First time parents get a lot of stuff for their kids and themselves. Friends and family members send gifts and items aimed to help parents get through the first few months without too much difficulty. Parents themselves buy lots of products that they think will help them get through this time. But which actually work? There are a handful of items we either got or bought for ourselves that ended up being especially useful or necessary in the first few months of our twins’ lives.
With two new children, and our first, there was no shortage of gifting and items coming to us before the boys arrived. Some were necessary just to get around with them safely, while others seemed like luxuries until we realized how much time they saved or how critical they became to our survival. Sleep was the biggest focus for the first three months, so anything that could help get them to sleep or keep them that way was no longer a luxury. After that, products which could help us get out of the house and keep some level of fitness and sanity were of the upmost importance as were those which could keep the boys entertained and happy.
These are the top 10 products that helped us survive the first few months with babies
Bugaboo Donkey Stroller
Of course everyone needs a stroller with a baby, but getting the right one can make a huge difference. For parents of twins, the choices are drastically reduced. We did not want one in which the children went on top of each other or front to back due to concerns with perceived favoritism, so it had to be side by side. We picked the Donkey because of positive reviews on stability, durability, and convenience. These all turned out true. Nine months later with countless times moving it around and fairly off-road trips, it still looks fairly new and works perfectly. The fold up mechanism could be a little easier to get it into the car, but the convenience of it folding fairly small so that it, the seats, and a few bags can still fit into the trunk is amazing. It also converts from bassinet to car seat attachments to toddler seats which means it will stay with you longer. What we didn’t expect was how important the big chunky tires would be as it enabled us to take the boys on hikes and explore more places, very important for us to get out of the house and stay sane in the early months. I even took it on a 6 mile hike over rocky terrain in a state forest once and it did surprisingly well and the boys loved it. A stroller is one of the largest investments you’ll make before the children come, but spending a little more to get a good one will be well worth it.
Fisher-Price Rock n’ Play
A friend told us how their child essentially lived in this rocker until they were six months old and outgrew it. Both of our children basically did too and it only got put away when they both outgrew it, feet hanging over the end of it, and could sit up in their playpen. This rocker has some magical ability to calm an upset baby. While we had the boys sleep in their pack and play bassinets for the first week of their life, we ended up switching to these because they were so much happier and slept longer. Perhaps the angle helps little stomachs or the movement is calming, but they work. We only moved them out of these at night when we decided we were going to get them to sleep in their cribs and wouldn’t go back. It was a painful three days but they adapted. We continued using these pretty much all day long until they outgrew them.
For the times and places a stroller won’t do, there is the baby carrier. Originally we only used these when taking hikes a stroller couldn’t go on which we did plenty of, but eventually found that they worked well for getting house work chores done when nothing would calm the boys except to be touching us. We even took the boys to the voting polls in these. As they get bigger, it becomes more of a workout to lug them around in these, but it’s far easier than carrying them otherwise. If you value getting outside and into nature, or even just need a free hand some times, you need one of these.
Sophie the Giraffe Teether
I think every parent is familiar with this pricy Giraffe. The rumor is that they only cost a few Euros in France, but here you have to pay up. However, for us, Sophie was absolutely worth it. The boys have formed an attachment with Sophie that borders on concerning. Often is the time that I look back in the car and see at least one of the boys going crazy chewing on her. As they began teething Sophie has become their soothing aid of choice. In times of extreme discomfort, only Sophie seems to be able to help them feel better. Sure there are plenty of other teething toys, but there is a reason you see every child clutching a Sophie in doctors’s offices and in restaurants.
Fisher-Price Jungle Play Mat
This mat which at first glance appears to be nothing more than a slightly padded mat to cover the floor and a few dangling toys is so much more. It is a respite for new parents who need a minute to themselves and to occupy a baby. The noises seem to speak to one of our boys who would start chirping back at the animals from a young age while the other hums along to the music. Though they didn’t like being left alone on it for the first two months, once they got a bit older and could focus on the toys and sounds, it began to occupy them for longer periods of time. Time in which we could actually enjoy a coffee before it got cold or wash some dishes. Now that they can sit up and reach for things, they love to grab the toys and use them as pull up bars. So it now provides entertainment and exercise. Win win.
Chico Keyfit Car Seat & Skip Hop Cover
Yes a car seat is mandatory and they won’t let you home from the hospital without one, but like a stroller, investing in a good one is worth the added expense. Most infant car seats are convertible, allowing you to detach them from the car with the child still in them. Trust me, this little amount of time you save not having to buckle them in and out adds up so much over time. Adding the attachment for the stroller is also a huge help when out and about. When running errands, you don’t want to be moving from seat to seat multiple times, especially with twins. We also got this cover that was a huge help in the winter. Buckling a child into a seat with a coat is dangerous, but taking one on and off is a pain as well. This cover is fur lined and warm enough to keep them comfortable even when freezing out. The zipper makes it easy to open it up when going inside and into warmer conditions too. Plus it goes on and off easily with the elastic. It was a huge time saver and as a parent, the resource that becomes most important is time.
Samsung Video Baby Monitor
Again, a baby monitor is pretty much a necessity these days, especially for any parents who have more than one room. Being technological, I looked at some of the trendier video options including wifi cameras and IoT (internet of things) devices, but decided to go with a dedicated video monitor due to concerns with the reliability of such wifi devices when web services are down. For a baby monitor, you don’t want any lag or latency in the case of an emergency. There are lots of audio only monitors available as well, but adding in video is especially useful for nervous parents like us who need to check on their children whenever there is a noise. Not having to run upstairs to check every time one of the boys sneezes is very nice. Having a dedicated monitor system ensures that everything is very smooth and real time. This version has infrared too so that you can still see what is going on in the dark.
Building up a library for your children is a necessity. Everyone has their own favorite books that they claim will make your children smarter or more emotionally developed. I personally prefer the classics I grew up with, but have added a few new ones in. The important part is to have enough variety so that you can read regularly, if not every night, and not get bored. Reading isn’t only good for fostering brain development and language learning, it also provides a interesting activity for children. Ours love books, especially trying to chew on them, but also just sitting and looking at the pictures as we read to them. A good book reading can actually calm them down when upset.
myBaby Noise Machine
For the first couple of months, we were willing to try nearly anything to help get our kids to sleep and keep them that way through the night. This noise machine not only helped with that at home, but was essential while we traveled as well. The white noise it provides is actually so relaxing we still use it to help us get to sleep. The nature sounds help put the boys in calm down mode before bedtime and help them get to sleep without much of a fight. The timer is a nice feature as we can set it to 30 minutes and it will shut off automatically as the boys are hopefully asleep by that point. It’s also fairly durable, surviving several tumbles off of the dresser we keep it on.
Ulubulu Pacifier Strap
For such a simple idea, it’s amazing how useful and important these have been. These little loops allow you to clip pacifiers onto clothes or bibs, making it much less likely for you to lose them. They also can’t get spit out of a stroller and onto the ground with these secured. Nor will they get dropped out of a car seat in a parking lot. I still somehow found a way to attach it wrong once and dropped the pacifier on a restroom floor once, but that was entirely my fault. Get a pair, you’ll forget how much more of a pain it was before you did.
My favorite products tend to be ones you would otherwise take for granted. Many are obvious items, but it might not be obvious how much a little additional investment can pay off in the long run with repeated use. Others are little things, but ones you might not be aware of that can save new parents lots of time and stress. Make these investments early, or have your friends and family help out and you won’t regret it.
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