if you haven't yet read part one, head over there to read my top 5 tips for preparing for baby.
everything on this list makes my life as a mom easier. some may work for you, some may not. but i hope that my exhaustive (and exhausting) research will help fast track some decision making for what you need for your little one. i've broken it down into sleeping, eating, pooping/bathing and playing. and i've thrown in travel and babywearing as well. as i sat down to write this, i found my list in each area getting longer and longer and longer. so below you'll find my top items in each category. eventually, maybe, someday, i'll dive a little deeper with individual posts about each category. stay tuned. xo
(p.s. i've linked everything for you, just click on the name of the item!)
s l e e p i n g
we are huge fans of the dockatot. after a lot of research and consideration, we chose to cosleep with charlie for the first six weeks. the dockatot helped us do this in a way that we felt safe and comfortable. cosleeping was something we researched and discussed in detail and as a family attempting to exclusively breastfeed, it was the option that ultimately felt the best for us. it travels extremely well so we didn't have to travel with a pack n play until charlie was 9 months old.
sleep choices are deeply personal and the american academy of pediatrics recommends infants sleep alone, on their backs, in a crib, on a firm mattress, in the same room as their parents, with no loose blankets or toys until at least 12 months (learn more about the AAP safe sleep recommendations here). cosleeping can be done (and is done, all around the world) safely when parents are vigilant. you can learn more about cosleeping and safety tips from the leading expert in the field, dr. james mckenna, at the notre dame mother baby behavioral sleep laboratory here.
we love love love LOVE our babyletto lolly crib (we got it in white/natural). it was extremely easy to put together and is absolutely beautiful. it perfectly fit the look we were going for in our nursery and we couldn't be happier with it. it converts to a toddler bed and it's a piece we'll have through subsequent babies. and bonus, the sleek look comes with a totally reasonable price tag. WIN WIN.
this was our go to sleep spot from week 6 to 6 months old. we were lucky enough to get to borrow it from our dear friends fran and shaun and it's definitely something i can recommend wholeheartedly. the base slides underneath your bed and the bassinet swivels around smoothly. parents can easily access baby through a drop down arm. it was invented by a couple who lost their daughter to SIDS and were passionate about creating an alternative, safe sleep environment.
hands down our favorite cozy swaddles. these silky soft swaddles feel like butter and come in GORGEOUS colors. they also moonlight as fabulous throw blankets when baby is done with them. we had a little houdini so these weren't great for overnight but were perfect for sweet cuddles.
nested bean swaddle
we absolutely love this swaddle that has a little weighted pocket that puts pressure on your little one to give the sense of mom or dad's hand resting on their body. easy-to-use velcro and cute designs are just the cherry on top. definitely our favorite velcro swaddle product. we also love the halo sleepsack and the swaddleme velcro swaddles.
e a t i n g
if you only get one breastfeeding related thing, make it the kiinde system. i pumped directly into these bags and they have a neat system that allows you to feed baby directly from the bags. charlie took to the kiinde nipples really well so this was an easy system for us to use for breastmilk. the pouches can also be used for baby food/toddler squeeze pouches and the system comes with an attachable spoon and pouch spout for on the go feeding. it also comes with adapters that fit pretty much every pump out there. a complete and total winner in my book. do make sure that you get comfortable with the measurements, as the bag needs to be FULLY expanded to match the ounce readings on the bags. learned that the hard way...sorry for starving you, charlie. :-/
haakaa manual pump
this is an awesome addition to any breastfeeding mom's arsenal. it suctions on and the suction causes the milk to flow. you don't have to manually manipulate it at all! for someone with an overactive letdown or someone looking to get all the milk they can (me!), this is a great tool to help save a few extra ounces every feeding. i would throw it on the opposite breast when i was breastfeeding and it helped me get an additional 3-5 ounces each day with no extra effort!
best. bottles. ever. some people have to go through loads of bottle brands to find what works. we had heard so many good things about these and they didn't disappoint. they were a hit from day one, which was super important for me since i knew it would be a transition when i went back to work and charlie would be getting pumped milk (though she mostly drank formula from these bottles and used the kiinde for breastmilk). she latched on to these (hahaha) right away. these bottles are also insanely easy to clean because they're so wide mouthed. you won't (i hope) be disappointed.
