hop ducks (which worked well for rinsing) and some simple stacking cups. We received three hooded towels (I like this Aden & Anais one best because it’s a bit larger) but really a regular towel would work fine too for the 10 seconds it takes to get from the tub to the changing table.

Safety: I reluctantly registered for one of those cheesy baby kits and it has mostly been a waste (the only thing I use are the nail clippers, but they seem cheap). My advice would be to get a quality pair of clippers (I don’t actually own these but maybe I should just go ahead and get them), a good rectal thermometer (which I have fortunately not had to use yet) and a nasal aspirator. Now, these are the items that you want on hand before you actually need them – but other items could be acquired as needed (like a comb or brush if, ahem, you baby happens to have hair).

Things we didn’t need: A baby bath tub, special towels and wash cloths (although we do have them and yeah, the hooded ducky towel is pretty darn cute), lots of bath toys. We also have the Skip Hop whale spout cover, but it doesn’t fit on our modern spout. Because we have a relatively deep tub, the spout has actually not been an issue (yet).

+Finally, a few thoughts on clothes, toys and books. I know these categories will affect us most in the coming year and we’re already making a few tweaks to her nursery (post to come!) to accommodate these changes.

Clothes:

I don’t feel like this category needs much explanation – we’ve received a lot of clothes as gifts and bought most everything else at consignment stores or babyGap (so far this has been my best source for quality, well-designed clothes that frequently go on sale). My advice would be to take advantage of used clothes in the first year – it’s easy to find great 0-12 months options but as babies start eating solids and becoming more active, used clothes in good shape are harder to come by. I’m actually finding now that Avery is in this weird in between phase where she’s “too old” for cutesy newborn style clothes but also not ready for jean skirts and t-shirts with bedazzled kitties on them. Any advice, parents?

Toys and Books:

Although it’s so tempting to buy cute baby toys, you don’t need much during the first year and babies are easily fascinated by common household items. Right now, all of Avery’s toys fit in one of the felt bins under the media bench or in her wardrobe. So far I’ve resisted buying anything large and obnoxious. I know it will happen, but not yet. Many of the things she has were gifts, but in general we try to buy things that are well made and will be enjoyed for several years. This is relatively new territory, so I’d appreciate any suggestions you guys might have on the subject, especially as it pertains to books. Part of me wants to buy her all of my favorite children’s books, but she’s still in the destruction-of-pages phase (pop-up books are the worst, which resulted in the recent beheading of several Big Birds in a friend’s Sesame Street book) so perhaps we should stick with board books from the library? At any rate, toys and books are going to inevitably impact how we live in our small house and we’ll continue to share our tips and tricks as we go along.

PHEW! Did you make it? I know this has been incredibly wordy, but I relied heavily on blogs and Amazon reviews when preparing for parenthood so I hope this at least helps a few more people out. I’d also love it if you guys chimed in with your own suggestions and recommendations. More questions? Ask away! It takes a village, right?

Comments

51 Responses to “small space living (with a baby!) // the roundup”

  1. S in Seattle says:

    For clothes – love Hanna Andersson, MiniBoden, Tea Collection for cute but not cutesy. Hanna outlet in Woodinville. Sela’s small couture in QA usually has a good selection. eBay and sales do well, and you can often resell them for close to what you paid.
    Books – cant help you there! I’m a believer in being surrounded by books. Toddler has three Ikea shelving units of books, mostly inherited from older brother. Just start now teaching her that books are not for ripping – our only problem is the ones falling apart from use. Take dust covers off and store or ditch.
    Another trick – try play spaces (Twirl Cafe, also in QA) so she can test drive toys. Will giver her clutter time too with someone else to clean up!
    How about diapering? We cloth diapered (too?) and I finally gave up and kept a laundry basket full of clean ones because putting them in drawers never seemed to work. I look forward to ditching that.

    • Lauren says:

      Thanks, I love all of those brands (but seems like they’re still pretty spendy even at consignment shops). Thanks for the outlet tip…didn’t know there was one in Woodinville.

