Sunday, November 3, 2013

Top 10 Big-Ticket Baby Items

Shopping for nursery furniture and decorations after your baby has already entered the world isn't what I had imagined doing, but it's exactly what happened to me.

As mentioned in a previous blog post, I was admitted to the hospital for reverse end-diastolic flow at 25 weeks. I had barely purchased any maternity clothing -- let alone nursery furniture or key essentials, such as a car seat or stroller. 
I ended up becoming a long-term hospital patient until I required a c-section at 28 weeks. Four days after delivery, I was sent home without my baby. She had to remain in the hospital's Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) for 67 days.

My husband, mom, and I went nursery shopping the weekend after I was discharged from the hospital.  I was still in some pain from surgery -- and was wearing an exposed support band around my belly. I honestly felt like my stomach was going to separate from the rest of my body.  

We only shopped for a few hours, as we wanted to spend the bulk of the day in the NICU. So, while some of our shopping was done in-person, a majority of it was done online. It took months for us to get everything pulled together -- and we're still working on it.

I found Great Beginnings to be the best store for high-quality nursery furniture. The furniture is not cheap, but the quality is far superior to the items found in traditional chain baby stores. I also found great nursery items at Pottery Barn Kids, and online at Etsy and Amazon (which has a great program for moms and valuable shipping offers through its Prime membership plan).

Below is a list of my 10 favorite big-ticket baby items. I purchased all of these items on my own and the opinions I have expressed are my own. 

My Favorite Big-Ticket Baby Items
1.  Romina's Cleopatra Convertible Crib, Dresser, and Night Stand

Romina's Cleopatra convertible crib, dresser, and night stand are fit for a princess. The furniture pieces are elegant, sturdy, and functional. 

Romina clearly pays close attention to detail. The furniture is solid wood -- and does not jiggle when you paw at it, as do many other furniture sets that I examined.

Romina did not skimp on the details. The crib railings are graceful, and yet, stylish in appearance. I simply adore the light ivory-like paint color, Bianca Satinato, which is one of Romina's many offerings. In addition, I love the company's wide selection of beautiful drawer handles and knobs, which allow for even further customization. The dresser drawers are self-closing -- to boot!  I'm sure that this unique feature will prevent finger pinching and slamming sounds when clothes are being put away. 

Although Romina's furniture may be larger and more expensive than other nursery selections that are available, we viewed the purchase as a long-term investment.  The crib grows with your baby.  It converts to a toddler bed and ultimately into a full-size bed. We hope that our Romina furniture set will be with our baby until college -- and maybe even beyond.

2.  BOB Revolution SE Single Stroller and Accessories

The BOB Revolution SE Single Stroller is one of the best investments we have made. It is a three-wheel stroller that is easy to navigate in any terrain. We have taken it just about everywhere -- to the beach, the city, hiking trails, local farms, around the neighborhood, and to the grocery store. 
Overall, we prefer the Bob Revolution to our four-wheel stroller.

Although the BOB Revolution looks large, it is pretty compact. The seating area folds down and the wheels can be removed, for packing purposes. In addition, the BOB Revolution can accommodate babies and children of various sizes.  We bought an adapter that allows our car seat to lock into the BOB Revolution.
It should be noted that while the BOB Revolution is a functional in all terrains, it is a bare bones product. All add-on items are purchased separately. At this point, we have found that the Bob Handlebar Console for Single Strollers is a must-have accessory for parents. The console includes compartments that can carry two water bottles, as well as a zippered storage compartment that is large enough for keys, a cell phone, camera, and maybe even a small wallet. 

We also purchased the Bob Single Snack Tray and the Bob Weather Shield. At this point, we haven't used either of these products. The snack tray currently sits too high for our tiny preemie, causing her view to be obstructed. Accordingly, the snack tray will be a valuable accessory that she will grow into. In addition, we are waiting for the temperature to become chilly enough for us to test-out the Weather Shield.

3.  Graco Pack 'n Play (Elements Playard and Travel Lite Crib)

Romina's Cleopatra convertible crib, dresser, and nightstand are furniture pieces that have to be ordered -- and take time for delivery. Our set arrived a few weeks after our preemie came home from the NICU. In the interim, our baby slept in the Graco Pack 'n Play Element Playard.

By way of background, we live in a two-story home. So, my husband would lug the Graco Pack 'n Play Element Playard downstairs for use during the day, and then drag it upstairs for use in our bedroom at night. After a few days, he got tired of hauling the Graco Pack N' Play Element Playard all over the house, so we bought the Graco Travel Lite crib for added convenience. Having two Pack 'n Plays has made a world of difference.

The Graco Pack 'N Play Element Playard stays downstairs in our living room. It provides our baby with a resting place for day-time naps, and also offers a really convenient changing table. 

The Graco Travel Lite Crib with Stages lives upstairs, in our bedroom. We bought the Jacqueline pattern, which is both feminine and elegant. 

The Travel Lite Crib functions like a large bassinet on wheels. In fact. it is really convenient for me to wheel the Travel Lite crib into the bathroom when I want to take a shower, or put on make-up. In addition, the Travel Lite Crib is convenient to take on the road. We brought it with us on our recent beach vacation.

4.  Chicco Keyfit 30 Infant Car Seat and Base

The Chicco Keyfit 30 Infant Car Seat has the lowest minimum weight recommendation that we were able to find. The minimum weight recommendation for this particular car seat is four pounds. 

