Pragmatic Mom

February 5, 2010

Books That Teach Compassion

Thank you to the reader who suggested a posting on books that teach compassion.  This will be a “rolling” list.  Please comment with your suggestions to add to this posting and we can build this list together!

If you want to purchase a book, please click on the image of the book to buy at  Thank you!

Hooway For Wodney Wat by Helen Lester.  Rodney Rat’s lisp makes him very shy until one day when his lisp makes him a hero.  [Picture Book, ages 4-7]


Halibut Jackson by David Lucas.  Halibut Jackson is so shy that he makes special outfits so he will blend in with his surroundings.  At a party for the King and Queen, he miscalculates and accidentally stands out.  Everyone loves his outfit and requests one so he opens a successful store and learns that he’s not so shy after all.  [Picture Book, ages 4-7]


It’s Ok to Be Different by Todd Parr.  A lovely and appealing book that sends a message that what makes us different also makes us special.  [Picture Book, ages 3-6]


Yoko by Rosemary Wells.  I have selected this book because it’s about bullying and acceptance.  Yoko is Japanese brings “weird” food to lunch and snack and everyone in her class makes fun of her.  Her teacher frets and comes up with a plan to have an International Food Day.  This is a great success except no one tries Yoko’s food, except at the end, Timothy tries it and loves it and becomes Yoko’s good friend throughout the rest of this series.  [Picture Book, ages 4-7] 

Yoko Writes Her Name by Rosemary Wells.  Yoko is back and this time the story is about “girl” bullying.  Yoko does things differently; she writes her name in Japanese, she brings in a Japanese book that reads left to write, and she writes her numbers in a strange way.  Two classmates think that Yoko isn’t going to graduate from Kindergarten because she can’t write her name.  When Yoko is upset and hides under a table, a kind classmate, Angelo, befriends Yoko and tells her she knows a secret language that he wants learn.  The tables are turned on graduation day when the girl bullies panic that they can’t write their names in Japanese and won’t graduate but Yoko shows them in time for the graduation march.  [Picture Book, ages 5-8]  

Thank You Mr Falker by Patricia Polacco.  Tricia has difficulty reading and Mr. Falker figures out that she is dyslexic which is life-changing.  [Picture Book, ages 6-12]


Mr. Lincoln’s Way by Patricia Pollaco.  Principal Mr. Lincoln can see the good in a bully and gently helps him to find his way.  [Picture Book, ages 6-12]


The Family Under the Bridge by Natalie Savage Carlson.  A Newbury Honor book.  I actually have to read this book but my middle daughter had it for a holiday book club because the mom wanted to have the kids think about others who are less fortunate.  The story line is about a happy vagrant living under a bridge in Paris who suddenly has to share his space with a widow and her three children.  He finds that eventually he feels compelled to help the family find a permanent home.  [Chapter Book for Newly Independent Readers, ages 7-10]

Rules by Cynthia Lord.  Having a special needs younger brother is hard on twelve-year-old Catherine.  On the one hand, she protects him by giving him rules to follow so he can fit in better. On the other hand, she’s embarrassed about him.  When she meets an older boy with a physical special need, they connect but is she too embarrassed to invite him to the school dance?  Will her friends accept him?  Is she misjudging her friends?  [Chapter Book for Grades 3-5, ages 8-12] 

The Lightening Thief by Rick Riordan.  Percy Jackson keeps getting kicked out of school because something bad always happens.  It’s not really his fault that bad accidents happen when he’s on a school field trip.  He’s also dyslexic and has A.D.D.  When he finds out his special needs are due to the fact he’s a half-blood (half mortal, half Greek God), it’s up to him to prevent WWIII from happening when a lightening bolt is stolen from Zeus.  [Chapter Book Grades 3-5, ages 8-16]

January 21, 2010

Favorite Baby Parenting Books

I remember when my first was born and both my husband and I were panicked at the daunting task of keeping her alive.  I thought the key would be to educate myself and I read every baby parenting book I could get my hands on including books from friends that were 10-years-old and out of print.  I made myself crazy.  I read, like, 15 books.  The books gave conflicting advice.  Advice from “experts” also flip-flopped from decade to decade.  I almost made up a spreadsheet to track the different opinions on the issues.  OK, I’m anal-retentive, but not that anal-retentive.  But only by a hair.

