One of the most frequently asked questions I get is about baby gear. Five kids in seven years will make you kinda an expert on all sorts of things….and affordable, hardworking and baby approved gear is one of them! Of course, every baby is different and every baby likes different things – but these are the top five baby gear items that worked for my kids and I as a parent loved the price point, the functionality and the look.
The Keyfit carseat is one thing that I can honestly say we would buy ten times over. In truth, we only bought four of them but still….it was worth coming back to! Will used it first and then Weston. We bought another one when LJ came along (Weston and LJ are only 15 months apart) and then the original one expired so we bought another when Max arrived. Ella got the only one with a design (the polka dots!) and the others were all black and gray. The Keyfit is a back facing carseat that has a smaller footprint than most carseats and pops into the base that is strapped into the car. We like the fact that most strollers have adapters for the Chicco carseats and that it was lighter and easier for me to carry.
We also like that it has a newborn insert (the newborn head piece is shown below). We take the body and head section out when the baby outgrows it. Fun fact about Ella – she is the only baby we have with a normal sized noggin. All the boys have had (and still have) giant heads 🙂 She does have a good sized booty though! #likehermama
For all our carseats, we do let the older siblings pick two toys for the baby….our favorites are these Bright Starts ones. They have everything from ringing bells to ones that pull down and vibrate. They are a good distraction for inside stores and give the boys something else to do than to touch her hands or her face.
And if you are looking for another carseat accessory…I highly recommend a carseat/nursing cover. The Covered Goods one is the brand name one but there are lots of nice ones on Amazon too that look identical (like this one). I love this one and this one too. If you aren’t a nursing mama, it also doubles as a grocery cart liner and as a scarf. And in a pinch, as a changing station cover….that’s why ours is in the wash!
It’s also a good idea to have a nice baby blanket for the car. I like sherpa lined ones for inside the car because wherever I go, I know I have a big enough blanket to lay her down (ya know, if we go visit Nana or find ourselves in a park!) plus they are very cozy and warm.
This SwaddleMe bassinet is relatively new to the world and we got it right before Ella arrived. We LOVE it. I only have one regret – that it wasn’t out when I had Will! In the past, we had a giant pack-n-play in our room and then co-slept. We know that co-sleeping has mixed reviews but honestly, we love the closeness and the ability to nurse as frequently as they need. Not to get into all the details of how we co-slept in the past but generally speaking, when the baby can start rolling over, we allow them to sleep in our bed after their last nursing session. But that means they start the night in their own space. The pack-n-play was HUGE compared to this and this is so easy to pull right up next to the bed for those midnight nursings. (note – Ella doesn’t co-sleep yet and she isn’t much of a cuddler…so it might not ever happen…but that is part of parenting….learning what is a good fit for your family!)
This is how the SwaddleMe sleeper is set up most nights. We pull it right up to my side of the bed and the feet go right under the base of the bed frame. Since Ella has had a cold for the last month (I exaggerate but it feels like a YEAR)….we love that it can be elevated at the head.
Here she is modeling her little bed 🙂 p.s. The Halo is a similar type bassinet that I never tried but honestly, it looks about the same functionality wise as this sleeper…except I believe the Halo doesn’t have straps. We don’t use them in this bassinet either as Ella sleeps in a swaddle. We removed the noise maker/vibrator on this sleeper because we never used it and Max was always trying to throw it 🙁 That being said – this one is only $86 vs. the $300 Halo!
Guys….every parent of a baby or toddler knows that the risk of your house smelling like the inside of a dumpster is REAL. Jeremy is very sensitive to smells and I am constantly aware that Jeremy is aware. Ha! We got this Ubbi trash can when Will was little and it has been a true lifesaver.
