Blog post category: TotScoop picks

The Best New Baby Gear for 2017: Round-up from ABC Kids ’16

abc-kids-16

We recently returned from the ABC Kids Expo ’16, the largest annual baby & kids products trade show in North America.  For those of us who work in the industry, wandering the floor is a bit like being a kid in a candy store!

Here’s a sneak peek at all of the latest & greatest products coming out for 2017.  If you like a product, click through to the TotScoop page to see more info or “Want” it!

Continue reading

Gift Guide for Babies, Toddlers, and Preschoolers

Gift Guide for Babies, Toddlers, & Preschoolers

Note: Check out the latest (2016) version of this gift guide here!

Looking for the perfect holiday or birthday gift for your little one, a grandchild, or a family friend?  Here are our curated lists of age-appropriate gifts that are proven hits.

If you’re planning on buying a toy, see also our Buying Guide: Baby Toys & Books for info on buying safe/non-toxic toys.

0-6 months

6-12 months

1 year olds

2 year olds

3-4 year olds

All ages

  • Clothing: For a classic holiday gift, how about some snuggly jammies?  Our top picks are the organic sleepers and two-pieces from Hanna Andersson — they’re  fantastic quality and last forever!  The rest of the year, nice pieces from top brands like Baby Gap, Mini Boden, Tea Collection, etc. are always Mom favorites.
  • Looking for something handmade? Check out our top picks for baby goodies on Etsy
  • Experiential gifts: Trip to a local farm or zoo; hike at a local trail or park; a train or bus adventure; or an afternoon of art, cooking, or some other creative activity with gift giver (see also our Pinterest board for great baby & kid activity ideas)
  • Free and fun: Don’t forget the big cardboard boxes and discarded wrapping paper that all those presents come in!

Any other favorite gift ideas for little ones? Let us know in the comments!

Note: All featured products and brands are editorially selected by our editors; we do not accept compensation in exchange for coverage.  This post does contain affiliate links, meaning we may receive a small proportion of any purchases you make after clicking on them (at no cost to you); thanks for your support!  See our full Editorial Policy & Affiliate Disclosure here.

Best Advent Calendars 2015

Can you believe it’s that time of year again??  Here are our picks for the best kid-friendly advent calendars of 2015.

bellazahn modern quilted advent calendars

bellazahn santa over town

These gorgeous modern advent calendars from bellazahn on Etsy are nothing short of quilted masterpieces.  A variety of scenes are available (our favorites include a classic Christmas tree, Santa flying over a village, and Christmas stockings), and all feature pockets for treats.  They’re on the pricey side ($50-60), but you’ll be able to enjoy them for years.  Note that these ship from New Zealand.

GoldTinselShop muslin bags

GoldTinselShop muslin bags

These festive muslin bags ($45) from GoldTinselShop on Etsy are decorated with colorful holiday-themed prints and are perfect for holding little treats.  Order by 11/23 for 12/1 delivery.

vintagemodernmix advent boxes

vintagemodernmix advent boxes

These versatile little (2″x2″) advent boxes ($29) are decorated with vintage-inspired prints and can be stacked into a pyramid, lined up on your mantel, or adhered to a backing for a more traditional-style advent calendar.  Cuteness!

TheButtercupHouse magnetic tins

TheButtercupHouse tins

These little (2.5in. diameter) advent tins ($45) from TheButtercupHouse on Etsy feature cute modern Christmas images and are perfectly sized for tiny treats.  They’re also magnetic, so will provide hours of fun refrigerator play as well.

LEGO advent calendars

LEGO Star Wars advent calendar 2015

If you’ve got a little LEGO fan in your life — accept no substitute for one of the 2015 LEGO advent calendars.  There are three flavors this year: City (item #60099, $30), Friends ($30), and Star Wars (item #75097; $40).  All three have already sold out at LEGO.com ($29-39), but you can still get them (albeit usually at a premium) on Amazon (City is selling for $46 at time of writing; Star Wars is going for $61; and Friends is blissfully still available at retail price).

Pottery Barn Kids Telluride Advent Calendar

PBK Telluride Advent Calendar

PBK is also offering a nice version of the classic Christmas tree advent calendar ($69, sale $55) this year.

Eric Carle’s Dream Snow Pop-Up Advent Calendar

Eric Carle's Dream Snow Pop-Up Advent Calendar

If you don’t relish the concept of having to fill up 25 tiny treat pockets, perhaps the Eric Carle advent calendar ($10 at Amazon) is more your speed.  This marvel of paper engineering features a central tree and Santa figure (from Eric Carle’s book Dream Snow) and flaps that lift up to reveal a new decoration to add to the scene each day.

Starbucks Advent Calendar 2015

Starbucks advent calendar 2015

We also can’t help but mention the Starbucks Advent Calendar ($45, sale price $31).  This year’s incarnation features reusable tin globe-shaped ornaments that come pre-filled with chocolate and peppermint bark.  This mom couldn’t resist buying it this morning on a coffee run, and it’s actually pretty nice.  I’m thinking of turning our full-size tree into a life size advent calendar tree using these ornaments this year.   The package also includes a $5 Starbucks gift card.  The Starbucks calendar is available online as well as at local stores.


Find another advent calendar that you absolutely love?  Please share in the comments!

Happy countdown to the holidays, everyone!

Essentials for the First Month with a Newborn

Essentials for the first month with a newborn baby | TotScoop

We’ve just emerged from the first month with our secondborn — whew!  Here are some reflections on the essentials for surviving the first month with a newborn.  (Hint: ix-nay on the drawers full of adorable outfits, baby shoes, the peepee teepee, and the stacks of baby blankets you’ve been ogling on Etsy.)

First, some context. Most newborns spend most if not all of their time sleeping, eating, pooping, or getting cleaned up after one of those activities — so most true essentials will make at least one of those easier.  You’ll also need some basic clothing, and a few gear items to enable you to get out of the house together.  In addition, it’s worth splurging on a few things that will make life easier so you can survive it all with a smile on your face.  Beyond that, everything else is pretty much superfluous.

1. Portable sleeper

Babies spend most of their first month sleeping, so you’ll want to have somewhere your baby can sleep during the day in your primary living space where you can keep an eye on her.  It could be a bassinet, infant seat, “newborn lounger,” swing, or playard (but you definitely don’t need all of those things!).  Many moms absolutely swear by the Rock n Play.  This time around we’ve been using the Lotus Bassinet (below) from Guava Family; I love the breathable mesh sides and the modern look, and most importantly our little one sleeps great in it.

Lotus bassinet

2. Practical clothing

You’ll need 2-3 days’ worth of clothing (taking into account multiple changes per day due to spit up, blowouts, etc.) to get you between laundry days.  Keep it practical!  Those adorable newborn outfits or footies with a zillion snaps might look cute on the hanger, but we can guarantee you’re never going to reach for them (especially when you’re sleep deprived).  In summer, bodysuits/tops are really all you need; side snaps (like those on the adorable owl bodysuit from Zutano below) are great for easy on/off (imagine tugging a vomit- or poop-soaked onesie over your floppy newborn’s head), and built-in foldover mitts are an added bonus.  The basic white Gerber side-snap tees with foldover mitts are fantastic for the first week or two, before the umbilical cord falls off.  For full-length sleepwear or footies, look for zippers vs. snaps or buttons.

