This post was written more than 6 years ago in google docs when we first had my daughter. Since then we’ve passed it on to countless friends, many working parents, to help navigate them through this journey. Not all the products are up to date anymore, but the thinking behind why we made those decisions still stand. I hope this will be helpful to you.
Our criteria for product selection is as follows:
Strong word of mouth from people we know
Reputable brands that care about safety, eco-friendliness
Good price/performance ratio
Well-rated on amazon (as vetted by fakespot.com)
Now if you’re the type of parent that would just rather not think but be prepared, stop reading now and just buy this Finnish Baby Box and call it a day. :)
If you don’t have the patience to read through all this, here’s my list of Top 10 game-changing baby products.
Try to procure the items used since generally things don’t get used long in the first year. Ask your friends and family or even nextdoor (iphone app) for donations. Do not be shy to ask - most parents are just DYING to get rid of stuff.
For safety reasons, some things are better purchased new.
For example, if you are going to use a used car seat make sure they are not expired or recalled. Most of them have a 7 year expiration before the materials start to breakdown. Their expiration date can be found on the side of the car seats.
If you are getting lots of old hand me downs toys and gear, double check them to make sure they have not been recalled. And if they have, find out why. You might be able to live with it.
Fill your registry with practical items you know you WILL use. Returning online is a hassle. We know how people love to buy cute clothes for baby but it’s a shame when you don’t get to wear most of them. We were lucky that people mostly bought off our registry for the practical stuff and maybe supplemented with a few cute things.
We also asked for used/new books to help build Emmy’s library.
Don't get a swing on a registry. No idea knowing if baby likes it. Both ours hated it while some babies love it.
Join the BBB Beyond+ program that gives you unlimited 20% off for the entire year at $59 with free shipping included. It was a no brainer for us! You will use this again and again.
BBB and Nordstrom will price match anyone's prices including Amazon. Super helpful for larger ticket items that you're not sure if you're going to use and great for warranty purposes of course. Nordstrom has a nice collection of organic baby clothes and high quality gear. I wished we knew this sooner!
If you decide to use the amazon registry and select items sold by amazon themselves, you can purchase the items at a discount at the end. However, online returns are a hassle.
If you want to go through more hassle, Bed bath and beyond will match Amazon prices but it requires you to phone in your order.
For bigger ticket items, check amazon prices on camelcamelcamel to ensure you are not ripped off at a higher price point.
Pre-natal & Postpartum care and randoms
Pre Natal vitamins & Omega3: We cannot stress how important it is to do your research on the pre-natals that you take otherwise you might be taking the equivalent of sawdust. Good quality pre-natals are very easily absorbed into the system and are made from the best sources of minerals. Not all vitamins are created equally - you get what you pay for. We stand by LifePak Prenatals.
Do lots and lots of pre natal yoga. Help encourage the baby to be in the right position, open up the pelvic floor and learn breathing techniques. In your last month, go every day if you can. Blossom birth has unlimited monthly passes.
Get a doula. Both Mikee and I did not remember anything we learnt from the birthing classes. Omg, Labor is intense. Doula will help you stay on course and remind you of everything you learnt and she is a big reason we were able to have a drug-free birth. If cost is an issue, find a doula-in-training. We retained ours for $500.
*Tuck’s Witch Hazel medicated pads - you’ll need them if you had vaginal tears, free pass if you had a ceasar. Roll up a bunch like a cigar and stuff it along the crack literally. Change every 4h. I only needed this for my first birth, thank God.
*Loved the camino hospital bottle but it isn’t leak proof. Highly recommend the 1L Camelbak eddy water bottle. You will be drinking all the time since baby is drinking all the time.
*Mesh underwear from the hospital. Take as many as you can, they are washable and reusable! The hospital supply store also sells these but they are like $2 a pop.
mc> if you are nice to the nurses (ours at ECH), they may be happy to give you extra FREE stuff. like diapers, mesh underwear… :)
Sodium docusate or Milk of Magnesia. Gotta get the bowel moving fast. It took me way too long because sodium docusate did not work on me and boy did it start to hurt…
*Baby Connect iPhone/Android App: Track all of baby’s activities and support multi-user login which is useful for super-involved DHs.
Hire a house cleaner if you don’t have family help. We’re not kidding! A clean house makes a huge difference and you might not be able to do it all in the early months. Our cleaners come on a “as needed” basis which is great and costs us $85 for the house. Holler if you want her contact.
