Ever since Poonam and I had our first child, Jei, we’ve had a few questions related to baby products, baby patterns and other baby stuff. I began this as an email to a friend and then thought I might as well put it in on the blog since the content has wider audience and I wanted follow my “blog more” inner voice. [Update: I should have stuck to email – this blog post grew WAY too long!]. What some non-parents may not know: having the right gear makes a huge difference! Sort of like hiking with the right shoes or baking in an oven. I mean, you could hike in flip flops or bake over a gas flame – but it’s a bit masochistic.
So where is our baby registry? It’s at Amazon at this link. Before I forget, don’t forget to signup for Amazon Mom. Yeah, it’s a sexist program name (what about Amazon Parent?) but signup is free and even Dad’s can get 20% off without any loss of the usual Amazon convenience.
So, lets get to it now …
These are products that you really should buy. Seriously, you are doing yourself a disservice if you don’t!
- The Britax B-Agile Stroller and the Britax B-Safe Infant Car Seat.
Both the above VERY good products – just buy them. They work SO well together and it’s very well thought out. Unless you already have a car seat and stroller, I’d recommend buying these. Right now!
- Foscam IP Camera
This is hands down the best surveillance/baby monitor within this price range. It connects to you home WiFi and then you can see and hear the baby on your smartphone or laptop (with the right IP camera app – I use IP Cam Viewer on the iPhone). Best part? It’s a nightvision enabled camera, so even in pitch darkness, you can see around the room, swivel the camera etc via your smartphone! You never disturbing the baby! We sleep-trained Jei when he was 3 months and there was NO way we could have survived the session without a live video feed that he was doing ok when he’d wake up in the middle of his sleep. If you physically enter the room, the baby gets excited and won’t fall back asleep. Also sleep training needs to be gradual. Anyway, this isn’t a post on sleep training (some other day!) but the Foscam was the chief instrument enabling that. Perhaps this should be #1 on my list …
- Pampers Swaddlers Newborn
We initially wanted the eco friendly 7th Gen diapers but they weren’t upto the mark. Which means, they leaked. The Pampers on the other hand, do their job well and they have a “wet” indicator in the front which instantly tells you it’s time to change – no more guesswork. The end result is that the baby is in a wet diaper for shorter periods which reduces diaper rash and other bad things. Even if you check often, the visual check offered by the pampers means you’ll check even more often!
- BABYBJORN Baby Carrier
After 2-3 months when your baby can support their head (i.e. neck is stronger) this is a good way to walk with the baby, even around the house. Keeps them entertained as you do your stuff (“Wow, that’s a faucet!!“)
- Munchkin White Hot Inflatable Duck Tub
Initially I was a bit hesitant about an inflatable one and felt a hard plastic one would be better. I was wrong. The inflatable one means you’re less worried about the baby tipping and hitting their head and more focussed on cleaning the baby and enjoying bath time with him/her. Bonus? Easy to pack when travelling.
- Munchkin Sprout Drying Rack
A drying rack is inherently uncool but this is very useful. Cheap and very useful, buy it!
- My Brest Friend Pillow
Based on my wife’s feedback. Breastfeeding can be VERY hard for a new Moms and this really helped her. Although Poonam was really strong throughout, I know of many women who would sob during breast feeding out of a combination of frustration, pain, lack of sleep etc. By the time Jei turned 5 or 6 months, she stopped using the feeding pillow since it was easier without it.
Can’t call these “must buys” but if you have the budget and time, these are great
- BriteLeafs Non-contact Infrared Thermometer
Takes readings in 4 seconds and you don’t wake up the baby. Ridiculously good. Plus it’s got use beyond just “baby” as a general purpose body thermometer (eg. you fall sick). Non contact also means fewer germ transmissions if you have multiple kids.
- If you’re returning to work after delivery and plan on breast feeding, pumping is essential. Medela Pump in Style Tote or Medela Pump in Style Advanced Backpack are great (per my wife). BTW, since 2010 it’s required by law for employers with over 50 employees to provide the necessary time and private location for nursing mothers. Employers under 50 employees must demonstrate that compliance would result in “undue hardship”.
