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I swore up and down when I was expecting that I would not get weak in the knees for baby products. And for the most part, I held true to that idea. We bought many things used, we refurbished things for the nursery, several DIY projects were scheduled, and we kept to a strict and reasonable budget. However, there were a few baby products that either I read about and was fortunate enough to have received as a shower gift, or something we found a need for along the way that I would recommend to any new parent! So, in no particular order, here are the products that we fell in love with in our first year as blissfully happy and ridiculously sleep deprived parents... (Links are provided to the products in the body of the description.)
Uppababy Vista 2015 & Chicco Keyfit 30 Carseat
So in the end, we got what we lovingly refer to as the Mercedes of strollers, the Uppababy Vista. And it was worth it. First of all, we used the bassinet both in the stroller and at home as a bassinet in the first few months. Also, the basket on the Uppababy Vista is huge - and in this case size does matter! Not only can you accommodate your diaper bag, but often do all of your grocery shopping with it as well. Several cashiers remarked to me how impressed they were that I could fit everything into my stroller basket. As we grew with the stroller, we have been impressed with how smoothly it folds and rides, how compact it is when tucked away (fits in our small foyer and small car's trunk) and how comfortable it is for our baby. Also, if you are going to invest in one accessory for the stroller - make it the snack tray! Great for keeping baby occupied as they get older. The Chicco car seat was wonderful as it was one of the few carseats that could be installed in a small car (in the centre of the backseat) and not require the front seats to be pulled all the way forward. Plus, with an adapter for the Vista, it simply clicked right into the stroller frame. Thus, everyone was comfortable & happy - a huge plus!
JJ Cole Polar BundleMe Stroller Footmuff
This footmuff fits the Vista pretty well, and would likely fit most full sized strollers in a similar way (it is supposed to be a universal fit). While it is a bit on the bulky side (it is a polar version, afterall), you definitely won't be worried about your little one getting cold! As an added bonus, it expands and grows with your child so you will get more than one year's use out of it. Because it zips up nice and high up to their chin, you can literally throw a warm sweater or light jacket on your baby, and then pop them into this warm cocoon and they are good to go! No mittens or boots required if you are just doing a walk around the neighborhood. I also found this to be particularly helpful for when we were in store parking lots when you are required to only have sweater on baby for car seat safety purposes, and the snow is blowing - just pop your little one into this polar bag and they are immediately warm and protected.
Aiden and Anais Muslin Blankets
I know these muslin blankets cost a small fortune, and I realize that's not in every parent's budget - but what I found with these blankets is that they definitely served more than one purpose. They are light and airy enough to drape over a bassinet or stroller when your little one falls asleep, large enough for swaddling as baby grows, and also ample enough in size that one of these could be converted into a makeshift nursing cover if you are out in public and feel the need for a bit more privacy. I always kept one of these in the diaper bag!
Summer Infant SwaddleMe Sleep Sacks
Someone recommended these Swaddle Sacks to me and I found "last season's" version at a warehouse sale and snapped up two of them. Definitely a plus when you are sleep deprived and are a complete failure at swaddling kiddo, especially in the middle of the night. We actually found that our guy slept on average of 7 hours a night (with one interruption usually) for the first couple of months (after that is another story). It might have been blind luck, but I think the fact that he was comfortable and cozy and not able to startle himself awake definitely helped.
Beyond sleepers with zippers, these nightgowns were amazing for all of the middle of the night changes. Super easy, minimal effort required. Need I say more?
OXO Tot Wipe Holder
Okay, here's the thing - you will be so sleep deprived. And one of the things you want to do is get baby changed as fast as possible, with as little stimulation as possible (at night) and with any luck you will have a sleeping baby for a few more hours of family shut eye. Sounds great ... if only your wipes dispenser would anchor the wipes so that twenty of them didn't come sliding out all at once! Not to mention, a huge waste. The OXO Tot Wipes Holder is brilliant and will hold in your wipes allowing you to take them one. at. a. time. Seriously - a simple sanity saver. It even has a refill indicator on the side. Such a great investment!
Kushies Waterproof Change Pads
While we're on the topic of changing diapers, these change pad protectors were amazing. You may have a change pad and a cover... but you can be assured that you will be washing that cover a LOT. We found that it was in the laundry so often we generally had nothing over the plastic change pad itself (which can be cool against baby's skin). We had about 4-5 change pad protectors that we could rotate, so that most messes were caught on them, and if the actual cover did get blasted, we at least had something soft and cozy to change baby on while it was being washed.
Medela Hydrogel Pads (for the first few days)
These are something that most new moms will find some solace in during the very early days of nursing. The hydrogel pads provide cooling comfort & some relief when your milk comes in. One or two packs should be enough to get you through that first rough week and then you likely won't need them on an ongoing basis.
Earth Mama Angel Baby Nipple Balm
I tried another popular cream, and I'm sorry to report it did nothing to relieve my severe pain in the first few days of breastfeeding as my body tried to adjust. The Earth Mama Angel Baby Nipple Balm really helped to pull me through. Highly recommended! And all natural, as a bonus.
We got this soother as a shower gift and it was a brilliant at calming my little guy. In fact, it was the only soother he wanted anything to do with. It soothed him during his first couple of sponge baths, and during car rides, to name a few. He weaned himself off of soothers around six months, but he still plays the the stuffed animals on the end of the Wubbanub to this day.
The Zoli Bunny Teether is a bit pricey, but it is one of the few that get back in deeper to the teeth beyond the front pearly whites to provide some relief to baby. It is also very easy for little ones to hold when they are still perfecting their grasp. This was something I always packed in my diaper bag! The Nuby Gel Teether was also wonderful, as was the Mam Teether, as they both could be frozen. Depending on the day, and what was aching in the gums, my guy would usually lean towards favouring one of these two products. He also really loved the First Years Teething Blanket from about four to ten months of age (as he was a very early teether) - it was both fun to play with and chew on!
