My previous post discussed the smaller stuff I really used, this one looks at the larger things I really put to work. We're really talking big in space and/or dollars, generally speaking, but still the items we chose to use and that made our lives that much easier. I'd also note that all of these are way under $100s so "big" is pretty relative. In fact, with the exception of gifts, most of these items were found used on Craigslist or in consignment stores.
They sound silly, but, if you're going to travel with a pre-mobile infant, it is an awesome thing to have. We have the Eddy Bauer version and it comes with two dangley toys, and a toy bar which is impossibly to easily store with the travel bed, but cute to have. The great thing is that this has a couple of giant pockets and folds up to throw over your shoulder and voila! You have a clean safe place to set down baby for sleep, or diaper changes, or just because you can. We hauled this thing to Florida and Wisconsin before Jax was two months old and it was a work horse!
I know everyone says it, but it's true. It's not just for breastfeeding... (after all, it was invented as a baby sitting aid). It is a life saver for anyone holding a baby in those "just right" positions that would be super uncomfortable pretty quickly without support. As seen above, it's also handy for diversifying tummy time.
I also suggest springing for a couple of covers (keep an eye out at your local thrift and consignment stores). Boppy's are easy enough to wash, but covers are quicker and there will be spit-up... believe me... lots of spit up.
I intentionally shopped for and bought the Fisher Price Papasan Nature's Touch Cradle Swing for several reasons. 1. It was the least offensive color scheme available. 2. The daycare where I had worked had used it for the three years I had been working there pretty much twelve hours a day and it was still in fine form. 3. I knew I could get it used online or on Craigslist.
The major downside of this swing, which I knew going into it, is that it eats through D sized batteries like a pregnant me consumed Circus Peanuts. We invested in rechargable batteries which was another big chunk up front, but a known sacrifice. I would have preferred a plug in, or better yet, old school crank and wind option, but not to shabby. He loves the mirrored middle of the mobile but is more amused by the things I dangle from it than the leaves and butterflys that come from the factory.
I hate that these and the exersaucers are giant plastic pieces hideousness. Plus, you only use them for a few months, and, they take up a ton of floor space. I'm inventing something better, but it's not done yet. Before you go and suggest I do the door swing or a walker, those are both pretty much universally shunned by the baby world as death traps. The door swings are a strangulation hazard, and the walkers are bad developmentally, and worse for horrific accidents. Don't go looking for the stories, but it's bad news.
The up side is, Jax LOVES this. He bounces and squeals and generally treats it like baby crack. You'll hear that these aren't great developmentally and that your baby shouldn't be in them for extended periods of time... but when I want to spend more than 30 seconds in the bathroom without taking my son along... this thing is priceless.
Baby Bath Tub
This is another one of those things you totally DO NOT need (But I, secretly, love). We have this cute blow up duck and when you pinch his bill he goes all AFLACK sound effects on you... well, more normal duck, but that's what I always think. It's also soft and cushy which is good for a baby who likes to slam his limbs into the water a la the Hulk Smash. It was less than $10, and also pretty easy to deflate if you need your space back. We originally used it on the counter, but now it goes right in the big tub. It has a nifty suction cup to hang up to dry/make space for me to torture the dogs by bathing them.
Look for posts in the near future about babywearing (and my collection of carriers), as well as one on what I really wanted to use... but didn't!