I’m the type of person that you would call a Planner. As soon as I found out I was pregnant, I started my baby registry. I have bought pretty much everything in the baby aisle of the store, for those “just-in-case” moments. Some of it was useful, some of it was not (yet). I have even bought outfits that are size 2T, and my baby is not even a year old yet, nor anywhere near that size! You see my point: I’ve tried a lot of stuff. Looking back, there are some things that make my life so much easier, so I am making this recommendation list for other parents of babies.
These items are not necessarily The Most Important Things a Baby Needs, but these are things that I use all the time. All babies are different, so just because I use one item over another doesn’t mean that it will necessarily work for you, so just keep that in mind. With that being said, here is my list of helpful baby products (for babies from 0-6 months).
(The pictures are hotlinks to where you can buy the product if you are interested–these are not referral links and I am in no way compensated for purchases or reviews.)
The ERGObaby is something that I use almost every day. I bought the carrier because I live in a city and I wanted something that I could easily maneuver on the craggy sidewalks. I considered a front-facing carrier like the Baby Bjorn, but then I read the research on hip dysplasia and I decided that the ERGO was the carrier for me. It has nice padded shoulders and a strap that makes the weight of the carrier rest on your hips instead of just your shoulders/back–and this was important to me because I suffer from almost chronic sciatica, so anything that can save my lower back is a must. The ERGO also has a zippered pocket on the back and an attached hood, which is handy for bad weather, letting a baby sleep without distraction, and discrete (if you want a little privacy) breastfeeding in public.
I first started using the carrier when my baby was three weeks old. She was going through one of her episodes of inconsolable crying, and I didn’t know what to do, so I strapped her into the ERGO and started doing chores. I don’t know if it was just the motion or the fact that she was cuddled up with me, but she was asleep within five minutes–a fucking miracle, if you’ve ever been in that situation where the baby is crying for seemingly no reason. (My pediatrician also told me that babies who are held more cry less–again, YMMV.)
The ERGO can be carried in the front, back, or the side (although I’ve only done the front so far). The baby only faces towards you, not outwards (so if front-facing is important to you, you may consider a different carrier–although to be honest, my baby didn’t really care about front-facing). For babies between 5-12 pounds, ERGO recommends that you strap the baby into the Infant Insert first, but that adds an extra layer of warmth onto the baby, so be careful if you’re going outside in hot weather. (Honestly, I was really glad once we were able to ditch the insert.)
Jolly Jumper Carrier Cover
I live in a cold climate, so finding a cover for my baby carrier was a must. After a lot of research, I found the Jolly Jumper Snuggle Cover. It looks better than the other ones I found because it has a water-resistant outer layer, a fleece-lined interior, a hood, and it can be used with a variety of carriers, car seats, and strollers. Since you’re not supposed to dress your baby in bulky clothes or use bulky inserts in your car seat, this is a nice alternative, because it can be used as a carseat blanket after you’ve strapped your baby in. It also has a little pocket at the bottom for your hands and the holes go all the way inside in case you feel this all-consuming need to touch your baby constantly (which apparently I do!). The only thing I don’t like about the Jolly Jumper is that the hood really doesn’t stay on the baby’s head unless she’s asleep, so pack your own hat if you need one.
Science Fiction Flensted Baby Mobile
From the second I saw this Flensted Baby Mobile, I knew I had to have it. My baby’s room was loosely-themed in a science fiction style (and there aren’t exactly a ton of baby decor items that are scifi-related), but this mobile was perfect. When I received it, it was a bit flimsy and it was attached to a piece of fishing line that I had to staple to the ceiling. The string it hangs on is short, so it doesn’t come anywhere near the baby, which is good because it is a pretty flimsy mobile, but its flimsiness works to its advantage. You see, the mobile is strung close to the changing table, and when my hands are busy dealing with a Level 3 Containment Breach, all I need to do is blow on the mobile and the circles start spinning around, attracting the baby’s attention and saving me from the perils of a wiggling baby. Flensted has a bunch of other cool mobiles, but this one was my favorite just because it was so unique. Plus I love the fact that I can operate it by blowing on it! And now my daughter tries to blow on it too, which is extra cute. Highly Recommended, Would Do Business With Again, A++++!!!
Fisher-Price Deluxe Newborn Rock ‘N Play Sleeper (a.k.a. The Snugabunny)
My baby did not sleep in a crib for the first few months of her life–because it was just so much easier to keep her in the Snugabunny. The Rock N Play was small enough that we could easily slide it around the house and keep it in the living room for impromptu naps, but big enough that I felt like the baby was safe and comfy. At night, we slid it next to my side of the bed and it made night feeding so much easier (plus all those times that I woke up from a nightmare that she wasn’t OK, and I could just look over the side of the bed and touch her and be reassured). During the day, the baby would hang out with me in the living room, and I could prop a toy in her lap and have her entertain herself while I did chores. Also, if your baby is congested or has reflux, keeping them at an angle helps out with that, so double bonus on the angled back.
One reason I recommend the Snugabunny over the other Rock N Plays is because the bunny insert comes out and makes washing much easier (although you can wash the whole cover if you need to). Plus, it’s an adorable bunny!
The Snugabunny holds a baby up to 25 pounds, although we stopped using it way before the weight limit because the baby was starting to arch her back and try to get out when she wanted to play on the ground instead of take a nap (I would say that was around 5 months).
