When I was pregnant with my first baby, I researched all the latest baby gear, from cribs to strollers, car seats to sheets – you know the drill. I registered. I was showered with gifts. And I was still unprepared. Sure, I had a lot of stuff, but I didn’t know all the insider information on soothing babies and pumping at work and baby carrying. The products I didn’t know I needed, the stuff that could actually help solve the eternal baby problems of eating, comforting and sleeping.

So, without further ado, here are my tried-and-true, make-your-life-easier, make-your-baby-happier, favorite baby products.
Happiest Baby on the Block – I like to think I have great mothering instincts. I immediately start bouncing and humming whenever a baby is within 50 feet of me. So when Alex came along, I felt pretty confident. But there were still times he cried when I felt helpless. Some of my Mommy friends recommended this wonderful book by Dr. Harvey Karp. The book outlines his 5 “S” secret to soothing babies (even “colicky” ones) – swinging, shushing, swaddling, sucking, side/stomach position. He goes into great detail on where to start, how to combine these efforts and special tips and tricks to effectively calm your baby. He also wrote a book on toddlers, as well, that we found helpful.

Miracle Blanket – They don’t call it a miracle for nothing… This blanket is nothing short of miraculous! Maybe it’s because my babies were big at birth (over 8 lbs), but I had the hardest time keeping them swaddled in receiving blankets. I tried a few of the commercial swaddle blankets, but they were too loose to be effective and the sound of the velcro would wake baby up. Then I found the Miracle Blanket. (insert angels singing). Swaddling babies (tightly) can help them fall asleep easier and stay sleeping longer. They come in a number of different colors – we had two, one for home, one for daycare. Go to their web site to see a demo and learn more about why parents all over the world love this blanket.

Amber Teething Necklace – Amber, a natural resin, is considered by many to have healing properties. It is used widely in Europe to help teething babies. It’s not for biting, it is for wearing. By putting this necklace on (under the clothes), the amber is slightly warmed by the body heat and releases healing properties. At the first sign of teething (red cheeks, drooling, red gums or general fussiness) I break out the amber teething necklace. Within 2-3 minutes, I can see a dramatic difference in both drooling and fussiness! Safety info: There are many independent jewelry designers who sell these. Look for a necklace with the string double-knotted between each bead in case it breaks. Also, only use a necklace with magnetic clasp so it can pull safely away if tugged on, and always remove before putting baby to sleep.

Hylands Teething Tablets – After putting on the amber teething necklace, if my babe was still fussy or in pain from teething, I reach for the Hylands Teething Tablets. These little tablets instantly dissolve in baby’s mouth and offer quick pain relief and calming. There was rarely ever a time I needed to use anything stronger than the necklace + teething tablets + cold teething ring.

Allergy Note: these Teething Tablets have a lactose (milk) base. My first child responded really well to these, while my second refused it and was upset when I tried to give it to her. Now that I know she is allergic to milk, I understand why. (Children with allergies will typically refuse foods they are allergic to even if they are too young to realize why!)

Marpac Sound Screen White Noise Machine – Loud background noise can help babies fall asleep and stay asleep. You may have heard people recommend running a vacuum to create this noise. I’ve even heard of people burning out their vacuum motor! With our first child we used a CD of a vacuum playing and played it every night, on repeat, for the first year and a half of his life. It helped him so much that we were willing to put up with anything, even though we got really sick of it!

When Avery came along we were determined to find another solution. I searched high and low for white noise machines and wanted one that provided a constant, loud “fan” sound. I didn’t want waves or rain or other melodic nature sounds… in order to be effective, I knew we needed something serious. Then I found the Marpac Sound Screens machine online and it was exactly what we needed. They are more expensive ($50-70) than some of the “nature sounds” machines, but totally worth it! Avery’s bedroom is located in the middle of our house and can pick up on noise from the hallway, the living room, the kitchen and the dining room. This noise machine blocks all of that noise out. It’s wonderful!

Hands-Free Pumping Bra – If you are going to pump at work for 9-10 months, you need a hands-free pumping bra. Seriously. It works with all pumps, and easily slides on OVER your nursing bra. Why sit there holding a machine to your body when you could be using your hands to talk on the phone, surf the internet or read a magazine? Of course you could create your own hands-free bra with an old sports bra and a pair of scissors, or use the rubber-band trick… but please, take my word for it and buy this bra. You will thank me. 2-3 times a day for 9 months. I promise.

