Baby Essentials

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After writing my blog post on “Essentials for Pregnancy”, now having a second kid, and a ton of friends and family constantly asking for my recommendations or where I got certain items, I realized that I needed to write another blog post on my top Baby Essentials!

Anyone that knows me knows that I'm a little bit of a research freak. My husband makes fun of me, but I’m one of those people that reads all the reviews, compares all products available (and even researches certifications and claims made by products) and then visits multiple sites to ensure the BEST price.

When I was pregnant with Aidan (our first) I became obsessed with researching the best non-toxic baby items that were ACTUALLY essentials to have. I saw so many blog posts that were listing things that just weren’t that necessary (or were bad quality). I wanted products and items that were well made, safe and non-toxic (very important to me), had the best reviews so that I knew I wouldn’t be wasting my time, and that worked. I researched the crap out of everything and this is what I found and have used over the last 2 years along with talking to and comaring products with other mamas out there too! Hopefully this blog post saves you some time and searching or points you in a good direction for your own research. So without further ado, here are my top baby essentials.

Also, some of the links below are to Amazon and making a purchase using my affiliate links supports Healthy Mama Space (at no additional cost to you) and helps me to be able to keep this blog up and running, so thank you for your support!


Diapering

Seventh Generation Diapers - Honest, Seventh Generation, and Bambo were our 3 tops picks for non toxic diapers (no chlorine bleaching, lotions, fragrances, etc.). We found that Honest diapers leaked during the night (at least for us - I have friends that used Honest for their kiddos and they worked fine for them), Bambo was more expensive than all of them, and Seventh Generation diapers were not only better price wise (we get 20% off with Amazon Family through Subscribe and Save), but they also worked better than the other brands anyways!

Ubbi Steel Diaper Pail - I like this diaper pail since it doesn’t require me to buy a specific bag to use it, has a lock, and is easy to clean. I buy unscented 13 gallon bags to use with it. Just so you are aware, the ingredients used to make trash bags with scents are horrific and contain known carcinogens - ingredients that can contribute to cancer and hormonal disruption. Check this article out. The diaper pail will start to stink a little eventually (because… it’s holding diapers…) so when that happens I just clean it out with vinegar and essential oils, spray it down with water and let it dry in the sun.

Water Wipes - My favorite non-toxic wipes that I’ve found so far. They are made with 99.9% purified water and a drop of fruit extract and I also have these on my amazon subscribe and save so that I can get 15% off.

Skip Hop Pronto Changing Station, Chevron - Simple, easy to use and has enough surface area for the baby to lay out on it.

Summer Infant Contoured Changing Pad - A great changing pad that we use at home. Easy to use, clean, and the sides slope up to keep baby from rolling.

Burt's Bees Baby - Changing Pad Cover - 100% organic, GOTS certified (what you should always look for whenever buying anything made from cloth material), and fits the standard changing pad.

Changing Pad Liners BAMBOO REVERSIBLE 3-PACK - I learned very quickly the importance of having changing pad liners - even though you already bought a pad cover. These go on top of the pad cover and make it REALLY easy for when things get a little messy. They keep you from having to wash your pad cover all the time (that would be a pain). Also, these are helpful for when you need to do a quick diaper change on the floor, bed, etc.

The Honest Company City Backpack, Black - Forget a diaper bag… they are so cumbersome, bad for your back and shoulders, and believe me - you need both hands once you have a kiddo. This backpack has been PERFECT. It’s cute, has the perfect compartments that I wanted, and is really durable.

Bath

The First Years Sure Comfort Deluxe Newborn To Toddler Tub, Blue - I loved this tub because it was much smaller than most of the other ones out there (easier to store in the bathroom or after the baby grows out of it), simple to use, and sling is adjustable.

The Motherhood Collection 6 ULTRA SOFT Baby Bath Washcloths - 100% Natural Bamboo Towels, No-Dyes, Perfect for Sensitive Baby Skin, 6 Pack 10"x10" - I love these washcloths!