      We’ve done a hybrid of cloth and disposables and you’re right – it is a lot to store (both dirty and clean!).

  2. Sonel says:

    Great post! I’m expecting our second and have been eyeing that same glider. Glad to hear you like it! One question. Is the back tall enough to lean your head back against it?
    As far as books go…don’t wait! We were given loads of board books before my son was born and this has been invaluable. They are tough to destroy and they never grow out of them. Even though he’s now 2 and can read any book, the board books are much easier for him to carry around and turn the pages by himself.

  3. Sonel says:

    Lol. I don’t mean he can read any book on his own. I meant he can be trusted not to rip the pages of normal books when we read together.

    • Lauren says:

      Haha, I gotcha. ๐Ÿ™‚ The glider back is tall enough to lean back on (and I’m 5′-9″) and the lumbar pillow is a nice feature.

  4. Sara says:

    For clothes my favourites are polarn o pyret and Hanna Andersson. Both are pricey but you can get good sales and they last forever (I have pants and pjs my two year olds have been wearing for a year because they are designed to grow with cuffs). They are neither newborn cute not grown up, and I tend to stick with the fun bright colors and leggings (even for boys).

    • Lauren says:

      Thanks Sara, I love, love, love Hanna Andersson pajamas. That’s pretty much the only thing I buy and I’ve had good luck buying used ones that look brand new. I’ve heard of polarn o pyret and have one pair of leggings that I bought at a consignment shop. It’s a European brand, right? Can you only order online?

      • Sara says:

        Yes, they have an online store and actually a big sale right now.
        I find I can get shirts for around 12-15 on sale. But then they last a year unlike the target/hm that get holes so it costs less in the end
        I’ve had one or two Hanna Andersson things get a small hole and they replaced them or refunded the money. I’m very happy to spend a little more to get things that last!

        • Lauren says:

          Sara, thank you! I just totally impulse bought a few things for her for fall. ๐Ÿ™‚

          • Sara says:

            Haha, glad to be an enabler ๐Ÿ™‚ I find I rarely buy things for myself these days. But with some buying ahead at sales the kids have a reasonable sized wardrobe without spending a ton. And in canada you need long sleeves practically year round.

            • Lauren says:

              I know just what you mean, she has enough clothes to get through summer and then it’s jeans and cardigans for the next 8 months or so. ๐Ÿ™‚

  5. dan says:

    As a dad of a 2yr old girl and 9 year old boy, Target has been a great resource for us. With the boy we used to shop gap, miniboden, hannah anderson and their stuff while ok, just wasn’t worth the cost. We have some very generous parents who gift some sweet crewcuts or DvF baby gap stuff from time to time, but for the essentials we love Target. The 9 year old boy loves the Shawn White stuff and for our girl there are some great basics. Also H&M is great for kids and Target brand diapers and wipes are great.

    We hung onto a lot of the boys old toys for our girl to play with, namely puzzles books, duplo legos and blocks. Never under estimate the benefits to them (and you) fr them to have some alone time with blocks. Besides the legos, we also really stick with a lot of wooden toys from vilac or Plan. So I guess some of the dough we save on the clothes goes into the toys.

    After 2 kids, going through the baby times, much like yourself, we realized that there were a lot of extra fluff out there, however, we took the tack of spending a little more up front on gear we know we would use a lot. We got a Bugaboo frog thats lasted 11 New York City winters for 2 kids and we still love it, that supplemented by a UppaBaby umbrella stroller and its all we need(ed). We also bought a Svan high chair. We like the look of it and it goes well with the other things in our apt. plus its convertible from High Chair to table chair. Once our boy was grown out of it, I pulled the tray and seat from storage and re-assebled for our girl.

    Another thing we used to use a lot but haven’t really with our little one is the Fisher Price Healthy Care booster seat. If you can find a used one, it makes dinners a little more enjoyable at friends houses, even if you just keep it in the car for just such an occasion.

    Ive been following your blog for some time and have loved the work you did on your house and so happy that you are having fun with parenthood, its really the best.