skip hop tuo high chair
we have been extremely happy with our tuo high chair. it's got a sleek, modern look that fits well into our home. it's easy to clean and has grown nicely with charlie. i've heard complaints that babies with fat thighs don't fit well in it, but charlie is a total meatball and has no issues. it also converts to a toddler chair once you're done using it as a high chair, so you're really getting 2 for one!
charlie turned out to be a baby who just didn't care for pacifiers. however, she did ok with wubbanubs and nattursuttens (the ugly looking thing in this pic) for the few weeks she did take a paci.
i have to say, not having to wean her off of a pacifier is pretty awesome so if your kid isn't into them...my advice would be to let it go.
my brest friend
dumb name, great breastfeeding pillow. one billion times better than the boppy and recommended by every lactation consultant i've met. this pillow really helped me in the first few months of breastfeeding. however, i eventually got really comfortable with my positioning and never used it after 3 months. but i have friends who used it until the last day they breastfed, so, to each their own.
grabease fork & spoon set
buy these. trust me. you will not be disappointed. bonus: if you buy the white ones, they donate another set to a kid in need.
p o o p i n g / b a t h i n g
the ubi is a steel pail that is easy to use and easy to clean. it smells horrific when you open it but otherwise contains the smells really well. bonus for not having to use special bags (it takes regular trash bags). we love ours and it comes in a ton of gorgeous colors. it also has a child safety lock on it so you don't have to worry about little hands making their way into this bin of rotting death.
when someone recommended the keekaroo peanut changing pad and i looked up the price tag, i had a serious WTF moment. $130 for a changing pad? are you kidddddding me? but this person said it was hands down the BEST baby item they got so i threw it on our registry. turns out, it's awesome. super easy to clean (no daily peed on diaper pad laundry to do) and looks beautiful. it can get a little chilly in the winter but we just put something under charlie's back during the coldest months. we love it and it is money well spent. promise.
i get asked A LOT about what diapers/wipes we use. as much as i wanted to cloth diaper, it just didn't pan out for us this time around (though i'm hoping we can try it with our next baby). we had terrible luck finding a diaper that worked for charlie. she has super sensitive skin and nearly every brand we tried would give her a rash until we found.........ALDI diapers. yes, aldi. the no frills discount supermarket. their kids line is AWESOME (including their all organic pouch line but i digress). after weeks of going through pampers (which were the absolute worst rash of them all), parasol, honest, costco, etc, etc, etc we decided to give these a try. they're phenomenal and we have had very few issues with them (we did have to put her in a size up for overnight once she hit about 10 months). and huge bonus, they are INSANELY affordable. they may or may not work for you, but if they do, you will not be disappointed in the cost savings. :)
as for wipes, while i love the texture of honest wipes, we've been super happy with the kirkland (costco) brand wipes. the price is great and we don't have issues with diaper rash at all. (p.s. we don't use wipes unless she poops. the diapers we use keep her VERY dry and since urine is pretty sterile, we just leave her alone unless she MUST be wiped. it's helped a lot with her skin so i thought i'd throw it out there.)
hands down the winner for us is aquaphor. we put that shit on everything.
we haven't had a lot of luck in the shampoo/soap department. charlie has extremely sensitive skin and a pretty bad case of eczema so we only use water 6/7 nights unless she REALLY needs it (eliminating bath from some days just isn't an option for us--charlie loves the water too much). she also had a terrible case of cradle cap that after weeks of trying "natural" options, mustela cleared up in just a few days. however, it came back several months later and we've been unsuccessful in getting rid of it this time around.
if your kiddo doesn't have the skin woes charlie does, i love love love the smell of the noodle and boo newborn kit as well as the honest company sweet orange vanilla shampoo and body wash.
we love the look and feel of our puj pads. we got the kneeler and the corresponding arm rest and not only are they super functional, they seamlessly fit into charlie's bathroom, which we did not redesign to be "kid friendly." pro tip: we hang them on command hooks on the back of our bathroom door for easy storage.