Ergo Baby Carrier – I’ll try to say this without slamming the rigid, confusing and uncomfortable baby carriers that you find at Target and Babies R Us. The ERGO Baby Carrier is seriously the best baby carrier on the market. It is so comfortable, versatile (front or back carry) and easy! I love, love, love my ERGO and still use it to carry my 14 month old. I have a long history of back pain and can only carry her for a few minutes unaided, but with the ERGO I can go for at least a good hour without needing a break. I’ve written about the ERGO many times on my blog – click here for my longer review of the ERGO with pictures.

Signing Time -For parents wishing to teach their children sign language, Signing Time is for you! We love Signing Time in our house and credit it for helping us teach both our babes (and ourselves) sign language. We checked it out from the library when Alex was 12 months and quickly became fans. We eventually purchased the entire first season, and then the second season, on DVD. Signing has made our lives more enjoyable and less confusing since we know what our kids are asking for before they can talk! You can read more about our experiences with ASL and Signing Time by clicking here.

KozyPal Cart Cover – Cart covers were just hitting the market 3 years ago when I wanted one to protect my first babe from all the nasty germs in shopping carts. I read some study that showed that shopping cart handles were a lot dirtier than public toilets! When you consider that public toilets are at least cleaned once in awhile… carts are cleaned, um, never?!

After many friends raved about this site, I took a look and fell in love with the ability to customize my own cart cover. There are many awesome fabrics to choose from and you can even customize with a sippy cup holder (which is a definite must if you ask me!). I chose an old-school sock monkey pattern (gender neutral!) and still love it years later. We use it at least 2 to 3 times a week. They also work well on high chairs at restaurants.

Quick Clean Micro-Steam Bags – Forget boiling breast pump parts, pacifiers or baby bottle nipples – these bags from Medela allow you to steam clean and sterilize your items in the microwave, killing 99.9% of harmful bacteria and germs. I used these bags religiously when pumping and continue to use them today to sterilize pacifiers. You get 5 bags in one box and can use each bag 20 times (per the manufacturer… I use it more than that). You can find these at Target and Babies R Us.

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20 Responses to “My Favorite Unusual Baby Products”

  1. the cheap chick says:

    I have to share my BFF’s awesome cheap tip for loud background noise. She’d turn a radio on to static, then turn up the volume to drown out all other noise. It worked like a charm on both her boys – and me, too! Now whenever I here static, I get sllleeeeeeppppyyy…..

  2. Anti-Supermom says:

    Love my hands-free bra too.

    Thanks for adding the picture though- it made me giggle 🙂

  3. MissMVK says:

    I swear I could’ve written this post (though possibly not as eloquently)!!! Except for the bra, I own all of these items and I could not have survived this long without them. The Happiest Baby on the Block DVD saved our marriage, I swear. 🙂 Well done, Missy!

  4. Florida Girl In Sydney says:

    I love most of those things– some I wasn’t familiar with. Have you ever heard of the Ultimate Crib Sheet– omigod!

  5. Carissa(GoodnCrazy) says:

    Holy you ain’t kidding huh? that’s a lot of stuff…

    I only pumped that many months with the first kid.. the second and third..um.. no!

    But I love the amber necklace thingy? Wish I had had that!

  6. Holly Tried It says:

    I love it! We had four of the safe favorites! The Miracle Blanket, Signing Time, The Steam Bags, and the Happiest Baby on the Block.

  7. Eric, Cindy and Aidan says:

    I totally agree with the Happiest Baby on the Block and the Miracle Blanket. They saved our lives those first few weeks/months. I also ordered the necklace and the cart cover. I’m also planning to order the carrier. We didn’t get much use our of our Baby Bjorn, so I plan to sell that one and get the one you recommended.

  8. Rachel says:

    What amazingly helpful information…wow. I’m bookmarking this post so I can return to it when we need to buy all this great stuff!

  9. kristine says:

    I so need to check out this white noise machine. Parker’s room is at the beginning of the hallway which is right next to the kitchen and livingroom. To block out the noise we have a box fan in there and I have to put it on hthe highest setting. Sometimes that isn’t even loud enough to cover the sound of GRaycen getting excited about something or just a really loud noise.
    I am totally with you on the teeting tablets. Those things SAVED MY LIFE when Graycen was teething with her molars. UGH.
    And don’t even get me started with Signing Time!! Graycen knew some signs before but once she started watching these, she was picking them up after one viewing. It was amazing. Watching her little sponge of a brain just take it all in and her repeating the signs later that night after only watching it once. She loves Signing Time. It’s so cute because when she wants to watch it she will either sign “Signing Time” or sometimes “Baby Signing Time” or will sing the song. It’s too adorable!