Zutano owls bodysuit

3. A few high-quality, generously sized blankets / swaddles

Most first-time moms (including me with my first baby) go way overboard on blankets.  I’m still not even sure to this day what a receiving blanket is for (despite having bought at least a half dozen of them)!  You really only need a handful of high-quality blankets or swaddles; you’ll never reach for the crappy ones anyway.  In moderate to warm weather, two or three light- to midweight swaddles and one midweight blanket (for cooler mornings or on-the-go) are plenty.  If you’re the type of person who is able to master complicated handshakes or sailor knots, you might choose the classic and versatile lightweight muslin swaddles from aden+anais or SwaddleDesigns (which can double as nursing covers, car seat covers, etc.).  If you prefer something more convenient, check out the velcro SwaddleMe wraps or the Miracle Blanket.  If you have a baby who likes to sleep with her arms up, I recommend the Swaddle Up (pictured below), which our little one loves.  For classic swaddles and blankets, don’t bother buying anything smaller than 44×44″ — it’ll be outgrown way too quickly and you’ll be wishing you hadn’t wasted your money.

Swaddle Up

4. Breastfeeding essentials

If you’re breastfeeding, take the time to set up a super comfy nursing station to make those hours and hours ahead as pleasant as possible.  You’re probably already familiar with the basics: a comfortable chair, a footstool, and a breastfeeding pillow.  Then don’t forget a side table to keep everything within easy reach: for example, burp cloths, nursing pads, drinks and snacks, entertainment (e.g., iPad, light reading), etc.  I personally couldn’t survive without my Dutailier glider (uninspiring looking but crazy comfortable), my Brest Friend and Blessed Nest (pictured below) pillows, aden+anais Burpy Bibs (perfect not only for burping, but also as a nursing pillow liner), or Bamboobies nursing pads (for my overactive letdown).  It’s also worth it to invest in a slew of high-quality nursing bras/tanks/tops (my favorite bra — which I wear day and night — is from Majamas).

Blessed Nest nesting pillow

5. Newborn-ready changing station

You’ll probably be visiting your changing station at least a dozen times per day in the beginning, so you might as well get it set up just right.  In addition to the obvious (e.g. changing table/surface and pad), don’t forget ample changing pad liners (our favorites are simple and cheap cloth diaper prefolds) to catch the frequent and explosive accidents that are inevitable with newborns.  For sensitive newborn skin, give scented, chemical-laden wipes a miss; instead use Water Wipes (shown below) or just dry wipes with water.  Also, consider having a few different sizes of diapers on hand; also, don’t overinvest in any one brand or size until after you see what actually fits.  (We had a huge case of Bambo newborn diapers ready to go, only to find that they were way too big for our little one.  FWIW, we found that Pampers Swaddlers, Earth’s Best, and Honest Co. diapers fit much smaller than Bambo and Naty in the same “newborn” size.)

Water Wipes

6. Newborn-friendly baby carrier

You’re going to be doing a lot of rocking and cuddling during those tender first few weeks; give your arms an occasional rest by investing in a newborn-friendly baby carrier.  Alas, the most popular infant baby carriers (e.g., Ergo) are not suitable for the newborn stage, so you’ll probably need to get something else for the early months.  My favorites are wraps (either woven or stretchy, e.g. the Moby or Boba Wrap) and infant-friendly SSCs (like the Beco Gemini, shown below, and the Boba 4G).  (For more on the best baby carriers for the newborn stage and beyond, see our baby carrier guide.)

Beco Gemini

7. On-the-go essentials

With our firstborn, we were housebound for almost an entire month.  With our secondborn, we managed to get out of the house at least once a day right after we got home from the hospital.  The difference?  Knowing exactly what we needed to make it happen: a lightweight infant car seat (which can be easily popped in and out of the car), a car seat-compatible stroller (ideally a lightweight car seat frame like the Chicco Keyfit Caddy or Graco Snugrider Elite), a convenient diaper bag and mini-changing kit, etc.   One of my favorite little luxuries is a car seat canopy to protect baby from sun, wind, and curious strangers; check out this adorable new release from Bebe au Lait (pictured below).

Bebe au Lait car seat cover

8. Boredom busters

You’re about to spend hours upon hours doing laps around your living room and/or chained to a nursing chair.  Trust us, if you don’t already have it, get Netflix.   Or an iPad.  Or, scrounge up some light reading (note, however, that this is not the time to tackle War and Peace).

Orange is the New Black

9. Whatever will make your life easier

Whether it’s ordering tons of take-out, booking some extra help from your house cleaner, or subscribing to Google Shopping Express — whatever it takes to get some of those hours in the day back is worth the cost.  Do it!

Google Shopping Express
Your new best friend. Photo credit: Google

10. Don’t forget to take care of yourself, mama!

Last, don’t forget to take care of yourself!  A happy and healthy mama makes for a happy baby.  Whether it’s postpartum essentials, goodies to keep breastfeeding parts happy, or just some chocolate to perk you up :), sustaining yourself is important too.  Don’t skimp on whatever it takes to make sure you can enjoy those precious first few weeks!

TotScoop buying guides

Here are some quick links to our top buying guides:

Hope you find them helpful!  More to come!

The Minimalist’s New Baby Checklist

The minimalist's new baby checklist, from TotScoop. A guide to what you really need -- and what you don't -- for baby's first six months!

It seems like most baby checklists are a mile long.  Most of the retailers who author them, after all, are just trying to sell you stuff — and many sleep-deprived parents are only too willing to shell out big bucks for the promise of an extra few minutes of peace.  Babies do require a lot of stuff, but let’s face it, a lot of parents overbuy too.  For those who prefer a more minimalist approach, this article will outline the bare minimum essentials that you need for baby’s first six months — and will also provide advice from moms who’ve been there on what you don’t need.  (PS: For those of you who are decidedly NOT minimalists, also check out our Ultimate New Baby Checklist 🙂 )

Nursery & newborn sleep

Crib (must have)

For most families, this is a must have.  But hold on — a select few families who go with the “family bed” hardly ever end up using theirs.  If you think this might be you— wait until after baby arrives to invest in a pricey crib (a playard or travel crib might suffice for occasional usage instead).

Favorite brands/products: See TotScoop parent favorites for cribs and playards/travel cribs.

Bassinet, cradle, or co-sleeper (optional)

Many families buy a smaller, cozier place for baby to sleep in the first few months, especially if they plan to co-sleep in the same room.  This is definitely a nice-to-have if you have the extra cash, but if you’re a minimalist, you can definitely avoid buying a separate piece of furniture.  A playpen with an adjustable height mattress or a “newborn napper” type station is a good solution that can be repurposed later for use in the living room.  Or, hey, you could go even more bare bones.  Consider that many babies in Finland sleep in a cardboard box for the first few months of their lives, and Finland has a much lower SIDS rate than the U.S.