Lots of oatmeal, at least one bowl every morning. Or make your own oatmeal lactation cookies. It makes a huge difference to milk supply!
*Lots and lots of sleep, water and nourishment!!!!
Other useful links that might be helpful for postpartum care etc.
How it all went down for us…
Postpartum Part 1: Going to town on the vjayjay
Postpartum Part 2: Super Nipples
Kimono style white tops with mitt cuffs are awesome for first few months. Gerbers and Carters have plenty and really just makes dressing them much easier.
Sleep bundlers also make changing a baby super easy at night. We used ours for a good 4 months.We got cheapo ones on amazon but i can’t seem to find a link anymore. This is what it kinda looks like. I love baby soy’s designs but their quality is so-so so I would say look elsewhere.
Don’t buy anything super cute except maybe one nice outfit for going out or special events. Get as much used/hand me downs as you possible can. They go through these FAST and Emmy maybe only wore 50% of her fancy outfits (thank goodness they were all HMDs) and they will have poo explosions and puke on it it is not worth buying fancy stuff.
That being said our favorite brands for basics are Uniqlo Baby and H&M has an organic line(Oeko Tex safe fabric!!! Their baby leggings are amazing!) As for things that she’ll wear often for longer periods of time where they don’t grow as fast anymore (12-24 month range) I like Hanna Andersson or Baby Gap. Really really good quality. You can frequently get HA on markdown at babysteals.com or zulily.com but I got most of mine on consignment. They also launder very well.
H&M baby also has a great affordable organic line for their basics.
Socks are important and we really like the trumpette ones! They stayed on pretty well until Emmy decided they are better eaten than worn.
*Agitation: This is quite possibly the key to successful stain removal. Buy a mini japanese washboard to get stains out fast and agitate the fibers with a few quick scrubs. it’s mildly gross compared to changing poopy diapers but this ensures you can get cloth diapers fairly clean!
The SUN is also the best stain removal weapon except it doesn’t work half the year.
*Baby-safe Detergent: Charlie’s soap or seventh generation powder for HE washing machines. Biodegradable and baby safe, free of harsh chemicals, odor free. And guess what… cheaper than Costco tide prices! We use it now for all our laundering needs. Do follow the instructions to first “strip” your washing machine of all the previous soap residue before washing your baby’s clothes. When in doubt about anything concerning chemicals, check against the Environmental Working Group’s consumer guide list. They are a good bunch of people.
Detergent Stain Spray: Charlie’s pre-wash stain spray: Great for those poo explosions. Agitate with the japanese washboard.
Drying rack: We’ve had the Minky tower one for years - holding up well and can hold a ton of clothes!!
Lactation, Nursing & Pumping
*Breastpump: Medela Pump in Style Advance Pump - Works fine but it’s loud. You can get it used but medela doesn’t recommend it because its not a closed system. We recently discovered Hygeia which is a closed system. We did rent the hospital-grade symphony for the first month, closed system, to get the supply up. However, there has been significant innovation in this space.
For 100%hands-free pumping, consider this amazing contraption called the freemie collection cups. Now I must qualify that I have NOT tried it, but when we have a second one, I’m definitely trying it. You basically stuff it inside your bra/top and connect to your breastpump. It sits there and collects INSIDE the cup so your hands are actually completely free. It connects to most breastpumps but makes sure you check for compatibility. What I’ve heard from a real user is that it really is handsfree, but kind of a pain to clean because there are so many parts.
*Breast pumping flanges: Pumpin’ Pals Breast Flanges - So much more comfy than the stock medela ones. Trust me, this will save your back because of its angled down flange and your nipples will like how the plastic is soft-ish.
Note that the standard medela flange size is generally too small for asian nipples. They come in a variety of sizes so make sure you size it up properly. A lactation consultant can also help with that.
*Simple wishes Hands-free Pumping Bra For pumpers, a must-have to avoid “claw-hand” and backaches. You can also repurpose an old sports bra and cut two 1” holes in them. :P I must qualify that i’m never truly hands-free because of leakages. If you want 100% hands-free look below:
Nursing Props: I used these heavily in the first few weeks because of my breastfeeding wrist Injury but personally don’t recommend that you RELY on them to nurse. I had props like Breast friend or Boppy. Learning to breastfeed without props will help you ease into public nursing faster. just need good posture and set up. I have both of them if you want to borrow it.
