15 Perfect Baby Things for New Parents

Don’t care about baby gear? Here are some awesome photos of an abandoned Police Department in Detroit.

Still reading? Hello! Oh man, it’s an awesome time to be a parent. Maternity clothes come in options besides “kitten print,” men no longer have to carry pink quilted diaper bags around, and babies are so much cuter than they used to be, am I right?

As you may know, I spend some time looking at cool kids’ stuff, and there’s a lot of it out there right now. But it can be tough to separate the cool-looking gear from the genuinely useful stuff.

These are the things we used every day when Hank was first born; all of it was indispensable for us. Ladies and gentlemen, start your registries:

1. Skiphop Expo Canvas ($64) or the Spark ($30) Diaper Bag

Diaper bags that could double as laptop bags when you’re done with diapers. We had the canvas one, but we graduated to the less expensive Skiphop they make for Target, which I prefer.


– They clip onto your stroller easily
-The more expensive one has an expando-zip around the bottom that’s useful for travel
-Comes with a changing pad (and sometimes a wipes case)
-The Target version has a tote strap that’s always attached, so you can just throw it over your shoulder when you detach it from the stroller, instead of having to reattach the messenger strap
-Ludicrously durable and washable.

One caveat:

Our messenger strap kept spontaneously unhooking, though we had been abusing it daily for a year by that point.

2. Refillable Baby Wipes Holder ($2)

I love the transparent one that came with our Skiphop, because it’s easy to see when the wipes are running low. Too often I’m on the floor of a changing-table-free San Francisco public restroom, with a poop-covered toddler, and then realize the attractive, translucent wipes case only has one wipe. Huzzah!

I can’t find a clear one anywhere online. (Can you?) You can also just get the Huggies version they sell at the drugstore, but you’ve been warned.

3. Nursing Cover by Baby Au Lait ($35)

I was one of those nursing women who felt like everyone in the room was staring at me and judging my technique. Also my post-natal fashion sense. This cover made it possible for me to nurse in public. It’s a lightweight cotton swath with an adjustable strap that goes around your neck. There’s a U-shaped piece of boning in the front that lets you look directly down at your baby but doesn’t give pervos a peek. Killer.

There’s also some absorbent material sewn into the corner so you can catch drips easily. I’d avoid the solid-colored versions, because breast milk stains like a mother. I don’t know why this surprised me, but it did.

4. My Breast Friend Breast Feeding Pillow

Excellent nursing pillow, cringe-worthy name.

The pillow buckles around your waist for stability, and it’s structural enough that you can carry a newborn around on it if you need to grab something in the middle of nursing. It has built-in “pillows” that prop the baby’s head too. No irritating, cutesy pattern, just unbleached cotton, though it does come in other colors. I have a long torso, so I used this with a Boppie pillow underneath.

5. The First Years Close and Secure Sleeper

This is where Hank slept for the first few months of his life, when I was freaked about rolling over on him. The mesh on the sides pushes down, so you can nurse without taking the baby out of it, and even fall asleep while you nurse. Also, it has a tiny, push-button night light on top. We kept ours on the couch most of the time, and when we traveled, Hank still had a familiar place to sleep. Folds up into a little suitcase for easier transport.

6. Kolcraft Universal Infant Car Seat Carrier ($49)

We had the Graco carseat, and had a great experience with this stroller until the mesh basket broke (most likely because we used to it carry gallons of milk and bricks of lead). We replaced it with the Snap and Go that’s made for the Graco carseat, thinking it would be better. Instead was an absolute disaster. I’m pissed just thinking about it. It was so difficult to maneuver that I wanted to smash with a sledgehammer. We finally gave up and bought another Kolcraft.

I adore the Kolcraft and wish there were a better toddler version. Super lightweight, simple to fold with one hand, travels brilliantly, doesn’t wake the baby when you transfer her, and doesn’t take up too much space when you park it next to the table at a restaurant.

7. Little Giraffe Satin-Chenille Baby Blanket

This blanket is so soft it almost feels unctuous, like it’s leaving an oily residue behind. Sounds gross, but I assure you it’s devine. Hank would fall asleep immediately whenever we wrapped him up in this, and it’s his blankie now. We ruined our first one by putting it in the dryer, so remember to tumble or air dry, because these suckers are expensive.

8. American Apparel Baby Clothes

Durable basics for little ones. Best of all, they come in tons of colors that don’t fade much, even when you wash and dry them a zillion times. If I had it to do over, I’d buy Hank a bunch of Karate Pants and onesies in crazy colors, then accessorize with socks, hats, and hoodies.

9. Even Flo Glass Bottles ($11 for six)

Apparently plastic is killing us all slowly. Still, there seems to be a lot of hand-wringing over glass bottles breaking. We haven’t had that problem, but we try not to fling them against stone floors. Glass bottles were hard to find when Hank was born, but now they’re everywhere, so look around for a style that apeals to you. I like these for the nostalgic look, and because I’m pretty sure they’re not killing the baby slowly.

Also, I remove the lids and heat them in the microwave without incident. I know this makes me a terrible person, and I’ll just have to learn to live with myself.

10. Kangaroo Corner Adjustable Fleece Pouch ($62)

We called this the man womb. We’d put Hank in, and he was asleep until we took him out. The fleece version is warmer than the cotton one of course, but it also provides sound insulation. As a bonus, it keeps strangers from trying to touch your newborn with their presumably filthy stranger hands.

Blissful, especially if your baby has trouble sleeping.

11. Happiest Baby on the Block DVD ($18)

We read the book, but the DVD is quicker and just as informative. It teaches you the five steps you need to know to calm a screeching baby. Please get a copy before the baby comes along, it will save on therapy bills for the whole family. I’ve used the advice to successfully soothe dozens of cranky babies.

12. Glamour Mom Tank Tops ($40)

These make it possible to nurse without revealing anything at all. They look like regular tank tops, but the front unhooks like a nursing bra–utterly genius. Invest in one to wear under whatever else you have on, and your wardrobe expands exponentially.

13. Kiddopotamus Swaddling Blankets (about $10)

I had trouble swaddling effectively on fifteen minutes of sleep. These fixed that problem immediately because they have velcro closures and are shaped for swaddling. You just pop the baby in, and tuck the velcro closures in tight.

14. Medela Swing Breast Pump ($125)

I rented a hospital pump, and it wasn’t any more effective than this little thing. It’s about the size of a cereal bowl, and it hangs around your neck from a lanyard.

My entire pump set up fit in a cosmetics bag, and it was so awesome that I have to tell you about it. Ready? OK:

An excellent dopp kit from Flight 001 ($32)
Medela Swing Pump with tubing
A couple small glass bottles with lids
Pump sanitizing wipes ($9)
A tube of Lanisoh cream ($7)
-A tiny container of hand sanitizer
-A small ice pack

If you’re looking for a shower gift for a mom who plans to nurse, consider going in with some friends and making her a nursing kit. It’s crazy useful, and it will make her feel sane when the rest of the house is in total disarray.

15. Flip Video Camera ($130)

This wasn’t around until recently, but we use ours all the time, and I wish we’d had it when Hank was teeny-tiny. So easy to operate, even when you’ve only had two hours of sleep. Also, you’re not gonna want to miss the first time your kid poops in the bathtub.

That’s it! Now it’s your turn to tell me about the stuff that makes parenting easier for you. Do it! The comments await.