My last post was about baby items you probably already had without knowing it, or repurposing “regular” items that didn’t have the *Baby* title attached to it (along with a 300% markup).
This post is about items that I absolutely need. Like need need. I don’t know how I would function without them.
5. Hydrasense Nasal Aspirator
Your baby will definitely get a stuffy nose at some point. Or you’ll see a boogie up there and you won’t be able to claw it out of their tiny nostril with your seemingly paw-like man hands. Good luck with asking your little squish to blow their nose. Enter Hydrasense.
You know the onion shaped “aspirator” that comes in every baby hygiene kit? Throw it out, keep it in your craft/abstract art supply kit, or use it for basting a cornish hen. Actually, don’t. There are a bunch of articles out there showing how the inside gets filled with mold because it is impossible to clean properly. Not only is that super gross and unhealthy, but you’ll plateau with the amount of suction that it offers. Lame and ineffective.
The Hydrasense is basically a big flexy straw with a bulb-like compartment to hold a filter. You insert that end into your child’s nose, and the other end into your mouth. Then: hoover it. Don’t worry, you’ll be fiiiiiine. Just make sure you remember to put in the filter, and there won’t be any – uh… surprises. It’s really effective, and the only thing you need to worry about is keeping your baby still enough to use it. The parts disassemble completely, so there won’t be any worries of hidden mold and other creepies. If the Hydrasense is not available in your country, I’ve also read great reviews on a similar Scandinavian product called the NoseFrida Snot Sucker. (I know, right?) It works the same way, and that’s what you need – the variable suction that you’re able to create by sucking instead of pumping. That’s what she- ….never mind.
Get it. Get it, get it, get it. Trust me. You will wake up at 2am to a stuffy baby and no amount of humidifying will fix it. Even if you only use it once, you’ll be eternally grateful that you have it.
Even though I baby wear, I need my stroller. I may not use it all the time, but to have the option of putting Sweet Pea down and not having to bear any weight is priceless. Right now she’s still using her bucket car seat, and I will rue the day when she outgrows it and needs to use a convertible car seat. Do you know how amazing it is to just lift up the car seat and plop it into the stroller while your baby is sleeping?
I did a lot of research on strollers before ultimately deciding on the Baby Jogger City Select, and these are my reasons why:
Lightweight and easy to fold
After looking up stroller models and their reviews on quality, weight, maneuverability, portability and weight limits – it really sounds like you get what you pay for and that this is not a product to skimp on. Initially, I was set on just buying some random 4 piece travel system from Costco, but then I was worried about the “clunkiness” that people were writing about. It turns out that the price you pay for the stroller is inversely proportional to the amount of stress you’ll encounter trying to get it from one place to another (…kind of kidding but not really). They’re heavy, awkward, and take up too much room.
It converts into a double stroller (even a triple if you consider the Boogie Board attachment).
If my last post didn’t showcase how frugal I am, this point alone probably will. We know we want 2 children (we did want 3, but then I gave birth and it scared me forever = I compromised on 2) so I figured, why buy a single stroller now only to have to buy a double stroller later? A lot of second time moms I spoke to were also in the market for their double stroller after chucking their now-inconvienent lonely-baby stroller.
For me, it came down to these three models: Baby Jogger City Select, Uppababy Vista, and the Britax B-Ready. All three of these strollers had the ability to hold 2+ kids, but the selling point for me was the positioning of the seats on the City Select. It holds two identical seats like this:
whereas the Britax B-Ready has seats like this:
WTF. I’d be proper pissed if I was that bottom kid.
“What am I looking at? Am I supposed to be here? I feel like a sack of groceries. Mom!!!”
The Uppababy Vista seemed like a compromise between the two, but the second seat did not have the ability to face forward (*They can now forward face on the 2015 model, but my time machine was in the shop, so….) It was also the most expensive of the three.