Nursing cover: This was useful in the early days when I was shy in public and baby was focused. Around the 4 month mark it became extremely difficult to nurse her under a cover because the cover print was so distracting at the same time, my modesty was out of the window. So I would say borrow one if you can. But much has changed in terms of this area, and i highly recommend the covered goods cover that all my mommy friends use. I’ve never used it - but can’t beat it’s 4-in-1 functionality.
*Lansinoh disposable Breast pads - I tried four brands and this is the BEST. Thick and cushiony and absorbent, no embarrassing leaks!
Dutailier gliders are the best, all made in canada and perfect for nursing. We got it for $65 - and sold it for the same price!!! The cushion cover wasn’t the best design and old but I ripped up a cheapo ikea blanket one day and made a slipcover out of it.
These are rare to come by on craigslist but the XL sleigh style dutailer gliders are pretty amazing. When the baby grows up, it can even comfortably fit baby next to you for story time. So awesome!
***Lactation Consultant: Joanna Koch at PAMF. Go see her ASAP. Even if you think you don’t have an issue, make an excuse to see her. She will always have tips on how you can improve and optimize your breastfeeding experience. If you are not part of pamf, pay $150 out of pocket for three consultations. If not for her, I’m not sure I would have succeeded and lasted quite this long.
Secret to not buying nursing bras or tanks? The coobie bra. These guys come with removable pads and you can just pull them down to nurse and they are super comfy. Brilliant right? Get the “full” size with the wider straps. These you can also use well after you’re done with nursing! Note that If you are however a C+ cup and above you may not want to wear this all the time because it doesn’t actually have a lot support. And no matter what you do, never wear wired bras. Could totally cause mastitis. If you want a recommendation for a good nursing bra, i have one from Bella Materna that I love. Not cheap, but worth every penny.
Nursing stool - Got it as a hand-me-down but it is AWESOME. I would’ve bought one if I didn't get a HMD. I still use it every time i nurse and makes it very comfortable. You can’t just use a box by the way, the angle is perfect. I have the medela one but doesn't look available on amazon anymore. This kidcraft one is the next best thing. I have an extra one if you ever want to borrow.
Harmony Manual Breast Pump: When i went back to work I realized I was faster on the manual pump than the electric pump. It was also so much more convenient to know i could pump anywhere without need for power supply! After third month, I reverted solely to manual pump. I can control the flow and my breast drains out much faster. And so convenient that I can do it anywhere in the car, public bathroom (gross, i know), walk around the house, watch TV etc. You can also spend way more and get the willow hands free pump.
*Bottles/Nipples: We stuck with the medela line of bottles and nipples. It’s so convenient to be able to pump straight into the medela bottles and serve when ready. She had no issues with the nipples and didn’t seem to have problems with the bottle so there was no reason to change. We did start introducing one bottle a day early on which I think was a big help. And she had ZERO nipple confusion, which is awesome! We could switch between bottle or breast whenever. If you’re going straight to formula then there is no reason to use the medela bottles.
*Lansinoh Breastmilk Bags - Great for building up your frozen stash but do not freeze more than 2 oz at a time. Stack them and freeze horizontally to maximize freezer space. They are frequently on sale at toysrus but amazon’s pricing is reasonable.
*Burp cloths - We got the dundees that worked amazing. You can even cut up old t-shirts and bonus points for the mommy t-shirt smells that baby will love! But really, whatever, it’s just spit up!
Milk-feeding Bibs: We have these green sprouts bibs and other random bibs worked great for bottle feeding. The velcro is pretty strong but the velcro edges still irritates emmy’s neck sometimes. Personally, we don’t use snap bibs because they never are tight enough around her neck. We now use these as a doule bib protection over her food pullover bibs. Great system!
As for cute ones I love the ikea bandit style ones! They're also super soft and fleece lined.
Bottle warmer: I’ve almost burnt myself a couple of times with the traditional bottle warmers and because these use steam. At that temperature, breastmilk nutrients are also being killed! The APA’s recommendation is to heat the bottle with warm flowing water, not steam. We ended up getting the kindi kozii since we started emmy on the bottle early and do bottles all the time. Really like it, the temperature is never too hot. The other cost-effective way to do it is to dunk the bottle into a bowl of flowing warm tap water. That’s how they do it at daycare.
