The market for baby care products is worth billions of dollars, so it's no wonder new parents can be overwhelmed by the the selection of baby gadgets and playthings.
Besides the obvious "need-to-have" diapers and baby bottles, there are some "nice-to-have" products for parents, depending on your preferences. Zip-up onesies that easily come on and off can be helpful for middle-of-night diaper changes. Similarly, Kimono onesies with buttons mean you don't have to finagle soiled diaper spill-over on a baby's head during clothing changes.
Multi-use products are handy for parents who are already overwhelmed by products. Want a burp cloth that also functions as a baby bib with hidden snap buttons? Brooklyn-based Aden + Anais, which sells swaddles seen on the babies of everyone from Mark Zuckerberg to the British royal family, offers a "premium" pair for $22.
Ariana Horry, owner of Milk and Honey Babies boutique in Englewood, New Jersey, told us the convenient tools she used for her kids, now ages two and seven.
"As a mom of two, I’ve found some surprisingly helpful baby products are the ones that didn't initially come to mind when first shopping for my little ones but when I found myself in a pinch they turned out to be extremely stress saving," Horry said.
Here are some suggestions from Horry and more:
The Baby Shusher (retail: $34.99)
Some parents may find static noise from an old radio can do the trick, but Horry called the Baby Shusher "hands down one of my all-time faves."
"It emits a rhythmic shushing noise that comes in handy to soothe your little one especially when mom, dad or even grandma grows tired of repeating their own shushing sound while rocking baby," she said. "It’s also nice and compact and with the adjustable volume you can even use it on the go."
Another noise aid possibility is the Sleep Sheep noise machine (retail: $30.95) that provides four sounds: mother's heartbeat, spring showers, ocean Waves and whale songs.
The Puj Flyte Tub (retail: $34.99)
Horry said she liked the tub because it's mildew-resistant and fits in most countertop or pedestal sinks.
"The best part is it’s so compact it easily fits in your suitcase so you can use it for both home and travel," she said.
Zoli Buzz B Nail Trimmer (retail: $35)
Many first time parents are apprehensive about initially trimming their little ones' nails, Horry said. But it's so important to keep their nails properly trimmed to avoid the risk of your little one accidentally scratching themselves.
"The Buzz B nail trimmer allows you to safely trim baby’s nails with a cushioned pad that gently oscillates and files the nail," she said. "You won’t need a magnifying glass, which accompanies most infant nail clippers, and you don’t run the risk of cutting the surrounding skin."
It also comes with four cushioned pads for different stages, so it can grow with your baby.
Nursing pillows come in all sorts of shapes, sizes and prices.
The My Brest Friend pillow (around $34.95 and up on Amazon) can help moms in the early days of breastfeeding and sleep deprivation. It has a strap that buckles around your waist to help support a small baby during breastfeeding. Another pillow with a buckled strap is one made by Bébé au Lait, which will cost around $50 for the pillow and a slipcover with the buckle. The company touts that mothers can choose to use between one firm side or the other soft side.
Some parents prefer the Boppy pillow (retail: $30 and up) which doesn't have a strap to secure around a mother's waist, but it also touts the multi-use purpose as a sitting or playing aid for the baby.
Other companies also produce breastfeeding pillows like the Ergobaby Natural Curve Nursing Pillow (retail: $70). (Ergobaby is the maker of some popular structured baby carriers, including the newly introduced "Adapt" carrier for babies that weigh 7 to 45 pounds and doesn't require the purchase of a separate "infant insert.") Some parents may or may not like the extra height, firmness and bulk of Ergobaby's pillow.
Some parents may find zippered sleep sacks are easier for bigger babies who aren't swaddled. Bébé au Lait sells a range of sleep sacks (retail: $32), including a light, breathable muslin cotton in two sizes: one for babies 6 to 12 months and another for babies and 12 to 18 months.
For a more dense material, a company called Little Lotus makes sleeping bags and swaddles from fabric they say was inspired by NASA spacesuits. The material has 100 percent cotton on the outside and "proprietary" fabric on the inside. The steep $78 starting price allows the company to provide an infant warmer for premature and underweight babies in developing regions with every purchase.
Aden + Anais makes three different types of muslin sleeping bags with materials that fit various ambient room temperatures. The prices of those range from $32 to $54.95. The most expensive has a "hypoallergenic polyester fill."