Busy, Smart and Strong: New year, new baby

Jan 11, 2014, 12:00 PM | Updated: 12:00 pm

The new year will undoubtedly bring lots of changes: New beginnings, fresh starts. We’re just wrapping up the first full week of the 2014, and apparently people hit the ground running right after the ball dropped in Times Square.

I know several people who are having babies this year, and are due very soon. If a new addition to your family is on the way in 2014, it’s probably already consuming your life. In the months leading up to the big event, everything needs to be ready: Crib purchased, bedding selected, babyproof the house, stockpile of diapers and bottles, monitors (audio or video), pajamas, onesies, cute little coats (but not too many, because you don’t know if it’s a boy or girl — well, you might), blankets, towels, pacifiers and the list goes on and grows every year!

As you stroll through the aisles of your local Babies “R” Us, USA Baby and Target, you’ll soon realize there’s now a gadget for practically every single thing that could cross a mom’s mind while raising her baby.

By the time your baby is 1 year old, you’ll realize that most of these things are the brainchildren of moms just like you. They needed it, created it and then found a way to make it profitable. Because they knew if they needed it, so did you. Or, perhaps, they shared the idea in a corporate focus group and someone else is getting rich off of it.

So, what gadgets do you really need, and what can you live without?

You’ll be tempted to buy tons of cute, little devices — but many money wasters. If you’ve already had kids, what things did you consider to be totally unnecessary, silly and worthless? Let me know at blynn@ktar.com and we’ll spread the word to all the moms-to-be.

A strong, insulated diaper bag or bottle holder:We all eat on the go these days, and your baby will start early! You'll be carrying bottles everywhere, so if you want them warm, heat them up before you head out and put them in one of these little jewels. They'll stay warm for quite a while. Ear thermometer:It's self-explanatory. Check to see if your baby has a high temperature by using this in his or her ear. You really don't want to put the old-fashioned thermometer down there, do you? Probably not. Therefore, you'll want an ear thermometer. Bulb syringe:Luckily, you may get one of these in the hospital. Bring it home with you! You'll use it often to extract goo from your baby's nose if he or she gets a cold. Word of warning: You don't have to use a lot of suction -- a little goes a long way! Lots of good-sized bibs and burp cloths:Those tiny bibs are cute for droolers, but when it comes to feeding with a bottle, or later with the spoon, you may need some heavy duty protection. Babies can make a big mess. When it comes to bibs, the bigger the better for mealtime. Ones made out of decorative kitchen towels are perfect! A play yard:Formerly in the dark ages known as a playpen, we now no longer want to open our children, so we put them in a yard, surrounded by mesh and plastic padded rails. And they love it! So will you, because they can play, and you can watch and rest a little. The great thing about them is they're portable, so they can go where you do, if necessary. Bouncy seat:Most babies tend to enjoy bouncy seats. Some move when the baby moves, and some move on their own with a small vibrating motor. They're soothing and fun, and your baby can watch you while you're doing other things. The ones with a motor are also pretty good soothers when the baby is fussy. There is an old trick to calm down baby by putting the bouncy seat on the dryer and turning it on. Of course you have to be there holding on to the seat, but the rumbling of the dryer works like a charm. Obviously, this is why some of the seats have the built in motor: It does the same thing. Again, you know a weary mother came up with the motorized version. Baby swing:There are still hand crank swings that are much cheaper, but don't swing as long. The battery operated ones are better, and most babies like the movement and it helps them go to sleep. If you can find one that has not only a swing seat but a cradle as well, your baby can lie down while swinging and take a good, long nap. A changing table:Some people consider these optional, but you might not if you find yourself bent into funny positions trying to change the baby's diapers. Trying to change diapers repeatedly on the bed or floor or on something too low may make your back hurt. You may not need an "official" changing table that matches the baby furniture, but a little chest of drawers may be just the right height. You could outfit it with a protective top and pads and it will work perfectly. Plus it could become a usable item after baby outgrows diapers. A stroller that is also a car seat:These had to be the result of a mom focus group. No one wants to try to move a sleeping baby from a car seat into a stroller, so just snap the car seat onto the stroller frame and go. And when you get back to the car, unsnap and reinstall in the car. There are great ones out there that convert from a car seat carrier to an infant stroller and then to a toddler stroller. The Diaper Genie or other brand diaper disposal system:Baby diapers are stinky, stinky, stinky. If you don't want to have to take out the garbage every time baby needs changing, these help by sealing away the diaper in plastic and keeping it inside a container until you have several and can make a trip. They are way stronger today than they were when they first arrived on the scene.

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Busy, Smart and Strong: New year, new baby