I was able to get the City Select as a package including the second seat for free at The Baby Show. I thought I scored big until I realized that Baby Jogger and their vendors have this kind of promotion all the time. So if you’re looking to buy this stroller and use it as a double, wait if you can! Do not buy both pieces at regular price. You’ll be able to save the $200+ that you would pay for the second seat.
Regardless of which stroller you get, they become like 4-8 extra able and willing arms to help you with whatever you need to carry without complaining. Why yes, I’ll hold all your coats! All those beverages? I’ve got a spot right here! Those bags look heavy, let me take them off your hands for a while!
So thoughtful. And you know when you’re walking through the mall and you see someone pushing a shopping cart, and then you think “where the hell did they get that shopping cart?” when you realize they hijacked it from one of the anchor stores even though it’s frowned upon yet they seem sooooo free and comfortable? You too can have your own personal bellhop – but without all the judgement. Also, four words: Hands Free Black Friday.
Did I just change your life?
3. MEC Down Stroller Bag
This item is more of a seasonal, geographical thing, but it’s crazy useful nonetheless. If you experience real, cold-ass winters: You Need This Bag.
I bought it from Mountain Equipment Co-Op for $129, which turned out to be the best price for down stroller bags that I’ve seen in my research. Stroller straps slide right through, and will create the warmest cocoon for your baby. It is stuffed with 550 fill goose down – imagine taking a Canada Goose jacket and turning it into a stroller bag: this is that stroller bag! The top part also pulls tight with a drawstring so they’re fully swaddled. Winter walks are no longer a problem, and I can literally feel the heat radiating from Sweet Pea when she’s in this thing. Because it’s down filled and not layers and layers of sherpa, minky, cotton, or polar fleece, it regulates with her body temperature. She’s not overheating if it’s only a tad chilly outside, but she’s also super comfortable if it’s -20 degrees (or worse). The only thing I have to make sure of is that I put a hat on her if I think she’s getting tired. Not because she won’t be warm enough, but because she still sweats through that soft spot on the top of her head when she sleeps. A hat lined with moisture-wicking fabric (like microfleece) takes care of that, and she won’t wake up in a puddle of sweat after a nap.
The product description says it’s good until 18 months, but it’s so long that I’m confident it’ll last longer than that. There are four zippers along the seam, so when the kids’ legs are too long (or if they have wet boots on), the bottom can open up so there’s somewhere to go.
(Note: I just checked the MEC.ca website in hopes of adding a link, but I can only find the Hyperloft version, which is NOT the down-filled version. I’m going to go out on a limb and say it’s fully sold out seeing as it’s February, and in Canada, you can see your breath if you step outside.)
2. Diaper Cover
I use cloth diapers when we’re at home (best decision ever), but use disposables when we’re out of the house. Why? It’s not necessarily any harder to cloth diaper out of the house, but it does eat up a lot of space in the diaper bag. I found I was overpacking, and also wasting a lot of time when I realized I had to “refill” the diaper bag before going out. Although this sounds like it should take no time at all, I found that I was spending many many minutes “pairing up” the different shells and inserts while trying to predict what kind of diaper/clothing situation we’d be in. I know – it doesn’t make sense and I’m ridiculous. Ergo the daytrippin’ Huggies.
Sweet Pea always has on a diaper cover, whether she’s in cloth or a disposable. These little gems are the secret to no blowouts. My stash consists mostly of Funky Fluff and Grovia AI2 Hybrids, with the occasional AMP and BumGenius 4.0 pocket.
Invest in a few of these bad boys. Even and especially if you don’t cloth diaper. They come in all sorts of colours and patterns, and even have one-size options so that they’ll fit your baby from birth to potty training. Make sure when you put them on over top of a disposable that you tuck in all visible parts of the diaper. If the diaper does happen to blow out, the cover will catch the escaping poop and save your baby’s outfit (and possibly your sanity). I’ve only had one blowout, and it’s because the top of the disposable was peeking out through the back, creating a sort of “poop-chute-runway launching platform,” but I’ve definitely learned my lesson since then.