we love this tub. we didn't even consider it at full price but we got it secondhand on our local facebook marketplace for $10 and i'm so glad we went with it. we used it with a simple foam insert when charlie was still too small for it and it worked great. we loved the thermometer feature that let us know if the water was too hot or cold (especially because i LOVE my baths super hot so it's hard for me to tell what is safe or not.)
we have just a few toys in the tub. charlie still seems content with what she's had in there for months so we haven't changed it up yet. she has some foam letters, a tupperware container to dump water and a few green toys water toys (LOVE these toys and they're made from 100% recycled materials). she's an easy kid to please. truly though, i think less is more and until she gets bored, we see no reason to waste money and space on more bath toys.
nose frida snotsucker
think this is weird and gross? you won't think that when you suck 14 gallons of snot out of your kid's head and they feel instantly better. absolute no question, this is a must have. we are a big fan of all the frida baby products, including the winde, smilefrida toothbrush, fridet momwasher for postpartum care and nailfrida set. they sell a big baby bundle so you should probably just go ahead and register for that.
p l a y i n g
this water mat is a huge hit, even now at 16 months. easy to fill and hours of fun "splashing."
crate & kids (formerly land of nod) ocean play mat
this is a beautiful splurge item, but it brought me so much joy every time we pulled it out. we used it nearly daily from birth to 9 months. the joy is so evident in this precious picture of charlie and her canine brother, quincy (bahaha).
mike built charlie her own playgym. they are super easy to make and customize. maybe someday i'll put together a tutorial but for now, this tutorial is great.
great for EVERYTHING. i was so confused by these mats and was convinced they were just a weird, bougie instagram mom trend. but since i'm weird and bougie i bought one (and then 3 more) and fell instantly in love. we have two changing mats, a midi and a maxi and we use them ALL THE TIME. they are SO easy to clean because they're totally wipeable and can be hosed down. our nanny uses the midi nearly every day at the park and we use the maxi at the beach. the changing pads fold up so small and take up almost no room in the diaper bag. the rylee & cru floral print is my favorite but you really can't go wrong.
we have so many other favorite toys and books but i think i'll save those for another day. the above items got EXTENSIVE use and are all winners in our book.
t r a v e l
nuna pipa/nuna rava
as city parents, it was really important to us that our infant car seat would be easy to install without a base for uber/taxi trips and in rental cars on trips. we have taken our nuna pipa on countless trips and are happy to report it is still in tip top shape. it can be installed with the belt in about 10 seconds and the base LATCH install takes like 1 second. extremely, extremely happy with this carseat. there is a newere model, the pipa lite but it can't be installed with the belt, only with the base.
at around 12 months we switched her to her convertible carseat, the nuna rava. tbh, that thing looks so comfy, i'm a little jealous of charlie. this seat is VERY easy to install, which is not something you can say about all convertible car seats. this seat will last her a long time and we're very happy with it. some people skip infant car seats all together and go straight to convertible carseats, but with the amount of travel we did in her first year, it made sense for us to have a more lightweight option for travel. if you plan to skip the infant seat, you will not be disappointed with the rava.
zohzo carseat travel bag
this bag has gone everywhere with us and kept our car seat (and other stuff we've snuck in there) safe with it's lightly padded sides and smart design. it's very lightweight and has backpack straps (seen on my back here when i traveled solo with charlie to california). there are options available with wheels and more bells and whistles but this has worked great for us. we haven't used it with our convertible car seat in it yet but pro tip: a nuna pipa and the osprey hiking pack fit in there together. #worksmarternotharder
osprey poco ag premium hiking pack
this hiking pack is LIFE. it was recommended to us by our friends who are avid hikers and we have not been disappointed. we've taken it on some serious hikes in banff and will be taking it to the faroe islands later this summer and it fits both mike (who is 6'5") and myself (i'm 5'4") easily.
some of our favorite features: super easy to adjust, huge sunshade, lots of storage underneath the sitting area, a chew pad, stirrups for bigger kiddos and a detachable backpack. it's a splurge item, but if you're a big hiker, a hiking pack is a definite necessity. it's good for a max load of 48 pounds, so it's bound to last you a long time and through multiple children. 100% wouldn't go on any major hiking trip without it!
