Even now, 7+ years into parenthood, I remember all too well those baby items people bought for us that went unused. As an about-to-be parent, it’s impossible to know what should go on that baby registry. And even if you get advice from friends about what to put on the list, you will inevitably end up with some things that simply prove useless.
The one untouched item I remember most vividly: the wipe warmer.
A work colleague recently asked if I’d share on this blog some “things” I recommend that make parent and working mama life easier. She loves the strategies and advice on the Mindful Return blog, and also wants to know what she should buy.
My youngest is now 5 ½ years old, which is a lifetime in baby-stuff-invention years. So I’m not the best person to ask to populate a baby registry. BUT I can offer some helpful perspective on things we acquired for our babies that we still use, to this day.
These items have withstood the test of time for Team Levin, and I give them each a hearty endorsement.
6 Things We Still Use, 7 Years Into Parenthood
Drying Rack “Grass”: The “grass” drying rack (with accompanying “stem” and “twig”) have not only brightened up our kitchen for years, but they’ve served us well beyond bottles. Yes, they were full of pump parts, bottles, and nipples at first. Then sippy cups. And now, pretty much anything we hand dry – from sharp knives to kids’ lunch containers to water bottles (and wine glasses).
Potette Plus Travel Potty: So perhaps more of a toddler than a baby item, this collapsible little potty with disposable liners has saved us more times than we can count. It lives in our trunk and comes out when we’re not close enough to a bathroom. Perhaps a soccer field next to a school that’s not open. Or a long stretch of highway with no rest stop. Two words: life saver.
Sleep Sheep White Noise Sound Machine: My 5 year old still falls asleep to the ocean sounds of the travel version of this adorable little sheep. Tip for the new parents: the plastic component in the sheep’s back that makes the noise comes out. So you can take that little device with you when you travel, rather than having to travel with the whole sheep. (Yes, I carried the full-sized sheep on an airplane a few times before figuring this out. I shall blame sleep deprivation.)
Plates with Dividers, Made from Recycled Plastic: These looked cool at BuyBuy Baby when we were in the market for kid plates, so we bought them. Little did we know they’d live on years and years later. When your kids don’t want their foods to get mixed together, these plates save the day.
Green Toys Sea Plane: We received this as a baby gift, and it’s been a bath time favorite for years. Not only is it a plane whose propeller spins, but it can actually float on the bath water. It can also be made to sink, so a useful science tool. It is perhaps the only bath toy we’ve had for years that has exhibited no signs of mold whatsoever. Huzzah!
Baby Love: Healthy, Easy, Delicious Meals for Your Baby and Toddler: Being fans of the Chef Geoff’s restaurants in the D.C. area, we ordered this book by Geoff Tracy and his wife, Nora O’Donnell, when our oldest was tiny. Not only does it still live on our book shelf, but our kids still benefit from its wonderful recipes. The title is incredibly accurate: the recipes are indeed healthy, easy, and delicious. You’ll still find ice cube trays’ full of their sweet potato puree in our freezer.
Sure, we’ve moved along the obvious baby items like our crib, changing table, baby toys, and (with much celebration) our Diaper Dekor trash can. But I’m amazed to see that some items have proven their worth time and time again, year over year.
Are there things you still use, even though your baby days have passed? Please leave suggestions in comments below!
If you need more help getting your head in a better place to return to work after maternity leave, join us for the next session of Mindful Return.
Want more practical tips on working parenthood? Check out my book, Back to Work After Baby: How to Plan and Navigate a Mindful Return from Maternity Leave.