I had so.much.fun geeking out over baby gear while I was pregnant and joyously spent hours researching and comparing items. I’m happy to report the research paid off. Our friends and family were incredibly generous and we received almost everything we needed at our baby shower. It has all been well-used and well-loved.
Over ten months in however, there are some items we can definitively say have made our lives easier. Some of these aren’t on the usual registry lists so I thought I would share them in a special post. Many of these things we are still using, sometimes daily. This list is not at all comprehensive, but if you are trying to build your registry, you might want to include some of these items. Please note: some of these links are affiliate links for which I will received a small commission if you purchase them through the link, at no additional cost to you. We are so grateful for your support of Our Natural Heritage!
The Uppababy Stroller System
I say system, because we got it all – the stroller (Uppababy Cruz), the Mesa carseat, the bassinet and the stand. It sounds strange but I got really, really into strollers and vowed that if the Uppababy didn’t fit in our Nissan Versa hatchback, we would get a new car. Funny enough, the sales people said it wasn’t the first time they’d heard that ultimatum. Uppababy strollers are really pricey and you might not need a high-end stroller, but here’s a hot tip; if you live in the New England area, you can get them at a huge discount at their Factory Store. I knew that I would be using the stroller every day and just wanted something long-lasting and easy to use – especially when dealing with a newborn and a dog who tends to dart out the door. Freya slept in the bassinet by our bed for at least three months, and it was very easy to travel with. The stroller has such a smooth ride, it’s simple to open and close and is small enough to fit inside stores. We didn’t end up using the bassinet for stroller walks much, because it was just so much easier to keep her in the carseat (which fits right into the stroller frame without an adapter) and take that in and out of the car. I know I’m weird, but I am still in love with this stroller and still get excited to use it every day!
Many newborns love being swaddled because it reminds them of being in the womb. Our hospital sweetly gifted us a Swaddle Me Blanket when we were leaving, but we also received a few as hand-me-downs. They eliminate the guesswork out of swaddling and I especially loved to use them at night because I wasn’t very confident in my manual swaddling skills. I knew the velcro would keep it in place, instead of worrying she would wriggle out and have a loose blanket covering her face due to my clumsy technique. You just put the baby in the pocket and then fold the two wings over their chest. Once the baby can roll over, you need to stop swaddling them in case they roll over onto their stomachs and have a hard time lifting their head.
BabyBjorn Bouncy Chair
This BabyBjorn Bouncer in incredible. It was a hand-me-down and all of my friends raved about it. We have used this from the beginning and are still using it daily. It’s compact and light, which makes it easy to bring with you to another room, so you can shower, or eat breakfast, or just take a break. It is stupidly expensive new but you can often find it on Craigslist or in a baby consignment shop. Sometimes a consignment store will take your name down if you are looking for a particular item and let you know when one comes in. We also used this bouncy chair at my parents, and a 4moms Mamaroo we got from Craigslist, and they did the trick for awhile but this is only one she would stay in once she could sit up at six months. A word of caution however, for awhile we called this thing the “poop-shooter” because somehow, the incline led to crazy blowouts. If you read reviews on Amazon, you’ll see I’m not the only one who has experienced this. Luckily the cover is very easy to clean!
Another hot tip; sometimes you can get things for less on Craigslist if you search slightly different spelling variations of the product. People don’t always realize their error, think there’s no interest and are willing to sell it for less.
Dr. Suess Books
When Freya was just a few weeks old, we started to keep a small pile of these Dr. Suess board books perched right on the ottoman in our living room. She loved being read to and this was an easy and pleasant way to entertain her. The rhyming makes it a little more fun to read (or cite from memory) when you are sleep deprived. We still read them daily, and they come in handy when she’s flipping out and we all need to take a moment for a quick reset.
Ubbi Diaper Pail
I did not register for a diaper pail because I planned to be a cloth diapering queen and wanted to use a beautiful wet-bag for both nursery decor and dirty cloth diapers. Well, someone knew better than me, and got us an Ubbi diaper pail anyway and it has definitely made one of the messiest jobs easier. We don’t use cloth diapers all the time, but we do use cloth wipes and this makes it easy to put any soiled items into the pail with one hand (we got the washable fabric liner) and has also been great at keeping the stink in. It is of course totally doable to use a wet bag for this, but it will be a little messier dealing with a zipper when you have a dirty diaper and a wriggling baby. I’m also not sure how well it would keep the smell in. However, we still use our wet bag every day as a laundry bag and it’s been awesome for that! We just hang it on a hook near the changing table.
Polarfleece Winter Suit
As you might have heard, getting ready to leave the house with a baby is no trivial matter. Especially in winter when you are dealing with multiple layers of clothing for each family member. This polar fleece winter suit (sometimes called a bunting) has made things so much easier. It has hand and feet covers so you don’t need to worry about additional booties or mittens and it was so much easier to zip her up in one thing and put her right in the carseat, knowing she would be warm enough. I couldn’t find the exact one we received as a hand me down, so l linked to one similar. But whatever you purchase, make it sure it is thin and not too puffy. Having puffy things in the carseat can be dangerous because if you get in an accident, the puffy layers compress and the baby can slip out of the straps.
I knew I had to return to work full time after my maternity leave, but there were still some things that were really important for me to try to do, even with a full schedule. Keeping a record of the crazy amount that Freya would change in the first year was one of them and these Lucy Darling monthly stickers have made it possible. Once a month, I just have to find a clean onesie, slap a sticker on it and try to take a non-blurry photo of this crazy girl as she tries to jump off a chair. I have taken her monthly photo in a few different spots in the house and yard, but always have another item in the photo too for continuity – which in my case is this “cheater” quilt from Spoonflower that I have yet to actually sew together. Maybe by her first birthday?
I was due for a phone upgrade a few months before Freya was born and I chose to go big with my next phone. I went with the iPhone 7 Plus with large capacity storage (and portrait mode) and have been so happy with it. These days our phones are not just phones, they are cameras, journals, tv’s, speaker systems, and mini-computers. I have hundreds of photos stored on my phone, and haven’t gotten an annoying storage notice yet. For the first three months, when I was keeping track of lots of feeding and sleeping details, I used the BabyConnect app and it was so handy to always have it within arms reach. And it’s harder to keep up with now that’s she mobile, but I also love the Chatbooks app and am making a photobook series of Freya’s first year (you can set it up to print automatically!). If you are due for an upgrade, it’s definitely worth it to get one with those extra features you’ve been craving.
The Amazing Make-Ahead Baby Food Book
Making homemade baby food was something else I really wanted to try, even though doing that while working full time seemed like it would be crazy hard. And it would be, if this book didn’t exist. The Amazing Make-Ahead Baby Food Book features a very efficient plan for making and freezing three months worth of gorgeous baby food cubes in just three one hour cooking sessions. I loved that I could just open the book and follow the directions – all the planning has been done for you (though in my experience, getting the baby to eat the food you lovingly prepared might be another battle). We ended up getting all of the ingredients at Trader Joes in one fell (less-expensive-than-expected) swoop.
Travel White Noise Machine
We were gifted the Marpac Portable White Noise Machine and I love it and use it every day. It is very easy to travel with and the noise is loud and soothing. We still use it as a
crutch sleep tool at bedtime each night, and it drowns out the background noise so we can still get stuff done in our tiny house after she falls asleep.
Caretakers, am I missing anything? Any other products you’d recommend?