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.
Ours is a household of skeptics. I’m a journalist who can’t make an Amazon purchase without first checking Fakespot; my husband is a late-night-TV writer whose job it is to make fun of everything. Our baby-registry research, therefore, was pathological: I cross-referenced friends’ registries while he scoured expert and customer reviews. (In therapy, we call this “perseverating.”)
But alas, it turns out that most of early parenthood is shouting into the void (or at your partner across the apartment who “can’t hear you”): “WHY DOES THIS NECESSARY BABY THING NOT EXIST?” And then finding after a quick, desperate search on the toilet that yes, in fact, it does, and it can be here in two days. For all the hours of product vetting we did before our daughter was born last October, the following list is largely brought to you by 3 a.m. impulse shopping — and it is for the most neurotic and high-maintenance among us.
Much of the newborn phase will be spent worrying about the contents of your baby’s orifices. The Frida Baby Snot Sucker is the one everyone and their mother recommends, but it made our baby cry — she hated the tube you stick up her nose and it took forever to suction out sticky mucus, even with saline drops. The multipart tool also has so much upkeep: You have to buy several filters and replace one with each use. Then one late night (or early morning, what is time?), deep in the bowels of a BabyCenter online forum, I discovered the Oogiebear. This piece of BPA-free rubber is so much easier to use: It functions like an adorable mini-shovel to scoop out boogers. The scooper is also less bulky, wipes clean, and involves zero emotional scarring.
I recommend magnetic bibs to everyone who tells me they’re pregnant. Velcro hurts delicate baby skin and is stupid loud for night feedings, while snaps are impossible one-handed (everything baby is a feat of one-handed circus tricks). These are not only seamless to get on, but also soft, organic, and perfectly absorbent. Yes, they will run you twice as much as other, nonmagnetic organic bibs, but the quality is so high that we still bought eight of them.
Moms in my Facebook groups (plural) swore by this soft silicone applicator as a surprise registry favorite. Diaper paste is sticky AF and the consensus was this mini “spatula” makes applying it mess-free and stress-free. Everyone who changes Nadia’s diaper — from my skeptical husband, king of “Do we need this?”, to my old-school mother-in-law — can’t believe they once used their gross naked finger.
The Haakaa is a multiple-voweled gift from God. There are countless mommy blogs singing its praises with luscious photos of breast milk filled to the brim. I have five. Created by a family in New Zealand, this magic manual pump sits pretty on one boob while baby nurses on the other. It catches your letdown and keeps suctioning milk like a time-saving vacuum. No insane tiny pump parts to wash. No bulky machine that needs charging. I built a whole freezer stash doing this. (Word to the wise: Football hold is the best breastfeeding position for using one. Otherwise, baby will kick it off and you will cry over spilled milk.) I also love this knockoff version since it hurt less to suction in the early tender days.
Years ago, when all of my friends were giving birth, I was horrified to hear of DIY frozen “padsicles” they made for their postpartum nether regions. There was literally a 13-page document circling around describing its recipe contents, which included all sorts of witch hazels, homeopathic gels, and other unholy things that you’re supposed to sandwich together and keep in your freezer. Luckily, by the time I gave birth, Frida Mom had come out with these brilliant absorbent pads that you can keep in your medicine cabinet and turn ice cold with a single snap — no fridge space or assembly required. I lived in these for the first few weeks. Medline has a cheaper version that’s almost as good, but lacks an adhesive strip.
I found this on a stylish mom’s Instagram and thought, No, it can’t be. A nice-looking, sustainable fanny pack that doubles as an actual diaper bag? But yes: The Kibou has a waterproof slot for wipes and a sleek back pocket, which — wait for it — rolls out into a changing pad. And while it may not be as roomy as our diaper backpack — a black hole where you can never find anything and that’s impossible to fit in the stroller — this clever bag still holds all the essentials, including a handful of diapers, wipes, and pacifiers, in addition to your iPhone and wallet. It’s perfect for a quick park stroll or doctor appointment if, like me, you’re a wannabe minimalist but reality hoarder.
Motherhood demands a lot of hunching over like you’re a lowly house elf, and it’s made me hurt in places I never even noticed before. My neck got so sore that I developed “mommy thumb.” Because, apparently, the fascia is all connected. Thankfully, a fellow new mom recommended this cozy heating pad, which is fully compatible with Netflix binging and can make you feel pampered when you don’t have time for any real self-care. I gave birth just before winter and this was the closest thing I got to a spa day during the long pandemic months that followed.
When Nadia was 5 months, she got a diaper rash so bad I didn’t leave the house for a week. I aired her out all day, replacing chuck pad after chuck pad as she peed all over her room. I got so desperate I started talking about her rash to all our parent friends (as one does), and one of them recommended this bath powder that changed everything. I knew about Aveeno from my girl Jennifer Aniston, but little could I fathom its power with baby butts. Now we just bathe her in it, soap optional — followed by a military regimen of Aquaphor and Triple Paste — and she has rarely had a rash since.
The Strategist is designed to surface the most useful, expert recommendations for things to buy across the vast e-commerce landscape. Some of our latest conquests include the best acne treatments, rolling luggage, pillows for side sleepers, natural anxiety remedies, and bath towels. We update links when possible, but note that deals can expire and all prices are subject to change.