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The Best Baby Gear I’ve Found (So Far)

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Little Man is three weeks old today and we are just starting to get in the hang of it. I'd attach some pictures of him here, but my wife thinks it is a little weird to circulate pictures to strangers. If you are curious what he looks like imagine any baby you've seen (with a lot of hair) decked out head-to-toe in New England Patriots gear. Now that I've cleared out all the New Yorkers and Pittsburghers (Pittsburghians?), let's continue on.

With that full slate of 21 baby-raising days under my belt, I'm clearly expert enough to go through and declare some of the best products in the industry, right? Okay, don't answer that. Let's just go with the things that we've found helpful to us.

Baby Calming Products

  • The Happiest Baby on the Block - This was recommended by our hospital and it is critical to calming Little Man. Much of the stuff is Baby 101 (soothing Shhh sounds, swaddling, rocking motion, pacifier), but the thing I missed was turning him on his side or on his stomach (while holding him in his swaddle). Also, unlike the baby classes we went to, being able to rewind and get the information again (with the baby) is very helpful. If you have Netflix, save some money and just rent it.
  • Swaddles - Even with the blanket-folding technique outlined in the Happiest Baby on the Block video, my baby burrito-making skills are not up to par. These sacks make it easier... much easier to create a baby straight-jacket comforable womb-like environment for Little Man.
  • Philips Soothie Pacifier - We have a Nuk pacifier that has an odd design. From the second Amazon review on this Soothie review, it seems like that Nuk is better for oral development, but Little Man won't use it. This product makes the same claims as helping with oral development and he loves it. Other than mom's built-in juice factory, this is the best thing I've found.

Baby Travel Products

  • NFL New England Patriots Diaper Bag - Remember that Patriots thing that I said at the beginning? My wife doesn't share the same level of fanaticism that I do and quietly steers clear of most things with a Patriots logo... but not this bag. This bag is so well-designed functionally that she returned her high-end designer bag that she got as a luxury item for herself. And if the Patriots aren't your thing, I understand, chances are they make the same one with your favorite team's logo sewn in.
  • Baby Jogger City Mini Stroller - We did a ton of research and it seemed to down to this stroller and the Bob Revolution. Over 80% of the people we see in Northern California seems to have one or the other. I was a Bob Revolution fan as it seemed bigger and sturdier, but my wife won me over with the lighter City Mini. The clincher was the one-hand pull fold. Once you use it, it's hard to go back.
  • Babee Covee (6-in-1 Luxury Baby Blanket) - It's hard to make a case for a blanket with a slit in it to be worth $40, but here goes. It's super-soft... like the softest thing you ever felt kind of soft. I often buy my clothes on how soft they are rather than how they look, so this is very important to me. My wife loves it as a nursing cover and it is perfect as a stroller cover. When you have limited space in a diaper bag, it's convenient to have something like this that does that double duty and works as a general blanket.

The Other Stuff

  • Graco Pack 'N Play with Newborn Napper Elite - This isn't the exact version of what we have, but it has all the features that have proved helpful for us. The newborn napper is a great place to put Little Man to sleep. The changing table on right in the picture is perfect when paired with the pockets on the right for supplies (diapers, powder, etc.).
  • Snuggle Nest Surround - Dozens of people told us about dozens of products, but this is the one item that no one mentioned... and it's been one of the best. When we switched him to this from a Moses Basket raised off the ground, he slept a lot better. My wife could reach in and grab him to feed in the middle of the better. Lastly, since our living room is too small to fit the Pack 'N Play above, we had no easy place to put him while we watch television. This fits on the couch and gives him a good place to nap.
  • Fuzzi Bunz Cloth Diapers - My wife wanted to try cloth diapers. Everything that we read said that they had major advantages: they are reusable (keeping costs low even with laundry factored in) and environmentally friendly (saves on trash). On the cost savings front, The Simple Dollar has A Real-World Analysis of Cloth Diapering, and it doesn't look to be a big cost savings, but his cost of diapers were also far more than ours. We spent about $250 on Fuzzi Bunz, which is a good deal cheaper than the $700 collection that he has.

I'd like to finish up with a couple more non-product tips that we've learned. They aren't remarkable and probably fit in the realm of common sense, but I'll mention them anyway. The best thing we've learned is to take shifts sleeping at night. I know it sounds pretty basic, but until recently Little Man wasn't taking a bottle meaning that my wife was required to get up every 2-3 hours for feeding. The other thing we've learned is that most everything at Babies 'R Us is available elsewhere... much, much cheaper. Target has most of the baby supplies (along with Amazon as mentioned above) and TJ Maxx and Marshalls have plenty of clothing options.

Got a newborn baby (or even older) product or tip to shape? Please leave it in the comments.

