I have been wanting to write a Favorite Baby Items post for such a long time, but babies change their mind so frequently that I feel like you can’t necessarily write a quality favorites post until you’re totally past infancy….And now, at very nearly 18 months old and entering 2015 I guess I have to finally admit that, yes, I have a toddler and not an infant anymore (gasp-SOB-sniff).
But, seriously. I can finally share some of my favorite baby items that have really stood the test of time and you may even take me seriously. For once.
Disclaimer: All of these opinions are my very own and I was sadly not given any of these products for free, but oh, how I wish I had been.
Fave Baby Toy:
Playskool GloWorm was simply hands down the best baby (and toddler) toy bought to date. You may remember GloWorm from the 1980’s. Yes! It’s the same GloWorm but with some awesome updates and modifications.
Updated GloWorm, as opposed to its original model, is small and easily huggable to a baby at only 10” tall. It has three settings, safely hidden in the back behind a zipper: Demo (which just plays light and music for a few seconds), and long play which allows GloWorm to light up and play soft classical music for 10 minutes before automatically shutting off, and just a light option too. The button to turn GloWorm on is on his tummy and is a moon shape so it’s very easy for kids to figure out quickly how he turns on.
But BEST feature of all, unlike Vintage GloWorm, the battery/light up pack easily pulls out of GloWorm (you can tie it inside to secure it more thoroughly when your child figures this out) and the outside GloWorm shell can be thrown into the washer AND dryer. Why don’t more toys do this? I bought GloWorm after hearing on sleep soothing sites it was a good idea. I waited far too long to give it to my daughter.
Another great benefit of GloWorm? He’s so inexpensive ($12-15 on Amazon) that if you don’t want to travel with him, just mail an extra to your destination. We keep one at my Mom’s in Baltimore for visits to save that little extra weight. Also he comes in blue/green and pink/green.
Side note: Initially when looking for a device like GloWorm, I saw Fisher Price Ocean Wonders Soothe and Glow Seahorse and was all set to order until I checked the trusty Amazon reviews. Holy crap. I don’t know how that toy is still on the market with the MANY customer complaints on Amazon and on other websites about how it has started SMOKING and CAUGHT FIRE in CRIBS. Nope. I don’t care how many other positive reviews there are- you don’t take that chance. There are zero complaints like this for GloWorm, and they should know- he’s been around since 1982. Go with the GloWorm.
Fave Teething/Fashion Item:
Every new mom finds out very early that they will not be wearing delicate necklaces or dangly earrings for a long time. Babies love that stuff. Most will immediately pull and break necklaces, even at toddler ages. Statement necklaces are really in and since I wear a touch of aqua with just about every outfit I thought that color would be a great choice. I was thrilled to wear a necklace again! It went with so much that I wore. And I got lots of compliments…many from people who didn’t know it was a teething necklace! It was hilarious. Honestly, I’ve worn it out before without even having my daughter with me.
But here’s the really cool thing about my Chewbeads, which is what inspired me to write about them. Now, 18 months later, though I have given away or sold most of Story’s baby toys (or am in the process of doing so), I won’t part with the Chewbeads. Why? Because she still plays with them.
She doesn’t teeth on them anymore, not typically. But she loves them as a necklace. They were the first thing that she learned how to put ON and take OFF.
I won’t let her play with any of my necklaces, even as she becomes older because that risk can still happen. But I will let her play with my Chewbeads. And they also make Chewbeads Junior which are shorter for toddlers so if a little girl is a big sister she could have her own Chewbeads too. Chewbeads make excellent shower gifts too because they’re cute, colorful, practical, and there are so many Chewbeads colors and styles available that the chances of the new mom already having the exact color and style is unlikely.
So for fashion and for teething, Chewbeads are a shoo in.
I thought I would like the sling and hated it. I did end up getting a Moby style wrap and trying it in those early weeks after Story came but I never felt super confident wrapping it tightly and properly enough. When I did get it on tightly enough it didn’t feel supportive and safe to me. I couldn’t imagine being truly hands-free with it. I used it at the airport and the only benefit of it was that since it was all material, I was able to easily take it off easily during the flight. The downsides were that I got it super dirty trying to put it on at the airport before going through TSA (it was sweeping all over the airport ground…CRINGE). Also, I was super flustered by the time I got in line at TSA because of trying to frantically Youtube if I’d wrapped it properly. The wrap just wasn’t right for me.
The Soleil is made to front carry, hip carry, or back carry, all with baby facing you. I’m not opposed to baby facing out if that’s your thing but I don’t feel like it would personally be very comfortable for me. It definitely throws off your weight and probably isn’t hot for your back so I’m very for the ergonomic effect of having baby sitting straddling and facing you. It just makes sense to me.
What’s awesome and really sets the Soleil apart thought is that, with front carrying, you can wear the straps normally looped over your shoulders, or you can cross them behind your back. I thought my previous carrier was fairly comfortable but after the crossed strap front carry I can't imagine using anything else. It’s super supportive of your back. I also really like the adjustments you can make to the front straps of the carrier and how you can roll the excess belts and straps up and out of the way.
