When we first went to "build our registry", I couldn't have been more excited! But, as soon as we had the "gun" in our hands and were left to wander the store and scan away, I felt like I was in a little over my head! There were just SO many options, and SO many gadgets and toys and products that I had no idea if we needed or not.
The odds were also stacked against us in that we didn't know the gender of our baby, and we also didn't even know what country he or she would be born in (We at least had it narrowed down to the US or Japan though!) and had to think about how we would get things back to Japan after we bought/received them.
I also found it hard to not only think about immediate things we'd use for baby, but also items for when the baby was a little older too.
But, we did our best for the sake of the wonderful women of our home church who were throwing us a shower and scanned away! (Making several additions and taking things off via the website throughout the pregnancy!)
I thought it'd be a fun idea for me to make a list of all the things I actually found really useful, and based on what Joshua's liked, also include some ideas for toys for as baby grows too! I'm sure I'll forget things, but this idea has been swirling around in my mind for a while now! Of course this is not an exclusive, all-inclusive list, but I was thinking this would be a helpful guide for expecting moms who are building a registry, and also helpful for those wanting to buy baby gifts for friends of family!
First of all, I think pretty much since the day we brought Joshua home up to this day, we have been using a white noise machine. Our favorite is the ocean waves sound and Joshua falls asleep to that all the time. We've taken it with us anytime we're away from home overnight and it really makes a difference in how he sleeps. We were actually given this as a gift, and hadn't put one on our registry, but boy am I ever thankful for the sweet woman who bought us the one we have! It also includes a wall/ceiling projection option with a few sets of different slides (under the sea, animals, planets, etc) which is a neat feature, but we've rarely used it. (Unfortunately I don't know the name or brand of the one we got, and Joshua's currently sleeping so I'm not going to go look...there's oodles of them on the market though, so finding one shouldn't be a problem.)
I knew from before Joshua was born that I wanted to "be a swaddler" and my sister introduced me to these wonderful swaddling blankets made of Muslin. It's a soft, light and airy fabric...very breathable, and great for non-winter babies as you get the comfort of a blanket minus the heat! We used them for swaddling some (before Joshua showed us his Houdini escape artist skills) and also used them for the car seat and I always had one in the diaper bag outings too. One of Joshua's favorite games over the last few months has been peek-a-boo with these blankets and we have gotten some of our best laughs from him by draping them over his head waiting for him to pull them off!
Bobby's mom also gave us these "ready to go" velcro swaddlers and I highly recommend them too! They have a really strong velcro and are a lot simpler than swaddling with a blanket. Joshua stayed swaddled in these ones a lot better than ones we wrapped ourselves. We called them his "pocket" and it makes me smile remembering Bobby making a silly song up about "pocket time" being sleepy time for Joshua :)
It's fairly common knowledge these days that babies aren't supposed to sleep with blankets so I was grateful for yet another introduction from my sister to Sleep Sacks. These are great for adding extra warmth for baby without using a blanket (or dressing baby in lots of layers). The zipper is upside down to prevent "escapes". We use a fleece one for Joshua now in the winter, but I also see now they make Muslin ones which would be great for spring and fall!
And speaking of sleep...we found these amazing Scripture Lullaby albums on iTunes and we ourselves have been falling asleep to them every night since just a few months into my pregnancy. Joshua doesn't go to sleep to them all the time, but occasionally if he's having trouble going down for a nap if we play this music for him he almost always immediately calms down and goes to sleep. I love that they are taken from Scripture and God has used them to encourage and touch my heart through them countless times over the last year. In searching for the link to the album, I just discovered there's now a volume 3!!