    Take care,
    Dan

    • Lauren says:

      Thanks Dan, I was just at Target yesterday looking to clothes! (Unfortunately, the closest Target to us is not very well stocked and our H&M doesn’t carry baby clothes.)

      We have quite the collection of blocks (from 4 different shape sorters that we were gifted!) and I can only imagine the collection will grow. Love Plan toys but hadn’t heard of vilac…I’ll have to check that out! Thanks for all the advice, I know we’re still relative newbies so it’s great to hear what’s work from others.

  6. Adrienne B says:

    I love these posts… they are timed perfectly to help me choose products for my 3 month old son! Question for you and other people: Did you use the diaper bag as a purse or is it better to stash some diaper bag stuff in a regular purse/bag? I have a diaper bag, but it’s kinda bulky and I would prefer to just have one bag I grab every day and then have the other diaper bag as a back-up for leaving with my Mom when she watched him (or to bring on longer outings when I may need more than 3-4 diapers). Any suggestions????

    • Lauren says:

      Hi Adrienne, I would say that most of the time I use my regular purse with an extra diaper and wipes (and sometimes bib and snacks). If I am going somewhere for the day I’ll take just the diaper bag and throw in my keys/wallet/phone. My sister has a tiny purse/clutch for essentials that she can throw in the diaper bag and that works too. Having a stocked diaper bag ready to go is good is you have someone else watching him (we do this with our nanny).

  7. dan says:

    Re: Diaper bag.. We have a simple black skiphop dash shoulder bag that when we are out about that can easily clip onto the back of the stroller holding a lot of gear.. We also have a smaller skip hop bag, i think called the grab and go which hold a few diapers a small travel case of wipes and room for a phone, keys, etc. comes easily off the stroller for when we go to eat and leave the stroller with the restaurant, etc.
    The bags have been tanks, simple black and navy avoiding any kind of ridiculous pattern or color… the kids can wear that stuff. ๐Ÿ™‚

  8. cynthia says:

    Love these posts! So helpful! As for books: here is a list of the ones our baby loves, and I think yours will too. I can *almost* guarantee she will like some of these because they are universally loved by babies. In no particular order: Baby Faces, Quiet Loud, Where Is Baby’s Belly Button, and Peek A Who. There are others, but these are the favorites… BTW, I started reading to our baby at about 3 months old. It’s ok if she manhandles the book — it’s all about discovery.

    • Lauren says:

      Thanks for book recommendations – I don’t think we have any of those (but she *loves* any book with pictures of babies!). We’ve been reading to her for a while now but she just getting to that point where she can sit through a short board book (before her attention span was about 5 seconds!).

      • Adrienne B says:

        We have some of the white and black books for our three month old. Black on White and White on Black. Look, Look and Art for Babies. He loves staring at them. We also have some of the taggies books and other soft books- he kinda turns the pages on them, but maybe they are just teaching him how to chew on books! :-/

  9. cynthia says:

    Also – toys at this age: the dollar store! Lots of fun stuff.

    • cynthia says:

      Modification: don’t get “toys” at the dollar store. Get the stuff babies can explore and that has interesting texture, lids, noisemaking abilities, etc. (and that’s ok for them to put in their mouths, because it’s inevitable).

      • Lauren says:

        Good idea – I have some friends that did that with plastic measuring cups, soft bristle brushes, etc. (One of her favorite “toys” is an empty oatmeal container!)

  10. Sara says:

    You’re right, you don’t need a lot of toys. A good plan for those is to have a few out at a time, and store the rest. You can rotate them through and they’re new! As for books, design in bookshelf space for Avery. And then add some more, and more. You can’t have too many kids’ books.

    • Lauren says:

      Yes! We definitely plan on rotating through the toys to keep things fresh and so she doesn’t get too overwhelmed. We’re actually working on a little book storage project right now…

  11. Daria says:

    Some cloth books are great. You can read them with your baby and most babies like to chew on them and wave them around. I prefer cloth over plastic books because I can also just throw them in a load of wash when they get messed up…

    Some public libraries will also have a toy lending library, good to inquire about that, but I think that is a public library trend which isn’t as popular as it used to be.

