It is inevitable, babies come with a lot of stuff.
Well, actually they come with nothing, and you have to buy a lot of stuff.
I do, however, really think the baby product industry blows this out of proportion. When you’re a first time mom, you don’t really know what baby will need and you’re dealing with all of the nesting urges, so it is easy to get carried away by the mile long lists of “necessities”.
Looking back on this first year, there are thankfully only a handful of products we got that we really didn’t use, but there are also definitely a few that stand out to me. These are the ones I would rush out and buy for my best friend if she got pregnant.
Ergobaby 360 Carrier: James does not spend a ton of time in here, but this carrier has made a huge difference in our daily lives by making errands easy. He hated our old carrier (also Ergo, but it didn’t allow him to face forward) and I was always stressed when putting him in there to grocery shop, etc. He still doesn’t want to be in here for an extended period of time, but he’ll easily stay content people watching while I run errands and has been okay in here for a couple of longer hikes as well. It is also pretty comfortable for me!
Board Books: Black and White, Global Babies, Smile!, Hello, Bugs! We have so many board books, but these four were the first ones James fell in love with. He still loves all of them today, except for Black and White, which he’s pretty much outgrown. If I had to pick one favorite, it would probably be Global Babies, but all four of these are really great.
Lots of Links Toy: This is such a simple, basic toy, but I love it because it really stands the test of time. When James was little bitty, I could string several rings together and hang them for him to look at, and later try to grasp. Now that he’s older, he has a jar of them on his shelf and he loves removing them from the jar and putting them back in. He seriously concentrates on this for the longest time, it is one of his favorite things right now. I imagine when he’s even older, he might enjoy stringing them together or making patterns. I love toys that last and keep interest for more than a month or two and these definitely do!
Rainbow Sound Blocks: These also work for many different ages. Right now, James loves shaking them and holding the different shapes in his hand. I imagine when he’s older, he may enjoy building with them or looking through the colored panels in the light. These are beautiful on his shelf as well.
Your Self-Confident Baby: I’ve written about it before, but I love this parenting book. It is the first RIE book I’ve read and I think RIE has a lot in common with Montessori. To me, it seems like some of the main differences relate to the specifics of the environment, but both philosophies are definitely based on respect for the child and his autonomy. I love this book because it is super approachable and easy and fun to read too.
Diapers! One of my husband’s best friends gave us SO MANY diapers that his daughter had outgrown. This was so, so helpful, as we really didn’t have to think about buying diapers at all for months. We’ve tried several brands and never had a problem with any of them, but it would be nice to give a friend a small package of several different kinds so she could try them out and see what they prefer.
Food Delivery Gift Card: I had a coworker expecting his first child, but they already had everything they needed. Our boss collected money to give him a gift card for Postmates for food delivery in the early months and I thought this was so thoughtful and creative! There were definitely many nights when we had no time or energy to think about dinner in the first month or two and I think this would be so helpful. Homemade dinners are also amazing of course, but having this as a fall back when something comes up would be so great.
Resource List: I think it would be so helpful to give a new or expecting parent a laminated list of resources they might need in the first few months. This could include a lactation consultant, favorite local story times, closest emergency room. best place nearby to buy diapers, etc.
These last two cost more than I’d spend for a baby gift, but have made a HUGE difference in our first year and are two of my very favorites that I would definitely recommend to a friend:
BOB 2016 Revolution FLEX Stroller: I love this stroller so much and use it almost every day. We’ve never needed to get a second stroller, as this works great for everything. It is a little larger, so I could see it being less than ideal for running errands, but as I mentioned, we use the carrier for that anyway. I love both walking and running with the BOB and it is super easy to push over grass or bumpy trails.
Lotus Travel Crib: I mentioned this when we first got it, but this bed is awesome! We bought is when we decided to take a break from the floor bed and it made an almost immediate difference in all of our happiness. This may sound dramatic, but it is not an exaggeration as James slept so much better in here right away. I love that it is on the floor instead of raised and that it unzips so that baby can go in and out by himself when its open. We use this as James’s every day bed, but I also love that it travels! It was so nice on our recent vacation to be able to take his bed with us instead of worrying about how he would sleep in something new while already off schedule. Thanks again to my friend Laura who told me about this, it has been a life saver!
These are some of the main products that we’ve loved this year and are largely still using today. The list is relatively short because every baby is so different, I think it’s definitely worth waiting until baby is born to buy a lot of things. For example, we never needed a swing or bouncer or changing table but I know they are a big help for some famlies. These are a few items though that I would feel confident gifting or recommending to a friend.
*Please note this post contains affiliate links – I get a small percentage if items are purchased, at no cost to you. I only include items I have and love. Thanks for your support!
Do you have any favorite baby products?
What are some must have toddler products?