A bonus – it’s harder for them to undo the diaper which means it stays on their bum and not on your carpet.
1. Baby Carrier
I would say that my baby carrier is my absolute life-saver. My hands and arms are free, I can breastfeed discreetly on the go, Sweet Pea will take guaranteed naps, and I’m pretty sure it’s a contributing factor to me reaching pre-pregnancy weight at 5 months postpartum. I’m shedding pounds because it’s like a tiny weight-lifting session every time I put it on.
There are many different styles but the most common ones are: stretchy wraps, ring slings, woven wraps, and soft structured carriers.
Stretchy wraps like the Moby or Boba are usually a jersey or spandex material that requires multiple wraps around the body to create a secure hold. I opted not to get one of these because of the usability factor. They can be cheaper than some of the other styles, but you’ll have to retire them sooner than later and ultimately have to buy another type anyway. Because they are stretchy, the heavier your child gets, the more it “sags” since the material is being weighed down and can be quite uncomfortable to wear for long periods of time. They are suitable for newborns, but you’ll want to graduate to something with a bit more structure and weight capacity when they get older. The packaging will say that it’s good for babies up to 35 lbs, but that’s like saying your purse can safely carry 100 lbs. Just because you can, doesn’t mean it won’t suck.
Ring slings like the Maya Ring Sling are made up of a long piece of fabric with two rings secured into one end. You thread the tail of the fabric through the rings and use tension and gravity to create a hold. These can also be uncomfortable to wear the older and heavier your kid gets, and you also have to take into account that all of the weight is resting on one of your shoulders. They can be very refreshing in the summer heat as you don’t need to wrap layers and layers of fabric around yourself, but again, might be a tradeoff if your baby weighs more.
Soft structured carriers are probably the most “user-friendly” baby carriers – they look like little backpacks with a waist strap. You can adjust them to fit and not have to fiddle with the sizing again unless someone else puts it on. I went with a Boba 3G in Camo because, well, CAMO – and also because of the reviews on fit. I’m 5’2″ and 120 lbs, and my husband is 6’2″ and 230 lbs. We needed a product that would be comfortable on both of us and so far, we’ve had no problems! (I’d be lying if I didn’t say that the camo pattern wasn’t 95% of the reason we decided on that one. Hah!)
I’ve learned that regardless of the brand, it’s really important comfort-wise to have a carrier that enables your baby to create an “M” shape with their legs, as opposed to just dangling there. You can tell the difference by how wide the carrier will be between their legs. If it doesn’t span from one knee to the other, then it will be more uncomfortable (for both of you) than one that does because it will throw off your centre of gravity. You will probably also come across some hardcore baby wearer at one point or another who may or may not accuse you of using a “crotch dangler” and scare you off baby wearing completely.
Woven wraps are a bit more intimidating than the other wraps, but are also the most versatile. They come in different sizes ranging from 2 to 6 metres long. The length of wrap you get depends on the size of your body and also the types of carries you expect to do – for example, it would take much more fabric to do a Forward Wrap Cross Carry than a Rebozo. I could write a series of posts about wraps and the different types of carries, but if you do decide to dive in and do some research yourself, be forewarned: you’ll come across new vocabulary, new brands, and lots and lots of dollar signs. Wrapping is a crazy subculture that can be highly addictive so when you see a post by someone inquiring about a $600 handwoven, don’t be intimidated! It’s possible to get good quality wraps that won’t cut into your mortgage payment. Two popular brands are Little Frog and Lenny Lamb – they are both based out of Poland and will get you beautiful and well-made woven wraps for under $100 (after conversion – the site is priced in Polish zloty). I opted for an Ellevill Zara wrap in Lemongrass and I think it’s soooo beautiful and boho. 😀
There you have it! The top 5 baby items that I can’t live without – it would take a really good product to surpass any of these on my list, but I also don’t know everything, so I’m pretty sure it’s possible. Most likely something awesome from Europe. What are YOUR top 5 baby must-haves? Leave a comment below and let me know!
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