My baby turned one year this week(!),  so I thought I’d share my top ten list of things that make life easier for us.

Baby specific:

Babywearing — a wrap, or pouch, or soft structured carrier — there are many, many ways to wear your baby. Our family prefers to not use the ubiquitous infant ‘bucket’ seat, and babywearing makes it possible. For a little baby, a fleece pouch or a stretchy wrap (you can buy the Sleepy Wrap locally) is great, and as my kids get bigger, I prefer a woven wrap and my husband prefers a soft structured carrier. Wearing the baby means we’ve been able to take the kids where strollers can’t go, it’s made air travel a (relative) breeze, and it’s a guaranteed cozy place for a nap when out and about. If you want to learn about your babywearing options, visit Central Street Farmhouse — they are well versed in the many ways to carry the little one.

Nosefrida — Okay, yes, it LOOKS disgusting. I know. But here’s the thing — as long as I am responsible for blowing someone else’s nose, I want it to be as quick and painless as possible, for both parties, and the Nosefrida hits the mark. The traditional bulb that comes home from the hospital is awkward, pointy, of questionable cleanliness, and doesn’t even WORK that well. The Nosefrida is great. I generally give a Nosefrida and a package of filters as a baby shower gift now, with the caveat that “yeah, it’s gross, but even if you only ever use it to suck a pea out of a toddler’s nostril, you’ll be glad you have it.” (And then the not-yet parent thinks “oh, but MY baby will never stick a pea in her nose!”) I don’t change the filter between uses, but might after a particular bad cold just to quarantine the germs. And when traveling, I’ve been known to wash the filter and let it dry between uses. I have never, not once, after 4 years of using it, gotten boogies in bad places. The babies generally don’t like it (but they don’t like the bulb, either) and at least with the Nosefrida, I KNOW I’m not poking them and hurting them, and the deed is done in one or two breaths, not repeated squeezes of the bulb. Trust me. People who’ve used it, love it. (And I have used it to pull a piece of apple from a toddler’s nose, so it saved me $80 in an ER copay, by my estimation.)

Baby Leg Warmers: I have these from multiple sources, and these are also a staple in a shower gift for me. They cover the gap between pant leg and sock in the best way (especially in a Maine winter, when that gap can get chilly, quick!) and they make the best ‘tights’ for my daughters when they are in dresses — no wrestling actual tights on between diaper changes, and honestly, they are usually cuter than true tights. For both boys and girls, they function like a long john layer, again, without having to deal with that layer with diaper changes. Central Street Farmhouse has some adorable styles, for less than $10 a pair.

Simple Wishes pumping bra: I work full time, and I breastfeed, which means that I pump. Pumping is never glamorous, and generally not enjoyable, but the Simple Wishes bra makes it so much easier. With my first, I never had a pumping bra because I didn’t want to roll the dice on choosing the wrong size, so I just made do without. With this baby, I went back to work earlier, and the Simple Wishes bra took the size quandary out of the equation — there are two sizes, and then those sizes are infinitely adjustable, so as you lose the baby weight you can adjust the band to accomodate that. It holds both flanges in place, solidly, and allows me to still work on the computer as I pump. It’s still not glamorous, but it is key to making it less onerous for me. You can also find those at Central Street Farmhouse.

For mama:

iPod touch : I am a professional geek, anyway, and have a laptop, an iPad, a Kindle, etc, but hands down, the iPod touch is my must-have tech gadget for a mom. When I was pregnant, I used it to track everything from my doctor’s appointments to my glucose numbers (I had gestational diabetes) to my contractions. I tweeted my labor to keep phone calls at bay, but still keep family and friends updated. I tracked early nursing sessions using an app, to remember which side I’d last used, and I read books on the Kindle app during late night nursing sessions in the dark. And now, the new models have a camera that takes (low-res) stills and shoots HD video! The ideal gadget for the mama who is going to have one arm occupied for hours at a time, or end up  pinned under a sleeping baby but in desperate need of a glass of water — just email daddy! In celebration of the baby’s first birthday, I actually upgraded to the iPhone4. It’s pretty cool.

