In the blink of an eye, Nori just turned 6 months old (insert crying emoji) and I’m looking back and sharing some products that we used / still use the most often. We live in a small space so got very few baby things before she arrived, but ended up trying and buying more while in survival mode. Newborns certainly don’t NEED much, but these products made our early months as new parents easier. Whenever possible, I recommend borrowing or trying out baby gear from friends first, since every baby and mama’s preferences are different. Similarly, when your family outgrows a product you can always pass it along!
Note: I’m aware that others will have strong, differing opinions on the use of some of these products. I included safety notes and links to recommended guidelines, and encourage fellow parents to make informed decisions for themselves!
1. Baby Carrier
Our favorite: Baby Bjorn Carrier Mini (at Amazon, Target)
Poor Nori had bad reflux as a newborn and cried around the clock, which left us feeling helpless. We had the most success soothing her while babywearing throughout the day, and tried over half a dozen styles. Carriers in general are awesome since they 1) keep baby close to you but your hands free, 2) help reflux-prone babies stay upright after feeding, and 3) soothe fussy babies into staying asleep for longer naps.
For an option that both Nick and I can use, we loved the Carrier Mini starting at around 3 weeks through almost one year (bigger babies will outgrow this sooner). It’s very petite-friendly, doesn’t “swallow up” smaller babies like full size carriers do (even with the infant inserts), and comes in soft jersey or breathable mesh. I wear the straps on the shortest setting and tuck the long tails underneath behind me.
2. Baby Wrap
Our favorite: Solly Baby Wrap
As an alternative to the above structured carrier, I found soft wraps to be amazing for the newborn stage when they’re tiny and squishy, and I hear they’re perfect for preemies too! Wraps keep baby cuddled close against your body, with the option to tuck in their floppy heads. These are basically long strips of stretchy fabric that you have to wrap yourself. The how-to videos may look insane, but trust me, you’ll get the hang of it after a little practice. If we were traveling or going out, I’d pre-tie the wrap and layer a jacket over it if needed – see my Traveling with a 2 month old post for more info!
Compared to similar, popular wraps by Ergobaby (viscose), Moby (medium weight cotton / viscose), and Boba (thicker cotton), the main difference I found with Solly (modal) is the thinner material on Solly feels more breathable and lightweight and it has a pouch at the end which I used for pacifiers or nursing pads. That being said, I feel like modal may stretch out or lose elasticity over time faster than thicker wraps like the Boba which felt more sturdy.
Don’t give up on a product if your baby doesn’t like it the first time – we had to be persistent trying a few things that took her time to get acclimated to. Nori loved being in soft wrap from newborn up to 2 months, refused to be in them for a period, then enjoyed them again around 4-5 months.
3. Car Seat + Stroller System
Our favorites: Nuna Pipa car seat with UPPAbaby or Babyzen YoYo strollers – see my blog post on these!
I try to get Nori out of the house once a day and have been SO happy with our car seat and stroller systems. They serve different purposes for us, but if I had to choose just one for life in Boston, it’d be the UPPAbaby (YoYo wheels don’t handle snow or slush well, plus the undercarriage basket is too small for carrying our groceries). That being said, the YoYo is awesome and much easier for me as a petite mom to fold up, transport up and down the stairs (or in and out of a car trunk), and maneuver around tight spaces. Although we have the UPPAbaby bassinet attachment, we actually almost always used our Nuna car seat on top of the strollers instead from 0-5 months, because Nori seemed more comfortable sitting at an angle than lying flat inside a bassinet.
To answer some common questions I get about the Nuna Pipa car seat, we love it because:
– It’s the lightest option out of the car seats we considered that does NOT require a base when used in a car (the Pipa Lite requires the base). This is very important to me, since we Uber within Boston and travel with this carseat often so need to be able to strap it in on the airplane and other cars without having to lug the separate base with us. If you do NOT plan on flying or taking a taxi / Uber with your infant carseat and want the most lightweight option, then the Pipa Lite is great. And if you’re debating between the Pipa Lite vs Lite LX, note the LX has the magnetic “dream drape” sunshade that we love for a secluded napping environment.
– It meets more stringent European car seat safety standards.
– It works with multiple brands of strollers (using converters, sold separately), including UPPAbaby, Babyzen, Bugaboo. We loved that we could easily pop our carseat with a sleeping baby inside from the car directly on top of a stroller, and go about our day without disrupting her nap.
– It’s proven to be very comfy for Nori, and again we LOVE the magnetic “dream drape” sunshade that we always get asked about!