Finally, the theory that set me free.  I realized that I am the parent of this infant and that my husband and I know her better than any of these experts.  I decided to just match up the baby advice books to my own inclinations and opinions and go with that.  “Oh, you don’t think I should co-sleep with my infant? … well, just following the advice of my baby-whisperer-guru Dr. Sears. ”  That’s right, folks.  JUST PICK THE BOOK THAT SUPPORTS ALL YOUR BELIEFS.  This is a good strategy for anyone prone to giving you unsolicited baby advice.  I’m not targeting in-laws here at all.  Really!  It’s a constructive way to say, “Butt out.  I know what I’m doing.  Read this book, too, so you can get with the program.”

These are my favorite parenting books but I also include some books other parent friends swore by, even if I didn’t agree with the advice.

The Baby Book: Everything You Need to Know About Your Baby from Birth to Age 2 (Revised and Updated Edition) by Sears and Sears.  This is my go-to guru.  But that is because I am a “family bed” proponent which is not for everyone.  He writes this with his wife who is a nurse and they have 6 kids, including one with special needs.

What to Expect When You’re Expecting (series) by Heidi Eisenberg Murkoff.  This is a classic series and very good.  I bought this through age 5, I think.  It’s wonderful!  You can probably find this used somewhere so look around, particularly at yard sales held at preschools!

Solve Your Child’s Sleep Problems by Dr. Richard Ferber.  Other parents swear by it.  If you MUST have your baby sleep through the night, this is a method that is difficult to implement, but once implemented, really does work.  A caveat, you must duplicate the “method” 24/7 even when you are on vacation or it’s back to square one.  It’s you vs. baby and if you have a strong willed baby, it might take up to two weeks to kick in, I’m told.  “Ferberize” is now an actual word!  Of course, it’s not your child who is necessarily having sleep problems, it’s you who has issue that your child’s sleeping patterns do you mimic your own.

Here’s an interesting link pitting my favorite Dr. Sears against Dr. Ferber on their sleep theories!:

The Portable Pediatrician by Dr. Nathanson. My baby parenting books are long gone but I still have this one.  It’s a keeper!  I wish she could be my pediatrician!

Expectant Father.  This is the book that first-time dads always seem to get as a present.  There’s not much meat to it, but it’s better than nothing,  I suppose.  I wouldn’t buy it, though.

Girlfriends’ Guides by Vicki Iovine.  These are the best; you need these to keep your sanity and sense of humor intact!  Who knew a Playboy Bunny could be this funny?!

Touchpoints by Dr. Brazelton.  10 years ago, this was the well-known baby book.  I do really like Dr. Brazelton and I wished my pediatrician made house calls like he seems to, but I have to say that I found it difficult to translate his book into advice to follow.  If I recall correctly, his book is mostly made up of case studies, and while interesting, did not relate to me or my situation.   And when sleep is scarce, I probably should have been doing other things like sleeping rather than reading this book.  But it was a book that I kept in my library for all three kids.

Dr. Spock.  He’s Dr. Old-School.  I bought a copy and tried to plough through it, but I just couldn’t.  Too long and boring.

January 15, 2010

Mind Your Manners! (Please…)

My husband grew up in a military family so manners was a really big deal and he has beautiful manners.  He’s not from the South, but he’s even got the Sir/Ma’am thing down.  Manner are so important to him, or rather, bad manners are so offensive to him, that I refer to him as the Manners Nazi.

