Best Baby Gear You Will Actually Use
One of the many advantages to being a mommy in this glorious modern age is the baby gear! One of the most common comments I got when I first had Genny was about all the cool stuff I had for her. Moms would say, “Oh, well I wish we had had that when my kids were little!” I wanted to tell them, “Thank you, I only get things you will actually use!” From the sound of it, I’m thanking the Lord that I was not a mom back before Click Connect carseats or Deker diaper pails!!
Do your research
Before having Genny, I did lots of research on every single item I purchased or registered for. I didn’t want to end up with a bunch of stuff I didn’t need or to have spent more money on things that I could have gotten for less. Now I am proud to say my efforts paid off, and we don’t have a single piece of gear that I regret purchasing!
Don’t take my word for it! Use this post as a springboard for your own research. I have included some links to articles and posts that helped me make my decisions. No two babies are alike, so now two lists of needed baby gear will be either.
Criteria for buying/registering
My criteria for buying these baby items was, in short, “Is this stuff you will actually use?” A more in-depth breakdown of my thought process would be into these four categories.
-Usefulness: Will we use this or will we just end up storing this?
-Durability: Can we use this if we have another baby as well? Will it last? Will it stay in good condition? Could I resell this or give it away after we’re done using it?
-Practicality: Is this necessary? Can we do with an item cheaper with acceptable quality?
-Color: Is this gender neutral so we could use it again if we had a boy?
The lowest priority for me was how it looked. I did decorate Genny’s room, but it was done with a simple, minimalistic woodland theme. In the end, if it all came down to the color or style, whichever had the best bang for the buck was my go-to.
As I mention in my video How We Only Spent $300 on our Baby, these items helped me create a carefully planned registry. In turn, that ended up saving me hundreds of dollars because people actually bought everything I wanted. (If you’re looking for good places to register, I’d recommend Amazon, Kohls, and Target because those places are everywhere, and their online shopping is really convenient).
Best Baby Gear You Will Actually Use:
All of the items listed below were amazing products that I’m so glad we purchased and that we plan on using with Baby #2. Each one of these were personal choices of ours and come with my own personal review (remember, think “baby gear you will actually use”).
We found one of these in pique condition on the NextDoor app for $35. We used this with Genny up until 15 months old when we wanted her to sit at the table with us. For the longest time, we used it as her high chair until my mom actually bought us one. It’s extremely portable, easy to clean, and you can also purchase a tray to click on top. Ours never had that feature, but we still made do.
Oh how I love this carseat! It comes with a base that is extremely easy to install (if you don’t have anchors in your car, and my 2006 Forerunner does not). We bought an extra base so Ryan could have one in his car, too. You just pull up and click the carseat comes out. Then you click it down into the other base. Viola! This carseat is still rated as one of the top carseats for infant safety in 2018, and it pairs perfectly with my Click Connect Jogging Stroller!
Ah, the only big baby item we actually purchased! If you’ve seen my video on how we only spent $300 on our baby, you know that this was that $300 ! And hey, they’re a lot less expensive now.
Hands down, this is my favorite baby-item of all. I bought it thinking it would motivate me to keep running after I had the baby. It’s so easy to use, I keep it in my car all the time and pull it out wherever we go. When Genny was an infant, I used it when we went to the grocery store because her carseat clicks perfectly right on top of the stroller just as it does on the bases. It’s great for jogging (as long as you keep the tires pumped up well) or walking, and the large tires make it easy for going over curbs and even cutting through other terrains. I joke that it is Genny’s ATV (I joke now, but one of these days I’ll come home and Ryan will have put a motor in that thing!). I’d say this was definitely worth every penny.
The biggest pro for this particular baby carrier is that you can use it until your kid is 45 pounds! It’s great for hiking, walking in places where a stroller can’t easily fit, going to the grocery store, and for if baby just wants some mama time and you need to get things done! For Genny, she didn’t like that she couldn’t see everything, but Ergo now makes a forward–facing (Ergobaby 360) carrier that gives you the option of different positions. I liked that I could put the carrier on myself without help from Ryan! And the ergonomic design will save your back and give your arms a break.
