15 totally unexpected but amazingly useful gifts for new parents - according to a new dad

Samantha Lee / Business Insider

The Insider Picks team writes about stuff we think you'll like. Business Insider has affiliate partnerships, so we get a share of the revenue from your purchase.

Ergobaby

  • First-time parents need all the help they can get, and much of that help comes from products that help them keep their baby safer and happier, and that save time in the process.
  • There are a plethora of baby products on the market that overpromise and underdeliver, but there are also many that truly can make parenting easier and more efficient, and can bring peace of mind.
  • Here are 15 great products that new parents might never have heard of, but that they won't want to live without.
Granted, human beings have been raising babies for hundreds of thousands of years, and for most of those millennia, they did so without video baby monitors, digital thermometers, sleep-tracking apps, and all the other baby tech that seems indispensable today. But I'm willing to bet that if you offered a Neolithic mom or an Ancient Grecian dad a device that might afford them a better night's sleep during the infant phase, the answer would have been a resounding "Yes!" (Or they would have attacked you for sorcery, that's also possible.)

If you have new or expecting parents on your gift-buying list, you can count on them already having the baby basics like a crib, a car seat, bibs, bath seats, a high chair, and all the other items that have been filling out baby registries for years. But there are a number of superlative baby products available today that are not on the radar of many moms and dads, but that will be hailed as indispensable once incorporated into the regular routine.

You can't give new parents the gift of more sleep, a calm, happy baby, or immunity from diaper blowouts, but you can give them gifts that might make the nighttime more restful, babies easier to soothe, and diapering a minimally unpleasant affair. And take it from me, as my wife and I are in the midst of raising baby #2; those are seriously good gifts.

Most of these items are available with expedited shipping, and some should arrive within a few days' time, so don't stress too hard about your last-minute shopping - just remember that the sooner you order, the better your chances of a timely arrival.

Still shopping for more last-minute gifts? Check out all of Insider Picks' holiday gift guides for 2018 here.


Subscribe to our newsletter.

Find all the best offers at our Coupons page.

Disclosure: This post is brought to you by the Insider Picks team. We highlight products and services you might find interesting. If you buy them, we get a small share of the revenue from the sale from our commerce partners. We frequently receive products free of charge from manufacturers to test. This does not drive our decision as to whether or not a product is featured or recommended. We operate independently from our advertising sales team. We welcome your feedback. Email us at insiderpicks@businessinsider.com.

{{}}

View As: One Page Slides

A smart sock that gives real-time and historical data on their baby's sleep patterns

A smart sock that gives real-time and historical data on their baby's sleep patterns
Owlet Smart Sock 2 Baby Monitor, $299.95, from Amazon

The Owlet Smart Sock (or the Smart Sock 2, actually, as the product is in its second generation) was one of the biggest game changers between our first and second kid. This tiny little biometric sensor gently straps onto your baby's foot each night and tracks her heart rate and oxygen level, giving you real time and historical data on the child's sleep patterns and sending you a warning if her heart rate ever drops or spikes to a disturbing level or if her oxygen level drops. In other words, the Owlet constantly answers the question "is my baby OK?" so you can actually relax a bit at night. And if she's ever not OK, you'll know about it fast.

A baby booger buster

A baby booger buster
FridaBaby NoseFrida Baby Nasal Aspirator, $15.99, from Amazon

Parenting involves dealing with lots of bodily functions and substances. Like... lots. And one of said substances is mucus, also known as snot. Traditional bulb nasal aspirators can draw out some of the snot stuck in a baby's small nose, but they're imprecise tools that often fail to make a full seal and rarely clear a baby's nostril entirely. The Fridababy NoseFrida SnotSucker uses a parent's own oral suction to draw snot out of a baby's nose, allowing the parent to use as gentle or concerted a suction as needed and to see the results thanks to the system's clear tube. (And don't worry, there's a disposable filter between the snot and your mouth.)

A non-contact thermometer

A non-contact thermometer
iProvèn Baby Forehead and Ear Temperature Thermometer, $27.99, from Amazon

New parents will lose a lot of sleep and gain a lot of heartache wondering whether or not a baby is sick. But sometimes, it's a tough call whether the right move is to unswaddle, undress, and almost assuredly awake a sleeping baby to take his temperature. With a non-contact thermometer, a parent can get an accurate assessment of a child's temperature without even touching the baby physically.