I, on the other hand, was raised by parents a generation older than my peer’s parents.  My husband thinks I was raised by wolves.  Naturally, manners responsibility fell in his lap.  After he stayed home with our first, the outcome was so positive that I tried to emulate what he did.  And, as our children have venture off on independent play dates, sleepovers, and dinners at other people’s houses and country clubs, it become to us how important instilling manners at a VERY YOUNG age is.

We, as parents, notice when play dates come over and 1) say  “please,” “thank you” and “no, thank you” and 2) clear their dishes without being asked, and 3) make eye contact.  We also notice when play dates come over and 1) touch all the food on the communal platter before selecting their choice, 2) leave their dishes, 3) forget the “thank you” part of “no”.  We really want the former group hanging out at our house and we want our children to be close friends with those guys!

But, how does that happen?  What parenting did or did not happen in group two?  I’m not sure, but here’s what worked for us.

From birth through forever, although by 4-5 years old seems to penetrate the inner recesses of their brains:

  • Model polite language.  Talk to your baby before s/he is talking and ALWAYS say “please”, “thank you” and “no, thank you.”
  • As you child begins to talk, correct EVERY SINGLE INSTANCE that s/he fails to say “please”, “thank you” and “no, thank you.”
  • Give recognition every time your child says please, thank you and no, thank you.
  • Notice how others will give positive reinforcement for “please”, “thank you” and “no, thank you” because no one expects it in a 2, 3 or 4- year-old.
  • By age 5, this will become automatic.  Yay!  First phase is completed!

From age 3-5, teach your children to:

  • Clear their plate and utensils after every meal.  First to the general vicinity of the kitchen.  Then to the sink.  Finally, scrape plate and put in dishwasher.  (big help for mom!)
  • Make eye contact when you greet or thank someone.  Make eye contact in general when you converse.
  • If you have a son, teach him to hold the door for the ladies.
  • By age 5-7, this will become automatic.  Yay!  Second phase is completed!

From 2-10, talk about gratitude…

  • Thank the cook for every meal.  “Thank you Dad for this nice meal.”
  • Thank the mom, dad and birthday child for the nice party.  “Thank you for the nice party.”  “Goodbye and happy birthday.”
  • Say what you are thankful for…we don’t do this every meal, but we sometimes hold hands and go around the table.  The kids will sometimes say the funniest things so for comedy value alone, this is very worthwhile.  Yay!  Third phase is completed!  Your child has all the basics to function independently.  Sit back and let the parents tell you how wonderfully polite your child was at their house.  You deserve it.  Your work is not done (when is it ever done?), but the foundation has been laid and it’s a solid one!

Honestly, good manners is a simple as a consistent, please, thank you and no, thank you.  Isn’t that the first words we learn when we arrive in a foreign country?  Even before, “Where is the bathroom?”  It makes the world a nicer place and lubricates social interactions.  But the key is early education and consistency.

Thank you for reading!

P.S.  One unfortunate outcome of this training is that you will find that you will be unable to stop correcting anyone who fails to say, “please,” “thank you” and “no, thank you.”  You will correct your child’s play date friends.  You will correct your spouse.  You will correct complete strangers.  You have become…a Manners Nazi.

Here are some fun books about manners.  If you click on the book
, you can purchase at
.  Thank you!

January 1, 2010

Favorite Counting Books

I trolled through a 4 foot stack of counting books to find these treasures.  Enjoy!

I Know Two Who Said Moo by Judith Barrett.  A counting and rhyming book with great vocabulary!  [ages 2-5]


Seashells by the Sea Shore by Marianne Collins Berkes.  A counting book that identifies different sea shells.  A must for anyone who regularly goes to the beach or for a little one that loves to collect shells.  [ages 2-7]

Doggies by Sandra Boynton.  If you love dogs, you’ll love this counting and barking book; emphasis on barking!  [ages 1-4]

The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle.  A wonderful, enduring classic!  [ages 0-6]

Eight Animals on the Town by Susan Middleton Elya.  A counting book with Spanish mixed in!  [ages 1-5]

