A friend of mine is a co-founder of weeSpring.com. It’s basically Yelp for baby gear only better – a way to see what your friends think about that stroller you have been lusting after, not just the 200 random reviewers on Amazon or Diapers.com. If you haven’t signed up yet, you should definitely check it out. Whether you are expecting, will be again or have friends or family who are, it’s definitely worth signing up!
As an early user of the site, my friend asked me to be a featured parent, and as such, I had to select my three favorite baby items to recommend to other parents… this was tough. Just three? The reality is, at every age or development stage, there were at least three things I absolutely wouldn’t have survived without (okay, maybe that’s a little dramatic – but these things certainly made life a lot better). And on the flipside, there was plenty we wasted money on and could have done without. Through Our Favorite Things series, we hope to share with you what we loved, and what we didn’t, so you can learn from our trials and tribulations and hopefully save yourself some cash along the way. As with all things kid-related, every kid and parent is different – so feel free to comment and share your views too!
For the first few weeks, there was nothing we used as much as our swing. Sure, for the first few days, you cannot imagine doing anything but hold and snuggle with your new little bundle of joy, not to mention all the visitors eager to get their snuggles in too. But soon, reality hits and you actually need to do laundry, dishes, pump between feedings, or just go to the bathroom!
Infants are used to the daily swaying motion of being suspended in fluid as you walk around all day long. On the outside, they continue to be soothed by this motion – whether it is the continual motion of the swing, or that of your arms which eventually become fatigued. Unless you are the type who plans to wear your baby 24/7, you will not survive the first three months without a swing. The swing also comes in handy in later months when the first illness descends and your baby doesn’t understand why they can’t breathe through a stuffed up nose.
CAUTION: Do not use the swing to rock your baby to sleep for every nap and every night. They will become dependent on it. In the first few days, weeks, when it seems all they do is sleep, it’s certainly acceptable to use it for the occasional nap… and when you are completely desperate to get a seemingly sleepless infant to pass out. Also, ALWAYS strap your baby in, even if you think they can’t get out on their own yet.
Our pick: Graco DuetSoothe Swing with Rocker
There are lots of options out there, but we loved this swing for multiple reasons. First, it had an adjustable recline – so you can use it at a more upright position, if your baby is sick, has reflux or you want them to remain more active and awake. Or lean it back more for a more sleep–inducing position. I also found this seat accommodates a child for longer than many other swings. Most of my friends’ babies outgrew their swings by 6 months or so. Our first is an 80-90 percentile height and weight child, and she could fit in her swing at nearly a year old. Second, the seat vibrates. We love anything that provides us two or more products in one – don’t need a vibrating chair – our swing does it! Next, the swing seat actually snaps out of the frame and the frame will hold most standard infant, car seats. This is an amazing feature for when your infant falls asleep in the car and you want to keep them sleeping. Fellow mommy friends love it when they come over for playdates too. And as I discovered with #2, she actually preferred to sit in the removed seat on the ground, where it rocked naturally, and my toddler loved to get in it too – she called it her “cozy chair”. Last but not least, it has a built in sound machine. Again – dual or triple purpose products are a win-win-win. Heartbeat, ocean waves, pre-programmed lullabies, or hook up your iPod and play your own lullaby playlist.
As lactation consultants and breastfeeding moms everywhere cringe, I exclusively breastfed my first for a full year, and I would not have survived the first year without our binkie of choice, the Wubbanub.
I had been forewarned of the dangers of nipple confusion, and as a first time mom, did not allow my daughter to use a binkie at the hospital or for our first few days at home. I distinctly remember about the third night we were home, after having fed, burped and changed her, she was still screaming bloody murder… and my husband said, let’s just try it. We gave her a Soothie pacifier, and she was instantly quiet and asleep just minutes later. She nursed at her next feeding without issue. She also readily used a bottle within her first week as well. In fairness, she latched well from the get-go, and we never had any nursing issues… or maybe making sure all that was the case in the first few days before we introduced Soothies and bottles helped. All I know is she loved her Soothie – and used it to sleep every night from infancy well into toddlerhood.
That being said, in the early months, when I would go in just to give her binkie back in the middle of the night, I cursed myself for introducing it in the first place, but the night she learned to grab it and put it back in her mouth herself was miraculous. The Wubbanub makes this much easier.
The Wubbanub is another one of those incredible, multi-purpose products. It serves as pacifier and lovey in one. Long after my toddler stopped using it as a pacifier, she still went to sleep with it every night, rubbing its ears or feet to soothe herself to sleep. Earlier on, when it would fall out, the animal attachment keeps it from rolling away or out of the crib and makes it much easier for them to grab and put it back in themselves. I will say I am one of those moms who cringes when I see toddlers walking around with a pacifier in their mouths – from the get go, we never used one anywhere but the crib, and occasionally the car, when the intention was to nap in the car. If your baby doesn’t like the Soothie style pacifier, as Lil’ M did not, have no fear – the Paci-Plushie is a great substitute and attaches to any traditional pacifier.
