I am a gadget person…more specifically, I am a baby gadgets mom. One of my favorite things to do when we were making out our baby registry last year was checking out all the new and cool devices/toys/technology that are on the baby market. As an OT, I’m always using adaptive equipment to either help a patient regain independence or to make it easier for them to do their daily tasks. So naturally, I like anything that makes mom-ing easier too. When I was deciding which baby products to get, I did my research…which included a very meticulous spreadsheet, complete with product reviews from retail websites, price comparisons (did I mention I’m neurotic at times?). Most of the time I got what I expected from the products. But there was one person’s opinion I forgot to factor in: the baby’s.
Oh my goodness the nerve of this little one to actually decide what he actually wanted!!! Well I quickly learned the first rule of thumb for having a newborn: they are the boss and have the last say.
I was talking to a friend one day who is pregnant and asking about a few recommendations for her registry. She urged me to make a blog post about my own product reviews. Since I know more friends who are having babies this year and potentially next year, I figured it might be a good time to share some real-life reviews.
**I must preface by saying that this post by no means indicates these are the BEST products to use or the ONLY that would work for your baby. Every mom and baby have different needs, tastes, and preferences. I’ve broken my list down into my Great-to-HAVES, NICE-TO-HAVES, and SKIP IT. (Remember, there are no MUST-Haves when you have a baby… other than diapers, food and a place to sleep safely). I’d also say about 90% of the things on this list are able to be purchased from Amazon, which was also a criteria of mine because I’m a Prime addict. I’ve included hyperlinks to amazon just to make it an easy reference if you want to know more about them.
Great-to-Haves: (I couldn’t live without these and they made my life 10x easier)
Inglesina travel highchair– This is something we use EVERY day. We have a regular highchair next to the table where we eat as a family, but this is the chair that we have attached to the island in our kitchen. When I’m cooking I didn’t always want to lug the big highchair into the kitchen, and so this seat made it easy to have Chase within arms reach. It’s also an awesome travel seat if you are going to a restaurant. We started using it once he was able to sit up by himself (around 5 months and still use it to this day). I first ordered the Lobster seat, which is similar to this one, but he had more support in the Inglesina and was able to sit at a safer height. Caveat: the table should be sturdy and have a 1-inch thick rim to clamp it.
Baby K’tan: There are many different wraps and slings out there for baby-wearing. I liked the ease of putting this one on and how comfortable it felt. You really feel like you have baby velcroed to your body. I’ve used it with Chase on both front and back without a problem. Many days when he was a newborn I would be vacuuming, picking things up, doing laundy, washing dishes with him sound asleep in this thing. At one point I was even able to nurse him while he was still in the wrap. Another plus is that you can use it as a nursing cover when you’re out and about if desired.
Boppy Lounger: Yes, it’s just a fancy pillow for a baby. However, this pillow put him perfectly in a slightly elevated position but kept him from rolling off the sides. Newborns sleep like 90% of the day so I needed places to put him to snooze at all times. Most of the time this was next to me on the couch while I watched episodes of Grey’s Anatomy…but we even put him on the table in this thing when we were eating (a little extreme, but this granted he was swaddled like a mummy and not moving an inch anyways).
Boppy nursing pillow– This is a classic must-have that I see on a lot of baby registry lists. And it really is a great product to have. I tried using other regular pillows and it didn’t get him in the right place to nurse. This pillow made it comfortable to get the job done no matter where we were sitting in the house. Also, if you or baby aren’t in the right position, it can put strain on both of you and affect the way that they are able to nurse. Comfort and elaxation are key, and if you’re nursing every 2-3 hours or more, you MUST be comfy. We also used it for tummy time and just hanging out, so it was very very useful.
Dream glider: The first swing/rocker that I wanted was the 4Moms Mamaroo because of how high-tech and fun it looked. However, we have 2 medium-extra large dogs who were very eager to lick their little brother’s face whenever given the opportunity. The Mamaroo wouldnt have been a good fit for that reason. I went on my next choice because it was high enough off the ground with sides that would shield the baby from canine slobber. I also liked that it could adjust from a flat bassinet to slightly elevated swing seat.