Pigs from 1-10 by Arthur Geisert.  Numbers are hidden in beautiful black and white illustrations.  [ages 205]

 Ten Little Ladybugs by Melanie Gerth.  All my kids loved the 3-D ladybugs that appear on every page. [ages 0-4]

1 2 3 Moose by Andrea Helman.  A beautiful photographic counting book of the Pacific Northwest with great factoids.  [ages 2-5]

We All Went on Safari by Laura Krebs.  As you count through Tanzania with Maasai friends, you will also learn to Swahili!  [ages 3-6]

Come Out and Play:  Count Around the World in 5 Languages by Diane Law.  [ages 0-5]

Ten Apples Up on Top by Theo LeSieg.  Because this book rhymes and has a very limited word vocabulary of about 90 words, it’s also great for literacy!  [ages 2-5]

One Watermelon Seed by Celia Barker Lottridge.  A gardening counting book that is great because it also counts by 10’s to 100.  [ages 3-6]

Chicka, Chicka 123 by Bill Jr. Martin, Michael Sampson and Lois Ehlert.  Sequel to Chicka Chicka ABC, this book is perfect for a child learning to count to 100.  W use the front and back inside covers to count to 100, count by 10’s, and count by 5’s.  It’s also fun to point out patterns because the numbers are wonderfully color coded as in, hey look how all the numbers in this column end in the number 2!  [ages 2-7]

I Spy Two Eyes by Lucy Micklethwait.  You and your child will enjoy finding things in famous paintings.  [ages 3-5]

Icky Bugs Numbers 1 2 3 by Jerry Pallota.  Wonderful realistic bug illustrations plus counting 1 through 20 and even skip counting by 2’s.  [ages 3-6] 

The Handmade Counting Book by Laura Rankin.  Learn to count and sign!  [ages 2-5]

100 School Days by Anne Rockwell.  When my kids were in Kindergarten, their teacher tracked the 100th day of school and everyone brought in 100 objects in a bag to celebrate just like in this book.  It’s also a great book to count by 10’s to 100.  [ages 4-6]

Tails by Matthew Van Fleet.  My kids all loved this touch and feel book.  [ages 1-4]

Bunny Party by Rosemary Wells.  Max and Ruby have a party and the guest list keeps expanding.  This is a great book that sneaks in counting with a story.  It’s also fun to match the numbers with the guests.  [ages 1-5]

Max Counts His Chickens by Rosemary Wells.  Max and Ruby search for marshmallow chicks but Max is having trouble finding any.  Count the chicks as Ruby finds with and then match them to the number.  [ages 1-5]

Teeth, Tails and Tentacles by Christopher Wormell.  Gorgeously illustrated and, finally!, the number as a symbol and word!  [ages 0-4]

December 14, 2009

The Gender Dilemma: Is it a Girl or Is it a Boy?

Filed under: Age: Infant & Toddler,Parenting — Pragmatic Mom @ 2:23 pm
Tags: ,

 This is a great article written by my mom friend and neighbor.  It also appeared in Parents and Kids Magazine 2003.

By Roberta Martone Pavia

When we received the call confirming my pregnancy, our initial reaction was one of disbelief, followed by feelings of unbridled joy. This jumble of emotions, normal for many parents-to-be, surprised not only myself and my husband, but also our friends, who, for the past four years, had shared with us the rollercoaster ride that defines infertility. During much of that time my husband and I were plagued with doubts and indecision: Are we doing the right thing? Will we make good parents? Can we adapt our carefree double income, no kids lifestyle? And, most importantly, do we want to?

But when I finally heard the news, all those doubts and indecisions were erased in a flash. After years of trying and turmoil, the miracle had finally happened. We were ecstatic. However, the euphoria was short lived. Just a few weeks after we heard the news, I also heard a voice inside my head began to nag: what if the baby is a boy?