Okay – so the pros are this….you can use normal kitchen trashcan bags….no buying specialty bags. And it is very easy to load and unload as long as you don’t try to pack it too full. It holds the smells in VERY well. Lastly it looks great. Much better than other diaper pails. The cons are – ours is slightly yellowing after seven years…but it does still look better than other pails on the market. And at one point, the trash must have sat in there too long and the inside of the pail started to stink. We did a little research and found that you use COLD water and baking soda to get the smells out. If you wash it with hot, you might be setting in the stink. And it didn’t make the OUTSIDE stink….but every time we went to toss a diaper, it would be like a big whiff of fart in our face. After it got it’s baking soda bath, it doesn’t smell as bad. We did let it soak like this for 48 hours outside about two years ago and then pressure washed the entire inside and outside and let it dry in the sun.
This swing is hands down Ella’s favorite thing. Girlfriend is OPINIONATED and this is her spot for fussy moments. In fact, she would prefer to sleep in the swing over my arms. What can I say? She knows what she likes! That being said – this is actually our second Snuggle swing…the first one was bought about nine years ago and it was battery operated. We burned through SO many batteries it was ridiculous. Then we got this one (all of them are just different designs – puppies, butterflies, raccoons, etc.) and honestly, I would say it’s our number one pick when it comes to gear. ALL my babies have loved this swing.
First of all…it can really swing fast. I think that the strong motion is the real reason why the babies love it. Secondly, you can still swaddle and put them into this which is super nice. You will have to leave the bottom out of the swaddle so that the strap can come up through the legs. And third, it has the washable cover that is fairly simple to remove.
The top controls are easy to manipulate and the base does fold up for moving or storage. We know that there are some people out there that complain that theirs is making a weird creaking noise – it’s probably because their base legs aren’t spread out wide enough or because someone pushed on the bed part making the alignment off. It’s a very quick and easy fix. And yes, the baby carrier part does swivel so that the baby can rock side to side or front to back. Here is the link.
As far as how this compares to the Rock N Play (which is a HIGHLY recommended baby gear item)…they don’t really compare. The Rock N Play is more of a gentle rocking bassinet….where as this is a quickly moving swing. If space is an issue for you and you need something compact and your baby responds to a more gentle front to back swinging…then go for the Rock N Play. My babies all like the faster side-to-side swing with the overhead distraction.
Last but not least is our favorite playard….the Breeze by 4Moms. This was actually sent to us five years ago and since then we have given away all our other pack-n-plays for this guy. I’ll just be honest – I like it because I can actually set this up. I can’t work the other pack-n-plays alone. This one is a bit heavier than the average playard but the ease in which it sets up and breaks down is totally worth it. And it is bigger than our other ones so my three year old can sleep in there no problem. I would say that for 99% of the time, we only use this for guests who have little ones….and then the weight doesn’t matter. It also feels sturdier and better constructed so I highly recommend it. (p.s. That’s Will in the photo! SOB!!!!)
So that is my top five as of right now! The market for mom gear is constantly changing and I am shocked at how much stuff is available now vs when I started prepping for my first little one. It’s only gonna get better and better! You Millennials are so lucky!!!
MY TOP FIVE…..
OTHER BABY GEAR MENTIONED….
I wanted to include strollers on here but honestly I feel like I haven’t tested them all yet…so it would be unfair for the legit awesome strollers on the market. Jeremy makes fun of me because I get stroller obsessed and have had about a dozen different ones. In my defense, a good stroller can change your mom life. Also different situations call for different strollers. I like to think of them like shoes….you wouldn’t wear stilettos to a rodeo. And you wouldn’t take a single seater light weight stroller with no running board or cup holders to the rodeo either. It’s just common sense people 🙂
Right now we love our Baby Trends Sit-N-Stand Ultra as an everyday stroller but I can’t travel with it and it would only be helpful for multiple kids. My next stroller on the list is the Doona Convertible carseat/stroller. I still gotta talk Jeremy into that one for traveling. Maybe on Mothers day? Hint hint!
That being said – I would love to know if anyone else out there used, loved or even hated these items. I know all kids are different and as humans, different things work for us differently so I would love to hear your opinions too! And if you have anything you must recommend for any soon-to-be mom, growing family or grandparents, put that in the comments too!