CamelBak water bottle: If you are nursing, you need water. All the time. (And if you aren’t nursing, you need water all the time, too, but I think breastfeeding mothers experience a thirst that is unlike other thirsts.) The Camelbak with a bitevalve is the best water bottle to use, hands down. I could wedge that between me and the couch cushion and drink hands-free while nursing the little one, because it doesn’t require you to tip it back to get water. They make it in several sizes, and the bitevalve is easy for a little kid to figure out, so if you are out hiking, etc, and they need water, they aren’t going to dump the entire bottle down their shirt trying to sip out of one of those old-school Nalgene bottles (whose caps ALWAYS hit me in the face, which is also not a feature of the Camelbak.) They come in cute colors, and a cleaning tip — disassemble the straw, bite valve, moving parts, etc, and drop those into the bottle with a denture cleaning tablet and follow the directions of the denture cleaner. Great trick to clean fiddly things like Camelbaks and travel mugs and sippy cups!

Roku: We don’t have cable, but we do have a Roku, and it is the best way to watch tv, ever. I swear. With a Roku (models range from $60-$100, depending on features) you can stream from your Netflix Instant queue, in HD, to your tv. The content has grown by leaps and bounds over the two years that we’ve had our box, and for our older kiddo, it’s nice to have television that she likes (Dora, Blue’s Clues, the impossibly whiny Caillou) without the ads that cable likes. With a brand new baby, it was great to curl up and watch movies while the little one nursed the day away, without having to go to a Redbox or, you know, pay for cable. (Our Netflix account is less than $10 a month.) In addition to Netflix streaming, a Roku can access Hulu+, Amazon Video on Demand, Pandora, and  a whole slew of private channels.

Flip & Tumble bags: These little bags roll up into a ball when you aren’t using them, and when you get to daycare and have a pile of art projects, lunch leftovers, a hat that was left behind a week ago, and all the OTHER things kids pile up at daycare, it pops out to a full (or mini) shopping bag. I always have a 24/7and a minibag in my bag or coat pocket at all times and they’ve been great.

Mabels Labels:  If you are a working mama, you know the need to label everything for childcare. Mabel’s Labels are stickers that will stick to just about anything, are dishwasher and microwave safe, but then peel off when you want them to. We buy packs of the Skinny-Minis, as they fit perfectly on the bottle parts at daycare, and our daycare providers have loved them just as much as we have! Once they move past bottle stage, we use them to label books that are hauled into preschool from home, backpacks, lunchboxes, food containers, you name it. We love them!

Amazon Mom:  I do a lot of shopping at Amazon, and the Amazon Mom program offers a free trial of their Prime membership, that can be extended based on what you buy from their baby section. I have a diaper subscription through Amazon Mom, and that earned me a full year of free Prime. Being able to have stuff shipped directly to me, and quickly, is amazing.

There’s my top ten! What are you must-haves for that first year?

2 Responses to “BangorBaby Top Ten”
  1. Brooke Wade says:

    My favorite thing this time around with my third baby has been my aden&anais swaddle blankets. You can buy a three pack of them at Target for $25 which seems like a lot for blankets but these have so many uses! They are 100% cotton and as you wash them they become extremely soft. They are huge so if your intention is to swaddle it is extra easy. I use them to wipe my babies face, cover him up, over my shoulder, under hum when he plays on the floor and he already shows preference for these as opposed to other more stiff or bulky blankets. Which is important for Me as both my older kids had blankets they slept with for comfort. They are also lightweight and the animal patterns are cute and gender neutral!

  2. Jessica says:

    I love leg warmers, I made a bunch for my son, they are so easy when he is at home. Thanks for the other products. I think I need to go get that water bottle :-)

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