The NoseFrida SnotSucker
This product is called the SnotSucker and it does exactly that. For everyone who worked in a lab before the 1990’s, this is essentially a mouth-pipette. People always get really grossed out when I tell them about this product, but it’s a fucking lifesaver. Every time the baby gets sick, she gets super congested (just like me, woo hoo genetics!) and she can’t breathe through her nose, which means that she can’t nurse or soothe herself with her pacifier.
There’s a good distance and a filter between your mouth and the baby’s nose, so don’t worry about any accidental booger ingestion (there’s really no good way to say that). If you get a good technique, you can have a cleared nose in less than a minute! Here’s what I do: spray some saline up both nostrils, wait about a minute, use the SnotSucker (blowing out into a tissue every couple of seconds) until each nostril is clear, finish up with a tissue. To be honest, it took my daughter a while before she stopped screaming while I was clearing out her nose, but it wasn’t because she was in pain (the SnotSucker only barely goes into the nose due to its wide tip), she was just irritated that she couldn’t be soothed in that moment. Once I finished, though, she was able to feed or use her pacifier and go back to sleep.
BoogieMist Saline Spray
As mentioned previously, my baby gets very congested when she gets a cold, and even though she’s not yet a year old, I think we’ve probably had about eight colds/viruses/etc. so far. Originally, when I would have to clear out her nose, I would just use some generic saline drops on her, which would require me to put her on her back and hold down her wiggling arms and legs while also trying to get a couple of drops of saline in her tiny nose. This was a bit like the scene from Star Wars: A New Hope where Luke Skywalker is flying his X-Wing down the Death Star trench, trying to fire his proton torpedo down the thermal exhaust port.
So in my search for easier ways to clear my daughter’s nose, I found BoogieMist in a spray can. Now, the baby sits upright in my lap, with me holding her, and I just push the button and give her a couple of saline squirts up her nose. Because she is sitting up and in my lap, she doesn’t squirm as much and she is much less stressed out. Now, I clear her nose out and it’s no big deal–a great improvement over my earlier attempts!
Receiving Blankets and UnPaper Towels
I use a lot of rags, paper towels, tissues, etc. around my house, so I was delighted to find these UnPaper Towels. They’re small and I use them for everything: cleaning noses, wiping spit-up, using as dinner napkins, cleaning hands after dinner, etc. I always keep one in my pocket, and even though my daughter does not spit up that much, I use one of these towels all the time. Even as an impromptu peekabo toy! Since these are reusable, I don’t have to worry about leaving them in my pocket when I wash my pants.
The second thing I mentioned was receiving blankets. You might get a lot of these at your baby shower and they have a million uses. I use mine to put on top of my changing pad (so that I don’t have to change the cover for every accident), but you can also use them to clean up bigger messes, as swaddling blankets (although my baby hated swaddling so I never did that), as warm-weather blankets, as picnic/ground cover blankets, spit-up shoulder rags after feedings, etc. I’ve found receiving blankets to be much more utilitarian than I first thought!
Skip Hop Pronto Diaper Changer Kit
I registered for and received a giant diaper bag, but then once I had a baby, I realized that I didn’t want to be carrying around so much stuff all the time. I’m a minimalist, and that’s why this mini diaper bag really appealed to me. It has pockets for wipes, diapers, a changing pad, and an extra outfit. (This mini bag looks nice too because it has an extra pocket for baggies.) Now when I leave the house, I pretty much just bring the Skip Hop mini diaper bag, the carrier, and the baby (and whatever random toys/Cheerios are in the car).
White Noise Machine
I’ve been sleeping with a white noise machine for at least 10 years, so I definitely wanted to get one of these for the baby. Some white noise machines are just tinny nature recordings (seriously, it says “rain” on the label but it does not sound like rain), but this one works like a mini fan with a more concentrated noise setting. You can adjust the sound to get it just right, and it comes with two speeds. It’s better than just a fan because the noise is a bit more even, plus you’re not blowing wind all over the room. (Although I do sleep with a fan in addition to the white noise machine because I like to be cold at night.) The nice thing is that my baby is used to sleeping with background noise, so she has no trouble falling asleep at daycare. (The daycare teachers told me that they can tell which babies are used to sleeping in quiet vs. noisy environments.) If you’re going to get a white noise machine, get this one.
Simple Wishes Hands Free Breastpump Bra
When I first had to use a breastpump, I felt like the most ridiculous person who ever lived. Even after being naked in the birthing suite and having no shame about the multiple people who were interested in the status of my vagina, once the lactation consultant hooked me up to the breastpump and my nipples started thrusting, I was like, “Oh, this is what a cow must feel like.” (And later, “Oh! This is why dairy cows moo a lot when they haven’t been milked for a while!”) Did you know that you have to cup the flanges under your nipples and sit at a forward-angle so that milk does not spill out the bottom? (And if you’ve never pumped, you don’t know the extreme sadness that occurs when you lose half an ounce of milk to clumsiness.)
My point is, I resisted getting a pumping bra for a few months because it looks fucking ridiculous. But you know what, it works. And our family motto is, “If it’s stupid but it works, then it’s not stupid.” This bra holds the flanges onto your breasts and your hands are free to do any of the million other things that a mother needs to do to get through the day! I don’t wear it as a regular bra (it would look weird under a shirt), but I keep it in my pumping bag for when I need it. Now that I have a routine down, pumping doesn’t even bother me anymore and I don’t feel so weird with tubes and shit hooked up to my nipples.