There are a million posts and reviews out there for baby products and I figured my opinion didn't really matter. Except I then decided that I can do whatever I want so without further adieu, my picks for best and worst baby accoutrements. Keep in mind that this is what works best for US...your baby may have a completely different opinion and voice it loudly.
- Mei Tai Wrap by CatBirdBaby. This carrier is a little complex at first because there are no buckles and it takes a while to learn how to balance baby and get the wrap tied on properly. But it has been so great when Noah's been fussy...within minutes of getting him settled and cozy in the wrap he falls asleep and STAYS asleep. I've taken him on walks in it, out shopping, and just around the house so I can get things done while he's awake but not pleased about spending time in his swing. Love it. Plus this company is located in Chicago and I always like supporting the local economy.
- Bugaboo Frog. I KNOW. So expensive, so trendy, there are just as nice strollers out there for less, yada yada. But listen! The Frog? It is super awesome. It's an all in one taking the baby from infancy to four years old (though if my four year old isn't walking his ass around then feel free to smack me one). We love the bassinet feature and especially that it's removable so if Noah falls asleep on a walk then I can just take off the bassinet and bring him in the room with me. It's got shock absorption and heavy duty tires which may seem silly but we can power over the uneven sidewalks and curbs with no problem. It will be nice to get through the snow easily too. Yes, I do plan on taking him out in the cold weather...no way in hell will we to survive the winter inside all the time. The one negative I can see is that there is no way to make this stroller a double stroller (they offer a stand on platform for older kiddos, but no extra seat) so if/when we have a second baby we'll most likely have to retire the Frog or hand it down. Other than that, our Frog is pretty damn sweet.
- Diaper Dekor Plus. So far this diaper disposal system is working out really well. I like that it contains the smell of the dirty diapers without using air fresheners or battery powered fans or anything like that. It's simple to change when the bag is full and can convert to a standard garbage can when you're done disposing diapers. I don't know how well it works once you have dirty diapers after solids (I hear those are NAAAASTY), so I will revisit this item at that time and amend my opinion.
- Skip Hop diaper bag. We have a now discontinued version of the Skip Hop Duo Deluxe which I bought for Tim so he could have a more manly type diaper bag. I then bought myself a very lovely and very large diaper bag because I thought I would need something pretty and fabulous. Unfortunately for our wallets, we both use the Skip Hop and my fancy bag sits on the bench in the foyer. The Skip Hop easily attaches to the stroller with included clips and can hold anything we could possibly need for a day out with Noah. It's waterproof, includes a changing pad, and doesn't make Tim feel like a little girl carrying Mommy's purse. Mission accomplished.
- Medela Pump In Style Advanced. This electric breast pump saved me. We have a little oversupply issue chez Smith so my doc suggested I pump to relieve the pressure and help Noah not gag everytime he latches on. I first bought a manual pump since I'm not going back to work and didn't think I would need the portability of the electric pump. Well. That manual pump is a wussy, weak and downright embarassing example of a breast pump. Shame on you Mister Manual Pump. The electric Medela, on the other hand, is the Michael Phelps of breast pumps. This bad boy deserves NINE gold medals. In ten minutes I can have enough pumped for a bottle or even more. Tim can feed the baby. My mother can feed the baby. Hell, you want to come over and feed the baby? Feel free! Milk for all!
- Sleep sack. We don't have this exact model, but any sleep sack that is designed to keep the baby warm like a blanket works. Now, I knew before we had Noah that I wasn't supposed to cover him with a blanket when sleeping because he could suffocate, higher risk of SIDS due to suffocation, etc. But we didn't buy these sleep sacks before he came home. Instead I decided that there was no way for a newborn to figure out how to get a blanket over his head. Stupid first timer. I put a blanket over him and ta da! Over his head in a matter of an hour. A quick trip to the baby store and we've been steadfast sleep sack users ever since.
- Exercise ball. Ok, maybe not a baby product per se, but Noah loves to be bounced while I am holding him and an exercise ball makes it so much easier. Especially as he's getting heavier.
- Other things we love in no particular order: Graco Pack 'N Play (good for multi-level houses...ours has an attached changing table and Noah naps in there as well), Sassy Me In the Mirror toy, a mobile above the changing table (Best Thing Ever. Pick any mobile, attach it to the wall or ceiling (ours is an Etsy purchase) and watch your baby be amazed), JJ Cole Bundle Me for the car seat.
Mama's (and Noah's) Take It or Leave It Items:
- Fisher Price Nature's Touch Cradle Swing. My child must be in the minority when it comes to his feelings about this swing. Every parent, and I mean EVERY, sings the highest praises for Holy Father Fisher Price and his swing. But Noah can barely stand it for more than a few minutes. There are days where he tolerates it and even smiles at himself in the overhead mirror, but I feel that if we didn't have it, he wouldn't know the difference. I basically use it as a place to plop him down when I need to get something done quickly and am far enough away that I can't hear him screaming in protest. YOUR kid will love it, I'm sure.
- Swaddle Me swaddling blankets. Maybe it's because we never mastered the art of the baby burrito in the hospital, but Noah hates to be swaddled. When we brought him home these blankets were the very first things I wanted to use because I was SURE he would love them. Not so much. And damn it I wish I hadn't washed them all and thrown away the packaging. He fought and fought against the swaddle and screamed bloody murder until we unwrapped him. These now sit, unused, in the back of his closet waiting for a more accomodating Baby v. 2.0.
- Crib bumper. Ours came as part of a set and I wish I had just bought a fitted sheet and crib skirt instead of the whole set. We'll most likely never use the bumper (suffocation risks, SIDS, etc.) and the bumper/quilt were the most expensive part of the set. I almost stopped a pregnant woman in Target today who was contemplating a crib set, including a bumper, to tell her to put it back and save her money for diapers. But then I remembered when I was pregnant and would have hated someone for telling me that because damn it if my baby wasn't going to have a fully coordinated crib bedding ensemble. And it's really so pretty all folded up, in the closet, on a shelf, in the way back.
- Pampers Swaddlers aka the diapers that leak. We have had no luck with the Pampers. These were the ones they used in the hospital so I figured they were the best of the best. So of course (OF COURSE) I went out and bought the super jumbo mega pack. But they leaked, and leaked, and leaked for us. We switched over to Huggies Supreme Care and have been pretty much leak free since. (But I am giving Luvs a try this week since they are SO MUCH CHEAPER and have gotten great reviews...I'll let you know. Don't wait on the edge of your seat or anything though.)
- Updated: We tried the Luvs. They're ok. I still think Huggies are our personal best bet since we have had the least leaks/blow outs with those, but the Luvs were ok for day time use. As long as I changed him frequently, they held up. Luvs are also made by Pampers I believe so they're pretty similar. The Pampers were definitely softer than the Luvs, though.
Ok. I'm tired now. Hope this helps any parents or parents-to-be sift through the millions of baby products out there. So much of what you need is dependent on the baby you get and his/her temperament. Good luck and godspeed.