All the Baby Gear You Need
I cannot believe how much stuff my kids have, and they aren't even two years old! I knew they would take over my life, but I didn't realize they would take over my purse, my bathroom, my dresser, my craft box, everything! People love it when pacifiers and those little suction things for baby snot fall out of my purse - they think it's cute. I think "oh how I can't wait until they can fall asleep on their own and blow their nose."

Acutally I don't mind the little that collect everywhere. What bothers me is that I buy a big ticket item like a double stroller, and they won't let me take it home and try it for a day. Seriously, I can't tell you how many strollers we've bought, three to be exact, until we found the one that could be opened by one person without a single swear word. They make it look so easy in the store. Then comes the problem of getting it home. We have sworn we will never own a minivan. But how do you fit the stroller you already own, two kids in car seats, two adults and a new stroller, in a Plymouth Neon? You can't. So I've switched to ordering out of catalogs or online.

If you are expecting a baby let me give you a few tips on the products you won't be able to live without. First off is a car seat. I suggest buying one that has a separate base - you leave the base in the car and then the carrier holds the baby - that can be attached to a stroller - so you don't have to wake the baby when moving them to the stroller - and that rocks. Most of the car seats that are available for a newborn are pretty much the same. I do not recommend buying one from a second hand store, you don't know if they have ever been in an accident.

Next you will definitely want a stroller. I do suggest actually going to a store to try them out - but then order them online so you don't have to pay taxes or deal with the headache of getting them home. Things to look for, ease of use is number one. Can you lift it, open and close it without your blood pressure soaring past 300? Also look for seat covers that are removable, we had a Peg Perego that couldn't be washed and it looked absolutely horrible and couldn't be given away or resold. Make sure you think about what you will be using the stroller for and features that you want such as baskets, sun shades, lightweight for travel on planes.

Now let's talk about swings and bouncers. My daughter loved her bouncer. It had a little vibrator in it also that would put her to sleep instantaneously. It was great for when we starting giving her baby food also. My son on the other hand, was a swinger. For the first two months of his life he spent almost every moment in the swing. He wouldn't even sleep in his bassinet. Things to look for in a swing, don't go for the crank kind. You will drive yourself and your child nuts. Yes they are cheap, there's a reason for that. We have a battery powered swing with 3 speed levels. Check out the speed in the store, the highest setting on our swing would send my son into orbit around Earth. If you don't want the expensive of batteries, buy rechargeables, trust me you'll use them in the years to come for all the toys you'll be buying at holidays.

Speaking of toys. I honestly don't know how to choose toys in a toy store. I become a babbling idiot as soon as I walk into one. I have no idea where I'm supposed to start or how to look for toys that are appropriate for my child. And I would never take them with me, that's just a nightmare waiting to happen. I like the toy sites on the Internet that separate toys into age categories and developmental stages. I simply put my child's age in and up come the toys that are right for them. It can't get any easier. I especially like the developmental toys that are designed to teach them some important life altering lesson that will make them Nobel Prize winners! A mother's dream.

My favorite toy my children have is their play yards. These things are great for moms who work at home or moms who just want time to themselves but can't convince their children that it's nap time. They have great activities appropriate for active babies to keep themselves occupied and happy. With an assortment of mirrors different textures and attached toys that are completely safe, you can be assured your baby is being entertained.

Lastly I would like to mention the hi-chair. My grandmother found a great chair for my daughter before she was born. It can be used as a high chair, then a booster seat, than a chair and table. It has grown with her! She absolutely loves the thing too, she knows right where to go at meal time. Things I look for in a hi-chair are stability, it must have a lap belt that goes between the legs and a tray in front of the baby. Also make sure it is easy to clean, you don't want food getting stuck in a lot of crevices. Just remember, someday they will be all grown and you can have your house back to yourself, and then you'll long for these days!

by Misty Weaver-Ostinato