Stepping into the world of parenthood can be overwhelming to say the least. The learning curve is steep. What does a new baby really need? What baby gear is safest? Why is it all so expensive?
I just went through this myself. I asked friends & family for recommendations, and I scoured the internet searching for the best baby products. I read review after review. I'm guessing most new parents do this. It must go along with the "nesting instinct." This was the criteria that I was looking for:
highest safety standards
alignment with Montessori principles
So, after much experimentation, I've compiled a list of some of the items that I have really loved in these first 6 months with my sweet pea! Affiliate links are included.
Diapers were a point of debate. I really wanted to use cloth diapers for Oliver for a couple of reasons. First, as a Montessori mommy, I know that cloth diapers are preferred because they allow the baby to feel the discomfort of the wetness in a way that disposable diapers do not. This teaches babies to understand when they need to go to the bathroom and will make toilet training easier in the long run. Second, they are so much more environmentally friendly. While doing research, I found that 27.4 billion disposable diapers are used in the US alone each year! 92% of those sit in landfills. And the most disturbing fact: A typical disposable diaper takes an estimated 250 to 500 years to decompose! And we all know that babies go through LOTS and LOTS of diapers in one day.
So we tried cloth diapers at home. Long story short, the husband didn't like the messiness OR the inconvenience. Oliver still wears cloth diapers in his Montessori classroom during the day, but at home, we had to move on to the next option.
Andy Pandy Diapers: I love these diapers. They are made from 100% biodegradable bamboo. Free from chlorine, alcohol, and phthalates. They are soft and absorbent. They include a wetness indicator just like Pampers. These are disposable diapers that I can feel good about.
Boudreaux's Butt Paste: Prevents and treats diaper rash. It works.
Keekaroo Peanut Changer: Better than any other diaper changing pad out there. No need to buy and wash changing pad covers. It simply wipes clean! This is a game-changer!
Water Wipes: 100% natural. No harsh chemicals. The only ingredients are water and fruit extract. They are perfect for a baby's sensitive skin.
Kiinde Breast Milk Storage Twist Gift Set: Such a time saver! This system allows you to pump directly INTO the storage bags and then bottle-feed directly FROM the storage bags. Genius. GET THIS!
Baby Bjorn Bouncer: I love this because it doesn't rely on batteries. It allows the baby to develop self-soothing techniques by bouncing himself! It's adjustable, so that it can be upright when baby is awake and bouncing, or it can lie back for when baby falls asleep. On top of that, this seat grows with your baby! Simply turn the fabric seat around for a comfy toddler chair.
Dock-A-Tot: Perfect for naps, co-sleeping, or for keeping baby boy contained in his Montessori floor bed! As a new parent worried about SIDS, breathability was a huge concern when choosing a sleeping situation for my little one. Crafted in Europe, the Dock-a-Tot meets the British Standards for air-permeability by allowing 12 liters of air per minute to pass through the item, which is how much a baby typically breaths. And naturally, I smashed my own face against it for a mommy-approved breathability test. It passed! AND now that Oliver is rolling around, his Dock-a-Tot keeps him from rolling right off his Montessori floor bed and onto the floor at night. To top it off, the Dock-a-Tot is great for traveling. The Deluxe size easily packs right in a suit case or can be used as a carry-on item! There is also a Grand size for babies 9 months and older.
STOKKE Scoot Stroller: This stroller has met all of my needs and expectations. It's sleek and easy to maneuver. The wheels are thick and durable, allowing you to stroll along sidewalks or a slightly rougher terrain. The basket underneath is large enough for a diaper bag, shopping bags, etc. The stroller has the baby seated up high, so if you are eating out with baby in tow, he is sitting with you at table height. No need for a highchair. The Stokke PIPA by Nuna carseat is compatible, so you can take baby (carseat and all) out of the car and click him straight into the stroller.
Now for the fun stuff! When Oliver first came into the world, we didn't really have any toys for him. I didn't think toys would be needed for the first couple of months. And for the most part, that's true. At first, babies really just need to be held and nurtured. They love to hear mommy and daddy talk and sing. They like to look at faces, and they like to sleep. That said, they do grow SO fast, and I wish I would've had our play corner set up sooner.
Skip Hop Play Mat: Tummy Time starts right away! And if you have wood floors (or even just to keep carpet fibers away from baby's face) a foam mat is needed. I love this one because the colors are subdued, and it looks great in my living room. Plus, it's easy to clean! I use a hand vacuum to pick up any fuzz or dirt, and I clean it with baby wipes!
Hohner Kids Cage Bell: This is one of the first toys Oliver liked to play with. The bell makes a nice sound, and the handle is easy for tiny fingers to grasp.
Wee Workout Baby Gym from Land of Nod: I loved the sleek design of this play gym. You can attach any toys you think baby might enjoy looking at and reaching for. I used Froebel yarn balls, and they were perfect! I started with the primary colors, and later changed them out for secondary colors. I like to think that helped to develop Oliver's vision during those early days. He also got good exercise while hitting at the yarn balls.
Innobaby EZ Grip Teether: Another one of Oliver's first favorite toys. There isn't much to it, but it's light, flexible, and easy to grasp.
Mini Masters Box Set: Books are great to have around from day one. Reading to baby while nursing is a wonderful way to bond with your little one. I read everything to Oliver from Dr. Seuss to Emily Brontë. I love the Mini Masters board books because they have sweet rhymes that are paired with famous paintings as illustrations. They introduce the paintings of classic artists like Van Gogh, Degas, and Matisse. We have both learned a lot from these books and will continue using them for a long time to come!
A few items in the "other" category:
Copper Pearl Bandana Bibs: These bibs keep baby stylish while soaking up drool & spit-up. They come in lots of colors and patterns, they are soft and absorbent, and they have a snap closure behind the neck that doesn't irritate sensitive skin.
Nose Frida: Skip the bulb. Get this instead. It works SO. MUCH. BETTER. at clearing the nasal passages when baby gets a cold. And baby WILL get a cold.
Vick's Baby Rub: Scented with eucalyptus, rosemary, and lavender, this ointment offers a gentle way to sooth a sick baby.
It turns out that babies are, indeed, kind of expensive. But you really don't need everything under the sun to keep them happy and healthy.
I'd love to know what some of your favorite baby products are. Please feel free to share in the comments!