Favorite brands/products: The Arms Reach is the most popular co-sleeper in the US; it can feel a bit flimsy, but does the job.  Moms also rave about the Rock ’n’ Play, which is even more affordable.  More TotScoop parent favorites here.

Swaddles and/or receiving blankets (must have)

You just need 2-3 blankets with which to swaddle your baby and/or keep her warm.  Don’t go nuts — lots of parents go overboard buying dozens of swaddles and receiving blankets even though they don’t even really know what they’re for.  Exercise common sense and just get a few items.  Wait until you see what baby likes and what you find easiest to use (e.g. regular square swaddle blankets, swaddle “aids” with velcro, regular blankets) before buying extras.

Favorite brands/productsAden + Anais swaddle blankets, SwaddleMe velcro wraps, Under the Nile swaddle/receiving blankets.  Check out our more detailed guide to best swaddles and receiving blankets here.  Also, more TotScoop parent favorites here.

Wearable blankets / sleep sacks (must have)

After baby transitions out of a swaddle (usually around 2-4 months), you’ll need some wearable blankets (a.k.a. sleep sacks) to keep her warm.  (Recall that the AAP does not recommend use of any loose blankets in the crib until after at least 12 months.)  TIP: Babies outgrow sized sleep sacks quickly.  Consider looking for an adjustable sleep sack.  They may be more expensive, but they are higher quality and last much longer.

Favorite brands/products: Halo sleep sacks, Baby Deedee Sleep Nest,  Merino Kids and Woolino adjustable merino wool sleep sacks.  Check out our in-depth guide to best wearable blankets here.  Also, more TotScoop parent favorites here.

Rocker/glider (optional)

Worthwhile if you don’t have any other chairs in your house that can offer you good head/neck, back, and arm support while you’re sitting with baby for hours on end (particularly if you plan to breastfeed).  If you’re going to buy new furniture, you might as well get something ideal — look for one with a tall back that reclines.

Favorite brands/products: Dutailier is one of the biggest, baddest names in nursery wood gliders.  See also the Monte Design Joya for our favorite modern rocker.  See more TotScoop parent favorites here.

What you DON’T need

  • A full crib bedding set (including dust ruffle, window valance, diaper stacker, comforter, crib bumpers, etc.):  Loose bedding is not recommended by the AAP until the age of 1, and crib bumpers are frowned upon for all ages.  And well, diaper stackers are just plain silly.
  • A changing table or changing table topper:  These are only useful for a short time, and a really not necessary anyway.  Just get a changing pad and put it on a dresser (if you have one at the right height) or on the floor (that way you don’t have to worry about baby falling off!).
  • A fancy diaper pail:  A fancy diaper pail is not by any means a necessity.  Just get a trash can with a tight-fitting lid (to contain odors), and plan to take out the trash every 1-2 days to keep odors to a minimum.

Gear

Infant car seat (must have)

This is one of the few bare bones essentials that you absolutely must buy before baby arrives — in fact, most of the time you won’t be able to leave the hospital in a private car without one.

Favorite brands/products: The Chicco Keyfit and Graco Snugride are among the most popular.  For a higher-end seat, our favorites are the Cybex Aton Q and the Nuna PIPA.  Also consider the highly rated Britax B Safe or UPPAbaby MESA if you are looking at full-size strollers from the same brands.  See our detailed buying guides and parent reviews here.

Car seat stroller (must have)

You definitely want to have a car seat-compatible stroller of some sort so you pop baby’s infant car seat in and out of the car.  You can either get a car seat stroller frame or a car seat adapter for your full-size stroller to accomplish this.  If you don’t mind getting an extra piece of gear, we’re very partial to the stroller frame, as it’s much lighter weight and more convenient.  But, if you’re a committed minimalist, you may prefer to just get the adapter.

Favorite brands/products: For car seat stroller frames — get the Chicco Keyfit Caddy if you have a Chicco car seat, the Graco Snugrider Elite if you have a Graco car seat, and the universal Safety 1st Clic It! or Joovy Roo (whichever one is compatible with your car seat) otherwise.  Try to get one with a click-in rather than strap-in connection.  See our full set of editors’ picks here.

Full-featured stroller (must have)

Yep, you pretty much need one of these, unless you plan to wear your baby in a carrier all the time (and never want to be able to cart around groceries, etc.).

Favorite brands/products: For lightweight full-size strollers — our top picks are the City Mini (GT) and Britax B-Agile.   For luxury strollers — we are absolutely salivating over the upcoming 2015 model (shipping Nov./Dec. 2014) of the UPPAbaby Vista.  Our top pick for an all-purpose jogging/full-size stroller is the BOB Ironman.  See our full set of full-featured stroller editors’ picks here, and parent stroller reviews here.

Umbrella stroller (optional)

Nice to have for in-and-out of the car and plane travel, but not strictly required.  Consider just getting a lightweight full-size stroller instead.  (Also, note that most umbrella strollers can’t be used until 3-6 months, when baby develops good head/neck control.  So consider holding off buying until later, until after you’ve figured out what’s really important to you in a stroller.)

Favorite brands/products: Our top picks include the UPPAbaby G-Luxe and and the Maclaren Triumph.  For a cheap travel stroller, check out the First Years Ignite.  See our full set of umbrella stroller editors’ picks here, and parent stroller reviews here.

Newborn carrier (must have)

Whether you need one of these depends in part on your parenting style, but we view it as a necessity for all but the most easygoing babies.  Be sure to get something that works well for the newborn stage — many standard infant-size carriers are simply sized too big, and/or require the use of bulky inserts.

Favorite brands/products: Stretchy wraps such as the Moby and Boba Wrap are the most popular for this stage.  Woven wraps (e.g. Didymos, Girasol, etc.) are pricier, but will last through infant and toddlerhood.  If you prefer a Soft Structured Carrier, our favorite newborn-to-infant options are the Beco Gemini, Boba 4G, and Lillebaby.  For ring slings, we love Maya (basic) and Sakura Bloom (luxe).  See our full buying guides and more TotScoop parent favorites here.

Infant carrier (must have)

This is a must for most families — for times when your baby seeks closer contact than a stroller can provide, and/or you need to navigate tighter spaces or uneven terrain (think festivals, narrow store aisles, hiking, etc.).

Favorite brands/products: Our favorite infant-sized Soft Structured Carriers are the TulaBoba 4G, Ergo 360, and Beco Soleil.  See our full buying guides and more TotScoop parent favorites here.

Bouncer/baby seat (must have)

Strictly speaking these are not necessities, but unless you are a super hard core minimalist, you will probably find at least one “baby holder” to be a worthwhile investment (just ponder how else you’re going to take a shower!).

Favorite brands/products: Our favorite is the Baby Bjorn Bouncer Balance Soft.  Fisher Price bouncers are also incredibly popular — they can be eyesores, but they’re cheap and the brightly colored toy bars are very effective at holding baby’s attention.  Another alternative is something like the Boppy Newborn Lounger.  See all TotScoop parent favorites here.

