When I was pregnant I did all sorts of research on what babies needed (hey, I did that even before I got pregnant).  I thought I had it all figured out, exactly what my baby would and wouldn’t need.  Ha!  As usual, experience is priceless.  Here’s what I consider to be the best, most useful baby products:

Bouncy seat with vibration and toy bar: I didn’t think that I’d need a bouncy seat, because I was just going to wear my baby all the time.  AHAHAHAHAHA.  Thankfully a neighbor, an experienced grandmother, gave me a bouncy seat that her granddaughter had outgrown.  I quickly discovered that it was the ONLY PLACE WHERE PAULIE WOULD LET US PUT HIM DOWN.  Paulie is a sweet, easy-going baby, but he does NOT like to be put down.  If I turn on the vibration he’ll happily snooze in the bouncy seat.  When he got older and started spending more time awake, I added the toy bar, and he was very interested in it.  That kept him entertained for quite a while.  Our bouncy seat is by Graco, and it folds flat for storage, plus the cover comes off easily and can be thrown in the washing machine (which is extrememly important!)

Graco Travel Lite Crib: Most Pack n’ Plays look absolutely enourmous to me, and we just don’t have that kind of space in our apartment.  The Graco Travel Lite Crib is significantly smaller, yet still provides plenty of space for Paulie.  It doesn’t have a changing table– the entire top is the bassinet– but I wouldn’t use a playyard changing table anyway, as it would be too low for me.  I just use the changing table in Paulie’s room.  This playyard got top safety ratings from Consumer Reports.  We keep it in our bedroom– Paulie sleeps in it at night.  I bought ours at Target, and it’s a nice blue and brown.

Aden & Anais swaddling blankets: I quickly learned that Paulie would sleep much, much longer if he were swaddled.  And oh, sleep is priceless!  We stopped needing to swaddle Paulie once he reached two months old, but before then they were absolutely neccessary.  Most of the time he wouldn’t sleep for more than 10 minutes once we put him down, if he weren’t swaddled.  The Aden & Anais blankets are generously sized, and that made it easy to swaddle him.  Also, they’re made of this wonderfully soft muslin, which is nice and lightweight (overheating increases the risk of SIDS).  One night Paulie wet through all of his swaddle blankets (we still hadn’t figured out the diaper situation at that point), and so I had to put him to bed unswaddled.  He didn’t sleep for more than 1 1/2 hours at a time.  That was a looong night.  Needless to say, the next day I went out and bought four more of these swaddle blankets!  Note: these don’t have velcro or anything to hold the swaddle together, but the swaddle still stayed put, even though Paulie is a *very* strong and active kicker.  We tried a Miracle Blanket with him but he aboslutely hated the way it restrained his arms ($30 down the drain… sigh…)

Pampers Baby Dry diapers: Paulie is a heavy wetter, and he soaked through the Huggies Little Movers over and over and over again.  We tried the Earth’s Best diapers, but he soaked through those as well (plus he reacted to them– ouch!– Paulie has very sensitive skin).  I thought we were stuck with changing all of his clothes and blankets every time we changed his diaper, until I tried Pampers Baby Dry.  Oh, how I love these diapers.  We used only disposables when we first brought Paulie home from the hospital, as we were under too much stress to add in extra laundry at that point.  Paulie, my little Super Soaker, doesn’t soak through the Pampers Baby Dry!!  And he doesn’t react to them, either!  Hooray!  I haven’t tried the Pamper’s Dry Max diapers because I’ve heard of kids getting awful chemical burns from them.  I will say that they’re not as trim as the Huggies Little Movers, but you will appreciate all of that extra diaper space when it’s holding the pee, instead of letting the pee soak through your baby’s clothes.

