The Colonel’s Must-Haves: A Baby Registry Helper

I have a few friends who are currently expecting, and one of them had asked me a while back for recommendations on “must-have” baby items. This post is fairly overdue, but here are the items we found invaluable, in no particular order.

  1. Halo SleepSack Swaddles: One-stop shopping for blanket and swaddle. Mostly due to The Colonel getting longer, these were only good for about the first 3-4 months, but that’s about as long as they recommend you swaddle anyways. We went a bit longer, but hey, you gotta do what works.
  2. Miracle Blanket: After a while, The Colonel got to be a bit of a Houdini when it came to swaddling. Miracle Blanket to the rescue. This is how we closed out her swaddling time, somewhere around 4-5 months.
  3. Aden + Anais Muslin Swaddle Blankets: These are great for summer swaddling, but are also really nice as light blankets, to throw over a carseat or stroller, etc. They’re soft and just keep getting softer with each wash.
  4. A Minky baby blanket: Every baby needs a super-soft blanket to get wrapped up in and help soothe them to sleep. Lots of people are making these Minky blankets nowadays. The Colonel’s was a gift from two of her grandmothers (they called it her “going to college blanket”). I’d go in and check the tag on hers and tell you where it came from, but she’s currently napping with it. Minky blankets ain’t the cheapest, but boy, they’re worth it.
  5. Moby Wrap: Yes, being essentially a long piece of fabric, it’s a bit of a pain to wrap, especially if you’re outside and trying to avoid dragging the ends in the mud. But it’s so comfortable for you, and so easy on the baby’s body. The Colonel and I have gone for walks in this, swung on the swingset, danced around the living room, vacuumed, etc. It’s a great, comfortable way to wear your baby.
  6. Boppy Bare Naked Pillow: I really don’t have to say much about this, do I? You already know about the Boppy, right? The Boppy is brilliant. I literally spent most of the first few weeks of my maternity leave on the couch, the Boppy wrapped around my waist, and The Colonel snoozing happily on it, with easy access to Cafe Mom whenever she wanted it. The Boppy is now taking a bit of a hiatus, but it’ll be making its return as The Colonel gets old enough to need a pillow to prop her up when she’s congested. They make super cute covers for them, too.
  7. Johnson’s Head to Toe Baby Wash: This is pretty basic, pretty boring, but it works, it’s affordable and it smells fresh and sweet. It also lasts a pretty long time. We bathe The Colonel pretty regularly, and we’re still working on the bottle we got when she was born.
  8. Johnson’s Baby Lotion: Again, a basic. Been around forever, and there’s probably a good reason for that. This is economical, feels great on your skin, makes the baby’s skin even softer than it already is, and smells like heaven. Sweet, infant-scented heaven.
  9. Dreft Laundry Detergent: My stepmother said, “Wow, they’re still making that?” So, apparently, Dreft has been around a while. Having used it now for almost eight months, I can attest to why. This stuff is mild, effective and it smells awesome. We got a huge container of it when The Colonel was born, and we haven’t gone through it yet.
  10. Mother Nature’s Diaper Service: Okay, this isn’t really a “product” as much as a service, but I had to give them a shout-out for anyone in the Madison, WI, area who might be reading this. We did the math before The Colonel was born, and figured out that doing cloth diapers through these guys would cost as much (if not a little less) than buying disposables. Plus the added benefits of being so much better for avoiding diaper rash, bumping up expected potty training time, and being so much better for the environment. And, it’s so convenient. On Wednesdays, we put the bag of stinky, wet and poopy diapers (no rinsing!) on our front porch, and come home to a bag of fresh, clean ones ready for the week ahead. If you’re in their delivery area, you should totally check them out.
  11. Thirsties Duo Wrap Diaper Covers: If you’re doing cloth diapers, these diaper covers are awesome. The adjustable snaps mean you (theoretically) only have to purchase two sizes to get you from birth to potty training. They’re durable, they’re really good at keeping “stuff” inside the wrap where it belongs, and they wash up great.
  12. Earth’s Best Chlorine Free Diaper Wipes: We got hooked into these through our diaper service, but they’re really nice. They’re very gentle, and I have to be honest that I don’t love the idea of putting anything chlorine-soaked on The Colonel, so these fit the bill.
  13. Haba Twitterling Mobile: The Colonel absolutely LOVES this mobile. The birds are colorful, made of soft fabric, and removable from the mobile (they attach via magnets). We’ve got this hanging over her changing table and, whenever I pick her up from a diaper change, she always wants to stop and “catch” a bird. It’s also useful, if she’s squirming around during a diaper change, I can just reach up and pluck down a bird and give it to her to chew on, and it keeps her occupied.
  14. Fair Indigo Joobles: When I got pregnant, I always knew The Colonel would HAVE to have a few Joobles. Partially because my friend Robert is the President of the company and I love supporting Fair Indigo, and partly because I think they’re a seriously awesome stuffed animal. Doubt me? Search the Google for “joobles reviews.” You’ll see. Before I could order The Colonel any of her own, her Uncle Robert actually gave her Jiffy the Giraffe whilst at a lovely brunch one day. She loves Jiffy. He’s soft, smooshy, colorful, easy to hold on to, and Mama loves that he was hand-knit at a small, fair trade Peruvian cooperative.