Floor mat and/or activity gym (optional)

It’s nice to have one of these for tummy time and/or playtime during the non-mobile stage (~2-8 months).  While commercially available floor mats and activity gyms are convenient, they aren’t essential; a blanket or towel on the floor will do the job just fine.  However, gyms with arches are handy because they conveniently position hanging toys right above baby.

Favorite brands/products: Our value picks are Infantino and Tiny Love.  Skip Hop makes our favorite products in this category.  See all TotScoop parent favorites in this category here.

Diaper bag and/or changing kit (optional)

You do need something that you can carry dirty diapers and lots of little accessories around in.  You don’t necessarily need a dedicated diaper bag, though — if you already have a roomy bag with plenty of organizing pockets that can be easily cleaned, you’re all set.  You can consider getting a small changing kit with a portable changing pad to organize diapers and wipes within your bag and simplify trips to the bathroom.

Favorite brands/productsSkip Hop and LeSportsac both make great diaper bags.  See TotScoop parent favorites here.

Playard / travel crib (optional)

To contain baby at home, or as needed for sleeping while traveling or at Grandma’s house.  Minimalists might consider getting a travel crib to use as either their primary crib at home, or as their co-sleeper for room sharing, in order to avoid buying yet another piece of gear.

Favorite brands/products: Top budget picks include the Joovy Room2 and the popular Graco Pack N Play series.  Our top premium picks are the Baby Bjorn Travel Crib, Guava Family Lotus Travel Crib, and Nuna Sena.  See all TotScoop parent favorites here.

What you DON’T need

  • Swing: For many babies, these are unnecessary — many babies will sleep just fine in lots of other places.  Plus, they’re huge and they’re eyesores.  However, if your baby has trouble sleeping anywhere else, don’t feel bad about breaking down and trying one.
  • Baby seat (e.g. Bumbo): These are popular, but totally unnecessary, and according to some doctors and physical therapists they can actually be bad for baby’s spine and gross motor development.  If used incorrectly, they can also result in falls and injuries.  Just use a bouncer or floor mat to hold baby instead.
  • Exersaucer/jumper: These can serve as additional handy “baby holders,” and can offer some incremental stimulation for baby, but if you’re already got a bouncer or a floor mat, they aren’t strictly necessary.
  • Shopping cart/high chair cover: Though favorites of first-time moms, these are totally unnecessary, and washing the cover after every use is totally impractical.  Worried about germs?  Just wipe down public surfaces before use, or avoid them entirely by using a carrier or bringing your own travel high chair instead.  Think you need the extra padding?  If baby is so wobbly that she can’t sit up on her own, she shouldn’t be sitting anyway; try carrying her around in a carrier or leaving her in her car seat instead.

Clothing, shoes, & accessories

Newborn & infant clothing (must have…in reasonable quantities!)

Clothing is another area where it’s easy to go overboard.  Yes, baby clothing is adorable; there’s just no getting around it! But, if you are a committed minimalist, you can get by with a lot less than you think.  Many parents end up overbuying clothing, and end up giving away (or selling at a huge loss) tons of like new or even never worn clothing (keep in mind that early on, clothing is outgrown in only a few months).  Just use your common sense to guide how much you actually need to buy: for example, if you plan to do laundry every three days, then you only need three days’ worth of clothes (taking into account a few changes per day, due to spit-up, accidents, etc.).  At the very beginning babies can wear pretty much the same thing night and day — so no need to invest in distinct daytime outfits vs. sleepwear, etc.

Tip: Pick clothes that will keep baby comfortable

What’s most important in the first few months is that the clothing you buy is loose and comfortable (e.g. not constrictive at the waist), and is weather-appropriate.  In hot weather, a simple short-sleeve onesie may be enough; in moderate or cool weather, one-piece sleepers or long-sleeve onesies along with stretchy pants/leggings/footies may be appropriate.  In cold weather, you’ll obviously need additional layers, particularly for going outside.  For the first month or so, until the umbilical cord falls off — consider side snap tees that won’t irritate the umbilical area.

Tip: Shop for easy dressing and diaper changes

For the first few months, when baby is small, consider side-snap tees and onesies so you don’t have to pull them over baby’s head.  For easy diaper changes, consider sleepers with full-length zippers (instead of full-length snaps) or gowns.  For ease of dressing, consider tops with built-in newborn mittens, and pants with built-in footies. Also, make sure you get a few skull caps to keep baby warm through the newborn stage.

Tip: Don’t buy too much NB clothing

A note on sizing: Most babies need NB sizes for a month or so, but not all do — consider buying mostly 0-3 month clothing ahead of time, and only a few NB size pieces, before baby arrives.

Favorite brands/products: There’s no shortage of baby clothing stores.  Just a few of our favorites include Under the Nile, Kate Quinn Organics, and Kushies for organic cotton basics; Gap, Old Navy, and H&M for cute, dependable basics; Mini Boden and Janie & Jack for splurge pieces.  See all TotScoop parent clothing favorites here.

What you DON’T need

In the first six months, you should have absolutely no (legitimate) need for…

  • Jeans, stiff pants, or pants with buttons: Too uncomfortable and/or impractical for newborns and infants.  You want loose, non-constrictive clothing with stretchy waists.
  • Shoes: You don’t need any real shoes until baby starts walking (or, at the earliest, cruising).  Companies sell “crib shoes” for non-mobile babies, but they’re just for show.  Footies, booties, or socks should be sufficient for keeping baby’s feet warm.  If you absolutely can’t resist some adorable crib shoes, make sure to get ones with soft soles that will not impede natural foot development.
  • Baby formalwear: Adorable, but totally impractical.  Even if you have a wedding or formal event — nobody cares if your six-month-old baby is in a cotton onesie and pants.  So whenever you see those seersucker or gray flannel suits, even on the sale rack — move on by!

Breastfeeding/feeding

Nursing pillow (must have)

This isn’t strictly a necessity (plenty of moms get by without one), but honestly if you aren’t on a super tight budget, we think it’s more than worthwhile.  Nursing is hard enough as it is, and you’ll use it enough to make it pay for itself many times over!

Favorite brands/products: The Brest Friend is the top recommendation of most lactation consultants, and therefore is our top pick.  The Boppy is also very popular, and can also be used for propping up baby, etc.  See all TotScoop parent breastfeeding favorites here.

Nursing accessories (must have)

If you plan to breastfeed, you will almost certainly need nipple cream/ointment at the beginning.  A few good nursing bras (including at least 2 daytime bras and at least 2 comfortable nighttime bras) and some nursing pads to stop leaks are also must haves.  A nursing cover is a nice to have, but not an essential; if you want to cover up, you can also use a swaddle blanket or similar.

Favorite brands/products: See all TotScoop parent breastfeeding favorites here.

Basic burp cloths and bibs (must have)

For burp cloths, you’ll need something soft and easy to wash that you won’t mind getting spit-up on.  But that doesn’t mean you need to pay a lot for fancy dedicated burp cloths.  This could be something as simple as an old t-shirt, a multi-purpose swaddle blanket, or (our favorite) a cloth diaper.  For bibs, you’ll probably want to get some basic, waterproof bibs once baby starts feeding from a bottle and/or drooling heavily (most babies start teething around four months).