    And, tumblebooks is an app that many public libraries have, downloadable ebooks for kids. Your daughter is probably to young for them now but in a few years, it is a nice app to have because it reads along with the child and you can get them in multiple languages. Basically, it is like the book on tape with lots of bells and whistles. I like to check out books in Spanish as a refresher for myself!

  12. jen says:

    i love this list – we just had our first (a girl) in june and we’re not stuff people, so this is helpful when we are making selections for what to bring into our home! everyone kept telling us during pregnancy that we’d soon grow out of our house with the amount of things that come with children. that’s such a preposterous idea to me, babies and children don’t need much!

    • Lauren says:

      Congratulations! I agree, our house continues to work just fine – we’ve just had to get creative or edit some of the other “stuff” that was taking up space. Having a smaller house also forces us to get outside or check out all the cool kid stuff around Seattle.

  13. Peetu says:

    Love your baby related posts. These posts help me plan what to get when my daughter gets to that age (she’s 7 months younger to Avery). Anyways, have you looked at Lucie’s List (http://www.lucieslist.com/). That was a huge help as Megan, the brains behind Lucie’s List, had a curated list of must haves and don’t need items.

    We didn’t get a glider since we had recently moved to a new place that was significantly smaller than our old house & we had a lot of stuff. But we got a husband pillow so that I could use that for the nighttime feedings as well as just when the baby was fussy and didn’t want to sleep in the crib. It was a lifesaver!

    For clothes, I’m a fan of Old Navy. Marshalls also has a baby section (which I never ventured into pre-baby).
    Side note, your Avery & Bailey Instagram posts are such a joy!

    • Lauren says:

      Yes, I love Lucie’s List and should have mentioned it in my post! (I think a reader initially told me about it before Avery was born.) I always check out what she has to say before buying something and I like that she seems to have a pretty realistic approach to the whole thing.

  14. Katie says:

    Good list! Your first few posts on baby gear were really helpful too, we registered for the bouncer/bassinet per your recommendation. We have tried to also limit the amount of gear that we have, our house is a decent size but we have no closets on the first floor so we have to be creative with storage. Our living room has been taken over though, i guess you cant really avoid it.

    I think that the A+A blankets will be my go-to baby gift, I cannot believe how much I use them.

  15. Brandon says:

    We’re well past the baby gear stage of life (8 and 6 y.o. boys), but I will happily pass the link on to one of my favorite coworkers who’s expecting. In the spirit of reciprocity, I have a *super-cheap* tip for parents of squirmy babies who break free of their swaddle: Cut the sleeve off a long-sleeve t-shirt, and slide it over your swaddled baby. It holds everything in place beautifully!

    Thanks again for the inspiring blog posts.

  16. Brooke says:

    Awesome post! I’m about 6 months pregnant and love your blog. Perfect timing as I’m doing the registry thing right now.

  17. Kristin says:

    Hands down, Tea Collection for Avery’s age – more sophisticated than baby-baby stuff, but still soft and sweet. Super soft actually – I love them, and they wash so well. I always ordered their mix and match sets. To me, they are worth the money for the style and the comfort. I just can’t get into the cheaper looking clothes that look like they should be on an older kid, or the overly theme-y clothes from places like Gymboree.

    You can never have too many books, even if you are rotating some from the library. Sandra Boynton books were the first books my kids really sat still for and listened too. I love them all.

    • Lauren says:

      Thanks Kristin, I love the Tea Collection options, I have one dress that I also use as a tunic with leggings and a cardigan which is awesome for Seattle weather. I could see how it will become more of a shirt as she gets older, extending the useable life.

      OMG…Sandra Boynton…I pretty much have Barnyard Dance memorized at this point. It’s her favorite!

