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Parenting can be really tough sometimes. The pacing, the lack of sleep, and the seemingly endless loads of laundry that pile up. Add to that the stress of the cost of raising a kid in the 21st century.
According to a report of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the average middle-income family will spend more than $12,500 per year on child-related expenses. Many of these expenses come from buying products that are supposed to make parenting easier—or your baby happier. Sometimes they’re great…other times they’re not. It’s so frustrating as a parent to spend money on something (and get excited about what it offers) that doesn’t live up to its claim.
Let us help you save time and money! If you’re in the middle of “baby central,” or if you’re preparing for it, here is a list of must-have products (according to other parents) that will put your hard-earned money to good use, because they really work!
1. Sleeping Baby’s Zipadee-Zip
Babies aren’t known for being good sleepers (though if yours is, we’re jealous!). Fix that problem with the sleep sack to end all sleep sacks: the Zipadee-Zip.
Promising Review: “Great concept, I love that I can dress baby for a nap and reinforce the “sleep routine ” quickly and without changing her into pjs. Bonus, she doesn’t scratch herself in her sleep anymore.” –Elsie
Get yours here—definitely worth it for nights full of good sleep!
2. NoseFrida’s “The Snotsucker”
This is an absolute must to have on hand. One bad baby cold and you’ll realize the reason why this product is a necessity.
Top 50 Reviewer on Amazon said: “Hands down this is one of the best inventions for babies ever. A friend had one on her baby registry years ago and I thought it sounded disgusting. I bought it (a Nosefrida) and she showed me how it worked. In no way does the snot get anywhere near your mouth, ever. It works so much better than those awful bulb things you can buy from the stores or what the hospital sends you home with.” –Caley G
3. Boudreaux’s Butt Paste
If you’ve never seen or experienced a baby having a bad case of diaper rash, you’re lucky, because it’s just awful—and something that you’ll do anything to avoid ever happening again.
Promising Review: “2oz is the perfect size for my diaper bag. We buy the bigger 4 oz tubes locally but needed travel size. We have only gone through two large tubes so far and my baby is almost 7 months. She would get baddddd diaper rash as a newborn. ” –Rive Reviews (Lone Wolf of 1)
4. Oball Classic Ball
This fun plastic play toy is inexpensive and easy for little hands to hold (which strangely enough is not true of a lot of baby toys).
Promising Review: It is soft and the open Oball form allows an infant to hold it and explore it. I gave it to my grandson when he was just 3 months old and he loved it. –Mouffette
5. BabyBum Diaper Cream Brush
Baby butt cream works well because it’s thick and doesn’t allow moisture to penetrate. These same properties make getting butt cream off your hands a nightmare. Enter BabyBum Brush!
Use this to apply the cream on your baby’s bottom and save yourself hours of scrubbing at the sink.
Promising Review: “I have been a nanny for over 5 years now, and that means I’ve applied diaper cream with my fingers (yuck!) probably hundreds of times. It’s one thing I’ve always hated because the cream would get stuck under my finger nails and I had to spend time washing it out after each diaper change that required cream.” –Brianna
6. Back Seat Mirror by Cozy Greens
Hours of frustration, wails from a child, and hundreds of car “pullovers” were avoided with the invention of this simple tool.
The mirror goes on the back seat so you can see how your baby is doing and baby can see and be comforted by you.
Promising Review: “I was so tired of the mirrors sliding off the headrest every time I took a turn (I have leather seats) and not to mention the mirror cracking after a few months. I finally decided to spend the extra money and get a good quality mirror.” –mamapanda
7. Adan + Anais Baby Muslin Blankets
These are like the SUVs of blankets. They pretty much do it all: swaddle your baby, act as a burp cloth, dry your baby after a bath, or wipe up spit up.
They’re soft yet super absorbent. Throw them in the wash, dry with high heat, and they’re good as new!
Promising Review: “I purchased these three years ago and I’m now just writing a review. Why? I’m still using them and all are holding up so extremely well.” –Redsilas
Get a four-pack here. (Trust us, they’re worth it!).
8. Boppy Pillow
This product is extremely useful, and its function changes as your baby grows older. Moms use it during the infant stage to elevate their baby during breastfeeding.
