I was the first among my close friends to have a baby and I'm the oldest in my family, so I didn't have anyone to ask about baby gear when it came time to register for our first child. I kind of ended up getting things that were popular, without really doing too much research.
Because of that, a few things that were so kindly given to us at our showers just didn't end up fitting our lifestyle. I've recently done some baby gear purging, AKA: selling items on Craigslist at an incredible loss just to gain back precious storage space, and I've been mentally compiling lists of things that actually worked for us and that I'm happy to hold on to.
Most of these items are money and space savers...two of them are sleep savers...but a couple, the carrier and the car seat, just plain work even though they aren't much of a deal.
I feel like I need to start my list off with a little disclaimer, so here it is: A lot of these products are not the most hip or modern, nor are they necessarily the best in their category, but they worked for us! Every family and baby has different needs and these fit ours.
1. ERGObaby Performance Carrier: $134.95 Our Ergo was the third baby carrier that we owned and by far the most comfortable. The Performance is a little different from the regular Ergo in that it's a lot less bulky and more breathable. We used this on an airplane when Little Man was 8 months old and it was great!
2. Snug and Tug Swaddle Blanket: $17.99 This was the third kind of swaddle blanket that we used and it's fantastic. It's designed so well that Little Man could not break out of it. He slept wonderfully!
3. Chicco KeyFit Infant Carseat: $189.99 I don't have experience with other car seats, but this one is so easy to use.
4. Cuisinart SmartStick Hand Blender: $59.99 Who needs to spend $120 on a baby food maker?! Ours was actually only $50 and you can find it at Costco for about $30. I can't say enough about how much I loved making baby food with this little gadget. It's also so small that it wasn't a hassle to get it in and out of our cabinets and it didn't take up much space. The best part is that I still use it!
5. Joovy Kooper Stroller: $129.99 I did a lot of research before I decided on this stroller. I wanted something small and light-weight, but substantial enough to take on walks. I can fold it and pick it up with one hand and it doesn't take up much space in the trunk of our car. Plus, it looks like it costs a lot more than it does.
6. bumGenius One-Size AIO Cloth Diaper: $24.95 Once again, I don't have experience with other cloth diapers. We got these and we were set. They're really easy to use because they're one piece so I just throw 'em the washer. I don't miss the cost of disposables and these are not much less convenient.
7. First Years Newborn to Toddler Feeding Seat: $30 We just don't have the space for a separate high chair so this one has been strapped to one of our dining chairs since Little Man was about five months old. It's not the prettiest thing, but it takes up so little space that I hardly notice it.
8. Munchkin Diaper Changing Kit: $17.79 I've never carried a diaper bag. I just loaded up this kit and threw it into my fairly large purse. So much better than carrying two bags or just one ugly diaper bag.
9. Fisher Price Take Along Swing: $49.99 This is a pretty bare bones swing and it's not much to look at, but it did the job for us. It's so small that we could move it all over the house, up and down our stairs with no problem. Little Man took great naps (2-3 hours, 2-3 times/day) in it for a long time.