*Bottle cleaners/brush: Again a fan of the oxo range, very well designed. Mikee hardly used the nipple cleaner to be honest. Once a week, mikee attempts to sterilize all in a hot pot of boiling water since we don’t use dishwasher for anything plastic. We also have the travel brush set for when we had to travel for work and pump. Very handy feel free to borrow ours if you need it.
*Drying Rack: Love love the boon countertop drying rack (we have 2!) including the “trees” to air dry nipples and pump parts. Once we’re are down with this stage we can continue to use it to dry utensils etc. I’ve also seen my friend use it as a caddy for jewelry and watches etc. We love anything that can be re-purposed!
Dishwashing Liquid: Think we use seventh generation. It doesn’t clean as well as something like palmolive but at least it’s safe-ish.
For more on sleep-training, read this
Don’t wait to set up your crib. Sometimes parts are defective or missing so you want ample time to deal with these issues. Also most furniture and mattresses need to be “off-gassed” so the fumes are released before baby gets home.
If you want to splurge, who can resist the honest baby one??
*Mattress: SImmons Organic Green Meadows from Costco. They have it now and then for 79.99
*Bedsheets: Gifted this one and had some randoms
*Waterproof cover: We got the naturepedic organic one and its great quality.We also have a generic brand one and it’s not as good quality.
*Sleep sacks/swaddles: We started with the aden+anais muslin swaddles (although personallyI feel bambino land is softer), moved on to the halo system when Emmy proved too defiant for the swaddle. We started investing in halo and then finally landed on the woolino sleep sack when she weaned from the swaddle. The halo system appears affordable but you have to keep upsizing as the baby grows which is kinda ridiculous so the woolino sleepsack actually works out to be cheaper and has many many more awesome properties due to the nature of wool (Self-regulating, naturally flame retardant, requires minimal laundering, super comfy) Bottom line is Emmy loves her woolino!!! The muslin swaddles weren’t a waste though… so many other uses and she loves rubbing her face on them during bedtime, it helps pacify her especially during Cry-It-Out sleep training episodes.
The trick with swaddling is to master the super swaddle: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xaB63OMf-sU&hl=en-GB&gl=SG
An alternative sleep sack I have seen but not tried is ergo cocoon. It's very popular in AU and NZ. I really like that it's one size for 3/12 months and converts into a sleep sack.
*Pacifiers: She liked the philips avent ones and thoms likes the MAM ones. DIdn’t like the ortho ones but every baby is different. We started pacifier pretty much on day 1 but Emmy self-weaned the paci at 4 months though. Had no effect on nipple confusion. Breast is best - she just knew!
Many pajamas come ladened with flame retardant chemicals so make sure you do your research on what type of sleepwear you end up with. We basically just had her wear cotton footies that had no flame retardants. Make sure its snug fitting though.
*Infant Car seat and Caddy: We were gifted the Orbit Car Seat/Stroller System - Great product but we got a great deal on it otherwise it’s overpriced at regular prices, don’t get it. The keyfit30 was our next choice.
Stroller: as above.
Stroller updated: Now that we’ve used a stroller for almost a year now. My biggest pain is that the orbit’s seat has to be removed in order for it to be closed. Also I have a TINY trunk so once we have a stroller in there (umbrellas included because they’re long), there’s just not a lot of room in there. I did a ton of research on compact fold strollers, and have totally fallen in love with the Babyhome Emotion ($240 with BBB coupon). It adapts to different carseat, and has a ton of great features that come with other strollers. If you want to demo it and test it for your trunk, let me know!
If space is not an issue with your trunk, but you still want an all in one lightweight/everyday/travel stroller that adapts to a car seat, second in line would have been Mamas & Papas’ Armadillo stroller . The features are almost identical to the emotion but has a slightly roomier “cabin”. That costs you an extra 4 lbs in weight though. If I had a bigger car, this would probably have been my pick. If you live in the city, check out the new armadillo city.
The only reason why you might want a tricked out uppababy or orbit is if you plan to have two babies close in age. These frames are super strong and allow for add-ons or conversions to double strollers.
Think King Hooks for stroller or caddy: You know you'll want to hang stuff since the basket is not always accessible! These are strong and angle can be adjusted to fit almost any stroller.
