Okay guys, I have to say, I was a little bit hesitant about introducing lots of baby and parenting related content to this site. But since I’ve been sharing my experiences I’ve gotten such nice feedback from readers, which makes me so happy! I read and read and read until I reached the end of the parenting internet while pregnant and am finding it so fun to start to add my own perspective into the mix now. Today I’m partnering with my friends at buy buy BABY to take on a topic I found so daunting as a first time mom: researching baby gear. It’s so hard to know where exactly to start when researching everything you need for a newborn as a first time mom. I thought I’d share a few tips and tricks I picked up from my first experience with the hopes it helps other new moms out!Talk to Real Moms. I found that the best place to start with my research was always talking to real moms. I basically recruited a mini-panel of two of my close friends and my cousin, who all had kids recently, and would survey them anytime I started research on a new product. I’d get so excited when all three jumped in with the same advice because then I knew exactly what I needed. The Rock N’ Play was a great example; each new mom that I asked about sleeping situations said that this thing was a savior during the first 1-2 weeks at home.

The experiences these moms shared with me also helped surface some needs I don’t think I would have found researching online, like one friend’s advice that we should probably buy a second car seat base for our other car. I also learned about products that didn’t show up on baby registry checklists, things that I literally didn’t know existed until my friends brought them up. A few of those items: a car seat mirror to check on Jane when she’s in the backseat, changing pad liners for our changing pad (these are a game-changer!), and diaper disposal bags to lock up dirty diapers when we’re out and about (they’re also key for tossing in dirty clothes we have to bring home to wash).Test Drive Gear In-Store. I am an online shopper through and through (my mailman and I are in a very serious relationship), but I am so happy I went into the store to try a few key baby products before registering for or buying them. One Saturday a girlfriend and I headed to buybuy BABY to do some recon for my baby registry with a list of items I wanted to check out from my online research. Several of the items on my list ended up being swapped out for new items after experiencing them in person.

Probably the biggest change in my gear list was the stroller and car seat travel system we decided on. I went in with a clear idea of which stroller I wanted, but when I tested it out in the store I found that it was way too tall for my petite height and incredibly heavy. I chatted with one of the helpful store associates who directed me to another model that had an adjustable handle bar so it would be comfortable for a short gal like me to push, but also adjust up for my taller husband. He also pointed out something I wouldn’t have thought of: the larger stroller I was first considering wouldn’t even have fit in my small car. The model we decided on, Chicco’s Bravo Travel System, was the perfect fit for me, my car, and Jane! The same size issue came up with diaper bags; the model I had selected online looked different in-person and just didn’t fit me right when I tried it on. I ended up picking a shorter, wider shaped diaper bag that was much more comfortable to carry (and looks very cute!).

Another item I found in-store was the 4Moms Breeze pack and play. I had a different pack and play model on my list, but in-store my girlfriend and I tested folding up this model (we even watched a video that was playing near the display!) and I was instantly sold experiencing how easy it was to use. It’s one of my favorite baby products we have for Jane now.

A few weeks later Mike and I went back to buybuy BABY to try out one more item: a baby carrier. Since I knew Mike would likely be the one toting Jane around when we used a carrier, I wanted his input on which one he prefered. I found that for my short frame, I liked the Baby K’Tan wrap carrier. Mike, being much taller, preferred the Baby Bjorn carrier after trying on a few brands. After we got lots of giggles from carrying around the “test” babies in them, we ended up registering for both!Read Reviews (and take them with a grain of salt). Online research is understandably a huge part of the process. I probably read 40 reviews for every single item we purchased or added to our registry. Sometimes they’re super helpful, for example, I was searching for a diaper pail that looked good and worked well. After reading reviews of several models I discovered that a lot of diaper pails only work with specialty trash bags. That information helped me narrow in on the Ubbi diaper pail that was aesthetically pleasing for the nursery, and took our own trash bags if necessary. It wasn’t something I’d have thought of without digging into the comments and reviews.

What I will say about reading so many reviews is that you have to take them with a grain of salt. Every baby is different! I also always try to remember that it’s much easier to write a bad review than a good review. Some products will have 600 reviews, 590 are positive, and 10 are rare experiences where something went wrong. As a new mom, those bad reviews can be scary, but using some common sense helps sort through the good and the bad.Consider your space and lifestyle. On our hunt for baby gear, I was constantly thinking about now just which products worked best, but worked best specifically for our family. One thing that was really important to me, was finding pieces that did double-duty and would grow with Jane in order to cut down on clutter and waste. Another thing that was really important was that the products we bought were aesthetically pleasing if they were going to be out in the open in our home. The Baby Bjorn Bouncer was one item that met both of those requirements. It’s got a really clean, classic design, and I loved that the seat would grow and evolve with Jane over time – plus it folds up flat and is easy to tuck away when I want things to look tidy. Another example is the Boppy nursing pillow – there were a ton of options for nursing pillows, but I liked the design of the Boppy covers I could find online, and I appreciated that it also doubled as a spot for us to prop-up Jane now that she’s getting better at sitting with some support.The Final Test. At the end of the day, you can do all of the research in the world, but you just might have to try a few things and test them with your baby. We tried several kinds of swaddling products and the only thing she liked was the Halo Sleepsack because it allowed her arms to be free. The same thing happened with bottles. I did my research, got advice from other moms and everyone raved about the Dr. Brown bottles, but Jane hasn’t taken to them. We tried the Avent brand instead and they work much better for her. The takeaway is: every baby is different! We’re lucky that Jane was on board with almost everything I researched and tested and got advice on, but there are always going to be a few things you just have to test out to see what works!


This post was created in partnership with buybuy BABY. All opinions, ideas, and images are my own. Thank you for supporting brands that support this site!

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