This post has been months and months in the making! When I got pregnant, I was the first of my family and friends to be pregnant and was without all the normal-veteran-mom advice on what to register for and what works/doesn’t. Because of that, I’ve devised a list of my favorite toys and gear as well as a list of things that for me, didn’t live up to the hype. Even as a mom now, I would totally read other mom’s lists like this because I think that there is so much to be learned from others’ experiences. I hope this is helpful to other moms, moms-to-be, or just women shopping for a good baby shower gift! Here’s all the things I wish I had known!
Equipment/ Gear Top 20
I do realize that all babies (and moms!) are different, and what works for some may not work for others. Regardless, here are some of my well-loved and well-used products in no particular order.
20. Bath Tub
I love that this tub can fit babies from newborn to just under a year old. I also love that it is cheap but does the trick. I would advise to NOT use the newborn net and just lay them on the incline instead. Anastasia is almost 9 months old and still fits easily in this tub which allows her enough room to sit up and play in it too.
19. Johnson’s Sleepy Time soap
This stuff smells SO good, I am tempted to use it for myself. I’ll just leave it at that- smell it and you will understand.
18. Waterproof Mattress Protective Cover
I feel like this is a no-brainer, right? Kids leak, and when they do, you don’t want that to soak into the mattress that you bought thinking it would last you for the next 5-10 years.
17. Halo Sleep Sack
Ahh the sleep sack. These come in so many materials and sizes- fleece, terry cloth, cotton, arms, no arms, swaddle, no swaddle. They are all great and necessary for blanket-free sleeping.
16. Babywise Monitor
This is your average baby monitor. It has both sound and video (color and infrared) and does the trick for what we use it for. It “claims” it works 900 ft away but that must be only in an open field. When there are other things obstructing the signal, it decreases the radius that it works. We really only wanted it so I could be outside while she naps and it works for us for that function, but if you’re wanting some heavy duty camera that works at your neighbor’s house, this isn’t it.
15. Car Mirror
I always enjoy being able to see Anastasia while I’m driving. It’s nice to be able to see if she’s sleeping or awake (and much safer than trying to crane your neck at a stop light like I used to before this mirror!)
14. Sound Machine
This isn’t a “baby” sound machine, but we use it and love it just the same! It has 6 different sounds, but we only use “waves” which is really just white noise.
13. Boon Drying Rack- Grass
Ahh, a quintessential baby gadget. I had seen these things many times in my years as a babysitter, and now I have my own on my counter. This is just a functional purchase. Every person (bottle or breast fed) will have things that need to dry after washing. We use ours not only for bottle parts, but for pumping supplies, toys that need drying, and other feeding supplies like baby spoons, bowls, cups, etc. It comes in 3 different sizes and we have the middle one (called grass, haha).
12. Fisher-Price Discover n’ Grow Busy Baby Booster Seat
Every baby needs one of these. It is perfect to contain them once they outgrow the bouncer, it’s great to feed them in, and it even comes with a little play top that is easily removable to get to the meal tray. I love that it is 100% plastic so after especially messy meals, I can throw it in the sink and hose the whole thing down.
11. Chico KeyFit 30 Car Seat
We LOVE this car seat! It clicks into the base so easily, and can be removed with just pulling on one lever. The base is also super easy to install into many types of cars if you need to move it around. It comes with the infant insert that you can remove to make more room for baby as she grows. Also, you may have noticed we chose to forgo the “travel systems” for a stroller and car seat that were two different brands. I don’t regret this at all. It was super easy to by an attachment that made this carseat work with our City Mini GT Stroller.
When Anastasia was 2-5 months old, this was a lifesaver. She loved sitting in this and watching me cook dinner, or allowing me to go to the bathroom hands free, haha! I actually didn’t keep the toys on it ever, but took them off as a stand alone toy to play with during tummy time which was also a big hit. My parents bought the same one because we loved it so much!
9. Burt’s Bees Burp Cloths
Am I the only one who thought Burt’s Bees was just a chapstick/ lotion company!? These burp cloths are SO soft, I just loved them. They also come in shades of gray in case pink isn’t your color.
8. City Mini GT Stroller
There are definitely pros and cons to all strollers, and this is no exception. We LOVE how easy to fold this stroller is (I can do it with one hand while I hold baby in the other) which is great for when I am traveling alone. The wheels are also arguably the best stroller wheels out there (they’re rubber and have treads as opposed to plastic). Things I wish were different: not a good parent console area (they sell an add-on but it’s more of a bag and I would’ve preferred a plastic area at the top to put my coffee, keys, phone, etc.), storage under the stroller is somewhat limited. All in all, if I had to go back and do it again, I’d still pick this guy!
7. Portable Changing Pad
Everyone needs one of these. It is so easy to fold up and throw in your diaper bag (note- I know a lot of diaper bags come with these, but we saved a LOT of $$$ turning one of my existing backpacks, and later on, my tote, into a designated diaper bag). It was so great to just throw this guy in and be done and save on all the unnecessary bells and whistles the $200 diaper bag tries to sell you!
6. Burt’s Bees Crib Sheet
I love these sheets! I have two and rotate them when one gets dirty. They are super soft and look nice as well.
