Since we are getting out of the baby age, I thought it might be fun and helpful to make a list of things we found most helpful and most used the first 2 years of Ethan’s life so far. I will list the items chronologically. (I am not affiliated with any of the products or companies and am just discussing what we like and use.)
1)Swaddle Me-This is for the littelest of babies as it is a velcro swaddle blanket. It is super easy to use and Ethan loved them! They usually come in packs of 3 (I think ours was at Target.) Here is a picture of him in one-although we didn’t swaddle up his hands in this picture because we had just snapped a few one week old pictures of him. You can see the two velcro tabs in the picture below. They come in solid and cutesy patterned designs, too. (We had a monkey one.)
2)Snugli-Not to confuse this with item #1 on the list, this is a brand of baby carrier we had. I didn’t use it all the time, but I enjoyed using it on errands to leave extra room in the grocery cart, to feel close to Ethan on walks (rather than put him in his stroller in the very early months and in warmer weather when he didn’t need bundling, etc.) I remember “wearing” him when I was working part-time and needed to run up on a so called “off-day” (haha right, working moms?) to fax some paperwork. It seemed simple to use, but I may try wraps too next time I have a baby.
This picture was probably the last time I used it with Ethan. He was getting bigger, probably around 7 months here. I had him facing me when he was younger than pictured.
3) Garanimals Buzzy Bite teether-Someone gave us this as a gift when Ethan was in the hospital around 7 months and it had multiple uses for Ethan: of course, it helped relieve teething as it has several different textured wings (shaped like a bee), but it also “buzzes” or vibrates to add teething relief and also was recommended by occupational therapy for assisting with lessening tongue thrust. (for kids with Down Syndrome or others with low muscle tone and tongue thrust). There are other teethers like this-one that comes to mind that Ethan’s therapist used was a John Deere corn one, I believe.
4) Carseat-Stroller Combos (ours is Graco brand)-This is a very helpful type of stroller set because you can just click the car seat in and out without waking the baby if need be (if that’s even something your baby would sleep through). Also, it saves time in not having to move the baby out of the actual car seat then back in, hopefully keeping the baby content rather than putting the baby back into the seat. Also, at the age when looking at them and talking to them face-to-face is most important for development, you can have the baby face you while the car seat is locked into the stroller,while older babies who are benefitting from discovering the world outside mom and dad’s faces can sit in the stroller without the car seat clicked in. The car seat that came with our stroller is an infant seat only, though. If you are having more than one child eventually, though, those older kid car seats can last into their elementary years, leaving the older infant car seat for new baby if it is still in good working order and not recalled.
5) Fisher Price Tiny Love Soothe and Groove Mobile-We got this as a gift on Ethan’s first Christmas, and it was amazing! It was a mobile that spun and played soothing music plus spun around and had little lights and designs that were calming for Ethan, going on its own for 20 minutes! On the setting we most often used, it played music then within the last few minutes, stopped the spinning and automatically turned the light on the mobile off so that the baby just hears the music, then shortly after the music stops. It is a great way to ease the baby into sleep when other efforts haven’t worked OR when you want the baby to be entertained and soothed when you just might not be able to at the moment. (you have to take a shower to get ready, etc.) It comes with a remote, too! So you can re-start it without getting up in your baby’s face and upsetting him/her. I will say, though, I don’t recommend too much reliance on it because babies need our closeness as parents. Its just a nice thing to have for backup and entertainment for baby, as I said.
6) I can’t say enough for this..and I often talk about Signing Time on this blog. Some of Ethan’s most prized possessions are most certainly his Signing Time and Baby Signing Time DVDs. It has helped him communicate, dance, talk, and enjoy himself. Its entertained him when he has been sick. They now have more than just Signing Time going on at Two Little Hands Productions, check them out at http://www.signingtime.com/
If you are a Signing Time fan or anticipate your child being one, check out this post about having a Signing Time birthday party
7) V-Tech Crawl Ball-This thing was awesome. A friend recommended it to us, who said it was instrumental in getting their kiddo to crawl. It was a big motivator for Ethan as well. It make sounds as it rolls and rolls away once you get it to encourage you to follow it. Kind of like how some women do to reel men in, playing hard to get. ha.
8) Poppity-Pop Musical Dino-Ethan played with this toy like crazy-we replaced the batteries twice within 6 months or less because he played wtih it sooo much. He neglected all his other toys for a while but it was GREAT for his development because he had small (about golf-sized) balls that came with the toy that he had to put in and watched it disappear in the dino tail to pop out of the dino’s mouth (or something like that) The webbing bobs up and down making the balls pop up and down and Ethan loved trying to grab it. Great fine motor skills. He got it as a birthday gift at one year of age.
9) Sunbaby Cloth (pocket) Diapers-Although we only started using this when Ethan turned 2 to save money, I can vouch for the good quality of Sunbaby Diapers because we bought 24 nad have used them for over 6 months, with heavy and daily use! We wash every other day and have been down to 22, actually, since a few months ago (who knows where they went), and there isn’t any elastic damage or major issues. We use the bamboo inserts.
10) Pack N Play-I think this is a mainstay for any parent, but it is so useful and durable that it had to make the list. We had the kind with multiple levels for infants with a mattress up high so you don’t have to reach waaaaay down and can also use it for diaper changes when on vacation. Ours also came with a diaper holder, little vibrating bassinet type deal and a sound maker. We honestly have almost never used those items so unless you want to register for a fancy one, I wouldn’t spend a lot extra for those features if you are buying out of pocket. We use Pack N Play for holding ballpit balls
11) Huggies Overnight Diapers-When Ethan started wetting his diapers at night more heavily, we tried the cheaper overnights first to see if those did the trick. They really didn’t, and honestly sometimes he still woke up with Huggies overnights BUT he didn’t have any leaks through his pants so he probably woke up from something else. Hemp or bamboo inserts in the cloth diapers are good enough to prevent leaks at naptime, but it wasn’t enough for Ethan at night usually. With a coupon and mark down, buying disposable overnight diapers every 56 days on average (the kind we get have 56 to a box), we figured for good overnight protection we could swing that cost. I thought about trying the wool soakers to go over fitted cloth diapers but since I have neither of those things..we will just pay for the Huggies overnights.
12) Imaginarium Discovery 5-way Activity Cube- This is what we got Ethan at Toys R Us for his 2nd birthday. It has so many things to do in one, and having a toy without batteries is nice, for us and for him. It is great for find motor skills and cognitive skills. <a hr
13) Nabi, Jr. tablet-Ethan got this for his 2nd birthday, and it is awesome especially for waiting rooms or times we need him to sit awhile. It includes games, puzzles, books (where you can hear a reader or elect to read it yourself), and flashcards. you can upload things just like with an ipad, but it includes a ton of stuff when you buy it. Two is probably the earliest I would get this for a kid. He will play with it for years. Some things are just for his age, and some things he will grow into. Is is also great for fine motor and cognitive skills. Here is Ethan playing with his Nabi in the pre-operation room before his tonsillectomy soon after he turned two.