When I first became a parent, we were in another century, actually another millennium. My son listened to cassettes in the car on a Fisher Price tape player! One of my first thoughts upon finding out I was pregnant in my 40’s, rather than my 20’s, after a few choice words of surprise, was that the baby gear must be a lot cooler now.
It sure is!
To me, the most obvious change is that the fabrics and patterns for nurseries are more sophisticated than ever before and mirror the family’s personal clothing and decorating tastes. Nurseries now fit in seamlessly with the rest of the house and are more cool than cutesy. Think less Noah's Ark and more mid-century modern.
But what about the gear?
As Baby Andrew closes in on the one year mark, here are my top 5 favorites for the infant stage:
1. Boppy Lounger: We had Boppy nursing pillows back in the day, which we eventually rejected in favor of My Brest Friend for excellent breastfeeding support. This lounger, made by Boppy, serves a completely different purpose. It provides a soft place to place the baby during the day, and its silky soft cotton and supportive padding make a great little cocoon. It's also a great place to bottle feed if baby gets too squirmy in your arms.
2. Kinsa Thermometer: If you think your baby is feverish, it probably means you are already worried and stressed, so you need a thermometer that works! This one connects to your cell phone and provides a quick, accurate reading. It can be used under the arm, in the mouth, or rectally. My favorite part is that the app saves temperature readings and other symptoms on your phone, and it can be used to store data for the whole family. And as someone who once broke an old-fashioned glass thermometer in my baby’s room and had to safely dispose of the MERCURY, I’m glad to have technology on my side this time. Forehead thermometers like this one also look super easy.
3. Infant Swaddles: Can you say Night and Day? Tim and I used to argue about the best way to swaddle our babies using receiving blankets. No matter how hard we tried, a little arm or foot would come poking out and we'd have to start all over. What a difference it makes to have an easy to use swaddle with the strongest velcro in the world on it! Mom and Dad can wrassle an infant into this thing in just a few seconds, and it stays tight all night. Labor and Delivery Nurses have special swaddling ninja skills, but SwaddleMe is for the rest of us.
4. Rock and Play: Total game changer! Before, we had wicker bassinets pulled up next to our beds. Nothing wakes a baby faster than his kicking the walls of a flimsy bassinet. A Rock in Play cradles infants in a comfortable inclined position, and the height is ideal to keep next to the bed so mom and dad can tend to the baby in the night. We had one upstairs and one downstairs. Another bonus is that it is lightweight and folds easily for travel. Due to concerns that the Rock and Play can cause babies to develop flat heads, I recommend putting a headrest in yours, such as this one from Boppy. Our baby learned to love sleep much faster than his older brother and sister did, and I credit the Rock and Play for this. We transitioned him out of his at six months, and I was sad to see it go.
5. Dohm Sound Machine: This sound machine was a big improvement over the sound of a hair dryer or vacuum cleaner of the days of yore for trying to lull a baby to sleep. Savvy blog readers pointed me in its direction, and now I can't sleep without it! Another option is using a free white noise app on your iPhone.
I wouldn't say parenting a baby in my forties is easier than in my twenties, but some key products have helped. I could go on with my list, but these are my top 5 must-haves! Hoda Kotb, if you are reading this, I have some great hand me downs you can have for lovely Haley Joy!