this thing's incredible

You Can Take All My Baby Gear — But You Can’t Take My DockATot

Look how happy.

Of all the stuff I’ve bought or received since I had a baby — a crib, a bassinet, a mobile, a stroller, multiple carriers, a bouncer — the thing I’ve used the absolute most is the DockATot. From the name you can probably guess that the DockATot is a baby docking station. More specifically, it’s a small mattress with side cushions about five inches high. It doesn’t sound like much, and it’s not cheap ($175 or more, depending on the cover you choose), but my baby falls asleep easier and sleeps longer in his DockATot than anywhere else. It’s money very well spent.

Babies like to feel snug, and many feel at sea in a crib. In a DockATot, they’re surrounded by bumper pillows which provide that cocoon-like sensation while, crucially, not posing a suffocation threat the way ordinary pillows do. If you’re into co-sleeping, you can even bring the DockATot in bed with you. As long as you have a queen-size mattress it’ll probably fit your docked baby plus two adults.

It’s not just a lounger, either. It doubles as a changing station, or a soft surface for when the baby needs tummy time. It’s so lightweight, I bring it around the house as a little portable bassinet — I’ll stash the baby in it wherever I am, well within sight. At this point, my chief concern is that the baby will outgrow his dock without falling in love with his crib. I’m thinking I’ll spring for the toddler version (delaying the problem rather than solving it), but that’s an issue for another month.

If you’re interested in a bedside sleeper for your baby that’s on the less expensive side, the Swaddleme is highly regarded.

In the Google Doc of baby gear that went from new mom to new mom, the Peanut changing station was a lifesaver: “I had a regular changing pad with covers the first time around, and it can be exhausting to deal with the mess of the fabric-poop combo (you will be shocked how it manages to go everywhere in the beginning). This one easily wipes clean and cuts down on laundry. You can keep it on top of a dresser or on the floor, whatever works best with your set up.”

In our guide to baby shower gifts, the Leachco lounger was a favorite of product designer Rebecca Schultz: “I received the Leachco Sling–style Infant Lounger as a gift with my second baby, and I love it [Editors’ note: we’ve written about this before], especially since I have a 23-month-old as well. I can prop this up on the kitchen table or somewhere out of reach of her ‘gentle’ touches, and know that everyone is safe. It’s also great when it’s time to shower, go to the bathroom, or make a quick breakfast.”