During pregnancy, I spent so much time reading reviews, going over safety specs, and searching out baby gear that was functional and, well, not terrible to look at. After nannying for years in the past, I already knew of a few tried-and-true products (and knew what I didn’t love). Whether you have a newborn of your own, are in the middle of creating your baby registry or need gift ideas for a new parent in your life, here are some of my favorite baby finds — from the most functional gear to the best bedtime essentials!
1. Nuna Pipa. Carseats were one of the most important investments to us. The Nuna Pipa Infant Seat is my favorite for so many reasons! It has unbeatable safety features (I highly recommend reading all the specifications!), is ultra-lightweight, and has so many useful components. I love the “dream drape” for protecting baby from the sun (and strangers hands). It is also so easy to install. If you have ever installed a carseat base, your ears may have just perked up a little– most are a total pain. The Pipa base installs in seconds. I used these adaptors to connect it to our stroller (below).
2. Uppababy Vista. We originally purchased a Bugaboo Buffalo, but ended up returning it for the Uppababy. I am so happy we made the switch! I love that it can be used for up to three little ones at once by mixing and matching the different seat options. It is incredibly easy to fold up and, unlike the Bugaboo, can be folded with the main seat still attached. It rides and turns like a dream (you come to find these things are strangely important). The main seat fully reclines, so our son easily naps when we are out-and-about, and can be turned to face outwards or towards you- which many strollers do not have as an option! It’s also really pretty. We have the white, black, and camel leather combo!
3. Nuna Sena travel crib. We registered for this in lieu of a standard pack-n-play. It is so convenient to travel with and sets-up in one quick, easy step (Can you tell we like to make things easy on ourselves as parents?). Other brands feel a little like you are putting together Ikea furniture. At first, we used the Sena downstairs as a changing table with this attachment, which was so helpful in those early weeks! We then used it next to our bed when Emmett began rolling and could no longer safely sleep in his bassinet. We’ve gotten so much use out of this crib and will be traveling with it again in a few weeks!
4. We were so lucky to be gifted both a 4Moms Mamaroo and a Nuna Leaf. Although we used and really liked both, Emmett seems to love the Leaf more as he’s getting bigger (the weight limit is actually 130 pounds – it is meant to grow with your child and act as a fun lounge seat as they get older). The Mamaroo plugs in, while the Leaf can sway on its own for awhile with just a little push. You can purchase this attachment for it to move continuously, but we never felt the need to have it (this may be a smart idea if you plan to use the Leaf as a swing for baby to nap in)!
1. We swore by these Love to Dream Swaddle Ups the first few months! Babies love having their hands on their faces, which makes this the perfect way to keep them comforted throughout the night. You don’t need to worry about extra fabric or them coming undone. We have them in the lite version for summer, original fabric for cooler nights, and the brilliant 50/50 (which we still use with the arms zipped off, as a sleep sack, now that he is rolling over). I’m so happy we have one in each size to save for our next baby!
2. Dohm white noise machine. We have used this every single night. Not only does it drown out all other sounds that may wake baby, but it’s a perfect way to signal bedtime- When we turn this on, Emmett knows it’s time to go to sleep (cue baby yawn). They also make a portable version, Hushh. As of now, we bring the Dohm with us when we travel (and he sleeps perfectly wherever we go!).
3. A video monitor is key for us! We were gifted a Nanit, which has been amazing. I love the birds-eye view, clarity of the camera and the option of setting my phone to notify me when Emmett is awake. It also has a portable stand that was perfect for using in our bedroom with the bassinet. The Nanit is a bit of a splurge and tends to be backordered. I have also heard incredible things about this Infant Optix monitor!
4. Halo bassinet. The Halo isn’t the prettiest bassinet to add to your bedroom, but it certainly gets my vote for the most useful. I am so happy that we had this during the early months. I loved that I could bring Emmett “onto” our bed, right next to me, while still keeping him safe in his own space. The swivel feature makes getting in and out of bed a breeze and the side lowers when pushed down, which is so convenient for scooping baby up without getting out of your warm duvet. Perfect for breastfeeding mamas or those recovering from a c-section!
