Essential Baby Items

by Mike Holman

When a parent is describing a toy/item they bought for the child and they say it is “essential” or a “life saver” – what they really mean is that it worked well for them and their child.  While it’s good to hear positive reviews, don’t assume you will get the same results.


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Another item to consider is real estate – a lot of these baby devices take up a lot of space, so if you live in a smaller house with smaller rooms, you have to make hard choices about what stuff to get.

On with the list

Swing - This is one of the items that is often most highly praised by new parents – I know several who said it was best thing they had for keeping the kid occupied/quiet for a while.  However – not all kids like the swing.  Our son for example, wasn’t that keen on it – we had borrowed one from friends and tried him out on it several times, but in the end we decided to give it back.

Playpen/Pack’n’Play – I would say these are essential for travel, assuming your child can sleep on their own.  They fold up into a relatively small package and are easy to set up.  Some people use them to keep the kid contained, but we found the exersaucer was a better device for that purpose.

Baby carrier – This is another item where different baby carriers and different babies can make all the difference.  Our son liked being carried as a newborn, but his parents were never that comfortable with using a carrier, so he mostly rode in a stroller.  Our second child refused to be in a stroller for the first 4 months, so she got carried in a Snugli carrier which worked out well.  We also tried a baby Buddha carrier, but our daughter didn’t like it very much.

Playmat – I’m not too keen on these at all.  We purchased one for $70 for our son and  he didn’t really like it.  The fact is that a newborn is happy just looking at normal items and doesn’t need a “special” learning mat for development.  We have a small living room and the mat takes up a lot of space.  Another problem now is that it is hard to use the mat with our daughter because my son (2) is running around a lot and is a danger to anyone (ie my daughter) on the playmat.

Jolly Jumper – We had one of these, but never even bothered to set it up.  I’ve seen babies use them and it can be very entertaining!

Exersaucer – We found this quite useful for our kids since they were both entertained by it.  It’s great for containing the child if the parent is busy for a few minutes.  This device has a limited time period – you can’t put the kid in if they are too young and once they start crawling around/walking they will be a lot less interested in being trapped in the exersaucer.

Bumbo – This is the biggest ripoff since pet rocks.  $65 for a piece of shaped foam?  We bought one of course and although we did get some use out of it – I would recommend not buying one unless you can get a used one very cheap.  We were able to sell it for $30, so it wasn’t a total loss.

Booster seat – This is the seat you strap onto a chair and the baby sits in it.   We found these to be awesome because they take up a lot less space than a high-chair.  The baby needs to able to hold their head up by themselves before using.

Check out my baby expense section for more baby articles.

Do you have any “must have” or “must not have” baby items you’d like to share?

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