Ever since we found out we were expecting we set an intention to keep the ‘stuff’ to a minimum. As we quickly learnt there is a gadget for everything, toys and activities for every age and stage, and countless products that promise convenience and sanity for new parents. But the reality is, we live in a small home and we just don’t have the space to accumulate. I am willing to bet there are other young parents-to-be reading who are thinking the same thing, so we’ve created a list of our favourite gadgets and compiled some lessons learnt from our first three months on the ‘job’.
Things we loved the first three months (and beyond for some)…
This took a couple weeks for our little guy to take to, but once he did it became a super helpful gadget for mid-day naps and hands-free time. He did grow out of it around 3/3.5 months so if you can find one used, or better yet borrow from a mom in your community it is a great way to make the most out of it for a short amount of time.
This was a well used and very appreciated piece of equipment (not to mention a cheap and cheerful option). It is light and moveable which means we could bring it around the house to free up our hands and arms to make showers, meal prep and laundry more available. We even used it in the early days for night sleeps when he rejected the bassinet, but we were desperate for a couple hours.* We are actually still using this intermittently for a seat option on our top floor.
*Disclaimer: this is not recommended, but ultimately we did what we felt comfortable with #dowhatworks
We have the Ergo Baby carrier and have loved it since Day 3. We used the infant insert for some time, but our little guy grew so fast we graduated to the carrier only within a couple months. This is great for dog walks, neighbourhood strolls, Mom & Baby fitness classes, and errands when the car seat or stroller are inaccessible and/or not an option for a fussy baby. He did start to fuss inward facing, so as soon as he had great head/neck control we turned him around and now it is a fail safe option wherever we go. We did try the less structured wrap style but never found it very secure, nor did our little guy enjoy it very much (maybe we were doing it wrong), nevertheless structured is our top choice. Apparently this is also a polarizing topic about what is best/safest for baby, so ultimately #dowhatworks for you!
This was actually created by a Toronto mom (who surprisingly lives right around the street from us- hand delivered upon ordering). It served us well in the first couple weeks as a skin to skin wrap for when baby just wouldn’t sleep anywhere else but ON us. This allowed us to dooze off between feedings and kept baby secure on our chest so we didn’t have to worry about dropping him or having him slide in our delirious state. Again, we only used it for a couple weeks but something we were thankful to have on hand.
Simply put, it is 2019 and there is NO reason to be clipping snaps from head to toe 3x+ per night in the dark. Do yourself a favour and opt for zippers.
This quickly became our first and favourite toy. It clips to the mamaroo, the stroller, the carseat, the pack n’ play and really anywhere you could get creative. Our little guy absolutely loves it and it is our #1 recommended toy.
We quickly implemented a nightly bath as part of our bedtime routine and this seat has served us very well. We is just now starting to grow out of it but it will be helpful until he is sitting up and sturdy on his own. It is easy to clean and keeps him nice and stable so you can be hands free* while they enjoy their soak.
*Disclaimer: this probably goes without saying but we never left him unattended, but it is nice to not have to be holding a slippery baby while crouched over a bathtub.
This was one of the first handheld toys our little guy took to and is still a favourite. It is easy to grab when they are just gaining dexterity and is nice and chewy when their gums start acting up.
Now soothers often strike a debate in the parent community, but ultimately we found they helped soothe our little guy in the early days/weeks and we were of the attitude of #dowhatworks. We tried a bunch of different soothers before we landed on these Nuk ones, he was able to keep them in his mouth better than the Advent style. Also worth noting, he has since rejected them altogether and they are only really brought into rotation in desperate situations ie. driving down the highway with a screaming babe.
We introduced a bottle feed or two a day with Daddy around the one month mark and found the most success with the Dr. Brown bottles with the gas-eliminating apparatus. We had a very gassy baby on our hands so we were conscious not to make it worse during bottle feeds. These involve tedious cleaning, but because we only used them once or twice a day it wasn’t a big issue.
Again, this might be a polarizing topic (microwaves, waste etc.), but these bags became a lifesaver for us in the chaotic early days. We used them for bottles, soothers and any gadget that went in/around his mouth.
This came as a recommendation from our chiropractor (who assessed our little guy a couple times to help with his gas issues). It is a 1 year+ variety, but we gave him a smaller dose daily from our finger tip. It seemed to help him as his digestive system got sorted, and we continue to give it to him as an immunity support.
