git push baby products30 Apr 2018
When it comes to life events, there’s none that require quite as much “gear” as having a new baby. I recently had my second kid and it’s given me some time to think about the products that truly bring me joy versus those that are merely necessary. There’s plenty of baby product recommendation lists out there, this one is mine.
Note: All links to Amazon are affiliate links, because buying all this stuff in the first place wasn’t cheap 🤑. I recommend buying gently used when possible (and when it makes sense for the product).
In the newborn phase it’s much easier on the parents to “wear” your baby when you go out of the house than to try to put them in a stroller. It’s also much more comforting to the baby. We’ve had several “sling” style baby carriers, but they are size sensitive and cannot be swapped easily between my wife and I (meaning only one of us is stuck holding the baby the whole time). We were given this carrier from a friend who has it and loves it. After trying different carriers, I can say that this one brings me joy. There’s no infant insert to worry about forgetting or losing, and it works until the kid is pretty large.
Need: Yes, you need a baby carrier.
Cost: Comparable to other brands.
The Snoo is the geekiest bassinet you can buy. When you have an infant, you don’t put them in a crib right away: usually you keep them in a bassinet for the first few months. What makes the Snoo different? It’s got a microphone in it that detects when the baby cries. It then rocks and plays soothing sounds that “escalate” as the baby cries longer or harder.
For me, sleep is the hardest part of having a newborn. Even in the best case scenario you’ll be waking up a few times a night. The Snoo is good, but not magic. If your baby is unhappy or needs something it will not make them go to sleep immediately. If it cannot comfort the child, it stops and sends you a notification on your phone to go get them.
The Snoo is great for naps when the kid starts to fuss a little. Without it you would have to go into the room, pick up the baby and comfort them until they’re almost asleep, then put them down. Time that put down wrong, and you have to do it all over again, or you build bad sleep associations. The Snoo widens that “my baby will go to sleep if I put them down now” window.
Need: You will need a bassinet.
Cost: Extremely high, but in a class of it’s own. We bought ours second hand from a friend.
I love these diapers. During the day we use re-usable cloth diapers which are eco-friendly (since you don’t throw them away) and save money. The downside is they’re not as absorbent as disposables and have to be changed more often. At night we switch to disposables. They hold more and they do a better job of “wicking” the moisture away from the skin which helps prevent diaper rash.
Why do I love these diapers? They are biodegradable, which most diapers aren’t. They also seem to hold more than “Pampers/Huggies” of similar size without overflowing. These are also better at wicking than their counterparts. The downside is (you guessed it), they’re more expensive. For nighttime that expense is well worth it for me.
My wife and I have a system where she takes care of the feedings and I take care of the diaper changes. When we were using non-bamboo disposables I had to get every 2 hours to change and the diaper would be on the verge of being overloaded. With these I’m able to do one less diaper change a night and when I do change him his bottom is as dry as it was before. One less diaper change means uninterrupted sleep for me. I’m also careful to change regularly during the day. My first kid got diaper rash, and it was awful to deal with.
It’s worth mentioning that I don’t recommend cloth diapers here. We have family staying with us that will help with the extra effort of cleaning and washing the cloth diapers. If you have the bandwidth, look into them, they will save you money and help save the environment. However, they’re not for everyone.
Need: You will need diapers.
Cost: Slightly more expensive per pack, which can add up. Definitely worth it for nighttime. Maybe worth it during the day depending on your Eco ethics or paycheck.
This is a bit of a ridiculous recommendation, but I really like it anyway - buy a king mattress. Whether you plan on co-sleeping or not you’ll likely find your kid in bed with you from time to time. If you find an infant in your bed, you’ll suddenly discover that a queen isn’t quite all the royal room you though you thought you had. With the first kid I found I would be getting awful sleep, hanging almost off the edge of the bed and waking myself up consciously when I had to roll over - not fun. We decided to try the king mattress with the second kid after a recommendation from a friend who primarily co-sleeps and we really like it.
It’s not recommended to put a baby on a foam mattress, and the Casper I linked is foam, but it’s fairly firm. You don’t want a mattress that will deform a lot or cause the kid to be rolled over into you like some kind of a parental gravity sleep field. Use your best judgement.
Having a king bed won’t prevent you from having to wake up to change diapers or feed, but having extra space means you can go back to sleep easier when you do lay in bed. It’s not a game changer, but it’s a substantial improvement for me. Even after the infant stage there are still times when your kid will want to sleep in your bed, so while this is an expensive recommendation it will provide value for longer than a few months.
Need: Lol, no. But if you’re looking to eek out every drop of sleep it’s really nice.
Have you seen a movie about commandos or special forces before night vision was invented? If you did you might notice they use flashlights with a red filter on them. This lets them see but does not destroy their natural “night vision” by causing their pupils to dilate. Light comes in many flavors Roy-G-BiV and red is the lowest intensity. You can exploit this to prevent waking all the way up at night when you need to turn on a light. You don’t have to go buy special bulbs, instead wrap lights you use at night with red tint sheets. Here’s a photo of the lights I use by my nightstand. We made little removable red sleeves for them:
Since the infant is sleeping in our room, it also means they’re less disrupted when we need to turn on a light. Another place I used the tint sleeves is on the diaper changing light.
Need: No, but helped a lot more than you would think.
When I change my kid in the middle of the night, I don’t want to wake them or me up anymore than I have to. But I also have to see what I’m doing. A flexible small light lets me focus on the area at hand without turning on the room lights. As shown above, I stuck some of the red tint sheets to it to further help.