  10. Rebecca says:

    It was like you dug through my baby bins and listed out all the things we have… except the Ergo carrier, of course, which is on our wish list for the next baby! Great minds think alike.

  11. The Happiest Baby, Inc. says:

    Hello Marketing Mama,

    Thank you for mentioning Dr. Karp and The Happiest Baby!

    Most parents quickly & effectively learn the 5 S's by watching The Happiest Baby on the Block DVD & when time permits, read the Happiest Baby book which contains details & additional information on topics such as weaning, teething & sleep.

    Another great calming tool that Dr. Karp highly recommends is the 'Super-Soothing' Sleep Sounds CD of white noise. It contains 5 specially engineered tracks of white noise sounds to further calm & soothe crying/fussy babies.

    At about 8 months of age, it may be beneficial for parents/caregivers to watch The Happiest Toddler on the Block DVD as it shows simple, but extremely effective ways to teach young children patience, respect, and how to eliminate 50%-90% of tantrums in just days!

    The Happiest Toddler on the Block DVD and book does for toddlers what The Happiest Baby on the Block DVD and Super Soothing Sleep Sounds CD does for babies!

    If you have any questions please let us know!

    Best wishes,

    Kristen Terry
    The Happiest Baby, Inc.

  12. Speech Privacy says:

    White noise machines produce a gentle, innocuous sound that helps to drown out noise.

  13. aileen says:

    I recently came accross your blog and have been reading along. I thought I would leave my first comment. I dont know what to say except that I have enjoyed reading. Nice blog. I will keep visiting this blog very often.



  14. hands free breast pump says:

    Thank you for sharing your wonderful insights regarding unusual baby product. I've been using a hands free breast pump until now coz I'm a busy mom doing multi task breast pump is my companionship in life on taking care of my daughter.

  15. pam powell says:

    Wow! I was just looking to connect with other Minnesota Moms and Grand Moms and voila! Here you are, and you bring them all with you! Thankyou for being here!
    The Salad Girl aka Pam Powell

  16. baby says:

    the miracle blanket looks like real miracle

  17. Rebecca says:

    Just unwrapped Walter from his second Miracle Blanket (bought him one to supplement Frank's hand me down), he's sleeping in his Ergo, and I'm about to use the hand's free pumping bra and steam bag!!! We still use the Happiest Baby tricks, and signing is just around the corner. Are we the same mothers?

  18. Sweet Harper says:

    I concur…love all the products mentioned and agree, even when you think you're prepared—you're not! You really have to "live" it before you learn about your preference for some baby items.

  19. Anonymous says:

    Amber is incredible and unmatched in its natural healing powers – and not just for children. People have used amber for centuries for arthritis, respiratory infections including chronic asthma, as a stress reliever that interacts with the body's nervous system and much, much more. Researchers and scientists have expounded on the exceptional ability of Baltic Amber to thwart infection and enhance immunity. Today, everyone is turning more toward homeopathic medicines – Amber is at the top of the list in it's healing abilities. http://www.amberartisans.com/

  20. Kimberly says:

    Hello….I came across your site and got a kick out of reading some stuff. Really entertaining. : )
    I am extremely allergic to potato’s immediately after I gave birth to my daughter who is now 14 years old. It took awhile to realize it, seeing I wasn’t aware food allergies even existed back then. So once it was figured out, I just avoided them which sucked at times but wasn’t so hard to do. I would just not eat fries, chips, mashed and baked. Simple. But now, a week and a half ago, something seemed to go terribly wrong. I was eating Jolly Ranchers gummy candy and started having a bad reaction! I grabbed the bag and read potato starch in the ingredients! So low and behold, from that day on I started having reactions to various potato things like cellulose gum in tooth paste and Vitimine A Palimate in the 1% milk I was drinking for most of my life. As I began to read diary products I realized its in all low fat stuff as a thickener! Its even in Almond and Soy milk. So now only whole milk is safe but fattening. This has been such a huge depression for me because I have to avoid so much now. I also seem to all the sudden have an allergy to yeast.
    I am at a loss with the limited things I am able to eat and I’ve had so many attacks with my throat starting to close up and getting hives that I am scared to eat. I am down to meats being careful with seasonings and veggies. Not much more.

    I would like to know if anyone else out there has an allergy to Potato’s.

    Thanks for reading.

    Kim (40 yrs old, mom of 4)



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