Umbrella Stroller: We were gifted the first years ignite stroller as the backup stroller we keep in Jo’s car because of her small trunk. You can’t go wrong especially if we lose it or get stolen and works great in the trunk,
Convertible Toddler Car seat:
The Britax Marathon is a parent favorite and has a stellar reputation among experts. As of 2017 has updated all its fabrics to be free of toxic flame retardants.
Highly recommend you take baby/car to Buybuybaby on Almaden and make a “personal fitting consultation appointment” with Ben. He is amazing and will make sure you find the right seat for your needs, baby and the car! He is a wealth of information.
If you plan on having two kids close in age, and still want to be able to use the third seat in the backrow, highly consider the diono Radian series or Clek Flo. It is the only car seat that is designed for a narrower profile. We had to buy one for travel in asia and I am super impressed with it.
Picnic Blanket: JJ Cole Picnic blanket. Babies love being outside lying in the park under the trees! This is an amazon favorite but I wished it was machine washable. So find a waterproof one that you can toss in the laundry. Skip Hop’s central park is a good alternative.
Skip Hop Pronto Changing Station: Make any bag become a diaper bag! Love the see through diaper wipe case too!
Skip Hop Stroller Organizer: A must!!! Our strollers handle storage is totally pathetic. Barely fits my keys let alone my phone. The skip hop holds everything and more and even has a zippered pouchette to hide a phone.
Diaper bag: I was never a big fan of the diaper bags out there even though I have a skip hop HMD. They try to give you so many pockets but it makes you even more disorganized because I can never remember where I put what. But maybe that’s just me? Now after months, we finally landed on using a Timbuk2 Parcel Tote Bag - Generously sized and it can store everything we need! Let’s not forget TimBuk2’s lifetime warranty policy. It is also sporty looking so Mikee does not mind using it.
Note that different babies have different preferences so try to borrow it before you commit to buying. You are welcome to borrow ours.
*Baby Carrier: Got the Ergo 360 carrier and it works fine - Emmy can sleep in it for h.o.u.r.s. A Godsend during witching hour and when trying to extend her naps. It does get really hot though so a blessing in the winter and a curse in the summer.
We also have the boba air which is a great lightweight travel carrier. Used it all over Singapore and on the plane and have it as a backup in the car.
Love the Babybjorn soft balance bouncer. Pricey but you may get lucky on Craigslist. We got ours at BBB to price match Amazon’s low price. These retain their value really well so resale is never an issue.
Changing table: We built a dresser to fit our desired space. Ana White has great plans like this one. Don’t waste your money on a dedicated changing table. Just source for a used/new dresser at a good height. Ikea has a few options like the MALM and the HEMNES range. The hemnes even comes with a changing table attachment!
With baby #2, we just converted the foot of our guest bed into a changing area. It’s working out great. I sewed a few padded coverings to protect the bed sheet from accidents.
Changing pad: We have a basic Summer Infant contour changing pad. Half the time she’s being changed on a bed/couch though so those lap pads (see below) come in SUPER handy. They are pretty much strewn all over the house in the first few months.
Changing pad cover: Also have a basic Summer Infant but I’ve seen super cute ones on etsy!
So if you hate laundry consider getting the keekaroo. It's pricey but you won't have to buy changing pad covers or lap covers because of its impermeable easy to clean surface. Looks cute too.
***Lap pads: These things are lifesavers. So the concept is that you line your changing pad with these because there will be multiple accidents a day and you really don’t want to be changing the covers all day long. We also used these in the crib/activity mat in the early days to catch accidents before they hit the bed sheets. Smaller size for lining your lap, the changing pad/car seat and larger size for crib/bassinets/activity mats/ etc. We have a bunch that we can loan out. We still use these on the changing pad even though the accidents are now not as frequent as before.
*Disposables: Pampers Swaddlers worked great for her (Start cloth diapers after breastfeeding is nailed and you are sleeping a good chunk at night)
No matter how great they are, there will always be leaks with disposables. Be prepared with lap pads and covers.
Even if you decide not to do cloth, get a couple of bumgenius 4.0 covers or BB covers to cover the disposables. It’s a fact, cloth diaper covers DO NOT LEAK. Super useful to help keep blowouts in especially if you’re taking baby out in a fancy outfit. And some of the covers are so cute it looks like underwear!
Man… I really wished I discovered target up and up diapers sooner. They work just as well but cost half of the leading brands and the best part? They're hypoallergenic and chlorine free. A great item to order on google shopping express.
