The Bay Area Parent’s Shopping Guide for Your Baby’s First Six Weeks

In July, I happily became a first-time parent. I quickly had to learn what to buy (and why) to keep myself, mommy, and baby in good spirits. Thus, I’d like to share my insights with other first time parents, coming from the perspective of someone who lives in the Bay Area (think: more moderate weather, mainly using a car, more fortunate in terms of financial means).

Everything below is something our family has actually purchased and used, referred from family friends, Amazon.com reviews, or Wirecutter. I’m focusing just on the stuff we used for our baby’s first six weeks.

img_20180905_232258

Mom’s Recovery

Yunga Tart Seatz Bath

Sitz Bath Soak 32oz (2-Lbs) Epsom Salt With Niaouli, Geranium, Lavender, Frankincense, Juniper Essential Oils & Vitamin C Crystals – Natural Hemorrhoid Relief, Fissures, Postpartum

If you wife has a natural birth, you absolutely need to get the two items above to help with physical recovery. One of the things I learned is that the delivery uses the same muscles as going #2 (poopie). So think of the mother having the biggest poopie of her life (6-8 pounds!), and pushing for hours at a time. That’s not normal – think of the muscle soreness she will face. My wife cried from the pain post-birth until we bought these.

Feeding

Spectra Baby S1 Breast Pump

This was definitely one of the high ticket items we wondered about spending on because the hospital gave us an electric pump. Once we got the Spectra, we realized rechargeable battery = portable = going places with infant for more than a few hours will actually be pleasant.

Simple Wishes Signature Hands Free Breastpump Bra, Black, XS-Large

Lets the mother breast pump with her hands free – she can now use a phone, eat, etc. My wife didn’t think she needed it at first, but I doubt I could take this away from her now without causing big problems.

Haakaa Silicone Breastfeeding Manual Breast Pump Milk Pump 100% Food Grade Silicone BPA PVC and Phthalate Free

As the mother breastfeeds on one side, use this manual pump to collect milk from the other side – often, the other side may start leaking milk on its own. Don’t waste liquid gold!

Medela Breast Milk Cooler Set

Medela Breast Milk Storage Solution Set

Philips Avent Natural Baby Bottle Blue Gift Set, SCD206/12

There are lots of brands like Philips, Medela, Dr. Browns, etc., for baby bottles They all want you in their ecosystem, thus pick one brand and assume you’ll stay with it across all your bottle-related items. These brands are mostly incompatible with each other, a huge pain in the butt, and something I understood too late. If you buy the items I list here, you’ll be fine but I’d buy from one brand if I did it over.

Boppy Nursing Pillow and Positioner, Notebook Black/Gold

Boon Lawn Countertop Drying Rack Green

Really useful and aesthetically pleasing drying rack that we use exclusively for baby stuff.

General Health Around the Baby

Mountain Falls Advanced Hand Sanitizer with Vitamin E and Aloe, Pump Bottle, Compare to Purell, 67.59 Fluid Ounce (Pack of 2)

Clean your hands, without sacrificing softness!

Angelcare Baby Bath Support, Aqua

Small babies are not exactly easy to handle normally, let alone when wet. This helps when it’s bath time.

Johnson’s Head-To-Toe Extra Moisturizing Baby Wash

Johnson’s Baby Powder

Desitin Baby Diaper Rash Maximum Strength Original Paste

Use this on your baby’s butt during diaper changes to prevent diaper rash. Also useful for the neck folds area.

Almond Oil

Use as an occasional lotion for your baby and to prevent stretch marks for the mother.

Babyganics Wipes

We currently use these and like them over the Huggies ones as they are less wet. \

Baby Nasal Aspirator NoseFrida the Snotsucker by Fridababy

Babies get boogers and someone (me) has to clean them.

Safety 1st Steady Grip Infant Clipper, Colors May Vary

Babies are well known for their razor-like claws (fingernails)

Summer Infant Contoured Changing Pad

We don’t have a dedicated changing table (we are in a small apartment and space is a premium), so we place this on the floor or sofa (I prefer floor). We also bought a cover for the pad, but our son kept peeing all over it and we quickly realized the cover didn’t add any benefits other than aesthetics. The cover is hard to wash, but you can easily rinse or wipe down this changing pad.

Transportation

Chicco KeyFit 30 Infant Car Seat

You can’t leave the hospital without a car seat, these aren’t the days of beige Opals, optional seat-belts, and holding a baby in your arms in the car. This seat is well regarded and scored fantastically on crash tests.

Baby Jogger 2016 City Mini 3W Single Stroller

When I put this together, I realized, “this is what quality and attention to detail look like”.

Baby Jogger Car Seat Adapter Single for Chicco and Peg-Perego – 1967207

BEST STROLLER ORGANIZER for Smart Moms

Helps you carry more stuff on the stroller. YOU WILL HAVE MORE STUFF.

Ethan & Emma Stroller Hook, Carabiner Shape

This came free with the stroller organizer – check for an offer on the Amazon page for a code to get the hook.

