When you get the news that a new bundle of joy will be added to your family, the list-making begins. What will I need to get? What are the essentials and what are the nice-to-haves? Chances are, you’ll also be inundated with suggestions from friends and family. “I couldn’t live without my …” or “I absolutely swear by the …” are probably common phrases you’ll hear… repeatedly.
There are, of course, obvious items that every new parent knows they need to get: a crib, diapers, onesies, blankets, bottles, stroller, a car seat, and so on. But there are also a few less obvious tech items that you may find become far more than just nice-to-haves once your baby arrives and you realize how much you rely on them. Here are 3 essential tech items that I think no parent should be without.
1. Baby Monitor
My son is 3.5 years now, but I still get use out of the baby monitor we had set up in his room since he was sleeping in his crib. The reason? It’s a video monitor, which means I can use it to keep an eye on him at bedtime if we’re outside in the backyard enjoying the company of friends. I also use it in his playroom in the basement, so I can make sure he isn’t up to trouble while I’m upstairs making dinner.
But from the time your baby is sleeping, or at least napping, in his own quarters, a baby monitor is absolutely essential. Any parent is familiar with the constant worry about baby rolling over on his tummy, or waking up crying and you don’t hear him because you’ve dozed off downstairs on the couch. With a monitor, you can always have baby nearby to hear every cry or whimper. What I love about video monitors is that you can also see the comforting rise and fall of baby’s chest, whether he’s fast asleep or eyes wide open, and, as he gets older, if he happens to manage to pull himself up in the crib.
The Summer Infant Baby Touch 3.5” Wi-Fi Video Monitor is great in this regard because not only can you view baby in full colour, but it also allows for remote viewing using the Summer Link Wi-Fi app for iOS and Android devices. This means you can check in during date night while the baby is back home with a sitter or his grandparents. Additionally, you can connect two cameras, and view them in split screen—great if you have a newborn in his room but still want to use a second camera to keep an eye on your preschooler playing in his toy room. It also has one aspect I find highly important with video monitors: pan, tilt, and zoom, so you can get a perfect view of squirmy babies who move around a lot, no matter how the camera is positioned. Plus, it has motion tracking to follow your child as he scoots about. It has infrared LEDs so you can view at night as well, two-way communication (maybe to let Billy know to stop messing up his room!), and it monitors the temperature so you can make sure the room isn’t getting too hot or cold.
2. Baby Swing
I thought a baby swing would be a nice-to-have until I realized how difficult it was to get anything done with a baby unless you locked him up in his crib. And no parent (nor baby) wants to be cooped up by himself in his crib every time mom or dad need to put him down to do something. It can be cause for great worry even running to the kitchen for a split second to warm up milk – it’s never a good idea to leave baby unattended. But with a swing, you can strap baby in, get it going in motion, and play some soothing songs or sounds to keep him occupied and, most important, safe, while you run downstairs to grab a load of laundry, or scoot over to the bedroom to grab some wipes. I found with my son, he loved his swing so much, he’d sometimes drift off for a quick nap, freeing me up for a half hour or so to tend to chores.
The Ingenuity InLighten Seneca Cradling Swing is almost like a VIP theatre for your baby. It comes with a comfortable seat that reclines in two positions and rotates 180-degrees, along with three plush toys and flashing lights to keep baby mesmerized. There are eight built-in melodies and three nature sounds, or plug in your smartphone and entertain baby with whatever you want: educational shows, home movies, or a slideshow of fun photos. Just place it next to a power outlet and plug it in—no need to use expensive batteries. And you don’t have to leave it as a permanent fixture in your living room since it folds easily for storage.
While I knew I had to get a glider for those late-night feeding sessions and to be able to rock my son to sleep, I had no idea just how much use I’d get out of it. Living in an apartment at the time, our glider was a fixture in our living room, and became my standard seat while feeding my son, rocking him to sleep (often sitting for hours at a time, too afraid to wake him from slumber and put him in his crib.) The rocking motion wasn’t only soothing for my son, but it was helpful for me as well, particularly after several sleepless nights. Mom or dad can recline it back, continue rocking, and catch some ZZZs themselves, too!
Getting one with a matching ottoman so you can put your feet up is essential, like the Stork Craft Hoop Glider & Ottoman, which has padded cushions, which will help keep you comfortable during long feeding sessions. It’s made of solid wood, and the fabric is easy to spot clean. Another important feature: it has side pockets for keeping essentials you need within reach, like toys or the TV remote! I found the pockets also came in handy as a place to place the bottle once baby is done feeding. And I often kept an ample supply of small wipe clothes in there so they were within quick reach when my son spit up. It’s amazing how quickly you can go through those!
Along with these three essential, often overlooked, items that every parent should have on hand are a few other products worth mentioning.
New Car Seat
Sometimes, we’re tempted to buy a used car seat. The seller says it’s never been in an accident and the seat hasn’t expired, so it’s fine, right? You never want to take any risks with a car seat, so it’s always best to buy new. And technically, the sale of used car seats isn’t even permitted in Canada! You can get bang for your buck with a model like the Safety 1st Alpha Omega Campbell 3-in-1 Convertible Car Seat, which goes from infant, to toddler, then converts to a booster once your child has reached the appropriate age and size.
I knew a high chair was important but didn’t realize just how important until my son turned 6 months and we started giving him solids. You want one that can recline back for extra support for babies still working on that all-important head control – particularly if you want to start baby on a little bit of solids even sooner. Also look for one with a washable tray so baby has free reign to explore his food with minimal spillage on the floor. (Though, let’s face it, some will inevitably end up there.) The Fisher Price Grow With Me Bunny High Chair fits the bill, and even has a removable back so you can convert it to a booster seat once your child is ready.
During family Canada Day celebrations when my son was a baby, we sat outside to watch a glorious display of fireworks. They’re beautiful, don’t get me wrong. But they can also be very loud—too loud for sensitive baby ears. A pair of earmuffs is good to have on hand if you’ll be in a relatively loud environment. The Baby Banz earmuffs are sized perfect for little ones, from birth up to about two years of age.
Take a look at Best Buy.ca for other great baby essentials.