As the baby grows, it can also act as a support to lie on. Once baby is past 6 months of age, the pillow can prop them up to ensure proper seating (and that the baby doesn’t fall over).
Top Review: “The Boppy is a great all-around, multi use baby pillow. I’ve found that the Brest Friend is better for breast feeding because it fastens around your waist. However, I’m glad to have the traditional Boppy because it’s great for baby to lounge in and for tummy time. The black and white brocade pattern cover is so pretty and has held up really well in the wash as well.” –Super JuJu-Bean
9. Marpac Hushh for Baby Portable White Noise Sound Machine
If you’ve ever tried to get anything done while your baby is sleeping, you know that every noise you make is amplified exponentially.
This portable sound machine provides background noise so that you can move about freely without waking your baby.
Jason on Amazon.com said: “This is one of the best investments I’ve ever made. My neighbors have seven large breed dogs that live outside and bark at everything, this helps me sleep through it. I might get one for my kids too, maybe they’ll sleep in every once in a while…”
10. Boogie Wipes
Wiping seemingly endless mucus from your baby’s nose can make their tender skin inflamed and raw.
Boogie Wipes are soft and natural, and they clean up baby’s nose without hurting their skin. Don’t use a diaper wipe on baby’s face.
Ann O’Edd had a field day on Amazon by saying: “They do exactly what they are designed to do, remove boogies, and ones that dry out (due to toddler sabotage), can be used as ear plugs to muffle the cries of toddlers as you, cruelly yet gently, remove the boogers the toddler was so deeply and emotionally connected to.” 🙂
11. Medela Pump In Style Advanced Breast Pump
The biggest problems with pumps are that they’re too big, they’re not strong enough, or there’s only one pump. Medela is the gold standard in breast pumps, and they made themselves a winner with moms with this model.
It’s got varying settings, it’s small and light, and there are two pumps. This is a game changer!
Amazon Customer said “Yes, I own both! I’m a full-time working mom of 2 sweet boys, 2.5 yrs and 6 mos. I purchased the Ameda with my first and used it full time (3x a day, 5 days a week) for 4 months. I purchased the Medela with my second and have used it full time (3x a day, 5 days a week) for 3 months now and still going strong. I have a LOT to say about these pumps, but the bottom line is Medela is far superior.”
Many nursing mothers seem to agree. This pump has an average rating of 4.4/5 with over 1,600 reviews!
12. Dr. Brown’s Baby Bottles
Gas and bubbles are always an issue when you bottle-feed your baby.
The Dr. Brown’s bottle’s ingenious construction has made feeding time so much more manageable—and babies’ bellies happier.
I bought these when my kids were young and I have to say I’ve extremely pleased the lack of air bubbles these bottles create. Less air bubbles = less burping = more happy baby. Though these take a little bit longer to clean, your baby will be a whole lot happier with these bottles.
13. Munchkin Fresh Food Feeder
Babies can’t eat certain foods because the size or shape of the item might make them choke.
Amazon Customer said “I bought these for my 6 month old and can NOT believe how much better teething is going!”
Not only does this product allow your baby to eat foods that normally wouldn’t be safe, but it also provides hours of entertainment as your baby sucks and plays with their food. (P.S. the clean up is worth it!)
14. JJ Cole Car Seat Cover
Onesies, jackets, and blankets are always an issue when you’re trying to transport your baby in a car seat (and trying to keep them warm at the same time).
This showercap-style car seat cover makes traveling easy and comfortable. Plus it’s approved by car seat technicians so you know it’s safe for your little one.
Hollie Golightly on Amazon said: “Love this. keeps baby warm, easy to use. slips on, stays put, doesn’t get in the way. zipper looks more ‘natural’ in real life.. not as gold as the seller photo appears, which was a pleasant surprise.”
Get one in Graphite here. (Other colors available but prices may vary).
15. Boon Lawn Countertop Drying Rack
Bottles and nipples must be fully dried to keep them clean and sanitary, but keeping them upright is always an issue.
This drying rack solves the problem in a cute and fun package!
Nathan Christie said “This is an excellent drying rack, which fits all types of bottle and pump parts, big or small. The blades of grass are a harder plastic than I was thinking, but they are still flexible enough to fit pretty much any item. You can dry a lot of items on this at once.”
16. Fisher-Price Rock ‘n Play Sleeper
Need to take a shower? Wash dishes? Write a quick email?
