I will never forget the first time I tried to put together a baby registry. I was expecting my first, and I had set aside an entire evening to scan all of my must-haves for my little girl. I prepped in advance with a list, thinking I had done the hard work already. When I got to the store, however, I realized the hard work had barely begun. It hadn’t been enough to write “bottles” and “car seat” on my list, I now had to decide between countless brands and their various models. I was so overwhelmed that I left the store with just a handful of items on my registry. A lot has changed since then. I’ve had three babies, and I’ve owned countless products and gadgets marketed at parents and their offspring. I’ve spent too much. I’ve bought things I never used and done without things that probably would have made life with a newborn much simpler. Perhaps most importantly, I’ve learned that you can’t always trust marketing. Some items seemed like a must-have, based on how heavily they were marketed online and in stores, but they just ended up taking up space in my home. Others were never marketed as must-haves but ended up being the life-saving parenting products I refuse to do without. That had me wondering: Are there other products I’m missing out on simply because they’re underrated or don’t have endcap displays on the aisles at box stores? I did some digging around and found a whole list of products that moms and dads swear changed their lives.
1. The Solution to the Very Worst Rash
Most moms have a rash cream they love for everyday use, but when the worst of the worst rashes occur, complete with raw skin and blisters, not all butt pastes are created equal. Honestly, there are a lot of gimmicky products on the market, from expensive all-natural options to strange old wives tales like rubbing your baby’s bottom in egg white. Don’t go searching for a fancy paste; sometimes simpler is better. Moms know that good old-fashioned Desitin is completely underrated. Desitin contains zinc oxide, a mineral that is completely safe for baby skin and speeds up healing.
2. Need an extra hand? This product makes that possible.
Babywearing isn’t reserved for “crunchy” moms; any mom who needs an extra hand can benefit from keeping a good carrier handy. “Three of my four kids always wanted to be held,” mom Anna told me. “Currently, it’s the twins and it’s constant. I can get a lot done with them strapped to my body and they love it. Win–win and total life saver for me!” Finding a good carrier is important. Meghen Jones, chapter president of Babywearing International Kansas City, explained what moms should be looking for when they’re shopping: “I usually tell new parents is that the best carrier for them is the one that fits their body, their baby, and their budget. You want a carrier that holds baby snug and close. ‘Close enough to kiss’ is a good rule to remember.” Some of the most popular options are soft structure carriers created by Tula or Lenny Lamb, ring slings by a brand called Sakura Bloom, and budget-friendly options by Ergo Baby.
3. Your New Best Friend the Next Time Your Baby Has a Cold
No one really tells you that you’ll leave the hospital with your baby and a random assortment of baby paraphernalia, from newborn diapers to a thermometer and a feeding log. As much as I appreciated these little gifts, there was one product I hated using—the bulb syringe. Wrestling a screaming infant to suck snot out of their nose isn’t for the weak. When my second baby arrived, a friend bought me the NoseFrida, and I never looked back. This snot sucker allows Mom or Dad to gently clear Baby’s nose so they can breathe easier without all of the drama.
4. The Nursing Cover That Does It All
Babies come with so much stuff. Even when you stick with the essentials, it’s easy to feel like a pack mule, lugging diapers, spare outfits, and nursing covers from place to place. So whether you’re registering for baby gear for the first time or looking for ways to cut back on what you already own, a three-in-one product is something you can’t ignore. The Milk Snob Cover is the multifunctional baby gear of every mom’s dreams. “It’s a nursing cover, car seat cover, and stroller cover. You used to need three different products for those things and now you just need one!” Mallory, mom of two, told me. “It washes so easily and takes up so little space in the diaper bag.”
5. A $3 Purchase That Will Cut Your Laundry Loads in Half
If life as a mom were broken down on a pie chart, laundry would undoubtedly get a monster slice of the pie. Anything that will shrink that mountain of dirty clothes hiding in your closet is an essential. Enter the KLADDIG Bib from IKEA. It’s more than a bib, really. It’s a poncho that protects your toddler’s clothes from everything from spaghetti sauce to those inevitable stains that watermelon leaves behind. “Full-sleeve bibs are my holy grail item,” mom of three Lauren told me. “Saves me from doing so much laundry.”
