Everyone who hasn’t had kids yet is astounded by the amount of “gear” required for a new baby. Honestly, you probably don’t really need much more than diapers, food, and a carseat, but there are products out there that will make any new mom’s life so much easier. However, there are SO MANY baby products available it can be hard to figure out which ones are worth it and which ones just clutter up your house. Based on my own experience with five babies and that of my good friends, I’ve compiled the 20 best baby products that will make life easier for new moms. Each of these items will simplify sleep time, bath time, food time, car time or play time, making for a happier baby and a happier mom.
All the links are Amazon affiliate links, meaning if you click through and then purchase something on Amazon you’ll be supporting this blog – thanks! The prices listed are current on Amazon as of this post’s publish date, but Amazon prices tend to move around. If you find any of these items at a better price somewhere else, let me know in the comments and I’ll update the post. If you have a must-have baby item that I didn’t include, leave that in the comments, too. Thanks!
For better sleep:
1. aden + anais Classic Muslin Swaddle Blanket 4 Pack, Jungle Jam $45-$50 for four
I know, fifty bucks for four blankets seems ridiculous, but there are reasons why this item gets almost exclusively 5 star ratings on amazon. They’re large, nearly four feet square, making them MUCH more useful for swaddling than the tiny receiving blankets most new mom receive as gifts, and we all know that a well-swaddled baby is much more likely to go to sleep and stay asleep. Additionally, these blankets are soft, but also lightweight and incredibly breathable, so a summer baby can still be wrapped up and not get overheated. They also work well to cover carseat or stroller, or as a nursing cover, and fold down small enough to fit in a diaper bag. Slightly smaller version is available for $35/4pk.
2. Miracle Blanket$30
If swaddling with normal blankets seems a little difficult when it’s 3 am and you’re going on half an hour of sleep, you might want to try the miracle blanket or one of it’s many competitors. The design of these blankets (some zip, some velcro, some snap) make it easy to swaddle baby up tight, which results in better, longer sleep for both you and baby. Look for versions made specifically for summer or winter babies. ***Note: a commenter has mentioned there may be safety issues with these types of swaddlers – please check with your doctor about anything you use to swaddle your baby***
3. SleepSack $20
This wearable blanket doesn’t help swaddle a baby, but it does add extra warmth without the fear of blankets getting wrapped around baby’s head. Perfect for winter babies, the sleep sack is a worry-free alternative to extra blankets.
This is a great product for helping newborns sleep – it keeps them at a slight incline, which can be helpful for gassy tummies (and is recommended for babies with reflux), comes with a vibrate setting to sooth baby, and rocks with a slight push. It’s small enough that you can move it from room to room with a baby in it, but tall enough that you can set it near your own bed when you’re trying to get some sleep and baby will be close. You may not want to put your baby to bed in this exclusively instead of a crib, but it can be very helpful for getting in a few hours when you both need it.
5. Carters 2 Pack Quilted Crib Pad $10 for a 2-pack
A waterproof crib pad seems like a complete no brainer, right? It keeps the mattress dry when baby’s wet. Well, it’s worth investing in multiple crib sheets and waterproof pads, so you can make up the crib with a mattress pad, a sheet, another mattress pad, and another sheet. Then when baby spits up or leaks out all over the sheet in the middle of the night you just have to strip off the wet sheet and pad, and the next sheet down will be all ready – no searching around for clean bedding and pulling the mattress out of the crib while trying to juggle baby in your other arm.
For better feeding:
6. My Brest Friend Nursing Pillow about $33
You’re probably familiar with the Boppy pillow, a U-shaped pillow made to help position baby while you’re nursing. The Breast Friend pillow, despite it’s slightly ridiculous name, is a huge improvement. It straps around you, providing back support and keeping the pillow in the right place at all times – it even allows you to stand or walk from room to room while nursing. A pocket keeps things handy, and the removable cover can be washed.
7. Microwave Bottle Sterilizer ~$25
If you use bottles (for formula or pumped breastmilk) you’ll soon realize how difficult it can be to get them completely clean and what a hassle it can be to wash bottles out all day long. This microwave sterilizer can sterilize 8 4oz bottles in just two minutes. This particular version is an Avent brand, but Amazon reviewers say it’s compatible with many different types of bottles.
