Top 10 Favorite Essential Baby Products
These are my absolute Must-Haves when it comes to babies and making baby life simpler and happier.
For what it's worth.
If time, numbers and research makes you an expert, well, lets just say, I'm getting there! My list is the product of 10 years and 5 babies worth of trial-and-error research. In that time, I've used a lot of things that aren't all they are cracked up to be (or worth all the money I spent on them!). I've also used certain baby products that worked well for one child but not for another child. You know how some babies like one type of pacifier or swing and others prefer a different type or none at all??? That can be so frustrating and the only way to figure out those things is by trial and error.
Well, this is my list of baby products that have helped me with each of my 5 babies and would be considered a "one size fits all" when it comes to baby needs. There is not going to be the "my baby didn't like that" type of product on this list. These are the top 10 baby products that have made our baby life over the past 10 years so much easier and happier. So thanks to all the moms and babies who have helped me discover these jewels along my path to happy family life! I hope it can help you too.
1.The First Years Hands Free Baby Safety Gate
If you have stairs at your home or need a baby safety gate for any reason at all, I love the First Years Hands Free baby gate. It is what it says..it's a hands free gate and usually my hands are NOT free to do things like open a gate to walk downstairs for the umpeenth time. That is why this product made my list.
As a busy mom of young children, walking around with your hands...and usually your arms...full is a reality. I don't have the time, energy or desire to put everything down, press and pull a button latch system, move a gate over, pick up what I was carrying, walk through the gated area, put the things in my arms down (usually a crying child who would cry HARDER if I put him down), replace the gate, pick up what I was carrying and THEN be on my way. Not a chance!!! This gate system (and extensions if you need them) are WELL worth the little bit extra you would spend on them compared to the run-of-the-mill cheap-o baby safety gate. Not to mention how many times my children would be standing at the gate crying out for me to please move the gate so they can walk by. I only want baby blocked from access to the stairs; not the entire family.
For more information:
|The First Years Hands Free Gate|
Rarely does a mom or dad make it through a day without thinking they could use an extra set of hands. So First Years designed the next best thing - a safety gate that doesn't ...Only $59.99
|The First Years Hands Free Gate Extension|
The First Years Hands-Free Gate Extension The First Years Hands-Free Gate Extension makes your Hands Free Gate more versatile. Each extension adds up to 5 inches to the gate. ...Only $23.13
2. Graco Travel Lite Crib/Bassinet
I WISH I had known of this product 10 years and 5 babies ago! Then I wouldn't have had to go through 5 different bassinets in order to find this perfect gem! It made my list because of it's size and functionality.
I love a bassinet that fits next to my bed for my newborn. With newborn number 5 I knew we would be traveling and also moving within his first few months of life so I needed a bed for him that would transport easily. Plus, after using 4 different bassinets in the past I knew I didn't like the typical bassinet because my babies grew out of them so fast and they don't store well and so after a couple of months you are faced with either getting rid of it or trying to resale it. What a hassle.
This Graco travel lite crib/bassinet is perfect! It has attachments so you can use it as a bassinet for the first 3 months of life and then take the bassinet attachments out and use it as either a small bed (until the baby outgrows it--usually between 8-12 months, depending on your baby's size) or store it to use as a travel crib. Folds up so small and is lite to travel with.
Its small frame fits in almost any spot; next to your bed for those many newborn feedings, in your walk in closet, at the foot of another child's bed. It made it really easy to squeeze baby number 5 into our already full house! And it's a Graco product, so you know it's a good, quality product.