  18. Emily says:

    Toys. My favorite toys from childhood were legos (both the monster ones you can give a younger kid and the regular ones), Lincoln Logs, and some simple wood blocks my dad had made for us and sanded down so they were smooth. [Side note: I had barbies too, but I also had two brothers. So I played with a lot of boy toys!] A friend recently got a few quiet books for her son. They are fabric books that have little activities. Maybe a bit too advanced for Avery (her son is 2) but they look really neat. Here’s one on amazon (thanks Google). http://www.amazon.com/Quiet-Book-Fabric-Activity-Children/dp/B00000J3LL/ref=pd_bxgy_t_text_y

    • Lauren says:

      Quiet books…I love it! We have a few soft books but they’re all made from that crinkly material (which babies likes but does get annoying sometimes). Thanks for the link!

  19. Kate says:

    Some additional suggestions:

    I love my Anglecare Bath Support.
    http://www.amazon.com/baby/dp/B008H3PFM0
    It isn’t a baby bath, which can quickly get gross if baby decides to use it as their personal toilet. Instead, it sits in the tub and the soft, perforated material allows water to pass through keeping baby clean and warm. It’s super easy to clean, dries quickly and can even hang up to dry. We just keep ours in the shower and I hardly notice it when I’m in there. Plus, it just looks so much nicer than most baby tubs.

    I should note than per your review of the K-tan carrier, I registered and received one as a gift. I love that it is solid, and soft and easy to put on. However, my baby doesn’t seem to like it as much as the Baby Bjorn. I think he likes his feet and arms free rather than tucked in. Maybe when this heatwave breaks he’ll be happier in the K-tan. I really want to love it as much as you seem to!

    And a final addition: I LOVE LOVE LOVE my Britax B-Agile Travel system stroller and carseat!
    http://www.amazon.com/Britax-B-Agile-B-Safe-Travel-System/dp/B005JCPKVI
    I had a real budget when it came to shopping for these items and I couldn’t be happier with this one. First off, it’s an all-in-one system that should last from birth until my kid is like 60 lbs. It’s light (for a larger stroller) and the carseat just snaps right on, easy peasy. Also, we have two bases, one for each car. I use this ALL the time and i love it.

    Thanks for all the awesome reviews and recommendations! Keep em coming!

    • Lauren says:

      Thanks Kate! Have you tried some of the different positions on the K’tan? Avery didn’t like the one with her feet contained but was pretty happy with her feet out (facing inwards or out). I never really tried to the hip ones – it just seemed too cumbersome once she got bigger even though I know it’s rated for older babies.

      Glad to hear the good review on the Britax – I think that came out right after Avery was born so wasn’t on my radar when I was doing research.

  20. Tarynkay says:

    Our son is now 20 months. He’s just getting to the point where he is actually playing with toys and “reading” books.

    Books- His current favorites are Cordoroy, I Want My Hat Back, All The World, and How Do Dinosaurs Play With Their Friends? Anything with pictures (preferably photos) of babies he loves. There is a great series of board books called Baby Faces.

    We buy very few toys. We have many enthusiastic grandparents sending toys and there are really too many as it is. We rotate things out every couple of weeks, that helps. He also plays with lots of non-toy items. For instance, we will sit on the porch with a bowl of ice cubes and one of water and that is at least thirty minutes of super fun for him. On rainy days, I put him in the bathtub w. that or a bowl of flour and a bowl of water. Basically, if he can make a giant mess, he is happy. I’ve been doing this since he could sit up and he continues to find it thrilling.

    We did buy him a harmonica- this is pretty simple for even a toddler to play, and it gives him great delight. We also bought him a toy piano and a toy guitar. I am pretty immune to annoying noises, though. I highly recommend Duplos. He also has two baby dolls ($3 at Target, the “tiny” ones) that he carries everywhere and loves on all day. His little friends all love those dolls, too- I think there are just the right size for little hands.

    You might want to look at possibly buying some clothes in the boys’ section. The moms of girls I know do this, especially for jeans. Boys’ jeans are looser (more comfortable) and more sturdily made than girls’ jeans, at least at this age.

