Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Baby Gear I Couldn't Live Without: The Top 10

1) Boppy Pillows
We used these briefly for nursing, but they took on a life of their own as a place for other activities. We lay babies in them for feeding, which is especially important if you're feeding two at once! Before the babies got more mobile we also used them as a place for the babies to sleep. (There's a tag right on the Boppy that says "Not for sleeping" and my friend Leslie always wanted to take a picture of them sleeping next to the tag.) Boppy pillows are also useful as a place to put babies after they're rocked to sleep. You can lightly put them down and continue petting them until they fall deeper into sleep. Even though their eyes are closed, babies always seem to know when you're dropping them off in a crib. Grandma also liked to put the babies in Boppys with a toy and have them sit next to her in the early morning. Some nursing pillows that aren't Boppys (I'm looking at you, Breast Friend) don't have this added functionality.


Julia falls asleep during a wardrobe malfunction.

Hanging Out

James hides amongst the stuffed animals, E.T. style.

James is ready to get his Saturday Night Fever groove on.

2) Sports Brella
I just started using my Sports Brella this week, and I don't know how anyone can go to the park with their babies without one. My first visits to a park I put out a blanket in the shade, but when I laid down on the blanket I saw what they saw - namely the sun in their eyes through the trees the whole time. I was very uncomfortable and I thought the idea of them staring at the sun was a bad one. Kashi at my twins club suggested I get a Sports Brella from Costco for $38. It provides up to 8 feet of shade, and I can continue to use it after the babies are grown.

Go go gadget Sports Brella!

3) Picnic Blanket
Like the Sports Brella it's not just for the babies and you can keep using it. You'll need a picnic blanket if you're going on playdates to the park. A picnic blanket can never be too small, and waterproof is a plus. You'll need a big blanket on the floor of your home for your little one to practice tummy time and flipping over and all that, and we use this for home and outside. Also, if you're doing any photo shoots with your baby (I wouldn't know anything about this...) you want a blanket big enough that you won't see the edges of it in the photograph. Most picnic blankets are patterned (not as good), but you might want to think about getting a big blanket just for photos.

As a picnic blanket

Note how the boppy pillows are in use here so I can feed both at once.

As a play area

Julia, about to practice flying and probably about to spit up in my mouth

James practicing sitting and probably about to spit up into my mouth

As a photo backdrop

Julia doesn't know where her hat ends and her blanket begins.

4) Socks That Look Like Shoes
Socks that look like shoes complete an outfit when babies aren't yet in the walking stage and don't require shoes. Unfortunately the socks run small and the twins outgrew them quickly. We have Mary Janes for Julia and high top sneakers for James. The recent assortment we bought for Julia even includes ballet shoes.

The babies shill for the man

5) Exersaucer
I've read that too much time in these can negatively impact babies' ability to stand and walk since their leg positioning in the Exersaucer is abnormal. Well, we stick to a strict 15 minute policy. Both babies can usually play there longer than anywhere else before needing to be rescued so this is a godsend when I need to do something like pump or eat. This is ours - everyone I know has the same one.

Julia exersaucing it up

6) Crinkly Animals
They're a triple threat - crinkly, soft and plushy, with soft plastic feet to chew on. The twins love these. (They can be found at Target.)

7) Books
James has two clear favorites right now. One is Five Silly Monkeys. They both weren't a fan of this at first - there's a button that makes the sound of monkeys chattering and I think it scared them. But now James laughs every time he hears it. Julia hasn't decided if she likes it. James - and I think Julia too - have figured out that the button makes the sound. The other book is Where Is Baby's Belly Button? They both try to flip up the pop-up on the page to find the answer. James will get so excited he hits the pages.

We have the version of the right. Also, I just learned what an ombliguito is.

James has figured out that the button makes the sound but all he can do is pound his palm on it which won't activate it-- poor little guy.

8) Hair Bows
I love putting my girl in hair bows before going out. The larger and more ridiculous the better. Grandma found most of the ones that Julia wears on Etsy.

Yet another photo of Julia and our favorite bow

Here's another favorite bow

9) Black and White Drawings
My friend Rachel R. sent us a link to print out black and white drawings. Young babies love black and white designs so I hung these over their cribs and changing table.
Black and White Drawings from BrillBaby (click to download Infant Stimulation Cards)

The ones we used were free but you can also get something similar on Amazon like this:

There are other animal ones to choose from, too.

10) Car Seat Toy Arch
Grandma bought this car seat attachment arch because, surprisingly, it was one of the few that are actually safe to use while driving. It also had the added bonus of having lots of interesting things to play with. We put a baby in the car seat in the apartment, attach the toy arch, and it becomes another play station. (And if you're a parent you know you want as many play stations - activity mat, exersaucer, etc. - as possible.)

James and the toy arch at work. (You can see the pinwheel spinning.) He usually grabs and then tries to eat the three dangling doodads at once. Here he's a chomp away.

Mark attached the arch to James's feet. James didn't seem to mind.

Honorable Mentions:
  • Pacifier Clip - I recommend the kind that holds the pacifier with velcro. This one is like ours but can be found at Babies R Us, I believe, for less.
  • Activity Mat - This is a must have but there are many different ones to choose from on the market (an activity mat would have made my top 10 but there are many different good ones to choose from - as opposed to other items that made my top 10 where that isn't the case - so I didn't include it). We really like ours. James is partial to eating the giraffe.
  • Activity Chair - Again, a must have but there are many on the market to choose from. Here's ours.
  • Lovies - Definitely have some lovies for your baby that they can hold when it's time to go to sleep. A blankie square and a stuffed animal are great. I give them the blankie square as I rock them to sleep, and when I roll them into their cribs they grab tightly to their stuffed animals and go into a sleep coma.

James and his blankie square. He also has a stuffed puppy dog.

There has been no greater love between a baby and toy than Julia and her bunny rabbit. She tries to eat kiss it.
  • Mobile - This was especially good to have the first four months. I loved ours but we took the mobile part down too early and replaced it with the mobile's image projector (there was a choice of one or the other). Unfortunately they never really took to the image projector. Also, amusingly our TV remote would often turn on the mobile from across the room.
  • Whale tub - This works great for baths and can be adjusted for when they get older. Plus it's a whale tub! A whale tub!

I bathe three week old James for the first time in the whale tub.

No one told Julia there would be cameras at bath time!


  1. This is awesome, now I have a registry list starter for the future! Your blog is so nicely done. xoxo

  2. I read your comments aloud while checking my e-mail on the way back from LA (and my Jeopardy appearance). Reading them aloud might not have been the best idea because Brendan and Lila were in the back seat (Jeopardy road trip!), and Brendan freaked out that you might be thinking of starting a family.

  3. I saved this but forgot to thank you for it. Thank you!

  4. No problem, Marianne, and congratulations to you! Let me know if you have any gear buying questions. Or if you want to borrow maternity clothes.