4. Changing pad
What we use: Hatch Baby Grow changing pad with scale (at Target, Amazon)
You don’t really need a changing pad, but I’d at least recommend something water resistant that wipes clean easily. I lost count of the rogue pees and poops that have happened!
The Hatch pad is very easy to clean with no covers needed, has a built-in scale, is comfortable for our baby (surface doesn’t get too cold), plus the base does not slide around. We love using the scale casually to see her grow between doctors visits, not for the purpose of measuring breastmilk intake each feeding since that requires exact precision (lactation scales are much pricier).
UPDATE: Now that we’re ~2 years into using these, wanted to share a quick update. Our Hatch pad still looks like new, so it’s truly easy to clean and maintain and we’ll surely keep using it for baby #2. Now that Nori is a toddler, however, the Hatch pad is getting to be a little short (ours is also an older version, so it’s even shorter than the current model). As a second pad for upstairs, I went with this more generously sized Munchkin waterproof pad + Cloud Island wipeable cover. If you don’t care for the scale feature and are on a budget, I’ve been loving these alternatives so far! I will say that all the “wipeable” foam pads including this one don’t seem like they will be quite as water resistant as materials like on the Hatch pad.
Most of our friends did not have a crib at first, and room-shared used either the Halo (with mesh sides) or UPPAbaby bassinet as their newborn’s primary sleeping vessel to keep besides their bed. The UPPAbaby bassinet is included with the VISTA stroller or sold separately if you get the smaller CRUZ. Nori slept very well in this for the first 4 months of her life, but if we didn’t use the UPPAbaby stroller system, I’d probably get a Halo!
Safety Notes: UPPAbaby sells this bassinet as “a perfect overnight sleep solution.” A reader commented that it may be less breathable due to padding along the inner sides if a baby’s face gets pressed against the edge. We were comfortable with using it for overnight sleeping, but wanted to pass this along as an FYI!
6. Baby bouncer or rocker
Our favorite: BabyBjorn mesh bouncer (at Target, Amazon)
There’s a lot of choices in this category including many more affordable options. We loved our Baby Bjorn bouncer (warning: price is not for the faint of heart), which is more of a reclined seat that you can manually bounce. We’ve been using this multiple times a day and still do. It has a lightweight, flat-folding design for small spaces and travel, 3 recline settings, easy to wash covers, plus looks nice and minimalist.
Sometimes using a bouncer was the only way I could have a few minutes to get dressed or cook. And I’ve totally put it in the bathroom doorway while I took a speed shower or used the bathroom (real talk lol). We also use this to read books to her, or clip some teething toys to it now while preparing her food. Lastly, we love bringing it to friends’ homes or on road trips so Nori has somewhere to sit securely after eating!
7. Activity Mat
Our favorite: Skiphop Farmstand mat
I’ll admit I chose this mat for the cute veggie theme, but all the Skiphop activity gyms have a lot of sensory features for babies to discover as they grow including textures, sounds, rattles, mirrors, a teether toy, and adorable coordinating tummy time support wedge pillows. We held off on getting one initially, but Nori loves this and has spent a good amount of time on it daily for the past few months!
8. Portable lounger
Our favorite: DockATot (at Nordstrom; Amazon)
The purpose of a lounger is pretty much the same as a bouncer (# 6) so new parents can easily make do with just 1 option. The DockATot is a pricey large pillow with a flat center, handle, and removable cover. But we admittedly loved and used this every day for naps until around 4-5 months. I loved that I could grab and move it around the house with only one free hand – something I couldn’t do with a bassinet. Sometimes we would co-sleep between feedings, and used this on our bed to keep her close but separated. Some parents get more use out of the Dockatot as a lounger, changing station, or tummy time prop as well.
We also received the Snuggle Me Organic which has rave reviews from fellow moms, but unfortunately Nori didn’t like it. If you’re shopping for a dock for baby’s awake time only, several of my friends also loved the affordable Boppy lounger.
Safety Notes: Loungers and nests are not recommended for unsupervised sleeping. Here are the AAP’s guidelines for safe sleep, which recommend sharing a bedroom but not a bed. For another perspective, here is a post by Kelly Mom on bed sharing safety.
This post got long, but I have several more favorites to share including smaller gadgets, breastfeeding tools, and swaddles + sleepwear! In the meantime until my next post, I try to keep the “Baby” category under my Amazon favorites page updated often. You can click the little notes icon at the top right of each item for a quick review or sizing info.
Mamas ~ what baby product(s) did you get the most use out of in the first year?