We’ve arrived at the final week of the baby giveaways – which means I’m awfully close to having a baby! I’ve saved the best for last and you have a chance to win a CHICCO KEYFIT 30 INFANT CAR SEAT! (Scroll down to the bottom of the page to enter)

Today I’m addressing baby gear: the baby items that I found myself pouring so much time and energy into researching each brand and model (because some were considerable investments). I’ll be the first to admit (because if I don’t, my husband will) that I’ve made some purchasing mistakes and some things we purchased didn’t pan out like I hoped they would and other things have far exceeded my expectations. Here are a few of the favorite and essentials for me.
Life with Fingerprints: Baby Gear Essentials
1. Chicco KeyFit 30 Infant Car Seat:
We are on our third carseat – fourth child…don’t ask (best described as a series of unfortunate events!) We used both the Graco Snugride and the Chicco KeyFit 30 and I like the Chicco much better. One of my favorite features is the one handed removal from the base (our Graco required two hands) – I always seem to have my hands full and an easy release from the base is amazing. The straps are extremely easy to adjust which never seem to tangle and the fabric seems to wipe down much easier than our previous seat. It’s a very sturdy seat that feels much more stable than some of the other models we’ve previously used.

You can use it up to 30 pounds which I originally didn’t think was much of a selling feature because who in the world is going to cart around a 30 pound child in an infant seat. However, as Mr. B got older and heavier, we kept the seat rear facing in the car (rarely removed it) and he stayed in it rear facing until almost 20 months when we swapped it out for a convertible seat. (It was much more narrow than a convertible seat which is why we preferred it instead – took up less space in the car). Our model also came with a convenient infant insert (that sits underneath them) which meant the many times there were diaper blowouts, they were contained within the insert which made clean up a breeze! Our stroller (Phil and Teds) has an optional piece to purchase that allows the carseat to lock into the stroller – I’m all about the convenience!) Some might complain that they don’t have a lot of patterns – this is really a win for me as I’m always looking for the most gender neutral and classic colors as possible. Find it here or www.chiccousa.com

2. JJ Cole Urban Bundle Me: For those living in a cold climate will love this product. It can be difficult to keep a baby warm in a carseat as you try and stuff blankets around them as they’re buckled. Then, of course, you step out the door and before long the blankets are kicked loose. The BundleMe sits underneath them (the straps run through) and then zips to cover them. It’s easy to unzip to get them in and out without any awkwardness. Love the Urban line – shouldn’t come as a surprise that I own it in black and although I live in Arizona now and still can’t bring myself to get rid of it! Find it here

3. Phil & Teds Stroller: With our first child we were students and on a very tight budget and we bought what we thought was a really great stroller that was expensive for us at the time. It didn’t meet all our needs so another was purchased. And then kid number two rolled around and we started looking for a double. I did a lot of research and came across the Phil and Teds Explorer stroller (a model they don’t sell any more). It was expensive and seemed ridiculously overpriced but I had already spent a lot of money on two previous strollers which already needed to be replaced, so I made the plunge – I haven’t been more pleased with a baby purchase.

Things I love about it: I can be a single or double stroller at any given time, I don’t have to switch out strollers from the car depending on how many kids I’m taking out. It has inflatable tires (although they can go flat) which means it’s always a smooth ride. You can configure the stroller a number of different ways depending on your need. It’s all black – I love when products don’t have a pattern! You can attach a car seat to it. It has a slim frame which means it’s easily maneuvered through tighter spaces.

I know it’s a chunk of change but we’re going 5 years strong and we don’t plan on buying another stroller! Find it here

4. Bumbo Seat: This is really for when the baby is tad older; when they can hold their head well on their own. It seems as though babies like to sit up even when they can’t do it on their own and all of my babies have loved sitting in this seat. We also purchased a little tray that attaches to it which is great. It is easily wiped down and we’ve even used it as a portable high chair. Major disadvantage – it only comes in bright and colorful colors and if you’ve followed my baby essentials at all you know I have a love for everything gray and black! Find it here

5. High Chair: a high chair is a must and I have to say we’ve tried a lot of them. There’s two styles in particular that I like for different reasons. We have Phil and Teds Lobster Chair – it doesn’t fit on our table, but we attach it to the granite at our bar area. This isn’t a great seat when they’re young because it offers no comfort or support – but at about 9 months old we started our kids in it and it worked awesome. It’s easy to clean underneath and it folds completely flat which allowed us to take it with us anywhere we wanted to go. It was convenient. When our children are younger, we use a slim fold Graco chair. It is equipped with adjustable height (you can make it table height) and it offers some reclining features which is helpful when the baby is learning how to eat. Of course you need room in a kitchen to set it and it has many more nooks and crannies to clean out which can be a pain but I much prefer it over the high chair that sits on top of a chair – just my preference. Find it here

6. Graco Pack and Play: I already reviewed this item in my sleeping essentials post (here) but felt it was worth the mention again because it falls under the baby “gear” section as well and we use it a lot.

Now for the fun part – you have the chance to try out one of my favorite products by entering a giveaway for a Chicco KeyFit 30 Infant Car Seat. Open to US residents only.
a Rafflecopter giveaway

And just in case you need a little more information regarding carseats – check out the infographic below. (Did you know last month was Car Seat Safety month?) Check out your seats – make sure they’re installed properly; if you’re not sure, take it to a hospital or fire-station and they’ll make sure for you!
Car Seat Safety