Tori Frericks, mom of 3, owner of The Landing Lab, baby product expert and founder of the former Babes to Babies maternity and postpartum consulting service, is sharing her insights into some of the harder choices you have to make when building a baby registry. Most of the products featured are meant to last you not just a season, but throughout your baby rearing years, making weeding your way through all the options and reviews even more daunting. An exhaustive search would unearth more than 100 different types of highchairs that all claim to be just what you and your baby need. The same is true for diaper bags and changing pads. We’re here to help you narrow down your search and help you feel confident in your investment. Tori is a stickler for easy cleaning and functionality. But she also loves products that do not take away from your home aesthetic or leave too big of a footprint in your house because she believes your home needs to feel calm, cohesive and inviting for not just kids, but YOU as well. The following products promote all of these important characteristics at an array of price points.
Highchairs should be a product that you buy once and possibly pass down to a friend or family member when you are no longer in need of it. Keeping this in mind, finding one that is durable and easy to clean are its two most important features. The Lalo Highchair is a minimalistic, low height highchair that not only meets the easy to clean criteria with flying colors, but also grows with your child. It comes with additional shorter legs to transition it to a playtime chair as your child grows. It comes with a machine washable (and easily removed) cushion that is best for those first foods days. The cushion is definitely not necessary as baby grows and becomes better at sitting up straight. It is sleek, chic and comes in multiple colors that are sure to compliment your home decor. It does not fold up or roll, but it is extremely lightweight and and easily moved. It is also easy to assemble, and at a price of $215, doesn’t break the bank for an item you will likely be using daily for many years to come.
The Oribel Cocoon Highchair comes with a much bigger footprint, but takes the highchairs of old into the new decade with its more contemporary look and features. While its base is very wide, it is also able to fold up and roll away into a closet. It too is easy to clean with all plastic smooth services and a dishwasher safe tray. The best feature of this highchair is the ability for the seat to rotate backwards when the tray is removed, making it a great baby seat for your infant, even before starting solids. This long lasting and durable highchair is exceptionally easy to assemble with zero screws or fuss, making it an obvious favorite. Also coming in at $215, you won’t regret having so many features for the price.
We likely all know someone who has the Stokke Tripp Trapp Highchair and raves about it. It is an adult-styled, minimalistic chair that has multiple uses and a small footprint. And did you now that it can actually fold flat as well? This wood based highchair comes with a removable baby seat, harness and tray, but can also be used with their new additional infant seat that is used much like the reclining Oribel infant seat. And while this feature does increase it’s already high price, it may be worth it in the long run. It comes in multiple colors, and grows with your child and never maxes out on weight (even you can sit in it)! While it’s more expensive than the other two at $270, it’s durability, functionality & design make it a top pick.
We will almost never recommend a cloth changing pad to expecting moms, as the additional laundry, and inability to really stay clean for even 24 hours, makes them less than ideal. We are beyond grateful that foam changing pads have become the new norm the last few years, as they solve the above problems, while still being aesthetically pleasing. The most important criteria to consider is the comfort, size & durability of the material. The Bumbo Changing Pad was a natural progression from the Bumbo baby seat that has been on the market for years. Made of the same polyurethane material, it is durable and comes in many colors. While it may not be the softest and most comfortable as other two we are reviewing, it is certainly still a great product. It is lightweight and will fit in any toppers or changing spaces. And with the price of $70, it is the same if not less than most all cloth based pads.
The Keekaroo Peanut Changer has become the popular favorite of late, and we can see why. Its peanut shape helps keep baby in place and not roll over, and its length makes it the best for a growing toddler. We like it because it is the softest foam, while still being very supportive. It is modern looking and comes in 5 new colors. It may be more expensive than the Bumbo, but you will definitely never regret your choice if the price works for you.
Finally, the Hatch Grow Smart Changing Pad provides the same clean changing surface but with the added feature of weighing your baby wirelessly. With their app, you can monitor and keep track of your baby’s weight and how they are ranking among other children their age. It comes in only two colors and it also less soft than the Keekaroo, but it’s modern look and functionality should cause you to consider it. The scale feature may be a great resource in those early weeks, but you will likely not use it throughout their first year and beyond, so take that into consideration when considering its price of $150.
I am half in on the necessity of diaper bags these days. They can be such a great thing to have in those first few months, but I do find that as you get the swing of things you realize just how little you really need for the day to day (unless you’re traveling long distances with baby). That being said, I do think it’s a good idea to have at least one backpack or bag that makes organizing what you need easy, so that you, your husband or your caretaker can locate what they need quickly and easily. I find backpacks to be the most convenient theoretically, but a tote option is also great, as having your phone, keys and wallet on your back at all times can get a bit tedious. However, having it clipped to your stroller obviously makes a ton of sense. Here are a few of our favorites.
The HaloVa Diaper Bag is an extremely affordable option that is made of Oxford fiber with a very accessible large top opening. It has an insulated front pocket for bottles and many inside compartments for easy access. My only gripe is that the fabric is likely to stain and the quality may fail you with heavy use. But with a $30 price tag, it may be worth the risk if you are unsure about whether you want a diaper bag at all. It’s also a particularly good option for the nanny or other caretakers due to its functionality and price point.
Dagne Dover seems to be the new hot brand in diaper bags and it does not disappoint. With durable and soft neoprene and air mesh fabric and many compartments (both inside and out,) it is a backpack that is sure to last, look great on both sexes and clips to the stroller with ease. Its extra features, such as an opening for wipes and a suitcase attaching sleeve, make it a bag that will go anywhere with you for years to come. It comes in many trendy colors, retails for $195 and is definitely a product you’ll be seeing for years to come.
We included the MZ Wallace Quilted Tote Bag in this section because I love its weightless and completely waterproof and stain-proof fabric. It is not a diaper bag per se, but it is a great tote if you’re looking for a non-backpack option. With less compartments you may have to add your own organizational accessories, but it can grow with your and your baby in ways a traditional diaper bag can’t. It’s more pricey at $250 but stylistically it will last you much longer than just the baby years!
Finally, the TwelveLittle crossbody bag is a simple bag without bells and whistles, but it is a perfect size for some diapering and feeding tools when you’re on the go for a quick walk or trip to the grocery. It comes with its own small changing pad and has a very comfortable strap. At the time it is only offered in two rather limiting colors and patterns, but at the price of $75 it can be a helpful addition to your gear when you don’t want to carry the big, heavy, full-sized diaper bag around.
Creating a baby registry can be so overwhelming these days, as more and more products come on the market each week promising to make mom life easier. Sometimes less is more, and sometimes more is more, honestly. The trick to knowing what is right for you and your family is to take inventory of your lifestyle without baby and your lifestyle intentions with baby. Do you hope to continue traveling often? Do you plan on flying home to see family with an infant? Is making your own baby food important? Do you plan on pumping at work? Do you want more children in the near future? Where do you plan on having baby sleep? Answering these questions will help you prioritize your budget and needs.
As a mother of three who moved to four different cities in the midst of three pregnancies, Tori Frericks quickly learned just how hard it can be to prepare yourself for bringing home a new little life, especially when you are without family to help guide you, or simply the time to do all the things. She founded Babes to Babies with the thought that you can definitely do it all, but a little help goes a long way in the road to motherhood. Tori recently shifted her focus to her new company The Landing Lab, a hosting lab for entrepreneurial brands in the apparel, accessory & lifestyle spaces.