This sleeper is your ticket to free hands (and a little time to get things done).
17. Summer Infant SwaddleMe Original Swaddle
Babies love to be swaddled! But we challenge you to find an overwhelmed new parent who can do it effectively and without frustration. If your little one is too young for the Zipadee-Zip, the SwaddleMe is for you.
It’s its ease of use that makes this product so awesome. Its comfy fabric and foolproof swaddling mechanism make even the most sleep-deprived caretaker a pro.
Sharon said: “Honestly, after three babies, there are very few items of baby gear I would say are a ‘must-have.’ This is one of the few.”
18. WubbaNub Plush Pacifier Toy
Most parents have a love/hate relationship with pacifiers. They’re constantly falling out of a baby’s mouth and onto the floor, which upsets the baby, which upsets the parent.
This smart company figured out that adding a slight weight to the end of a binky helps it stay in the baby’s mouth (keeping everyone happy). Brilliant!
Get the penguin WubbaNub here—there are several other animals to choose from as well!
19. The Mommy Hook
You’re shopping with your baby, and you’ve got the car seat, the bottle, the blanket, and a ton of toys. There’s just one problem: There’s no room for your stuff.
The Mommy Hook solves this problem and allows you to hang your bag off of the shopping cart so it’s organized and easy to get to.
“I have tested it, and it can strongly hold 8 shopping bags!!” –TaraMichelle.
After a long day at the mall, this will no doubt save those forearms in the long run.
20. Skip Hop Treetop Friends Activity Gym
Parents swear by this because it provides hours of heavenly, distracted playtime for their babies. HOURS.
The great thing about it is the arches and toys can be disconnected if you need a flat mat for just tummy time. It’s great for babies of all ages!
Darya said: “Best Baby Play gym. I love Skip Hop pretty much everything, love the colors, toys, textures, have a lot of Skip Hop toys and baby gear, this little gym is amazing baby enjoys it several time a day since birth, she is 5 months old now and love grabbing toys and shaking them around. ”
21. Puj Tub
The sink always seems to be the most comfortable and convenient place to bathe a newborn, and the Puj Tub makes doing this often-difficult task a breeze!
Unfold it and hang it flat for easy drying. You’ll never struggle to find a place to store a tub again.
22. Baby K’tan Baby Carrier
This wrap-style carrier is a big hit among parents of newborns and babies under one year. It offers the comfort and flexibility that parents love in wrap carriers but avoids the messy, complicated “over” wrapping.
It’s also super portable and easy to throw in a diaper bag or backpack.
Bigslacker said this is “Almost perfect“: “I just received the carrier and simply love it! I wish I had it from day one as it is very helpful in carrying baby at home. My son is 5 weeks old and Baby K’tan works great.”
Get the original from Amazon here. (Multiple sizes and colors are available, but prices may vary.)
23. Ergobaby 360 Baby Carrier
Show us a comfortable baby carrier and we’ll show you happy parents! If you’re in the market for something a little more structured than a wrap, the Ergo is your new best friend.
This super padded, super comfy product allows the baby to face both ways and fits moms and dads of differing and heights and weights equally well.
24. Infant Optics DXR-8 Video Baby Monitor
The quality of baby monitors can range from just awful to blissful, which can make your life hell or heaven.
The DXR-8 Video Monitor by Infant Optics is the first baby monitor with interchangeable lens technology. Video is streamed real-time to a slim 3.5 inch LCD color display providing a crystal clear image without grainy or pixelated textures.
I only write reviews for products that I, hands down, could not live without…and this is one of them! –Christine
25. The Spuni
Spuni has a unique design that promotes the natural latching instinct that a baby develops during breast and bottle feeding.
Spuni is the perfect tool to help your baby transition to solid food.
T. said: “These spoons are the best! We have one in every color. We’ve tried other baby spoons and all of the others were either too wide (hard to get in baby’s mouth) or too deep (food was still in the spoon after each bite). They don’t have high ‘walls’ on the side, so Baby is able to get all of the food out of the spoon.”
Now that you’ve done some research be sure to check out the registry services offered by Amazon, Target and Buy Buy Baby. They will help you to easily organize exactly what you need and exclude what you don’t to make sure you’ll have the essentials.