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Essential Baby Gear To Help Prepare Grandparents

A month by month guide


 It's been years since you geared up for your baby - now you want to help your kids gear up for theirs - and outfit your home for your grandbaby. Let Jeremiah McNichols and the parent reviewers at Z Recommends fill you in on what's new, what's hot and what's the best buy.

Gear Up for the start of the pregnancy 

Earth Mama Belly Butter to Help Ease Skin and Stretch Marks

Treat Mom-to-be to safe body care .You want to help the parents-to-be gear up for their new life, and yes, that means baby products. But right now, your daughter or DIL could also use some pampering - a few special body-care products can ease her adjustment to the physical challenges of pregnancy, from stress to stretch marks. But you'll want to choose those products carefully; according to the most recent research, many chemicals that are absorbed through the skin and passed on to a fetus or nursing infant might harm babies. Among them are phthalates and the chemical 1,4 dioxane.

2 Ounce Natural Nipple Butter & 2 Ounce Angel Baby Bottom Balm

Now's a great time to introduce mom to all-natural and organic creams and lotions that are safe for her pregnant body and developing baby. A few suggestions for products that soothe, comfort and heal without possibly harmful, hard-to-pronounce ingredients: Motherlove's affordable line for pregnant women and babies, and Erbaviva's premium products, which make a great special gift. A good mid-range option is Earth Mama Angel Baby, which offers a soothing Body Butter that can help reduce stretch marks during pregnancy, and Bottom Balm and Natural Nipple Butter for tender postpartum days. You might give your mom-to-be a little thrill by giving her one of Earth Mama's all-natural baby products, too.

Gear Up at 2 months of Pregnancy

Be the hippest grandma at the baby shower. Planning a baby shower can be as stressful as the occasion is fun, but there are ways to lighten up and make the simplest gathering feel hip and super-organized. Start with stylish invitations. Sites like Shutterfly and Zazzle offer contemporary printed designs. At the shower, celebrate the mom-to-be's new role by giving her a personalized set from Etsy – these are the calling cards of the 21st-century parent and are just the thing for her to hand to new mom’s-group and potential play date friends.

Gear Up at 3 months of Pregnancy

Graco SnugRide 35 Infant Car Seat

Graco SnugRide 35 Infant Car Seat

Get the most from an infant car seat. Good infant car seats can be quite expensive, and cheaper ones often carry worrisome safety ratings. One practical solution: Invest in a parent-to-be gift of a single, high-quality infant carrier car seat and multiple bases to set it in, one for each car in which it will be used - yours, the new parents' and any others. The base gets latched in with the seat belt or LATCH system, and the removable seat portion typically has a handle to allow caregivers to remove a sleeping infant from the car without ending a much-needed nap (great for restaurants).

Chicco KeyFit 30 Infant Car Seat

Chicco KeyFit 30 Infant Car Seat

If this option sounds right for you, make sure the car seat will fit in everyone's car and that the seat of choice has received high ratings from the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration. And never buy used - minor accidents and even the heat inside a car can cause invisible stress fractures that weaken the integrity of a car seat. Two well-rated models include the Graco Snugride and the Chicco KeyFit.

Gear Up at 4 months of Pregnancy

Baby Nasal Aspirator NoseFrida the Snotsucker by Fridababy

Bye-bye, bulb aspirator. Anyone who has seen Sweden's spotless urban centers or even its super-functional home-design centers (IKEA, anyone?) should remember this reputation when considering the Swedish-developed, filter-equipped Nosefrida suction device - the brilliant update of the bulb syringe. Yes, we know most parents don't consider a tool for sucking newborn mucus a must-have item, but you know it is. Although it puts an adult's mouth at one end of a tube and an infant's snotty nostril at the other, the innovative Nosefrida is entirely hygienic and incredibly effective, using special filters to ensure that nothing, not even germs, can reach the self-appointed aspirator. Parents who have taken the leap rave about this device - if you buy it as a gift, be prepared to demonstrate.