Favorite brands/products: See TotScoop parent bib & burp cloth favorites here.

Pacifiers (optional)

These aren’t necessities, but many parents find them helpful in the first few weeks or month.  They’re so cheap that it’s probably not a bad idea to have one or two on hand.  Don’t invest in any more, though, until you figure out whether baby will take a pacifier at all, and if so which type she prefers.

Favorite brands/products: See TotScoop parent pacifier & teething favorites here.

Baby bottles (must have)

If you plan to ever be separated from baby at mealtime during her first year, you’ll need some bottles and nipples.  If you’re breastfeeding, pediatricians recommend waiting to introduce a bottle until around four weeks old, to avoid nipple confusion.  If you want to minimize how much gear you have to buy, skip the smaller 4oz. bottles (which babies can only use for a few months anyway) and go straight to 8-9oz. bottles.  Also, we recommend you buy one or two bottles from several different bottle “systems” to start; avoid investing in any one system until you see what baby likes best (many babies are very particular).  For breastfed babies, consider getting wideneck bottles with more natural nipple shapes to ease transition between breast and bottle.

Favorite brands/products: Our favorite general bottle systems are Born FreeAvent, and (for colicky/gassy babies) Dr. Brown’s.  For breastfed babies, here are wide-neck bottles from Avent, Tommee Tippee, and Dr. Brown’s.   If you prefer glass, here are top options from Born Free and Dr. Brown’s.  See all TotScoop parent bottle feeding favorites here.

Breast pump & accessories (must have)

If you plan to pump, a good breast pump is worth its weight in gold.  It’s worth it to get a double-electric pump (as well as a hands-free pumping bra) if you plan to do anything other than very occasional pumping.    You ‘ll also need milk storage containers if you plan to freeze milk longer term, and cleaning wipes if you plan to pump anywhere where you won’t have access to soap and running water.

Favorite brands/products: The Medela Pump-in-Style Advanced is our best bang-for-buck winner for double-electric pumps.  See all TotScoop parent breastfeeding favorites here.

What you DON’T need

  • 4oz. bottles: Babies can only use these smaller bottles for a few months anyway.  Save some bucks by going straight to the 8-9oz. bottles.
  • Specialized bottle drying rack and bottle brush: Unless you’re planning to do very heavy bottle feeding, a normal drying rack and bottle brush will suffice just fine.
  • Bottle warmer: Unnecessary (though you may choose to splurge on one if you’ll be bottle feeding a lot).
  • Sterilizer: Unnecessary (unless your doctor tells you otherwise, of course).
  • Pacifier pouch, clip, and wipes: Unnecessary.
  • Designer burp cloths and bibs:  Cute but unnecessary.

Bath & diapering

Diapers (must have)

Well, there’s pretty much no way getting around needing diapers (unless you are super crunch and are doing full-time Elimination Communication…).  Diapers should be changed promptly upon being wet or soiled, so you’ll go through quite a few in your baby’s lifetime.  Newborns go through 10-12 diapers per day; older babies fewer.

Tip: Save money by cloth diapering

If you are so inclined, you can save some money over your child’s diapering career by opting for cloth diapers.  As a bare minimum (if you can consistently do laundry every 1-2 days), you can get by with a stash of ~15-20 cloth diapers and ~5 diaper covers.  You can find several guides related to cloth diapering here.

Tip: Don’t buy too many NB size diapers

If you’re going disposable, consider buying just a single large pack of NB size diapers to start.  Some babies go straight to size 1 diapers, so you don’t want to overbuy.

Favorite brands/products: For disposable diapers — our favorite premium, green, non-toxic diapers are Bambo, Naty, and Earth’s Best (our value pick).  You can find a number of more detailed guides on diapering as well as TotScoop parent favorites here.

Wipes and accessories (must have)

For newborn wipes — you can hold off on the regular, solution-based disposable wipes for the first month or two.  Most pediatricians recommend using only wipes with water for the first few months anyhow.  For older babies, wipes with water will still do the job, or you can graduate to traditional solution-based wipes.  Reusable cloth wipes are also a great alternative at any age.

Diaper cream is also a must-have to treat rashes (once they appear; some babies are more prone to rashes than others, so no need to stock up prematurely).

Favorite brands/products:  For newborns — dry wipes like these work great (just add water), or you can get premoistened Water Wipes (which contain 99.9% water and 0.1% grapefruit seed extract).  For regular baby wipes, our top picks for safer baby wipes (including fewer questionable chemicals) include Honest Company, Naty, and Earth’s Best. Find more diapering guides & TotScoop parent favorites here.

Changing pad (optional)

A changing pad is not a strict necessity, but it sure is handy (to provide a soft surface and keep baby from rolling away).  If you want to go the strict minimalist route, you can just use a towel on the bed or on the floor too.

Favorite brands/products: Our top pick for a safer (e.g. no vinyl), but reasonably priced changing pad is the Oeuf.  If you have a bit more to spend, check out the  Naturepedic and the Keekaroo Peanut.  More diapering guides & TotScoop parent favorites here.

Baby bathtub / bath support (must have)

Some sort of safe place to bathe your newborn/infant (before they can sit up themselves in the big bathtub) is a must.  The best option for most parents is to get a infant-to-toddler tub, which have both a reclining newborn sling/position as well as an upright seated position for toddlers.  If you’re a minimalist, you’ll skip the newborn bucket tubs and sink inserts that will be outgrown after just a couple months.  If you like — and you have a suitable bathroom setup (e.g. a huge sink, or a tub that is comfortable to kneel over) — you can also consider skipping the infant tub and just using a bath support like one of these in your sink or big bathtub.

Favorite brands/products: If space is at a premium in your bathroom, get the The First Years Infant-to-Toddler Tub.  If you have a bit more space, get the Primo Eurobath.  See more baby bathtime buying guides and TotScoop parent favorites here.

Baby shampoo/wash and lotion (must have)

Unless you already use a very gentle shampoo/body wash and lotion for yourself, it’s worth getting a specialized baby shampoo/wash and lotion, especially for the newborn stage when skin is super sensitive.  Look for products that are gentle and fragrance free.

Favorite brands/products: See parent favorites for shampoo/body wash and toiletries on our main site.

What you DON’T need

  • Wipe warmer: Simply not necessary.  Life is rough, kid.  Get used to it 😉
  • Specialized baby bath towel, bathrobe, and/or washcloths: A hooded baby towel and dedicated washcloths are definitely not necessities.  If you are a true minimalist (and this is the true test, my friend, as baby towels can be truly irresistible lol), any towel or washcloth you already have sitting around the house will get the job done.
  • Tons of bath toys: One or two carefully chosen baby bath toys should be sufficient.  Baby doesn’t need much to be entertained, and any more won’t fit in an infant tub anyway.

Health & safety

Baby monitor (must have)

We consider a baby monitor to be in the necessary category — and preferably video rather than just audio.  But before you splurge on an expensive dedicated unit, definitely check out smartphone apps such as Cloud Baby Monitor, which may satisfy your needs (you do, however, need to have an extra device that can be left as the broadcasting unit in baby’s room).

