Innovative or a waste of money? As a new Mom, with almost a year under my belt, I have some strong opinions on what you actually need for your newborn. There have been some amazing advancements in baby products, but let’s get real there are also some trash products you might want to skip.
Let me first say that between my friends, family, and Foster Care charities we were fortunate to have a lot of help purchasing items when we got our foster son. Also, I was a first-time Mom so I went a little overboard at Target and Amazon. Let’s talk about the 13 baby items I loved and 13 you can probably skip.
Favorite Baby Products
Obviously, babies need a crib, car seat, and formula or breast milk. But here are some of my favorite baby products that our son loved and some that definitely aren’t worth the hype.
A portable crib with a bassinet feature. Our son slept in our room for six months. For the first 3 months, he slept in the bassinet attachment. When we traveled it collapsed with the pull of a cord and we popped in the trunk. Now we use the pack and play in our living room for the baby’s cat naps or when we need him contained while we cook dinner or leave the room for a second.
When our little dude outgrew the bassinet weight limit, we moved him to the pack ‘n play and we added this foam mattress. Our foster son came to us with plagiocephaly aka a flat head. Don’t worry he wore a helmet for a few months and he’s all good now. But while we waited for insurance, we bought this foldable foam mattress for him to sleep on. We wanted to make sure his head didn’t get flatter or cause any neck issue. The pack ‘n play comes with a small mattress pad, but we were glad we upgraded.
Our son was in the NICU a while before we could bring him home. When we went to visit him in the hospital his nurse told us how much he loved the Mamaroo so we got one. Our son had a lot of medical issues to overcome at birth. He also had his days and nights mixed up so the Mamaroo helped get him to sleep quickly. If we turned it off, he woke up immediately. This was great to get the baby on a good nap schedule in the early days.
We bought an extremely cheap video monitor. I figured if we needed to, we can upgrade, but I love this one. We didn’t have to spend hundreds of dollars. It gets the job done. When we moved our little nugget to his own room we slept with the monitor in our room and turned up the volume and turned off the video feed until we thought we heard him cooing. Side note, anyone else here phantom baby crying all the time, or are you normal? Just me, ok got it.
5. Baby and Toddler Play Mat
A specialist recommended we get a play mat for the baby to learn how to turn over and start crawling. I thought it was stupid…until I got one. I think the baby was afraid to roll over on the carpet and blanket because there wasn’t enough padding. We got the play mat and he started sitting up, rolling over, and crawling within a few weeks. Not saying this is a miracle item, but it did the trick with our nervous little guy plus it’s 2 sided and super cute.
Our baby loves this thing. When he’s having bad days or meltdowns and we plop him in this thing he loves it. He jumps, swings, and loves the activity center. Does it play annoying songs? Yes…. will you hear this in your dreams? Also, Yes, but it’s worth it. As a bonus and TMI if your little chunker is constipated the jumper helps our little dude poop.
7. Baby Walker
A bit of a controversial pick. Some doctors or early intervention specialists say it delays development and I don’t know if that’s true. All I know is when we bought it our guy’s feet didn’t even touch, but he loved to be pushed around in the thing. And he is completely obsessed with the activity center on the front. The activity center pulls to the side so you can just use it as a tray.
I know what you’re thinking that’s not a baby product. A year ago, I swore I would never have a smart device in my house (big brother and all) and now I have 3. We can video chat from our phones, so if I have to go to another room, I just do a video feed to check on the baby. But my kid was obsessed with a song called We Are the Dinosaurs by the Laurie Berkner Band. If he was fussy or being a little extra, I would say Alexa play We are the Dinosaurs and it calmed him right down. We made him his own playlists; we tell Alexa to play lullabies when he needs little help going to sleep. It’s a great hands-free way to monitor and entertain a baby for a few moments.
There are so many other uses and apps (skills) you can put on it as well. We turned our house into a smart house and we love it. It shows our video doorbell every time someone rings it so I don’t always have to jump up and answer it when I’m with the baby.
Yup, it’s pricey. But it’s a forever car seat. The car seat transforms from a 4lb newborn up to a 100lb tween. Why I love it, it is easy to use. Pull the bar to adjust from laying to sitting. Pull a different bar to make the belt bigger. It’s so simple, I don’t have to unlatch the car seat to clean the fabric either. The seat has cup holders, soft padding, and it’s idiot-proof with a level and color-coded seat adjustments for every age whether your child is front or rear-facing. My kid passes out a few moments into every car ride, pretty sure it’s that comfy ass seat.