New moms: save yourself the hassle of going through multiple bassinets by buying the Graco travel lite crib/bassinet right from the start and use it for all your newborns and children! That's my "coulda-shoulda-woulda" advice.
|GracoTravel Lite Crib With Stages, Notting Hill|
For parents who want to keep their sleeping infants closer longer, Graco's Travel LiteTM Crib with Stages provides the perfect spot. It features a 2-level bassinet that ...Only $99.99
|Graco Travel Lite Crib with Bassinet, Marlowe|
Whether youre off to Grandmas or the Grand Canyon, this lightweight travel crib has all the comforts your baby needs to sleep like, well, a baby. There's a full-sized bassinet ...Only $89.99
|Graco Travel Lite Crib with Bassinet, Ally|
You want your little one to be well rested. She8217;ll sleep soundly at home or away in the Travel Lite8482;, our ultra-comfy travel crib. It features a removable, full ...Only $99.99
We have a full size Pack 'N Play as well as this travel lite crib because, well, we have 2 babies that still need a portable bed when we travel. And since our 2 year old still sleeps in the full size crib, our 9 month old will sleep in the bigger Pack 'N Play until I'm ready to move his big brother out of the crib. But that's not going to happen until he is out of his unreasonable 2 year old stage.
|Graco Pack N Play Playard with Bassinet, Pasadena|
When your little one needs a place to nap or play right away, there's no more convenient solution than our Pack n' Play® Playard. Its durable frame makes it perfectly suited ...Only $79.99
|Graco Pack 'N Play Playard with Bassinet, Morgan|
Graco Morgan Pack N Play with Bassinet changing table and diaper stackerOur Pack 'n Play® playard provides everything you need to create a comfortable, caring environment for ...
|Graco Silhouette Pack 'N Play Playard with Bassinet and Changer, Rittenhouse|
This silhouette style frame blends flowing lines, ideal proportions and purposeful details to define quality and comfort. Posture plus changing tables fit your life with ...Only $199.99
|Graco Pack 'N Play Playard with Newborn Napper, Classic Pooh|
Observing a mother's instinct to cuddle and protect her newborn baby inspired Graco to create the Pack 'n Play playard with Newborn Napper station. This is the only playard ...Only $169.99
3. Comfy High Chair
You are going to think I'm crazy when I tell you that it wasn't until baby number 4 that I actually bought a comfy high chair for my home. Everyone asks me "How did you feed your other babies??!!" At the beginning of our marriage and with our first 3 children we lived in small apartments and I didn't want a big high chair taking up all the dining space. So I made due with the travel type kid chairs that strap to either the counter or to any type of chair...
|Fisher-Price Healthy Care Deluxe Booster Seat, Blue/Green/Gray|
The Healthy Care Booster Seat has a feeding tray you can sanitize right in the dishwasher. With the snap-on lid in place, the tray will stay clean until you're ready to use ...
|Fisher-Price Healthy Care Booster Seat, Yellow and Orange|
The booster seat straps onto most dining room chairs. The tray adjusts to baby's tummy, plus the tray can go right into the dishwasher after meals to sanitize. The seat is ...Only $24.99
My first three children were actually interested in eating and so they suffered through the hard, stiff booster seat that I fed them in. When baby number 4 came along, it was such a chore to get him to eat anything that one day my husband suggested we buy a big, comfy high chair so he would enjoy his feeding experience.
We bought a Graco highchair that came with a plastic cover that was easy to clean, a removable tray that was convenient when I wanted to remove the tray but keep baby locked in the seat behind a tray. And the seat reclined to 3 different positions so baby can sit upright when eating or I can tip him back when he's drinking a bottle. It also has wheels for easy movement and folds up in half to get it out of the way when not in use.