Favorite brands/products: Our top budget video monitor picks are from Infant Optics and Levana.  For a bit more, you can upgrade to an Infant Optics model with interchangeable lens, the Motorola MBP33/36, Samsung SEW-3037W, or Dropcam.  See more TotScoop parent favorites here.

Baby thermometer (must have)

MUST HAVE.  A necessity, unless you already have a forehead/aural/rectal thermometer at home.  Rectal thermometers are the most accurate, but minimalists may be able to squeeze by with just an aural thermometer (which is more useful as baby grows).  Just be prepared that you may need to run to the drugstore to get a rectal thermometer as well if baby gets a high fever as a newborn.

Favorite brands/products: Braun ThermoScan Ear Thermometer

Bulb syringe/nasal aspirator (must have)

A necessity until your child learns to blow her own nose.  Trust us, it’s worth it to upgrade from a bulb syringe (the kind they give you at the hospital) to a suction-powered nasal aspirator like the popular NoseFrida (MUCH more effective at removing snot).

Favorite brands/productsNoseFrida

Humidifer (optional)

Optional.  Helpful to decrease congestion and/or treat dry skin.  Note that cool mist humidifers are preferred to warm mist versions for mobile babies for safety reasons.

Favorite brands/productsCrane

Baby-safe cleaning products (optional)

If you don’t already use “green”/“safer” (i.e. EWG “A” rated) cleaners — such as all-purpose and bathroom cleaners, laundry detergent, stain remover, dish detergent, etc.— consider switching to them during pregnancy or when baby is born.  They’re safer not just for baby, but also for the rest of your family!  NOTE: Do your homework — don’t buy a product just because it markets itself as “baby-safe,” because often those are just as bad as conventional cleaners. For example, Dreft laundry detergent and most Babyganics products get terrible EWG ratings.  Check ratings on EWG first — see here.

What you DON’T need (at least not yet)

Toys & books (optional)

Babies need a pretty minimal assortment of toys and books in their first six months.  You don’t really need anything for the first month or two; if you like you can get one or two high-contrast items to encourage visual development.  After baby starts being able to focus on objects other than faces, a thoughtful selection of a handful of soft toys/books, grasping toys, and/or musical toys should be sufficient.  You don’t need to go overboard buying dedicated baby toys — as generations of parents will attest, simple household objects (try kitchen objects such as wooden spoons, whisks, mixing bowls, etc.) will do the job as well!

Favorite brands/products: Some of our favorite basic infant toy brands are Manhattan Toy, Wimmer-Ferguson, Sassy, Lamaze, and Infantino.  For premium, non-toxic (e.g. wooden and organic) toys and teethers, our go-to brands are HABACamden RoseMaple Landmark Toys, Under the Nile, and miYim.  Also see our editors’ picks and TotScoop parent favorites for toys and books.


What did we miss?  Tell us in the comments!

Note: All featured products and brands are editorially selected by our editors; we do not accept compensation in exchange for coverage.  This post does contain affiliate links, meaning we may receive a small proportion of any purchases you make after clicking on them (at no cost to you); thanks for your support!  See our full Editorial Policy & Affiliate Disclosure here.

Top Baby Finds on Etsy

Adorable & unique baby finds on Etsy - including wooden toys, organic clothing, and more!

This week we’re highlighting one of our favorite sources of unique and handmade baby goods: Etsy.

Etsy describes itself as a “marketplace where people around the world connect to buy and sell unique goods. Our mission is to re-imagine commerce in ways that build a more fulfilling and lasting world.” It’s also a Certified B Corporation (along with the likes of Patagonia and Seventh Generation), meaning it aims to “use the power of business to solve social and environmental problems” rather than being organized around the primary purpose of generating a profit.

Sounds pretty good, right? And there are lots of benefits for the discerning buyer as well: not only are you supporting an individual artisan or small business, but you’re getting something handcrafted and more unique (sometimes even one-of-a-kind) than the mass-market products sold at major retailers.  Many Etsy sellers also choose to use organic and/or sustainable materials, tend toward a more modern style, and produce their products locally.

For all of these reasons, Etsy products also make fantastic baby gifts!  Often the presents that get the most “oohs” and “aahs” at baby showers are the unique ones from Etsy. 🙂  You can directly purchase a product to give as a gift, or alternatively you can buy a gift certificate to many Etsy stores to allow the mama-to-be to order something that fits her tastes.

There are so many amazing sellers and products on Etsy that it would be impossible to feature them all.  So we will use this post to share just a few of our favorites. 🙂  (NB: We are not receiving any kind of compensation for this post or for the specific shops and products that we have chosen to feature.  We are just big fans and want to share some of our favorite finds!)

Natural nursery

We love Turn a New Leaf Designs for its natural nursery basics and bedding, including this fantastic organic wool duvet/comforter ($100) and organic wool-filled changing pad ($128).

turnanewleafdesigns_duvetturnanewleafdesigns_wool_changing_pad

Baby blankets

We love absolutely everything from the Organic Quilt Company.  Their expertly crafted baby blankets, quilts, burp cloths, bibs, hats, and towels are made from organic materials, come in a wide range of modern prints, and make perfect baby gifts.  We own and love their Essential Organic Baby Blanket ($32.50) — one of our top choices for baby shower gifts.

organicquiltcompany_baby_blanket

Petunias features its own digital designs on its quilts, wet bags, and bags.  Their Hoot Hoot quilt ($81) is perfect for a newborn photo shoot or as a floor mat.  Because they print their own fabrics, many of their products can also be personalized with your child’s name or birth details.

petunias_hoothoot

There are also tons of handmade baby quilts on Etsy at very reasonable prices.  This Windy Day/Gray Chevron quilt ($149) from Sunnyside Designs is an example of the gorgeous workmanship to be found.

sunnysidedesigns2_windy_day_quilt

Nursery decor

Wall decals are a great way to make a big impact on the look and feel of a nursery very quickly.  There’s a wide range of decals available on Etsy — from these simple, classy clouds ($35-45) from Katazoom to weeping trees and elaborate animal scenes.  You’re sure to find decals to match or inspire almost any theme for your nursery.

katazoom_cloud_decals

Prints are another great choice for adding some zest to your nursery in a jiffy.  We love the alphabet prints ($34.50) from Just Bunch Designs, created using decorative paper and acrylic paints.

justbunch_alphabet_prints

Etsy’s a great place to pick up a unique mobile for your one-in-a-million little one.  We love this felt safari-themed mobile ($90) from Drops of Color.

dropsofcolorshop_safari_mobile

And what about creating some order amongst the children’s books that you’ll be reading umpteen times a day? Can’t get much cuter than this sweet pair of owl/bird bookends ($60) from The Wooden Owl.

thewoodenowl_owl_bird_bookends

Fabric storage bins are great alternatives to ugly plastic totes.  We love these expertly crafted, made-to-order storage bins from Baffin Bags.  They are available in a variety of fabrics and sizes — from the 5×8″ version shown below (perfect for use as a diaper caddy; $18) to larger versions appropriate for toys.

baffinbags_sm_storage_tote

Organic clothing

If you’re looking for some unique threads for your little one, there are many sellers on Etsy who make handmade baby clothes — many with organic fabrics and modern prints.