I feel like these are one of those things you use 20/24 hours of the day the first 2 months of baby’s life, and then you reach a certain point and never use it again! I couldn’t imagine those first two months without it though, and for that reason I still would recommend this to an expecting mother. It’s so nice to have a place to set baby down and allow you to go do something without holding him/her.
4. Lille Baby Carrier
When I was pregnant, a mom friend told me to go with Lille over the Ergobaby because she had hip issues with her baby in the Ergo. I’ve never tried anything other than Lille, but I love it and fully believe it’s worth it’s price tag. You can wear a baby 6 different ways with it, and it saves me because Anastasia does not like sitting complacently in her stroller. She loves facing outward and feeling like she is walking around too!
3. Copper Pearl Cover
I believe every mother should have one of these bad boys. They are so versatile- car seat cover, scarf-turned-nursing cover, cart cover- the list goes on and on. We used this primarily for covering the car seat and loved it. It naturally left a hole at the top so we could peek in and check on baby, and also kept it dark and kept the winter wind out when she was just a few months old.
2. Sealy Infant/Toddler Dual Sided Crib Mattress
I have been very happy with our crib mattress. The only thing I would suggest when searching for one is to make sure it is both an infant and toddler dual mattress. Dual mattresses have one side that is more firm for an infant and another side that is softer for the toddler stage. I figure the more use we can get out of one mattress, the better! Plus, we got a convertible crib, so I knew that the toddler mattress would fit her toddler bed already.
1. Baby Einstein Neighborhood Friends Activity Jumper
Ahhh, this jumper. It is so bright and colorful and ruins any dreams of having an adult-looking, neutral decorated house. BUT- she loves this. We bought it when she was 3 months because she needed to spend more time off of her back but was still learning to love tummy time. At 8 months, she is still loving it and plays in it every day. Plus, it’s nice to have something that contains them once they get mobile! haha.
Overrated Products (IMO):
- Aden+Anais swaddle blankets– they are SO expensive and truly not that soft. They weren’t anything truly outstanding compared to the next swaddle. I will be going off-brand in the future.
- 4Moms playard– this one for me had a lot of hype to live up to, and for us just was pretty average. The price, however, is NOT average, which is why next time I would get a “normal” pack n play. They try to sell you on the ease of packing up and moving this device, but unless you are taking it around with you every week, what’s a few extra minutes the few times you need to set this up? It just didn’t wow me. We used the top insert of this pack n play as a bassinet the first 2 months of Anastasia’s life and the board was just so hard (maybe this is why she had a flat spot, haha!). Needless to say, I won’t be doing that with future babies. My mom had a Graco one that we loved and the mattress was much better.
- 4Moms Mamaroo– again, before I got this product, everything I had heard about it was that it basically did everything but cure cancer. But lo- Anastasia slept in it ONCE. This might be a “baby” thing, where my particular baby just didn’t jive with it, but IMO you could definitely go off-brand with a different type of swing for your registry and get along just fine. We actually ended up getting a Graco swing that she liked much better!
- Summer Infant Travel Bed– a veteran mom suggested that I put this on my registry, so I did. But to be honest, it was pretty useless. It’s draw is that it is a super portable bed for your infant, but my question is how many places are you going to be taking your infant where 1) you will be there long enough to need a bed 2) where someone won’t want to hold them while they sleep or 3) where there won’t be a pack n’ play (isn’t this why you bought a pack n play after all!?). Skip this one!
Toys We Can’t Live Without:
1. Who Loves Baby? Photo book
This photo book has been an unexpected lifesaver. My mom originally bought this for me because we didn’t have any black and white pictures for Anastasia to look at. As she’s grown though, it has become the perfect toy to entertain her at church, in the car- anywhere really! She can bite the pages or the handle and it is easily washable.
2. Baby Einstein Take Along Tunes
This toy is great because it is musical and lights up, which both offer unique distractions. I can’t count the number of times Anastasia was crying in her carseat and I hit the music on this thing and she stopped in awe.
3. Taggie Blanket and Lamb
To be honest, I was a little confused when I received these as gifts at my baby shower. They seemed so….. odd. But I learned very quickly to not questioned the veteran moms because they know what works, and boy does my baby love to suck and gnaw on those darn tags.
4. Spark Create Imagine Bath Books
These things have been like magic for us. They have a squeaky toy on the inside which is good to get their attention, and once they get it in their sweaty little hands they gnaw on it for hours!
5. Polar Bear, Polar Bear, What Do You Hear? SOUND book
You MUST get the sound version of this book! Anastasia has completely fallen in love with this book, and smiles every time she or someone else pushes an animal sound.
Other Helpful Tidbits:
- I got my free Medela breast pump and all pumping supplies through Aeroflow Breastpumps. Most insurance covers this completely, and the whole process was so easy! They even sent me new pumping accessories a few months in to replace the ones that were getting a little old and gross.
- Maternity clothes that I loved: Madewell maternity jeans, Wren & Ivory for pregnancy and nursing friendly but still super stylish dresses, and my favorite Target nursing bras
- I got a convertible crib on super sale from Wayfair and have been super pleased with the quality! Remember- convertible is great because it grows with the baby (and the dual mattress I mentioned above) and hopefully we can use it for many years!
Have you tried and loved/not loved any of these products? Are there gems that I missed? I’d love to hear what your experience was! Tell me in the comments below!