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Gear Up at 5 months of Pregnancy

Ubbi Diaper Storage Caddy

Save space with an innovative changing table. If you plan to have baby visits, you'll be needing something for diaper changes. For occasional use, the Ubi Diaper Storage Caddy offers a compact solution to store all your diaper changing tools - its dimensions make it easy to slip under a bed or desk in a dual-purpose room. The basic model includes a wipes dispenser, and super soft changing mat. It also incorporates a diaper compartment that allows for easy release of a fresh one right where it's needed.

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Gear Up at 6 months of Pregnancy

The best baby monitor doesn't feature video. Although the parents might be glued to the bassinet for the first few day after the baby is born, sooner or later they'll want a few minutes to themselves. Your gift? A baby monitor that actually works (yes, it's an audio monitor; video-equipped models really don't offer much functionality beyond their audio counterparts). The problem with baby monitors has always been that they create and suffer from interference with other wireless devices in the home, an issue that has only gotten worse as more consumer products go wireless.

Philips Avent Dect Audio Baby Monitor SCD720/86

Phillips came up with a fix when they designed the Avent, a baby monitor that automatically selects from more than 60 channels to eliminate noise. Their Basic Baby Monitor w/ DECT Technology takes things many steps further, offering units that detach from base stations so the parents can monitor in a truly wireless fashion, plus noise-level indicator lights that reveal sound in baby’s room even when the volume is turned off, and a two-way intercom so parents can try soothing restless tots remotely, which may work as infants drift in and out of sleep. The price tag's not low, but this audio-only monitor is one premium gadget that truly is a treat for new parents.

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Gear Up at 7 months of Pregnancy

Be a savvy grandparent There's no need for you to dig deep into the latest literature of parenting styles and strategies - new parents do best with well-timed input based on your wealth of experience, not your knowledge of the latest trends. The best thing soon-to-be grandparents can do while they wait for the new baby is learn how to fill this special role, and how to do it in a way that reflects the pressures and challenges new parents face in today's rapidly changing world. We recommend these two books - get started now!

The Granny Diaries: An Opinionated How-To Guide

The Granny Diaries: An Opinionated How-To Guide

Funny, smart , and on-target, Adair Lara's instruction manual helps grandparents maintain perspective and revel in their new role. It's a quick read that won't teach you anything new about babies but will help you navigate your new relationship with your own kid.

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Buy Buy Baby: How Consumer Culture Manipulates Parents and Harms Young Minds

Buy, Buy Baby: How Consumer Culture Manipulates Parents and Harms Young Minds

The baby-product market has mushroomed in the past decade, and this book is a call to arms against aggressive marketing to parents and ever-younger audiences. Buy Buy Baby can help you figure out what Mom and Dad and their baby really need and what marketers have tricked you into thinking they need, and it can help caregivers and gift-givers identify priorities to regain control of their influence on young children. Read it, and then pass it on to the parents.

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Gear Up at 8 months of Pregnancy

Get ready to "wear" your grandbaby Carrying or "wearing" an infant is one of the best ways for parents to get things done while bonding with their baby, and it can have the same benefit for grandparents. But what works for new moms and dads may be hard on your back. If you plan to be caring for your grandchild on any type of regular basis, consider investing in a soft-structured carrier. Much like a frame backpack, it offers better back support than softer carriers, slings or wraps by placing most of the baby’s weight on your hips rather than your shoulders.

Ergobaby Omni 360 All-in-One Ergonomic Baby Carrier

The Ergo carrier is a great choice. It features an optional insert for carrying newborns and a design that makes it possible to use through toddlerhood (should your back be so inclined).

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Gear Up at 9 months of Pregnancy

Babyproof your grandkid's home away from home For many grandparents, baby proofing is an afterthought, but if you hope to be favored babysitters, you'll want to install the latest basic safety devices. Doing so, even if the baby's only visiting for a couple of days, will allow you to make minimal adjustments to your  lifestyle and will also put the anxious new parents' minds at ease.

Cabinet and drawer devices, safety gates and outlet covers will most likely be familiar devices from your own parenting years; more recent innovations include blind cord wind-up devices and covers to secure plugged-in cords. A variety of new outlet covers are designed to provide easier access for you when you need to plug something in, but none of them do it very well.

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