The Soleil has grown so awesomely with us too! As Story has gotten older and taller Nick and I have both continued babywearing (toddlerwearing!) because it calms her down pretty much instantly in most situations. You can fit places that a stroller can’t, and Story never loved sitting by herself in the stroller to be honest. (When we do use a stroller, it’s typically somewhere we have to buy a lot of stuff like the farmers market and more than half the time we fill up the stroller and Story still gets worn.)
I’ve cooked and I’ve cleaned while wearing her. I’ve decorated the tree while wearing her. Now as she’s a toddler we go on walks almost daily together and I take it with me so that I can switch to it when she gets tired so her mama can get a nice stroll in.
The Soleil has a terrific key loop and pocket on the waistband which is big enough for an iPhone and some tissues and lipbalm, and it comes with another larger zip pocket that snaps on to the front of the carrier under the hood and is really quite big. It’s my go-to place to keep my ID and tickets super handy when flying. Beco also sells a Carry All bag that I just finally ordered that attaches to the front snaps that the whole carrier can roll up into and be carried with a crossbody strap. I think this will be really ideal on our walks and at the airport since we alternate more with the carrier and walking.
Side Note: Like the Chewbeads Junior, Beco also has a child version of their carriers for little kids and their baby dolls and I just cannot even stand how adorable that is. I’m thinking two year old birthday present for the kid. Also, Beco does another carrier that has a forward facing option called the Beco Gemini that I was THIS close to choosing over the Soleil, but ultimately I feel like the larger padded Soleil meets our needs best.
Wubbanubs are Soothies pacifiers (one of the most popular silicone pacifiers on the market which is distributed at hospitals) attached to a tiny beanie stuffed animal. When the baby is sucking on the paci, the stuffed animal portion sits comfortably on their chest. It’s easy to grasp- it was the first thing Story learned how to grasp. They don’t fall out of their mouths or off their chests super easily. They come in all sorts of cute stuffed animals from ducks, to lambs, to special edition reindeer, to dragons. You name it.
But the best part about Wubbanubs is they are so darn hard to lose! You always see loose pacis in parking lots and in shopping centers. Any mom will tell you they probably have dozens of pacifiers lying around in couch cushions, under tables, under cribs, etc. Wubbanubs are bulky and don’t fall and roll. They’re obviously more expensive than a pacifier all by itself, typically $12-20 depending on the style you like but you only have to replace them if the pacifier starts wearing or breaking, which typically doesn’t happen for a few months after the kid gets teeth.
Fave Diaper Bag:
Vera Bradley Make a Change Diaper Backpack
What makes Vera Bradley’s Make a Change style different is that the changing pad unzips and rolls out easily from the front of the bag for a one handed change. Not only does this allow you to hold a kid in one hand while setting up for a quick change, but it also means that the changing pad doesn’t take up valuable space inside your diaper bag. Super critical. You need every cubic inch of that space for emergency Q-tips and alcohol pads and whatever else you probably think you need but will never use.
I honestly got it for flying specifically and thought I’d switch to another one other times but it’s just so plain practical and easier to wear/carry that it’s my exclusive bag. In fact, I started with the Make a Change Backpack in the Olivia Pink pattern, tired of it, sold it on eBay and ordered the same style bag in my beloved Tutti Frutti pattern.
Side Note: If you’re not a huge fan of Vera Bradley crazy color patterns, I get it. You are the exact reason they also make a solid black backpack and bag version.
Other Fave Baby Items & Brands:
Aden & Anais
We have and LOVE the OxoTot Sprout highchair which I’m still extremely happy with one year later. It grows with baby until about 5 years old and Oxo’s customer service is awesome so I expect to be using it for some time. Plus it looks nice/not childish and is BPA/phthalate/badstuff free.
OxoTot bibs are also hands down THE BEST BIBS EVER. They have a great BPA free silicone pocket at the bottom to catch food, but the top is a soft fabric so it’s not hard and stiff against baby’s neck like other brands. Also, they wipe clean easily and roll up into themselves for easy toting.
I could go on and on about OxoTot products- we also have their Bottle Brush (awesome!), Travel Bottle Brush (even more awesome!), Flippy Snack Cup (awesomest!), toddler flatware, and God knows what else.
Munchkin Waterproof Changing Pad Liners
Actually Munchkin Waterproof Changing Pad Liners come in a 3 pack of small round pad liners that are meant to lay OVER TOP OF a decorative changing pad cover but still show off your pretty changing pad cover while protecting it. And actually that worked much better.
But with every accident, my pretty decorative changing pad covers were saved and I was easily able to switch these liners out for a new one and quickly as they literally just rest on top. They’re easy to wash, though they are recommended to be air dried but won’t fall apart if you forget and they make it through the dryer once or twice. Plus they’re great for traveling because you can fold a few of them up easily to pack and use them on beds and floors when staying away from home.
There are so many more things I really loved...
Seriously though- there are so many things that are marketed toward new moms and I was totally ordering ALL OF THE THINGS every time I thought something would be ABSOLUTELY PERFECT for something super specific but so many things are really a waste of time or are cute for five minutes and just don’t have longevity in an infant mind.
Just remember, every baby (and parent) is different. What works for us might not work for you. But if you know me and ever wondered what I really love and recommend, I hope this might help you! Thanks for reading!