The first time my husband and I walked into Babies R Us it took no more than 30 minutes and we were completely overwhelmed and left. I'm pretty sure our anxiety was caused by a combination of the number of products we 'NEEDED' coupled with the volume of brands and variation within each product. Spend just five seconds in the baby bottle isle and you'll know exactly what I'm talking about. Adding to the stress is the fear the industry puts into you at every turn. If you don't get the right products, your child is most likely going to succumb to poor motor skills, slow language development, colic, SIDS, and so on... (<obvious sarcasm inserted here>)
I'm hopeful the list below will help you sort through the registry/shopping process with a bit more ease than we found. Please note, there are a lot of great products in every category. These just happen to be our opinion of the best. Stay tuned for a future post containing my "Don't Bother" baby products too!
My 10 "Must Have" Baby Products:
*Note: All products are linked below for easy purchasing!
1) Fisher-Price Rainforest Melodies & Lights Deluxe Gym - This is number one for a reason. From about six-weeks to six-months, our son used this daily. At first he loved to just lay and look at the lights above. As he got older he would giggle endlessly as he played with the animals hanging from the beams. It was truly amazing to watch his ability to independently entertain with this toy. The combination of lights, music, and stimulating toys makes this a winner!
2) Chicco KeyFit 30 Infant Car Seat System - This car seat system is one of the more inexpensive in the market, but it is HUGELY popular (won the 2015 What to Expect Moms Love It Award!). It holds rear-facing infants up to 30lbs. In my opinion, meets all safety requirements just as well as the very expensive counterparts. I also love that you can buy additional car seat bases for spouses and grandparents as well as a car seat carrier stroller all in the KeyFit system. You can easily transfer baby from house to car to stroller to car to house without taking him out of the car seat!
3) Summer Infant Swaddleme - Our son's ability to escape puts him right on pace to be the next Chris Angel. Even the best swaddle would be torn to shreds 30 minutes into any sleep session. That is until we discovered Swaddleme. These provide a secure fit for even the squirmiest of babies. They're also great for parents and grandparents who struggle to swaddle with the Swaddleme's secure Velcro straps.
4) The Sleep Sense Program by Dana Obleman - Continuing with the sleep theme, this book truly changed my life. My sister likes to laugh at me when I say that, as if I'm being dramatic, but I'm not kidding... At 4 months, D had not slept through the night and our record 'stretch' was 5 hours, but more common was 3-4. You may be thinking 4 months doesn't sound THAT long...you must not yet have an infant :) Let me put this into perspective - 4 months is 1/3 of a year, about 20 weeks, or about 130 days. I was DESPERATE. I read every book under the sun. Nothing worked. I had about burned Baby Wise at this point which would lead you to believe you'd be logging 8-10 hours a night at 9 weeks. HA. A friend over brunch recommended The Sleep Sense Program. I immediately went home and downloaded it. It is a quick read with lots of practical advice. Within two weeks, D was taking all of his naps in his crib and sleeping for about 7 hours at a stretch. Since he was six months old, he's been sleeping from about 6:30 - 6:30 with one dream feed at 10. Like I said earlier, LIFE CHANGING!!
5) Sleep Sack Wearable Blanket - One of the key tips from The Sleep Sense Program is to have a bedtime and naptime routine. One of the integral pieces of our routine is that every time D goes down, we put him in his sleep sack. He's so accustomed to this routine at this point that as soon as we put his arms into the sleep sack his two fingers go into his mouth and he is ready to put himself to sleep. I cannot sing the praises of sleep sacks enough! The most popular brand is Halo, but we also found great quality with Carter's.
6) Boppy Pillow - I only wish I had been smart enough to think to market the Boppy Pillow first. It really is a glorified airplane travel pillow enlarged and marked up to $40. That being said, it has been such a great tool at so many stages of D's development. Having him sleep on it around my waist was the only way I could eat with two hands for the first few weeks. It's great for feeding both breast and bottle fed children. But it's more than just a feeding pillow. Early on, you can prop your little one in it to watch the world around him (I often folded laundry and narrated the process as D laid back watching!). It's a great tummy-time tool as they get older. And, this pillow will catch many a bobbled sitting attempt as they grow more and more stable.
7) Graco Blossom 4 in 1 Highchair - For the lower-end price of one highchair, you get a highchair, infant feeding booster, toddler booster, and youth chair. The chair has several height adjustments to fit at the kitchen table or kitchen island. My personal favorite feature is the feeding tray has two removable covers that are dishwasher safe. That means always having a clean tray on hand. You'll see in my "Don't Bother" list, I have cited the Bumbo. If I did it all over again, I'd buy this highchair earlier and skip the Bumbo. The reclining seat and harnesses makes it perfect for even just a supported sitter.
8) Teeny Tiny Paws Food Catcher Bib - These are the BEST bibs to use for solid foods. They are flexible, waterproof, easy to wash, don't stain, and catch everything from Cheerios to applesauce! We can't eat a meal without wearing one of these!
9) Munchkin Click & Lock Weighted Straw Flexi Cup - My cabinets look like a graveyard of failed sippy cups. When I say we tried every brand, I mean, EVERY brand. I finally reached out to my Facebook friends and the overwhelming winner in the sippy cup community was the weighted straw cup! Within two days D was using the straw with no trouble and we haven't looked back since!
10) Baby Einstein Neighborhood Friends Activity Jumper - This jumper has it all! Music - check! Chew toys - check! Rattle - check! Lights - Check! It also rotates 360 degrees to provide different play experiences at every angle. You can also adjust the height of the jumper to grow with baby. And lastly, I can speak from unfortunate personal experience, the removable seat is in fact easy to clean :)