Essential Baby And Toddler Products

I’m recovering from last week’s shoulder surgery, which basically means I’ve been spending a lot of time holding the couch down and exploring the Interwebs. I’ve become addicted to Pinterest (want to follow me?), and have been madly collecting craft, DIY, and repurposing ideas for when I have the use of both hands again. Browsing through the baby- and kid-related boards on Pinterest got me thinking about baby products — both the ones I purchased pre-baby and the ones I actually use. The intersection of these sets is approximately zero, which is Geek for the things I bought originally are not the things I ended up using. If I could go back in time and give my pregnant self a shopping list, this is what would be on it:


How does one small person take up so much bed!?

A King Bed

Pregnant me picked out a beautiful crib, which my husband and my dad set up in the future nursery. My mother lovingly rubbed a fresh coat of wood conditioner on the cradle my grandmother had hand-carved for my mom when she was pregnant with me, and we put it in our bedroom near our bed. The plan was that Lil’ Bit (our gender-neutral name for the baby whose sex we’d decided to leave a surprise) would sleep in the cradle during the early weeks, and then we’d transition to her crib. Ha. W had different ideas, and within days, I (who had never even considered the idea of co-sleeping) found myself curled into a protective “C” shape around my daughter, who spent her nights blissfully alternating between sleeping and nursing. As W grew — and more to the point, as she became capable of some maneuvering – my husband and I increasingly found ourselves clinging to the edges of our queen-sized bed as W’s preferred sleeping position became increasingly sprawling. We finally gave up, sold the crib, sold our queen mattress, and bought a king. Should have saved myself the trouble and done it from the start; it’s SO much more comfortable. These days, my husband and I each get a good 18 inches or so of mattress, and W sleeps right in the middle, doing a fair impression of a starfish.


Comfortable Rocker/Recliner

Not only is it useful for nursing and rocking, it’s also comfortable enough for me to sleep in. This comes in handy when W is sick (especially if it’s respiratory), because she can lie tummy-to-tummy with me, which keeps her propped up and eases her breathing. We’ve spent many nights in this chair.



Ok, technically, I purchased gDiapers — a hybrid cloth diaper — before W was born. However, when she was about 7 months old, I got it into my head that there were better cloth diapers out there, sold all the g’s, and tried a bunch of other brands. To each her own, but I ended up exactly where I started, and am now convinced that g’s are the easiest and most convenient cloth out there. I love that I don’t have to wash the entire diaper after each change (for pee diapers, I just replace the absorbent pad), the colors and patterns are adorable, and gDiapers sells flushable, compostable, sustainably-sourced absorbent inserts as an alternative to cloth inserts. This flexibility is perfect for us; we use cloth inserts at home, and disposable inserts when we travel. Because the inserts are 100% compostable, we can actually bury them cat-hole style when we’re out camping, and don’t have to carry out a bunch of heavy, soiled diapers.



It took me a lot of trial and error (and a lot of bought and re-sold carriers) to find the perfect one. I love, love, LOVE my ERGObaby. I purchased a Baby Bjorn before W was born, but returned it when I read that some health practitioners and groups (including the International Hip Dysplasia Institute) worry about baby carriers that allow the legs to dangle. When she was about a month old, I bought an Ergo and started carrying W in it while I did chores around the house or walked for fitness. I’ll admit that the infant insert (mandatory for babies under about 15 pounds) isn’t completely awesome, but once a baby is big enough to ride insert-free in the Ergo, it can’t be beat. I also love that the weight goes on my hips rather than my shoulders. I don’t know how we would have survived the early months of W’s nighttime sobbing without the Ergo and an iPod full of Paul Simon and Tom Petty (her favorites in those days); I’d sway and sing to her, and she’d eventually fall asleep against my chest. These days, we don’t use the Ergo much, but it’s still great for craft fairs and so forth where there’s a lot of walking to be done. Also, if she’s sick or very fussy and wants to be carried all day, it gives me a comfortable, hands-free option.



Chariot CX

The Chariot CX is, quite simply, the Worlds. Best. Running. Stroller. I did a complete review of it for Trail and Ultra Running, but in short, it’s easy to use and comfortable for W. It also converts into a bike trailer, regular stroller, and — believe it or not — trailer for cross-country skiing! We use it every day.




A High-Quality Humidifier

Upper respiratory infections are hard on babies and their parents. When W is stuffed up and coughing, she doesn’t sleep — and therefore, neither do I. Sitting with her in the rocker/recliner helps, as does holding her in a steaming shower. Running a humidifier with some eucalyptus and thyme essential oil in it (or this vapor oil from Northern Essence) really helps, though. The essential oils seem to help open the airways, and the mist decreases swelling of the respiratory membranes and loosens secretions. I prefer cool mist to hot, simply because it reduces the risk of an accidental burn.


Aveeno Baby Eczema Therapy

Newborn W had real trouble with eczema. The first pediatrician we took her to told us not to use lotion on her. The doctor’s “logic,” if you want to call it that, was that lotion-free skin would begin to produce its own moisture. Well, we live in Arizona, and the humidity here often runs in the low single-digit percents. The dry skin coupled with some early antibiotics she had to take produced a wicked case of eczema (antibiotics kill helpful bacteria as well as the bad ones, which can sometimes cause eczema in sensitive individual). I eventually found Aveeno Baby Eczema Therapy, which works wonders as long as we use it regularly.