5. Dock a tot. It’s magical. A perfect, cozy nest for baby to snuggle in wherever you are (whether at home, traveling, or out and about at the park or beach). Make your own informed decisions when and where to use it. This is one splurge you will absolutely not regret making!
6. Owlet. I rave about this little sock to everyone. It gives us the greatest peace of mind and we sleep so soundly knowing that if Emmett’s oxygen or heart rate becomes abnormal, we’ll be alerted and woken up. The base station is on my nightstand and I love being able to glance over at it when I wake during the night to see it glowing green (which means all levels are normal). I can’t recommend it enough!
- Baby Wearing
It’s no secret that I love baby wearing. Both my husband and I have been wearing Emmett since he was just a few days old. In the early days, it is such a precious way to bond with baby. After a few weeks, you also realize it is a life-saver when it comes to going out or getting things done. I would love to suggest the single best baby-carrier, but I can’t pick just one! Each has been amazing in a different way. Here are my favorites!
- 1. I loved our Solly Baby Wraps (this limited edition from Anthropologie is so beautiful, especially if you are expecting a baby girl!) for the first months. They are buttery soft and perfect for snuggling baby close.
2. Ring slings are quick to throw on (you can store them with the rings threaded), supportive and really, really cute. My favorites are Wildbird & Sakura Bloom.
3. I have recently grown to really appreciate our Lillebaby (also sold in a simpler and less expensive version here). As much as I use our wraps and slings, there are times when I need even more support. The Lillebaby is a soft structured carrier and is so comfortable to wear for long periods of time, especially while being more active, due to the well-padded shoulders and lumbar support.
I’ll go over my favorite places to buy baby clothes and accessories on a later date, but I do have to rave about a few basics in particular:
1. Loved Baby onesies and footie pajamas. We have been using these since the day we brought our little guy home. The kimono style is so easy to get on and off a newborn (and is especially convenient during the, well, messier changes – when you don’t want to pull a dirty onesie over their head and face).
2. Moccasins really are the perfect pick for “Baby’s First Shoe.” They are soft, stretchy and pair well with any tiny outfit. They come in so many different styles, colors and price points! We really like Freshly Picked (the newborn size is $29!), but also love supporting small shops that sell through Etsy!
3. You can never have too many swaddling blankets. They are perfect for wrapping over the top of your newborn during that precious skin-to-skin time, swaddling at bedtime, and to use as a stroller blanket or light breast-feeding cover. My absolute favorite to snuggle Emmett in are by Little Unicorn (the Deluxe version). They are so incredibly soft and do not lose their softness after washing like many other brands we have. Spearmint Baby has these in so many pretty colors and cute prints!
4. Madeline’s Box braided pacifier clips and Natursutten natural rubber pacifiers. These pacis are probably the most instagrammed baby binky ever. However, our son didn’t care for them until he was three months old. We didn’t introduce a pacifier until six weeks (to first establish a great breastfeeding relationship), but once we did, we had to try about five different brands to find what he would take. He loved these Tommee Tippee ones right away!
5. This little kimono two-piece set is the perfect outfit for bringing home baby! It comes in both grey and pink.
- 1. Emmett loves splashing around in his 4Moms Tub. We use it directly over our kitchen sink and it is so convenient! My favorite feature is clean water constantly going into the tub while the dirty water filters out. This also keeps baby in warm water the entire time! There is even a temperature gage to make sure it isn’t too hot. If you don’t have a large sink or much space at home, the Puj tub is an amazing option!
- 2. This bath sponge is the best! Depending on where you are registering, you can get it at both Target and on Amazon. Buy one (or two… and maybe one for yourself, too!)
- 3. We love Tubby Todd products. They are all natural and smell so yummy. We have used the body wash since Emmett’s very first sponge bath and he has never had baby acne, eczema, rashes, or dry skin!
