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As I mentioned before, we got a new stroller. It’s fantastic. Kyle is over on Ever Clever Dad doing the full review of the Britax B-AGILE Double stroller, but I’m just here posting blissful pictures of myself pushing it around because it and I are having quite the love affair.
Two kids out, I have a whole lot of experience with a whole lot of stuff. Some of the stuff I talk about below are things that I received for free but all of these opinions are honest and I’m really recommending these things because they’re the best. (Believe me, there are tons of free things I’ve received that didn’t make this cut!) I also didn’t include everything, because we have things like our crib and our baby monitor that I ultimately wasn’t 100% satisfied with, so I won’t recommend them.
These things below, on the other hand, are things I absolutely believe you need if you’re having a baby.
Best pregnancy book: The Day-by-Day Pregnancy Book. This book is broken down into every day of your pregnancy, complete with photos (or illustrations) of what your baby looks like. It’s less scary than the famous What to Expect book and, let’s face it, if you really wanted to know the cause of some scary symptom, you’d just Google it anyway. So I like this book for giving just enough information.
Best place to find maternity and nursing clothing: Motherhood Maternity. I think their prices are a little steep and sometimes the clothes are a little boring, but the sales staff is always helpful and at the end of the day this brand knows what pregnant women need. Plus, it’s all in one place so you don’t have to wander from store to store looking for the maternity section.
Best crib sheets: aden + anais. I had about 12 crib sheets for Eva, including really fancy ones from Pottery Barn, but when Calvin was coming I wanted him to come home to something that was brand new just for him. I picked up this sheet because it was so cute and I don’t think we’ve really used any of the others since he was born. Even the pottery barn ones are cold and scratchy compared to this beautiful soft cotton. I so wish I had found them the first time around!
Best blanket for baby’s first six months: minky blankets. Both of the kids received a lot of blankets when they were born and even though all were wonderful in their own way, I went back to minky fabric over and over again when they were new. Something about newborn skin against those soft fuzzy dots is just everything delicious about having a baby.
Best pacifier: AVENT soothie. These are the ones they use in the hospital and even though my kids weren’t pacifier kids, these are the only ones they would ever tolerate. I dropped a lot of money trying different shapes and brands, but at the end of the day these ones were the best.
Best humidifier: Vicks Starry Nights cool humidifier. This was our 3rd (4th?) humidifier and it’s the only one that has a permanent place in our bedroom. It keeps the room at just the right humidity and doubles as a soothing night light for the kids. The night light option is available even if the humidifier isn’t on (and vice versa) so we use it all the time.
Best piece of baby gear for your home: Fisher-Price rainforest bouncer. We’ve had multiple bouncers, jumpers, play mats, and swings. Out of all of them, this one is the best. Both kids used it and it’s so handy. It’s light enough that you can move it around with you while you do things around the house and the vibration is very soothing so this was always a big help when we couldn’t get the kids to sleep. We also used it on the table for first feedings and when the kids were sick it helped to keep them propped up like this.
Best disposable diapers: up&up diapers from Target. My mother-in-law found these when we were in the midst of deciding whether Huggies or Pampers were the best. As it turns out, the diapers at Target are cheaper (even cheaper than Costco with a coupon!) and they are fantastic. They hold a ton, they rarely leak, and they seem pretty comfortable. They aren’t as cute as other brands, but after about five hundred diapers, that really doesn’t matter!
Best baby wipes: Huggies natural care baby wipes. Yes, it makes a difference which wipes you get. The ones that have a strong scent are actually really gross when they’ve been baking in a hot diaper bag or when you’re smelling them on top of smelling whatever it is your baby just created in his/her diaper. I prefer these ones because they’re blank enough that I can use them to wipe faces without feeling like my kids now smell like the diaper pail. They also aren’t irritating, which is a problem I hit with some of the other natural brands.
Best diaper pail: Ubbi diaper pail. Yes, this one is pricey BUT it’s the fourth diaper pail we’ve owned and it’s still fantastic after a year of use. The plastic ones just absorb gross diaper smells after a while and either they’re too little or it looks like you have a giant trash can in the nursery. The Ubbi pails come in tons of pretty colors and they can hold either a normal trash bag or a washable bag for cloth diapers if that’s what you’re using. They also completely keep the odors in, even without the help of baking soda, and you can lock them so your kids can’t break in. I love ours. I want to think of a reason to keep using it after diapers.
Best diaper bag: Petunia Pickle Bottom satchels. Again, this is an expensive option for a diaper bag BUT it’s the 6th one I’ve had and it’s the best, beating even another Petunia Pickle Bottom. I started out with gender-neutral bags and then I tried a cheaper bag and then a basic PPB bag, before finally moving on to this one. All the others either fell apart or didn’t hold enough stuff, etc. This bag has been kicked around and still looks great. Plus, the huge handles up top are very convenient, the bag’s multiple pockets are lifesavers, and the fact that it converts to a backpack is the best.