6. Ignore the judgey moms and buy this for your “runner.”
Before you write this underrated parenting product off as inhumane or cruel, think about what you would do to keep your favorite 2-year-old from darting off into busy traffic. The kiddie leash has long been a controversial parenting product, and it may not be for everyone, but the moms who need it swear it has prevented a major catastrophe more than once. “I judged the crap out of parents [who] used those,” mom of one Samantha, mom of one, confessed. “And then I had a runner. At the zoo.” For mom of two Amber, it was a close call that convinced her a kiddie leash was an essential addition to her parenting product stash. “We used a monkey backpack leash for a runner after experiencing the panic of losing an 11-month-old at a plaza full of people. My heart stops [just] thinking about it!” Now, we know what you think when you hear the word “leash,” but products like this darling buckle-on backpack or this plush friend with an attached leash will likely result in fewer stares.
7. It’s finally time to catch up on sleep.
Some babies just don’t sleep. If you’re a sleep-deprived mom with a very young baby at home, a swaddle could be the solution to your 3 a.m. woes. “Swaddling, when used correctly, can be a tremendous way to promote safe sleeping,” Hindi Zeidman, creator of the Ollie Swaddle, told HealthyWay. “The safe sleep guidelines from the American [Academy] of Pediatrics are clear: Swaddling helps to keep babies on their back, which is the ideal sleep position to assist in preventing sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS).” In addition to safety, swaddling can also provide a better night’s sleep by improving colic and fussiness, increasing REM sleep, and preventing overstimulation.
8. The Diapering Product You Never Knew Was Missing From Your Life
Applying diaper rash cream is a necessary part of the everyday life of moms, but that doesn’t mean it has to be messy. The BabyBum Diaper Cream Spatula looks like it belongs in the kitchen, but its real place is in the diaper bag of every baby. Whether you’re applying paste on the go or just don’t want to deal with the mess, this diapering product is a can’t-miss addition to every baby registry.
9. A Simpler Approach to Expressing Breast Milk
Most working moms rely heavily on their electric breast pump to make it possible to breastfeed while working full time. For the part-time working mom or stay-at-home mom, an electric pump can be an unnecessary expense and a hassle to deal with. A manual breast pump may seem like a return to the Stone Age of milk expression, but this parenting product is beyond underrated. The Lansinoh Manual Pump is inexpensive and low key, making it the perfect option for pumping on the road, pumping in the middle of the night to reduce engorgement, or quick expression on a date night. Medela’s Harmony Manual Pump is also incredibly popular among many moms. “I always kept a manual in my car,” Jayne, mom of three, said. “There were so many parts involved with my electric for work and [without] fail I would always forget something I needed. Having a backup in the car was life saving for a working mom.”
10. Parenting is messy, but it doesn’t have to suck.
Okay, so a vacuum might not technically be a parenting product, but it is certainly a product parents can’t live without. And not just any vacuum will do. “I love the lightweight cordless Shark vacuum,” mom of three Lacy told me. “My kids fight over who gets to vacuum now.” If refereeing tiny housekeepers doesn’t sound like your cup of tea, Chaunie, mom of four, swears one product changed her mom life forever. “Honestly, the Roomba. Maybe that’s not underrated enough, but I feel like it should be an essential with little kids. It’s absurd how much stress it’s taken from my life. I was vacuuming the floors after every meal and it made me crazy!”
11. It’s time for fewer midnight diaper changes.
There is nothing more frustrating than having to wake a soundly sleeping baby because they’re leaking through their diaper. Betsy, mom of one, said diaper booster pads were the end of changing her son’s diaper multiple times each night. “He could make it through the night in one diaper with these, rather than getting him all woke up with a diaper change!”
12. This isn’t just for breastfeeding moms.
If you’ve ever breastfed a baby, you know lanolin is one of those lifesaving products you can’t do without. Don’t be so quick to throw this product out when your baby weans, though. Moms swear it has so many uses beyond healing nipples. “It’s been almost 10 years since I had my first baby and we still use it for chapped noses and faces in the winter, rashes, burns, you name it,” Christi told me. “That stuff heals everything and it’s super safe to use around the mouth, not to mention it’s colorless, odorless, and flavorless.” A quote that’s often attributed to Confucius says, “Life is really simple, but we insist on making it complicated.” I’m not sure he had building a baby registry in mind, but every new parent could benefit from taking this wise advice to heart before they make their next visit to Babies “R” Us.