Category: Favorite Things

Baby Gear Recommendations

After two babies of my own, it turns out that I’ve become opinionated about the acquisition and use of baby gear. Our family is of the philosophy that “enough is as good as a feast” and while we love our children, we do not want to live inside a primary colored, cluttered home with no space to enjoy the home as an adult. I’m also super Dutch (literally and figuratively) and abhor spending more money than necessary. I’ve come up with this basic list of (mostly) essential baby and toddler items that we trust to work well with a few extras thrown in to answer the question, “What do I need for this baby?” Realistically though, a baby needs food, shelter, diapers, and attention, and most baby stuff is extra but the right tool certainly does make a job easier! Clearly, I didn’t include clothes on the list because what you need varies so much due to seasons and climate. Start with one piece sleepers and white onesies and you’ll be set for newborn stage.

Bedding

  • Miracle Blanket (I thought these were overpriced until my first child peed through his at 3 days old. I ordered a second immediately)
  • Aden + Anais swaddle blankets
  • Crib with properly fitting firm mattress
  • 2 waterproof crib mattress pads
  • 2 crib sheets

Diapering

Play

Feeding

  • Breast pump (most insurance providers give a steep discount or provide a pump gratis. Check with your medical insurance provider before making a purchase!)
  • Milk storage bags (Lansinoh bags freeze flat!)
  • Earth Mama Angel Baby Nipple butter (lanolin-free for those that need it)
  • Boon Grass
  • Boon Twig
  • Formula dispenser
  • Bottles with different flow nipples
  • Sippy cups (different babies like different cups and bottles so my best recommendation is to have a few different styles around and fully buy into a system when you know what works for your child)
  • Infant soft spoons
  • Toddler silverware (1 pack of spoons, 1 pack of forks)
  • Munchkin snack catchers
  • Toddler dishes
  • Pacifiers (another item that can be child specific. We’ve had good luck with Soothie pacifiers but our boys hated Nuk, MAM, etc)
  • Pacifier strap
  • Pacifier holder (I swear, having one of these makes a pacifier so much easier to find in the dead of night)
  • Bibs

Health and safety

  • NoseFrida and extra filters (sounds gross, is amazing and a game changer when your baby is sick)
  • Saline nose drops
  • Temporal thermometer
  • Nail clippers
  • Baby Orajel
  • Baby dye-free Tylenol
  • Head-to-toe baby wash
  • Baby monitor (this one is the bee’s knees!)
  • Basic bath toys
  • Bath pillow
  • White Noise Machine (ok, this isn’t really health related but good sleep leads to better mental health!)

Travel

Our Favorite Board Books

Reading has always been one of my favorite pastimes and we wanted to do what we could foster a love of books and reading in our boys from an early age. Our boys LOVE books so we read a lot of the same books over and over and over. These are the board books that have passed both the baby/toddler test and the parent test.

Touch and Feel Books

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Clockwise: Home, Puppy, Pat the Bunny, Animals, Curious George at the Zoo

The Unique

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Pantone Colors: This was both boys first favorite book

Sandra Boynton

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Sandra Boynton’s books are funny, witty, and rhyme without being annoying. We’d really recommend any of her books! Other favorites include The Going-to-Bed Book and Doggies.
Clockwise: Blue Hat, Green Hat, But Not the Hippopotamus, Hippos Go Berserk, A to Z, Oh My Oh My Oh Dinosaurs

The Classics

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Clockwise: Goodnight Moon, The Napping House, The Runaway Bunny

Babylit Board Books

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If you are a fan of classic books, you owe it to the children in your life to read these together. The books cover colors, animals, counting, a simplified version of the classic stories, flowers, emotions, and sounds. The illustrations are adorable too! There are so many more Babylit books than what we have. I have Huckleberry Finn, The Secret Garden, and The Wonderful Wizard of Oz on my wish list!
Clockwise: Moby Dick, Alice in Wonderland, The Jungle Book, Dracula

Favorite Things: Vacation Rental

One of our favorite ways to travel for the last few years has been “workcationing” in vacation rental houses. We love the space that a full house or apartment offers, especially if it means that our now two year old can have his own room and we have reliable internet for Brian’s evening work hours. While a rental house can mean lots of good things for our family for the time we’re there, we’ve learned that there are some essential things we can bring from home that make our stay even more comfortable!

Dish soap and sponges: There is no guarantee that a rental house will provide anything to wash the dishes you dirty so I like to travel prepared with a small bottle of dish soap and a pack of sponges (both from the dollar store). I don’t feel bad throwing them away when the trip is over if I haven’t spent much money on them and not having to wash or transport a dirty wash cloth is great!

Paper towel: I don’t use much paper towel at home but we use it constantly when we’re traveling. Cleaning up kid messes, cooking messes, covering reheated food in the microwave.. the uses are many!

Tin foil: Similar to my love of paper towel, tin foil can be used to cover food in the fridge, reheat in the oven, cover gross pans while cooking, entertain a toddler, and more!

Inexpensive kids dishes: I don’t know about your kids but my 2 year old has not mastered the use of an open cup and regularly drops dishes on the floor, certain to break if they don’t belong to us (of course!). To make sure we had the basics along, I bought a Take N Toss multipack from Amazon prior to our Florida road trip. The cups aren’t as leak-proof as the sippy cups we use at home but they’re recyclable if we can’t (or don’t want to) wash them and Ben is much more comfortable with something to call his own.

Roll of toilet paper: Have you ever been on a trip and discovered that the toilet paper at your temporary residence is so thin that it’s nearly transparent? Or, in some cases, toilet paper isn’t even in the house?! I prevent those issues by bringing a roll of the good stuff from home to give us time to run to the store if necessary.

Pop-up hampers: This was a new idea for our current trip and I already L-O-V-E having hampers with us. I bought two small pop up hampers from Dollar Tree and keep one in the master bedroom and one where we get the boys ready for bed at night. Having dirty clothes flung here and there drives me crazy and having something to tote the clothes around in makes doing laundry so much easier.

Powdered laundry detergent: We use powdered detergent at home too but it’s especially nice for travel because you don’t need to think about it exploding in your luggage, it can travel through airport security if you fly, and my favorite variety, Charlie’s Soap, takes only 1 tablespoon per load and I can fit 10 loads worth in a pint size jar!

Basic childproofing gear: Ben is, shall we say, so mischievous and curious that he often endangers his own safety while exploring. Also, he can open doors and will get himself up in the morning without telling us. To make sure we could all sleep soundly, we brought a few spare doorknob covers from home, his bed rail, and a locking baby gate. I can’t say that bringing a gate or railing would work well on an airplane but for road trips, it’s easy to pack them flat under the other luggage in the car.

How about you? Do you take advantage of vacation rentals when you travel? What is the first thing in your bag when packing for your stay?