My friend gave this to me at my baby shower with a disclaimer. She said she thought it was weird, but her friend had one and loved it. Honestly, I never thought I would use that thing, but low-and-behold I do! Every day to this day. It’s nice having something to put that diaper cream on! I hate getting my hands all messy and touching her butt. I mean gross! But this little baby is great for spreading on the diaper cream while not rubbing against her tender booty.
Before having Genny, I wanted to spend as little for as much as I could. When deciding whether or not to buy a bassinet, I found this post to be extremely helpful. In the end, we decided to go with the Graco Pack n Play with the Bassinet insert. This was a great move because we still use it now that Genny’s almost 2! The Pack n Play is very easy to set up and extremely portable. We’ve taken it on airplanes (to California twice), on road trips (at least 4 separate times), and to friends’ houses (countless times).
At 3 months, we started transitioning Genny to her crib, but for those newborn days, the bassinet insert was a lifesaver. With the Graco Pack n Play, we were able to get a bassinet that grew with her. Now, I simply keep the Pack n Play in the back of my Forerunner all the time in case a sleeping emergency occurs. 🙂
My mom always told me that Diaper Genies were terrible, so I was predisposed to go another route. After reading many, many reviews online, I finally decided the Dekor Diaper Pail was the way to go because of one reason: it was said to be good for adult diapers. I figured that if this thing could contain discarded Depends, it could handle a few smelly Pampers!
And what do you know but I was right! The only time this diaper pail smells up a room is if we’re lazy and don’t close the lid. Besides that, you replace the plastic bag refill about once a month and take them out as need be. Easy-peasy!
Now my view on baby monitors has changed since having Genny. I used to think any-old walkie-talkie looking thing would do the trick, but now I really believe the Owlet is the way to go. I’ll tell you why.
A friend of mine had her little boy a month after Genny was born. When he was about a month old, Ti fell ill to RSV (respiratory syncytial virus) and ended up being hospitalized. After a few days, he was released to go home. That first night home, he stopped breathing, and the Owlet alarm went off. Thanks to the Owlet, they were able to get him to the emergency room in time. The doctors said even a few minutes later would have been critical for his little one–month old body.
The Owlet sock monitors baby’s heart rate and oxygen–intake while sleeping, and built-in alarms immediately alert you when something is wrong. Hopefully you will never have to use all its functions, but in case of an emergency, I want to know my baby needs me right away!
Either one of these toys will do the trick! We had the Baby Einstein Rhythm of the Reef Saucer, but I have friends tell me door jumpers are also fantastic! Some people say exersaucers and the like are bad for baby’s development, those scary reviews are based on people who leave their children in them for 30 minutes to an hour. Just a little side note, never leave your fully awake baby ANYWHERE for that long! If you want to give your baby some playtime with a little leg workout, then he will be just fine in one of these.
As a baby, I loved my exersaucer, and I’ve babysat many a child who would jump away in those things. My Genny wasn’t a huge fan of hers, but I’m glad I had it. It also helped with her hand–eye coordination as she liked to reach out and grab the toys.
A friend gifted this to me at my baby shower. While it was another of those, “Will I really use this?” items, the answer to that question was YES! From the first moments in the hospital, that nursing pillow was one of the only reasons I didn’t just burst into tears every time I tried to nurse! For the first several weeks of Genny’s life, I used the Boppy EVERY time I nursed. It saves your back as you don’t have to lean over so much. It also can be used in many different positions. If you register for this, tag on an extra cover as well. It was nice to be able to switch back and forth between covers when one got milk–stained.
Another item I didn’t think would be very useful, the NoseFrida is still one of my most used baby items. I used it a lot for clearing buggers when Genny was tiny, and now she thinks it’s funny when I help unclog her stuffy nose. Before you wrinkle your nose and think it’s too nasty, rest-assured that the filters work extremely well and no you will not get buggers in your mouth. There are more expensive nasal aspirators out there, like the Nosiboo Pro which I hear works well. But if you want practical, useful, and inexpensive, NoseFrida is the way to go.
Don’t judge me, but I AM one of those moms who let her newborn sleep in the swing. When you have a crying baby, and both of you are exhausted, you do whatever you need to do! With that said, this swing was a GODSEND! We were fortunate enough to find one on Craigslist for less than retail price, but if you can get your hands on one of these then do! The shape of the swing makes baby feel secure and safe, the swinging function lulls baby to sleep, and the sound features can be changed to fit your needs. I’ve seen many swings out there, but this one is the best bang for your buck.