8. Portable Hook-On High Chair ~$20
I hate traditional high chairs. The things are HUGE and they take up so much room in the kitchen. With our youngest we never even used a real highchair. When she was just starting solids I fed her while she was in her carseat or bouncer, and once she could sit up we moved to this hook-on high chair. It hooks right to the edge of your table and allows baby to sit close to everyone else during meal time. It folds up in a convenient carry case and is perfect to take along when you’re visiting someone who might not have a high chair. I kept mine attached to the bar on my kitchen counter and placed my baby in it while I was washing dishes and/or cooking dinner – she could see me the whole time so it kept her happy and contained while I got things done. For only twenty dollars this is definitely worth the investment.
9. Sesame Street Disposable Placemats ~$25 for 50
I discovered these stick-on disposable placemats with my youngest child, and I think they are absolutely genius! They’re a super thin plastic sheet that sticks right onto the table, and they’re perfect for anytime you’re out at a restaurant and your baby is in a highchair. Babies absolutely cannot be trusted with plates (they’ll pick them up and throw them), and the suction-cup plates that are supposed to stay put just don’t work (they either come unstuck or baby will decide to put her food next to it instead of inside it). This is the perfect solution – slap this large placemat down in front of baby and place her food directly on it. The brightly colored Sesame Street pictures also help keep baby entertained while you’re waiting for your food. I bought the 50 pack and it lasted forever – completely worth every penny.
For better bath times:
10. PRI EuroBath Baby Bathtub $40
I wish I’d had this baby bathtub when my kids were tiny – bathing a newborn is way harder than you’d think – you have to support them with one hand and wash them with the other – and most baby tubs don’t give you much help. This tub is specially designed to keep a new baby in a nice reclined position, with enough water around her to keep her warm. When baby gets older, the other side of the tub helps her sit upright without falling into the water. Note: this tub is quite large, so if other kids need to use the tub as well, it might be annoying to take in and out. But if you have enough bathrooms to just leave this in the tub, you’ll love having it. (Here’s a less expensive version that also gets great reviews.)
For better car rides and walks:
11. Baby Backseat Mirror ~$10
The worst part of rear-facing carseats (which are now recommended until age 2) is that you can’t see the baby while you’re driving. This means you can’t tell if something’s wrong when he or she starts fussing unless you pull over and get out of the driver’s seat. That can get old really fast, so this mirror which attaches to the headrest of the seat baby’s carseat is in comes in handy – a quick glance in the rear view mirror allows you to see baby, and baby to see you.
12. Chicco Liteway Plus Stroller $180
Most people buy “travel systems” for baby – a carseat plus a stroller the carseat can click into. However, many are disappointed when they realize quite how huge and unwieldy many of the travel system strollers are (some won’t even fit in the trunk of smaller cars), and end up purchasing a car seat stroller frame instead. Of course, then when you want to move up to a normal stroller, you have to purchase another one since the frames don’t work without the carseats. Chicco has made a great product here: it’s a lightweight, smaller stroller that works great for older babies and toddlers and ALSO folds down to accept the Chicco Keyfit Infant Car Seat. I’m not going to lie – buying both items is kind of pricey at $360, but many travel systems run about the same price, and this is a great, non-bulky solution that will take your baby from birth through 4+ years old.
13. Jeep Cherokee Sport Stroller $75
For a cheaper alternative, I absolutely love this Jeep stroller. It folds up almost as small as a traditional umbrella stroller (honestly, I was amazed at how small this thing gets) but it’s soooo much nicer. It reclines for smaller babies, has a full sun shade, tray, and a great storage pocket underneath. It’s super maneuverable and folds easily with one hand. We’ve had our for years now and it’s in great condition. You probably won’t want to use this for a newborn, but it’s perfect once your baby is 6 -12 months old. This is a great buy if your already have an older travel system for use during the newborn stage and don’t want to make another huge investment.