The thermometer uses infrared heat detection to read body temperature radiating away from the forehead and displays results backed by a green light when the kid's temperature is normal and a red light when feverish. It also has an in-ear attachment for even more accurate results, though with the likelihood of waking the child. (For the record, a rectal reading is the most accurate for infants, so if you're really concerned and need to double-check to be sure, you need to get on in there.)

A compact, but capable stroller

A compact, but capable stroller
UPPAbaby MINU Stroller, $399.99, from Amazon

I've used (and reviewed) a lot of strollers over the years, and I have been consistently impressed with UPPAbaby's umbrella strollers. I appreciate them because they are so unlike most umbrella stroller options, which tend to be lightweight and flimsy. The UPPAbaby MINU is on the heavier side of what I'd call light at just over 15 pounds, but it's sturdy, it supports babies just a few months old or kids up to and past their fourth birthday, and it has a large storage basket under the seat.

Surely new parents already have their primary bassinet stroller acquired, but with time they will realize that truly efficient parenting usually involves at least two or three strollers. The compact, folding MINU is a gift that keeps on giving; it's perfect for use when traveling, when in the city, or when shopping, yet sturdy enough for everyday use, too.

A sleep-tracking baby monitor

A sleep-tracking baby monitor
raybaby Baby Monitor, $239, from Amazon

As you can probably tell by now, raising an infant involves a lot of worrying about the child's health and a lot of hoping they stay asleep. With the raybaby baby monitor, parents can watch and listen to their baby as she sleeps, checking on her any time. But all decent baby monitors do that; what sets the raybaby apart is its ability to sense a child's breathing. Its sensor and AI work together to detect breathing patterns and identify normal sleep and waking cycles as well as aberrations that indicate distress. If a child's breathing suddenly slackens or grows rapid, the raybaby will alert the parents.

A diaper pail that doesn't absorb odors

A diaper pail that doesn't absorb odors
Ubbi Steel Odor Locking Diaper Pail, $69.99, from Amazon

We've used four diaper pails in our half decade of parenting to date. The first three met the unceremonious fate of being tossed wholesale into the dumpster, their final payload not even removed, as their ever-present odor grew overwhelming and their over-complicated function exasperating.

While hardly thrilling, a great diaper pail makes a great gift because it will be used multiple times a day and can make the diapering process cleaners, faster, and less pungent. And the Ubbi Steel Diaper Pail is a great one. First, it's made of steel, so it doesn't absorb odors. Second, it uses regular kitchen trash bags, so you don't have to buy specially made insert bags. (Regular trash bags tend to be stronger and hold the smell in better, too.) And finally, its wide mouth accepts even the largest loaded diapers without pushing and prodding required, and that's just welcome.

A play gym that helps parents

A play gym that helps parents
The Play Gym by Lovevery, $140, from Amazon

Play gyms — those mats with frames above them from which you can suspend toys and objects of interest to engage and amuse your baby — are great for the physical and mental development of small children. They allow a child not yet able to crawl (or even roll over when quite young) the chance to interact with objects of various shape and color, and to work on those muscles during tummy time, too.

The Lovevery Play Gym is the best such product my family has ever used for two reasons. First, the items that hang from its elegantly simple wooden frame or that are built into the soft mat are subtle in design without garish colors, flashing lights, or annoying sounds. Second, it comes with an insightful, well researched guide book that helps parents choose age-appropriate activities, making playtime productive, rewarding, and more fun.

A milestone diary

A milestone diary
Pearhead My Memory Baby Book, $19.99, from Amazon

It's amazing how quickly time passes with a new kid, and many of those moments that seem absolutely indelible when they occur will fade with time. Give new parents the gift of moments marked forever with the Pearhead My Memory Book, a journal filled with thoughtful prompts that make documenting milestones both big and small quick and easy. A little note now can help a major moment come back with clarity later, helping parents forever remember those wondrous but often hazy early baby days.