Summer Infant Snuzzler Infant Support for Car Seats and Strollers, Ivory

Necessary for your infant’s first couple of months when he’s inside the Baby Jogger stroller. The Chicco KeyFit has its own infant support included.

Baby Bjorn Baby Carrier Original – Dark Blue, Cotton

See all the parents who walk with their babies with a kangroo pouch-like thing on them? This is it.

i play. Baby Brim Sun Protection Hat, Gray, 0-6 months

Sleep

Fisher-Price Deluxe Rock ‘n Play Sleeper, Moonlight Meadow

When we mentioned we bought the Rock ‘n Play to our doctor, she said “Babies LOVE the Rock ‘n Play.” So true. More sleep for the baby means more sleep for you.

LectroFan High Fidelity White Noise Machine with 20 Unique Non-Looping Fan and White Noise Sounds and Sleep Timer, Global Power Edition

I use this white noise machine for myself right now but I hear it can be helpful for babies too, in terms of drowning out random noise to help him sleep. Oddly, our baby sleeps through anything right now – I can vacuum a few feet away from him. When he becomes more sensitive, we’ll have to put this next to him.

SwaddleMe By Your Side Sleeper

If you want your infant to sleep in bed with you, this keeps him protected.

Covidien 2022A Curity Maternity Pad, 4-3/10″ x 12-1/4″ Size (Pack of 14)

GORILLA GRIP Original Slip-Resistant Mattress Pad Protector (52″ x 34″), Bed Wetting & Incontinence Cover Absorbs up to 8 Cups, Waterproof, Leak Proof Edge, Pads Machine Washable, Toddler

These two items are for the mother – after pregnancy, she may leak fluids for some time, and these prevent problems from leaks.

HALO SleepSack Micro-Fleece Swaddle, Baby Blue, Newborn

Swaddling is highly recommended by well, everyone, for the early months. Our son will wildly swing his arms while lying down, so I think swaddling helps calm him down.

Thinking about the SleepSack makes me want to sleep myself.

Other Notes

We haven’t purchased a baby humidifier, baby monitor, or bottle warmer. I still don’t feel the monitor is necessary because we live in a small one bedroom (typical Bay Area!). Bottle warmer reviews said warmers are not much (if at all) better than just warming up bottles in a pot. We use a tea kettle to quickly heat up water and then put the bottle with that hot water in a mug for warm milk in 5 minutes. As for a humidifier, maybe that’s in our child’s future. The Bay Area is definitely drier compared to the East Coast or many parts of Asia.

Other things not covered here but you will want to buy:

  • Formula – even if you want to focus on breastfeeding, have formula as a backup. You can make it very quickly and it will start at room temperature in times where there may not be enough milk. I suggest Costco’s Kirkland brand.
  • Diapers – Wirecutter likes the Target and Walmart house brand diapers. We have not tried them, but I am not averse to doing so. Either way, buy diapers from Costco. You can also buy from Target or Amazon, depending on different promotions that you prefer. Make sure the diaper you get has a visual indicator on the front of wetness – very useful. We use Huggies and Pampers and have also tried Babyganics.
  • Diaper bag we were lucky enough to have loving relatives who got us a great diaper bag. Inside the diaper bag, place travel-size bottles of hand sanitizer and baby powder along with the typical diapers, small changing pad, etc.
  • Clothes – buy generic stuff at Walmart / Target. You’ll probably be gifted them too.

For the Grandparents

Nixplay W10B Seed 10.1″ Widescreen Wi-Fi Cloud Digital Photo Frame

I’d long wanted to get my parents a photo frame that could automatically update with new photos from Google Photos. This frame had been well reviewed in the past, but only literally in the last month did Nixplay get connected with Google Photos via API.

This means that after setup (very easy), the photo frame automatically checks a designated shared folder for new photos to show in the frame. You simply add new photos to that folder from your phone – this convenience to keeping baby and grandparents connected is great and my dad loves it.

That’s all for now!

Dribblepro Basketball Training Ball [Review]

Recommendation
The Dribblepro (or Dribble Pro) Basketball Training Ball, both from Spalding and its black and red version are worth purchasing to improve your in-game dribbling. While the ball is supposed to help your dribbling, rebounding, and shooting, I think its value is more on the dribbling side, and for under $30, the black and red version is definitely the better buy over the Spalding ball at $60.

Background
Henry Bibby, former head coach at USC and NBA assistant coach, developed the Dribblepro and sent me a ball to review in early 2015, but I only started training regularly with it recently. The ball is a regular size ball that has several rubber “stubs” – when you dribble the ball, the stubs will occasionally hit the ground and cause the ball to bounce in a random direction. This forces your hands (and eyes if you are looking) to predict where the ball will go and control it. The idea is that this unpredictably better reflects real life game situations in which you need to control the ball under intense situations.

