top 10 must-have items to survive the first several years of parenthood - northern virginia mom

Recently, I had a conversation with my husband about the top items we were grateful for that has helped us survive parenthood. Our girls are currently ages 1.5 and 3.5 years old and we've tested so many 'recommended' baby and toddler items between the both of them. We aren't experts and I know every child and family needs differ but I thought these were worth sharing with you. My husband and I believe these are the top ten MUST-HAVES for parents with littles!

#1 White noise machine

A MUST for every parent! Yes, I mean for babies, children, and adults. Both of my girls have slept with white noise since birth and they sleep so peacefully with it. It drowns out noise very well - great for ones with siblings or house with thin walls. 

Recommend : Big Red Rooster 
We've tried a few machines and apps but this one is our favorite. Looks clean, loud volume, great white noise option, stays on all night without any problems, and compact for travel. 

 

#2 a 360 breastfeeding cover

I have gone through several breastfeeding covers and a 360 stretchy cover is hands down the best thing ever. For me, having full coverage meant that I could wear almost any top I wanted and didn't have to stick to breast-feeding friendly clothes! Woohoo! You get full coverage around your upper body and grows with your active child. You won't flash anyone in public with this thing! As a bonus, it can be used as a canopy carseat cover, shopping cart seat, and high chair cover. 

Recommend: Multi-use 5-in-one breastfeeding cover by Copper Pearl
There are similar products out there but I think this one provides the most coverage and best price.

carrier with cover

#3 Soft carrier with travel cover

I don't know how moms got anything done before soft carriers! I have cleaned the house, cooked, ran errands, traveled, and attended social events with my daughters in a soft carrier and it was a life saver. There are SO many kinds out there so you'll have to decide for yourself what fits your body type best. I have used the Beco Gemini carrier for both of my babies and we loved it.
In addition... if you have a soft carrier, I recommend buying a travel cover for it if you're anything like me and HATE when all those belts and clips are hanging loose all over the place. The travel cover is easy to use and keeps your carrier clean, protected, and compact when not in use. 

Recommend:
Carrier: Becco Gemini  
I'm a 5'3 small framed woman and my husband is a 6 foot slim man - this carrier fit us both well!
Travel cover: Dahlia G Designs on Etsy

 

 
#4 Freida nose sucker

This one is more common to see on registries lately but I still have to recommend it. No other apparatus out there can get out those deep, wet boogies out of tiny noses! When your child has a snotty nose and can't breathe, both of you will be grateful for this little thing. Use with nasal saline for even better results. Ahh, breathe!

Amazon link : Freida Nose Sucker

 
#5 A travel potty

Having a toddler who's potty trained is pretty awesome. The timing of when they have to use the potty is not! We've been in so many situations where my daughter had to use the potty on a road trip, at the beach, or park without a restroom nearby. Thank goodness we had a travel potty always sitting in our trunk or stroller. They come with disposable bags with an absorbant pad inside that is easily thrown onto the potty and removed when finished. It's an easy, clean job. Our SUV is large enough that I just let my daughter go in our trunk OR hide behind a door of our car.
Tip: Keep some wipes and hand sanitizer in the car too!

Recommend : OXO Tot 2-in-1 Go Potty
Very easy to use and comes with a nice little bag for storage.

#6 Blanket or small stuffed animal for comfort (12 months & older for safety)

My husband and I were both against having our children attached to a blanket or stuffed animal. Today, both of our girls are attached to a baby blanket and have one favorite stuffed animal. We are travelers and a military family that moves often. Looking back, we do not think it would have been possible to travel and move from home to home without these security items. Having these allowed our girls to feel comfort in any bed we put them in.
We do NOT let our girls bring them out of their rooms. This helps them from getting dirty, lost, and attached during the daytime. Only exception is during travel but even then, once we reach our destination, they remain in the bed.

Recommend : Baby Blanket by S.L. Home Fashions
My girls have been attached to these (just different patterns) but I'm sure any soft blankie will do.
 


#7 A diaper changing pouch

This one sounds pretty simple but this thing is also a small one that many overlook when becoming parents. Having a simple diaper pouch that stores wipes, diapers, a pad, and diaper cream kept my diaper bag organized and quick to access when needed. My husband was most thankful for it because he hated searching through the diaper bag for stuff and half the time he would forget to grab one of the items. Easy grab and go! 

Recommend: Diaper Clutch on Etsy
Highly recommend searching around on Etsy for a simple bag with velcro or zipper that can hold everything you need in one or two compartments. It's just easy and quick if you have less to deal with while in a dirty diaper situation.
 

#8 Sleep training night light

Our oldest never had any issues with bed time or leaving her bed before we got her. Until, one day, she did. We would find her downstairs early in the morning alone, waiting for us. Not cool! So we invested in a fancy sleep training night light that would tell her it was time for bed (turns into a moon) and when it was okay to come out of bed (turns into a sun). Within a few days, she had it down and our problem was solved! 

Recommend: The Good Nite Lite
It's pricey but worth every dollar if you have a toddler who loves to come out of their room before it's time! Comes with tips/advice how to successfully use the nite lite. Parents set the time for the sun and moon. 

#9 Shade sox

We have gone through several different types of devices to provide shade in the car. We ran into so many issues with ones that would cling, pull down, or had suction cups. They were horrible and would not last very long. Finally, we discovered the SHADE SOX! It's an amazing invention that can be easily thrown on and off car doors and provide complete shade. You can even roll down your windows! Mine lasted about a year before having to replace it from natural wear and tear.

Recommend: Shade Sox

 

#10 Toddler Backpack

The soft carrier is great for day-to-day use but when you're traveling, in the city, hiking, or at an outdoor event having a backpack carrier is the best thing EVER. Especially if you have a man to wear it! ;) Once your little one has good head control it's an excellent alternative to the soft carrier. I think littles enjoy being at the eye level (or higher) of adults so they can see what we see. It also has great compartments for taking your diaper bag contents with you and more.

Recommend: Deuter Kid Comfort
I also recommend purchasing the sunshade and rain cover. 

 

 

So that's it. The 10 things we are most grateful for at this point in our children's lives! Yes, you can totally survive without these items BUT I say try it out if it's something that might fit your needs. It may make your life just a little easier.

Tell me what you think of this little list!!
What has helped you and your little one make it through the day? 

 

Northern Virginia Family and Child Photographer