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MamaVoices: “Must-have” Baby & Toddler Gear

With the plethora of products for babies and toddlers, it‘s hard to sift through the options! We’ve asked some of our favorite bloggers to share their knowledge and recommendations of “must-haves” for your family. Happy Shopping!

Remember the simple days when your toddler played with pots and pans on the kitchen floor? Now there is a plethora of must-have products for babies and toddlers… and we want to help you sift through the latest and greatest options! We asked some of our favorite bloggers to share their knowledge and recommendations of “must-haves.” Happy Shopping!

Back in 2004, I was a brand new mom to the most beautiful little girl imaginable. She also happened to be slightly premature, and although healthy, she was very clingy. After 7 weeks of bed rest, I’d pretty much researched every baby product available, and I knew all about baby carriers. A sling seemed like something that would work out perfectly for us.

I went to a local baby store, and they suggested an “Over the Shoulder Baby Holder” baby sling, which my daughter absolutely loved. I was able to carry her about with me all around the house and in the neighborhood, with my hands totally free.

Twenty-two months later, my sweet, adorable son was born. Being the mom of an almost two year old, I really needed my hands free. However, my son didn’t love the sling – he wanted to be upright. After searching online, I found the solution – a Hug a Bub sling that allowed him to be tucked in close, but also kept my hands free.

Both of these slings were must-haves in those first few months. They allowed me to soothe and comfort my babies while still getting basic things done.

-Jodi G., blogger - Mom’s Favorite Stuff

When I had my first baby, I received bits of wisdom and “must have” tips from my sisters and friends. Much of their advice I agreed with, but there were also things I found out on my own. As I am getting ready to have my second baby, “must have” items are on the top of my mind. I couldn’t pick just one “must-have,” so I will leave you with a few things I found essential:

First, if you are choosing to breastfeed, be sure to splurge on great nursing bras. Not only will your ever-expanding breasts need the support, but it’ll make the new nursing experience that much easier. Be sure to get a great cotton spandex one for sleeping, and another padded/underwire one for when you’re out and about. I tried to find the thickest padding for when I ventured out-- as to avoid the lumpy-boob look and the surprise leaking.

Second, I loved my Boppy. It not only takes the strain off your body when nursing or holding your baby, but is great for helping your baby first learn to support himself. I loved propping up the baby on her belly for tummy time, and using it for support when she was first starting to sit up.

My third favorite thing may seem trivial, but nonetheless, I loved my set of plastic links! They are colorful and easy to attach to anything… from the car seat to the crib, or even hanging on the diaper bag or the stroller. My baby loved linking them together and shaking them about. The colorful textured links are great for your baby's first toy, or as a teething tool.

-Rebecca D.,

I am in total baby mode right now, since I’m due with my second child within a week. As my husband and I pulled all the baby stuff out of storage, it was like a personal baby shower with all the items that helped us with our first child, and will likely be a saving grace for our second, as well. Here are some favorites.


Bouncy seat with a vibration control: This was a lifesaver and was our son’s favorite place to take a nap. It’s also fairly small and can easily be moved from room-to-room.

Baby wrap or carrier. I have a Maya Wrap and a Baby Bjorn, and like them both. My husband is more fond of the Bjorn. Whatever you use will at once free your hands and provide a comforting closeness between parent and baby.

Musical mobile or lullaby CD. Playing soft instrumental music is soothing to newborns, and playing a certain tune at bedtime can become part of a goodnight routine.

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Exersaucer. This may not be used until 4-6 months, but provides great entertainment for the baby while you throw dinner together.


Stacking toys help toddlers learn size, shape, color and coordination.

A push/ride toy. My son learned to walk by pushing a Bob the Builder “Scoop” toy. Eventually, he learned to ride it, and it’s been a favorite toy for nearly 2 years now. Not many other toys enjoy that longevity!

Books! Books that simply picture items (fruits, vegetables, animals, clothes) are great for teaching vocabulary and item recognition. Even story books can be broken apart. “Do you see a tree? A flower? A bee?”

Musical instruments, which can be as simple as beans in a tupperware container. Anything that plays a note, can be banged like a drum or shaken like a rattle is a winner.

-Erica F.,

There are many thing you think you need for your baby when you are first pregnant.

Many are helpful, some are just a waste and many are just cute and not functional. Old familiars pop in my head when I think of as “baby must haves” like a boppy, swaddle blankets and a swing.

What I am going to share with you today is lucky find that I stumbled upon with our third baby and I still use it today, over a year later.

The First Years Close and Secure Sleeper is perfect to use as a portable bed for travel, a co-sleeper or a changing table. The sleeper is anchored to your bed by a large flap that tucks under your mattress and has soft walls so you won't roll over on your infant. It has a soft head barrier that reduces the risk of entrapment and a foot wedge--which can be used as a sleep positioner in the future months.

The best part is that it has a little night light on the top, so I would check on the baby in the night or change the baby's diapers without putting on the harsh overhead light. It also folds up so you can travel easily with it. I have taken and used this on our many travel adventures. This really is a life saver and it is now one of my favorite baby gear items!

-Erinn, blogger - Reviewing Baby Gear

*Warning… this next little read is a bit on the gross side. But if you have a kid like mine, you’ll want to know about the Little Keeper Sleeper.

When my second baby, Brea, turned two she threw me for a loop. To this point she had been a peaceful, quiet little girl. Who knew it could all change so drastically overnight? She became mischievous, curious, and naughty… all at once. Her favorite new fascination was to take off her diaper and explore it’s contents. I know… SICK! My husband and I thought this was just her way of telling us it was time for potty training. We tried everything to rid her of this nasty habit, but nothing helped. We taught her how to use the potty, but any time we put her down for a nap or in bed for the night she would revert to her old habits. The messes were unbearable. We read an article that suggested taping the diaper shut. Masking tape wasn’t strong enough to keep her out of trouble and duct tape was too tough to get off when I needed to change her. We heard that turning a pair of sleeper pajamas around backwards was the answer, but the feet twisted up around her ankles and didn’t look very comfy. Plus, with a good tug she could stretch the neck out big enough to climb right out of them. Finally, a good friend sent me the Little Keeper Sleeper. This pair of zip-up-the-back jammies was the answer to my woes. Brea couldn’t escape them, the diaper stayed in place, the contents were contained, and (when it was time) I could easily remove the jammies. No parent of a toddler should be without the Little Keeper Sleeper!

-Rebecca S.,


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