There are few things more anxiety-inducing than being a soon-to-be first-time parent and searching the word “diapers”—and realizing you’re on page one of 148. The sheer volume of choices in all baby-related products is overwhelming to say the very least.
You can read and research and vet your options for weeks on end, but the secret to getting it right the first time (or as close to it as possible) is getting a “list.” These are the coveted docs passed down from one parent to the next, carefully honed as they trade hands, of products that people have actually used and loved. In other words, these brave moms and dads before you bought a lot of crap so you don’t have to.
Before I had my daughter, I was lucky enough to be on the receiving end of a few lists, which I then used to compile my own master spreadsheet that I now pass on to any expectant parents who ask. Below are the top ten products that made the cut. Feel free to pass it on.
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Coterie Water Wipe, pack of 4
A term I’d never heard before getting pregnant and am now intimately familiar with is “water wipes.” These are literally baby wipes that contain 99% water. Pre-baby, I just assumed wipes were soaked in water. What else would be in there? Well, you’d be surprised. Strong cleaning agents like sodium-lauryl-sulfate, ultra-drying alcohol, the same parabens we’re told as adults to avoid in our own skincare, preservatives that are known irritants—the list goes on.
When I first learned about Coterie wipes, I was instantly impressed with the company’s transparency. They market themselves as 100% plant-based VEOCELTM Lyocell wipes made with 99% water and 5 clean ingredients, and to prove it they have their toxicity report placed front and center on their website. Their ingredients have been independently tested by a third-party lab and are proven to be free from 11 different types of heavy metals and fluorine. Plus, they went the extra mile to get them dermatologist-tested to ensure that the wipes are safe for sensitive or eczema-prone skin.
One more thing: many wipes contain microplastics that keep them from biodegrading for years, but Coterie’s wipes are compostable and were proven through independent testing to fully composte in just 5 weeks.
The Changing Pad
Keekaroo Peanut Changer
To all the parents who told me that I didn’t need a changing table, I salute you and your clearly much stronger backs, but I needed to stand up to change one trillion diapers. I set up our daughter’s nursery with a simple white one from Amazon that came with a squishy changing pad that I lovingly swathed in a buttery soft cover dotted with cute little smiling stars.
The first day I brought my daughter home from the hospital, she peed and pooped all over that pad and I threw it in the garbage. We ended up buying a plastic changing pad which is, most importantly, wipeable.
The Bottle Drying Rack
Boon Grass Countertop Baby Bottle Drying Rack
I’m a “put everything in the dishwasher even if you really shouldn’t put it in the dishwasher” sort of person. But even dishwashers don’t completely dry all the teeny tiny little pieces of plastic that seem to come along with having a baby. Looking at you, bottles and pump parts! To keep everything from getting nice and moldy in a drawer, I’d hang it all up on this drying rack. As a dishwasher enthusiast, I’d never owned a drying rack before, and even though my daughter is now 2 and those teeny pieces of plastic are mercifully out of my life, I still stick any rogue wet dishes on this thing. It’s easy to wash, not ugly to look at, and I’m too lazy to buy a different drying rack. Anything that I can happily use for over two years makes the list.
The Must-Have Tool
Oogiebear Nose and Ear Gadget
Another thing you never think about before you have kids is how tiny their little nostrils are. So when your baby has a giant booger clogging their nose, your own finger—which you are surprisingly more than willing to pick your baby’s nose with—doesn’t fit. This little flexible plastic tool has helped my husband and I pick many a booger over the years. You can also use it to grab a piece of ear gunk. Just pop it in the dishwasher when you’re done. Actually, I’m not sure if it’s dishwasher safe, but that’s how I roll.
Mustela Foam Shampoo
Speaking of gross things, I hope you never have to deal with cradle cap. It appears as white scaly patches on the scalp, and our daughter got it a few weeks after she was born. For months I tried everything to get rid of it. I bought a bunch of different shampoos, I tried home remedies, and (per the suggestion of our pediatrician) I even covered her head in baby oil and painstakingly tried to gently “scrub” it out with a well-intentioned cradle cap brush that was clearly too soft to do literally anything. Finally one night while I was delirious from lack of sleep yet still Googling baby scalp solutions as one does, I found an article that suggested this shampoo. I tried it and the cradle cap was gone in two days and never came back. Hallelujah.
Coterie Diapers, 4-week supply
Did you know that many diapers are white because they’ve been bleached with chlorine? Yeah, I didn’t either. Once I discovered the Coterie’s Water Wipes, I went all in and started a diaper subscription too. They’re free of chlorine, alcohol, fragrance, and parabens. Plus, they’re hypoallergenic, dermatologist-tested, oh, and really soft. But you’re probably wondering, how much poop do they hold? Does the pee stay inside the diaper? What about nighttime? Rest assured, if they made it onto the list, they’re blowout-proof. A word to the wise: get the subscription. You’ll save $9 for every 4-week supply you order and never have to experience staring at an empty shelf where your diapers are supposed to be in sheer terror.
The Stroller Fan
Tdone Stroller Fan
I had my daughter in the middle of June, so I was strolling around with a newborn in the heat of summer. I figured she was probably fine in a short sleeved onesie shaded by her stroller’s sun cover, but the well-meaning yet very judgy moms of Williamsburg, Brooklyn wanted me to know otherwise. It only took three moms coming up to me asking where my stroller fan was or gently suggesting that I buy one before I realized that this was an essential purchase. Sure enough, after I clipped one on, she seemed to enjoy walks more. Consider this an I-got-judged-so-you-don’t-have-to moment.
When my daughter was teeny tiny I kept a Dock-a-Tot on the coffee table next to the couch where I was parked for the first three months of her life. She seemed to enjoy hanging out in there, but once she was old enough to want to look around we had to upgrade. This bouncer was a cozy place for her to hang (and bounce) when I needed to be hands free. A lot of people suggested that I just wear her everywhere, but for a number of reasons I ended up exclusively pumping for quite a while and needed to have my hands and upper body free. Also…showering.
We added the detachable toy bar to spice things up when she got bored and it was an instant hit. To wash the cover, because you will have to wash the cover, just slip it off the frame. Plus, the entire thing folds flat so you can easily pack it in the car.
Skip Hop Silver Lining Cloud Activity Center and Exerciser
When your baby outgrows the bouncer, switch over to this. I could put my daughter in here and have her spin around playing with the different toys while I cooked an entire dinner. Or ate an entire dinner. Or had a real human interaction with another person. Plus, without fail, this thing could make her poop. I don’t know if it was the upright position or what, but we called this her pooping station. Worked every time.
Once they’re older, you can take out the seat and the little foot stand becomes a tabletop, so it’s now a tiny table for my daughter to do her arts and crafts. And, the gray portion doubles as a chalkboard. They really thought of everything.
Little Giraffe Velvet Deluxe™ Blanky
When our daughter was tired she would suck her thumb with one hand and ferociously rub her ear with the other. I thought this was super-endearing until my nanny kindly suggested that we give her ear a break and let her have a lovey. Oh, right. We gave her this insanely soft pink Little Giraffe lovey that we got as a baby gift and she was hooked. She started calling it “yaya,” and it quickly became a crucial part of nap time, bedtime, and freaking out time. Yaya could fix anything. My mom eventually got us a just-in-case backup Little Giraffe lovey in purple, which our daughter calls “purple yaya” to let us know that she’s not fooled and clearly understands that this is not her actual yaya. And she now sleeps with the blanket version, which she accurately calls “big yaya.” Love her.
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