The world of baby products can be overwhelming to say the least. There's a ton of it, it's hard to know what your kid will actually need, and harder to know what actually works.
And you know what new parents or so-pregnant-they-can-barely-move-let-alone-comparison-shop parents don't have a lot of time and energy for? Spending hours in the baby aisle trying to determine what bouncy chair might be most likely to help junior nod off.
You know what else they don't have in abundance? Money to buy yet another bouncy chair when that one DOES NOTHING, IT'S USELESS, WHY DOESN'T THE BABY SLEEP, IS THIS JUST HOW THEY ARE? (yes), WHAT HAVE WE DOOOONE??!! (had a baby — congrats!)
WATCH: Postpartum hair loss is part of life after birth. Story continues below.
Don't worry. We're here to save you some time, stress, and maybe even a little bit of cash.
We asked 30 Canadian parents (including a few at HuffPost Canada) what baby items they just can't live without, and their answers are full of insight. Some of these hacks (That laundry basket! The puppy pads!) are seriously genius. Some of the items, like the $24.99 Ikea high chair, are so popular with parents that several of them emphatically recommended the same thing.
And nearly all of the products have the potential to make your life a little easier, because they've been tried and tested by people who have already been in the trenches.
Add all 30 of these to your baby registry, stat.
As a new parent, you'll likely get to the point where you'll trying anything — literally anything — to get your kid to sleep. And there are so many items out there. But let us save you some grief (and cash). Here's what parents actually recommend.
Baby Merlin's Magic Sleep Suit
"This helped sleep training 1,000 times over. He looked like the Michelin man but he was so peaceful in it. I wish they made it in my size, lol."
— Lisa Romain
Where to get it: Amazon, $82.50
The Ollie Swaddle
"Recommended (this) to many friends ... and lent to them, and they've all sworn it has helped their baby sleep way longer stretches. I just love it and used it for every nap and every night from a few weeks to four-ish months."
— Angèle Quinn
Where to get it: The Ollie World, $59
SUNBEAM Cool Mist Humidifier
"Bought with son's first baby cold at three months and cannot live without. I literally put it in my carry-on when moving from British Columbia to Ontario. When not humidifying, it's our white noise machine! It's on every single night. Son likes to turn on and turn off as part of a.m. or p.m. rituals. LARGE TANK. And super super easy to replace filter, identify when it's time to change filter, and to clean it out. Love this thing."
— Lorianne Luedey
Where to get it: Amazon, $78.99
Summer Infant Baby Monitor
"Early days it helped with the nighttime panic ('is he breathing?!') and then as we got into the dreaded sleep regression stage I could see if they really needed me or if they just needed to sort themselves out. Later on I added a second camera to alternate between the two beasts. Totally helpful for transitioning from crib to bed with the two-way communication through the camera ('so help me do NOT make me come back upstairs — GET BACK IN YOUR BED' from the couch with wine). The kids find it comforting when they are going through a fearful stage. Now it's mostly used for them to shout instructions at me ... might be time to move on ..."
— Clare Sullivan
Where to get it:Walmart, $229
Bright Starts Toucan Tango Bouncer
"As a rookie dad of a seven-week-old boy, I admit to being naive about the sheer amount of crying we had coming our way. To stem the tide, we recently turned to the Bright Starts Toucan Tango Bouncer and, sweet fancy Moses, it is a winner.
This is no mere chair. It is a rocket ship to Sleepy Planet. A gift from a friend who called it a lifesaver, the bouncer has worked wonders so far (*knocks on wood aggressively*) for our beloved little fella. The music and vibrations help him chill out, which in turn helps his parents chill out. Everybody wins.
Would other bouncers work just as well? Maybe. But we'll be sticking with this suped-up lounger until it becomes painfully obvious that he has outgrown it."
— Ryan Maloney, HuffPost Canada Senior Politics Editor
Where to get it:Amazon, $75.95
Feeding your kid can be stressful, and can require a lot of hardware whether they're on boobs, bottles, or are big enough for solids. Here's what parents say worked for them.
ANTILOP High Chair With Tray
"I love my cheap-ass Ikea high chair. It is a bare bones chair that's easy to assemble, clean, lightweight so easy to move, doesn't take up much space (which is a bonus since I live in a shoe box) and awesome to travel with. I don't just use it at meal time, either: crafts, restraining child in the bathroom as I shower, etc. You can get everything for $30-ish with a cute washable pillow. Can't beat it."
— Hollan Miseferi
Where to get it: Ikea, $24.99
Skip Hop Zoo Fold & Go Silicone Kids Placemat
"As soon as our baby was ready for finger foods we brought him to the table to eat with us, and this mat became a friendly and welcome surface for him to explore and test new tastes and textures. Now more than eight months later, his 'bee' is, for this great eater, an identifiable part of every meal at home (and a reliable table saver for us, too)."
— Jennie Lee
Where to get it: Well.ca, $17.99
"I wish I would have had this for my first and right from the beginning with my second! It catches your letdown on the opposite boob you are feeding on, build a freezer stash with zero pumping 👌🏼The best $20 I've ever spent."