*Wipes: Costco Kirkland brand, worked fine no issues, Cost-effective.
*Wipes Holder/Warmer: So we used a prince lionheart warmer which was nice in the early days because it meant less squirming at diaper time. But it’s terrible when you reach in and realize the wipes are jammed or you’ve run of out of wipes so we stopped using it over time. Also wanted her to get used to cold wipes if we were to go out. We LOVE the oxo perfect pull dispenser!! It is weighted so your wipes never get jammed and there is a clear window at the front so you always know ahead of time if you’re running low. Absolutely brill. Nice clean design too.
OXO lighted Diaper caddy: This wasn't around during our time but man we love it so much I’m going to get it anyway for craft supplies. Love that it has uses beyond diapering.
Portable wipes holder: The standard travel sized huggie diaper holders are okay but it’s hard to tell how much you have left without opening it. They are lots of cute embellished ones on Etsy too. Now that Emmy’s older and doesn’t require that many diaper changes, I LOVE the buti-pods. They are so light and compact and I can throw it into any purse!
Diaper Pail: I would go for the Ubbi. Also doesn’t require special bags and the steel interior is nice! Requires airing out every couple of months.
If you are tight on space, this stokke/ prince lionheart flexi tub is totally for you! I only recently discovered it but it has a loyal following. It also travels well since it collapses flat. Bear in mind that you’ll need to get the infant attachment if you want to use it from birth. This is super useful in the California drought since you never have to use the large tub for baths. When your 4yo outgrows it, it can become a useful outdoor toy for sensory water games! FYI 20% coupons for BBB apply. Just bought it for our trip and this made in Denmark product is amazing. Easily makes the top 10 list of all time!!!
Leacho Bath pillow: You can get this for the early days so baby is comfy but it will only be used for 2 months. Can be stacked on the primo or used in a large kitchen sink. When you’re traveling if they’re little, this works great too
Avoid soap in the bath, only use soap on the cloths to cleanse if needed. Otherwise its a water soak and then add moisturizer to seal. “Soak and seal" is what the ped dermatologists say.
California baby shampoo : Recommended by our ped dermatologist
Cerave cream For us, lotion is always more drying than cream Get the pump so you can use it with single hand.
*Towel Aprons: We were gifted one of these fantastic towel aprons and it is the best thing ever but it is pricey. It keeps you dry and frees your hands so you can pick up the baby from the bath and wrap them up. So what I suggest is to get soft microfiber adult towels and sew too long “straps” on its short end so it becomes like an apron. When baby outgrows you can remove the straps and use it again for yourself!
Regular Towels: We were gifted several random ones from aden and anais and skip hop but i was surprised at how rough they were. Even my own towels were softer! We continued to use them so as not to be wasteful but i’ve heard that the softest baby towels out there are the Little Giraffe Lux Towels. They’re pricey, the celebs use them and they are rumored to be really really soft.
Grooming et al.
*Nail cutting: We love the elephant Rubis nail scissors. Its pricey but it’s the best. Cuts sharp but can never cut baby’s skin because of its genius design. I started out with the Piyo but I cut her skin within the first use! If you can only get one thing on this list, this is it.
*Snot sucker: Frida. Must. Have. Babies don’t know how to clear their noses!
Mitts: If your baby is scratching themselves and you are too afraid to cut their nails, these guava mitts will stay on but they are pricey. We have a couple of pairs that we used religiously when her facial eczema was at her worst. We are more than happy to loan out as needed.
I’ve also heard using a snug pair of socks can work well too!
*Sunscreen: We have the mustela stick sunscreen for her face because it is easy to apply but otherwise we just use whatever is on sale at whole foods. My default for “safe products” is whole food products. Environmental working group also has a good section for safe sunscreens.
These things take up space and are not used for long so get hand me downs! Try not to buy them.
*Bouncy chair: Very useful when baby is awake and just wants to hangout while you make dinner. No idea what our brand was, it was a HMD that worked fine.
Bumbo chair: Hardly used our HMD bumbo as she learnt to sit up on her own so we didn't feel the need to aid her.
*Activity Mat: A super useful HMD in the early days although a blankie would do the trick too.
Swing: We got a great HMD but Emmy just would not sleep in it. Plus we wanted her to learn to fall asleep on her own. Welcome to borrow ours to try? We wouldn't recommend buying one until you think you really need one. Some sleeping champ babies will sleep in anything.