No matter what brand you buy, or what frills comes with your high chair, I am now a firm believer that a big, comfy high chair makes all the difference for feeding a baby and toddler. Plus, it also doubles as another place to put baby down. When he is 4 to 6 months old, starting to sit and eat food, he will love to sit in his big, comfy high chair and play with a tray full of toys that are placed before him. And it really doesn't take up a lot of space in your kitchen.
|Cosco Flat Fold High Chair, Into the Woods|
The Flat Fold High Chair features a compact fold and lightweight design that makes storage quick and easy. With the easy-wipe seat pad on the high chair, cleanup after ...Only $59.99
|Fisher-Price Rainforest Healthy Care High Chair|
Shop for Highchairs from Cribs.com! The music light and sounds on the Fisher-Price Rainforest Deluxe High Chair will keep your baby entertained while you prepare his meals. ...
|Graco Contempo Highchair, RittenhouseOnly $109.99|
4. Baby Activity Station
By the time your newborn is 4 or 5 months old, she is going to start to be interested in doing more than staring up at mommy or playing with the small, soft chew toys that she's been playing with for the past few months. A baby activity station is such an essential baby product because it gives your baby a safe place to sit and explore her world. It helps her practice her sitting, standing and sometimes even her walking skills (depending on which activity station you buy). It's a safe and fun place for you to put your baby down to play that she will love too.
Of all the different types I've had over the past 10 years, the Bright Starts Around We Go Activity Station has been my favorite. And my baby's favorite! It has a seat that is connected to an activity "hub" where the baby can play. And when the baby gets old enough and strong enough (usually after 6 months old) she can run circles around the main activity hub. My baby loves to do this!
The Bright Starts Around We Go Activity Station works best on tile or wood floors so the wheels can move around easily. If you don't have tile or wood floors, a few other activity stations or exersaucers that I've tried and liked are the Fisher Price Jumperoo or the Fisher Price Little Superstar Step 'N Play Piano toys.
Fisher Price Jumperoo activity centers
Baby has fun jumping up and down and turning around in it.
|Fisher-Price Rainforest Jumperoo|
Fisher-Price Rainforest Jumperoo There are so many sights and activities to discover on this brightly colored jumperoo—music, lights and exciting sounds reward baby with every j...
|Fisher-Price Roarin' Rainforest Jumperoo|
Bounce to the moon and back, all in a day's worth of playtime. There's so much for baby to discover with rainforest pals on this Jumperoo entertainer - music, lights and excitin...
|Fisher-Price Luv U Zoo Jumperoo|
Welcome to the Luv U Zoo! Everywhere baby looks, (in the spinning seat, baby can see all around), there’s something fun to do with an animal friend—spinning, jumping, rattling a...
Fisher Price Little Superstar Step 'N Play Piano
Baby loves to use his legs to walk back and forth across the piano keys and hearing the great music that comes from his hard walking work!
|Fisher-Price Little Superstar Step N' Play Piano|
Not only does the Little Superstar Step ’n Play Piano have toys to keep baby’s hands busy, it also rewards baby’s feet with every step on the keys, there’ll be fun music and ...
Check out a more in-depth look at the Bright Starts baby activity station, including a video of it in action!
5. Baby Wipes Warmer
Some might consider this item a luxury and not an essential. I would probably agree with them, especially since it's not MY bottom being wiped by a cold, wet wipe :-) I didn't have a wipes warmer until my 4h child came along. Again, because he was such a fussy baby and especially put up such a fight at diaper changing time, I decided to try and make him more comfortable. I even took a wet wipe from the usual container, wiped it on my bottom and discovered just how uncomfortable it was.
Now, I live in Sunny San Diego, CA and so it's not like my wet wipes ever reach 30 below or anything. It's always about 70 degrees here; year round. So if anyone's wipes are naturally going to be warm, it's going to be mine. But they aren't. Coming out of the regular wipes container, wet wipes are very cold.
I bought a simple wipes warmer, and while it didn't turn my 4th baby into a dream, it did make me feel better knowing that at least his wipe was warm and he wasn't throwing a fit because it was uncomfortable for him.
|Prince Lionheart Ultimate Wipes Warmer|
Prince Lionheart The Ultimate Wipes Warmer™ NOW with the Ever-Fresh System!™ Guaranteed to help keep your wipes the freshest they can be to soothe your Baby's delicate ...
|Munchkin Warm Glow Wipe Warmer|
Munchkin Warm Glow Wipe Warmer The Munchkin Warm Glow Wipe Warmer provides a gentler diapering experience for your little one. Munchkin's top down warming system means a warm ...Only $29.99
|Prince Lionheart Premium Wipe Warmer|
The Wipes Warmer Premium keeps the wipes the freshest they can be to sooth Baby's delicate skin. The Patented Ever-Fresh system prevents wipes from drying out and browning, ...
