When my first baby was born, I joined the ranks of moms insisting that we needed allthebabygear. As a new parent, it’s completely overwhelming trying to navigate it all, but easy to find some assurance that at least you have the right STUFF. Five kids later, most of that gear is gone as I realize there are only a handful of items that truly are worth keeping around. This is the list I wish someone had for me 10 years ago. Note: Some of these links are affiliates. Thanks so much for clicking through them to purchase and helping support this community just a little bit.
- A great Soft Structured Carrier (SSC). Honestly, I didn’t rely heavily on this until I had my second baby, but now I have them stashed in all the possible spots I *may* need one, and may lose it just a little if someone removes it from the car, etc. While this is a personal preference, I am LOVING the new Boba X. It works for babies 7-45 pounds without an infant insert, has an adjustable seat and panel body to get the perfect fit and keeps all three of my girls that I wear (aged 10 months, 2 and 4) comfortable.
- A framed carrier. You really don’t need this until Baby can sit up on their own between 5-6 months, and I find that I use it the most when they’re between age 1-3. It allows us to hike carrying extra gear, keeps their weight on my hips rather than my shoulders, and provides sun protection. You can see a huge review of framed carriers here, but I tend to reach for our Deuter Kid Comfort II or Deuter Kid Comfort III.
- A Rock N Play. My girls slept in this thing every night until way too big. At about 6-7 months I realized I better get them out of there and figuring out how to sleep in a real crib. BUT, it is SO great because it allows Baby to sleep next to me and keeps them at a save incline. Plus it folds flat, comes with a vibrate option and fits in that nice, cozy space by our bed or in our camper/tent. If you don’t have one, yes you need one. We went with a super basic one and it was just fine.
- A Wilder Nest. Ok, so this one is more of a luxury item, but everyone loves it. It’s durable, gorgeous, and keeps her from rolling off the bed in the camper. We throw it on the ground and let her play on it instead of eating rocks. It was the perfect transition from Rock N Play to Crib. We have a Baby Nest and a Toddler Nest and I would recommend just going for the bigger one. It’s a place for them to call theirs for traveling, camping and playing and is much-loved in our home! Find them here: https://lovebirdbabynests.com/ **Note: In the photo below, her airways are totally open and she’s happy as could be. Best outdoor napping spot!
- A bouncer that stores easily. Yep, those exersaucers are all awesome for keeping baby entertained for a few minutes, but they take up SO much room and are the first thing I boot out (probably way before Baby is actually done with it.) I just can’t handle tripping over it any longer. I just discovered the Summer Infant Pop ‘N Jump and it was the ONLY thing I purchased for Baby #5. It was $60 well-spent. It folds like a camp chair, lets her jump and bounce, has a sun shade and built-in activities to keep her entertained. AND it adjusts heights. Her siblings *may* jump in it too (like every day) and it has handled a ton of abuse like a champ.
- Sunday Afternoons Hat. I have tried a zillion sun hats for our kids and this continues to be our favorite hands-down. It works great for in the stroller or on my back, has a quick-release safety strap, and grows with the child. All my kids wear them and love them.
- Boudreaux’s Butt Paste: Every kid gets diaper rash at some point, even when they’re camping/adventuring. Since I really only want to be hauling one thing, this is the one that goes with us. After five kids, it’s the only one I trust!
- Footed Rain Pants: I actually am a bit shocked how much we use these. We have great rain suits, but not having to deal with shoes on a kid that doesn’t walk anyway is amazing. We use them for rain, mud, & dirt, both with and without a jacket on top. Find them at Biddle & Bop.
- Shades. I love these ones from Real Kids Shades because they are a bit softer for little faces, keep out the rays well and have a strap to keep them on. And yes, babies need sunglasses too. I recommend (and keep reminding myself of this!) to put them on Baby as often as possible so they’re just used to wearing them!
- A Balance bike + Helmet. Yes, I know most of this gear is for babies way before they can even think about walking, but I always say this is the best toddler investment you can make for active, outdoor kids. I LOVE the WOOM1 bike (or Woom1 Plus for slightly bigger kids). See our review here. For helmets, we recommend the Woom Helmet (available in smaller sizes soon) or the Giro Scamp.
- Aden & Anais Swaddle Blankets. My favorite for swaddling, but they also work great for a little breathable sun protection in the car seat or carrier.
- Patagonia Baby Baggies Pants: My kids all have these, but I wish I had one more pair for Baby. She wears them anytime I know we are going to be in dirt or water. They keep the bugs and sun off, dry fast, and keep her cool. Note: Apparently Patagonia isn’t selling these anymore. BUT they’re available at Backcountry.com. Stock up while you can! I’ll be letting Patagonia know they need to bring them back!
- Salus Bijoux Life Vest for Infants. If you’re going to be on the water, invest in this. It will save hours of crying babies uncomfortable in life jackets that don’t fit well. It’s comfortable for baby and keeps them completely face-up should they end up in the water. For babies 9-25 pounds. Best family purchase we’ve made for water play!
- Thule Chariot Cross. Oh how I love this stroller. It is my #1 stroller and what I use for biking, walking, hiking and sanity. 🙂 See our full review here.
Ok, parents! What’d I miss?!?
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