I hadn’t admitted to anyone, except my husband, how much I coveted a girl. At first my husband tried to brush off my obsession. But as he watched me become more obsessed with the idea of a girl baby, he panicked, fearing I wouldn’t know how to love a boy child. I tried to explain that love was not the issue. I could love a stone. It’s just that, although the logic escaped me, I craved a little girl.

Please understand it’s not that I dislike the male species. On the contrary, I adore men and little boys, as well as most of the stages in between. It’s just that I never really warmed to the idea of raising a boy. All those stereotypes of roughneck kids punching and kicking and sweating were foreign to me. Growing up with two sisters and no brothers had definitely colored my world toward the pink end of the spectrum. I was a girly-girl eschewing little league for ballet classes and soccer games for mud-pie making. I loved dolls and dress up and china dishes.

Now, as I looked ahead to the future it held a decidedly rosy hue. I pictured my daughter and her little girlfriends hosting dainty tea parties with their dolls. I daydreamed about dance recitals and pink tutus. I remembered with poignancy those mother-daughter shopping excursions I so loved as a teenager. What did I know of fire engines and racecars? Baseball and battlefields? And, more importantly, what did I want to know of them?

Yet, why did this obsession with the feminine gender continue to grow? Did I subconsciously want to live my life over through a daughter? Was it because I never had my fill of dolls and frilly dresses as a child? The answer eluded me, and, as I struggled with my guilt, I fervently hoped this obsession would be supplanted by the anticipation of the birth I so longed for. Happily, for the next few months, it was.

As I focused on my progressing pregnancy and the health of this unborn child, with each passing week I breathed a sign of relief that all was well. As the months passed and my knowledge of the process grew, I realized how truly fragile and precarious this tiny being was. Fact: with my statistics — 40-plus, no previous pregnancies, fertility drugs – I had a 50 percent chance of losing the baby during the first three months. Luckily, that percentage dropped to a low two percent once I passed the first trimester.

Yet, even as I grew more secure in my pregnancy, that other concern began to resurface. Evidently it wasn’t enough that I was healthy and pregnant. I wanted more. I wanted a girl. I wrestled with my guilt. How could I even think these thoughts? I should be and was thankful to be pregnant while older friends all around me were struggling with adoption and infertility.

I began to take it as an omen that strangers and friends alike looked me over and pronounced authoritatively: It’s a boy. I would argue – sometimes vehemently – to the contrary. But with each passing day, I became less sure. And, finally, I resolved to prepare for a boy. Just in case.

As the birth date approached, we scoured books for likeable boys’ names. Needless to say, we had first, second, and third choices for the female nomenclature. But after a relatively short research period, to our surprise, we found a likeable boy’s name. As I pondered the masculine name and all it implied, slowly, tentatively I began to embrace the idea of a baby boy. Maybe it would be fun to experience all of the things I had never experienced as a little girl.

Finally D-day, or rather in my case, delivery week arrived. I was in the throes of labor, which consisted of one week of hospital rest, four days of inducement, four hours of active labor, and ultimately, an emergency Cesarean section. Having made it this far, I found myself, like countless others before me, just praying for a healthy baby. Boy, girl, blond, brunette, redhead. Suddenly none of that mattered and what was most important was the health of the baby. So, when the attending physician said those magic words, I truly could have cared less. My only question was whether or not the baby was OK. Today, the baby and I are doing just fine. And, oh, by the way, it’s a girl. Now we’re pining for a little brother to keep her company.

December 10, 2009

Favorite ABC Books

I found that a great way to learn letters was to play games with magnetic letters.  I deconstructed various toys to create an “alphabet game” using squishy magnetic letters (but any magnetic letters in the shape of the letters will do) and a magnetic fishing pole.  My son (about 12 months old at the time) would fish letters out of a bucket and stick them on a magnetic board.  If he got them wrong, I’d find the correct letter and put up next to the letter.  We’d talk about how is it the same and how is it different.  Another variation would be to sort all the letters on the board by color and identify them (my letters were randomly in four colors).  Or try to make an alphabet train by putting the letters in order.  We’d play this game 3 or 4 times a week for about 5 to 10 minutes; always letting my son initiate the game, and ending it as soon as his interest waned.  It was a fun way to learn letters.  After my son learned upper case letters, we added in lower case letters.

