An expectant first-time-mom friend of mine recently asked if I had any advice about what she should add to her baby registry. It reminded me of what I had gone through when trying to create a baby registry. You don’t know what you don’t know… So what to add?? Everyone has their favorites depending on different needs, but following is the list of products that were the most useful for us during the first-3-month timeframe (in no particular order):
- Snuza: This is by far the best $100-something we spent. Without it, we would never sleep. This handy little device attaches to the baby’s diaper and detects breathing. If the baby stops breathing for a certain number of seconds, it will vibrate (depending on the model) in an attempt to rouse the infant. If there is still no movement, it sounds an alarm. While pregnant, I didn’t know if we REALLY needed this. Once I had the baby, however, I knew I couldn’t live without it. And BTW, yes, it does go off. In fact, it went off as recently as yesterday. We rush into the room, flick the baby on the bottom of the foot, shout something like “BABY ARE YOU OKAY??” and wait for baby to startle, take a deep breath, and then begin breathing regularly again. You can imagine our fear the first time it happened during one of his first nights home. We were up all night and then rushed him to a rather unconcerned pediatrician first thing in the morning. Oh, it’s quite common, he said, babies sometimes simply forget to breathe. In fact, he recommended that we stop using the monitor altogether to save us the stress. No way. We use it and it is the only thing that allows me to keep sleeping when I wake up in the night and realize I can’t hear the baby. You should know that there is also an Angelcare mat that is basically the same idea, except that it is positioned under the baby’s mattress. The selling point for us for this over that was the fact that it can go where baby goes – so we’re not limited to using it in only one crib.
- Dr. Brown’s Bottles: I know, I thought they were hype too. Until we realized that our baby had reflux. Spitting up, vomiting, crying during feeds, it wasn’t pretty. Cue bottles. These things have a ton of pieces BUT they all serve a purpose. Bubbles were significantly reduced, flow was slowed, and baby was and is much happier.
- Dr. Brown’s Pitcher: We use this daily. Again, it keeps bubbles to a minimum because you are stirring the formula instead of shaking it in a bottle. Also nice is the fact that you can make a day’s batch at once. I even go so far as to fill all the bottles, cap them, and refrigerate so then there is no preparation involved but once a day.
- Dr. Brown’s Microwave Sterilizer: I swear I don’t work for Dr. Brown’s. They just make some good stuff! This contraption is used on a daily basis as well. It allows us to clean up to 4 bottles at once with a simple 5 minutes in the microwave. No need to run the dishwasher. Good for us and the environment.
- Bumbo Seat: Yes, I am aware of the controversy surrounding these (basically if you leave your baby in one of these on an elevated surface, there is a chance the baby could fall out and hurt himself). Come on, people. Watch your kids! Use your common sense! Don’t leave kids in a Bumbo seat unattended. That said, I love this thing. I think we can all agree that there are times when Mom or Dad just needs to set the baby down for a second (so they can shower, use the restroom, grab a bite). Well, you can set him in here and he is pretty much staying put until he gets big enough to crawl out. Not only that, it’s also good for him to exercise his neck/head muscles without enduring yet more of the dreaded Tummy Time (aka Tantrum Time).
- Baby Monitor: I didn’t think I really needed this either, but figured what the heck? We got a cheap no-name brand (which works just fine). Now that he is here, I am GLAD we got this. With the dual surveillance between this and the Snuza, I can sleep soundly knowing my baby is covered. When I wake up in the night, I pick up the handheld monitor (it “sleeps” on the pillow next to me), check on baby, and can go right back to sleep. Get the monitor. Get the cheapest one you can. Also note there are phone apps that do the same thing. For us, this wasn’t a good option (as you need to basically give up one of your iPhones or iPads), but it would be a very good option if you are on vacation or need a portable monitor.
