I know, I know. I had my baby over 10 months ago! But! A) Better late than never, right? and B) This time spent with my little one— seeing which products really work best, which ones I never really use, which ones ended up being total lifesavers— will make this post all the more informed and therefore informative. Whether you’re buying a gift for a friend who is expecting, feeling lost trying to register for yourself, or just curious— I hope this list helps you home in on the best of the best must-haves for baby. I know that I wish I had this list for myself when I was preparing for River’s arrival!
1. Doona. ($$$ But worth every penny. There’s a reason that this item is #1 on the list.) You’’ll see the price tag on the Doona and think well is this really necessary? Every family is different, and for some the answer is going to be “no.” FOR US, THOUGH— A FAMILY WHO TRAVELS OFTEN AND ALSO DEALS WITH BACK PAIN— THE DOONA WAS A GAME CHANGER. It’s a car seat that turns into a stroller. So, you are actually potentially saving money by using it, because you don’t have to buy two separate items. If you’re a traveling family like we are, this makes it a breeze. You bring your baby in the Doona right up to the gate, the airline will gate-check it for you, you retrieve it on the bridge right after your flight, and then you use it in the cab as a car seat as you leave the airport. Easy peasy. It’s also great because… Let’s say you’re going to the mall. Instead of waking the baby up (they tend to fall asleep easily in the car, halleluja) upon arrival to take him out of his car seat and put him into the stroller, OR risk breaking your freaking back by having to carry the car seat everywhere— you simply let him/her sleep, take the Doona carseat out of the vehicle, set it gently on the ground, pull a lever, and it gently pops up into a stroller. River doesn’t even stir during this process. And this way you can give your back a rest by pushing the baby instead of carrying around a 30 lb car seat. The only cons to the Doona are that A) it doesn’t last too terribly long (the baby outgrows it at 35 lbs or 32 inches)… So, somewhere around the year mark, ish… and B) it is quite heavy when you go to put it in the vehicle, especially if you have an SUV that you’re hoisting it into (the addition of the wheels make it weight more than an average car seat). Even so, I will make sure I have the Doona for every baby I have (if it’s up to Matt, 5) for their first year of life. https://rstyle.me/~aQjpF
2. The HUSHH white noise maker. It’s the best white noise machine out there. As long as this particular noise maker is on, River can sleep through dogs barking, phone ringing, you name it. I would actually recommend registering for multiple ones; Matt and I each have one in our car, one plugged in next to River’s crib, and one we keep in his diaper bag for situations like grandparents’ house, when you go to a restaurant and the baby is sleepy (you can turn the volume down low enough that the baby can still hear it but its ok for public places). https://rstyle.me/+wArDShFpmg4o7bHISGVJAg
3. Comfort Design Play Mat. I will write a full post on this soon, but the long and short of it is that A) this is much more attractive than many other play mats out there, and B) most other foam play mats which claim to be non-toxic aren’t. They are mostly made of EVA foam, which is meant to be a healthy alternative to plastic and are often touted as “non toxic.” But it’s been found that EVA foam off-gases formamide, which is a carcinogen. Our Comfort Design mat is EVA-free, flame-retardant free, PVC-free, Latex-free, Hypoallergenic, BPA-free, formamide and formaldehyde-free, and phthalate-free. Highly recommend. https://comfortdesignmats.com
4. Como Tomo bottles. Now, I want to preface this with saying that some people’s babies are apparently picky about which bottles they’ll use. River never could care less— that boy loves the boob, any bottle, a cup, whatever, as long as it’s feeding his face. However, these Como Tomo bottles are meant to mimic the breast (they really do feel like a boob, actually) and human nipple, and therefore help in a transition from breast to bottle. My personal reasons for being so loyal to this brand: A) They are the only ones that don’t leak! Trust me, this is a huge deal. B) They are BPA-free silicone, rather than plastic, which I prefer for health and sanitation reasons among others. C) You don’t need a gross (in my opinion) “bottle brush” to clean these bottles. I hate bottle brushes! They are little petri dishes for germs, and also total eyesores in the kitchen. With Como Tomo bottles, the opening is big enough for you to just rub soap onto the inside of the bottle with your fingers/hands. https://rstyle.me/+FPxFHlZJ703mW7syn6zIHg
5. Halo Swaddles. We like the cotton ones, as they are as warm as a blanket (blankets aren’t safe in the crib with babies) without overheating them. These ones are the best because they’re, frankly, idiot-proof. Velcro secures the swaddle into place, and makes it so that the hold is a bit more secure/strong. River slept like a baby (through the night ever since month 2!) in these things until he was freaking 9 months old and outgrew them. Which brings me to number 6…. https://rstyle.me/+y87aBPsVJ4qGX0nqyDwPTg
6. Merlin’s Magic Suit. Transitioning your baby out of a swaddle might end up being harder than you’d think… I can only speak for myself, but as a family we all grew very dependent on the swaddle for a good night’s sleep, but as River started to get bigger (and roll over in his sleep, etc, which makes it unsafe to bind his arms in the swaddle), we knew it was time to retire it. But without the swaddle, River A) was missing a huge sleep “cue” so he didn’t know it was time for bed… if I put him in the crib, he would just pull himself up to a sitting position and play… and B) he would flail his arms all over the place, waking himself up immediately if he did manage to drift off. Enter: our lifesaver, Merlin’s Magic Suit. Meant for older babies, this is a big fluffy “marshmallow suit” as we like to call it, which gently and subtly restrains the baby from startling himself awake, and gives the comforting illusion of being snuggled/swaddled. Note: at 10.5 months, River is still comfortably in the 6-9 month old suit. https://rstyle.me/+SYjBsLTsnjcJF9mSwyBWAA
7. DockATot (especially for the first 6 months or so). Yes, the DockAtot is not cheap, but its the best one out there (trust me, I got them all) and it really does help you dock your baby anywhere and— together with the sound machine and a swaddle— put them to sleep. It is also a must-have if you travel often, or if you want to bed-share with your baby as safely as possible. https://rstyle.me/+gTxGdhMdTvX_PmYj0jaz_w
8. MADE OF products. UGH—I wish I had registered for baby hygiene products by this brand instead of stupid Babyganics. (if you aren’t familiar with why people are mad at Babyganics, article is here.) Organic, vegan, pediatrician-recommended brand MADE OF is much much much more safe and clean, and was the highest rated for baby products on the EWG website. I loveee their dish soap , baby wash/ shampoo , and wipes. I’d recommend registering for 3 bottles of the bottle cleaner, 2 bottles of the baby wash/shampoo, and 10 of the wipes (you’d be SHOCKED at how fast you go through wipes, even if you’re frugal with them).