*When choosing a supplement for your baby always talk to your trusted health care practitioner first. This is simply what worked for us.
To swaddle or not to swaddle… its not ultimately up to you because your little human will have a preference. Our little guy hated to be swaddled so we very quickly moved to what we affectionately started to call a baby bag. We have used both of the top brands and like them both and will continue to use them likely until he outgrows them.
Pack n’ Play Mini
They are hard to find, but we borrowed from a dear friend. It is bassinet size and is SO darn handy for a main floor hang-out/ diaper changing station. We are still using it as his alternate sleeping arrangements when we travel out of town, but he will be growing out of it soon.
We transitioned to this recently and absolutely love it. Our house is small, our floors are creaky and his bedroom shares a wall with our main bathroom, needless to say this little gadget is handy. It is small and transportable and we take it with us wherever he may be napping. I will say I think it is WAY overpriced consider it’s main just is just to make white noise, but as new parents we gotta stick with what works!
Things we had but didn’t use/enjoy…
We LOVE them, but we definitely had WAY too many (upwards of 15), so I’d say a good 5 would have sufficed.
I had a couple, but I found the most success with tying the short end of a muslin blanket and using that as a cape (learnt that from my well seasoned bestie who is a mama of FOUR). You of course don’t need a cover if you choose not to cover up, this was just a personal preference of mine.
Sleepers with snaps
We never had one, but didn’t feel like we were missing out. Perhaps this would have been helpful if you don’t go for the Mamaroo.
We had borrowed one from Nick’s sister, but our little guy HATED it. We ended up transferring him to the crib when he started sleeping longer stints and it was no longer an option to put him in the mamaroo or bouncy chair.
I had heard rave reviews and we did use it for a while, but found that because it only works on 15 or 30 minute settings it doesn’t help transition them through sleep cycles. We have since moved to a white noise machine that is constant and LOVE it.
Things we have learnt along the way…
Hand-Me-Downs = Gold
We hit the lottery on borrowed gadgets and hand-me-down clothing from our generous friends and family. I know it can be tempting to get everything fresh and new for your newest addition but the reality is THEY GROW SO QUICKLY and their needs and interests change alongside them. If you can borrow and return this means you are spending less money, and storing less stuff in the months and years to come. For gear, we were lucky enough to borrow the Ergo Baby infant insert (otherwise this was an extra $50 on top of the structured carrier), Mamaroo (which our little guy grew out of around 3/3.5 months), a vibrating bouncy chair, the bassinet, and the pack n’ play mini.
Renting or Leasing gear
We haven’t done this yet, but I just learned about this super handy service here in Toronto. You can rent/lease baby gear for short or long term sessions either for home use or travel purposes. What a great way to cut down on cost and storage.
Gender Reveal & Baby Shower Gifting
If your community is anything like ours, you will be gifted SO much for your first kiddo. We are still in awe over the generosity we were shown, every ‘big’ purchase for our little dude was taken care of, as well as almost a full wardrobe until his first birthday. One thing that we found super helpful was keeping the gender a secret until after the baby shower, reason being this meant that all of the reusable gear and even early clothes were gender neutral- meaning when/if the next baby arrives we are easily able to re-use anything without worrying about gender specific colours. We also intentionally registered for our gear to be black/white/neutral.
Call us naive, but we want to avoid piles and piles of toys, books and gadgets as he starts to become more interactive, and this is for two reasons. The first goes back to our small house and limited storage options. The second, wanting to instill an experience-first approach in our kiddos where they spend more time collecting what life has to offer, and less time worrying about having the latest and greatest. One way we have communicated this to our parents, family and friends is by asking that when approaching holidays or birthday celebrations, that he only receive 1x toy/book and then should they want to do ‘more’ we invite them to contribute to an experience/activity, or an RESP savings account.
We are currently knee deep in the 4 month developmental leap and our little dude is keeping us on our toes with new favourites, dislikes and aversions on the daily so I think it is safe to say this list will be ever-evolving. If this is helpful I’d love to hear from you (comment below, or email me directly) and I will continue to keep track of things as we move along.
Happy Parenting or Prepping for Parenting,