It is a small price to pay for the knowledge that you are helping make your baby comfortable and happy. I love letting my children know that I care, even about the "small" things.
Some reviewers complain about the wipes getting dried out. There is condensation that forms on the lid of the container but I just keep a small, thin wash cloth in the container with the wipes and that helps keep the moisture in. Besides, even if wipes dry out a little, you can wet them with some water and they are as good as new, or better.
6. Newborn Swaddlers by SwaddleMe
All newborns need to be swaddled. All. Some moms will tell me that their baby didn't like swaddling but actually, the baby needs to be swaddled. Some really touchy babies (a very small percentage of babies) have to be swaddled in just the right way in order for it to be pleasing for them, but then, that is true with most ways of handling those types of very touchy babies; everything must be done very carefully.
For my first couple of babies I just used the blankets I had to swaddle them in. And blankets work fine, until about 3 weeks, when the baby starts to wiggle and move around a little. The swaddling blanket comes loose and doesn't keep baby's hands down and then moms start giving up the swaddling. Really what they need to do is swaddle better so as to not let the little one get out of the tight swaddle. It's best to swaddle for at least the first 6 to 8 weeks of life.
This great little product solves all the swaddling problems. It forms a little cocoon for the baby and prevents them from thrashing around which interrupts their sleep. It re-creates the womb feeling so the baby feels safe again. It helps the baby transition into life outside the womb that he had been living in for the past 9 months. Plus, it can cut down on the amount of clothes you buy or have to wash. I would most often dress my baby in a little Onsie and then wrap him in this swaddler and call it good. Especially during the newborn phase when they are going back to sleep every 2 or 3 hours.
It's even such a great price that it makes the perfect baby shower gift! Unique and very useful for a new mom.
|Summer Infant 3 Pack Cotton Knit Swaddleme, Blue/ White, Small/Medium|
|Summer Infant SwaddleMe Microfleece, Green, Large|
Can you have too many strollers??? Okay, well, maybe. But at this stage I have 2 and have often wanted three or four. Let me explain.
When I just had one child, we bought the single stroller that carries the infant seat, like these...
|Graco Spree Travel System, Barcelona Bluegrass|
Stroller, the top rated Graco SnugRide Infant Car Seat, and a stay-in-car base. The stroller features a one-hand, self-standing fold, easy access drop-down basket, parent's ...Only $179.99
|Chicco Cortina Keyfit 30 Travel System, Miro|
The Chicco KeyFit 30 Infant Car Seat is the premier infant carrier for safety, comfort, and convenience. The KeyFit 30 is packed with features that make this Infant Car Seat ...Only $349.99
But two years later when baby number two was born I had no more use for the single stroller and upgraded to the double stroller, which I've now had for 8 years and will run into the ground by the time I'm done with it!
|Contours Options Tandem Stroller, Ruby|
Contours options tandem stroller - ruby when you have 2 kids, everyday is different! The options tandem's 6 reversible & removable seating positions gives parents the ...Only $249.99
|Graco Duoglider LX Stroller, Wilshire|
The DuoGlide Stroller has all the essentials a growing family needs. It features stadium-style seating, so the child sitting in the rear is slightly raised for a better view. ...Only $149.99
|Contours Options Tandem II Stroller, Tangerine|
The Contours Options Tandem is the perfect stroller to give you the flexibility needed as a parent. For one or two kids, infant or toddlers, everyone has a great view in any ...Only $269.99
My double stroller is the one I take on long walks, to the Zoo, amusement park or even just to the mall, especially if I have an infant who I would rather just keep in the infant seat rather than transfer him in and out of the seat and into the stroller and such. It's just so nice to let your infant sleep in his car seat during outings instead of transferring him back and forth.