— Breanna Berndt
Where to get it:Amazon, $22.90
Guzzie & Guss Perch Hanging High Chair
"Life got so much better when babe was able to be put in this while we were out and about. So many restaurants/pubs have those big wooden high chairs that don't fit little ones."
— Ashley Gruchala
Where to get it:Well.ca, $99.99
Make My Day Bib
"I started using it when my daughter was six months old and she is still using it almost two years later."
— Melissa Malloy
Where to get it:Well.ca, $21.99
Jolly Jumper Boomerang Nursing Cushion
"I know a lot of people hate them, but I can't live without my nursing pillow. Two of my three kids had nursing issues and using the pillow freed up my hands for things like holding onto a nipple shield or holding up a boob."
— Nikki Gall
Where to get it: Toys R Us, $55.97
Peg Perego Siesta High Chair
"We don't just use it for meal times. It fully reclines, so we have been using it since my daughter was a couple of weeks old. There are five recline positions and nine height positions so we can use it at the kitchen table, dinner table, and at her play table. It's the only place she will sit still these days, and sadly, she will probably grow out of it soon."
— Safa Jinje, HuffPost Canada Blogs Editor
Where to get it: Bed Bath and Beyond, $349.99
"I keep a couple in our diaper bag and they turn any glass into a kid-friendly cup. Perfect for eating out or visiting friends, because I'm terrible about remembering sippy cups. They're also great for smoothies at home. The straws are big enough to suck up chunks of fruit. Oh, and they're also nice for cutting down on single-use straws."
— Michelle Butterfield, HuffPost Canada Communities Editor
Where to get them: Amazon, $8.05
The Original Squeeze
"Snack time (especially on the go) went from messy AF to a breeze with these things! My daughter epitomizes the word hangry, and can turn on a dime so when she was little and loved yogurt more than anything, we always had one handy. Whether at home or on the go, these made snack time fast, easy, and CLEAN."
— Gabriela Rappell
Where to get it:Amazon, $22.97
You've gotta get from place to place, and baby is probably going to come with you. You already know you need a car seat, but there are other ways you'll be getting around, too. (For the record, so many parents recommended baby carriers that we couldn't possibly include them all).
Ergobaby Baby Carrier
"Yes, I baby wear but not for any trendy attachment parenting reason, no, simply to survive! I have had three kids in four years, all singletons. The only way to eat, clean, cook, pee, shower, chase after running toddlers is to wear the newest/most vulnerable one.
With my fourth baby due in five weeks the only thing that is washed and ready to use is my Ergo carrier (with infant insert)."
— Meredith Anne
Where to get it:Ergobaby, $159 to $234
Tula Free-To-Grow Baby Carrier
"My baby carrier. Can't go anywhere without one. Specifically my Tula Free-To-Grow, which can be used from newborn stage to toddler."
— Emily Agosta Woods
Where to get it:Tula, $159
BOB Revolution Flex Stroller
"I have to say, my BOB stroller is a kickass piece of equipment. Easy to maneuver with one hand and can manage on all terrain. I walked for hours each day while on mat leave and lost all the baby weight. Baby slept easily in it and I had a car seat attachment."
— Erika Bee
Where to get it:Little Canadian, $549.99
"When they're infants, you can lie them on it pretty much anywhere (weather permitting), and as they get mobile, it gives them somewhere safe to play and keep their toys together when you're outside.
As kids get even older, it functions as a perfect picnic blanket, so that the 'I sat in something grosssss' complaints are minimized, and they have a sort of headquarters to return to when they come back to graze at the lunch they barely touched when you first put it out.
It's also not necessarily the kind of thing you have in your house until you have kids, unless you're the type who picnics often. It functions as a completely wonderful concert blanket for grown-ups too, so really, everyone gets in on the fun."
— Rebecca Zamon, HuffPost Canada Manager of Audience Development
Where to get it: JJ Cole, $34.95
"We love Oliver's Labels for our girls. We have been using them since the kids started daycare at 18 months. They are so handy to help lost items find their way home and/or to identify your stuff in the lost and found at school."
— Laura Cheng
Where to get them: Oliver's Labels, various prices
Bathing, teething, and diapering — oh my! There's a lot to think about when it comes to baby care, and even more products to choose from. The parents we talked to had some pretty creative solutions (and yes, the snot sucker is totally worth it).
TORKIS Flexible Laundry Basket
"As a newborn, our daughter had a few daytime naps in it. Now it is used as a bathtub since she outgrew the baby bath. We didn't want to waste water by filling up the big bathtub, so we put her in here. At two years old, it's still our go-to tub.
It's also useful when we do road trips. We pile her bedding/loose ends into it, and when we get there, we have her tub with us. And when she outgrows it as a tub, it can finally fulfill it's true calling as a laundry basket."
— Clair Elie
Where to get it:Ikea, $7.99
ZoLi Bunny Teether
"My #1 and really the ONLY teething thing I ever bought was this ZoLi teething bunny. The best."
