Q: I’m pregnant and everyone is bombarding me with “advice” about what the baby absolutely, positively must have. How do I sift through the world of pink and blue clutter and find products that are good for my baby and my peace of mind?
A: First, congratulations on this exciting new journey. As you’ve already learned, there are several well-intentioned friends and family members providing unsolicited advice from the sidelines.
To help you get started down a greener path, I consulted with two of my esteemed mommy experts: Kate Pak is a stay-at-home mother with two incredible little ones who know their way around an organic grocer. I also consulted with my sister, Nakeya Gore, who just gave birth to her first child in July. With their input, I offer a list of items to buy or borrow, and items you can totally brush off the must-have list:
Buy or borrow
• Crib: “You just want to make sure the crib is made with all wood, not medium-density fiberboard or other pressed boards,” Pak said. “What you are trying to avoid is harmful glues and formaldehyde that are used to make simulated wood products.” Some brands like Oeuf make wood cribs with water-based finish.
• BPA-free bottles: Even if you choose to breastfeed, which would be the greenest and healthiest option for your baby, there are occasions when a bottle comes in handy. Plastic bottles are convenient, but many contain a controversial chemical called bisphenol A (BPA). Exposure to this additive has generated plenty of debate concerning its health risks. The FDA will release a new report on BPA later this year. Avoid all that drama with BPA-free plastic bottles. Avent, a division of Philips, offers several versions. A dual pack of 9-ounce bottles costs less than $20 on Amazon.com, but it’s best to find a few options, Gore said. “Some bottles your baby will not like and others will allow baby to suck too much air causing frequent spit ups.” Brands such as Born Free, Evenflo, Playskool and Thinkbaby also have PBA-free bottles.
• Bassinet: You’ll need this during the first few weeks to avoid frequent runs to the baby’s crib during the night. Since it’s a short-term item, consider borrowing or finding a used version on Craigslist. Pak opted for a Graco Pack 'n Play, which is essentially a portable crib that can be used through the toddler phase.
• Infant car seat: It’s one of the most important items in your baby arsenal. Hospitals will not let the baby leave without one. Since they grow so fast, it is best to borrow the first version or look for ones that come as part of a stroller combo set. You’ll upgrade to a convertible car seat after the baby’s first few months.
• Snap and Go stroller: “This makes your life SO much easier when you take them to grocery stores, doctor's appointments and other errands,” Pak said. “I used a Snap and Go type of stroller for both kids. I never used the bulky strollers for my kids since they are very cumbersome and heavy.” Remember, convenience is key when you have a screaming baby in need of your attention.
• Infant baby tub: They are relatively cheap but Pak borrowed them from friends with both kids.
• Diapers: You’ll need lots, and lots and lots of these. Pak suggests the Pampers premium diaper line, which has versions for every stage of babydom.
• Hypoallergenic laundry detergent: Gore said that your washing machine will get quite a workout when the baby comes. Look for a hypoallergenic detergent for the baby’s clothes, blankets and bibs.
• A sturdy diaper bag: “The diaper bag will now become your second purse, so pick a cute one,” Gore warned. “Also have a friend or relative toss in a couple of books to read to baby.”
What to brush off
• Baby shoes: Until your tyke is actually toddling, there is no need to buy pint-size sneakers, loafers or hiking boots. They will simply wind up on the floor or in baby’s mouth.
• Skincare lines: Save all that baby oil, powder and lotion for a few months down the line. Pediatricians prefer that parents keep it simple with newborns; a gentle soap and water are all it takes.
• Toys, glorious toys: “The first few weeks and months are all about you caring for and getting to know your baby,” Gore said. “What's most important is love — and plenty of patience.”
Sites to bookmark
• U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission: If a stroller gets pulled from store shelves, you’ll find it here first. Do the research on recalled products and safety guidelines before you buy or borrow big-ticket items.
• Seatcheck.org: Make sure your child’s safety seat is installed properly, and get up-to-date on passenger safety laws in your state. Seatcheck.org also lists locations where you can get a free car seat inspection.
• Zrecs.com: This popular Web site serves as a comprehensive guide to chemicals in popular products. “Look for nontoxic bottles/toy lists and lots of other really good and informative topics for baby related stuff,” Pak says. “I go to it every time I want to make a major purchase or have questions.”