Freemie nursing cups– After nursing for the first few months, I found it difficult to get anything done while pumping. I was back at work and pumping 2-3 times a day for 20 minutes at a time. I didn’t want to wear the hands-free pumping bra under my scrubs, but I was also not in completely private place when I pumped due to poor lactation accommodations at my workplace. Then my friend introduced me to freemie nursing cups which are basically these bowls that sit in your regular bra and discreetly get the job done. At one point I was even driving and pumping (don’t recommend you do this unless necessary), which to the untrained eye of drivers passing by looks like I just have big boobs. I’ve heard there is now a tubing-less model of the hands-free pump, which obviously I’m going to check out for baby #2.
Guava Lotus travel crib: After my husband broke our Pack-n-play from trying to assemble it…we had to look for a new travel crib. I really liked the look of this one because of the two step assembly and the zipper. Just like a tent, there is a zipper door, which Chase liked so that he could come in and out with toys, but that we could zip up and have it function as a safe playpen. It also was cool that it shared the name of our dog.
Munchkin wipe warmer– A lot of veteran moms laugh at the notion of the wipe warmer saying that we’re spoiling this generation of babies and “do you warm your toilet paper?”. To which I posit the question, “If your butt needed to be wiped a 3AM would you prefer cold and wet or warm and wet?” exactly. This model also comes with a little night light so you aren’t blindly trying to change a diaper. There was less crying during these night-time diaper changes, which made everyone happy.
Boon fruit feeder– I know, what the heck is that? Well when we were transitioning Chase from pureed food to solids, we wanted to upgrade the texture of fruit without the risk of him choking. I found this little doodad, which lets you put chopped fruit and the baby gnaws on it until tiny pieces escape into his mouth. It’s a soft silicone texture and is very easy to clean. When he would be teething, we even stuck a small ice cube in there and he would suck on it for at least 10 minutes. And being the typical OT mom, I loved that it facilitated some early self-feeding techniques 🙂
Diaper Genie– This is another staple on most baby registries. Some argue that you can just throw diapers in the regular trash. Yes, but the convenience of having a foot-activated garbage pail directly next to the changing-table is almost too easy. Especially with really stinky diapers, it does a good job trapping the odor. The only downside is having to buy those rings of trash bags. They sell eco-sustainable version of these bags so you don’t feel like you’re completely polluting the earth with more plastic.
Summer Infant Brentwood highchair– I was going for practicality AND style when looking for a highchair. I like that this chair has 3 reclining positions and a washable cushion for the back and the seat. The tray unsnaps so that you can easily wash by hand or in the dishwasher. There is an infant insert for the wee-ones. We started using this one at about 5 months when Chase started eating solids. He enjoyed being able to sit completely upright but not unsafe that he would flop over. In terms of vanity and style, this one matched in perfectly with our dining set, so it was hard to resist. The only downside is that there aren’t wheels on this one, so relocating it to different rooms is somewhat cumbersome.
Silicone bib: There multiple different brands that make these such as Dream Bear and Baby Bjorn. Basically its a nice flexible bib that catches food in the pocket but also incredibly easy to wash (by hand or in the dishwasher).
Blooming Bath flower– Most people will think this is totally unnecessary. We started giving Chase baths in the kitchen sink when he was a newborn. This cushion made it slightly easier to position him for the bath, although it was a pain to have to wring out every time (think ginormous sponge)
BabyGanics products: So I was debating to put this in the Great-to-haves vs Nice-to-haves because organic products may not be THAT big a necessity to everyone. However, for us, it was satisfied our desire to have no or low harsh chemicals for cleaning and hygiene products. We’ve become more conscious of the dangers that these harmful chemicals can have and definitely wanted to avoid exposing these to the baby. Chase’s skin and hair were very accepting of these products and they’re also fragrant free. The ones we use almost daily are the laundry detergent, hand/face wipes for before/after meals, surface wipes and bubble bath/bath gel. My mother-in-law also had a good connection with someone within the company who sent free samples of everything when I was preggo and totally got me hooked on their products! Grandma FTW!
