What do new parents really need this holiday season? I've compiled a short list of some of my favorite products and some that the families I've worked with have loved.
I get asked about what type of baby carrier is best. While I believe that answer varies from person to person, here are a few good places to start.
Ring slings are super valuable to new families. They're easy to use, easy to wash, and easy to carry in a diaper bag. They fit a variety of body shapes and sizes, and one sling can easily be used by multiple caregivers.
Beco Baby makes a wonderful and moderately priced ring sling. I love the linen - it is supportive and easy to care for. In order to get a softer, more manageable texture, I recommend washing this several times in the washer, and ironing with a hot steam iron to break it in. It will continue to soften with each use.
Soft-structured carriers are really popular in the babywearing crowd. They're easy to use, feel familiar (similar to wearing a backpack), and with infant inserts they can be used from newborn through toddler years. That's a lot of bang for your buck.
There are lots of different companies making these types of carriers, and each comes with a variety of features and price points. I'll highlight two of my favorites here. The Ergobaby Original and the LILLEbaby All Seasons 6-in-1.
The Ergobaby Original, with the infant insert, allows for wearing your baby from 7-45 lbs (12-45 lbs without the newborn insert) in 3 different positions - front facing in, back carry and hip carry. This is a really useful carrier for the most popular carrying positions, and its moderate price makes it a popular choice among families.
The LILLEbaby All Seasons 6-in-1 is a slightly more lux soft structured carrier. Like the Ergobaby, it is for use with babies weighing 7-45 lbs, but no infant insert is needed. Unlike the Ergobaby, this carrier can be used to carry on your front facing out for older babies. (I find the "6-in-1" name is a bit misleading - the carrier can be used for front facing in (newborn, infant & toddler), front facing out, hip and back carries.) It also has more structured lumbar support and a zippered panel for climate control. This is a great choice for families who want a more versatile carrier.
And don't forget - If you have a carrier, but you need to build your confidence a bit, please reach out to your local babywearing educator or Babywearing International group. They'd be more than happy to help you!
I see the 4Moms mamaRoo Infant Seat in many homes. It's such a popular choice these days! Parents love the variety of rocking motions, including "car ride, kangaroo, tree swing, rock-a-bye and wave". You have control over both motion type and intensity. It's much more compact than a traditional swing, and its clean, modern shape is appealing to many families.
The HALO bassinet is a great option for room-sharing families. The unique foot shape allows the bassinet to be placed close to the bed, making those late night/early morning feeds easier. The bassinet itself rotates 360*, making it easier for those recovering from a c-section birth to get in and out of bed. And the bassinet height is adjustable, so you can completely customize placement around your bed. Late night/early morning feeds are tough, so I am in favor of anything that makes it easier on new parents!
There are so many products on the market to help the baby sleep. Sleep sacks, sleep swaddles, the list is endless, and until you know your baby's preferences, it's hard to know what might work for you. Here are two options for full swaddle and hands-up swaddle.
For babies who like (or who can tolerate) having their arms swaddled in, there's the Miracle Blanket Swaddle. Many parents say that their little Houdinis can't get their arms out of this one! The material is slightly stretchy to get swaddles nice and secure. With the lack of velcro, the swaddle is smooth and quiet, and laundering it with other clothes won't be so annoying.
For babies who like having their arms up at night (also known as all of my kids!), there's the Love to Dream Swaddle UP. I really like this sleep swaddle. Having the arms up and untucked means parents can catch feeding cues earlier, but since the hands are still covered, it's not likely that the baby can scratch or whack themselves in the face. The zipper works from the bottom up, making nighttime diaper changes a breeze (or as easy as they're going to be at 3 am!). These are sized, so make sure you're purchasing the right one.
Want some non-Amazon ideas? New parents need food, naps, showers, and help. If you go to visit a new family this season, please bring a meal with you. It doesn't have to be elaborate. It doesn't even have to be homemade. Heck, it doesn't even have to be a full meal - for example, a fruit bowl would be a wonderful treat! And once you're there, offer to keep the baby company while the parents shower or go for a walk around the block.
And finally, a postpartum doula's help makes for a great gift. For roughly the same price as some of the mid-range baby gear on the market, a new family could get upwards of 6 hours of working with a postpartum doula (that's 2 afternoons of help or almost one overnight shift!) I'm happy to create a gift certificate if you are interested in purchasing hours for that special new parent in your life!
**These are Amazon affiliate links, so I do receive a small kickback from Amazon if you shop using these links. Thank you for supporting my small business with your purchase!**
Disclaimer: baby gear is definitely not a one-size-fits-all thing. It is my hope that these products are beneficial to you or your loved ones, but I am in no means offering a magic pill of sorts nor do I make any claim that these are the best products for your particular situation.