- Arm’s Reach Natural Original Co-Sleeper
We wanted to co-sleep because I was super paranoid about sleeping OVER the baby in the same bed. This co-sleeper is designed for the height of the average american bed, so chances are it’ll work with yours. Best of all, it sits flush with your bed and has a belt to keep it flush. So no gaps between your bed surface and the baby’s sleeping surface – you don’t want the baby to slip and fall 2 feet at 4am when pacifying him/her!! For occasional travels, you can use this as a travelling bed/playpen. But since the assembly and disassembly isn’t super quick, if you’re travelling more often, then a no-frills Graco Pack N Play might work too. Note that a Pack-and-Play will works as an infant bed, a changing area and, upon lowering the surface, a playpen. The Arm’s reach co-sleeper does all that PLUS a co-sleeping infant bed (which is an infant bed with one wall substantially lowered for easy pick in-out). Since I mentioned infant bed, as a note of safety, once Jei could prop himself up (4 months), we made sure he always slept only in his crib. I saw him trying to climb over the infant bed sides and I was concerned he might succeed (it’s a 3′ fall!). Since then, the Arm’s reach co-sleeper is permanently a full-depth playpen.
- HALO SleepSack (Swaddling)
These were nice, pretty close to the Miracle Blanket. Jei outgrew the habit of being swaddled by 4 months of age but for those initial months, the SleepSack was great. The miracle blanket is good too but it’s kinda expensive ($30+) for essentially a stretch of soft fabric. An added advantage to the SleepSack is that with a zipper and Velcro, it keeps squirmy babies swaddled for longer times as compared to the Miracle Blanket. We ended up buying many of each type but in hindsight, I’d just get the SleepSack.
- Summer Infant Contoured Changing Pad
This is a regular, waterproof, contoured changing pad. But it has a useful safety belt which act like a extra pair of helping hands during a diaper change. Of course, you can NOT leave the baby unattended because they can wiggle out of the belt – and fall!
- Graco Contempo Highchair
You won’t need this till about 5 months but it’s a good one when feeding them anything beyond just milk/formula. It’s got washable covers which are useful once your baby realizes “Whoa! Stuff can be tossed!“. Bonus points for being foldable into a narrow vertical profile, just a few inches deep.
Avoid these (along with recommended alternatives)
These are either bad or useless products. Or just plain old “good products” that happen to be overshadowed by GREAT products. Unfortunately, in a capitalistic economy, good isn’t good enough when great is around.
- Philips AVENT 3-in-1 Electric Steam Sterilizer.
Back in the day steaming is what the cool parent’s would do. No anymore. At least not in Southern California. You don’t need to boil and dry. Just the usual cleaning with hot water, soap and air drying is good. That is not my opinion, it’s medical advice from our hospital (Scripps). So we sent this back unused.
- The First Years 5 in 1 Carry Me Near Sleeper (Instead buy the Arm’s Reach Natural Original Co-Sleeper above)
This is a piece of crap. There was a 1 foot gap between our bed and the “near sleep” product. Safety hazard. Plus it was much higher than the height of the average American bed. Plus it make Jei look like Cinderella with the dressy skirts on the side and all. I would have preferred something more manly for the man baby.
- Fisher-Price Precious Planet Whale of a Tub (Instead buy Munchkin White Hot Inflatable Duck Tub
Pretty good, made of hard plastic. Unfortunately, the soft inflatable ones are more convenient. Sorry Whale!
- Turtlemeter Bath Thermometer.
Avoid because even after a warranty replacement, both units broke the same way i.e. water damage. So what’s the replacement? Well, none. I just use my elbow. Why elbows? Well, hand’s can get thermally desensitized after touching hot water for a while, as you prep the bath. Also, the inflatable tub I referenced above automatically shows “HOT” when water temperature is too hot.
- Boppy Pillow
The Brest Friend Pillow is much better. See my notes above.
- ERGObaby Original Baby Carrier
The problem isn’t that the ERGOBaby sucks, it’s that BABYBJORN Baby Carrier is SO much better. We had both and never used the ERGOBaby after we got the BabyBjorn. Even when we once went out and forgot the BabyBjorn. I just carried him in my hands instead of fumbling around with the ERGOBaby.
Whew, there you have it. I’ve tried to capture most of my product related experiences here. Hopefully it channels dollars towards products that work – and away from products that don’t. Market efficiencies – I like it!
More importantly, as a first time parent, I want to make sure you’re using the best gear (within budget) so you can enjoy the upside of parenting while reducing your downside hassles of everyday chores.
Speaking of dollars, the links above tied into my baby registry and amazon account, so I might get some pennies here and there. But given my traffic volume and click through rates, the economic value is probably under a buck, so this is more of an interesting experiment in small-blog traffic patterns than anything else. End of disclaimer 🙂