- 4. The Puj baby towel is so soft and features two silicone tabs that interlock around your neck, allowing you to pick up baby with two free hands. I also love this cozy one!
- 5. Puj wash cloths. Simple and (again) so soft!
Playtime & Teethers
There are so many baby toys out there, I get overwhelmed walking into the store and seeing all of them! Since Emmett is only five months old, we haven’t collected many at all. I seem to have a serious aversion to things that take batteries (his pediatrician actually shares the same view, which I found refreshing to hear!). I’m really looking forward to buying him more interactive toys and am so excited to play with blocks and train sets together (mamas, please leave me your favorite activities for 6+ months in the comments!). I don’t want to recommend things for stages we haven’t come to yet, so for now here are a couple favorites for play and teething:
1. Skip Hop Activity Center. We registered for this in place of a typical jumper and our son absolutely loves it (he literally squeals with delight the whole time)! It’s much easier on the eyes than most alternatives out there, but even more importantly is incredibly engaging and fun for baby. I love that the toys encourage him to think and play instead of just putting on a show for him to watch at the push of a button! He has also become recently obsessed with this Skip Hop hedgehog rattle.
2. Chances are you have heard about the wonders of Sophie the Giraffe. All I can say is that she really is the best, and the hype is for a reason. If you have a baby, but not a Sophie, put her in your Amazon cart immediately! We love this small one best, but also have the original one (just be sure to seal the hole with hot glue to prevent molding issues).
3. Emmett also loves our wooden teethers – I was skeptical at first (do people just buy these for the ‘gram?), but they really are as useful as they are adorable. We have a few from Otherware, which combines wooden rings with non-toxic silicone, as well as this cute croissant. These chew beads are another favorite. I love being able to throw it around my neck while we are walking around or baby wearing!
4. A playmat/gym. You will use this every single day for tummy time and you will feel an extreme sense of pride when your baby figures out how to reach for and grab the toys. We have one similar to this from Pottery Barn Kids and ended up getting this one too, because babies really love the contrast of black+white, and all the different sensory toys to play with!
1.Wherever You Are: My Love Will Find You by Nancy Tillman. Actually, all children’s books by Nancy Tillman. They are precious (fair warning: you will probably tear up while reading them to your baby) and the illustrations are magical.
2. Gaston by Kelly DiPucchio is a definite favorite!
3.Wendell The Narwhal by Emily Dove is a sweet, simple story of diversity and inclusion.
4. The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint Exupery. We all adore this book! We read a few chapters of this fun adventure per night over about a week. Emmett loves the interactive pop-ups!
5. In My Heart by Jo Witek explains feelings and emotions to children in such a beautiful way.
1. Nose frida (and saline nasal spray). Yes, 50% of being a parent is cleaning out a tiny nose.
2. Oogiebear. Yes, you need both. Make that 50% of your life as easy as possible.
3. Burp cloths. You will want a few great ones and need a ton of basic ones. We rarely use them anymore, but in the first couple months you will probably be wearing one 24/7. I love the ones by Green Sprouts (pictured) because they are a thick fabric and, because of the shape, stay on your shoulder. We also stocked up on plenty of these affordable cloth diapers which make perfect burp cloths!
4. Okay, this one might be a little glamorous- Baby manicure, anyone? An electric nail trimmer (or try this similar one for a little less) is a life – and skin – saver. Baby nails are like raptor claws. Only using nail clippers left our son with razor sharp edges, but the electric file makes edges dull and keeps baby from cutting themselves (and the parents!).
5. Diaper Genie. Diaper pails seem to divide parents into two groups: 50% consider them necessities and 50% consider them useless. We’re on team necessity.
Breastfeeding & Mama Must-Haves
I will be doing a separate post on mama must-haves, including my nursing favorites!
I hope you found a couple things in this list to love! What baby products do you swear by? Let me know, along with any questions you may have, below. Also, if you are a mama to an older little one- What are your favorite interactive toys for babies 6+ months? I’m in the market (and can’t believe Emmett is nearly half-a-year old already)!