— Laura McIntyre-Grills
Where to get it:ZoLi, $12
Travel Hair Dryer
"Seems silly but it has served us so well! We keep one at our diaper station! In the early days we used it for white noise and warmth with a newborn who hated coming out of the bath and being undressed ... had it turned on a couple feet away and it was immediate relief! Since then until our daughter was potty trained, it was used to dry the diaper bits before any cream was applied or diaper put back on to prevent diaper rash! And now that she's 2.5 we use it for a quick warm up and hair dry after bath! It's portable, cheap and ensures that wherever we go we can create a consistent environment :)"
— Courtney Dowd-Schmidtke
Where to get it: Amazon, $9.96
NoseFrida: The Snot Sucker
"Gets everything out, has a filter so none of the germs pass to me and it's safe because it goes outside their nose."
— Charlene Jones
Where to get it:Walmart, $19.97
Traditional Chinese Potty
"This is the same exact type of toilet that me and all of my cousins toilet trained with in the 70s and 80s. Apparently they still make them the exact same way in Taiwan. Back in the early 80s my mom brought one back with her from a visit home to Taiwan. It was red also. She repeated this a year and a half ago for her grandson, my son Parker.
When it came time to start potty training our then 26 month old last summer, we found that the fire hydrant red potty was infinitely easier to use. It was Parker's height and the potty's opening was at a size that allowed him to naturally sink down far enough where his pee wouldn't shoot out of the potty even if he or mom or dad hadn't pushed down his penis. This was very handy as he was still too young or new to this to remember to do so. Also, it was fairly light and easy to pick up via its handle.
Certainly not the coolest or most fashionable product, we know, never thought we would use it ourselves ... but I guess there's a reason why Taiwanese parents and grandparents have been using this for the last four to five decades."
— Garvey Chi
Where to get it:Ruten, varying prices
Pom Pom Garlands
"Our little guy didn't love getting his diaper changed. He'd fuss, squirm, cry and cry and cry. It was a hysterical battle trying to hold his feet so they didn't land in the dirty diaper. Let's just say more wet wipes were used than should've been necessary. We used to have a mobile attached to our change table but he wasn't interested in it. At just over three months the muted tones didn't intrigue him anymore.
While in Mexico we picked up some of the colourful Pom Pom garlands. We hung it over his change table and instantly he was more relaxed and smiling through his diaper changes. AND less wipes started to be used, which resulted in less poop on us :)
For my wife and I, it was about finding the right thing that caught his eye, relaxed him and ultimately made both him and mommies happy. We now travel with some Pom Pom garlands in his diaper bag just in case he gets fussy while out."
— Allia McLeod, Sr. Producer, HuffPost Canada
Where to get it:Etsy, $39.74+
"Our WubbaNub was a lifesaver for Baby 1. We bought her a second when an accident destroyed the first one, and then on her third birthday we had a ceremony to cut off the soother. She (almost five) still sleeps with the animal part now."
— CeCe Chiu
Where to get it: Thyme Maternity, $21.95
Parents need stuff, too! And we love these picks from the parents we spoke to because they're so honest. The puppy pads are actually brilliant and we'll be including them in all future care packages to postpartum moms.
Pet Training And Puppy Pads
"These puppy pads. (I don't have a dog.) I used them for myself when I was leaking all sorts of bodily fluids postpartum. I used them on bed, on bathroom floor, everywhere, because I am a clean freak...
They were also essential for cleaning up baby diaper blowouts, especially when out and about. Just wrap up all the contaminated clothes like a [dumpling] and put into a plastic bag for clean-up at home later (one time it happened on a train in Spain, was a lifesaver). I use these in place of those portable plastic diaper pads (that don't absorb), so when baby pees in the middle of a diaper change, no worries it just absorbs it. Chuck and get a new one. Reuse until such accident happens again.
Thinner and lighter than any other diaper pad so I carry four to five of these in my bag. Once my kid was a toddler I realized this was great for quickly grabbing it out of bedside drawers when kid is about to projectile vomit in the middle of the night onto our bed. Instant absorption: easier than paper towels or actual towels."
— Colleen (asked for her last name not to be used)
Where to get them:Amazon, $23.81
"Had you asked two years ago, I would've said my baby monitor, or my white noise machine as they made sleep possible, but now it's this puppy. I just got it for Christmas and it holds my coffee or tea HOT while I can help wipe that butt, or fix the legos, or tie the big bow on the princess dress. I can even set it to a specific temperature or tell it what colour to glow for me. It's connected via Bluetooth to my phone so it pings when my drink is my perfect temperature, or when it needs to be recharged. 😍😍😍😍😍."
— Margot du Manoir
Where to get it:Ember, $105.99
Captain Blankenship Dry Shampoo
"Dry shampoo! I like Captain Blankenship but I'm sure any brand would be great. Not a baby item but something I never fully appreciated until I was a parent with hair loss and too busy to wash my hair."
— Karolina Skupien
Where to get it:Well.ca, $30.59
Amazon Echo Smart Speaker With Alexa
"The biggest lifesaver I've bought but never expected is Amazon Echo with Alexa. We don't have a TV, so using my voice to ask Alexa to play toddler's favourite songs hands free has been my saving grace with two kids at home alone."
— Amanda Amaratunga
Where to get it: Amazon, $129.99
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