Best single stroller: Chicco stroller frame. We’ve had 5 single strollers total, but the one we used the most was this little stroller frame (which we frustratingly didn’t get until the 2nd kid). It’s designed to work with your car seat, which is great since that means you don’t have to get the baby in and out. One of our other strollers also had a car seat holding option, but it was a full stroller as well so it loses to this one because this one is so easy to fold up and carry.
Best car seat: Chicco Keyfit 30. This is the only car seat that fits into most cars the day you want to take the baby home. It’s easy to clean and easy to install, although Chicco is sending me another newer car seat that will probably give this one a run for its money…
Best high chair: Fisher-Price Space Saver high chair. We had the lighter Healthy Care Deluxe Booster for Eva, but I like the Space Saver better because it’s more comfortable and we were able to start using it when Cal was really little. It’s easy to pop off the cover and wash it and the whole thing will adapt to fit him as he gets bigger.
Best baby bath soap: Simple Clean Ivory body wash. Our kids have really sensitive skin and this one is actually less likely to irritate them than any baby wash we’ve found. The scent is subtle, it makes tons of bubbles, and a little bit of soapy water is all they need as far as hair washing goes (even Eva!) so skip the fancy baby shampoos. In our experience, they only feed the Cradle Cap and make it worse! NOTE: I don’t know if this is a local problem, but we can only find this body wash at Walmart or on Amazon.
Best baby lotion: Vaseline Intensive Rescue. You might be surprised that this won out over all the official baby lotions, but I’ve tried no less than 50 lotions on my kids and this is the best. It’s reasonably light, doesn’t smell too much, works very well even on eczema, and doesn’t have anything that they should react to. For some reason, TONS of baby lotions are made with scary stuff, including sunflower oil. Why is sunflower oil scary? Because tons of kids with nut allergies are also allergic to sunflower oil and you don’t want to mess with that until they’re old enough to start trying peanut butter. Poor Eva had a rash head to toe, partially from the stuff I kept putting on her to get rid of the rash! Vaseline, all day everyday.
Best baby laundry detergent: Method Free and Clear. There are lots of reasons why this one wins. The detergents that specifically say they’re for babies don’t get clothes clean enough. Stronger detergents, like Tide, are too strong for babies and can lead to life-long allergies. Plus, powders and gel packs are scarier to keep around the house because you don’t want your baby to put things like that in his/her mouth. The fact that Method comes in a pump makes it the easy and safe pick.
Best baby formula: Kirkland Signature baby formula. For whatever reason, the kids didn’t spit up as much with this one and it doesn’t stink like some of the other brands do.
Best baby bottles: Dr. Brown’s. These are absolutely the best, even better than the fancy glass ones (unless they’re glass Dr. Brown’s). We threw all the others out.
Best baby food: Ella’s Kitchen. I almost didn’t give this one to Ella’s Kitchen because they’re so pricey, but ultimately they have the widest selection and the heartier pouches are even still good for Eva. Just be careful with the finger foods – some of them have nut allergy warnings!!
Best baby/toddler dishes and utensils: Re-Play. We have the divided dishes, bowls, forks, and spoons and we use them for both kids. We even used these spoons when Calvin was just starting to eat, so I really feel like you could get by without using any other brand. I love that they stack nicely and they wash well. Plus, the divided plates especially are really handy when it comes to getting Eva to try new things.
Best baby/toddler shoes: TOMS. Again, a little pricey but they’re adorable, they go with everything, and nothing is easier to put on or take off. I know there are moms out there who can’t believe I picked TOMS over Crocs, but I’ve found that Crocs just trip my kids up and aren’t worth it. They wear their TOMS until they practically have holes in the bottom.
Best baby/toddler clothes for value: Baby Gap. They’re a little pricey when you don’t catch a sale, but they last a long time. If you need proof, hit up your local kid consignment store. There will be tons of things from the Gap and it will all still be in fantastic shape.
Best baby/toddler clothes for photography: Janie and Jack. Absolutely.
Best baby phone app: Paint Sparkles
Best toddler phone app: EduKitty Preschool
Best baby DVD series: Preschool Prep. These DVDs are repetitive, but they’re pretty calm and I swear they taught Eva a ton. We started letting her watch them at 5 months, even though they say no TV, and I feel like it was appropriately paced for her at that age. She likes them so much that she’ll occasionally want me to pop one of the basic ones in while she lays down. Even though she’s way past that level, she finds them really soothing.
Best baby CD: You are My Little Bird by Elizabeth Mitchell. So beautiful. Worth getting even if you don’t have a baby!