About two years ago, I decided that my gaming situation needed an upgrade. I had always been a Playstation man but the sweet symphony of a clicky Cherry MX blue mechanical keyboard and slip-sliding of an optical mouse were calling my name.
Thus I began the process of meticulously researching, reading reviews, and creating lists on PCPartPicker to optimize my build and pick the best 8 PC components I could afford (CPU, GPU, motherboard, RAM, PSU, SSD, cooling, case). I then set out to put together the ultimate gaming PC. It was so much fun doing all the research, shopping around (mostly in Sham Shui Po and Wan Chai computer centers) and putting the parts together. It was almost disappointing when it had all come together. Half the fun was in the preparation and anticipation. As the legendary Drake once said “Sometimes it’s the journey that teaches you a lot about your destination”.
Fast forward to a few months ago. I just found out I’d be embarking on the journey of being a first time father. After getting over the initial shock and excitement of the news, it dawned on me. Babies need a lot of gear. And I love buying gear. I could replicate that same wonderful process of research, review reading, and building that I had just gone through when putting together my PC but now with essential baby gear!
In the near future, the items that I’d be picking out would be used to transport, soothe, and entertain my little baby. This alone was enough to make me take this very seriously. But I also wanted to have some fun with it.
Once everything was purchased and spread out in our apartment, I would conclude that there were 6 items of essential baby gear that needed a decent amount of research.
Please note that this is from the point of view of a father. I’m sure mom would have a different idea of what goes into her top 6, but this my blog, baby! Below is my list of the 6 pieces of essential baby gear and why I chose each item.
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1. Car Seat – Britax B-Safe Ultra Infant Car Seat
Safety is the key here. This is really your first priority when it comes to your essential baby gear. And also how stylish you’ll look when you walk out of the hospital with this hanging from your side. Two layers of side impact protection, simple installation with a car seat base, and mesh fabric for those hot Hong Kong summers make this one a winner. Plus, the royal family uses it! If it’s good enough for a prince, you can’t really go wrong with this brand.
One thing to consider upfront is whether to jump straight to a convertible car seat at the beginning (e.g. one that can be front and back facing) or transition from an infant car seat (like this one, rear facing only) to a toddler car seat later on. Weight and height limits for this infant car seat are 4-35 lbs and 32 inches respectively. Therefore, this car seat would work for your average 1-2 year old. You’ll probably bump into the height limit sooner than the weight limit.
Obviously buying two seats will end up costing more in the long run. But I think an infant car seat allows for easier movement into and out of a car without waking a sleeping baby. Also, some hospitals won’t allow you to take your newborn baby home without a proper infant car seat. This may apply to public or private hospitals.
2. Stroller – Britax B-Lively Lightweight Stroller
The stroller choice really follows with the car seat choice. It makes sense to go with a travel system (a car seat that can attach to a stroller) for ease of travel, especially when the baby is too small to sit in the stroller alone. These two Britax items come in a travel system. The Britax B-Safe Ultra fits easily into the B-Lively Stroller when you’re on the go. Just pop it out of the car seat base and click it into the stroller. Plus, the wheels are huge and very maneuverable which helps with bumpy city sidewalks.
3. Crib – Babyletto Hudson 3-in-1 Convertible Crib
This was consistently ranked as one of the safest cribs throughout my research. Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) is one of my biggest fears so I’m overcautious when it comes to anything sleep related. It’s perfect that Babyletto not only makes cribs but also mattresses and fitted sheets.
To minimize the risk of SIDS, it helps to ensure that your mattress and bedsheets all fit snugly so there are no choking hazards. Also make sure your baby sleeps on his/her back and keep the crib as bare as possible. No stuffed toys or pillows!
For the cost minded parent, this crib can be converted from crib to toddler bed and daybed with an included toddler bed conversion kit. Therefore, you can continue using this product well into the toddler years. Also suitable for parents of all sizes with four adjustable mattress positions included. You can pick up your baby without throwing out your back and you can lower the mattress height as the baby learns to sit and stand.
4. Baby Carrier – Lillebaby The Complete Airflow
This is a Hong Kong hot climate pick. A baby carrier is almost mandatory especially in those early years when the baby can’t walk yet. You’ll need to carry the baby everywhere but sometimes you need two free hands to get something done. Strapping your baby in with a baby carrier is the only option.
But walking around with a 10-20 lbs baby strapped to your chest/back for more than 5 minutes in the Hong Kong 32°C, 80% humidity summer can get gross pretty quick. Fortunately, this carrier is made with cool, breathable 3D mesh so air can flow through.
This product is also certified hip healthy by the International Hip Dysplasia Institute. The baby’s hip should be supported all the way to the knee joint (e.g. legs shouldn’t be dangling from the hip but at the knee). If it is not, the resulting force could result in hip dysplasia.
5. Nanny Cam / Baby Monitor – Wyze Cam 1080p Indoor Camera
I am no expert in CCTV or home monitoring, but at US$25 / HK$200 per camera, how can you really go wrong?! I had my reservations because of the low price, but purchased 4 of these to be installed around the apartment anyway. They are quick and easy to set up and come with a magnetic base so they can be placed sideways on walls or even upside down on the ceiling.
The app is also very easy to use and comes with programmable rules. For example, you can create a button to turn all cameras off when you’re home. Easily share cameras with your spouse or other adults living together so you can all monitor your home. Especially helpful in Hong Kong as most families hire live-in helpers.
They also have great customer service, so shout out to Wyze. We had one camera suddenly stop working as it would shut off on its own constantly. They quickly responded to our emails and offered a free replacement, shipping included.
6. Changing Table – Herschel Change Mat + Summer Infant Contoured Changing Pad
This is kind of a combination purchase so not really a big ticket item as much as a recommendation for what NOT to buy. With the small apartment sizes in Hong Kong, it’s not practical to have a piece of furniture solely for changing your baby’s diaper.
This is why we went with a combination of a travel changing mat and a sturdier changing pad. You can place these anywhere in your home like on the bed, couch, dresser, or floor to get a quick diaper change done. You also don’t run the risk of the baby freaking out and rolling off a narrow changing table.
Hopefully this is helpful for all those dads out there looking to build up their essential baby gear collection. Please let me know if you have any opinions on the above items or if I missed out on any big ticket purchases that you found essential.