Northern Essence Diaper Rash Salve

Because we use cloth diapers, we have to be careful about diaper creams. Most contain zinc oxide and a petroleum base. The zinc oxide stains cloth diapers, and the petroleum base can coat the cloth and make it repel moisture, which leads to leaks. Northern Essence makes an awesome, developed-for-cloth diaper salve. It’s gentle on W’s skin and doesn’t damage her diapers at all. Despite having somewhat rash-prone skin, she’s never once had a diaper rash, which is as good a product recommendation as any! Northern Essence also makes awesome gentle baby wash and detangler, and the coolest thing about them is that you can pick from hundreds of scents (many of which are essential oils). I love the Sleepytime essential oil (lavender and vanilla), and W loves “Monkey Farts,” which is sort of tropical.


Nose Frida

I tried a couple different nasal aspirator bulbs in the early days of motherhood, but gave up on them quickly. They never seemed to work, and they terrified W. A few months ago when she had a really bad cold, a friend told me about the Nose Frida, which is basically a mom-powered nose-sucker. It’s smaller and less intimidating to W than an aspirator bulb was, and I love that I control the power and duration of the suction. She doesn’t seem to mind it, either. Squeamish moms, rest assured: the tube is long enough that you will NEVER get snot in your mouth, and there’s a sponge filter that prevents any material from entering the tubing. Another benefit of the Nose Frida over a nasal bulb is that it comes apart for easy cleaning.


**This is a completely unpaid post. None of these brands sent me a stroller, diapers, a baby carrier, or anything like that, and I wrote all this good stuff about the products because I just love them so freakin’ much. But if you’re from Chariot (or Ergo, or gDiapers, etc)  and you’re reading this and are super impressed and grateful and want to send me money? Let’s talk!


What were/are your “can’t live without them” items?



8 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Megyn @MinimalistMommi
    May 16, 2012 @ 09:33:40

    Kiddopotamus Swaddlers- these were lifesavers!
    MAM pacifiers- the only type both boys would take & allowed them to sleep while teething.
    Netflix- Our BFF when we’re all too tired or sick.
    Recycling bin- I swear, it’s pointless to have a million toys when there are/ boxes and cartons and containers galore.
    Flip-flops with straps- In the AZ heat, it’s great to have shoes that will let their feet breathe, are easy to put on, and keep them cool.
    Library- Not only does it have great books and movies to borrow, it’s the perfect FREE place in the summer with activities and kid play areas.
    Crib- Both boy slept with us for the first 6 or so months, but having their own space to sleep led to many more nights of good, long sleep.

    Humidifiers have also been amazing. I actually started with G Diapers for Noah, but he ALWAYS peed out. We switched to BumGenius and Rumparooz with success. For Keegan, we ended up doing mostly disposables (loved Nature Babycare the best) because our eco-friendly HE washer could not use enough water to get cloth diapers clean enough…and he has eczema, so is more sensitive. I should have given G Diapers a try with K, but they were way more expensive than just buying the “eco-friendly” disposables.


  2. Ashley @ C is for Cockerham
    May 16, 2012 @ 10:05:52

    We love the Ergo and Frida too!


  3. Jem
    May 16, 2012 @ 10:59:38

    My list would be similar to yours.

    We spent £200 on a cot bed that’s used as a glorified bed guard, baby chair, etc where in reality the best purchases have been the huge bed and a sling (or 3-4.. ahem). The bumgenius AIOs are washed and waiting for #2 (couldn’t do that with a disposable) and I’ve doubled my stash of washable wipes for bums, faces etc.

    Have spent about £30 all in for baby #2, whereas it was definitely over £300 for #1! (And I thought we did alright the first time, compared to some prospective parents I found who spent thousands.)


  4. Dorit Reiss
    May 21, 2012 @ 15:54:17

    so here’s where I diverge: I had nightmares about rolling over my baby and squashing him from the start – when he was in his bassinet next to our bed. It kept me up in those first weeks. When we did have him in our bed – mostly when he was sick – I could not sleep at all because I was afraid I’d squash him. I could not, would not, will not, do it to a baby. Point: this is very personal. Some of us end up only sleeping when the baby is in our bed. Some of us cannot.


    • SquintMom
      May 22, 2012 @ 13:23:51

      Absolutely. Co-sleeping worked for me, but it doesn’t work for everyone! I am not a breastfeeding evangelist (believing, as I do, that the right choice for each mother-baby dyad depends upon so much more than I could ever know as an outsider), and I’m not a co-sleeping evangelist. Heck, if you’ve read my posts on sleep troubles, you know we’ve had a hard time with sleep. How much of it is co-sleeping related, I can’t say…but the “right” sleeping choice is different for everyone. I just wish that (since co-sleeping ended up being the way WE went), I’d saved my money on the crib and bought the king bed from the start. Would I recommend others do the same? Not necessarily!!


  5. Dorit Reiss
    May 25, 2012 @ 10:11:20

    Another product I wish people told me about: no scratch mittens. Nails bloodying infant face were a big deal at first… scary to cut them, scary not to.


    • SquintMom
      May 25, 2012 @ 12:12:09

      Ooh, good one!

      I also thought of another one yesterday that I can’t believe I didn’t put on the original list: a really good Dustbuster!! It’s my best friend.


  6. Thats 2 Cute
    Feb 04, 2014 @ 22:06:50

    Thanks for letting me know about these products. I really like the stroller. It seems perfect way to keep fit as well as spending time with baby. I like Dorits suggestion of ratch mits. Where I live we have an abundance of mosquito’s and my baby scratched herself these would have come in handy.


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