14. Baby K’tan Baby Carrier $50
Slings and baby carriers such as the Baby Bjorn are very popular because it’s great to be able to carry a baby hands free, whether you’re just at home or out and about. Most babies are happier held close to the body than in strollers. I haven’t actually used a Baby K’tan, but they get great reviews – the fabric is soft and slightly stretchy for easy positioning, it goes over both shoulders (unlike the simpler pouch slings that can strain one shoulder), and there are no fasteners to mess with like the Bjorn. Not having personal experience with the K’tan, I can’t say for sure it’s the “best” carrier/sling out there, so read reviews of different versions and decide which one you think would be the best fit for you.
For better playtime
15. Fisher-Price Kick and Play Piano Gym $50
Babies love kicking, and this piano gym reinforces them with music when they hit the keyboard. Activity mats are a great way to promote both tummy time and independent play, so baby learns he doesn’t need to be held all day long – and it gives him a nice clean place to be on the floor. This activity mat gets rave reviews, and includes toys and a mirror that hang down for baby to play with when he’s on his back. Buy this early (within baby’s first month or so) to get the most use out of it.
16. Manhattan Toy Winkel $12
Combination rattle, toy, and teether in one, the Winkel’s best attributes are those soft skinny tubes that are super easy for tiny baby fingers to grab onto and hold (larger rattles can be very hard for young babies to pick up and hold onto). It’s great for learning hand eye coordination, and can be refrigerated for use as a soothing teether. It can also be hooked onto strollers, high chairs, etc., using plastic links.
17. Nosefrida The Snotsucker Nasal Aspirator $13
Alright, I’ll admit that when I first heard of the Nosefrida I thought it was about the grossest thing ever. You suck into a tube to create suction that pulls snot out of your baby’s nose – pretty disgusting, right? However, these design claims it’s impossible to end up with baby’s snot in your mouth, and all the reviewers on Amazon agree (it gets trapped in a tube and you can blow it back out into a tissue). Our daughter got RSV when she was 7 weeks old and after a 4-day stint in the hospital we brought her home on oxygen and had to repeatedly clear out her stuffy nose with a bulb syringe, which was torture for both of us and not terribly effective. According to the thousands of reviews on Amazon, this works much more effectively, is easy to clean, and best of all isn’t painful for baby like those dumb bulb syringes are. Being able to help a baby with a cold breathe easier is definitely worth the price of this little gadget.
18. Aquaphor Baby Healing Ointment $14 for a tub that will last forever
When babies get colds (or live in dry climates) the skin around their nose often gets terribly chapped, and aquaphor works better than just about anything on chapped skin. It’s also great for babies who drool and end up with chapped chins. A tiny bit goes a long way, and be sure to rub it in well so it doesn’t get on clothes or blankets. It also works well for diaper rash, and can be applied regular at diaper changes for easier cleanup.
For better anytime:
19. Wubbanub Infant Plush Toy Pacifier $13
Anyone who’s ever had a baby will tell you that pacifiers have an uncanny ability to disappear. I’ve been up at night with a crying baby on my hands and knees searching for one of the five pacifiers I know must be somewhere in the bedroom, with no luck. The wubbanub is a cute plush animal toy attached to a hospital-style pacifier, which makes it much easier to keep track of day and night. Additionally, parents say the attached toy make it much easier for baby to learn to put his pacifier back in by himself (a day when all parents rejoice). I think it’s a great idea!
20. Zipper Sleepers $7 for 2-pack
It’s tempting to buy adorable coordinating outfits for baby as soon as she’s born, but I recommend sticking to zippered sleepers for the first few months. Sleepers are super comfortable for babies (shirts and overalls are always riding up on newborns) and easy for mom: no worries about keeping socks on their feet or trying to find tops and bottoms that match. And during nighttime changes zippers are so much easier to deal with than snaps! Look for sleepers made from fleece to keep winter babies warm at night. For summer babies, I love the easy of baby gowns.
As with all baby products, you and your pediatrician are the best people to decide what’s most appropriate. Please read all labels and warnings and use all products as directed. Good luck!