100% Medical Cotton Grade Natural Antibacterial, Water Absorbent Muslin Cotton Warm Baby Bath Towels - I LOVE these towels! They are big enough to use even when your baby is a toddler, super soft, organic, and dye free.

Stokke Flexi Bath, White - This is the perfect bathtub for when your baby has outgrown the infant tub but isn’t quite ready for regular tub. Not only does it still give your baby/toddler support and traction, but it saves a TON of water instead of filling up the entire tub! Oh AND it is collapsible. We took this tub on vacations with us and it worked perfectly and took up minimal space in our bags. It is made in Denmark and is free from heavy metals, phthalates, formaldehyde, BPA, and other harmful substances.

Skip Hop Moby Bath Spout Cover Universal Fit, Blue - This is essential once your baby outgrows the newborn tub and is taking baths in the regular tub. This cute little whale has saved Aidan’s head from the the spout numerous times.

Boon Bathtub Mat - This also important once you baby is taking baths in a regular tub to keep your kiddo from slipping and hitting their head. I love that it has little niches on the top and bottom so that you can easily hang it on the shower head to let it dry (and keep any mold or mildew from growing).

 Bedding

Naturepedic No Compromise Organic Cotton Classic 150 Seamless Dual Firmness Crib Mattress - 28" x 52" x 6" - Has an organic cotton filling that is free of bleaches, dyes, synthetic pesticides, herbicides, and chemical fertilizers (a lot of “organic” mattresses have an organic shell, not organic filling). No PVC or vinyl, flame retardant chemicals and has GREENGUARD Gold Certification, all materials are GOTS-certified and are certified to be formaldehyde-free. LEGIT. Read this article to find out WHY it’s important to have an organic mattress in the first place.

Naturepedic Waterproof Fitted Crib Pad, 28x52 - I highly recommend investing in a good, organic, waterproof mattress pad to keep your mattress safe!

Burt's Bees Baby 100% Organic Cotton Crib Sheet for Standard Crib and Toddler Mattresses - I LOVE these sheets! It is good to buy 2 so that if one is in the wash, you have another has backup.

DockATot Deluxe+ Dock The All in One Baby Lounger (0-8 Months) - I bought this for baby #2 and I LOVE it! I so wish I had it for Aidan! It’s a game changer for co-sleeping (something I’ve found necessary with breastfeeding constantly in the middle of the night). It is cozy for the baby and helps them sleep better since it feels more “womb like” then a big empty crib.

 

CAR

Rear Facing Car Seat Mirror - we’ve been through a couple car mirrors and this one works the best since you can actually pivot it.

Infant Car Seat Canopy - I used one similar to this for Aidan and loved it. It blocks the sunlight when he is taking a nap in the car, wind and bugs if you are outside, etc. I haven’t tried the other stretchy car seat covers but have heard other mamas like those as well.

Enovoe Car Window Shade - (4 Pack) - 21"x14" Cling Sunshade for Car Windows - Sun, Glare and UV Rays Protection for Your Child - These are SO helpful! They block out the worst of the sun, and are really easy to install (they just stick to the inside of thew window)

Lamaze Freddie The Firefly - This little guy is the perfect toy to capture the attention of and entertain babies while in the car! Aidan LOVE all the different textures, colors, and options to touch and manipulate.

 Baby Room

Infant Optics DXR-8 Video Baby Monitor with Interchangeable Optical Lens - My favorite baby monitor and they have great customer service if anything ever fails or goes wrong/breaks (ahem did someone say toddlers and antennas?).

Delta Children Emery 4-in-1 Crib - this is the crib that we ended up getting for Aidan and it’s been great! If you have a bigger budget though (or have family and friends who will chip in/buy it), I’ve heard amazing things about the Oeuf Sparrow Crib - definitely top quality and very high standards for being non-toxic.

