Category: Favorite Things

Baby Stuff!

Sleep
  • Miracle blanket: These are totally worth the $30 price tag if you have a baby that Houdinis his or her way out of any other swaddle however, it’s possible to find them at a consignment store, with diligence and patience
  • Crib and mattress: Of course think of aesthetics but also of durability, storage possibilities, and reuse
  • 2 waterproof mattress pads: I love this particular brand because they’re very breathable (no sweaty babies!) and don’t make a crinkly plastic noise
  • 2+ sheets: My favorite have been jersey knit
  • Muslin swaddles: When my first child was born, the only brand out there was Aden and Anais, but now there are many brands with many prints. I’ve used these as a nursing cover, car seat cover, thin blanket for toddlers on vacation, sun shade, makeshift baby sling, and superhero cape, to name a few
  • Wubbanub/Dr Browns lovey pacifier: Yes, these are cute but they’re also incredibly useful. The extra weight of the stuffie prevents the pacifier from rolling away into a distant corner of the crib during the night.
  • Pack n play: These can range from simple to elaborate. If you’re going to use it in your bedroom for a while after the baby is born, perhaps you want one with a bassinet or changing station. We preferred something smaller than the pack n play and went with a simple one with no regrets (we’ve been using the same one for 3 babies over 7+ years)
  • Graco quilted pack n play sheet: The only pack n play sheet worth having! It adds a little padding to an otherwise stiff mattress and has real elastic around the edges for a tight fit. If you’re likely to travel often or for long periods of time, I recommend having 2.
  • Portable bassinet: If you have large pets or older children running around the house, I cannot recommend having a small bassinet to move around the house enough. If I were to buy one today, I’d stalk Facebook Marketplace or Craigslist for a Halo bassinet.
  • Sleep sacks (wearable blankets) in multiple sizes: I’ve purchased (and liked) Yoga Sprout muslin wearable blankets for warmer weather and fleece Halo sleepsacks for winter. My babies have always slept better with multiple layers and I’m happy to get more sleep!
  • White noise machine: You get a white noise machine! You get a white noise machine! A white noise machine in every bedroom! The Marpac Dohm UNO white noise machine doesn’t loop and provides a constant, steady whirring sound.
  • Video Baby monitor: We received the Infant Optics DXR-8 video monitor as a gift when our second son was a baby. Even with a small house, having a video monitor was espeically useful for the toddler years. I don’t use one this one on a daily basis anymore but don’t travel to a vacation rental house without it! I’ve heard really good things about v-tech video monitors as well.
Nursing
  • Pump (go through your insurance, most pay for at least 50%)
  • Bottles: No matter what your breastfeeding plans are, it is a very good idea to have a few different bottles on hand. Babies tend to have opinions about bottles so having 1 or 2 of several different brands is a smart way to start out before buying an entire set
  • Lansinoh milk freezer bags: They lay completely flat in the freezer and take up much less space!
  • Earth Mama Angel Baby nipple butter: Lanolin was so sticky and hurt to apply. This butter was a lifesaver!
  • Breast pads (disposable or reusable): There was never a point while I breastfed my babies where I didn’t leak milk before or during a feeding. I needed more absorbancy than what reusable pads could give me and settled on Philips Avent breast pads because they were easiest to open one-handed (a necessity)
  • Nursing bras (both for day and sleep): I loved the Kindred Bravely Simply Sublime seamless for day and their organic cotton sleep bra for night
  • Nursing tanks: I loved the support and smoothing action of the Bravado Basics slimming cami from Target. They were great immediately postpartum through weaning.
  • Formula (always good to have on hand, regardless of your breastfeeding plans): Enfamil and Similac both have rewards programs that will send you coupons and samples
