Now that I have almost a year of parenting under my belt (what???), I feel like I have a pretty clear understanding of which items I consider to be essential in caring for an infant. Life most first-time moms, I looked to others to help me navigate the overwhelming world of baby products…there are so many options, it’s a wonder that anyone can make a decision! Here are the items that have made my life easier over the past eleven months:
1. Britax Travel System. I did a lot of research when I was car seat and stroller shopping, and given our budget (less than $500) and my desire to have an all-in-one travel system (car seat, base, and stroller in one), I decided on the Britax B-Agile stroller and B-Safe car seat. I love the Britax because it’s easy to maneuver, it folds up with one pull of a strap, and it’s a cinch to get the car seat on and off of it. I also love that the stroller works from infanthood well into toddlerhood. I think the biggest selling point for me was the fact that I didn’t have to buy any extra attachments to connect the car seat to the stroller; everything I needed was included in the travel system. If you have more than one vehicle in your family, I would highly recommend purchasing an extra car seat base so you can easily move the baby from one car to the other without the hassle of base reinstallation. (When we have baby number two, we plan on getting the Britax B-Ready stroller since it can accommodate more than one seat!)
2. Soft Gear Changing Mat. When I was in the market for a changing pad, I wanted something that would make for easy clean-up and not require any extra laundry, so when I discovered this particular model, I was sold. We have loved ours since the day we brought Briar home from the hospital. It cleans like a dream, it doesn’t slide around on the table, and it adds a fun pop of color to the nursery.
3. Ergobaby Carrier and Boba Wrap. These two items are serious lifesavers, especially since I am a work-at-home mom who needs to be hands-free most of the time. I first invested in the Ergo (assuming that I would only need one carrier) but even with the infant insert, it felt way too cumbersome for Briar’s tiny little body during the first three or so months. That’s when I decided to try out a wrap and thankfully, it turned out to be exactly what we needed. The snug fit and cozy fabric were perfect for keeping Briar close without being too overwhelming. However, as soon as Briar got a little bigger and developed neck strength, the Ergo became our mainstay. It’s super easy to pop on and off and the weight feels evenly distributed.
4. Fisher-Price Whale of a Tub. We started off by bathing Briar in a Puj, but despite the amazing concept (seriously, genius!), our sinks were not ideal for that style of tub. That’s when we decided to try out the whale tub. Sure, it’s bright and clunky (everything I was hoping to avoid in baby products), but it has seamlessly transitioned from newborn to infant and beyond! (While you’re at it, be sure to add baby-friendly bath products to your list. I recommend anything made by California Baby and Honest!)
5. Baby Gap Footed One Piece Pajamas. Sometimes I feel like Briar’s personal thermostat; I’m constantly checking her feet and hands to make sure they are not cold! This is why I love Baby Gap’s footed pajamas. I never have to worry about Briar’s feet escaping her blanket and freezing in the middle of the night. Another reason why I prefer these soft and snuggly pajamas over others? The zipper! I can’t even begin to tell you how tedious snaps can be during a 3 am diaper change…! Stock up on zippered pajamas.
6. Summer Infant In-View Digital Color Monitor. Despite my initial hesitation to move Briar to her crib, I felt a lot more comfortable leaving her in the other room knowing that I could watch and hear her on the monitor. This particular model isn’t anything too fancy, but it has worked perfectly for us. I love being able to see Briar when she wakes up in the middle of the night and gauge whether or not she needs me without having to get out of bed. (My only complaint about it is that the battery dies fast, so in order to get through a whole night, I leave it plugged in to the charger. It’s not a huge issue, but can be tricky if your bed isn’t near an outlet.)
7. Aden + Anais Swaddle Blankets. Buy as many of these as you possibly can! I remember thinking the price point was a little steep for such thin, gauzy blankets, but I assure you: it is money well spent. Briar was born at the height of the summer heat, so we put her in a diaper and then swaddled her in an Aden + Anais blanket every single scorching night. I was so terrified that she would overheat, but she did great! Even if your baby is born in the dead of winter, they are amazing swaddle blankets and can also be used as burp cloths, car seat covers, changing pads on the go, and nursing covers.
8. Mini Speakers + iPod. There was much trial and error when it came to finding the right “white noise” system for Briar. We were gifted the Sleep Sheep and as adorable as it is, the sound only plays for 45 minutes. So then we tried playing a lullaby video from YouTube on my iPad, but it would inevitably turn off at some point during the night. Finally, I decided to dust off my old iPod, invest in $15 speakers, and play an ocean waves track on repeat all night long…bingo! Even though Briar still doesn’t sleep through the night, the ocean sounds definitely muffle outside noise when when the rest of us are still awake.
9. IKEA Antilop High Chair. In my experience, you don’t need a fancy high chair with all the bells and whistles. Babies really just need a safe and sturdy place to sit and learn to eat table food, hence, the $20 IKEA high chair. Money well spent.
– Other items to note: a breast pump (find out if your insurance will provide one for you before you purchase! Mine was 100% covered); grooming kit, thermometer, and infant Tylenol (these are the kinds of things you will want on hand!); a cute (but not cutesy!) baby book; and most importantly…diapers, diapers, and more diapers!