These are our favorite alphabet books.  Ok, to be more correct, I didn’t mind reading these books incessantly to my child.  To purchase, click on the picture of the book to buy at

Maisy’s ABC (lift the flap, pull the tab) by Lucy Cousins.  The first children’s book we ever purchased and still a favorite!  Toddlers will love lifting the flaps and pulling the tabs. 






Robert Crowther’s Most Amazing Hide and Seek ABC Alphabet Book by Robert Crowthers.  The book completely lives up to its title!  My kids loved pulling the tabs and lifting the flaps!  This was the book responsible for teaching all my kids their letters.


A Was An Apple Pie by Etienne Delessert.  Finally, an alphabet book with both upper and lower case letters  plus beautiful illustrations, but beware, it will make you hungry for apple pie!






Eating the Alphabet by Lois Ehlert.  I love Lois Ehlert’s gorgeous illustrations and hopefully this will encourage your children to eat their fruits and veggies!

The Absolutely Awful Alphabet by Mordecai Gerstein.  Chock full of SAT level adjectives to help build your child’s vocabulary!  For kids who love words.






A is for ? A Photographers’s Alphabet of Animals by Henry Horenstein.  You and your child will have fun guessing which animal from Horenstein’s wonderful photographs.






Chicka Chica Boom Boom by Bill Martin Jr.   A fun rhyming book that is easy to memorize and chant all day long!






I Stink by Kate McMullen.  Pragmatic Mom’s neighbor with two small boys highly recommend this book.  [ages 3-7]





The Dinosaur Alphabet Book by Jerry Pallotta.  If your child is very interested in dinosaurs, this is a great book because each letter is about a dinosaur with a paragraph of interesting information to captivate both child and adult.





The Handmade Alphabet by Laura Rankin.  Learn the alphabet in sign language.






A Big and little Alphabet by Liz Rosenberg.  This is great because it shows lower case AND upper case letters.





Alligators All Around by Maurice Sendak.  We like to sing the story. 






Max’s ABC by Rosemary Wells.  Rosemary Wells creates a story out of the letters of the alphabet.  Pragmatic Mom’s son is especially fond of Max and Ruby.

November 10, 2009

Who’s Afraid of Justine?

This article is written by my mom friend and neighbor and appeared in Parents and Kids March 2003.

By Roberta Martone Pavia

      My husband and I had tried so long to get pregnant that when it finally happened we realized we hadn’t given much thought to what came next. As we were basking in the news of my pregnancy, it hit us: although we were seasoned corporate executives, we didn’t know the first thing about taking care of a newborn.

     Growing up, I was the last of three children. I had no younger siblings on which to practice. And, since my nieces and nephews lived out of state, I couldn’t practice on them, either. In addition, my babysitting days were a distant memory. So, it’s no surprise that I was somewhat petrified of this seven-pound newborn.

      The first few days were OK because I was still in a haze from the miracle of birth, not to mention the drugs from my Cesarean section. My older sister came to the rescue and spent the first week with me, which momentarily delayed my panic. Also, my husband took a week off from his job to ease the transition.

     My daughter was a good baby. We didn’t realize how good until we heard the horror stories from other parents. Babies who nursed every 10 minutes. Three-month-olds who wailed non-stop. For the first week our daughter did what the doctors said she would: ate, slept, and pooped. And then did it all over again. And, again.

     Still, when my sister headed home and my husband headed back to work, I was filled with anxiety and panic. What if the baby stopped breathing? What if she choked on something? Those first few days I felt like I was walking on egg shells. One false move and I was convinced everyone, including my new daughter, would realize I didn’t know the first thing about motherhood.