North Carolina-based holdyoume is one of our favorite baby clothing shops.  They make pants, matching hats, headbands, and swaddle blankets in modern graphical prints.  Check out their adorable whale pants ($28-38):
holdyoume_organic_whale_pants

Sleeping gowns are a must for new babies, and we love the reasonably priced, organic full-snap gowns ($27) from Canadian shop Tootie & Dolly.

amandaannbrown_sleeping_gown

Baby shoes

Shoes with soft soles are perfect for crawlers, cruisers, and early walkers.  Many Etsy sellers offer made-to-order soft soles in a range of fabrics, including these wonderful nature-inspired shoes from Growing Up Wild ($28):

growingupwild_soft_soles

There are many products made out of recycled wool on Etsy as well, including these adorable owl slippers ($32) from Little Friends.  We’ve bought several pairs of slippers from Catherine over the years, some for own our littles and some as baby gifts, and all have been cherished.

littlefriendsco_owl_slippers

We also love Etsy for amazingly affordable (especially given the quality) soft soled shoes made out of leather, like these fabulous owl shoes ($24-27) from Starry Knight Design (are you noticing a trend here? we just can’t get enough of all these adorable owls!):

starryknightdesign_leather_soft_soles

Baby hats

There is no shortage of adorable handmade baby hats on Etsy.  Here’s a classic skull cap/knot hat sporting an adorable elephant print  from Paisley Pair Designs ($18).  Also available in many other fabrics.

paisleypeardesignsMT_elephanthat

There are also themed hats for every occasion.  In honor of the current fall season, here’s an adorable pumpkin hat from Handknit Hugs.

handknithugs_pumpkin_hat

 

Nursing and feeding

Infinity scarves are a great alternative to awkward nursing covers.  We love this highly-rated gray chevron cover ($20) from Hold Me Close.  It’s on our “if we ever have another baby…” list!

holdmeclose_nursing

Drool bibs are a must for little ones, and it’s easy to find unique, modern, and organic ones on Etsy.  This organic cotton woodland theme bib and burp cloth set ($25) from wilder & bean is just perfect.

wilderandbean_woodland_bib_burp_set

Also, could this organic penguin bib ($20) from down home amy (featuring an original illustration by the artisan) be any more adorable?!

downhomeamy_penguin_bib

Bathtime

We adore these organic hooded baby towels ($44.50) from Organic Quilt Company.  They come in a range of solids and colors.

organicquiltcompany_hoodedtowel

And don’t forget some organic washcloths.  CurlyMonkey has some organic hemp/cotton cloths that are great for bathtime and for wiping baby’s face ($11.50 for 6-pack).  They can also be used as reusable diaper wipes if you’re cloth diapering.

curlymonkey_washcloths

Wooden toys

Imagination Kids, based in Indiana, is a favorite Etsy shop that hand creates fantastic wooden toys from sustainably harvested wood and non-toxic paints. Their range includes animals, push and pull toys, stacking toys, and more.  Two of our favorites are this rainbow stacker (reminiscent of Grimms, but at a much more affordable price) and adorable hedgehog family ($25 each).

imaginationkids_rainbow_stackerimaginationkids_hedgehogs

Smiling Tree Toys, based in Minnesota, makes heirloom-quality, natural-colored wooden toys like this name-personalized truck ($20).  Its products are hand-crafted from certified sustainably harvested hardwoods and are finished with an organic oil-and-beeswax-blend finish.
smiling_tree_toys_truck

Beckman Woodworks makes lovely wooden rattles, stackers, and blocks that are finished with beeswax in Oregon.  This rattle/teething toy costs $18.

beckmanwoodworks_rattle

Hill Country Woodcraft in Texas makes a wide variety of wooden toys ranging from vehicles to push toys to stacking toys.  We are absolutely in love with this personalized fire truck ($20).

hcwoodcraft_firetruck

Bannor Toys in Iowa makes mostly natural-colored wood toys including this toy car set ($18).

bannortoys_car_set

Soft toys

bunbunbabydesigns specializes in baby gifts featuring modern fabrics. We particularly love their adorable decorative pillows/soft toys, like this fox and owl ($25 each).

bunbunbabydesigns_foxpillow bunbunbabydesigns_owl

Nicole’s Critters specializes in crocheted stuffed animals.  Our farm-obsessed toddler has this adorable sheep ($45) and is in love with it.  The seller was very happy to work with us to create a custom version out of 100% cotton yarn.

nicolescritters_sheep

 

100% organic stuffed animals are hard to find in most stores — but not on Etsy.  This pumpkin monkey ($76) from Yarn Miracle is hand knit with organic cotton yarn and stuffed with organic cotton batting.  A bit pricey, but an amazing choice if you’re in the market for a new best friend for your child.yarnmiracle_monkey

Miscellaneous

Lucy Darling makes some of the cutest bodysuit stickers around for your monthly milestone photos, including this zoo-themed set ($18).lucydarlingshop_milestone_stickers

Age blocks are also a great alternative, if you plan to be doing milestone photos past the bodysuit stage.  Check out this versatile wood age block set ($30) from Buggy’s Blocks.

buggysblocks_age_blocksFor kids in daycare or preschool, we LOVE the personalized clothing labels from Ananemone Labels.  You can choose from basic name only (in your choice of fonts) or a wide range of graphic designs; most designs are available in both sew-on and iron-on versions.  We couldn’t resist these adorable robot name labels ($18) for our resident toddler.  But word to the wise(r than we are): don’t try ironing them onto an insulated lunch box – you’ll melt it (oops!).

ananemone_clothing_labels


Well, that’s it for our Etsy round-up.  Hope you discovered at least one new product that you love for your little one or your next baby shower.  Did we miss any of your favorite Etsy shops or products?  Let us know in the comments!

WEAR ALL THE BABIES!!!
(An introduction to babywearing)

An introduction to babywearing from TotScoop. Includes babywearing basics, top carrier picks, and online resources for buying carriers and learning more about babywearing.

In honor of International Babywearing Week (Oct. 5-12, 2014), today on the blog we’re featuring some babywearing basics, our top carrier picks, and the top online resources for buying baby carriers and learning more about babywearing. 🙂  We are passionate babywearers, so whether you’re an experienced babywearer or just babywearing curious, our goal is to help you discover at least one new thing to help you to wear your little one just that much more comfortably or for just that much longer. <3

Why babywear?

For those who are not yet sold on babywearing, the answer is, in a nutshell: because it’s awesome!  Your baby will love it, because it will enable him or her to stay closer to you.  Studies show that babies who are carried cry less and are healthier than babies who aren’t.  And you’ll love it too, because your arms won’t fall off, and you’ll be able to keep your hands free for other things — so you can actually GET. STUFF. DONE.

Not yet convinced?  Check out these articles on the benefits of babywearing from Babywearing International, Dr. Sears, and La Leche League International.