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When you move to solids your baby will love to discover new foods. And as we all know learning to eat is messy (and adorable). I love these waterproof, silicone bibs with the pocket on the bottom. The pocket catches all the food that doesn’t go into your little one’s mouth and it’s so easy to clean up after.
We have a playset for older kids in our yard, so we decided to purchase an outdoor baby/toddler swing. This put pure enjoyment on our son’s face when he swung for the first time. Made this my favorite purchase. 100% happiness.
Our son was peeing through other diapers every night. I took a chance and tried the Honest Nighttime Diapers and I love it. He sleeps through the night with these diapers and doesn’t pee through them. Plus, they have adorable little prints on them as well. And with Honest you know it’s made with healthy, baby-friendly material.
13. Gripe Water
My son was the king of the hiccups. When he was full…hiccups, not full hiccups, middle of the night hiccups. And he had a lot of other medical issues that made him extra fussy. For the first 4 months, Gripe water really helped with his bad hiccups and helped calm him down. I recommend the nighttime gripe water when your little guy gets them in the middle of the night. Always check with your pediatrician before giving this to the baby.
Baby Products you can Skip
I’m going to keep it real, there are a lot of products I later learned were overrated. But as a new mom, I bought into the hype, literally. Here are some products that didn’t work for us and that you may want to skip too.
1. Vibrating Baby Chair
Remember the Sex and the City episode where Miranda got the vibrating chair for the kid and then it broke while Samantha was babysitting and she…well you know what she did. That chair! I bought it because of that episode. As a newborn, it helped calm him a little bit after 6 weeks he absolutely hated it.
2. Bumbo Baby Chair
My Mommy friends swore by this chair. Our little guy hated it, in fact, every time he sat in it, he spit up. Wasn’t a fan.
3. Baby Shoes
Ok, this one is kind of on me. Babies can’t walk, why did I buy him shoes? They were cute that’s why! Anyway, I usually lost them while we were out or was constantly putting them back on his feet.
4. Baby Blankets
Don’t go nuts with blankets for your baby cuddle and snuggle time. Every person I know and a few doctors each gave us blankets. I counted we received 14 blankets. Plus, I had already bought 2. It was out of control. Blankets are kind of like clothes everyone just gives them to you.
5. Different Branded Bottles
Before we even got the baby from the NICU I went to Target and bought a whole bunch of stuff. And due to Covid-19, I couldn’t take them back when I realized my mistake. I bought a bunch of different bottle brands so I can figure out with one he likes. Waste of money. He drank fine from all the nipples but some gave him gas pains and others didn’t. He loved the Avent bottles and I ended up just sticking with them.
6. Different Binkies
I bought all sorts of cute little binkies only to learn he only likes one brand, the Avent soothies. The hospital gave us like 10 when picked up the baby. But luckily, I was able to return the unopened ones.
7. Dreft Laundry Soap
I was told another must-have was Dreft laundry detergent. Luckily, I only had a small bottle. Honestly, I think it is useless, we already use All Free and Clear detergent and it worked just fine for the baby’s clothing and is hypoallergenic. Again, check with your doctor to make sure it’s safe for your little bundle.
When I tell you Mom after Mom told me to get Halo Swaddlers and the expensive swaddle wraps I did. Our little guy was a horrible sleeper the first 6 weeks and I was desperate. My son hated them with a passion. I was so worried he was cold I kept putting him in it. Then I bought a regular sleep sack, game changer. It’s like a baby snuggie and he much preferred that to a swaddle.
9. Stage 1 Baby Food
You can buy baby food and it probably won’t go to waste. But it’s much easier and cheaper to make your own. I bought veggies and fruits in bulk and pureed them and froze them in the freezer for pennies a meal.
10. Binky and bottle Sterilizer
Not sure they are to be trusted honestly after a global pandemic anyway. I boiled all the pacifiers and bottles weekly for the first 4 months. I also use the sterilize option on the dishwasher, just as easy.
11. Wipe Warmer
I was given this as a gift and stopped using it. It dried off the wipes and my son could care less about a cold or a warm wipe.
12. Crib Bumpers
As foster parents, our home is inspected yearly and reviewed monthly. Crib Bumpers are a huge no-no and they will not allow in them state of NJ for foster parents. The American Academy of Pediatrics doesn’t recommend anything other than a fitted sheet in the bed with a baby for suffocation and SIDS reasons.
13. Baby Bullet
Share in the comments if you have a product your baby absolutely loved or ones you’d advise new parents to skip. Babies aren’t one size fits all so what our little guy loved may not work for you and vice versa. Either way always save receipts so you can return items that aren’t a right fit. And always consult your doctor or specialist when it comes to new products especially food and products that go on the skin.