Well, this holiday gift guide 2017 is certainly a different way to kick off the holiday season for me! After so many years of wishing for our family to have grown by Christmastime, it feels so wonderful to say that Kyle and I are REALLY excited for our first Christmas with Riley this year!
I’ve been wanting to share what infant products we’ve been loving over the past few months but decided to hold until the holidays. A baby products post on a food blog felt a little out of place without the context of a real reason to shop. So here we are!
Before we start though, I want to say that this is not a sponsored post of any kind and there are no affiliate links included here, nor am I affiliated with any of the companies mentioned. We purchased or received all of these products as gifts from family and friends. I wanted to share what we’ve really loved and note a few items that we tried and did not love. Without 9 months of preparation for Riley’s arrival, we did as much research as we could with just 2 weeks notice and we had to buy A LOT of stuff very quickly since we didn’t have a baby shower so please remember there are lots of other options out there for each item below. (If you missed my earlier post, you can read about the first leg of our adoption journey here.)
I hope this guide helps you whether you’re building your own baby registry, shopping for Christmas, shopping for grandkids, looking for gifts for friends, etc. I would LOVE to know what suggestions you guys have for baby stuff for all ages – please share in the comments below!
On the Go
Chicco Bravo Trio Travel System – After 2 trips to Babies R Us and 1 trip to Target to research car seats and strollers, we finally decided on Chicco Bravo Trio system. We liked that the car seat snaps right into the stroller frame and that the frame includes the stroller seat. As I mentioned, we didn’t have a shower so we had to keep a budget in mind for all of these baby expenses and to us, this system was the best value for a really excellent set of products. The stroller has 2 parent cup holders (the important things!), a gigantic basket underneath, and it folds up with one hand. The downsides: both the car seat alone and the stroller frame are on the heavy side and the frame doesn’t have much suspension so open drinks tend to spill even when we’re on sidewalks. Also, Riley sweats in the car seat, even in light clothing in the summer, so we’ll likely go with the Chicco Air model when we need a bigger seat as she grows. Check around on pricing; we purchased ours from Amazon over the summer for $80 less than what Babies R Us was selling it for.
Graco Pack n Play playard – Pack n Plays have been around for years and I knew this was something we had to have for Riley. These days, they come with options for changing and newborn sleep. We were actually gifted with two of these and decided to keep both – one has a changing table, which we use for diaper and clothing changes and naps when we’re downstairs, and for sleeping when we travel. The second one is the basic model (without extra options) and we use it upstairs for toy storage right now. We’ll use it in the future as a playard when Riley is mobile.
Fisher Price Rock n’ Play bassinet – I’ll be honest: I didn’t want to spend a lot of money on a bassinet for something Riley was only going to sleep in for a couple months, max. I realize this one looks a bit flimsy but for the price, it’s definitely safe and good quality, and it held up very well during the 8 weeks Riley slept in it before we transitioned her to her crib. This one folds up for easy transport (and storage!) and it’s much less bulky than traveling with a playard. I do recommend picking up a couple of waterproof sheets go with this since the sleep mat cover, though washable (super important for spit up and newborn diaper blowouts!), it isn’t soft and cozy.
Halo Sleepsack Swaddle – OMG these swaddles were our saving grace for sleep the first 2 months Riley was home. She was constantly startling herself awake at night when she wasn’t swaddled and we found Halo to be the best (we’d tried SwaddleMe also and weren’t all that impressed, especially considering the price). These sleepsacks worked better for us at night than muslin swaddle blankets – which we used during the day, especially in the heat of the summer – because she wasn’t able to bust out of them with her very active little arms. Ha! The Newborn size fit Riley up to around 10 weeks (around 23-inches long).