Marpac Dohm Classic White Noise Sound Machine - I waited until Aidan was a toddler before getting this and completely regret not getting it sooner! Don’t waste your money on the cheaper sounds machines like we did. Also, the importance of this one is that creates the soothing sound of rushing air, without the disturbance of actual moving air - a true white noise and what they’ve found is best for sleeping (compared to ocean or rain sounds).

Ultrasonic Cool Mist Humidifier - Premium Humidifying Unit with Whisper-quiet Operation, Automatic Shut-off, and Night Light Function - this has been great to have on hand if Aidan is ever sick and if the air in his room is too dry (such as in the winter). I also have an essential oil diffuser in his room.

 Feeding

Philips Avent Natural Glass Baby Bottles, 4 Ounce (3 Pack) and 4 Pack, 8 oz - we decided to go with glass bottles and LOVED these. I try to limit all plastic, even BPA free plastic, and ESPECIALLY When the plastic is going to be heated. Avent’s nipples are also very natural shaped and Aidan had no problem using these.

The First Years Simple Serve Bottle Warmer - This was a lifesaver for warming up breastmilk! And it worked perfectly with the glass bottles (and I had no worries of heating plastic). Also, it heated up bottles in about 60 seconds - great for when there is a hungry, screaming baby.

OXO Tot Bottle Brush with Nipple Cleaner and Stand - does the job.

Boon Grass Drying Rack White - Perfect for drying bottles. The Boon Twig Grass and Lawn Drying Rack Accessory is also great for the nipples. Both BPA and PVC free.

Itzy Ritzy Nursing Happens Infinity Breastfeeding Scarf - I used this and it worked well. Then a friend introduced me to this one, which I feel worked ever better (especially in the beginning) since it has wire around the top to make it easier to see the baby and help them latch correctly. Honestly, with baby #2 though, I don’t use a scarf or cover up anymore.

Spectra Baby USA - S2 Plus Premier Electric Breast Pump, Double/Single, Hospital Strength - I LOVE this one. I definitely recommend this brand over Medela for an electric breast pump - I have talked to so many other moms who say the same thing. Main difference - it is much more gentle and pulls on the nipple in a more natural motion than the Medela.

Medela Harmony Manual Breast Pump - for a manual breast pump though, I definitely recommend this Medela model. This was great to have if I was at an event or dinner and needed to pump real quick to relieve pressure or save milk. Usually I just pumped and dumped with this though.

My Brest Friend Nursing Pillow, Sunshine Poppy, Grey, Yellow - Forget the Boppy - the way this is shaped makes WAY more sense for breastfeeding! This was recommended to me by the lactation consultant in the hospital when Aidan was born and it helped with breastfeeding the first time around. I honestly don’t use it much now with the second kiddo since I have more experience this time.

green sprouts Muslin Burp Cloths made from Organic Cotton, White Set - these are great to have on hand at all times.

green sprouts Stay-dry Infant Bibs, 10 Count - I loved these for once Aidan started eating purees and solids! They are also stain resistant and really easy to throw in the wash (a must).

Bumkins Waterproof SuperBib 3 Pack, N16 (Feather/Quill/Arrow) (6-24 Months) - we switched to these once Aidan REALLY started eating solids and feeding himself. They are extremely easy to wash in the sink and the best part - the pocket collects the large amount of food that your baby will drop (or will miss their mouth, ha)! I highly recommend these.

Stokke - Tripp Trapp High Chair - I did tons of research and finally decided on this one. It is made by a great European company that has high safety standards, it has a minimalistic and simple design and looks fantastic in our dining room (a lot classier than the large plastic ones) AND it grows with your toddler (height adjustable seat and foot shelves). I bought it in black to match our dark wood dining room table.

Gear

Baby K'tan ORIGINAL Baby Carrier - this is my favorite for when the baby is still small. Keeps them nestled in to you and is EASY to put on (compared to some of the other carriers).