Pack and Play: Graco seems to dominate the market for affordable options. Useful if you live in a 2-storey otherwise we only use ours on vacation. Try to get this used. Ours is up for borrowing but it is bulky (25lbs).
Portable crib: We travel a lot, especially to see family in Singapore. We invested heavily in a super portable light welght (11lbs) crib, Lotus Crib from the Guava Family. I really like it because it packs into a suitcase and I love the “zip door” feature so I can lie next to baby and soothe them without having to bend over the crib. The only tricky thing about it is putting on the cribsheet which requires some finagling. Guava family is also the maker of the Adventure GoCrib sold by REI.
Forever toys: Get them used or invest in what we call “forever toys”. This toys can be used by all genders and used for a wide age range.hkids.com/blog/2018/10/6/top-20-forever-toys-y45s7.
Sun hats: Sunday afternoon is the definitive choice for all parents.
Sunglasses: Hands down - Roshambo. And they’re unbreakable! It’s for a great cause too.
*We don’t have a baby monitor, just a dropcam and a wyzecam. It’s kinda disruptive to have the monitor on the whole time because baby makes all sorts of noises and 90% of the time you want to ignore those. We use the dropcam app on my phone if her crying gets loud. Super convenient andwe can view the dropcam from anywhere with internet! Great for date nights. :) When baby no longer needs to be monitored, this will double as a home security camera. It can even email you when it detects sound or motion.
The way we mounted the dropcam on the crip is simply using zip ties! Once she started sitting up and pulling to standing we changed the mounting to a hanging wall shelf near by.
The woolino 4-season sleep sack is like a safety feature in my opinion. No loose blankets!
8-panel superyard: We borrowed this and would have liked to buy it if Emmy actually tolerated it. She didn’t. I would say it’s a hit and miss and soooo dependent on your baby. We ended up buying the summer infant playsafe yard because it actually has a “door”. We just use it to block off the great room. It works fine and I love how convenient the door is! This frequently goes on sale at diapers.com. Skip Hop is again killing it on the baby yard game - THIS ONE will look good in any living room!
Carseat mirror: We have a britax one which works okay except it always loses the “sighting” meaning frequent adjustments. I’m not sure if it’s because my headrest is roundish, so it’s hard for the flat planel of the mirror to stay in place.
What to Expect in your First Year - Definitive handbook for the 1st year
Gary Ezzo Series - Baby Wise for Sleep training (Emmy started sleeping 8 hours by week 6, and 12 hours by week 10 with a dreamfeed)
Baby Whisperer - Another take on soothing babies
Baby Led Weaning - Transitioning to solids. We did a hybrid approach based on this book.
Baby signing times series - They can sign before they talk!
Thoughts on Classes
Breastfeeding class: Actually practicing with a realllll baby is 100x more effective than taking a breastfeeding class. Save your money and see Joanna Koch the minute you are discharged from hospital. She is amazing and the key reason why we were able to bf successfully for so long. They also have free classes you can take at the hospital right after baby is born although it is not 1:1 attention you at least have your baby on you. I also found that it was so important to have a "coach" during the first two months of breastfeeding. I had two friends that texted me all day long to support me, give me tips and answer questions.
CPR class: Quite important. You really don't have an idea how hard to push without practicing on a dummy. You'll probably NEED this the least but when you do need it, boy would it make a huge difference.
Carseat safety: Just make an appointment with the carseat inspection at lucille packard. Ben is AWESOME and will tell you everything you need to know about carseat safety and make sure your actual carseat is installed properly.
Baby care: The nurses (good ones) actually teach you what to do after baby is born. But what I found most helpful is one of my mommy friends coming over and walking me through everything when the baby was actually here. Swaddling a dummy again is very different from swaddling a real baby. I am happy to help in this department! Youtube is a great resource too.
Labor class: This isn't bad to give you an idea of the whole process of delivery and what your options are going to be like at this hospital. A good doula can also walk you through all this. But I didn't actually think the class was helpful for getting through labor because it was such a short class. Consistent pre-natal yoga is my number 1 recommendation for a healthy labor. Blossom Birth has monthly passes you can get for $90 and they have pre natal classes almost every day. My last two months of pregnancy I went 5x a week. It kept me really strong!
For more detail on the actual birth experiences:
Baby #1 - Emmalyn
Baby #2 - Thomson