One of the things I really wanted to have was a glider. They are super hard to find here in Japan, (you can get them, but they are ridiculously over-priced) and I really didn't think I was going to get one, but God cares so much about the little desires of our hearts and He provided one for us for a very reasonable price via a connection to the military base nearby us. I strongly recommend getting one of these (or some kind of very comfortable chair for your nursery) because you will spend countless hours in it with your little bundle of joy!!
|(this is the glider we bought, but this is a pic of it in the original owner's nursery)|
Since space is limited for us, we really didn't want to get a high chair. My sister and several other friends recommended this type of booster seat that sits on a regular dining chair. They have the feature of being easy to carry with you and they also adjust according to age (starting with infants, and can be used as a booster seat for toddlers too!). We were able to find this one on sale here in Japan! It even came with a toy attachment on top of the tray which we've found really helpful...Joshua was able to join us at the table before he started eating, and stayed busy while we ate! I really like the one we have, but again, there's oodles of them on the market and I'm sure all of them are just as great.
We were also given one of these "clip on baby chairs" that we keep in the trunk to use while we're eating out or when we have a meal at church. Most restaurants here don't really have baby friendly seats so this has come in handy a few times. Joshua loves being part of the group and feeling like a "big boy" sitting at the table with everyone. It comes with a tray that we sometimes use if he's eating and sometimes just to help keep his toys from falling in the floor (although they still do!) ;) Truthfully I probably wouldn't have gotten one of these as I prefer the booster seat type, but it was given to us as a gift and it really is convenient!
I knew long before I got pregnant that I wanted to be a "baby-wearer" so I knew I needed to invest in a good carrier. I found a company called Boba that I've heard nothing but good things about and I'm really glad I went with them. I have used my baby carrier so much! I often use it to get Joshua to fall asleep during church (although recently he hasn't been doing that!) and it's been great for shopping! I sometimes wish that it could be used forward facing, but I have read a lot about forward facing carriers being not so good for babies so overall I'm satisfied with my choice to go with Boba. After Joshua was born, we were with some friends who have a baby that's a little older than Joshua and the mom was putting the baby in her carrier and I couldn't help but note that she needed help to get her in. I felt proud that with my Boba, I could get Joshua in and out without help! Not that I'm bashing other brands, because I think they all have their own merits, but I was just really thankful that I could get him in and out on my own because I knew Bobby wasn't always going to be with me when I used it.
Yes, it's expensive, but yes, it's totally worth it!! Boba has great customer service and I highly recommend them! :) actually as I was working on this post, the blogger that I first heard about Boba from wrote a great post about what to know about selecting a baby carrier...you can find it here
Next is a play mat! I wanted one of these pretty bad, because I knew how useful they are for having a place to put baby down, and keep them entertained and stimulated before they can sit up. Unfortunately they're not the easiest thing to fit in a suitcase (although I'm sure we could have found one that would have if we tried hard enough) and they're just plain expensive here in Japan! However, we ended up getting a Toys R Us gift card from a friend and were delighted to find out play mats were "on sale" the day we went shopping! I also wanted to find one that could be used for as long as possible (had a sitting up option) and I think we found the perfect one! This is the one we chose and I highly recommend it!! He's almost 9 months old now and he still regularly plays with it, both on his back and sitting up (he never really cared for the "tummy time" setting because he hates playing on his belly).
Now for the toys...I have to confess it's a little embarrassing to write this part as it makes me realize how many toys Joshua has! A lot of them were gifts though, and the ones I'm including in this list, he plays with all the time and loves them so I thought it'd be helpful for those looking for a good gift!
As a side note, I caution anyone who's buying a gift for a baby to stick to what's on a registry, or even ask the parents if it'd be ok to get the baby a toy. Some parents really don't like clutter and it might be better to stay away from toys! I highly recommend books as a gift idea...I feel like you can never have too many kids books, but that's just my opinion! Maybe next I'll make a list of our favorite kids books :)
While shopping for Christmas gifts this year, I came across these stacking cups and even though they are marked as geared for age 1 and up, Joshua's playing with them now and absolutely loves them! He of course can't really do much with them by himself yet, but he claps them together and also holds them in his hands and sometimes "drinks" from them like bowls! He loves crashing our towers too! I love how many different ways they can be played with...they can teach colors and counting, and you can also play "hide and seek" games with the Anpan man toy that comes with it. Again, there's probably a lot of variety in stacking cups out there, but these are the ones we found here in Japan.