   Before my baby’s arrival, I wanted to bone up by studying parenting books. I’m one of those people who needs to do exhaustive research: as a student, I over studied; as a professional, I over prepared. And that’s how I expected to get ready for motherhood. I just didn’t realize I wouldn’t have the time or energy to do either. So, here I was unprepared for the most important job of my life. If I did something wrong this time, the consequences would be dire.

     Those first few days, I lived for my daughter’s naps and was lucky that she was such a sleepy baby. In fact, she slept a good part of the day. And because I wasn’t sleeping much at night, so did I. So much for my plans to repaint the kitchen and strip that chest of drawers. Between changing, feeding, and rocking, I was lucky if I had enough energy to make it to the couch for a snooze myself. What did parents with cranky babies do? All too soon I would find out. 

     Our daughter was a model baby. She rarely cried and if she did it only took a few minutes to figure out why. A messy diaper.  A hungry stomach.  Then one day, when she was about two months old and I was gaining confidence in my mothering skills, she started crying. The cries turned to wails and screeches and screams. What had happened to my perfect baby?

     After 45 minutes of rocking, nursing, and trying to soothe her, I called the pediatrician, sure that he would tell me to rush her to the Emergency Room. The nurse was very helpful and understanding, but I swear I detected some humor in her tone when she said the problem was probably gas. Gas? But this baby is wailing I told her.  “Gas,” she insisted, since I had taken my daughter’s temperature and found it to be normal.

     After a walk outside, a warm bath, and a back rub, I was still panicked and my daughter was still screaming. Finally, as quickly as the crying had started, it stopped. And my little one started cooing and purring once again. Maybe it was gas, afterall. The good news was I had lived through the toughest moment of her little life ¾ and mine as a mom ¾ and both of us had emerged unscathed. From then on, it got easier. I don’t know when it happened exactly, but soon I was able to sleep through the night; something I vowed I would never be able to do again.

  Today, my “baby” just turned ten and not only am I sleeping through the night, but I feel like a seasoned parent often giving advice to those who are a few steps behind me. I warn them that the “terrible twos” are a piece of cake compared to the “terrible teens.” At least that’s what parents who are a few steps ahead of me say. I can hardly wait.

October 6, 2009

The Short List for Baby Equipment

Every new parent seems to get caught in the baby equipment trap including me.  The amount of baby equipment we bought and used minimally for our oldest could sink a ship.  We didn’t think we’d have a third kid so we had given away all our baby equipment after the first two.  This was the list we bought the third time around, and I would still trim down if I had to do it all over again.

1)  Best Stroller.  I lived in the city for the first two kids so this stroller works well in the city. My husband insisted that the stroller recline because he hated when his darling’s head rolled forward when asleep.  He also insisted on a 5-point harness strapping system.  I needed on a stroller that could collapse with just one hand, a necessity when you are holding your child and still have to collapse the stroller.  An added bonus is the strap that allows you to carry collapsed stroller on your back and still carry baby.  I hit situations on the subway where connecting subway stops requires traversing several flights of stairs because there was no elevator.  I also like a light stroller.  This one is about 6 pounds.

When we visited NYC, we noticed all the moms used this stroller.  So, a caveat, this is a great stroller for city living.  Works fine for suburban life too.  There are other great strollers that are less expensive, but this worked for us.

Maclaren Volo Stroller, $130.   (click on picture to purchase at






Best Double Stoller.  I had a MacClaren double stroller but didn’t love it because it was very wide, very heavy and hard to open and close.  If I had to do over, I would splurge on the Phil and Ted’s Sports Stroller.  It’s all terrain, streamlined, and just so cool.  Moms at her baby music class raved about it.  This might be an item I’d suggest putting on a baby shower list so that everyone chips in for one big present, and at $539, it’s expensive!

