I know that there are many articles and blog posts out there, even Amazon lists, which detail the most important or best baby products to buy. However, this is my list and what's different about it is that it contains items which, believe it or not, many parents either are unaware of or don't bother to use. My question is, "why?" because these products have made my life so much easier. So, in no particular order, here are five of my favorite baby items:
1. Carter's Dribble Happy Bib (AKA Teether Bibs) - What makes this bib different than the regular cotton bibs you'll get a ton of at your baby shower is the fact that it has a polyester waterproof lining. Other companies make a similar product such as Gerber. These bibs are awesome when you've got a baby who drools constantly. You'll still need to change the bib several times a day because it's not water-absorbent, but the great part is that you won't need to change your baby's clothes several times a day. They also make great feeding bibs because you can simply toss them in the laundry once they're done eating. One draw-back, like all bibs now-days, it has a Velcro closure that doesn't always work that great. These bibs are also generally more expensive than the plain cotton bibs, but they're well worth it and have the added bonus of being reversible!
(Update: Carter's now makes a snap-closure version called a "Keep Me-Clean" bib.) Carter's Keep Me-Clean Bibs
2. Bumkins Super Bib - Speaking of bibs, I'm also a big fan of this bib. This is primarily a feeding bib and not really appropriate for all day use, but what a feeding bib it is! This is the only feeding bib I will use and I can't tell you how ecstatic I was when I finally found this bib. I was so frustrated with the usual cheap feeding bibs that were "hand-wash only". Ugh, that's the last thing I want to do when I'm done feeding a very messy baby. These bibs can be washed in the washing machine along with the regular laundry. They last a long time through regular washing and I've collected so many by now that I can give my son a freshly washed bib at each meal. They come in two sizes and some really fun patterns. Again, these bibs are more expensive than regular feeding bibs, but they last a long time (I've had some for about 5 years now and they still look great) and they are well worth the extra money.
Bumkins Waterproof Superbib
3. The Snack Trap - This is something that has made car rides and walks so much easier (especially when paired with the No Throw, see below). It's basically a two-handled cup with a flexible plastic lid that allows the child to reach in and grab a snack, but can't be dumped out when turned upside-down. I've used these cups through two kids now and they still work great. An added bonus is that they help kids learn fine motor control since it does take some dexterity to get the snack out of the cup. 3 Pack Snack Trap
4. No Throw bottle and sippy cup strap - I have mixed feelings about this product. On the one hand it is an absolutely super idea. On the other hand, it wasn't executed as well as I would have liked. Still, if you tried to take this product away from me, I'd put up a fight! I have seen similar products out there like No Throw (see BooginHead, below), but this is the only one I could find here in town. Here's the best thing about it, no more sippy cups on the floor! For this alone it is well worth investing in. It is machine washable and easy to use and I love that I can string a Snack Trap on the strap along with the sippy cup. There are several things that I don't like about it though. For one, the Velcro strap isn't quite long enough to accommodate all sippy cups. Also, it tends to slip off of odd shaped, tapered cups. I'm not real impressed with the patterns that the straps come in although, a quick look at the No Throw website shows that they come in a large variety of patterns so there is bound to be one that you'll like. The last thing is the overall look of the product. It looks like it was cheaply make, although I've had mine for about a year now and both are still in good condition. They've been used extensively and washed several times without falling apart so that's a bonus. They're also good for keeping teethers and toys off the ground.
5. BooginHead PaciGrip Pacifier Holder - This is one of the best binky clips I've seen, and let me tell you I've seen lots of binky clips. I've even made my own binky clips. Both of my kids are binky addicts, which means that the binky needs to be accessible 24-7. Binky clips are an essential whether your kid is an addict or just an occasional user. I can't tell you how many times I've seen kids drop binkies on the floor. I've seen the lone binky lying in peculiar places around town and I've seen the parent who picks the binky off the ground, pops it in their mouth to "clean" it and then pops it back in the kid's mouth. Both are sad and horribly disgusting. Both make me want to scream, "Where is your binky clip!?" Here's what I love about this particular model. For one, there is no plastic. Sure plastic is easy to clean, but after repeated uses, it breaks. Especially when it's been through the dishwasher several times. The BooginHead has a metal clip that is easy for Mom and Dad to remove, but more difficult for baby. Secondly, there is no Velcro! Sometimes Velcro is the bane of baby products. Sure it's baby safe, but once a baby learns how Velcro works, chaos ensues. This clip makes it as difficult as possible to lose a binky and that's the absolutely best thing about it. BooginHead also makes a sippy cup strap which has a no-slip grip on it. I'm thinking it might be worth looking into and might solve my issues with weird shaped sippy cups. BooginHead PaciGrip Pacifier Holder and SippiGrip Toddler Cup/Bottle/Toy Straps
So that's my first list of five. There are of course many, many more products out there which I love and intend to write about in future posts. That's the great thing about baby and kid products. There is no end to the frustrating things that parents experience when it comes to taking care of their kids and there is always a new product out there that claims to make life easier.