I could never be a true minimalist, admittedly, but I have been striving for moderate minimalism – which I define as having *majority* of my surroundings serve a purpose, with some wiggle room for pointless fun … because, Target.
I’ve been clearing out quite a bit of baby gear and toys in preparation for number two. It is dangerously easy to fall down the “excess stuff” trap with kids. That said, there are some things that I only regret not inventing myself because they are pure genius. Whether you’re the kind of parent who will try anything once or the kind who paces baby aisles with skepticism, I thought I would compile the most-loved, lesser-shared baby products I’ve discovered.
None of these items came from ads that I saw, but rather through the grapevine. And obviously, I’m not a big enough blogger to where I’m being compensated to endorse any of this shit.
Earth Angel New Mama Bottom Spray (and really anything by them).
What it solves: postpartum pain, discomfort. The hospital gives you some topical stuff (Dermaplast), but it’s got nothing on this magical spray. They also make a healing cream for C-section mamas, an herbal sitz bath blend and postpartum teas to help with stress, milk supply and more.
Also see: Fridet Mom Washer, which I will be adding to my list after others’ repeated recommendations. (And AfterEase if this is not your first rodeo. AfterEase alleviates the pain of post-labor contractions that are notoriously more painful in subsequent births. Yay).
What it solves: Many breastfeeding moms cut back on coffee in an effort to reduce gassiness and reflux in babies, but this makes an already sleep-deprived time period cruel. Mommee Coffee came out with a blend that is low-acid, organic, water-processed, and gentle on the tummy for both mom and baby. They offer decaf, 1/4 caff, half-caff and full-caff. The best part is it’s on Amazon so you can easily re-stock during late nights. It tastes great, and it’s honestly what I still brew every morning 16 months later.
What it solves: your ability to survive with littles outside of the house. I only recently paid attention to the importance of investing in a high-quality diaper bag after going through three different ones and dealing with sippy cup spills, pocket/organization crises and dropping bags that never stay up on my shoulder. I finally listened to what so many moms were gossiping about: JuJuBe! It will cost you, but it will also save you. I specifically mention the BFF edition because it is a backpack style bag, which experienced moms will tell you is a must. One month into my new bag, they are right.
Also see: The Boken … a close contender that other moms have raved about, with special note to being more unisex so dad likes it too.
For young babies:
What it solves: Picky babies. Everyone swears by a certain swaddle (arms in) and a certain sleep sack (arms out), but this one makes it easy by combining both arms in and arms out options in one product. This means it’s less to buy, less to fuss with for moms who may end up with a baby who prefers one way or the other.
Also see: Nested Bean Zen Swaddle. Even though they don’t offer the swaddle and sleep sack in one, they boast a pretty cool feature of being “lightly weighted” on the chest and sides, re-creating the sensation of being held.
What it solves: baby wearing for non-babywearers. This is the easiest way to start without investing a ton of money or energy. It is a stretchy wrap, that, unlike its competitors, doesn’t require you to learn how to wrap since it comes “pre-looped.” Many beginners skip anything that resembles a wrap and go right to buckle carriers thinking it will be easier, but those generally aren’t designed for newborns without the additional purchase of infant inserts. Additionally, most beginners only ever hear of Ergo or Bjorn, but there are so many lesser-known, more versatile brands and styles that are worth trying on before buying. There are International Babywearing chapters scattered across the country to help, but until you’re ready to commit to the learning curve, the Baby K’Tan is a fool-proof and affordable way to start from day one.
What it solves: screaming babies at bath time. Most infant tubs barely cover them in water, which results in screaming because they’re cold. Meet the Shnuggle! It’s a glorified bucket – because truly that’s all you need. If you think this is less appealing than contenders that boast the ability to “grow with your baby,” I assure you the need to “grow with your baby” is not nearly as crucial as the need to keep baby comfortable and warm. Besides, you already have a tub that grows with baby – your own. I have only recently discovered this after hearing about it from a savvy second-time mom, so I’ll be adding this for baby No.2 as well.
What it solves: Having to pick up thrown teething toys off the floor every two minutes. I think this is the most underrated gadget to survive teething. The beauty of wearable teething jewelry for moms is that it won’t get thrown or lost like toys and rags. It stays on you and baby can grab, tug, chew, suck for as long as they want. They’re beneficial beyond teething, too. They give fidgety babies something to hold onto other than your nose or hair when feeding or holding.