It is hard to do an objective analysis of the effects of training (I trained a couple of hours a week for nearly 2 months) with the ball. Over my time with it, one of the stubs broke off and I felt that the ball lost much of its cover surface from use on outdoor basketball courts. However, I can still shoot and dribble with it fine. From the training, I feel that dribbling with a normal ball is much easier – since starting, I only practiced with the Dribblepro and played games with normal balls, so I can feel a clear difference when I switch. In addition, I unexpectedly have more confidence dribbling the ball during games. There have a been a few times where I was dribbling in traffic or lost control of the ball, but I knew I could get it back. Whether this has been due to actual improvement, luck, or the level of competition, I cannot say.

If you can train with both the Dribblepro and Dribble Specs to prevent yourself from looking at the ball as it careens out of control, I think that is a special combination to improving your hands and feel for high-intensity, in-game traffic situations.

To read more of my basketball training reviews, please click here.

Guarantee3 Basketball Trainer [Review]

Recommendation
Although the Guarantee3 Basketball Trainer has multiple uses, from my experience, it is not worth purchasing if your focus is on improving your shooting range. In addition, I encountered major durability issues in the product. I am guessing that my overall wrist / arm strength has improved from using the Guarantee 3 over three weeks, but I cannot see any clear improvement in how far I can shoot the ball. This is likely due to my shot mechanics, as the Pro Shooting System suggests. However, I do like it as a tool that can help improve the strength in both arms and can be used indoors without a basketball. This was particularly helpful during the recent California rain storms.

Background

The Guarantee 3 is like a belt that adds resistance to your hands and arms with resistance bands. Thus if you practice your shooting motion or dribbling with it, you can imagine how your body can become stronger this way.

I was given a Guarantee3 review sample by Kristen Lavoie at ChicExecs. I also talked to Dave Felkel, the inventor, over a phone call. Both were very nice. Dave mentioned that the dribbling use for Guarantee3 is not necessarily just for strengthening your dribble – it also gets you used to dribbling low to the ground, a bit like the Dribblepro Training Basketball.

It is also great in that you can watch TV and work out without affecting anyone (noise, furniture damage).

I never experienced muscle soreness while using the band, even though I used the shortest band to create more difficulty and did many more reps than suggested. The workout entails 30 reps increasing gradually to 60 reps. I did 150+ reps 5 days a week for 3+ weeks before the strap on the hand tore (shown below) off – I had planned to continue this for six weeks.

In addition, the bands created so much friction on my arm as to eventually cause bleeding (I wore an arm band to stop further injury).

To read more of my basketball training product reviews, please click here.

Steve Nash MVP Basketball Fundamentals DVD [Review]

Recommendation

Steve Nash’s 20 Minute Workout, a shooting workout featured in his MVP Basketball Fundamentals DVD set, is the most important part of my shooting practice and worth purchasing. Particularly as I am older (35 years old now), I don’t necessarily have hours to put in for a complete practice session. Thus, this workout does a great job of getting me ready for games and really helping me understand what kind of shots I should feel comfortable with in game situations. I have been using it for years, and I appreciate how much it focuses my practice rather than just having me shoot shots around the court.

You can buy the Steve Nash MVP – Basketball Fundamentals DVD set on Amazon (it was released in 2007) with all the training tips, or just watch the shooting workout above.

For more of my basketball training product reviews, click here.

Pro Shot Shooting System [Basketball Training Review]

Recommendation
After over a decade of trying different ways to shoot, reading tips, training with different devices, the Pro Shot Shooting System is the only thing I recommend for experienced shooters (not necessarily great ones, just those who are more mature / set in mechanics and in their playing). It is completely free and resulted in clear results for me, not only in practice, but in games. You can watch the following two videos to learn more as well:


Background
I have been studying shooting in efforts to shoot better on a more consistent level for well over the last decade. Luckily, the Internet has made more of this information accessible. Unluckily, much of the information is opinion and as I would try things, I could not tell what was working.

I have tried numerous devices over the years, all with arguable effect. Overall, I never found anything truly worthwhile until I started reading 10 Shooting Lies on FocusedShooter.com. (Ignore the visual mess of the website) What I really like about the Lies article is that Paul Hoover, the author, does not simply state his opinion. He shows video footage of NBA players (good ones) doing all the things that he discussed. Thus, when one lie is staying square to the basket, he shows how no one actually does this. Same thing for jumping straight up and down during the shooting motion (everyone sweeps their feet).

In addition, practicing the Pro Shot Shooting System does not require any new devices or purchase. You can download a 150 page PDF file (you can read it very quickly to understand what needs to be done) for free.

Once I read the article, and started trying these tips, I immediately (within one session) could see more consistent strength and accuracy on shots. Unlike any training device I have tried, it is indisputable that I am better when I practice under the System. It does not require any training devices, and when I notice myself out of form, I read the PDF again to make sure I have all the key tips in my mind as I shoot and I find that I can quickly rediscover the right form. However, two things I still cannot do are shoot with one finger (like Kobe Bryant) and focus on the ball’s flight path while shooting.

To read more of my basketball training product reviews, please click here.