Last updated on March 5, 2014.

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20 Responses to “The Best Baby Gear I’ve Found (So Far)”

  1. Ryan says:

    Lazy Man – My son is 7 months old on Friday. Let me give you the greatest gift you will ever receive:


    Hey I already said I have swaddles, you say. I know – I had those same ones and trust me, this is the undisputed king of swaddles and if you follow my advice and try it you will never look back. If you and your wife want to start getting more sleep, hit me up and I can give you a 25% off discount code.

    Seriously, the true womb is amazing – and you can tell the difference in the design right away – it stretches out just enough to let the little man move around (this may even prevent hip displasia) and if you little dude is anything like mine, the days of him not being able to immediately break out of those swaddles are very numbered

    Anyway, besides that my advice is to remain calm, take it all in stride as much as possible, and it will get much, much easier about 4 months in.

    I also would suggest trying out switching nights instead of feedings – might try this a little later on like 2-3 months. I can’t tell you how much better this was – it let us both get a full night sleep every other night instead of neither one of us getting uninterrupted sleep.

    Good luck man!

  2. Cathie says:

    NY Giants fan here – you can’t scare me away that easily. We eat Patriots for breakfast (or at least a light Superbowl snack!) Anyway, my youngest is almost 10, and that was before those soothies were widely available in stores. We had 2 that we brought home from the hospital, and I think we all cried when they bit the dust. Best pacifier EVER!
    Something interesting I’ve noticed recently is that there are a lot of tiny babies out there without swaddling. Don’t know what this means, but just an observation.
    Go Big Blue!!!!!
    You know I love you, man!

  3. Josh says:

    There are only two pieces of advice that I have. One is important the other can be ignored (but worked for us).

    1. He is your child. You can do what ever you want. No one else has the right answer for you or your family.

    2. The one parenting book that we used is “The Baby Sleep Solution: 12 hours by 12 weeks.” It is only about getting the baby to sleep through the night.


  4. We also used swaddles. I forget the brand, but it was something readily availble retail and the kids were never able to escape.

    Alternating nights is definitely a good idea. With our oldest, I took 4/7 nights (sometimes 5). With the youngest, I took about 95% of the nights – because it reduced the overall grumpiness of the family unit.

    • Lazy Man says:

      Thanks Cathie. Congrats to your Giants. Perhaps as I’ve gotten older, but I’ve learned to appreciate the individual wins of each game. One thing that I learned when Boston was winning championships pretty much every year is that it’s great for a day or two, even a parade, but it wasn’t like I woke up March 2 and said, “Hey my favorite team is the World Champions.” Though when the Red Sox hadn’t won some 80+ years, it was more difficult.

      Josh, we have that book. I haven’t had a chance to read it, but my wife got a few pages in and I think she said that we can’t really start anything at the 3 week period. We have another sleep book as well. I’m expecting to do a separate post of books. I’ve got a pretty good queue at PaperbackSwap.com, but I might just break down and Amazon them.

      Kosmo, we are alternating shifts rather than alternating nights. So the wife will sleep from 9 until 2:30 and I’ll sleep from 2:30 to 8… with whatever overlap we can do in between there. Obviously if the baby is sleeping from 3-6 AM my wife is sleeping too. However, she’s at least guaranteed some 5.5 hours of a room without a baby.

  5. 5.5 hours of sleep is not bad at all. On a good night, I get about 6.5 :)

    I had a three day stretch with a total of 6 hours once. That was not good.

    Our kids started sleeping through the night at 12 weeks, with no real assistance from us. However, I’d heard horror stories about kids who are still up in the middle of the night, every night, and 18 months old or more.

    What are “paperbacks”? :)

    • Lazy Man says:

      Little Man is actually a very good sleeper. Then his father was a good a sleeper at that stage. I slept on stairs, stools, just about anywhere. His mother is still the best sleeper I’ve seen. Little Man just likes to do most of his sleeping during the day now.

      Paperbacks are a form of books. It’s pretty much the exclusive way that I read books, the twice a year that I deviate from web content. :-)

  6. Kosmo is a night owl (but yet has to get up at 5:45 AM as well).

    Mrs. Kosmo is a night owl.

