It's amazing how baby gear can accumulate in your home once a baby arrives. We all know that baby care is much easier with some basic items such as a crib, clothes, bath items and perhaps bottles, but there are some other items that I never knew I would come to rely on so much. I'm not proposing we clutter up your home more with ten additional items but listed below are ten items I found to be essential for both the care and entertainment of my little one. Read on....
Not just one that goes back and forth but a side-to-side swing. This was a lifesaver for us! Dozens of naps took place in that swing. Note that not every baby loves a swing and mine did not love the traditional back and forth swing but side-to-side was the trick! We even accomplished an incredible five afternoon hour nap in that swing one day! (*Another note: swings are pricey and only needed until they are about 7 months old so if you’re not opposed to secondhand, Craig’s List is a great place to purchase one!)
2) Grobag Baby Sleep Bag
In the Northeast, it’s just too cold at night for a baby who isn’t swaddled but cannot yet use blankets. Even blanket sleepers are not enough when it’s below 70 degrees in the house at night. Other sleepsacks are great in the fall or early spring but nothing beats a 2.5 tog Grobag for the colder nights. Bundle the baby up in a blanket sleeper (long-sleeved t-shirt underneath if the temperature in the room is between 65 and 70) and then put on the Grobag. They are exceptionally long but that makes it easier and more comfortable for the baby to move around. Sized by their actual age.
3) A bouncy seat
Fisher Price makes a great one (the Rainforest model), which vibrates, plays music and has little animals that move…and you can pick and choose which feature you use. We also love our Baby Bjorn bouncy seat. There are no electronic features but it has been great for many other reasons- portability, sleeping, great bounciness and also can be used much longer.
4) Kiddopotamus SwaddleMe
We have used the swaddling technique for napping WAY longer than other parents because it works so well for us and the SwaddleMe is great for quickly and easily swaddling. It only comes in small and large, which is a bit annoying. Don’t buy the jersey knit kind- babies like to be swaddled firmly/tightly and the jersey knit is stretchy and won’t allow this. We use the organic cotton one but bamboo or cotton are also great choices.
5) “Mini” diaper bags
Okay, I really think you can never have enough bags (diaper or other!) but I do legitimately think mini diaper bags are super handy. I love my Fleurville Escape Pod. I keep our regular size diaper bag fully stocked in the car (another great tip rather than packing and bringing it each time because you will always forget something- or even the bag!) and I also keep a mini one ready to go with just diapers, wipes, a changing pad and a “pat dry” (a.k.a. a washcloth for drying the bum after using the wipes). The mini bag is great for when you don’t want to lug a large bag around and know the only thing you may need from it are diaper changing supplies. I also keep a second mini bag stocked with everything a baby needs when dining out- including a portable high chair ( a “My Little Seat”) because you never know when you’ll be spontaneous again!
6) Toddler (or adult)-sized hooded towels
Believe it or not, the bigger the towel for a baby the better! Two or three infant hooded towels are great but as soon as the baby hits about 10 pounds, they just aren’t big enough to fully cover up a wet baby you are trying to keep warm. I received a handmade adult-sized hooded towel at my shower and even though we all got quite a chuckle out of trying it on, it has been the best item ever for bath time!
7) A Pack N Play with a changing table attachment
We have two Pack N Plays (one upstairs and one downstairs) and use both all the time. We kept the one with the changing table attachment downstairs so that we would not need to run upstairs to the baby’s room every time she needed a diaper change. It has been so helpful! If I had known that before, we would have made sure we registered for one with that feature for upstairs, too. Also, the bassinet feature was a lifesaver for us when the baby outgrew the actual bassinet but we weren’t ready to move her out of our room and into her crib yet. (The canopy top feature is completely unnecessary unless you plan to bring the Pack N Play outside and need to shield the baby from the sun. Even then, when the baby is young enough to actually hang out in there under the canopy, you probably won’t have him/her outside in the heat anyway.)
8) Winter crib sheets
We tried flannel but they are like our flannel sheets- okay but generally a bit rough, stiff and even a little cold. I discovered the best kind to use for the winter- Carter’s Easy Fit Velour Sheets. They are warm and super soft and the baby sleeps so much better on them. I want them for my bed!
9) A good quality baby carrier
We have two excellent soft structured carriers- a Beco and an Angelpack. There is a ton of research about the benefits of “wearing” your baby and we love it! Beware of the “crotch dangler” carriers you see sold everywhere from anything from $15 to $100+…..Baby Bjorn is a big no-no in the baby carrying world. Babies should sit in the carrier with their legs/hips open and not have their legs dangling straight down when in a carrier (bad for hip development, etc.). They also should not face forward when in a front carrier….too over stimulating for a baby. Check out www.TheBabyWearer.com for all the information about baby carriers. I also have a Slingling sling, a Moby wrap and a Zolowear ring sling….so many great ones to choose from but I bought them all online for the best prices and selection.
10) Safety items for sleeping
a breathable bumper, a movement monitor (for under the mattress….detects the movement of the baby breathing and sets off an alarm if they stop), a video monitor (we love the Sharx brand….has 3 channels, which limits the possibility of outsiders picking up your channel). The monitors may seem unnecessary for some but I have to say that the peace of mind it brought us helped us sleep at night.
Oops…the list will have 11 items because I have one more thing I love…
Another great product if you live in the Northeast and like to take walks with your baby. The footmuff looks and acts a lot like a sleeping bag but sits inside the stroller and has holes for the seatbelt to go through. Pop the baby inside and he/she stays nice and toasty on a cool day! Yes, blankets keep a baby warm, too, but try keeping one on a baby during an outing; I spent more time stopping and repositioning it to cover the leg that popped out or the hand that was exposed to the cold. The footmuff is the warmest and easiest way to go!