Ergobaby Carrier, 360 All Carry Positions Baby Carrier with Cool Air Mesh, Carbon Grey - I love this ergo in particular since it has the cooling mesh (I wanted that for walking and hiking). The Ergobaby Easy Snug Infant Insert is necessary for when the baby is smaller.

Mac Sports Collapsible Folding Outdoor Utility Wagon, Blue - this one isn’t as much of a “must”, but is great to have for when your babe is able to sit up by themselves. I personally LOVE this for the beach since it carries Aidan and all of our stuff and also doubles perfectly as a spot for him to nap (I just cover it with one of the muslin swaddle blankets. If you are a big beach person, then this is also a lifesaver with a baby - Pacific Breeze Easy Setup Beach Tent.

Lotus Travel Crib and Portable Baby Playard - I can’t recommend this enough. It is easy to set up and take down and is GreenGuard Gold non-toxic certified. Be sure to also get the organic fitted sheet that goes along with this. Also - I bought the Lotus bassinet conversion kit with baby #2 and am loving it! It is really great for naps since we aren’t using a crib yet.

Baby Jogger City Mini GT Travel System - I LOVE this stroller and car seat! We bought it in the charcoal color which was perfect since it’s not black (can get really hot), but not light grey (shows dirt easily). The stroller easily collapses and is decently lightweight and we loved everything about the car seat as well. I am not a runner though, but if you are - then I would recommend getting a BOB stroller instead of this. Also, we are buying this stroller now that we have 2 kiddos… which will be great for trips to the park, zoo, etc. - BOB Revolution Flex Duallie Jogging Stroller, Black.

Skincare

This one is especially important when choosing non toxic products. We all know the importance of reading the labels and ingredients on everything we are putting IN our bodies (food). What is equally important is what we put ON our bodies since our skin is our largest organ and absorbs a large part of what is put on it into the blood stream. This is even more important for little babies and toddlers since their skin and bodies are so sensitive.

Currently, the European Union has banned more than 1,400 harmful ingredients for all skincare products. The United States has only partially banned 30 to date and has not passed a major federal law to regulate the safety of ingredients used in personal care products since 1938.

What this means is that we must be advocates for our own health and and our babes/kiddos. After a year of trying DIY and countless different companies and products, I was so grateful to finally find a company called Beautycounter who cares about ingredients as much as I do (they ban over 1500 harmful ingredients) and creates safe products that I could trust but that were still high performing and actually worked. All Beautycounter products also rate between 1-2 on the Environmental Working Group Database (or have the EWG verified logo which is the highest rating).

I’ve done massive amounts of research and as of now, they are the only company that I trust. It’s sad (and disappointing), but a lot of other baby product companies out there are using harmful ingredients (because the USA allows it) and aren’t testing their products and sources consistently (necessary since almost every company uses third parties to create their products). Even companies like Honest and Babyganics have had lawsuits against them in the last year due to them either not fully disclosing ingredients, using ingredients they said they weren’t using, or claiming to use organic ingredients when they were in fact not. Key ingredients to avoid that are in a LOT of baby products: Fragrance, Proplyene glycol, anything with “eth” in it (polyethylene, polyethylene glycol, sodium laureth sulfate, ceteareth, oleth, oxynol, -xynol, and PEG), Mineral oil (a byproduct of petroleum processing… you want it to state the actual oil - coconut, olive, etc.), Parabens, Triclosan, and Formaldehyde.

Below are my recommendations for baby products. Also - Real Simple just named the Beautycounter Baby Bundle Collection their #1 pick best non-toxic baby products.

Baby Bundle Collection - This is a bundle of my FAVORITES for babies - the Gentle All-Over Wash, Soothing Oil (a quick-absorbing skin nourisher) and Daily Protective Balm.

  • The wash is for both body and hair, tear free, and great cleanser that is very gentle and not drying.