A great baby carrier

A great baby carrier
Ergobaby Carrier, $159, from Amazon

If you think baby carriers are only for being out and about with a little one, you either don't have kids or didn't have a baby carrier on hand when they were new on the scene. With the Ergobaby 360 carrier, a mom or dad can strap a kid weighing as little as seven pounds to their chest (or weighing in excess of 40 pounds to their back later on). And what do you do with the baby strapped on? Maybe go for a walk, shopping, or to a museum, sure, but more often than not, new parents will use this carrier so they can accomplish a task like preparing a meal, folding laundry, or simply wandering around the house at night, likely staring at a phone, as junior refuses to sleep when not snuggled up against mom or dad.

A sound machine to make nap time a breeze

A sound machine to make nap time a breeze
Adaptive Sound Technologies White Noise Sound Machine, $59.95, from Amazon

A good sound machine is worth its weight in gold when there's a baby in the house, especially when the child is sleeping in a bassinet near his parents. And the Adaptive Sound Technologies LectroFan Evo isn't good, it's great. (So I guess it's worth its weight in platinum?) This capable device can create sounds in white, pink, and brown noise frequencies, effectively blocking out all sorts of background din and creating an environment where parents, babies, and best of all, parents and babies can sleep without being disturbed by noises, especially those they create themselves.

Velcro swaddles

Velcro swaddles
Ziggy Baby Swaddle Blanket 3-Pack, $21.99, from Amazon

Your new parent friends or relatives probably went to parenting classes, and there they probably practiced swaddling a baby by folding, tucking, and wrapping a receiving blanket just so. Let me tell you, I learned to wrap a pretty mean swaddle in the first few weeks with our baby son; those Lamaze classes paid off! But as soon as we switched to Velcro swaddle blankets, I never looked back. These adjustable swaddles from Ziggy Baby will keep an infant snug and safe and will help her stay asleep, giving the gift of more sleep to the new parents as well.

A great baby toy

A great baby toy
Manhattan Toy Winkel Rattle and Sensory Teether Toy, $12.62, from Amazon

Not being an infant myself, I really can't tell you what's so magical about the Winkel Rattle and Sensory Teether, but this thing enchanted my son was he was a baby and is an absolute favorite of our daughter, too. Its central cube creates a gentle rattling sound when shaken and its pliant, durable multicolored tubes are great for grabbing and being gnawed on. I get that babies like grabbing and chewing, but I'd be lying if I told you why this particular grabby, chewy toy is such a bit. But it is, and it has provided plenty of fun for the babies and moments of respite for the parents.

A modern classic for exhausted parents

A modern classic for exhausted parents
"Go the F**k to Sleep," $13.46, from Amazon

Until you are an exhausted parent, author Adam Mansbach's book "Go the F**k to Sleep," lavishly illustrated by Ricardo Cortes, seems like a cute off-color bit of comedy — a funny concept, but mostly the replaying of a single simple joke. Once you have kids, you see that, in fact, it's a true work of literature, packed with wisdom and truth. And also it's hilarious. Give parents a laugh or two (and the reassurance that they're not the only ones who feel this way!) with their very own copy of this modern classic.

Ready-to-eat meals

Ready-to-eat meals
Kitchens of India Ready to Eat Dinner Variety Pack, $18.99, from Amazon

What sounds better for the new parent barely keeping it together between the sleep deprivation, the diaper blowouts, and the baby's new fever: a dinner that takes a half hour to prep, or 90 seconds in the microwave? Give a parent the gift of multiple easy and actually delicious meals with a Kitchens of India Ready to Eat Dinner Variety Pack. It comes with six meals that require no more prep than microwaving, skillet heating, or hot water immersion, and features options like Rajma Masala, Pindi Chana, and classic Palak Paneer.

A wine aerator that oxygenates your bottle of red in seconds

A wine aerator that oxygenates your bottle of red in seconds
Vintorio Wine Aerator Pourer, $15.95, from Amazon

New parents often need wine. That's just a fact of parenting. But who has time to wait around for that fine bottle of Cab to open up? Not the mom or dad with a newborn likely to arise screaming at any moment. The Vintorio Wine Aerator can be plugged directly into the wine bottle and used to pour out a perfect glass of red, infusing the wine with just the right amount of oxygen in a matter of seconds and ensuring that glass is ready for you to enjoy, no wait time required.

Subscribe to whatsappSubscribe to whatsapp
Add Comment()
Comments ()
X
Sort By:
Be the first one to comment.
We have sent you a verification email. This comment will be published once verification is done.