Boon Grass Drying Rack
You will really only need this drying rack if you plan on using bottles. We had Dr Brown's bottles, which have a lot of little parts that need to be washed and sterilized. Having a drying rack definitely helped.
Nose Freida & Nose Wipes
This snot sucker was another shower gift, and it is amazing! Definitely a must-have once baby starts teething and boogers are everywhere. And while we're talking about boggers, the best nose wipes out there are definitely the Aleva Bamboo Baby Nose 'n' Blows Wipes (you might want to buy a case and just have them on hand). Super amazing at helping to clear the airways with a bit of eucalyptus, and they keep baby's nose from chaffing too!
Boon Bath Tub
While really any baby bath tub will do, I love a few things about this infant tub. First, it collapses and folds up to be tucked way. Also, you can start it off with a gentle incline and then fold it out into a deeper tub as baby grows. I love the transitional nature of the product. We actually found this gem on clearance at a Winner's store, but it definitely was one of my fav products.
Kushies Baby 4 Piece Bath Mat and Squirter Set
When baby gets a bit older, and an infant tub is no longer working for you (it happens faster than you think!), you need to start thinking about how you will introduce them to the bath tub. We used this great Bath Tub Mat and Toy Set from Kushies and were very pleased. It provided a bit of traction and cushioning for our little guy to sit or lay on when he was in the bath. The toys were an added bonus and a real hit!
Levana Video Baby Monitor
Definitely invest in a video monitor. Sometimes babies make noises, but aren't actually awake. And you wouldn't want to charge into their rooms and be the one who woke them, would you? I rest my case!
Time to Eat!
Dr. Brown's Bottles
We were lucky - we tried these bottles and they immediately worked. They are also glass - which I absolutely loved. Additionally, our son had colic so these had the bonus of having the anti-colic mechanism in them to avoid any further gas bubbles causing him distress when Daddy took over.
Medela Freestyle Pump & PumpEase Bra
The Medela Freestyle Pump does allow you to move around if needed when you are pumping. You can also buy a PumpEase Bra (lots of neat designs) to go with it to be completely hands free and able to do other small things (beyond holding the pumping equipment in place). Two thumbs up!
Sprout Right Book
This nutrition book! It will be the ultimate guide for you and baby. Sprout Right is something I would recommend to moms to be the moment they find out they're pregnant. However, you might find out about it after the fact when you begin to ask questions about how to introduce food to baby like I did, and then it is still an equally amazing resource. It goes through into the toddler years and I cannot recommend it enough!
Baby Led Weaning Cookbook
There are two main approaches to feeding baby - purees and baby led weaning (which essentially is small pieces of food that baby can grasp and feed to themselves. Do what's right for you. And for us that was a mix of both methods based on our little guy's interest. I found that skipping the theory on baby led weaning was fine for me. Besides, the Baby Led Weaning Cookbook covers the basics anyway in an entire section. I used the recipes from the book and also gained inspiration from the ideas they shared to make sure that we were cooking one meal which we could all enjoy together as a family (while making a few baby-friendly modifications).
Zoli Snack Stacker
This is a wonderful portable snack container. It fits easily into a bottle compartment of a diaper bag, and even into a cup holder in a stroller. Love this product and we use it daily, even as baby gets older!
Bumkins Waterproof Bibs
You will be doing lots of laundry - but these bibs will reduce the amount you have to do! The Bumkins Waterproof bibs will prevent stains from seeping through, but at the same time you can rinse off everything from them and hang them to dry in the drying rack! (ANd then launder them every once in awhile. They are also super light and thin and the best portable bib around if you need to throw one in your diaper bag.
Nuby Sippy Cup
We tried a lot of sippy cups. In fact, we have quite a collection of them... sitting unused. However, the Nuby Sippy Cup was the one that resonated for our kid! It is silicone and resembles a nipple on a bottle. It also feels good to chew on for teething babies, which makes it hard to resist. As an added bonus, it easily comes apart and is dishwasher safe and also easy to hand wash. Replacement nipples can also be purchased.
Summer Infant Tiny Diner 2 Portable Placemat
We got this portable placemat once our guy could sit in a highchair or booster seat at a restaurant so that he could really be a part of the table. It works great on glass or laminate tables (real wood, not as much), but it generally is excellent for dining out. It rolls up to be out the size of a tall bottle and can be tucked into either the diaper bag, or into a storage compartment of a portable booster seat.
Munchkin Booster Seat
A booster seat is great to have on hand for grandparents' or family occasions, restaurants, or even hanging out at friends' houses. We found this seat was most effective once our little one could sit up really well, but has been a wonderful tool. Great storage compartment for food and accessories under the seat and it wipes down really well.
Friends and family will give you toys. But there were a few things we loved so much!
Baby Einstein Playmat
I lost track of the hours our little guy spent playing, listening, and rolling around on this playmat. It was a well loved toy for a number of months. Highly recommended!
Manhatten Toy Winkle in a Box
This was one of the very first infant toys our little guy could hold onto, and since there are bands everywhere, it didn't require precision. He also loved chewing on it and starring at the colours.
VTech Sit to Stand Walker
This interactive toy and walker will keep your little one occupied for hours. What we loved about it was that it could be played with while sitting, while standing (thus is transitions as baby grows), and the toy panel unclipped from the frame of the walker, making it a popular toy choice to bring with us when traveling. Hurrah!
I hope you enjoy some of these products as much as we did! After all, the first year really is about surviving!