  • The baby oil is a quick-absorbing skin nourisher - we use it to give Aidan little mini massages at night after his baths and moisturize his skin. He LOVES it and after his baths, will grab the oil, lay down on the floor and keep signing, “more, please” to me for his massage. I like to use it particularly on his legs and arms - areas that get a little more dry due to being out in the sun or playing in the dirt.

  • The Daily Protective Balm is a MUST that I recommend to every mama. It has so many uses. The main one use is as a diaper cream. It is coconut oil based, so naturally anti-bacterial and very soothing and moisturizing. Anytime I see even a hint of redness, I apply this to his booty and it goes away. It is also great for any really dry skin (especially the knees) or even for eczema. I’ve had multiple friends who had babies with eczema and were told by their doctor that their only option to clear it up was by using steroids. I had them try the baby balm and it cleared it up - amazing!

  • Note - they do have a Diaper Cream that is fantastic as well. Our kiddos didn’t have diaper rash often (I think due to using the Beautycounter wash and protective balm), but in the few cases that there was more redness or irritation I would use it and it worked wonders. I’ve also had friends that tried countless diaper creams and this is the one that FINALLY worked for their kiddos!


Just FYI, Beautycounter also has full skincare, makeup, mens, and kids lines in case you are interested! Over the last couple years we have completely switched over all of our skincare products for our family and makeup for me. Checkout my "Safer Skincare" blog post for some of my favorite everyday products for myself.

Health

FridaBaby Nasal Aspirator with 20 Extra Hygiene Filters - THE BEST nasal aspirator out there - get it. Way better than than the bulb variety.

Saline Nasal Spray NoseFrida Saline Snot Spray by Fridababy - It is important to use this before using a nasal aspirator since it loosens everything up to be sucked out easier. Crazy thing is - I was astounded that the majority of saline sprays for babies out there have a ton of extra and non-needed ingredients (mostly as preservatives)! This was one of the only ones that I found that was just Sea Salt and Water. This mixture will also moisturize while cleaning the nasal passages.

Vicks Baby Rectal Thermometer Baby Thermometer - The most accurate reading of a baby’s temperature is through using a rectal thermometer. You just put a little coconut oil on the tip before inserting. If your baby gets sick, I can’t emphasize enough getting a 100% accurate thermometer since that’s when they are more susceptible to damage from high fevers.

Windi the Gaspasser by Fridababy the all-natural solution for Baby Colic and Gas Relief - Before you think I’m totally crazy or start laughing - this thing was a miracle worker for us. Aidan struggled with gas as an infant and of course it was usually at 3am that he would wake up screaming inconsolably. We tried everything - bicycling, tummy massage with coconut oil, etc. Sometimes those worked, but sometimes they didn’t. Eventually we found the Windi. Essentially it’s a single use hollow tube that inserts into the baby’s bottom (always put a little coconut oil on the tip) to instantly release gas. You can actually hear all the gas release and Aidan would immediately stop crying and settle back in to sleeping. When babies are really young, they haven’t yet fully developed the muscles to be able to pass gas on their own very well, so this can be helpful for those times when they need relief. Note - we tried to use this only as a last resort. The issue if you use it constantly is that it can delay the baby in developing the muscles to pass gas themselves. In other words - we always tried to make sure to try everything else first (movement through bicycling, massage, etc.) before using the Windi. But when needed - man was this little thing helpful and I highly recommend having it on hand!

Safety 1st Hospital's Choice Fold Up Nail Clippers - I can’t emphasize enough the importance of having a good nail clippers on the get-go. I pack these in my hospital bag because all of my babies have come out with long nails and they so quickly scratch themselves!

OCCObaby 3-Piece Wooden Baby Hair Brush and Comb Set for Newborns and Toddlers - Both of my boys came out with massive amounts of hair, so this brush/comb combo was perfect for stimulating their scalp to help prevent cradle cap (or combing coconut oil through it if they did develop it) along with stying their little mohawks after their baths!