- Nosefrida: It allows you to manually suck boogers. Seriously. But hear me out. It’s quite scary to experience Baby’s First Cold, when he is congested and having trouble breathing through those little nostrils (this almost always prompts an expensive trip to the ER to rule out RSV). Upon our discharge, we were instructed to use a humidifier and clear out his nostrils with a nasal bulb to help him breathe. Have you ever tried to use one of those nasal bulbs on a baby? IT DOESN’T WORK. Those things are useless. Enter Nosefrida. Put a few saline drops into baby’s nose. Position the end of the Nosefrida tube over the nostril, with the other end in your mouth (don’t worry, there is a filter to catch any gunk). Use short, hard sucks while moving the end of the tube around baby’s nostrils. You will HEAR the gunk being sucked up. And then take a peek at the inside of the tube. Yep, all THAT was inside your baby’s nose. Baby’s nostrils are suddenly clear, and he can breathe. Everyone’s sleeping tonight.
- Boppy: This has got to be one of the most multi-faceted products ever. First few days home, it was used as a seat pillow for Mommy as she healed. Then, it was used for baby to lie in on the bed or couch when he couldn’t be held. Now it’s used to prop baby up during Tummy Time. Other uses include breastfeeding positioning and Mommy back support. Just get it. Even my dog loves it; I have to constantly pull her out of it.
- Boppy Noggin Nest Head Support: Before I became a mom, I had never heard of the apparent baby epidemic, “Flat Head.” Now it’s all I hear about from other well-meaning moms. Prevent Flat Head! Oh no, I thought. What is this Flat Head!? What happens if a baby contracts it?? Does it squash the brain?? Worse?? Nope. Far as I can tell, it’s simply a cosmetic issue that provides parents yet another thing to worry about. Makes sense though. At least in the case of my baby, his little noggin is BIG, and being so malleable that first year, it could definitely become flat if he began to prefer a certain position when laying down. So between “positioning” and this head support pillow, I think I’m doing my part. The positioning technique simply means that when we lay him down to sleep, we lay him on alternate sides each night. Since all babies should be laying on their backs to prevent SIDS, I suppose this has caused a greater incidence of Flat Head. So we simply make sure that at night his head is turned to one side or the other, and we spend a lot of Tummy Time with him during the day. But during those times when he HAS to lay on his back (e.g. play mat time, in his car seat, etc) we use the head support pillow. It’s great – and looks comfy too. I actually have two: one that I keep permanently in his car seat, and the other that I move around from changing tables to play mats as necessary. For some reason, I had difficulty finding a boy-themed Noggin Nest pillow (the cog design), so I ended up getting two of the Pottery Barn Kids Head Support versions. Only difference I could tell is that they were about $12 more each and had a softer cover. I was able to pick them up at my local Pottery Barn Kids store though. Anyway, recommend these pillows and wish I had known about them sooner.
- Graco Care Station Playard: Simply a must-have. We’ve used this from Day 1 and will continue to use it for the forseeable future. This thing has so many functions: newborn sleeper, changing table, travel crib, etc. When we first brought baby home, we had him sleep in this at the foot of our bed (vs. a cradle). Now it sits in the living room for naps and, best of all, easy diaper changes. DEFINITELY get the one with the changing table. They fold and pack easily for travel too.
- Diaper Genie: I have had some moms tell me this is unnecessary; for us it is definitely not. I’ve researched more of these contraptions than I care to admit, and right now we have the Diaper Genie in the baby’s room, and an Arm and Hammer (Munchkin) version in the living area. I personally prefer the Diaper Genie for a few reasons. It holds more diapers, so you’re taking fewer loads to the trash. It is also easier to tie the bag. I’m sure the other version has some “trick” that I haven’t taken the time to figure out just yet, but for now the Diaper Genie is easier. The smell factor is comparable for both, however.
- Car Seat Canopy: It’s a scary thing taking your baby out into the world. You’re conditioned to be worried about exposure, airborne pathogens, etc. For the first several weeks, I simply used a blanket over the car seat. It worked, but was a hassle. Constantly straightening it, making sure baby was fully covered, picking it up when it fell, etc. Then someone let me know about an online coupon for Car Seat Canopies. I ordered one of the canopies (just the canopy; I didn’t feel the need for the whole caboodle set) and LOVE it. It clips on easily to the seat, never falls off, always keeps the entire seat covered, and is easy to open and close the front portion (for example, when baby is awake vs. asleep). Search for online coupons. I got a great deal on one of these and it was well worth it; although I don’t know that I would pay full price.
I am sure I am missing some, but these are the ones that came quickly to mind. What products have other moms used and loved during the first 3 months?