  • Nursing pillow (perhaps? I never liked mine. I preferred a firm bed pillow)
  • Burp cloths (plain white cloth diapers, 2 dozen)
  • Boon Grass drying rack with stem/twig/poke: We’re beyond the bottle/pumping stage and still use this daily. My parents bought one after seeing ours and use it for water bottles and small parts
Toys
  • Silicone banana toothbrush: This teether reaches spots on the gums that most other toys cannot
  • Silicone teethers: Flexible and chewy
  • Oball toys: From the basic ball to push cars, this line of toys is great for tiny fingers to hold onto. They’ve been a hit with all of our boys.
  • Bright Starts Lots of Links: How do I love thee? Let me count the ways! They connect toys together, hang toys from the car seat handle, lock cupboard doors (at home and on vacation), are perfect first bath toys, and more.
  • Board books: We are frequent library visitors and I’m a huge advocate of making books available for children at their level from the moment they’re big enough to turn a page. I wrote about some of our favorite board books in this post.
  • Mirror: Our first baby was 5 weeks old when he started chattering to the picture of a baby on the side of a diaper package. I knew then that we needed a mirror! We kept this mirror through all of our boys’ babyhood and it made tummy time much more pleasant.
  • Play Gym: There are many different kinds of play gyms but my recommendation is one where the baby has room to roll from side to side and can be tempted by a manner of hanging toys. Of all the larger pieces of baby gear, this is one you may need earliest. Most babies are interested in talking to their reflection by one month old.
  • Some sort of containment unit (jumper, walker): Our house is many things but big is not one of them. I preferred to have only 1 larger baby item out at once. We cycled through a Jumperoo (so, so much love for the free-standing jumper), swing, and walker on wheels as baby developed.
  • Hanging toys
Travel
  • Infant car seat (Graco and Chicco are most popular)
  • A stroller (that lays all the way flat)
  • Some sort of baby wearing device: I like a wrap (baby k’tan) for small infants and a soft structured carrier like the Ergo 360 for bigger babies and toddlers
  • Rear and forward facing convertible seat (usually go up to 50+ lbs)
  • Car mirror
  • Extra base for a second car
  • Quilted cover for cold weather
Healthcare
  • Nail clippers
  • Gripe water
  • Gas drops
  • Infant Tylenol
  • Baby ibuprofen
  • Diaper rash ointment
  • Nose Frida and extra filters
  • Saline drops
  • Humidifier
  • Vicks waterless vapor plug in
  • Boogie wipe
  • Baby wash
  • Lotion (unscented)
  • Kneeling Pad
  • Bath toys (can easily wait on these for their 1st birthdays)
Diapering
  • Fragrance free wipes (i like Huggies, they’re thicker)
  • Newborn to size 3 diapers (Pampers Swaddlers for little sizes, Huggies Movers for really chunky babies and older babies)
  • Wipable travel changing mat
  • Changing pad
  • 2 covers
  • Trash can/diaper genie
Mom
  • Earth Mama Angel Baby bottom balm
  • Tucks wipes
  • Dermoplast spray (Blue top! Can get at the hospital)
  • Ibuprofen
  • Robe and comfy sweatpants
  • Pads
  • Epsom salt
  • Rice bag/heating pad
Clothes
  • Plain onesies (short and long sleeved in many sizes)
  • Footed sleepers in light weight fabric and fleece
  • Infant mitten
  • Socks of all sizes
  • Towels and washcloths
Toddler Feeding
  • Silverware (soft tipped and toddler spoons and forks)
  • Plates and bowls (Target has pillowfort brand dishes in many colors for $0.59 each, microwave and dishwasher safe)
  • Munchkin snack catchers
  • Sippy cups (several different varieties because babies have preferences)
  • Wipable silicone bibs
  • High chair (as few crevasses as possible to clean)
  • Travel booster seat
Large Items (easy and way cheaper to buy these second hand)
  • Mamaroo swing
  • Jumperoo
  • Diaper bag (stroller straps or a XL carabiner to attach to stroller)
  • Comfy nursing chair + table + dimable lamp

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?