Becoming a parent is exciting no matter what the circumstance—first baby, adoption, IVF, natural, fifth baby… Bringing a child into your family is a wonderful experience, but it’s also overwhelming. It’s what I like to call the perfect blend of amazing and terrifying.
I remember the first time I ventured (more like waddled) into Babies R Us with my husband, ready to grab the registry gun and go to town! The attendant set up our registry, gave us an electronic scanner gun, and a map—I think she also whispered something like, “good luck” to me and “I hope you’ve got something strong at home to mend your nerves after this.”
See, big box baby stores look like they’ve got everything organized—on paper. But when you turn the corner and make your first stop in the baby feeding section, you realize that there are approximately 500 bottle brands (each with their own specific set of 400 parts and pieces per bottle), 200 types of pacifiers, and just about 900 pumps, parts, nipple pads, nipple creams, nipple shields… I never realized how acquainted I’d become with “the girls” (Betty and Bea, thank you very much) until I became a mom. I’m not exaggerating when I tell you that the diaper section is finally what put me over the edge and sent me home. I’ve never been back to Babies R Us (thank you, Amazon)—it’s my own personal version of hell.
So, as a two-time parent to two fabulously fun little girls, I thought I’d pull together some of our family’s favorite baby items. Bonus: they’re all under $30!
1. The First Pair Moccasins by Freshly Picked: $29
I had no clue about these adorable shoes when my older daughter was a baby, and we were constantly losing those silly baby socks that refuse to stay on. When my second daughter was born, I was armed and ready with these—Freshly Picked The First Pair Moccasins. They are perfect for precious little baby feet and are made of the softest buttery leather. In fact, I don’t think I’ve ever put socks on my younger daughter, because she lives in these! The sizing for these shoes is consistent, and as your little one gets older, they come in all sorts of fun colors and patterns (leopard print and platinum metallic are my favorites). Now my little one is wearing size 3 and learning to walk, and we’re still huge fans.
2. Boon Lawn Countertop Drying Rack: $23.50
It’s unavoidable: pretty soon your kitchen countertop will be covered in bottle parts, sippy cups, and pump pieces. I tried to get away with not having a drying rack, but a few weeks into this whole parenting thing I realized that these things needed a home ASAP. I mean, there’s just no good way to hide all that stuff, and you need it 24/7. Since it’s always on the counter and because the kitchen is where everyone gathers, I wanted to make sure whatever I got was aesthetically pleasing. I absolutely love this drying rack, and the accessories (flower, butterfly, and tree) you can purchase make it all the more fun. Now that my girls are completely done with bottles, I’m still using it for sippy cups and other random things. This is definitely something you’ll use for many years (so you should probably pick the cool one).
3. Little Toader AppeTeethers: $5.99
Let’s face it, when you’ve got a teething baby, you’ll take anything that makes you smile because whoa. Holy terror! In my deliriousness from dealing with super cranky babies, I bought these teethers (we have the bacon, chicken wing, and the waffle), and I’ve gotta say, it’s hilarious to look over and see your little one going to town on a “chicken wing.” In addition to adding some comedic relief, these teethers are a lifesaver as far as easing the pain of cutting teeth. My girls both loved them, and they always gave us big laughs.
4. MatiMati Pacifier Clips: $16.99 for a set of 4
I only have two words for these: life saver. It’s such a pain having to dig around for a pacifier sitting in a pile of crumbs in the very bottom of your diaper bag, especially when you’ve got a fussy baby screaming in your ear. Not that I know anything about this because my children are angels, but…I’m guessing that’s not awesome. Pacifier clips allow you to attach the paci to your baby’s outfit, so even if she spits it out in a busy restaurant, the paci doesn’t roll across the floor and under the booth 6 tables away. Again, totally not speaking from experience here…
5. Happy Mat Placemat by EzPz: $24.99
These mats are straight from heaven. I used to cringe before feeding time in anticipation of the destruction I knew was coming, and if you’ve ever had a child take her entire plate and throw it across the kitchen, you know what I’m talking about. This placemat has a built-in section plate, and the entire mat suctions to the table so your precious one can’t throw food on your freshly painted walls! It also helps with developing your child’s fine motor skills and encourages self-feeding. The best part? You can throw it right in the dishwasher! We also keep one for each girl in our diaper bag for trips out to restaurants, which keeps little hands off germy tables.
6. Boogie Wipes: $3.99 each, or $43.00 for a case of 12
Y’all, kids are gross. I’m just putting that out there. My husband and I keep boogie wipes everywhere—cars, diaper bags, my purse, strollers…you name it, we’ve got a pack of boogie wipes stashed there. Boogie wipes work for everything from wiping runny noses to cleaning little boo boos. My favorite thing about boogie wipes is the saline, which is key in preventing sweet little button noses from getting red and irritated when our little sweeties are sick.
7. Squigs: $24.95
These fun little toys are awesome for keeping little ones entertained in tight spaces like restaurants, car rides, and airplanes. I keep a bag of these in my purse for “emergency entertainment,” and I love that both of my daughters find equal enjoyment out of these even though they’re two years apart. Squigz come in different sizes, so that makes them appealing for kids of all different ages. They’re also great for helping strengthen fine motor skills, which is a plus!
8. Happy Knees by Bella Tunno: $11.00
My little one has been crawling for months, and her sweet doughy knees are constantly banged up, especially now that we’re moving into warmer weather. The genius moms behind Bella Tunno came up with these adorable knee pads, specifically designed for crawling babies and new walkers, to protect their sweet knees. There are even teeny sticky silicone dots on the knee circles to keep baby from slipping when she’s on the move! We spend a lot of time picnicking and playing in our backyard, and they’re perfect for use outdoors as well as inside.
9. Aden + Anais Burpy Bibs: $12.95 for one, $22.00 for set of two
Aden + Anais is one of my favorite baby companies, but my all-time favorite A+A product is their burpy bibs—they are in every single baby shower gift I give, and for good reason. Made with super soft layers of muslin, these bibs are uniquely shaped so they can either be worn as a bib around the neck or over your shoulder as a burp cloth. They are larger than traditional bibs, and the way it’s designed to wrap around baby’s shoulders keeps drips and dribbles completely under control. They come in many different and beautiful colors and patterns, which is always a nice touch. My older daughter loved the softness of these so much she even slept with these like a lovey when she was little!
10. Ultimate Ointment by Noodle & Boo: $15.00
Noodle and Boo is by far my favorite baby product line, and their Ultimate Ointment is a miracle in a tube. Not only is it great for diaper rashes, but we also rub them on scratches or skinned knees—and most times, these little boo boos completely disappear by the next day! It’s thicker than lotion, but not sticky like a salve, so it’s the perfect consistency. Oh my goodness, if you’ve never smelled Noodle & Boo products, they are divine! We also use their 2-in-1 shampoo as well as body wash, and I love how my girls smell fresh out of the bath. As a luxurious little treat to myself, I keep their super soft hand lotion next to all the sinks in the house since I wash my hands so often.
You’ll also like Being Pregnant Is Hard! 4 Truths for a Mom-To-Be, Practical Mom Advice on Breastfeeding and Formula, 10 Tips for Soon-to-Be Moms, What to Expect in the 4th Trimester, and You Don’t Have to Be Perfect to Be a Great Mom