    Not surprisingly, the kids (5 and 2.75) are becoming night owls. Hard to get much done when the kids don’t get to sleep until 9:30 some nights :)

    I’m still getting lots of use out of your old Kindle …

  7. robyn says:

    my first born started sleeping through the night at age 3 YEARS, a month before my 2nd born was born. my 2nd born slept through the night at about 7 months, started walking at 10 months and started trying to climb out of the crib in the middle of the night. go figure. they all sleep through the night now but they are 22, 19 and 11 years old. no matter what it is, you will survive. if you have to, get a sitter during the day, go to a friends house and catch up on your sleep.
    my kids all HATED the car. i was the stroller queen. put them in a stroller, walk a few miles and they were happy.
    i wore front carriers with each of them from birth to about 5 months [weight 5 lbs to 14 lbs, i had small babies] i couldn’t use a back back, i am too short. i LOVED my front carriers, could even breast feed in them by opening my shirt and unzipping the carrier a bit.
    speaking of which i NEVER used a ‘cover up’ i wore nursing tops and that kept me covered without having to manipulate a blanket. if the baby was in a blanket or jacket, i just adjusted it for a little extra modesty.
    favorite baby books: what to expect the first year and Dr Mom by marianne neifert.

  8. robyn says:

    diaper bags: i preferred a backpack. it kept me balanced if i had the baby in a front carrier, it left my hands free and didn’t fall off my shoulder. regular style diaper bags are good for hanging on stroller handles of tucking in the basket underneath. a backpack has lots of useful compartments too for keys, phone, change of clothes for mom/dad [trust me, you will need an extra t shirt for yourself]
    i used cloth diapers exclusively for my 1st born, mostly for my 2nd born. i gave them all to a charity before i had my 3rd and only cloth diapered her sometimes. i used good quality diapers [the triple fold] and really nice diaper covers [hey i had to look at those things, i wanted to see pretty ones. or at least amusing ones] love cloth diapers, so soft, but you do have to change the baby about 3x as often. some people only change their kids 4,5 times a day cause the disposables hold so much. i’d go through a dozen diapers a day and i washed at home.

  9. MJS says:

    I don’t remember at what age we bought one, but a musical baby swing is essential if you and the wife like to get stuff done around the house. Both kids had awesome naps in them while we cooked, cleaned, caught up on TV or whatever. Highly recommend. We were given one as a gift, so I couldn’t help you with brand, but there are dozens to choose from.

    Mrs. MJS chimed in with Baby Bjorn. I never wore one. Call me whatever you want, but I felt too much like a woman when I tried. The wife on the other hand absolutely loved it. Allowed the babies to be close to Mommy while she cooked, etc.

    • Lazy Man says:

      We’ve got a musical swing, but it hasn’t proven useful yet. Maybe it’s because he’s only 3 weeks old.

      We have an Ergo, which is essentially the same as the Bjorn, but I haven’t used it yet. I think it will be handy when I take the dog on a walk when the wife goes back to work. Right now, we just work in separate shifts.

  10. Revanche says:

    I’ll give you the weird to share with strangers on the internet thing but how about with a friend or two? :)

    I have nothing useful with regard to baby gear though.

    • Lazy Man says:

      I’ve been slow in sending pictures out to friends too. You’ve got a picture in your inbox now. It’s not the best one, but hopefully I’ll have better soon.

  11. My wife and I decided that breastfeeding/bottle feeding was the way to go for us. It’s cheaper and it gives mommy and baby time to bond with one another. With breastfeeding there are a few things that have helped us so far, and it’s definitely mommy approved. Here’s the link to our post “The War on Breast Feeding” http://wp.me/p2KWL4-t if you would like to see what we’ve tried and found to have worked for us. Appreciate the article Lazy Man, definitely going to check out some of those items that you put up.

  12. Linda F says:

    Thanks a TON for the links, very useful for all the parents with a baby..

  13. John K says:

    Thanks for posting this list.

    I’m a long time reader and my son was born just two weeks after yours, so its quite timely.

    We’re trying cloth diapers as well a few different covers with Econobum inserts/prefolds. These seem to be less expensive than most and as far as I can tell, work just as well.

  14. Julie says:

    I have an almost 3 year old and a 12 day old baby, both boys. One thing I find imperative is a good diaper pail that doesn’t stink–although I think this is more important as the kiddo gets a little older, newborn poops aren’t usually that bad. Of course it also depends how regular you are about taking out the trash. We had a diaper genie with kiddo #1 (we used disposables), which worked great for keeping smells contained, but I was always annoyed at having to buy their pricey refills (which NEVER go on sale). It eventually broke and we tried a cheapo garbage can with lid option, but it didn’t keep out smells at all. With kiddo #2 we’re also using cloth, but I’m not 100% sure how long we’ll stick with it, so we got the Ubbi. Pretty pricey at $80, but probably about the same as a diaper genie, and it works with both cloth and disposables. So far it seems to be containing smells very well.

    • Lazy Man says:

      We are still on breast milk and that doesn’t smell. Also my smeller isn’t as good most people’s.

      We have some kind of diaper pail gadget that my wife registered for and was gifted by someone, but since smell isn’t a problem, I can’t recommend it yet. A normal trash barrel with a lid would be the same.

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