The “Been There, Done That Mama Questionnaire” was born of an unsettling, late-second trimester realization: we knew the specs of every stroller on the market but had no clue which brand of diapers to buy. Huggies or Luvs? Seventh Gen or GDiapers? We hadn’t the foggiest!
This, of course, was completely ridiculous if you consider a baby’s actual day-to-day needs: Bugaboos and Baby Bjorns are lovely to have, but you’re *screwed* if you don’t have reliable diapers. Frantic (and frankly, running out of time), we asked the people we trusted the most: our friends. It seems obvious, really, to ask veteran parent friends to recommend nursing pads or diaper cream, but how often do these come up at a dinner party? (And do you REALLY want to discuss Butt Paste over boef bourgignon?!)
So we submitted an informal questionnaire to our most trusted “been there, done that” parent friends and were overwhelmed by the generous response. These (along with our own input as a been there, done that mama ourself) are their expert recommendations:
Favorite Diapers? Pampers Swaddlers Sensitive. These diapers may be a touch more costly, but they do a superb job of holding in messy newborn business and have an idiot-proof wetness indicator line. As for reusable options, call us an Earth-ruining jerk but cloth diapering seems gross and time-consuming. (Two things new parenthood has quite enough of already, thankyouverymuch.)
Favorite Wipes? Nice ‘N Clean Baby Wipes. We’d read somewhere during our pregnancy that wipes are too harsh on newborn skin and only water-soaked gauze should be used. We later learned (having already stockpiled sterile gauze) that this was totally insane. Nice ‘N Clean wipes are hypoallergenic, unscented and used by hospitals everywhere, which is pretty much all we needed to hear. To note, Pampers Sensitive Wipes came in a very close second amongst our veteran parent friends!
Wipes warmers: essential or overkill? Overkill. We think getting your little darling accustomed to heated wipes is asking for trouble, but we may have felt differently had we lived in a chilly climate or delivered during the winter.
Favorite Bottles? Dr. Brown’s. Which bottle you use depends entirely on your baby, and frankly, some of them are picky little jerks. There are standard or wide neck bottles, latex or rubber nipples, conventional or breast-like shapes, but the overall most-popular choice amongst our parent friends is Dr. Brown’s. With six separate parts per individual bottle, they are a total hassle to clean and assemble but are universally beloved notwithstanding because they are so gentle on baby’s tummy. An added bonus: the tiny Dr. Brown’s cleaning brushes are *brilliant* for cleaning engagement rings!
Bottle warmers and sterilizers: a must or a waste? This is a very divided camp depending on how hard-core you are about germs and bottle temp (and how much, if at all, you plan to bottle feed). The consensus? Skip the sterilizer (most new dishwashers have a “sterilize” option), and purchase a bottle warmer if you anticipate doing a fair amount of bottle feeding.
Favorite Pacifiers? WubbaNub. Like bottles, pacifiers are a matter of preference. (And some babies, like the Little Lady, never take to pacifiers at all.) Many of our parent friends swear by the WubbaNub, a Soothie-style pacifier (the kind preferred by hospital nurseries) attached to what is essentially an off-brand Beanie Baby. The weight of the toy (and eventually, your child’s grip) helps the paci stay put and the silence continue. Ahhhh…
Favorite bouncer/swing/activity chair? Test drive before you buy. Have we mentioned yet that babies can be particular? While most of our parent friends opt for the Fisher Price My Little Lamb Swing, Baby Bjorn Babysitter Balance (pictured above is the Little Lady kicking it in hers) or a Fisher Price combination bouncer/vibrating seat, we recommend trying before you buy so failed experiments don’t start cluttering up your family room and your AmEx statement.
Favorite Nursing Pads? Lansinoh Disposable. We went through crates of these things and were always sorry (and mortified) when we’d forgotten them. Yes, washable nursing pads are a greener option, but like we said above, we’re all about convenience these days. (We’ve also heard that mastitis pops up more often due to the low-tech absorbency of washables. No, thank you!)
Swaddling: special baby straightjacket or regular old receiving blanket? Bring on the Velcro! You can absolutely manage with basic receiving blankets, but the MiracleBlanket is a fool-proof (and exhausted new parent-proof) way to soothe your little darling to sleep. (A helpful tip from one clever friend: pack one in your hospital bag!)
If the thought of strapping down your sweet baby makes you cringe, aden + anais swaddle blankets (we’re partial to the bamboo variety because of their softness and slight stretch) are the undisputed favorite blanket amongst our veteran parent friends. (We are also OBSESSED with aden + anais burpy bibs for their absorbency, performance after zillions of washings, and ability to convert into bibs with a single snap. You literally CANNOT own enough of them.)
Favorite infant bathtub? Small and out-of-sight is the name of the game — who wants a giant ducky tub cluttering up their elegant bathroom? Puj and inflatable tubs were popular recommendations from our veteran parent friends, but that was before the awesome-looking collapsible Boon “Naked” tub debuted. (And if your shower or tub has a hand shower, consider going entirely tub-free. There is something to be said for hosing off a dirty baby rather than letting them stew in icky bathwater.)
Favorite Nursing Balm? MotherLove Nipple Cream. The name makes us cringe a bit, but as we’ve told you before, this stuff WORKS. (And since some inevitably ends up in your baby’s mouth, we like that its primary ingredient is olive oil.) We kept jars in our diaper bag, nightstand, medicine cabinet, *everywhere*. (And as our dear friend, Erika, recently shared, the leftovers make for a fabulous under-eye balm. Really.)
Favorite Diaper Bag? What you tote your child’s essentials around in really is a matter of taste (P&V favors classic, sturdy L.L. Bean Boat & Totes), but the essential everyone can agree on is the SkipHop Pronto!, which turns any old bag into a diaper bag, well, pronto. It’s a must-have for dads who bristle at carrying a purse-like diaper bag and for anyone who (like us) is totally skeeved out by public restroom changing tables.