Registries are often wasted on soon-to-be-parents. In this series, cool new(-ish) moms and dads tell us about the stuff that’s actually worked for them in the time since they had a kid. In other words: If they could do their baby registry all over again, here are the items that would top the list.
“We had to make sure he was rolling with us,” says Samir Hernandez of his 18-month-old son, Immanuel. From the time Immanuel was an infant, Hernandez, who’s the VP of special projects at SLAM, always wanted to be able to take the little guy along when he had to travel to places like L.A. for work (he’s also involved in various side projects, such as the short film he recently executive produced starring Joey Bada$$). And so he and his wife, Angella, sought out baby products that performed equally well both in their Harlem apartment and while on the road — stuff that was space-saving and portable, but also sturdy and well-made.
Even though frequent travel isn’t really a possibility right now — and even though the Hernandez family has since relocated from the city to a home in New Jersey — there are still numerous items on the following list that continue to be staples in Immanuel’s life. That’s also true of the collapsible, overhead-bin-friendly Yoyo stroller — it’s not included below, because it’s already been mentioned in this series, but it’s worth noting that Hernandez preferred it over the Doona, which folds up too small for his taste: “I’m too tall for that,” he says. “This one, we use it to this day.”
Immanuel was a gassy and reflux-y baby, and this German brand formula helped relieve his issues so that he slept soundly. Other formulas can mess with the stomach. But this is pure; as pure as you can get with formula. Our family friends with two young kids were like, “Hey, man, this is what we used.” And it was dope. A store based in Brooklyn was able to provide it for us, and they even came through during the pandemic when supplies were short.
I am very involved as a dad, but my wife — she’s the magician of the crib. She researched everything — the blogs, the Happiest Baby site, Babylist; she was all over the place. A friend sent her a photo of her friend’s child using these hands-free baby bottles at around 2 or 3 months, when babies are still too young to hold their own bottles. They were awesome to have on hand for those car rides or stroller walks when we couldn’t assist.
My wife was losing ounces of milk when transferring it from the breast pump to the bottle. She saw an ad for this starter kit on Instagram, and it made pumping, storing, and serving the milk easy as one-two-three. Once our son graduated to solids, she purchased the food-storing system that allowed him to use the pouches with a spoon attachment or eat directly from the opening.
Our Pack N’ Play was dope because you could adjust it to different heights — our son slept in the bassinet level for the first few months before we lowered it. And I’m six-foot-seven, so this made it easier for me to bend down and pick him up — rather than having to go all the way down.
This bouncer seat was clutch for a long time because it was small, easy to travel with. That’s what we took with us and would use in place of his little rocker chair — we just kind of let him chill there. You could feed him in it, too.
This pillow is probably the baby thing that we’ve used the longest. In the beginning, when he wasn’t really moving yet, we used it to provide extra support on the changing table. As he got older, it was like, okay, let’s give you your pillow to make you more comfortable — because obviously the changing mat isn’t that thick. Now he’s squirming, so it doesn’t do anything to keep in place anymore, but I think it just makes my wife and I feel better. He’s still got that pillow.
From the age of 4 months onward, this provided hours of entertainment. Immanuel still uses it as an 18-month-old — he plays with his cars and trucks on it. There was always something new for him with this activity center — he would be hitting the little toys, moving around in circles. You got to see the development of his motor skills as he engaged with different elements of the Skip Hop from month to month. It’s great as a parent to be able to see that growth, and to make sure he’s hitting his developmental markers.
Rookie USA — they got all the athletic wear. We put Immanuel in a lot of Nike gear, baby Levi’s, baby Converse; we found all of it through Rookie USA. They kept him cool, you know? I wanted him to be fresh.
I just carry a simple backpack with me instead of a diaper bag. If you’re going on a subway to go to the park and back, you can’t be carrying around a bunch of stuff. You need to be efficient. If you need something extra to go, just throw it in here.
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