2.  Best Car Seat.  Hands down the safest car seat is the  Britax Roundabout Convertible Car Seat.  This is the car seat I should have bought the first time around and used for all three.  Again, not the cheapest at $209 but very safe and LASTS.  I only used convertible car seats for my first two.  I broke down and bought the Peg Prego infant car seat system with the car seat that snaps out and into a stroller so my little darling could sleep undisturbed.  I didn’t have this for the first two.  I think that it really depends on your baby.  My first was a sound sleeper so it was fine to physically remove her from her convertible car seat and put into a stroller or baby bjorn.  My second was a light sleeper so having an infant car seat that snaps out was helpful. I borrowed this from a friend and used for only about 6 months.  The usefulness of an infant system can be priceless but the longevity is short so I’d suggest trying to borrow one if you can.  The upside is also that you can get rid of it by returning to owner the minute you are done.

3)  Best Baby Carrier.  Baby Bjorn.  Yes, a little confusing to figure out, but we used this a lot and my babies loved being in it.  Not true for all babies, especially active babies.

4) Best High ChairPeg Prego makes a nice sturdy one but it is a little pricey at $197.99.  We had a less expensive one for our first two but I should have bought this one first and used it  for all three.  My friend raved that this high chair the best splurge she ever spent on baby equipment.  The Chicco Caddy Hook On Chair is also great if you have a thick, sturdy table to attach it to.  It’s very space-efficient and easy to clean.


5) Best Breast Pump.  Medela.  If you need to pump at work in a time-efficient way, the more powerful and more expensive one is worth the money.  I didn’t need to pump that regularly so the less powerful, $100ish one was fine, just a little slow. This one is about $273.99. 


6) Baby Exersaucer.  I don’t have a specific preference but I will say that it was a lifesaver from about 4 months until her darling walked but the minute after that, the exersaucer needed to go.  I recommend borrowing if you can.  It’s still a little pricey, takes up a ton of space, and you only need for about 6 months or so. 

7) Infant Bathtub.  I definitely needed one but can’t remember which one I used.  The only thing I remember is that her infant tub was big and difficult to store as she had the world’s tiniest bathroom.  But again, I recommend borrowing if possible because you don’t need it for very long and it does take up a decent amount of space.

8) Bundle Me.  Now that it’s chilly out, I remembered how useful the Bundle Me was.  It fits on an infant carrier bucket or the Maclaren stroller and probably most other strollers.  It’s like a sleeping bag for baby.  It’s especially nice when your baby falls asleep and then you go indoors because it’s easier to open it up so your baby doesn’t get too hot versus taking the snowsuit off.  The only thing is that it’s lasts from infants to around 2 years old, depending on how long your child is.


Not Necessary for Me … But Other Moms Swear by It

1) Bouncy Seat.  I owned three different ones at one point and my babies hated every single one.  A complete waste of money and space for me, but some of my mom friends swore by it.  So I’d would advise try to borrow to at least see if it’s worth the money and space.

2) Crib. I abide by Drs. Sears and Sears and co-slept with her babies.  I do not know any mom who nursed for 12 months or beyond without co-sleeping with their babies; however, one mom from my college freshman dorm  just emailed that she was able to do it.  But for me, I do not function very well when sleep deprived and my babies were not great sleepers at night until they were weaned.  A crib was not necessary for me but I am a strange anomaly.  My babies went straight to regular beds.  I realizes that this is unusual but I can’t give advice on the perfect crib having never used one.

3) Baby Monitor.  Nope, didn’t really need it but I also lived in VERY small spaces so it wasn’t necessary.  My sister loved the video baby monitor but she’s a techy type. 

4) Pack and Play.  Nope, never used it.  Other moms found it immensely helpful but I didn’t have the space and never missed it.  I hear these are great to have when traveling to use instead of a crib.

5) Baby Walker.  My oldest LOVED the walker but sadly after a week or so her pediatrician told her to nix it.  Seems it contributes to lots of accidents and delays your darling’s brain development for gross motor skills.  Something about your child not being able to see his feet as he moves scrambles their brain and delays their ability to walk.

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