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 quite a few while in survival mode. Newborns certainly don’t NEED much, but these products definitely made our early months as new parents easier! If possible, I recommend borrowing or trying out things from friends first, since every baby is different.
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 Target, Amazon, BabyBjorn)
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, 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 longer naps.
For an option that both Nick and I can use, we loved the Carrier Mini starting at around 3 weeks through now. 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. The downside is that it’ll be outgrown within the first year.
2. Baby Wrap
Our favorite: Solly Baby Wrap (comes in regular or petite lengths)
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. I wish Nori liked these beyond 2 months (update: just brought our wrap back out and she was okay with it again!)! These are basically long strips of stretchy fabric that you have to wrap. The how-to videos may look insane, but you 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 material feels more breathable and lightweight, plus it comes in a much shorter Petite option and bonus: 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. Fit-wise, the Solly in Petite was actually just long enough to finish tying around me, unless you plan on skipping the last wraparound step.
3. Baby bouncer or rocker
Our favorite: BabyBjorn mesh bouncer (at Target, Amazon, BabyBjorn)
There’s a lot of choices in this category including the ever popular Fisher Price auto rock n play (the # 1 most recommended baby product when I asked for suggestions!), but my little one didn’t care for it. We had the most luck with the Baby Bjorn bouncer, which is more of a reclined seat that you can manually bounce. It’s pricey for a seat, but 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 this was the only way I could have a few minutes to get dressed or cook. And I’ve totally put the bouncer in the bathroom doorway while I took a speed shower or used the potty (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!
What we used: UPPAbaby bassinet in “Gregory” gray (at Amazon, Nordstrom)
Most of our friends did not have a crib at first, and used either the Halo (with mesh sides) or UPPAbaby bassinet as their newborn’s primary sleeping vessel. The UPPAbaby bassinet is included with the VISTA stroller or sold separately if you get the smaller CRUZ. It’s good quality and Nori slept better in this than our other bassinet for over 4 months.
The canopy darkens half the bassinet for sleeping and also helped shield it from blasting AC in the summer. There’s a vent below the mattress that can be opened up, and the canopy and inner padding is removable. We used it with this bassinet stand (converts to a hamper using an insert – both sold separately), and stored our car seat on the convenient bottom shelf.
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.
5. 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 can’t handle snow or slush, plus the undercarriage basket is too small for our groceries). That being said, the YoYo is awesome and easier for me as a petite mom to fold up, transport, 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 from 0-5 months because Nori seemed more comfortable sitting at an angle.
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 (like the Pipa Lite does). This is very important to me, since I carry Nori in her car seat up and down four flights of stairs by myself every day, and I also Uber and travel with this carseat so need to be able to use it without the base.
– It meets more stringent European car seat safety standards.
– It works with multiple brands of strollers (using converters), including UPPAbaby, Babyzen, Bugaboo
– It’s proven to be very comfy for Nori, and I love the magnetic sunshade that we always get asked about!
6. changing pad with Scale
Our favorite: 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 that wipes clean instead of uses fabric covers (unless you get washable liners), since I lost count of the rogue pees and poops that have happened!
The Hatch pad is very easy to clean, 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. I also wish you didn’t need to have the phone app open in order to use the scale feature. But since we were considering either the Hatch or Keekaroo Peanut, which is similarly priced with no scale feature, the Hatch pad was an easy choice!
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)
This 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 longer use out of the Dockatot as a lounger, changing station, or tummy time prop, but our baby is now on the move and won’t stay put!
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?