For older babies and toddlers:
What it solves: everything wrong with other sippy cups. I’ve tried them all, and while my toddler *luckily* will generally drink out of anything , this is the one that he most asks for and that I prefer. It is incredibly easy to clean compared to sippy cups that don’t always fully come apart, and because they just suck on the edge it is better for their teeth. Other companies have tried to copy this spoutless design, but I have found that the center piece does not remove like this brand, which, again, makes a world of a difference when trying to clean. (Oh, and they are top-rack dishwasher safe, hallelujah). Have I mentioned how easy they are to clean ??
What it solves: the monotony of the traditional book industry. Usborne books are a refreshing game-changer. They are truly engaging. They have a “Lift the Flap” series, which require your little to find hidden images on each page. They have “Slide N See” books, which invite your little to move little pieces that make artwork come to life. They have “The Big Book of ..” series, which feature enormous fold out pages. And, they have books with impactful messages to help your little through life changes, like “Albert & Henry,” which is an adorable story about becoming a big brother. On order right now, I have a book about how we brush our teeth and what is poop. You know, important stuff.
What it solves: keeping your little one from overheating or freezing when riding in the car. I didn’t even know this was a problem until I had a kid. I never ride in the back seat, and when I do, I’m not stuck rear-facing in a car seat. Turns out there is not much air flow back there. This device just clicks onto one of your front vents and brings the heat or air conditioning directly to their seat. It has been a lifesaver thus far during this humid summer, but I know it will also be beneficial during the winter since it is not safe to strap a child into their car seat with their winter coats on. It will be nice knowing he has a flow of warm air hitting him when I have to take his jacket off during snowy drives.
What it solves: the nuisance with basically every other type of window sun shade. After my adhesive shades just stopped sticking one day, a mom recommended these, which I’ve never seen in a store before. These literally slip over the entire window just like a sock, which also means, I can roll down the back windows and they stay on like a bug screen – something you can’t do with the adhesive or suction shades.
Big ticket items: I tried to stay away from big ticket items because most of these are flooded with competition, and there are truthfully a lot of other valid choices. However, these are a few that I can’t help but give some parent praise to for their ingenuity. If there is a such thing as having a crush on baby gear, then these would be my crushes …
Baby Jogger City Select stroller – The most versatile stroller I’ve yet to come across that won’t take up your whole garage. It can be used as a single, a double and even a triple with the Glider Board. This means that you can invest in one stroller for your entire child-rearing chapter. It offers a giant storage basket if you want to use it on errands, an adjustable handlebar if you and your partner are two totally different heights, a sun shade canopy that actually blocks the sun (you’d be surprised how few strollers actually block the sun), and my favorite part – the endless seating positions. Guess what else? It fits in the trunk of my small crossover without having to remove the wheels. I mean, they’ve literally thought of everything. As someone who really didn’t want to have to store an umbrella stroller, a jogging stroller and a double stroller in the garage, investing in this one-and-done ended up being well worth it.
Also see: The Bob if you are actually serious about jogging, unlike me. The Baby Jogger City Select is actually not intended for jogging, despite its name.
Chicco NextFit Zip Car Seat – I don’t even have this one, but as my baby has gotten older – and messier – I can see why this is so hugely talked about by parents in my circle. It is not only top of the line in terms of safety and user-friendliness, but it features a machine-washable seat pad that you literally just zip off. Why is this so impressive? Because most car seats only allow you to remove some of the seat padding, not the entire seat cover, which means you are limited in how you can wash blow outs, throw ups and other nasty spills. And, you should never disregard how your manual instructs you to clean your seat because you could compromise the safety of it.
Also see: The Britax Clicktight Boulevard (or any of their seats with Clicktight). The Clicktight technology makes installing so easy and accurate, something that honestly can’t be said for a lot of car seats. Nearly 70 percent of the time, a car seat is either improperly installed or the infant is not properly secured in it. This car seat takes the guesswork out of such a common, terrifying problem. It will not “click tight” close unless it is properly installed, and it also gives a “click” when the harness is tight enough over the child.