this stroller system is e x p e n s i v e. no ifs, ands or butts about it. but it is THE BOMB and worth every penny. however, there are people who love to churn through strollers and you may be able to find this system for a steal locally on craigslist, facebook, etc. we got our entire system for about $400. yes, it's an older model, but it looks and runs great.
highlights: the infant bassinet is great for the early weeks and much better developmentally for baby than using a carseat adapter (read more about that and other bad stroller habits here). this stroller grows to two kiddos and even three with the standing board. it has THE BEST under stroller storage. you can fit ALL the things under this beast. it's super easy to maneuver and since we live in the city, we knew we couldn't scrimp on good wheels and shocks.
we DON'T travel with this stroller. it's a heavy beast and since i pretty much exclusively babywear when we travel, it just doesn't make sense to risk the damage that has happened to so many of our friends' strollers. we did get this tiny wonders stroller, which is basically a knockoff of the muuuuch more expensive babyzen yoyo, that fits in the overhead compartment of a plane and it travels beautifully.
tbh, jury's still out on our bag. i succumbed to the instagram mom life and got a fawn design bag (seen here on my beautiful mama). i love it but i know i could do better for the price point. for now, it works great for us, has tons of storage and looks cute as hell. but if i'm honest, this is the bag of my dreams.
baby bjorn travel crib/guava lotus
we found the baby bjorn travel crib for a steal on our local facebook marketplace. i can't stress enough how often parents are looking to offload high end gently used, and often time hardly used, baby items. if you have champagne tastes on a beer budget, buy used! it is SO lightweight, easy to set up, travels well and is extremely easy to clean, as we learned when charlie projectile vomited all over it when we were in florida. you can toss everything but the mattress directly in the washer and dryer.
if we hadn't found the baby bjorn for a steal, we definitely would have gotten the guava lotus. it's beautiful, can be worn as a backpack when traveling with it and the side zips away for easy parental access/cuddles.
b a b y w e a r i n g
the solly wrap was our go to for the first 3 months of babywearing. i've tried several brands of wraps and the solly was the easiest for me to learn and the fabric is incredible (same fabric used for the solly swaddles). solly wraps are what made me fall in love with babywearing and i can't wait to use mine again someday with baby #2!
i discovered wildbird ring slings when charlie was 2 months old. while you can sling from day one, i switched from wrapping to slinging at around 3 months when she had good head control and i felt more confident in my skills. we still sling nearly every day and i love the different options i have in fabric, color and support i get with ring slings. since i've started, i've tried lots of brands but wildbird is still my favorite for affordability, color & fabric options and community.
charlie and i had a blast modeling for their fall/winter 2017 line--you can see us on the website here! we've made some absolutely incredible friends through the wildbird community and we've even traveled to southern california and boston to hang with our babywearing besties. i cannot emphasize enough how important babywearing and the babywearing community have been in my motherhood journey. it can be difficult to get the hang of it at first but it is SO SO SO worth it. if you need help, message me on instagram @habejo!
other sling brands i love are poppet, beachwood baby and proverbs 31 heart.
soft structured carriers (SSCs)
we love our happy baby carrier! when we aren't slinging, we're using this. it isn't bulky at all so it travels well and it's super easy to use. bonus points for coming in tons of cute colors. for longer carries, we have a tula that we love as well. you really can't go wrong with a SSC as most can be used for front and back carries but they can get hot.
side note re: babywearing. i will do a more extensive post someday about babywearing but please, please, please read about your carriers before using them. watch videos. ask for help from a friend or your local babywearing communities. infants have died due to improper babywearing and proper hip placement is important for your baby's development. i cannot tell you how often i see dangerous babywearing happening (especially on celebrities!) and it's an awkward and personal subject to broach. if you have questions, please feel free to reach out to me! i am happy to help you troubleshoot!
second side note: there are way too many awesome brands out there to settle for ugly babywearing products. search until you find what you like!
did you make it this far? wow. i barely did AND it took me like 4 months to write this post. i hope it makes your baby registry process a little bit easier. if you have any other categories or items you think i should tackle, let me know!