As a father of three small children, I’ll admit that parenting can be challenging. Even after having three, I’ll still argue that the first one was the biggest shock to our lives. It changes things so drastically that you sometimes are just wondering what has just happened.
In the summer of 2010, we had just brought our first child home, and I distinctly remember him being asleep in his carrier, looking at my wife, and saying “what do we even do with him?” Here’s the simple truth: the first eight weeks of having a baby are pretty crazy, but it generally calms down after that. Of course, having the right tools at home always helps. Here’s a list of things I recommend for new parents. Some of the gear is stuff I had, wish I had, or bought after I tried something else that I didn’t like.
Infant Optics DXR–8 Video Baby Monitor – $144
You might be wondering why I’m not recommending something with an iPhone or Android app. We tried that originally but found that it quickly becomes tiresome having to keep checking an app. It also meant that we had to keep at least one iPhone with us all of the time when a child was napping or asleep at night.
One great feature about RF-based baby monitors is that you can turn the screen off, but still listen to the audio. If a baby cries in the middle of the night, you’ll hear it, but you don’t have to see bright glare from the video. Sometimes going a little lower tech is better, and this is one of those situations. If you need to add on a second camera, you can do so for $99 (and use the same monitor).
Honest Diapers, Size 1 – $25
I’ve tried every brand of diapers out there, and nothing compares to the Honest brand. Yes, they are slightly more expensive, but they are so much more absorbent that you end up going through fewer diapers in a day. We used various other brands with our first two children, and someone gave us a box of Honest diapers as a gift for our third child. We were sold immediately. It was one of those “nope, these are the best, and no one else compares” moments.
Marpac Dohm Sound Machine – $50
Sound Machine (or white noise machines) have become essential in my house. We even take them with us when we travel and all of my children have grown up sleeping with one. White noise has been shown to help you fall asleep, and also drown out noise during the night. For you as a parent, this means you don’t have to tip-toe around the house in hopes of preventing your child from being woken up.
Munchkin Stay Put Suction Bowls – $8
While you won’t need these right away, I wanted to mention them still. The bowls are great when your child starts eating a little table food (cheerios, etc.). They are suctioned to the table so your child can’t throw the entire bowl off when they get mad. The $14 snack catchers are also great when you are on the go as well.
WubbaNub Pacifier – $14
These pacifiers are great for those first few months as they stay in place easier than normal ones (meaning in your child’s mouth) and when they get dirty, you can easily throw them in the dishwasher. Once they get a little older, you can transition to the regular Soothie pacifier. We’ve tried various brands of pacifiers over the years, and we prefer these the best.
Halo SleepSack – $22
You might be thinking, WHAT IN THE WORLD is this? Babies love to be swaddled. From what I’ve read, it mimics the same type of environment they had before they were born. Since they are just figuring out how to operate their body, they often don’t know what to do with their hands. Putting them in a SleepSack help confines them in place so they can rest peacefully.
As they get older, you can transition into a normal SleepSack ($20) to help keep them warm at night.
The above items are some great options to help make the transition into being a parent slightly less chaotic. It’s a huge transition, but the craziness only lasts for a short period. When in doubt, pour some coffee and hunker down. Do you have any other suggestions? Let me know in the comments.