While there are many things that are absolutely necessary to purchase (or receive as gifts!) before having a baby, there are several that you may think are necessary that, in reality, are just nice to have or even completely unnecessary. I am not going to in depth on baby gear here, but, if you would like to know what I think is necessary, nice and a complete waste of money (and space!), feel free to ask and I would love to talk abou it! There is, however, one item (or three!) that I use every day, multiple times a day, and will talk about with anyone willing to listen:
My baby carriers.
When I first found out I was pregnant, I started doing all sorts of research. I knew some things that I wanted to do right off the bat (cloth diapers, natural birth and breastfeeding), but others I learned about as I began my research. Babywearing was one of those things that I knew nothing about prior to pregnancy, but I became increasingly intrigued by it as I read more. Kerry and I took a class at Once Upon A Sling in Bloomington and I was hooked!
I started out with a hybrid wrap that I used with Julian beginning the day he was born. I used this exclusively until Julian was about five months old. I loved this wrap, especially in the summer, as it was lightweight and easy to use. I wore Julian everywhere in my wrap. He went to weddings (and slept through them!), on hikes, to church, grocery shopping, baseball games and even to the state fair. I was able in the first few weeks of having him to still clean the house, make dinner and do laundry all without having to put him down. The benefit of this baby carrier is the ability to tie it on before leaving the house and pop baby in and out without unwrapping for diaper changes and feedings. It is versatile and very pretty, although not exceptionally user-friendly right away. I watched several videos, looked at the instruction booklet and called Anna at OUAS several times before I felt confident enough to wear Julian in the wrap outside of the house. Although I have not tried this, you can also wear baby on your hip and on on your back with this carrier. Side note: Some moms are able to breastfeed in their carriers, but I never felt comfortable (comfort wise, not exposure wise) doing this. It sure would be nice, though!
I was given a mei tai for my birthday, so I started using that carrier in addition to my wrap in September. You must put the baby in this carrier as you tie it on, so it does not lend itself to the ease of use as much as the wrap does. However, this carrier is made of heavier material than the wrap, so I found myself gravitating towards this carrier as the weather turned cold. This carrier also folds up nicely and, for me, fits well in the diaper bag. I wear Julian everywhere in this carrier as well, most notably all day long while we explored Chicago with friends in October. If I could do things over, I would chose a mei tai with a hood because of the ability to protect nap times with the sleeping hood, especially when doing a back carry. I believe I can purchase a separate hood for the mei tai that I have, but it would be infinitely better to purchase one with a hood already attached. I have used this carrier for both front and back carries and love it for either one.
My mom won my third carrier in a facebook giveaway (thanks, mom!) and it is a soft structured carrier. You need ample space to get baby in the carrier and I find it to be bulky, so I have not used it outside of the house by myself yet. I think the space issue will change as Julian gets older. It is my favorite carrier for back carries as it has a baby insert where you snap the baby in before putting the carrier on your back. This alleviates my worry about Julian squirming out of my grasp while I get him on my back. I use this carrier almost exclusively now when I need to get housework done and Julian wants to be held. He loves to ride on my back while I vacuum or do the dishes.
I LOVE babywearing for several reasons, but the biggest benefit to me is how free it makes me feel! I can do anything I need to around the house or out of the house and have my baby close to me. Housework does not suffer and neither does baby!