Chicco Polly Progress 5-in-1 highchair – If you’re like me and haven’t laid your eyes on a highchair since your babysitting days of the early 2000s, you’ll be shocked at how these chairs have evolved. This one goes from a newborn reclining seat to a traditional highchair to a 2-level booster seat for younger and older kids to a stool to pull up to the table. It folds up like a ladder for easy storage and includes easy-clean material! We were gifted this as an early Christmas present and haven’t used it yet but again, I did a lot of research before choosing this one and I know we’ll love it. Be sure to shop around for the best price and use those Black Friday coupon codes!
Comotomo bottles – Soooo, we didn’t start with these bottles. I’d heard great things and the reviews were super positive, but I thought they were too pricey. However, after the Dr. Brown’s Original bottles (narrow neck) we stocked up on after the hospital nurses recommended them to us started leaking all over us, Riley, the dog, the rugs, and the furniture, we got fed up. I broke down and bought the Comotomo bottles. I was soooo tired of smelling like formula and cleaning it up everywhere! Well, these bottles are totally worth the price. They are anti-colic bottles, contain only 3 pieces (Dr. Brown’s had 6!), and THEY DO NOT LEAK. We phased them in when Riley was 3 months and started right with the 8oz bottles that are sold with medium flow nipples (2 holes). She had no issues transitioning to these bottles. The next phase nipples – 6+ months, fast flow (3 holes) and variable flow for solids – have to be purchased separately so it’s wise to start with these bottles as early as possible. I priced them out on a few websites and ultimately purchased them off my Amazon baby registry with the 15% completion discount so I got them for a good price.
Dishwasher basket – My mom nicknamed this thing the spaceship but despite its odd shape, this basket has been a lifesaver. It easily held alllll of the Dr. Brown’s bottle parts for up to 12 bottles (except the rings and the bottles themselves) and on the top rack of the dishwasher, the pieces always came out squeaky clean. We still use this for the Comotomo nipples but it only fits 9 nipples since they are so much larger than the Dr. Brown’s nipples. It also comes in handy for washing pacifiers and small dishwasher-safe teething toys.
Bottle drying rack – I realize it’s really strange to gush about a bottle drying rack but this rack is a work horse! It held all of the pieces for 16 Dr. Brown’s Original bottles at the same time and in turn, helps to keep us organized in the kitchen. The very last thing I need is be fumbling around looking for bottle parts when there’s a screaming baby who needs to be fed. We keep this rack on the counter next to the sink so the bottle parts are always ready to go.
Gerber 3-ply pre-fold cloth diapers – These cloth diapers are very best burp clothes I’ve ever used. Seriously. I remember my aunt using them when my cousins were babies and rather than buying flimsy fabric branded as burp clothes, we went with what I remember to have worked so well for her. And it makes total sense since cloth diapers are designed to be super absorbent, right? I stocked up on multiple packages of these cloth diapers and we keep a bunch at all times upstairs in Riley’s nursery and downstairs for feedings in both places.
Jellycat stuffed animals – These guys have been my go-to gift for new babies for years (my BFF’s daughter still sleeps with the bashful bunny I gave her 8 years ago) and I’m so excited that we received a couple of them for Riley as gifts from dear friends. They are the softest and most cuddly stuffed animals I’ve ever felt. There may be a stuffed bear in my Amazon cart rn to go under the tree this year.
Fisher Price bouncy seat – This is the single-most used item we have for Riley. Pop her in the seat, strap her in, cozy her with a blanket and a crinkle toy, and it gives us the freedom to cook or eat a meal, drink a cup of HOT coffee, go to the bathroom. Any new parent knows how priceless it is to do any of those things without a baby in their arms! Baby’s movements make the seat bounce and the vibration setting gives it a little extra oomph of movement that babies love. It comes with an overhead mobile which can detach when needed. We were gifted the one linked here (in a different color) but Fisher Price has a whole slew of different bouncy seat models – just search Amazon.
Fisher Price Jumperoo – The lights, music, bright colors, jumping motion, and activities all make this jumperoo one of Riley’s favorite things. She has had incredible head and neck control since she was about 5 weeks so she was able to start using this at 3mo and this gave us another option for play other than being on her back on her playmat on the floor. I did a ton of research while trying to choose one of these activity centers and I’m very happy with this one. We were subsequently recently gifted with my 2nd choice activity center which we’ll put up in our bedroom so she’ll have a place to hang out while I fold laundry, shower, get dressed, etc.
