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I’m not claiming to be an expert, but after three kids in five years I’ve learned a whole hell of a lot about baby gear and products! There are few products I haven’t owned, borrowed, researched, or tested in a store. My husband has accused me more than once of being a baby gear hoarder, and he may just be right (but don’t tell him I said that). After all of these years and all of these products I’ve definitely had some stand out favorites. Most of these were things I didn’t even think of registering for with my first baby, and I came upon them on my own as I stumbled through the early years of parenting babies and toddlers. With so many pregnant friends and family members coming to me recently for registry advice, I thought I’d share a list of my absolute favorite tried and tested baby products.
This is the one product I truly believe should be present in every single nursery. I can’t say enough about how amazing it is. The owlet is a smart sock that uses pulse oximetry to measure your baby’s heart rate and oxygen levels while they sleep. It uses bluetooth technology and wifi to sync to your smart phone and shows the data on an easy to use app. Alarms go off to signal when any levels move out of a preset “safe range”. There are also alarms that signal if the sock is not placed correctly or if the unit disconnects from wifi. The sock itself is easy to put on, can be used on either foot, and stays on well even with older and more active babies. My 11 month old jumps and climbs around in his crib and the sock still stays put. I purchased an Anglecare movement and sound monitor when my first son was about 8 weeks old. Between being premature and having severe reflux that caused him to only be able to sleep on his stomach, I was up all night terrified. The Angelcare gave us great peace of mind through my first two babies, but we noticed a lot of false alarms, false readings, and it was very susceptible to user error. I learned about the Owlet during my third pregnancy and was honestly intimidated by the price, but after lots of research and reading the great reviews I decided to make the investment, and I’m so glad I did. You can’t put a price on your child’s safety or your own peace of mind. It’s so easy to use and extremely accurate with almost no room for error. I’ve since purchased one as a gift for my sister and have recommended them nonstop to all of my newly pregnant friends.
Okay, you probably have seen this one on a lot of registries, and that’s because The Rock n Play is an absolute “must have” baby item! It can serve so many functions and is large enough to be used for many months as your baby grows. The Rock n Play is a favorite amongst parents of reflux babies like myself. With my oldest son we had to prop his bassinet up with a box, causing him to slide and slump down all night. The Rock n Play provides a perfectly inclined seat that allows baby to sleep comfortably and safely all night long. The one we had came with a vibration mode and music player that aided in calming my little one to sleep on his own. There are several different models that provide even more functions, such as automatic rocking and smart connect controls. It easily folds flat and is light weight allowing it to be super portable and easy to store. It’s great as a play seat, for feeding, travel, so so many things! We started off using it as a night time sleeper for our fussy reflux baby, then used it as a great play seat as he got older. My favorite use of the Rock n Play though was how easy it made it to travel with an infant. Rather than drag a pack n play, play seat, high chair, and baby swing everywhere we went, we just folded up the Rock n Play, slid it into the backseat of the car, and off we went. It served the purpose of four different baby items in one! The reasonable price and ease of storage makes it a great option for grandparents and other outside caregivers to keep in their home for when baby comes to visit. I seriously loved my Rock n Play so much, I was crushed when my youngest outgrew it!
MamaRoo 4 Infant Seat and Swing by 4moms
If you, like me, have ever been “blessed” with a colicky baby, you know that you’d most likely try anything, no matter the cost, for just a few minutes peace. Enter the MamaRoo! With 5 unique motion settings and a variety of white noise sounds to choose from you’re pretty much guaranteed to find some combination that will soothe your little one. There’s even an mp3 player port to play whatever music you choose. It’s also bluetooth compatible and can be fully controlled from an app!!!! So you can change settings from the couch as you desparately attempt to sneak in a nap. I know it costs more than your average baby swing, but I was lucky if any of my kids lasted more than 5 minutes in the normal swing. It basically became a laundry holder. With my last baby I decided to throw the MamaRoo on my registry and was lucky enough to receive it as a gift! It was seriously a God send for my colicky little monster. For the first few months of his life, if he wasn’t in my arms or attached to my boobs, he was screaming uncontrollably unless he was in the MamaRoo. Definitely worth the extra investment!