Since our preemie was sent home from the NICU at three pounds 10 ounces, the Chicco Keyfit 30 was our best car seat option.

Since our preemie did not meet the minimum weight recommendation, the NICU staff was able to roll hospital towels in and around our preemie's shoulders and head so that she fit snuggly and securely into the car seat for the car ride home. We kept the towels in the car seat for months to ensure that our preemie fit well in the car seat and was provided with ample protection.

We have also found the car seat base to be really easy-to-use. The car seat snaps securely into the base.  A clicking noise occurs when the seat is in the proper position -- which provides me with some assurance that our preemie is safe and secure.

5.  Fisher Price Newborn Rock n' Play Sleeper

The Fisher Price Newborn Rock n' Play Sleeper was recommended to us by a NICU nurse -- and we are very pleased that we purchased it. The sleeper allows our preemie's head to be elevated, which helps reduce reflux. It also folds easily and can be moved around a two-story house with little effort.
6.  Prints by Just Bunch Designs

Finding wall decorations for a nursery is difficult. I searched all of the major chain baby stores and didn't find anything that really spoke to me. So, I turned to the internet. I ended up on the Etsy website -- and found some incredibly beautiful prints made by Just Bunch Designs.

Just Bunch Designs offers amazing prints that any little one would love. I found that many of the company's prints are sophisticated, unique, and girly. Just Bunch Design also has a wide selection of prints that are appropriate for boys.

I couldn't resist -- and bought a set of nine adorable prints.  Six of the prints are pastel pictures of pretty dresses for little girls. The other three prints consist of accessories -- a lavender necklace, red shoes, and an adorable turquoise purse.  I was able to arrange the prints in a unique manner on the wall above our Romina dresser.

The seller was very responsive and detail-oriented. She even customized the border color of each print to match my nursery curtains.

I purchased black frames from Michaels for each of the prints. The frames really help each picture pop.
7.  Pottery Barn Kids Pink Gingham Curtains and Embroidered Sheers

We didn't have time to paint our blue-green spare room -- which was to become a nursery -- before our baby came home from the NICU. The wall color almost appeared to be suitable for a little boy, which bothered me since we have a little girl.

In order to break up the wall color and make the room look a little more feminine, I bought the Pottery Barn Kids Pink Gingham Curtains, coupled with Pottery Barn Kids Sheers that feature various-colored gingham flowers. The Pink Gingham Curtains are charming -- and the room darkening backing really works. The flowers on the sheers, also help blend all of the colors in the nursery together.

8.  Pottery Barn Kids Adrianna Rug

The Pottery Barn Kids Adrianna Rug is a well-made wool carpet that is sophisticated, and yet appropriate for a baby, toddler, or even a tween. The rug is detailed with various-colored butterflies and birds and has also helped blend our blue-green wall paint with the Romina furniture and other accessories to make for a very elegant nursery,
9.  Pottery Barn Kids Dollhouse Bookcase

The Pottery Barn Kids Dollhouse Bookcase is simply adorable -- and can serve multiple purposes. It can be a bookshelf, toy storage unit, or dollhouse. We are currently using it for books and stuffed animals.

10.  Graco Blossom High Chair

We recently purchased the Graco Blossom High Chair for our preemie who is just beginning to explore solids as a snack once or twice a day. We found that our that our baby loves sitting up high and being a part of the dinner conversation. 

Overall, we found the Graco Blossom high chair to be one of the most aesthetically pleasing high chairs around.  The Graco Blossom comes in various patterns. We chose the Winslet pattern, which most closely matches our living room and dining room furniture.

We are still exploring all of the different aspects of the Graco Blossom High Chair. We are pleased that the chair reclines at various degrees. This is helpful when we want to switch back-and-forth between solids and formula in one feeding. 

We found that the padded backing (i.e., the patterned/colored portion) of the chair does not always stay in place or fit snuggly around our preemie. We are currently exploring ways to keep the backing in its proper position, and may eventually add Velcro components to the high chair.

We have also found that it can be difficult to strap-in and remove our preemie from the high chair. The restraint system consist of two straps that go over the baby's shoulders.  These straps snap into two straps that are on each side of the baby.  Once connected, these straps snap into a center strap that can be found in-between your baby's legs.  Although buckling in our preemie can be a cumbersome process, it is nice to know that she is securely strapped into the high chair.
Shopping Tips

You may think that I have a Rolls Royce taste (which I probably do), but I currently do not have an income. So, I am very budget conscious. Some of the above-listed items were purchased on sale or with coupons. For example, we purchased the Chicco Keyfit 30 Infant Car Seat and Base through Amazon Mom when there was a 20 percent discount offer.

Other above-listed baby items were purchased used from sellers on eBay and craigslist. These websites were alien to my husband until I came along. In general, I have had good luck as both a buyer and a seller on these sites. For example, I purchased a used Pottery Barn Kids Dollhouse Bookcase from a local seller on eBay. The bookcase was in really good shape -- it only had minor nicks and scratches -- and even came with a special lighting accessory, made by Ikea, that the seller added-on.  With the flick of a switch, the bookcase lights up to the color of your choice. Although the bookcase is really large, we were able to disassemble it to fit into the car. It was really simple to put back together once we got home. The bookcase provides ample storage for books and toys -- and was more than half the price of a new one.



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