  15. Vulli Sophie the Giraffe Teething Toy: I’d be a little surprised if you haven’t heard of Sophie yet. She’s one of those toys that EVERYONE raves about and I can testify that there’s damn good reason for that. Sophie is awesome. She’s made of natural rubber, has lots of interesting protrusions and textures for little mouths to explore, and even squeaks, which is awesome for distracting a little one away from a fuss. The Colonel loves her. Get a Sophie. You won’t be sorry.
  16. Bright Starts Start Your Senses Developmental Activity Gym: OMG, The Colonel LOVES this. The colors and contrast are amazing, it’s super configurable, and you can use it anywhere from birth (for tummy time) up to the sitting/crawling stage.
  17. Merry Muscles Baby Exerciser Jumper: The Colonel is just now getting the hang of this, but I love that it’s designed by an occupational therapist and is designed to use the baby’s weight appropriately and avoid pressure on their bodies. We’re going to put a hook on our deck pergola and move it out there during the summertime.
  18. Cloud b Twilight Turtle Constellation Night Light: This is a really sweet nightlight that throws a star pattern up on the ceiling, in one of three colors. It goes off after 45 minutes, which I wish was a configurable setting, but you can always turn it back on if it goes off.
  19. Cloud b Sleep Sheep: I chuckle to say, we actually have three of these. All were gifts. They’re great, though, so I’m totally okay with that. These soft guys hang, via a long velcro strap, from the crib railing or wherever else you want to perch them. The sound unit inserts inside the sheep, and you can access the controls from outside. There are four sounds: Heartbeat, Rain, Ocean and Whale. What I found really interesting is that the Sleep Sheep is the only “heartbeat” maker I’ve heard of that uses a sound most similar to how blood ACTUALLY sounds in the womb as it’s rushing through the uterine artery. It’s not a lub-dub kind of thing; it’s more of a “shoe! (pause) shoe! (pause) shoe!” There’s a variable timer, so you can set the sounds to run for 23 or 45 minutes, and a volume control (hint: get your ear down to the level where your baby’s head will be when choosing the volume…you’d be surprised how much you might need to turn it down!)
  20. Munchkin Safety Spoons: Once we started feeding The Colonel food that didn’t come from Mama, these proved very useful. The soft spoon is nice on their little mouths, and the fact that the spoon changes color when the food is too hot is useful, too (although I more often find myself just testing the temperature myself by taking a little taste).
  21. Earth’s Best Whole Grain Oatmeal Cereal: Mamas, consider skipping the rice cereal. Yes, it’s really mild on new tummies, but it’s basically like feeding your kid a spoonful of sugar. There’s some contention that it may even contribute to childhood obesity. We started The Colonel directly on this cereal and she loooooooved it. It’s got a nice nutty flavor and mixes up really smoothly with breastmilk or water (or formula, I’d imagine). Shop around, as the price varies widely. Babies R Us tends to have consistently good pricing on it.
  22. Lansinoh Breastmilk Storage Bags: If you’re going to breastfeed and pump milk for storage, these are your bags. They’re super strong, the double zipper is money, and I’ve never had one burst or leak. Losing breastmilk is a huge tragedy. These bags help make sure it doesn’t happen to you.
  23. Crane Humidifier: We got one of these on super-sale from Target (the polar bear one), and just set it up in The Colonel’s room last night to help fight a cough she and I have both been dealing with. Even after one night, I’m sold. It produces super-fine, cool mist, it’s super-quiet (while still having a bit of that reassuring “humidifier noise” I remember from childhood), and one tank filling has already lasted about 15 hours. Plus, their “Adorables” line is, well, adorable.
  24. “Baby Animals: Black and White” by Phyllis Limbacher Tildes: This is a great first board book that even the tiniest of babies can appreciate. When The Colonel was no more than a month old, I’d hold this book open over her when she was on her changing pad and let her look at the high-contrast drawings and tell her the names of the animals over and over. She loved it.
  25. “The Wonderful Wizard of Oz: 100th Anniversary Edition” by L. Frank Baum: I don’t know if you grew up reading the Wizard of Oz series, but I did. Wait, you didn’t KNOW there was a series? Oh yes, there is, and they’re awesome. This book is a spectacular introduction to the series, both for the original story, and the gorgeous execution of the book itself. The illustrations (original color plates) are amazing, there’s a green ribbon page keeper, and the pages are tipped with gold. It’s an heirloom quality book. I’ve already read it to The Colonel over the series of several evenings while she played with her toys on our bed, and I’m sure it’s only the first of many readings. It also made me realize — and I know this may be a bit of sacrilege considering how beloved the original is — that Hollywood should REALLY consider remaking this story as a movie that’s truer to the book. It would actually be a super-interesting script, and opportunity for some amazing effects.

So, there’s my starter list. How about you? What items did you consider must-haves when you had your babies?

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