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.

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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!

ShotTracker [Basketball Trainer Review]

Recommendation

If you want simple data to track your shooting efficiency, ShotTracker delivers on that promise. However, do not expect it to track your actual shooting location (it sounds like ShotTracker’s new partnership with Spalding and Decawave will deliver that, and likely at a much more expensive price point). In addition, ShotTracker is a bit pricy ($150 retail) considering it does not track location.

Background

I have been interested in the ShotTracker since first hearing about it at the end of 2014. It promised to monitor your shooting performance via data.

The first thing I noticed is that ShotTracker cannot actually track your shooting location. Instead, it tells you what kind of shot to practice, and will track the shots made and missed. If you ignore the instructions, ShotTracker won’t know. This was a tremendous disappointment and mismatch of my expectations. Thus, if you want to freely shoot around all over the court, ShotTracker will have no idea of what areas you are in – you will only receive a summary of total makes and misses.

However, ShotTracker does provide a sizeable list of different Drills and Workouts (Sets of Drills) that you can practice. For example, if you want to shoot left and right elbow jumpers, the app will start you on one side and then your phone will beep when it’s time to switch positions. You can then get an understanding of how you did on each side. This is a decent workaround.

In terms of tracking the actual shots, ShotTracker does this well. You have two sensors to connect to your phone via Bluetooth – a net sensor and arm sensor. My feeling is that both sensors are accelerometers that register a certain level of velocity in movement. This is pretty simple technology, but it works. The net sensor only works with string nets (my feeling is that metal nets are too heavy and do not create enough movement to register when a made shot goes through the net) and is easy to attach if you have a small stool or step ladder to bring with you. For this reason, ShotTracker makes more sense for home courts than it does at public recreational parks. I live one minute’s walk away from a court, so it’s not so annoying for me to bring a small ladder, but imagine walking 10 minutes to a court. If you have a car to travel to courts, this is less of a problem. If ShotTracker wants to reach mass-market sales, this is the type of Design Thinking that is missing from the product currently. The more obstacles (including technology requirements and price) needed to use the product, the market size for the product diminishes.

Beyond that, the app is visually attractive and fairly easy to use, though I have some comments for improvements below.

Shottracker Charger and Box

Suggested Improvements and Other Notes

  • There are plenty of different drills to do, but you can only filter by position (guard, center, forward). I would like to see more filtering options. For example. I can’t shoot 3’s, so I don’t want to shoot 50 3’s. I also only shoot by myself, so it’s very difficult to shoot curls. Since there are so many drills, looking through them all and finding them one by one each time you practice is a real pain and barrier to exploring the app.
  • I would also like to create my own “playlist” of drills. This functionality is available through the free Coach’s App, which is free but only available on Android and iOS Tablets. From my experience in product UI, however, it would not be particularly tricky to allow the player to do this on mobile. From my admittedly older Samsung Android Tablet, I found the Coach’s App a bit sluggish to use.
  • You need to keep your phone unlocked while the ShotTracker app is running – if it goes into sleep / lock, ShotTracker will not be able to monitor data. The app should be more explicit about this behavior.
  • In the Player App, there are a number of features that are generally worthless and can be hidden so that there are fewer options in the navigational menu. For example, if there are no active Challenges (I would love to see at least one of these a week, even if not for prizes) or Camps, those should be hidden or put into an “Other” menu. Even the activity feed of Homecourt, showing everyone’s activity, and Players, a feature to search people, have no real use unless you want to track someone’s activity. From my perspective (but perhaps not matching that of the target demographic), these are all less-used features within the product and can be removed from direct sight.
  • I would like to better understand how good am I compared to the whole community – the app suggests this feature when you look at your Profile – there are comparative goals with people your age. However, there is no app section to enter your age in and my comparative data is blank.
  • One way to create value in Players is to help the user find players within a 5 mile radius that he could befriend, and potentially shoot with. I am guessing this is in the plans, as ShotTracker already asks for Zipcode.
  • An aspect I like about Drills is that you can watch video instruction of how to do the shots. However, I have no idea if the video is pre-installed into the app or I am using my data each time I am watching the video. It would be nice for all video to be pre-installed and I be explicitly told that no data will be used. In addition, even though all the videos feature a wide aspect ratio, I cannot rotate the phone to see the videos in their natural setting. I am forced to watch these videos in the tall / long setting on my phone, and the videos only take half the screen on my iPhone 5S.
  • For the App’s Help Section, I suggest showing a quick list of all the Question answered, with users being able to tap to see the answer to the question. The current format is Question, Answer Text, next Question, etc. This would allow me to quickly scan what information is in the App rather than scroll the entirety of the page (it’s quite long). In addition, I would add a button to quickly send a question / support comment for things that I do not see addressed. When I had questions, I had to look on the ShotTracker website for contact information. If the product itself is mobile-only, support should also be geared accordingly.
  • After using ShotTracker for over a month at an average of two hours a week, I am happy with the battery performance of the sensors – I have not needed to recharge them yet.

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

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.