Crinkle toys – Riley loooves any kind of toy that crinkles and there are loads out there now. Books, plush toys, parts of activity centers. Her eyes light up at the sound and she’s hard-pressed to let go of any of them.
Anything by Dr. Seuss – These books were a favorite of mine growing up and even through my teen years when my friends and I battled to see who could memorize his stories the best. The rhyming rhythm and bright colors make these really engaging books even for the youngest kids. Riley’s attention span for books is pretty short right now but she seems to love any of the Seuss books we read.
It could take me a while to name the lot of other books we’ve loved reading to Riley but I wanted to mention that in place of Christmas gifts for her this year since she’s so young, we are doing a book advent activity. We’ll wrap up 25 books and open a new one each day in December so there will be lots of new books to read throughout the year. I’ve been adding a few board books (around $5 or $6 each) to my Amazon cart each time I make a purchase so the cost is spread out over time. Should be fun wrapping 25 small books this year! (eyeroll)
Teething bibs – I picked up a whole slew of these bibs from Carter’s a few weeks back after we were gifted with one that changed our lives. Riley has been drooling constantly since 3mo and she soaks right through regular cloth bibs. These teething bibs are almost completely waterproof and give us a couple hours of use instead of minutes before needing to be changed. They’re available in all sorts of adorable styles too and I’m sure other companies make them as well so look around.
Comotomo teething ring – This just arrived from Amazon over the weekend and Riley immediately grabbed hold and jammed it in her mouth. The little fingers attached to the ring are a good size for gumming and make a great substitute for our fingers, which she tries to pull in her mouth as soon as she grabs hold of our hands. Since they’re cheap enough, I picked up 2 – 1 for home and 1 for the diaper bag.
Christmas outfit – I’d been on the hunt for Riley’s first Christmas outfit for 6 weeks and finally, finally, decided on this adorable outfit from Carter’s. I’m SO glad I snagged the buffalo plaid flannel dress last weekend in the store because it’s sold out except for 24M on the Carter’s site now (local stores may have more available!). That insanely adorable fair isle sweater goes perfectly with the buffalo plaid dress and I sized up on the sweater to 9M so she could wear it all winter. We had Riley in this outfit last weekend for our first family photo session (eeeek!!) and I paired it with black leggings (rather than tights since we were outside for a bit), black socks, red patent leather Mary Jane’s, and a cozy white pom-pom hat.
L’ovedbaby – We bought a bunch of long sleeve footed onesies and caps from L’ovedbaby after stumbling across them on Instagram. I’m so impressed with the quality of their clothes, which are ethically made with organic materials. Lots of neutral colors and striped sets are available. My favorite for Riley is the candy cane stripe outfit and cap she wore for some photos last weekend and which will be her Christmas Eve pjs this year. LOVE!
GapBaby Outfit box – This is the best gift! There are loads of subscription boxes out there these days but I was SO excited to see that GapBaby has a box now. I gushed about this on Instagram when we got our first box in October and I can’t wait for the next one to arrive. It’s a quarterly subscription box that includes 6 mix-and-match pieces as well as a bonus goodie (our first was 2 pair of socks). Price is $70 and you can return for a refund what you don’t want to keep. Sizes are 0 – 2T.
Zutano fleece booties – Riley is an incredibly active and alert baby and the only time she’s still is when she’s sleeping. She’s CONSTANTLY kicking her socks off even though we buy longer ones which reach almost to her knees. These booties popped up on the “others have bought” list while I was Amazon shopping recently and I decided to give them a try since they looked really cozy and they snap-closed around the ankles. They’re not a perfect fix for Riley’s kicking but these booties have reduced the kicked-off sock issue by probably 75% and that’s a big win in my book! They do run a little small so you may want to size up.