Besides, I usually have 2 or more kids who want to ride in the stroller, especially for big outings, not to mention all the space I need to carry all our bags, snacks, jackets, etc. The added space in the double stroller is so convenient.
However, there are those "quick" trips to the library, to the pool, to the park, where it's nice just to have a small, simple stroller for the youngest baby and make all the other kids walk. I love the "umbrella stroller" as they are known, because they are so slim, trim and simple. However, I do love the ones that come with a small carrying basket underneath. It's so convenient for carrying the library books or bags.
|Cosco Umbrella Stroller, Giraffe|
This umbrella stroller with a secure three-point harness packs easily for a trip to the park.Only $19.99
|Contours Lite Stroller, Tangerine|
Contours Lite stroller’s compact and lightweight frame goes from planes, trains to automobiles with ease. The single front casters and large rear wheels steer clear of crowds ...Only $99.99
|The First Years Jet Stroller, City Chic|
The First Years Jet StrollerThe First Years Jet Stroller - Easier for You, More Comfortable for Your Baby!Finally, a stroller that is durable and, yes, it really will ...
Then there is the jogging stroller. This is such a great stroller for helping you get back into shape and stay in shape after baby is born! Plus, the extra large wheels on it make it easier to get through the sand at the beach and on dirt trails.
At the beginning of this number I said I had 2 strollers and wish I had 3. This is the would-be third stroller that I wish I had.
|Jeep Overland Limited Jogging Stroller with Front Fixed Wheel, Fierce|
Love to listen to music when you run, but worry about not hearing your child? Both of you can listen to your favorite tunes with Music on the Move174; parent tray! Simply ...Only $219.99
|Schwinn Free Runner Jogging Stroller (Light Blue/Blue/Red)|
Have a blast running while your baby sleeps like a lamb with the Free Runner from Schwinn. With its 16" alloy wheels and rear suspension, the Free Runner gives baby a smooth ...Only $169.99
|InStep Grand Safari Swivel Wheel Jogger, Gray/Yellow|
Comfort, function, and style come together in the InSTEP® Grand Safari swivel-wheel single jogging stroller. Large pneumatic wheels and a zero-degree turn radius allow you to ...Only $159.99
|Joovy Zoom 360 Jogging Stroller, Black|
The Joovy Zoom Jogging Stroller includes all of the high end features you would expect in a Joovy jogger! Made from 6061 aircraft grade aluminum and 600D fabric the Zoom is ...Only $249.99
Now that I sound like a totally spoiled mother, let me just say that if I were to pick JUST ONE stroller to buy I would buy the double stroller that fits the infant seat because I've always got more kids than one that want to ride in the stroller and I've always got a lot of bags and stuff with me wherever we go and the double stroller fits it all. They even have sit and stand type double strollers that are not as big as the tandem strollers and allow the 2nd rider to sit (even seat belted in) or stand. Those seem cool.
How many strollers does a mother need???!!! Strollers make my life sooo much...lighter.
|Baby Trend Sit N Stand Tag-A-Long Stroller, Red RockOnly $79.99|
|Joovy Caboose Ultralight Stroller, Blueberry|
850 Features: -Stroller. -Color: Blueberry. -Lightweight, compact, maneuverable tandem available. -Oversized canopy with visor extension. -Three position reclining front seat. ...
|Baby Trend Sit N Stand DX Stroller, Vanguard|
Functional and stylish, Baby Trend's Sit N Stand Deluxe is designed for the needs of the growing family! The Sit N Stand DX has a child tray that will accommodate all Baby ...
For the best stroller reviews see...