LILLEbaby All Seasons Carrier
A baby carrier is an absolute must have baby item. I foolishly didn’t register for one with my first pregnancy thinking I would never need it because I had a stroller. Then I went grocery shopping for the first time after he was born and realized that trying to push a stroller and a shopping cart at the same time just didn’t work. Placing the infant seat in the back of the cart wasn’t an option either if I needed to fit more than 5 items in there too. Add to that nearly four months of Colic where I couldn’t put him down without him screaming, I was desperate for a way to be able to soothe him and have my hands free at the same time. I immediately went shopping and bought myself a carrier and it was a game changer! I could shop, clean the house, socialize at events, soothe a fussy baby, anything I needed to do with two free hands!
I’ve been through many many carriers and wraps through the years with three kids and my absolute favorite by far is the Lillebaby All Seasons Carrier. I have issues with my back and the lumbar support pad allows me to wear my babies and toddlers for extended periods of time without experiencing pain. It can be worn in six different ergonomic hip healthy positions, including forward facing, and has an adjustable seat allowing it to comfortably fit a small infant from 7lbs (without having to purchase a separate insert) up to a 45lb. toddler. I can always find a way to wear him that makes us both happy and comfortable. The adjustable neck support and detachable hood allowed me to nurse discreetly on the go and allowed for better comfort for the baby during nap time. Living in Florida, I had a hard time finding carriers that wouldn’t cause both myself and the baby to overheat. The all seasons carrier was a perfect solution to this problem. It features a breathable yet supportive mesh front pannel and side panels that allow us to keep cool in warm weather, yet still has a solid fabric panel that can be zipped over it for cooler weather days. I’ve used it in the peak of Florida summer and through a cold NJ winter visit and we were both comfortable through all types of temperatures (thus the “all seasons” description). It’s really the only carrier you should ever need!
Fridababy NoseFrida Nasal Aspirator
Okay okay, I know what you’re thinking. You want me to what?! SUCK OUT MY KIDS SNOT WITH MY OWN MOUTH?! So gross! I’m sure those bulb syringe sucker things work just fine with much less gross factor.
…Yeah, I thought the same thing.
But baby #2 was a total snot factory. Between a slight immunodeficiency and an older brother in school bringing home all of the germs, my poor middle child spent basically the entire first two years of his life sick. That little bulb syringe was just not up to the task with that one. So after a lot of friends suggesting I try it, I caved and bought myself a NoseFrida, and it was AMAZING. It did take a bit to get over the gross factor, but once I saw for myself that the filters really do work, and there’s no way that anything is getting into your mouth, I was thrilled with how well it worked and how easy it was to use. Combined with some saline spray, it’s the best way to help clear up those stuffy noses and help everyone feel better and get more rest.
Fisher Price Healthy Care Deluxe Booster Seat
I realized I needed one of these seats the first weekend I spent visiting my mom after my oldest son started solids. Having someone else hold him while he squirmed and wiggled as I tried desperately to get some of the food actually into his mouth and not all over the house and all people involved was just not going to work. I went right out to the store and bought this seat that day and it’s been one of the most useful purchases I’ve ever made. Anytime we go out of town, to friend’s houses, or even out to dinner our seat comes along. You’d be surprised how many family friendly restaurants actually don’t have high chairs that accommodate young babies. They don’t pull up to the table well enough or don’t come with straps. This seat folds into itself making it easy to fit into a suitcase or keep in the car so it’s handy whenever you need it. Whenever we go on vacation we fold it up into a suitcase and we never have to worry about how we’ll feed the baby while we’re away. The seat is easily secured to any chair with adjustable straps around the back and bottom and takes almost no time at all to attach or detach, making it so easy to set up for one time uses. The dishwasher safe tray is perfect for little ones who are just starting to self feed. The three height adjustments and removable back and tray make it a perfect booster seat. We used this on our kitchen chairs when each kid outgrew the highchair but wasn’t tall enough to reach the table just yet. It serves so many uses for so many years!