As tempting and as cute as they may be, there is not a bigger waste out there than shoes for infants. They are usually too big, no matter how small they appear, and obviously, totally unnecessary. Socks, however, are a necessity to keep those tiny toes warm and snuggly. And there is nothing more frustrating than socks that don’t stay on those tiny toes. Having tried all varieties, brands and styles… these two brands pass our parent test.
Our picks: Trumpette Infant Socks and BabyGap
While admittedly, the Trumpette socks don’t always pass the “stay on great” test, they are just too adorable to not own. For us, they meet the dual-purpose product test: a sock that looks like a shoe and makes infant outfits complete, with a whole host of varieties for boys and girls. Our most favorite sock, and still favorite over two years later, is the BabyGap sock. They literally are the only socks that never came off – until she learned to pull them off herself. They also have non-skid print on them, no matter the size or style. It may not be necessary in the 0-6 month size, but once they start standing on their own, it’s a necessity.
In the early days when spit-up is as, or more, common than poopy diapers, you can never have too many burp cloths. And I’m sorry, but those cutesy ones that are about 4 inches wide and 8 inches long are totally worthless. Save yourself a few shirt changes, and invest in ones that really work. These are our favorites, and they are still cute – we promise!
Our picks: aden + anais Burpy Bib and Old School Cloth Diapers
While not my intention, I’m beginning to realize that all of my favorite baby products fall into the dual-purpose product camp. Aden & Anais Burpy Bibs (formerly known as Dribble Bibs) are the best ever – if you are bottle feeding, they make a great bib, circling the baby’s whole neck, covering their front and shoulders, and snapping closed. When you are done, snap it off, throw it over your shoulder and you have a dual-purpose bib and burp cloth. They also make great bibs when you start solids too!
Our other favorite burp cloth is not a burp cloth at all, but traditional, old school pre-fold cloth diapers. They are cheap, absorbent and a good size for burp cloth purposes. I have heard they are getting tougher to find as many crafters now buy them all up to upgrade them into cutesy burp cloths. Our personal favorite, and go-to “new baby welcome gift,” come from Silly Pickles. We received these as a gift from my husband’s boss when our first was born, and they were always the first burp cloths pulled from the drawer.
Not So Favorite Things
Before my first was born, everyone told me I had to have this… and it wasn’t cheap. The pillow itself is $25 and the covers, which of course you need more than one in case the first gets dirty, are $20 a piece! So my boppy and two covers ran $65. I exclusively breastfed for the first year, and never got the boppy to work for me. I don’t know if I’m too tall or what, but I found feedings easiest in a big overstuffed chair – the plush arms were the right height to support my arm while holding and feeding the baby.
Fortunately, I did eventually find a use for the boppy, so it wasn’t a total waste. It is helpful for tummy time early on, when being totally flat makes them very unhappy and even spit-up at times. In the first month or two, it was the only way we had happy tummy time.
“Fuzzy” Jammies and Layette Gowns
Despite all those cutesy outfits you may be tempted to buy for your newborn – save yourself the money. They pretty much live in footed pjs or onesies with pants for the first few months of life, with the occasional outfit for a special occasion. However, there are two pj varieties we didn’t care for. First, as cute and snuggly as they seem, many fuzzy or fleece pajamas are made of polyester, not breathable and make babies sweat. This caused my daughter to break out in a rash – and we subsequently stopped using them. You can find fleece or flannel varieties that are 100% cotton. These are much better.
Second, layette gowns – they seem like a great idea. A nightgown, with a stretchy elastic bottom that keeps their feet in but raises easily for diaper changes. WRONG. Maybe it was just our bad luck, but literally, every time I put one of these on my daughter, she would have the most massive poop explosion ever. Unlike other pjs that unbutton or unzip and peel off, the only way out of the gowns is over the head… which means smearing poop everywhere. Also, our munchkin was not a fan of being swaddled or confined. I felt like she didn’t like her legs getting tangled inside the gown either.
When we did dress our daughter in something other than pajamas, I only made the mistake of putting her in a non-onesie outfit once. Babies are floppy – and when handling them, their clothes ride up if not held in place. Shirts that don’t snap securely around their cute little bums ride up and get wrinkled underneath them. We loved onesies with matching leggings (BabyGap and Carter’s make a great assortment), and we also love onesies that look like tops (BabyGap and Polo make great ones for boys and girls).
Dreft is a total waste of money. For babies with sensitive skin, it’s even worse than a waste of money – it can do more harm than good. We use Tide Free and Clear or All Clear and wash all our laundry together. Sure, it doesn’t have that sweet baby scent, but for sensitive skin, that scent and detergent color can be irritating. Detergent of all types is expensive – no need to pay a premium for a special baby variety or buy two different kinds.
These made our lists for the first 3 months… let us know what would be on your list!