As a bonus, my 2 and a half year old sometimes comes into my room, turns on the light and waves the red spot light around the room. The only correct response it to play Sandstorm and start an impromptu toddler dance party.
Need: A nice to have.
Cost: Cheap. We got ours at Ikea.
After sleep, the most important thing for your self care is eating. When you sit down to eat, you’ll want to put down your infant, and if they are crying it will be hard to eat a meal. We help this by putting our little one in a baby swing (alternatively “baby glider”). Like the Snoo, it’s not magic. If you put a loudly crying unhappy baby in, you’ll end up with a loudly crying unhappy baby swinging. It works best when the kid is calm, but needs just a little bit more comforting.
We got our swing on Craigslist, there’s a ton to choose from as they don’t really go bad. I don’t have a recommendation for a specific one, but I do really enjoy having a baby swing. It’s also really nice for when you’re watching the kid by yourself and you need to put them down for a second to go to the bathroom, or to do a quick bit of cooking.
Need: Not required, but nice to have Cost: Varies, lot to choose from on craigslist.
Your baby has razor thin nails, and you need to trim them. These scissors are very sharp and accurate while being safe. They give me a great amount of control, and I don’t have to worry about accidentally stabbing anyone since the ends are rounded. When our first kid got older he loved holding and playing with the elephant cover while getting his nails trimmed.
Need: You need a way to trim baby’s nails.
Cost: Higher than other options, but worth it in my opinion.
Peanut changing pad
I was extremely skeptical of the Peanut changing pad. It’s got a pretty steep price considering that the alternative is a dollar’s worth of blankets. Why do I like it? Despite your best efforts, your kid will pee and poop on your changing mat. The shape of the peanut contains the mishaps and can be easily wiped clean. I’ve used other changing mats and they all get disgusting after a long period of use. This peanut is going on baby number 2 and it looks practically brand new.
Need: You need a changing pad. You don’t need this changing pad.
Cost: High for what it is. If you’re strapped for cash buy this last.
I highly recommend this product. You can drink from it while laying in bed without getting all wet. It’s also useful during the day. We take ours on walks and visits to the doctor (of which there are a lot after giving birth). It’s just nice to have water at hand.
Need: Not hardly.
Cost: Nominal, but don’t cheap out here.
With a new kid, that means lots of “downtime” that is frequently interrupted. It’s hard to enjoy a movie - you have to start and stop, playing an online competitive game is just about impossible, and looking at your phone can be mind numbing. Enter: books. You can put them down whenever, they’re entertaining and if you’re not reading it on a backlit LED screen, it won’t keep you up at night.
I love my Paperwite that I bought years ago. I recommend the Paperwite largely because it has the best case.
I also made reading right before bed a routine and it makes it easier for me to get to sleep (even prior to baby). It’s amazing what stepping away from a TV or a screen can do for you.
I also recommend getting a library card and using the Libby app to borrow free books.
Need: Nice to have.
Cost: Cost as much as 10 books new. Can offset by the ease of borrowing free books from library. Kindle is pricey, but I use it constantly.
This is a product I didn’t understand until I had a baby. “It’s faster to use your phone” sure, but what if you don’t have access to your hands because you’ve got a kid in one hand and a bottle in another. Frankly, any product that helps me keep my phone in my pocket is a good one for my own sanity. I use it to set timers while cooking, to get the temperature in the morning, to play NPR when I’m bored and I’ve got one set up to turn off our wi-fi bedroom light without having to get out of bed.
I used it a lot for our first kid once he was old enough to walk and needed to be played with, but wasn’t old enough to actually be mentally demanding. If I tried streaming music or the news on my phone I would accidentally get sucked into email or twitter and end up ignoring my kid, oops.
There are competitors. I like the echo.
Need: Nice to have.
Cost: Not free.
When you or your kid gets sick, a humidifier can help make life slightly more comfortable. This humidifier puts out a ton of moisture and actually works. I’ve tried several humidifiers over my life and this is the first one I can actually tell a difference when it’s on. The only downside to this model is that it has a “filter” that needs to be replaced. If you don’t, it get’s pretty nasty and you don’t want to be breathing in nasty.
Need: You should probably have a humidifier.
Cost: If you’re going to have a humidifier, it should probably be a good one.
We had our second kid in the winter. We used this space heater to make “skin to skin” time comfortable for both our baby and for my wife and I (who would be shirtless at the time). We also use this at bath time to warm the air for when the baby gets out. In general it’s a multipurpose heater that is good for a great many things.
Need: Really nice to have for a winter baby.
If your little one is breastfed then that means eventually someone in your family will likely need to use a breast pump. While I don’t personally use this product, I have friends and family (including my wife) which love this product. A normal breast pump has oddly shaped “horns” which attach to the breasts and you attach collection bottles directly to the horns. To put the horns on you have to attach them to a special strapless bra looking thing, take off your shirt, and then put it on. The freemie is way easier.
Instead of “horns” attached to an external bra-thingy you use cups. The cups are placed in the bra or top that is already being worn. This makes them easier to use and less obtrusive. One of my friends had a long commute to work and used these to pump while driving in the car. That’s what I call multi-tasking.
Wait that’s it?
I could talk about baby products for DAYS, but that’s it for now. This is my list for items that are especially useful for infants. If you liked this post, let me know and maybe I’ll do another round of baby product reviews for different age ranges.
If you liked this post you might enjoy some of my other baby and pregnancy articles: