Prev Next

The Five Most (and Least) Useful Baby Products

By Amalah

illustration of pregnant woman looking at manual breast pump and confusedAmy,

Okay, so you’ve had some babies now, and presumably lots and lots of baby gear and accessories and time to try it all out. So for us pregnant folk who are getting ready to register, tell us: what were the MOST USEFUL things you’ve used that you couldn’t raise a baby without? Oh, and the most useLESS, while we’re at it.

Thanks, and no, I’m not usually this bossy, unless you’re my husband and I’m craving ice cream.


Whee, lists! Multiple lists, because I’m going to let you in on a little secret: ALL BABIES ARE DIFFERENT. I know! Shocking. When I had Noah, I was secretly a little baffled by people who swore Pampers were better than Huggies, or said they never used their swing. What were they TALKING about? How did Pampers not leak all over the place for them? And were they using the swing…wrong? Were they remembering to turn it on?

And then I had Ezra and oh! I get it. The babies. They like different things. They are different shapes (skinny first child Noah = Huggies, thunderthighs secondchild Ezra = Pampers). It’s like they are different people entirely! Or something.

So I’m going to offer you three humble lists: the five most useful things from each baby’s infancy (alas, there’s very little overlap), and the five LEAST useful things that haven’t worked for EITHER baby. Many of which were probably absolutely essential to someone else’s baby. So…yeah. This may be a very futile enterprise, but you asked, and I shall answer.

The Five Most Useful Baby Items Ever, Noah Edition

1) The Five Most (and Least) Useful Baby ProductsFisher-Price Ocean Wonders Aquarium Cradle Swing (no longer available, but here’s a similar one). We were in a very small condo, so a small swing was essential. Noah adored everything about this swing: the lights, music, toys, etc. Ezra, of course, despises it.

2) Fisher-Price Ocean Wonders Aquarium (this is an older version) (Newer Version). Not so much for when they’re teeny tiny, but when Noah got a little older and consistently slept in his crib, this thing soothed him to sleep every night and bought us countless extra hours once he learned to turn it on himself. He used it for over two years and probably would still use it today if we hadn’t gotten sick of changing the batteries and taken it away, because we are Mean. I have high hopes that Ezra will like it too, but…sigh. I’m not counting on it.

3) Dr. Brown’s bottles. Stopped the spit-up and gas dead. Stopped the need for constantly interrupting the feeding for multiple burps. Still the only bottle we use, although Ezra will only take a bottle if I’m not around. Like, not in the house. At all. Ever.

4) Cloth diaper burp rags. Okay, technically these were essential for BOTH babies, but more so for Noah because of the aforementioned spit-up problem. (Ezra’s tummy is far less sensitive.) Don’t go fancy here: just buy some jumbo packs of cheap tri-fold diapers and keep them handy at all times.

5) Video Monitor. No, not essential by any means, but super cool. Noah slept in his crib from a very early age and a good baby video monitor (reviews in the link) was essential to my peace of mind. We stopped using it for awhile and then it got a second lease on life when we moved him to a toddler bed. The video monitor helped us keep his butt in bed without ever having to move off the downstairs couch. “NOAH. GET. BACK. IN. BED.”

The Five Most Useful Baby Items Ever, Ezra Edition

1) The Miracle Blanket.  Not so much of a blanket but a swaddling straitjacket. If you’ve got a baby who has trouble settling down to sleep and startles awake easily, you will want at least two or three of these. (Bought for you by other people, of course, because they aren’t cheap.)

2) Slings and Carriers. Ezra will vaguely tolerate a bouncy seat, haaaates swings, protests when placed on a blanket or play mat, and basically has rejected every other baby containment device on the market (except for one, which I’ll mention in a bit). When he was brand new, I used a pouch-style sling for hours a day (and still do), and now that he’s a bit bigger we’re very much into our Ergo baby carrier, which I especially love because I can breastfeed completely hands-free, and it’s SUPER comfortable and easy on the back. (And Jason can wear it to, since he’s not super into my beautifully patterned fabric slings. Heh.)

3) Bumbo Seat. The only not-strapped-to-us place in the house he’ll tolerate. I think he likes being upright and in constant eye contact with us. Most nights, it’s the only way dinner gets onto the table and into my mouth.

4) Bebe au Lait Nursing Cover. Yeah, I know. Nursing in public is legal and everybody should get over themselves and stop flipping out over the sight of a baby sucking on a boob. I still am more comfortable when I can be discreet and covered. This cover lets you see the baby and get latched on and is very lightweight and roomy — some babies refuse to eat under covers, but luckily Ezra doesn’t seem to even notice it. And since he’s spent about 99% of his life so far attached to my boobs, this thing has gotten a LOT of use. (Update: Here are some more nursing covers to review and consider.)

5) Um. Cute socks. Yeah. I could honestly only think of four things that are absolutely essential to raising Ezra. He’s just not that into baby gear. He wants to be swaddled, held, and breastfed, and that’s about it. He’s latched onto a Winnie the Pooh teething blanket as a lovey (something Noah never had any use for), but other than that, he doesn’t require much STUFF. I really do love having lots and lots of cute socks and baby leg warmers though.

The Five Least Useful Baby Items Ever, At Least For Us

1) White Noise Machine. Used it for both babies, never noticed a dang difference in their sleep patterns with or without it.

2) Travel systems. Bleh. Big, bulky and unnecessary. Make your stroller purchase independently from the car seat issue: they’re only in those bucket seats for an average of six months, and you’ll be using the stroller for a good two or three years after that. We use a snap-n-go stroller frame (folds up SMALL. and LIGHT. which you NEED when you’re lugging the baby and the car seat and a huge diaper bag by yourself), and went with a Maclaren umbrella stroller for Noah (LOVE), and now use a Phil & Ted’s stroller with the doubles kit. The Phil & Ted’s is neither small nor light, but oh! It steers and maneuvers like a dream, which is totally essential when you’re dealing with a big double stroller.

3) Bottle warmers. Ours very even worked properly, and I remember staring at it as it took up counter space next to our a) stove and b) microwave (for WATER, by the way, not for mixed formula or breastmilk), and then having an Oh Duh epiphany before tossing it in the trash. (I never had a wipe warmer, but I hear they are similarly stupid.)

4) SwaddleMe blankets. Another swaddling option. Less expensive than the Miracle Blanket, with the added bonus of coming in more than one size. Problem: both babies were able to pull the velcro fasteners apart mere seconds after I finished wrapping them up. Darn it.

5) Special tummy time anything. Look, infants don’t really like tummy time, as a general rule. And there really isn’t anything that’s going to change that, at least early on when tummy time is the most important. They don’t CARE what you put them on and they don’t know how to manipulate toys or turn music on with their feet. Just stick them on a regular blanket and get your face down by their face and just try to keep them entertained for as long as possible that way.

Don’t forget to visit Amalah’s hilarious Pregnancy Weekly


Here’s Amalah’s Ultimate Baby Registry Checklist which will also give you some additional ideas if you’re looking for a baby shower or new baby gift.

If you’re considering an online baby registry, we recommend Amazon’s Baby Registry, which offers free 90-day returns on baby store purchases. You can even add items from other websites onto to your baby registry.

Amazon Baby Registry 1

About the Author

Amy Corbett Storch


Amalah is a pseudonym of Amy Corbett Storch. She is the author of the Advice Smackdown and Bounce Back. You can follow Amy’s daily mothering adventures at Ama...

Amalah is a pseudonym of Amy Corbett Storch. She is the author of the Advice Smackdown and Bounce Back. You can follow Amy’s daily mothering adventures at Amalah. Also, it’s pronounced AIM-ah-lah.

If there is a question you would like answered on the Advice Smackdown, please submit it to [email protected].

Amy also documented her second pregnancy (with Ezra) in our wildly popular Weekly Pregnancy Calendar, Zero to Forty.

Amy is mother to rising first-grader Noah, preschooler Ezra, and toddler Ike.

icon icon