In addition to the Owlet which lets you know your baby is safe and healthy, a video monitor allows you to see what’s going on. At first, I thought this would only be a piece of equipment we’d use when Genny was little. Now I know that this is most useful with mischievous toddlers!
Genny oftentimes would get her foot stuck between the slats of her crib. A video monitor helps you to see if your little one is in trouble and to know if you should go in to “rescue”.
The first time I used one of their products was when Genny had the sniffles at eight weeks old. Their Baby Immune Support has Vitamins A, C, D3, and E as well as Zinc and Grapefruit Seed Extract. These are all vitamins that help maintain a strong immune system and that I use for myself. One of my biggest pros for the Zarbee brand is that they are made using natural ingredients that bring real results!
Their Baby Immune Booster can be given as young as 2 months old. I started giving it to Genny when she began teething, and it helped give her immune system a “boost”. At 18 months old, she has only been sick about three times and never for more than 1 day.
I prefer Zarbee’s cough medicine for babies to other brands like Hyland’s because of the results I have seen. Along with teething comes a ton of sinus drainage, which usually leads to coughing. With Zarbee’s Baby Cough Syrup, I know I’m not “medicating” my child because the ingredients agave nectar and English ivy leaf extract – these are basically natural remedies that boost the immune system and defend against coughs.
Love, love this bottle warmer! We didn’t do bottles for very long, but even after Genny started solids, we used this guy to warm food. The settings allow you to thaw frozen milk, heat cold milk, or maintain a warm temperature (thought I wouldn’t suggest you let milk sit for very long!). This warmer also made it easy for babysitter. I could set the right temperature before I left and just tell the sitter when to put in the bottle.
One of my few aesthetic splurges, this clothes hamper turned out to be a great buy. Why? Because the dual sides allow for twice the laundry storage WITH some in-the-moment organization. The sides are labeled “Lights” and “Darks”, but I sort them sometimes according to “Extremely dirty” and “Sort of Dirty”. There are other options if you don’t want labels on your hamper. I would suggest a baby-specific hamper though because newborns (and, well, all children) go through clothes like tissues. When it’s time to do laundry, I can easily pull the hamper out and sort the colors out from there.
Baby-approved nail clippers will help you rest at ease when doing that loathed deed: trimming your baby’s nails! I like these nail clippers because they are easy to hold (a real concern when wrangling a squirmy baby!) and not super easy for a little one to open and accidentally cut himself.
Instead of buying a dresser, we bought collapsible storage bins and sort her clothes there. I’m not one for folding clothes, so it’s easy to sort through clean clothes into different categories. We designed her closet build-out so that each cube fits perfectly in a little cubby.
When Genny’s older, we will need to get her an actual dresser, but for now this is the perfect set-up. Whenever we stop using them, we will convert them into toys and shoes storage.
If you’ve heard of Covered Goods, you know they are expensive but cute nursing covers. This brand offers the same functions for ⅓ the price! There are also a lot of cute patterns. I have 3 of them, and I never had too many! Every day I used one for something, be it for nursing, on a shopping cart, in a high chair, as a blanket, as a carseat cover, or even as a burp cloth. Talk about multifunctional! I still keep one in Genny’s diaper bag at all times.
Tips to cut costs:
- Instead of investing in a bassinet, get the Graco pack and play with bassinet insert.
- Instead of buying an entire dresser, go with collapsible storage bins that can be converted to toy bins later.
- Instead of buying an expensive glider, consider getting an indoor hammock.
- Instead of purchasing an activity mat, use a blanket with toys and hand mirrors.
- Use bartering apps and places like NextDoor, Craigslist, Facebook Buy&Sell, and thrift stores
As you’re shopping for your little one, remember that the baby gear you will actually use is going to be what you are glad you purchased. The goal is to not look back and shake your head at past-you.
Also, don’t feel like you have to copy what anybody else does. Do what’s right for you and your baby! That may mean not buying anything on this list. Take my suggestions as you would anybody else’s – with a grain of salt!
Was this list helpful? What do you recommend to be the best baby gear you will actually use? Share with me by commenting below!
Love, Emily XOXO