8. Baby Monitor
I've never lived in a mansion. The largest home I've ever lived in with my family of 7 is a 3 bedroom, 2 story, 2100 sq. ft. home. And we've only been living in it for 4 months! For most of my 10 years and 5 kids worth of time as being a mom, I've lived in less than 1600 square feet of home, and all single story. But I've had a baby monitor since my first son was born and I do consider it an essential.
Even if you don't live in a HUGE home, baby sounds don't travel far; especially newborn baby sounds, or the cry of a baby who is sick and has partially or fully lost his voice from the cold. Having a baby monitor on at all times helps reassure me that when my baby cries, I will be able to hear him. I don't always jump and run at the first sqawk or cry. Sometimes a baby needs to work out his energy through crying for a few minutes. But at least I can listen to the type of crying he is doing to determine if I need to help him or not.
Plus, it is so convenient to take with me when we travel because the homes of our family members are usually large and noisy with all the commotion and I always need my baby monitor to help me be aware of my baby's needs. They even have fancy monitors with touch and digital screens, or monitors that tell you the temperature of the bedroom. Those are nice features that my 10 year old monitor doesn't have.
|NTM-910YLW - Sony Baby Call Nursery Monitor|
Sony's NTM-910 900 MHz BabyCall&174; Nursery Monitor was designed to offer the clearest connection to your baby. Features include 900 MHz Technology which extends the range of ...
|Angelcare Baby Sound Monitor, White|
Angelcare Sound MonitorIt's tough being a parent. You can't help but worry about your baby every minute of every day, even when your baby is sleeping soundly. The Angelcare ...
|Safety 1st Crystal Clear Baby Monitor, White|
Keep a close watch on baby with this compact, lightweight nursery monitor set. Whether you're inside or outdoors in the garden, this portable monitor offers an immediate, ...Only $19.99
|Summer Infant Baby Touch Digital Color Video Monitor|
The BabyTouch Color Video Monitor is the most innovative baby video monitor on the market. It features a revolutionary touch-screen controlled monitor, the first of its kind. ...Only $219.99
9. Small Space Heater
This one might sound weird, especially remembering that I said I live in 70 degree weather year round. We bought our small, hands safe and fire safe space heater when my first son was born...in the dead of a snowy winter NOT in sunny California. We quickly found out he was cold every time he would come out of the bath. So we forked out what seemed to be a lot of money at the time and bought a space heater. It has lasted us 10 years and is still going! Now THAT is a quality product!
I consider a small space heater an essential for babies because like I said, you can use it to dress your baby by after getting out of the bath. You can set it to turn on automatically during the night when his room gets below a certain temperature and that way you don't have to run your furnace all night, saving you money. And as all my children have grown, they have continued to enjoy dressing close to the space heater after their baths, even until they are 5 or 6 years old! It's a great little tool to have to keep your little ones warm, especially since babies and children don't stay under the bed coverings well.
|Honeywell HZ-7200 Cool Touch Oscillating Heater w/ Smart Energy Digital Control Plus|
Honeywell HZ-7200 Cool Touch Oscillating Heater with Smart Energy Digital Control Plus uses energy wisely - simply Set & SaveOnly $59.99
|Lifesmart Renew 1500 Watt Infrared Heater|
The Lifesmart LSHPTC15PB Renew 1500 Watt Infrared Heater offers you unmatched warmth for up to 1000 square feet as it provides you with 1500 Watts of wonderful heating power. ...Only $369.95
|Holmes HEH8001-U Energy-Saver 1500-Watt Heater Fan|
The Eco-Smart Power heater uses 25% less energy than traditional heaters. The Eco-Smart 4 hour timer automatically shuts the heater off to prevent accidentally leaving the ...Only $34.99
Infant Car Seat and Beyond!
You will notice that infant car seats, toddler car seats and booster seats didn't make my list. They are, absolutely, essential. But since they are also required by law to have in the United States, I left them off the list because they are way more than essential. They won't even let your baby leave the hospital without an infant car seat to put him in, so car seats would have to go on a required list of baby products, if I were to make one...