Boppy Newborn Lounger
It seems like such a simple, unnecessary item, but I freaking love this thing! My babies always liked to be able to see and engage with us and this lounger made that super simple. We would prop them up on our bed, sit them on the kitchen table during dinner, lay them on the bathroom floor while getting ready in the morning, basically anywhere I went the baby on the boppy went too. The slight incline made it a perfect place to lay my reflux babies right after a feeding so they could digest more comfortably. The fact that its so easy to move around the house makes it more convenient than an infant seat or swing for busy awake times with your newborn. The entire pillow can be thrown into the washing machine for easy clean up, which is a definite plus when it comes to infant blow outs and spit up!
Hands Free Pumping Bra
OMG, every single mom who plans to pump breast milk, even on the rarest occasion, must have one of these. When my first son was very unexpectedly born 6 weeks early, I immediately became a full time pumping mom. I was pumping every 2 hours day and night to deliver milk to the NICU. We had just had our baby shower a week before he was born and I didn’t have half of the things I needed. Including a pumping bra. I can’t tell you how many times in those first 3 weeks I fell asleep while pumping and wound up spilling my milk all over myself. Any nursing mom knows that you should indeed cry over spilt milk when you’ve spent hours hooked up to a milking machine like a cow. Plus losing the use of my hands for 20 minutes every couple hours was a real pain in the ass. Unfortunately pumping didn’t work out for me past the first few weeks, but when I was pregnant with my second son a hands free pumping bra was the first thing I added to my registry!
I had to do a lot of searching to find this seat, and I’m so glad I finally did! While I loved our PRIMO EuroBath for my younger babies, when it came time to bathe both kids at the same time in our small shower/tub combo, I needed a more space efficient solution. As soon as son #2 was able to sit on his own, I started searching for a way to fit both boys in the tub at once, while still offering the baby some sort of support as I was apprehensive to have him “free” in the bath just yet. I was surprised to find there weren’t too many bath seats available for older babies that allowed them to sit fully upright in the tub. Finally I stumbled upon the Keter Bath Seat and it was the exact answer I was looking for. I’ve used it through two babies now and just love it. It suctions extremely well to the bottom of the bathtub allowing baby to reach, splash, and play without me having to keep a hand on him at all times for fear of him slipping under the water. It’s small, lightweight, and easy to clean which are all plusses in my book!
The Baby Sleep Solution by Suzy Giordano
Okay, so technically this isn’t exactly a baby “product”, but it’s still on the top of my list of “must haves” for all new parents. I refer to this book as my baby bible. It literally saved my sanity, and possibly my life. I suffered from severe PPD after the birth of my first son. The fact that he had colic and reflux and wouldn’t sleep for more than 20 minutes at a time, day or night, absolutely contributed to my severe anxiety. A friend recommended this book to me when my son was about 8 weeks old. Within 2 weeks of reading it and implementing the steps my life was completely changed. I finally started getting some sleep and was able to plan my days around a schedule, allowing me to start functioning in life again! By 12 weeks old, he was on a set four hour feeding schedule, was putting himself to sleep and sleeping 12 straight hours through the night with two long naps during the day. With sons 2 and 3, utilizing the tools I learned, I was getting 8 hours of sleep a night by 4 weeks old and a full twelve by 9 weeks. The best part about Giordano’s method to me was her limited cry method. The gradual step by step method focuses on scheduling and self soothing so babies slowly learn how to fall asleep and stay asleep on their own, without having to let them cry and cry. I therefore found this method to be a great way to sleep train without causing any trauma to both baby and mom! I’ve since recommended this book to countless friends and family members who have all had great success in getting their babies to sleep through the night too. Seriously, all new moms, READ THIS BOOK!!! Read it, memorize it, learn it, live it. You will thank me!!!!!