Other Great Items to Have on Hand

WubbaNub Infant Pacifier - Giraffe - Aidan LOVED his Wubbanubs! The giraffe in particular was his favorite - I think due to the slim body and that he could grab the legs (really helpful for when they lose it in the crib and trying to reach around and find it in the middle of the night).

Philips Avent Soothie Pacifier, Blue, 0-3 Months, 2 Count and Philips AventBPA Free Soothie Pacifier, 3+ months, Green, 2 Count - we didn’t use these as much for actual pacifiers since he loved the wubbanubs, but they were really great for when Aidan started teething. We always kept a couple in the freezer so that he could chew and suck on them and they seemed to really help.

 aden + anais Classic Muslin Swaddle Blanket 4 Pack, Dreamer - these are amazing. We use them for everything from swaddling, to a breastfeeding cover, to a sun shade on the stroller…. the uses are endless.

Tiny Love Gymini Super Deluxe Lights and Music Play Mat - I loved this mat for both of our kiddos. Great for allowing the to explore and play or for tummy time. It also folds up easily to store in a closet.

Oball Shaker - a great developmentally appropriate toy for babies. The holes in the toy make it easy for them to grab and manipulate.

Parenting

These are my top books and resources on parenting. I have read SO many different books on parenting and want to acknowledge that no one parenting philosophy is going to be perfect for our children, because they are all individuals and different. Over the years though, Matt and I have found “Aware Parenting” to be most aligned with what we believe in as parents and it has been a great guide for us.

The Aware Baby by Aletha Jauch Solter - This books is extremely helpful in becoming more understanding of babies' needs up to about 2 years old. This book not only helped me bond better with my sons, but understand and respond in the best way possible baby's crying (probably one of the most important lessons I learned from the book and that completely changed my perspective), find alternatives to punishment, etc. I highly recommend reading.

Respectful Parenting: Janet Lansbury Unruffled - Janet Lansbury is another author who also uses Aware Parenting. I love listening to her podcast while I’m driving and have learned so much from her insight and answers to questions from other parents who are also trying to implement Aware Parenting. She also has a best-selling book called “No Bad Kids: Toddler Discipline without Shame” that is more focused on the toddler stage, but has helped me tremendously now that Aidan is 2 years old.

The Vaccine-Friendly Plan - by Dr. Paul Thomas & Jennifer Margulis - This book's title is a little deceiving, because it's not just limited to vaccines! Dr. Paul is pro-vaccine, but he argues the importance of spacing them out and also using certain brands over other that have less aluminum, etc. He also goes into the history of how the vaccine recommendations have changed over the years and WHY those things like aluminum (and the amount that the vaccines have) are not healthy. Beyond vaccines though, he has a ton information on health and treating common sickness/ailments from birth-teenager! This is definitely going to be my little handbook for the next 18 years! I HIGHLY suggest investing in it.

The Nursing Mother's Companion, 7th Edition, with New Illustrations: The Breastfeeding Book Mothers Trust, from Pregnancy Through Weaning by Kathleen Huggins - A dear friend gave me this book when I was pregnant with Aidan and I now recommend it to any new mamas! It is detailed, extremely well written and thought out and provides help, knowledge, and resources for everything from breast engorgement and mastitis to latching correctly to troubleshooting issues.

Facebook Group - "Parenthood! with Liz Wolfe NTP" - this group is an AMAZING resource and community for all things pregnancy and babies! It's such an amazing support for all mamas who want to learn or have questions about everything from prenatal/pregnancy care to recommendations for products (you can ask other mama's what their favorite stroller or baby sling was), to asking for advice postpartum/with a baby. 


Please let me know if you have any questions or any other recommendations for essentials that you loved? I would love to hear them!

Jenna Lodin | www.healthymamaspace.com