SoftTiles play mat– I decided to convert our living room into the playroom when Chase started to roll around (We never used that room anyways other than to put our Christmas tree). I wanted a mat that would take up most of the room and be thick enough to provide a good cushion. This company is awesome. You can customize your tiles by color, add shapes even put the kid’s name it in if you want. It’s great for playrooms and nurseries, especially if you want to keep with a certain theme or color scheme. My husband has even used it for a few unintentional naps, so there’s testimony for how comfortable it is.
Summer Infant 3D lite stroller– For everyday walks and when Chase was still in the infant carrier, we used the regular Chicco travel system. Once he got older, we started going on hikes and use a Schwinn jogging stroller. If we didn’t have enough strollers, we got a lightweight umbrella-type stroller that folds up into the car in a pinch. I wanted something less than $100 with great reviews and found this one! When we were out at the zoo this weekend I saw at least 5 people with the same one 🙂
Nice To have: (Makes life somewhat easier but not necessary)
Halo Swivel Bassinest– I was eyeing this bassinet since I was a few months pregnant. I envisioned the baby sleeping soundly next to me and being able to scoop him up with ease and swivel out of bed in an equally smooth manner. It came with a nursing timer, nightlight, vibration button…the works. Guess how many nights Chase slept in it? Maybe 6 max. He hated it. BUT I loved it. Case in point when baby’s opinion matters over yours. However, I still think it’s nice to have for SOMEone. I’m hoping our second baby will think differently than Chase…
Infantino baby food storage device– When I was making pureed foods from scratch, this thing was the bomb if I wanted to put them into squeeze pouches. It was easy-ish to use, you could freeze them and thaw the pouches as is, and dispose of them afterwards. Con- It does take commitment to use them and cleaning isn’t the easiest, unless you throw it all into the dishwasher
Ubbi pail– This is another diaper pail which does it’s job well. Pro-It’s a sleek design and holds more than just the diaper genie would. It also takes regular kitchen-sized trash bags instead of those trash rings that diaper genie makes you buy. Con- Although it contains the odor in the pail, when you open the lid to put a diaper in there it smells terrible. We have to air out the thing every now and then. We keep Ubbi upstairs in the nursery and use the Diaper Genie on the main level changing room, since that is more frequented for diaper changes.
Boon Grass– Another funky invention. It’s basically a special drying rack for your bottles and other baby dish stuff. You probably could get away with just putting it on the regular dish drying rack, however, I liked being able to keep the baby stuff separated after it had already been sterilized. Not to mention it’s super cute. Con- takes up some space on the counter
The Mommy Hook- This thing is pretty neat for moms who run errands with the stroller. I struggled a few times trying to stuff all the crap I bought from target in the little basket under the stroller. This is basically a big caribeaner that allows you to hang any bags from it. It’s quite sturdy! Con- If you have an umbrella stroller, it could tip back once the baby/child is taken out while there are bags attached.
Skip It: (Didn’t use it very much and/or wasn’t worth the money)
Munchkin fruit feeder– Similar to the boon spoon, it’s another fruit feeder, except incredibly hard to get clean. It harbors a lot of the extra fruit even when you clean it multiple times.
Prince Lionhearted Wipe Warmer– I originally had this wipe warmer but soon got tired of it because the latch broke on top, so the lid was constantly open. I had to put something on top to keep it shut unless the wipes would dry out. Also, I didn’t like the pillow that you have to keep saturated in order for the device to work properly. A few times it burned and got a little rusty.
Hope this helped, or at least made you laugh at how ridiculous this list is…Once we’re done making tiny humans y’all can have whatever you want from our baby inventory!
If you have anything that you’ve used, please comment below and share!