Dish soap: https://rstyle.me/+-ukwp0cX2z3iTJgMMnH7Kg // Baby wash/shampoo: https://rstyle.me/+dSSdhsnXDwWkQP9-UbmsGA // wipes: https://rstyle.me/+tN4pL–YyOfJsVz2oQ6smg
9. Blooming Bath. Skip all the fancy baby bathtubs, in my opinion. And save your back! (Like I mentioned before— Matt and I have bad backs, so items like this are a game changer.) All you need in order to bathe your baby is this little polyester, ADORABLE flower that will fit in your sink! Baby is super comfy, it’s machine washable, and incredibly lightweight and portable for when you go on vacation or over to grandma’s house. Frankly, it’s also great for photo ops. Note: It says “recommended up to 6 months” but we still love ours with no end in sight at 10.5 months. https://rstyle.me/+oeAX6V00z7vymcHXDhXQrA
10. Bambo Nature disposable diapers, Dyper subscription, OR cloth diapers by Kangacare. OR do a mix, why not! We set out thinking we were going to be die hard cloth diaper people, but it just hasn’t turned out quite the way we planned. When cloth diapering, we use kanga care and love the rumparooz (we had 30 cloth diapers which was more than enough, for reference.. I’d say you need at least 20); when using disposables, we typically use Bambo brand (made of bamboo instead of plastic, so it at least won’t sit in a landfill for 500 years), and we’ve also used a Dyper subscription service (also bamboo, and saves money! The reason we don’t do this all the time is that we travel and so our monthly needs as far as the quantity delivered to the house varies so much). For my posts on why these three types of diapers trump any other, go here and here.
Bambo Nature disposables: https://rstyle.me/+jn7QdLlntgsUeDetCx74uw // dyper subscription: https://getdyper.com // Kanga Care NEWBORN cloth diapers: https://rstyle.me/+dJaEhQ0g-cRsSVPD0umHGA; Kanga Care one size rumparooz: https://rstyle.me/+q8y1MPBCf1ajesng8qobvw
11. Joovy “spoon.” I know that the topic of walkers is a controversial one, but this particular model is super safe and is basically teaching my kid how to walk! Starting at around 6 months, this lets your baby zoom all over the house safely. isn’t such an eyesore like some other walkers out there, and has a tray so that they can eat snacks (and keep themselves occupied while you get ready for the day, etc). Was super easy to assemble. Highly recommend. https://rstyle.me/+gByexNZh8KGpYiYEXSGIsQ
12. Non-toxic, soft, crinkly books. This was the first “toy” my baby ever liked… They LOVE the crinkly sound, and can practice dexterity by holding it and turning the pages. I have them all over the place… In River’s crib, in the car, in his playpen, in my bag. Plus they’re super affordable! https://rstyle.me/+Swv2KZFgHtooVK45_JGXUw
13. Green Toys. River is just now getting into these, but some babies enjoy actual toys much earlier… Either way, they’ll eventually need some toys to play with, and if you’re gonna do plastic ones, Green Toys are the way to go! The toys are non-toxic and made out of recycled milk jugs! Cool, right? https://rstyle.me/+Rmtv4yg77CEkCcDVPCTlwg
14. The Ubbi Diaper Pail. I am very smell-sensitive, so I did a TON of research on diaper pails, and Ubbi is the clear winner. Because it is made out of steel instead of plastic (which absorbs odors) and has an odor-sealing sliding top compartment, you won’t smell a THING. Plus… It is just WAY cuter and sleeker than other diaper pails. It comes in a ton of different color options. https://rstyle.me/+eiReAxryXImpkj_6DPOAjg
15. The Owlet Sock Monitor. This is another “controversial” item that I COULD NOT have done without for the first 8 months or so of River’s life. I experienced major anxiety about SIDS and used to lose so much sleep (even though our baby is such a good sleeper) because I would wake up several times per night and check on him to make sure he was breathing. From what I hear, I’m not alone here; even mothers (and fathers!) who are less anxious are very worried about SIDS and any other issue that might lead to your baby losing oxygen. I purchased the Owlet monitor about 2 months in (I was hesitant to do it at first because I had heard that it could actually worsen anxiety)….GAME.CHANGER. Holy crap. I regret so much that I waited to long to get it. We never had a false alarm, I could monitor River’s heart rate and oxygen levels from my phone , and even if we lost WIFI or my phone died or something, an alarm would (theoretically) go off if his levels became compromised. I started sleeping again. My husband stopped having nightmares. This was the only monitor we used, as we didn’t feel the need for video surveillance since we room share. HIGHLY, HIGHLY recommend. https://rstyle.me/+in5xf7EeVvum2uOXyZLc8w