What type of baby carrier is right for me?

There are a ton of options available, so selecting your first carrier can be a bit daunting.  Here is an overview of some of the main types of carriers from Babywearing International (BWI), to help get you oriented to the basic lingo.

In general, the best type of carrier for you will depend on both your baby’s age and your personal preferences.

For newborns (birth to 4-6 months or so), your basic options are a wrap (either stretchy or woven), a sling or pouch, or a newborn-friendly soft carrier (e.g. mei tai or Soft Structured Carrier/buckle carrier).  Newborn-friendly soft carriers include both infant-sized carriers (which are sized for smaller babies) and one-size carriers that can easily adjust to accommodate smaller babies well (for example, the base might cinch or snap in, or an integrated infant insert might be included).

For the baby stage (approximately 6 to 18 months), your best options are woven wraps (stretchy wraps will no longer be supportive enough) or a standard-size soft carrier.

For the toddler stage (approximately 18+ months), woven wraps and toddler-size soft carriers are your best bet (the latter will have a wider base and higher back to better support your child as compared to a standard-size carrier).

In general, if you want something that’s easy to learn to use and/or want to be able to pop baby in and out frequently, a soft carrier is probably a better option for you than a wrap.  Wraps are infinitely adjustable, but have a much steeper learning curve and can be challenging to put on in places like parking lots.  Also, if you have shoulder or back problems, avoid one-shouldered carriers (such as ring slings/pouches).

Our top picks for baby carriers

We’ve spent hours upon hours researching and testing out baby carriers for our upcoming baby carrier buying guide.  It hasn’t been published yet, but we’re happy to be able to share with you here a sneak peek of our absolute favorites.

Top newborn carriers (birth to 4-6 mo.)

Boba Wrap

The Boba Wrap ($38 at Amazon) is a favorite for newborns.  It’s similar to the popular Moby, but features a more stretchy, airy fabric (due to its 5% spandex content) which bounces back and is more forgiving to tie (though you need to be extra sure it is tied securely).  It’s also more reasonably priced, and less toasty than the Moby in hot weather.

boba wrap

Sakura Bloom ring sling

Ring slings are some of the easiest carriers to get in and out of.  Sakura Bloom ring slings are stunning — they’re definitely pricey ($88-198), but they’re gorgeous and incredibly luxe.  Both linen (sturdier) and dupioni silk (lighter weight) versions are available, and in both single (lighter) and double layers (more supportive).  If you’re looking for something cheaper and easier to care for, also check out the Maya Wrap Baby Sling ($80 at Amazon).

sakurabloom_black

Beco Gemini

Sized smaller than most Soft Structured Carriers, the Beco Gemini ($130 at Amazon) is a fantastic option for the first 10 to 12 months.  It accommodates a newborn with no insert, has an adjustable crotch width, and features a substantial padded headrest that provides excellent head and neck support.  The Gemini is more versatile than most carriers, allowing four different positions: front-facing-in, back, hip, and front-facing-out.  The only thing about the Gemini we don’t like is the safety buckles, which sadly are a two-handed operation for most people.

beco_gemini

Boba 4G

The Boba 4G, described below, is a standard-size Soft Structured Carrier that also elegantly adjusts to fit newborns well.

Top standard (6 to 18 mo.) and toddler-size carriers (18+ mo.)

Tula Ergonomic Baby Carrier

Tula carriers don’t yet have mainstream distribution (you won’t find them on Amazon or at Target), but they are extremely popular in the babywearing world — and for good reason.  They are extremely comfortable for most wearers, and their quality and craftsmanship are undeniable.  The standard-size Tula ($149) fits babies from 15 lbs.; it can also be used from birth with infant insert (sold separately, $40).  The toddler-size Tula ($169) is designed for use from 18+ months (or 32″ tall and 25 lbs.).

tula_blue_zig_zag

Boba 4G

The redesigned Boba 4G ($128 at Amazon) is a great choice that elegantly accommodates newborns through toddlers.  It includes an integrated, two-position infant insert that allows you to wear smaller babies legs-in (one setting is for newborns 7-10 lbs., the other for infants 10-15 lbs.).  After 15 lbs., you remove the insert and wear baby legs out.  Toddlers are also made fairly comfortable in the Boba 4G, despite the fact that the carrier body is not huge, through use of the Boba’s unique stirrups.

boba4g_kangaroo

Top woven wraps (all ages)

Woven wraps come in so many different materials, patterns, and lengths that it simply doesn’t make sense for us to recommend individual products.  So instead we’ll focus on introducing you to just a couple of our favorite wrap brands.  (It’s a slippery slope — once you get into wrapping, you’ll discover lots more wrap brands that are also great!)

Didymos

Didymos is the gold standard of German-style wraps.  Their wraps are somewhat expensive ($130+ for a standard size 5), but are high quality and supportive and have high resale value.  Didymos wraps are available many different designs, including their classic “Indio” geometric pattern as well as various stripes and jacquards.  They also release gorgeous Limited Edition models.  You can’t go wrong with a Didy!

didymos_iris

Girasol

Girasol is a German company that produces wraps woven in Guatemala using the traditional weaving methods of the Mayan Indians. Girasol wraps feature stunningly beautiful designs (e.g. rainbow stripes in gorgeous tones), are thin-to-medium in thickness, are reasonably priced, and require no break-in period — making them a great choice for beginners.

wovenwraps.com baby carriers woven wraps for traditional baby wearing

Best places to buy baby carriers

Buying new

As always, for convenience, and also often price, our favorite online retailer for baby stuff is Amazon.com.

If you want a wider selection and/or a more personal touch, you may find it worthwhile to visit a specialty baby carrier retailer. Their owners are very knowledgeable; many offer free consultations to help you find the best baby carrier for your needs. Some of our favorites include PAXbaby, Marsupial Mamas, Granola Babies, Heavenly Hold, QuirkyBaby, Wovenwraps.com, and Wrap Your Baby.

Some more narrowly distributed brands may be easiest to buy directly from the manufacturer for the broadest selection (e.g., Tula).

If you’re interested in testing out a carrier (or several) before you buy, PAXbaby, Granola Babies, Heavenly Hold, QuirkyBaby, and Tula all offer carrier rental programs.

Buying used

Here are some of the top destinations online for buying, selling, and trading used baby carriers:

TheBabyWearer (TBW) FSOT board (registration required… 30 posts required before you can sell anything)

Facebook B/S/T groups (you must join each one individually…many also have a sister feedback thread that you must join before you can sell anything)

eBay.com

Your local Craigslist board (as always, be wary of authenticity and deals too good to be true)

Where can I learn more about babywearing?

Check out these helpful resources to learn more:


Did we miss anything?  Let us know in the comments.

Hope you got at least one new piece of information to convince you to try something new!  Happy babywearing! 🙂

Note: All featured products and brands are editorially selected by our editors; we do not accept compensation in exchange for coverage.  This post does contain affiliate links, meaning we may receive a small proportion of any purchases you make after clicking on them (at no cost to you); thanks for your support!  See our full Editorial Policy & Affiliate Disclosure here.