About a year ago I started to buy baby gifts that I actually thought were great, useful things that I either found on my own through trial and error or was something that someone gave me that I liked and found useful -- instead of the cute little outfit (which is always a fine standby -- unless it is horribly ugly and looks like something that your Aunt Muriel hand knitted from a 1975 baby pattern) or other crap that you get that you never use and/or don't like -- not that you were not appreciative to receive it. We all did it -- we all went buck wild with the baby registry -- registering for stuff that we had no idea about but looked neat and useful -- got it and then found that it was not so useful, a pain in ass to deal with and clean, and/or your kid hated it. So I want some suggestions of a some things that you all really like.
JD, my good friend, super neighbro extraordinaire, and fellow NMS member is soon to be first time mom. I would like to impart some of "our" wisdom on her. Please feel free to disagree with anything I have below -- that is the purpose of this -- to find out who likes what and why as well as what they do not like about certain things.
Here are my favorites:
1. Aveeno Baby Wash and Lavender Lotion -- I have tried a lot of different soaps, but this one stood out way beyond the others. Q has a soft, easily irritated skin and this one was a soap and shampoo combination that cleaned and did not irritate, left his hair clean and not greasy -- and it has a nice clean and very light fragrance. The lotion is a good creamy lotion -- the lavender can be overpowering sometimes, but all in all I do think the scent helps calm him and ready him for bed.
2. Diapees and Wipees -- this is a neat little pouch that you can easily put in your purse and/or keep in your car without having to tote around a giant diaper bag. It is made to hold several diapers, a small pack of wipes, and if your crafty (like me) you can squeeze in a small tube of cream. I love mine -- I ordered it online years ago -- but I have seen something similar at Target. Note: Diapees and Wipees is a brand name -- but I have seen these under other names if you go to look for them.
3. Links - An absolute must have for babies that are still in carriers and/or in a highchair or portable highchair seat -- especially at restaurants. Clip several of the links together -- attach one end to the the carrier handle or high chair and then clip the other end to a favorite toy or even a juice cup/bottle and you are set. The babies play with their stuff and you do not have to constantly PICK UP stuff off of the floor -- because it is attached. Note: Every company under the sun has a version of these that they sell -- I do not have a favorite -- but make sure that they are a good, strong and thick because the babies tend to pull hard on them especially when they are in the carriers and/or car seats such that flimsy ones may actually break and pop back and hit Jr. in the face.
4. Bibs with Pockets (especially if they have a rubber coating on them): Some of my favorite bibs I have ever found -- I got from K-Mart. I love them. They are giant. They have a oil cloth-type backing with a rubberized front and series of snaps that allow you to wear the bib flat and/or snap them up to make the bottom into a cup. They are heavy and can take an entire cup of juice in the pocket. They are easily cleaned -- just wipe them down with a little Clorox Anywhere Spray (to be mentioned later) and eventually run them through the wash. Bibs must have pockets. Yes, they can be cumbersome, but I would rather deal with cumbersome than having to devote time later to hosing down all of Q's clothes in spray and wash and then sweeping up all of the stuff that fell (you still may need to do this regardless -- but you have to sweep up less :) ).
This is not my actual bib -- but the closest thing I could find on the net.
5. Aquaphor: The "ointment" of all "ointments" the "cream" of all "creams" -- the Grand PooBah of baby butts (and faces). I love this stuff. I use it instead of diaper rash cream. I also use it on his face and cheeks when his skin is chapped from the cold and it cures it overnight. I also rub it on scratches and they too disappear overnight (small superficial ones -- not any gushers!)... I have even been known to use it on my lips before I go to bed, when they are chapped. I can't say enough about it. Some people like Boudreaux's Butt Paste and others like Desitin. I thought Boudreaux's was gritty and I have used Desitin when he got an actual diaper rash, but that only occurred like 2 times. My rule is -- if he does a stinky, use the aquaphor every time. If the hiney looks a little red, use the aquaphor -- and as a result he has had very few diaper rashes.
6. Sweet Pea Gowns: Soft, open-bottomed gowns that usually have an elastic band (or drawstring) that runs around the opening at the bottom to somewhat close it up so that little feet and legs stay warm. They are great because they keep the baby warm and comfortable and baby butts (for diaper changes) are easily accessible as opposed to footed p.j.s and little pants that have to be removed and then put back on. I used those as long as they made them big enough for little man. Note: A bit of trivia -- the style of "sweet pea gowns" are named after "Sweet Pea" -- Popeye's little boy -- from the comics of old. Sweet Pea always wore them.
7. Puffs: A tasty little snack food made by Gerber. They are little puffed stars that are easier to chew and digest than Cheerios. They come in several flavors and Q must have eaten at least 20 lbs. of them so far and he still eats them. You can easily take them places and they do not make a mess. Sweet Potato is my favorite!
8. Mr. Potato Head: The best toy on the planet for a two year old. It generally entertains them to no end. It is not terribly educational, but entertaining and sometimes you just need them to sit down and shut up. They also make little Mr. Potato heads that come with one set of each part and are about the size of new potato which are the perfect size to fit into a bag to take to a restaurant or so on. I found that one at the Dollar General for like $3.00. Hands down my two-year old gift of choice.
9. Twilight Turtle: Twilight Turtle is a stuffed turtle with a hard plastic shell that actually has star shaped holes cut into the back. Light is projected from within Twilight, through his holes where he projects stars on to the ceiling of the room. You can choose the color of the stars, blue, green or amber -- we always use green. The placement of the stars is supposed to be accurate and it comes with a star guide map. Q obviously can't identify constellations yet -- but that is not why I bought it. It was a perfect "calming nightlight". He would lay on his back with the soft green stars above and drift off to sleep. I got it for him when he was about 5 mos. old and he still uses one to this day except we have now gone to a ladybug that does the same thing. Good thing for kids who are scared of the dark.
11. Classical Baby DVDs by HBO: HBO did a series called Classical Baby that they may still air. I bought my first copy (Art) at Target and then when I realized how cool they were went on to Amazon and purchased the remainder of the series ("music" and "dance" -- and I believe they may now have "poetry"). They use real music (not canned -- synthesized instrumentals like Baby Einstein), it has pop up notes that tell you about the composer, artist, whatever and it is illustrated so that it entertains little ones. All in all Q liked these far better than Baby Einstein -- but we did watch those too. I, also enjoyed them since I had to watch them and I found myself learning something new.
12. Clorox Anywhere Spray: Great stuff -- does exactly what it is says. It is completely safe to use around the babies. I use it to clean everything from bibs and highchair trays to toys and books. It Kills the germs, the smell is not too abbrasive (rather light compared to Clorox Clean-up) and it does not cost an arm and a leg!