Along the same note, we were given a few hand me down toys from some missionaries we know in Hiroshima and these amazing balls were in the pile! I think I actually enjoy these more than Joshua!! I think the design of them is genius! They are nesting balls, and they can be put together in more than one way (not sure how to explain that). Bobby also recently discovered that the halves can be stacked too to make a tower! (Funny thing is when I googled them, the first image that comes up on their Fisher Price website is them stacked up like that but we have had them for a few months now and only just the other day discovered this feature!) We are missing the smiley face ball and the number 8 half, but we still get plenty of play time out of these!
Joshua absolutely loves balls, of any kind, so with some Christmas money from Uncle Randy, we got him one of these "O-balls". They are on the expensive side, so we probably wouldn't have gotten one if it wasn't a gift. He loves being able to hold on to it and chew it and it's just a fun ball!
And speaking of chewing...this list wouldn't be complete if Sophie wasn't on it!! I'll start off with the disclaimer that I think this toy is ridiculously over priced and just like the O-ball, if we hadn't of been given it as a gift, we probably wouldn't have one! (So I say Mama, go ahead and put that Sophie on your registry...people love to spoil pregnant women and when buying for someone else, it seems like people don't mind spending a ridiculous amount of money on something for a new baby!) And for even more honesty, I had my doubts that Sophie was all she was cracked up to be! Little did I know, she'd prove herself worth every penny in our home! Joshua adores his Sophie! When I first introduced her to him I think around 2 or 3 months, he didn't really take to her, but when I re-introduced her when he was a little older (4 months??) he couldn't get enough of her!! He would chew on her and be chattering away as happy as a lark! It was really fun to see him interact so well with a toy!
When we went home in the fall to introduce Joshua to our families Bobby's amazing sister in law threw a party/shower for Joshua and someone gave him a Taggies stuffed puppy. I had never heard of them before, but basically it's a line of toys with extra tags on the, because babies love tags for some reason! (My Mom caught onto this before though and made Joshua a square of soft fabric with ribbon tags on it...but maybe the person who taught her how to make them had seen these before??) It's such a neat idea and Joshua seems to adore "Spot" and all his tags! ;)
These links were a "filler" addition to our registry...I saw them and thought, "oh! Every baby has links right?! These ones look good!" and zapped them with the zapper! So someone purchased them for us and I seriously couldn't be happier! We've had them hanging from his car seat since he was about a month old. I was pretty amazed at how well he could "play" with them so early on. This particular brand has such fun colors and great textures and I like them more than any other kind of links I've seen. Joshua still plays with them now at almost 9 months! We can get them here in Japan and they are a "go-to" part of baby gifts we give now!
Speaking of "go-to" baby gifts, a couple that we know who just had their third baby shared this gem with us, explaining it's part of their go-to baby gifts now! It's a Baby Einstein radio that plays a few classical songs and has a few lights on it. It has seriously been a life saver in the car (and airplane!) countless times! Joshua would be freaking out for whatever reason and as soon as we'd push the button, he'd stop! With the excessive amount of time we spend in the car, it's a precious gift that we treasure!! In fact, last week when I was in the hospital, it also worked wonders for Bobby trying to keep Joshua content! :)
Another side note... as much as Joshua loves these toys, I have to point out that he has several simple "toys" (aka things around the house like a silicone funnel from the dollar store) that he loves just as much as these wonderful products. I am by no means saying these toys are essential for a baby's happiness, just wanting to highlight a few great products out there!
That's about all I can think of at the moment.. I'm sure after I post this I'll think of more, but for now this is it! Hope it's helpful :)
That's about all I can think of at the moment.. I'm sure after I post this I'll think of more, but for now this is it! Hope it's helpful :)