Registries, reviews, and recalls, oh my! With so many products to consider, preparing for baby’s arrival can be tougher than trying to touch your toes at nine months pregnant. And if you intend to return to the workforce, that adds a whole extra layer to the baby-product-buying bonanza. The good news? Most of the gear in the baby aisles is nice but not essential. The even better news? Some of the products you really need are ones you probably already own. Here are my top 10 picks for the new working mom.
1. A Slow Cooker
When your day has already involved back-to-back meetings, a cranky boss, and schlepping the baby to and from day care, the last thing you want to do when you get home is slave away in the kitchen. You’re tired, you’re hungry, and you want dinner now.
Solve the problem: Quickly toss some ingredients in the slow cooker before work in the morning, and a homemade meal will be ready to go when you return. Dinner is served!
2. Hands Free Pumping Bra
If you’re breastfeeding your little one when you return to work, you’ll inevitably be spending a lot of time hooked up to your breast pump. As the e-mails come in and the paperwork piles up, sitting there holding the bottles with your hands will get old really fast!
Solve the problem: A hands free pumping bra gives you the freedom to express breast milk and update that spreadsheet simultaneously. The one made by Simple Wishes is a popular choice.
3. Burp Cloths
It’s the Murphy’s Law of working motherhood: The day of your big presentation will undoubtedly be the day your baby spits up all over your business suit. Or maybe he wipes his snot all over your favorite scrubs. Perhaps her drool leaves a massive wet spot on your uniform. Your work clothes are prime territory for a messy babe.
Solve the problem: Keep a burp cloth permanently attached to your shoulder (or lap, or chest, or wherever baby is prone to hang out), and have lots of extras on hand so you always have access to a clean one.
You’ve just about depleted your stash of diapers, but that big work deadline leaves you zero time to pick up more. Or maybe the store is out of the only type of pacifier your baby will use, but you worked late two nights this week and have no energy to run all over town in search of it. There are only so many hours in a day, and working moms hate to use them up on errands.
Solve the problem: Amazon Mom is a membership program through amazon.com that gives parents and caregivers (yes, dads and grandparents too!) access to discounts on hundreds of essential baby and toddler products. You can also get free two-day shipping, meaning those desperately-needed diapers or those hard-to-locate pacifiers arrive at your doorstep fast.
5. Smart Phone
There will come a day (OK, many days!) when your little one will refuse to sleep anywhere except in your arms. You’ll spend the first twenty minutes rubbing her back, inhaling her sweet baby scent, and savoring the moment…and then you’ll start thinking about how many overdue e-mails you could be sending while she snoozes.
Solve the problem: A smart phone is the ultimate multitasking tool. No, it’s not ideal to be working with one hand and mommy-ing with the other, but sometimes there’s just no other way. Smart phones are also great for gazing at photos of your bundle of joy during your lunch hour, getting mid-afternoon updates from the nanny via text, and streaming lullabies when you’re too tired to sing them yourself.
6. Baker’s Breakfast Cookies
In the mad rush that is the standard working mom’s morning, it’s all too easy to dash out the door without eating a proper meal. But the research on the importance of breakfast is well-documented; benefits include increased energy, improved performance, and weight control.
Solve the problem: Breakfast cookies from Erin Baker’s Wholesome Baked Goods are a great on-the-go option. They’re made with whole grains to strengthen your heart, sweetened with fruit puree instead of loads of sugar, and packed with protein and fiber to keep you feeling full and satisfied. You’re less likely to skip breakfast when it’s both healthy and convenient!
In those first few months of working motherhood, you don’t want to be rooting through an arsenal of beauty and baby products for every minor issue. This tub for dry skin, this tube for chapped lips, that bottle for diaper rash. An all-in-one product for both mom and baby sounds like a miracle!
Solve the problem: Lanolin is the ultimate new mom multi-tasker. It’s most commonly used to protect sore nipples after breastfeeding, but it also makes an amazing moisturizer for your lips and skin – perfect as a chap stick substitute or a quick fix for dry elbows. It has antibacterial properties and is perfectly safe for baby, so it can also be used to soothe diaper rash and heal minor cuts and abrasions (like those scratches newborns are constantly getting on their faces). Lansinoh is a popular brand.
It’s oh-so-fun to dress your little one up in trendy outfits composed of designer threads. That is, until he comes home from day care covered in mud, apple juice, finger paint, and who knows what else. Even if you manage to keep his clothes in pristine condition, his rapid growth rate means he’ll be in and out of sizes in a matter of weeks. Were those super cute $25 jeans worth it for the two times he wore them, especially considering the second time they ended up crusted in pureed peas? Probably not.
Solve the problem: For everyday clothes, stick to inexpensive duds so you (and your wallet) won’t mind if they get dirty or worn only a handful of times. These days many consignment shops boast an impressive array of options, and brands like Rabbit Skins offer colorful body suits and t-shirts for only a few bucks each.
9. Giant Water Bottle
We all know the advantages of keeping well-hydrated. Water can make your complexion look brighter despite those middle-of-the-night wake-ups, and it can help you feel energetic throughout a 2-hour snoozer of a meeting. But as an on-the-go mama, you don’t have the luxury of 24-7 access to a water pitcher.
Solve the problem: A large volume water bottle like the 32 oz. Nalgene model allows you to hit that 8-cup-per-day recommendation no matter where you are. Take sips in the car to and from day care, gulp some down in between calls at the office, and keep the bottle next to the glider in the nursery for when you’re rocking your little one to sleep.
10. Baby Food Pouches
People will tell you that making your own baby food is cheaper (true) and easier (not-so-true) than buying the pre-made stuff. The idea of spending your weekends blending up piles of fruits and veggies sounds quite lovely, until you realize you’d rather spend that time playing peek-a-boo or – GASP! – napping.
Solve the problem: Hands down, you can’t beat the convenience of baby food pouches. They’re super portable, don’t need to be refrigerated before opening, and they allow older babies and toddlers to feed themselves. There are plenty of organic brands that don’t include any weird, unpronounceable ingredients (like Earth’s Best, Plum Organics, and Happy Family), and the flavor combinations are endless. Butternut squash, carrots, and chickpeas? Yes please!
What are your must-haves for new working moms?