Fuzzi Bunz Perfect Size diapers: I’ve only tried one other brand of cloth diaper, so I can’t say how these compare to, say, the Bum Genius, but I love them.  My little Super Soaker doesn’t wet through them as long as I change them frequently enough.  I bought Joeybunz hemp inserts to use with these, since Paulie’s such a heavy wetter.  These diapers are incredibly cute– I especially love the apple green color!– and the fleece inside is really soft.  The other brand of cloth diaper I tried is only available locally, so I won’t review it here– I’ll just say that it leaked.  My one complaint is that the sizing they listed is wrong.  The small size is supposed to fit up to 18 lbs– maybe Paulie’s thighs are chunkier than other babies’, but they only fit him up to 11 pounds, which was when he turned 2 months old.  Considering that I paid $18 a diaper for the Fuzzi Bunz that I bought new, I was expecting them to last longer than 2 months!  He’s in a medium Fuzzi Bunz now, but is already on the second-largest thigh snap setting.  I’m going to try him out in a large sized Fuzzi Bunz and see if that will fit, before I invest in more diapers.  At least I can use the inserts from the small Fuzzi Bunz diapers as doublers in the larger Fuzzi Bunz.  And I’ll be able to use the small Fuzzi Bunz for the next baby.  That helps the financial sting (ouch!)!

Fuzzi Bunz hanging diaper pail: this makes washing cloth diapers sooo convenient.  I just unzip the bottom of the bag, let all of the diapers fall into the washing machine, and then throw the bag into the machine with the diapers.  I love how easy it is!  I will say that this doesn’t trap smells like a sealed, plastic diaper pail does, so if you don’t do the wash often enough, the baby’s room will smell like pee.  But with the price of cloth diapers, I don’t want to buy more than I need to, so I don’t mind doing one extra load of laundry a day.  The diapers dry more quickly when I do a small load, anyway.

Safety First Complete Care Bath Center– Froggy: we bought this at Babies R Us for only $20 or $25.  It’s a three-piece bath set, which includes a bath sponge, a bath cradle, and a plastic bath tub.  We put the bath cradle inside the little tub, and then put the sponge on top of the bath cradle (the entire contraption goes in the big tub).  It’s perfect for bathing Paulie.  The bath sponge is incredibly soft and keeps Paulie from slipping down the bath cradle.  The entire thing drys thouroughly and easily, and it’s easy to store since it all nests inside one another.  I haven’t used the wash cloth that came with this set, as it’s scratchy, and I don’t use the matching cup because it’s too small.  This will be my future go-to baby shower present, though, as it’s a great price and is really convenient.

Gymboree socks: so far the best baby socks I’ve tried (not that Paulie will keep his socks on!).  The other socks I had (especially the Gerber) all looked pretty bad after just one trip through the washer– a bunch of little threads came lose, and I was afraid that one would end up wrapped around Paulie’s toe and cut off his circulation (I read about that in a parenting magazine).  I haven’t had this problem with the one pair of Gymboree socks I own, even though they’ve been washed a number of times.  Plus they’re made to look like little alligator feet, and are super cute 🙂

Carter’s fleece pajamas: since Paulie won’t keep his socks on, at night I put him in pajamas that have feet.   We like to keep our home properly refridgerated 🙂 so even though Paulie’s a summer baby, he still needs warm clothes for aroudn the house.  His Carter’s ducky pjs are incredibly soft, and have held up well in the wash.  I will be buying more of these!

Carter’s baby clothes: I love all of our Carter’s baby clothes.  They hold up better in the wash than the Gymboree clothes do– they don’t get all pilled.  They’re incredibly thick and soft.  Fabulous!  I haven’t tried the Just One Year Carter’s line of clothes at Target yet, so I can’t comment on those. 

Child of Mine slippers: I bought Paulie a pair of Carter’s Child of Mine puppy dog slippers at Walmart, and they stay on him much longer than socks do, at least while he’s in his bouncy seat.  I haven’t tried the Child of Mine clothes because they feel scratchy.

Here’s a picture of Paulie, swaddled in one of his Aden & Anais blankets:

What are your favorite baby products?