  21. jamie says:

    I use Carter’s online for buying all the clothing basics (after I stop by the consignment stores). As they get older it is harder to find everything at the consignment stores and the gifts start slowing down. It is also ridiculously hard to shop with a toddler. Carter’s isn’t as cute as some, but the quality is pretty good and the sales are amazing

    • Lauren says:

      Thanks Jamie, I have a lot of Carter’s stuff that I love and seems to be well-made. It does seem to be one of those brands that is of varying quality depending on where you buy it though (most of our stuff has been gifts). Is the online label different from what is sold in big box stores?

  22. Anna Olive says:

    Hi Lauren, I just saw this post so forgive me if I’m repeating others. I think you have a great list. I think I commented in your original “what do I need for baby” post, when you were pregnant, that my top items were the ergo and the tripp trapp. I know what you mean about frumpy but I living in mine. I actually have never used my stroller with baby number two. You must spend time learning to get her on your back. This will open your whole world up. I can get her on my back and be on my way before my six year old is unbuckled and out of the car. Trust me-it gives you your life back. The trick is to not let anyone help you, you need to be able to feel her weight on your back and get used to finding the straps with your hands. If someone helps you it screws you all up. This freaks people out in parking lots and they want to help-sometimes you have to be quite insistent that they are not in fact helping but hindering your ability to safley put it on. Oh, and use the car window as you mirror to make sure she is in the right position. I don’t have a diaper bag, or even a purse these days. Its all in my car and then I just carry a coin purse with my credit cards and license. I use grovia diapers with their grovia wetbag and love the simplicity. Only one toy that I think all children should have (besides nice wooden blocks), Grimm Spiel and Holz Large Stacking Rainbow-an heirloom toy that has unlimited possibilities (especially awesome for an architect baby). A ikea wool fleece is invaluable for the night potty training-throw it over the wet spot in the night and baby can sleep happily till morning without changing the sheets in the middle of the night. I could wax poetic about the properties of wool..but I won’t. Cheers, Anna

    • Lauren says:

      Thanks Anna! I put her on my back once but she was already fussy and it didn’t last long (plus we were outside and trying to keep a floppy hat on her head!). I think I need to try and again and figure out how to do it myself – she still seems young to “help” in that regard so maybe I need to do some research. ๐Ÿ™‚

      We so have one of the smaller stacking rainbows – she was about 8 months when we got in and didn’t quite have the motor skills to now injure herself but I think she may be old enough now to pull it back out. Good tip on the fleece blanket too…potty training, ahh…I know it will be here before too long!!

  23. Wilma says:

    For toys–wooden blocks–I bet you guys could make them yourselves. And…a play kitchen. My boys LOVE the play kitchen (especially taking the sink out and dumping stuff down the hole). I have seen some very cool hacks from old kitchen cupboards.

    As for the bathroom spout protector, we never used one for either of our boys. No bonks yet. And their favourite bathroom toys are clean “yop” containers (those little yogurt drinks) and this Skip Hop octopus type thing–it has rings, which were chewed on and are now largely ignored, but what the boys really love is to dump water in the octopus’ head, which then sprinkles from it’s legs. What I would not suggest are any type of squishy type toy where the water squirts out–like little animals or fish. We had them at different times and even with dilligent water removal post bath time, they always would grow mold, and then I would have to use a water/bleach solution to clean them. It just didn’t seem that safe, kid-wise. I just know my boys would squirt them at eat other, try to drink from them, etc. Ew, wrt both the mold and the bleach.

    And re clothes, well, as a wishful minimalist, I truly want my kids to have fewer clothes. They all get destroyed, anyway, and fewer clothes means less choice and less space used, both of which are good things, in my estimation, haha. And then I can justify nicer stuff. I second the suggestion of boys jeans for girls–you can even get skinny ones now! Same with boots (well, if you even need winter boots in your balmy Seattle climes :))–plain black ones are the best–especially if you’re planning on perhaps having a 2nd baby. I’m going to try out Bogs this winter–supposedly they’re good for fall, winter and spring–they’re some sort of cross between a rain and winter boot, and are good to -30 celcius (or is it fahrenheit? I’m not sure), so for us Canadian prairie dwellers, they’ll hopefully be great).

    Anyway, sorry about the long comment…

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