Cait here. I’m Matt’s partner and mom to 15 month old Hazel. The Dads asked if I would pop in and share some thoughts on our ‘go to’ baby gear that has made our lives better since adding Hazel to the mix.
I’ve been a parent for less than a year and a half, so my expertise is limited–but, I’m also a midwife, a vocation that has advantageously led me into the home of hundreds of families and given me a HUGE focus group to discuss baby gear and see it in action.
As a disclaimer, The internet is AWASH with baby STUFF that you “must have” perhaps only competing with “1000 things you need to pack in your hospital bag” articles. As a disclaimer- I didn’t even have a hospital bag packed and we reaaaaaally try to be intentional about the amount of stuff (or clutter, as Matt likes to say) that we have splayed around our house. So, while we aren’t minimalists, we also don’t want plastic, pink, baby shiz everywhere, you know?
Here’s my take on a few pieces of baby gear that has made our lives better:
- Some way to wear or carry your baby/toddler. Baby carrying is wonderful for new parents and especially Dad’s of breastfeeding babes. It’s a way to snuggle with your sweet newborn WITH YOUR HANDS FREE! There are so many documented benefits to wearing your baby.
We have a few wraps and carriers that have served different purposes over the last year. Firstly, a soft stretchy wrap is lovely for a brand new baby. It’s soft, cozy, and while it looks like rocket science to get it on, it’s really easy once you do it a few times.
Here is a sleepy Matt with Hazel at 2 days old.
Note: it’s important that you wear your baby safely, including following the instructions of your particular wrap. We have a Solly Baby wrap, which unfortunately is sold in American dollars so it’s on the pricey side. Other comparable wraps include: Boba, Baby K’Tan, and Moby and Human Mother (a local company!)
We also have an Ergo 360 which is a buckled carrier and is great for bigger babies and for outdoor activities. You can get an infant insert for babies less than 15lbs but we found our other carriers did the trick.
Taking a snooze while on an early spring hike
For quick in-and-out of the car trips, dealing with a fussy baby in church or just for convenience, I found that a ring sling was by far the easiest transportation method. We have a Sakura Bloom sling.
Our latest carrier was great $45 kijji find and has been great for use hiking lately with a toddler. It’s from MEC originally and came with a little rain hood and a small backpack pouch for storing stuff.
Phew! Ok- that’s a lot about carriers. I think I have a slight addiction and you most certainly don’t need 4 different kinds. BUT, a way to carry your kid is key for hiking, camping, and so many outdoor adventures. For us, this has given us the freedom to continue to do the things with love.
Barefoot Babies is an awesome shop on Ottawa St. that has trained and certified baby wearing experts. If you buy a carrier or wrap from them it includes a free session on how to wear it–a must! You can also book an appointment with them and pay a small fee for the same service if you got your wrap/carrier elsewhere.
2. A Lobster Chair
There are many different chairs that you can get but I can’t recommend Phil and Teds Lobster chair enough. Everywhere we go, we get asked where we bought it (amazon.ca). It works on 90% of tables (except very thin tables, glass or ones with short lips). It’s perfect for camping, traveling and even a coffeeshop. It folds into a tiny bag and is one piece of equipment that we couldn’t live without.
3. Inexpensive gently used clothing. Babies grow at an alarming rate. Adventurous toddlers should and WILL get dirty. We don’t want to slow Hazel down from her serious job of exploring, so we buy her clothes from second-hand stores to save money and not lose our minds when something gets dirty or ruined. My favourite is Once Upon a Child. You can also buy used baby gear as well as sell stuff you no longer need or want. It keeps junk out of landfills and definitely saves a ton of money.
4. THIS stain remover stick. It gets pretty much ALL stains out. Including the mustard poo in the newborn days. It’s weird, but it works like a charm. It costs $3.99 at Once Upon a Child and lasts forever. My mom swears by Dawn dish soap (has to be the blue one) for grease/oil stains.
5. A bike (and proper fitting bike helmets)
As you can probably tell if you’ve been on this blog before, the dads LOVE biking…like, really, really love biking! I’m by no means an expert on biking with kids and I’m sure that there will be many other posts dedicated to family biking but I do know that a bike is an awesome way to adventure with your kid(s). In our family, it has to be who Matt drops Hazel off and picks her up from the amazing family who watch her while we’re at work because of the on-call/ unpredictable hours of my job. Matt also commutes to work on a bike. We have one car. Our cargo bike is as much a means of transportation for us as it is for adventure, but fortunately it’s really fun for Hazel. There are so many different kinds of bikes out there. We chose a Babboe City bike- because we found it second hand on kijiji and it has a weather cover, making it useful and warm in all four seasons. It can also hold up to 3 kids if we added another bench. Both Matt and I really enjoy biking with Hazel and find the bike really easy to ride once you get used to it. Biking makes the city feel small and friends who live on the opposite end of town are only a short ride away. We’ve had a great time exploring trails and parks and also riding to breweries or coffee shops. Sometimes Hazel protests going in the car but she has never once been sad about going on a bike ride. In fact now that she can say a handful of words, she’ll point and say “bike, bike, bike”.
Hazel’s first bike ride
6. Finally, my best “gear” advice, isn’t really gear related at all. If you want to be able to go on adventures with your baby, you really just need yourself (and if you’re lucky some like-minded friends) and a willingness to give it a try. Hazel has been on numerous camping trips including hike-in camping (in a rainstorm no less- although she was kept nice and dry under my jacket in the Ergo carrier) in Bruce Peninsula and fall Yurt camping. Sometimes it goes better than others (she slept pretty poorly in the yurt and thank GOODNESS our friends were gracious). But most of the time, it has been so amazing. We were even fortunate enough to be able to camp in Cape Breton this summer because a lot of parks offer equipped camping- where all the gear is included. Since we flew to Nova Scotia, this worked perfectly because we didn’t need to worry about bringing all our camping gear PLUS all our baby gear.
This year we are looking forward to a summer family bike trip to Vermont.
Thanks for reading and happy adventuring!