Nothing against a group of executives in a boardroom, but often, ideas for the best baby products come from moms with boots on the (play)ground. They're living the day-in, day-out reality of motherhood, so they know just how important inventions that make parenting easier are. Yes, parents will always need improved versions of existing products, but it's the new ones — the "how did I ever live without this?" ones — that really stand out.
The 12 products invented by moms featured here all solve a specific problem known to moms all across the land: spilled milk, lost pacifiers, and sunburns, to name a few. They're all unequivocally better than my mompreneur idea, which was a giant treadmill-like device you could connect a stroller to, so a sleeping baby wouldn't wake up when you got home from your walk. (Any investors out there? Call me.)
It takes a special dedication and passion to bring an idea to life, particularly for new moms with small children. Even Thomas Edison said genius is 1 percent inspiration and 99 percent perspiration, and he wasn't the primary caregiver of babies and toddlers. The results, though, are invaluable: Baby products that make life easier are worth their weight in gold, and the chance to support a fellow mom makes it even better. After all, we're all in this together.
1. A Spill-Proof Sippy Cup
One night, after cleaning up milk off the floor for the thousandth time, I dreamed I invented a leak-proof, spill-proof sippy cup. Unfortunately, I left the blueprints in dreamland, but another mom stepped in to save the day: Lollacup is the only brand of sippy we've tried that rarely, if ever, leaks. It also features a straw, which our pediatrician recommended for my boys, and the handles that give babies learning to drink a better grip as they age. This may be the sippy cup of my dreams, after all.
2. This Self-Soothing Pacifier Toy
Pacifiers do a great job of, well, pacifying a fussy baby – until they invariably pop out, that is. One mom, after one too many pacifier mishaps, invented this pulley-operated, plush pacifier holder that can attach to your car seat, stroller, play mat, swing, or anywhere your baby might want a binky. Compatible with most popular pacifier brands, the holder lets your little one take the reins (literally) while helping to develop motor skills as they reach for, pull, and ultimately self-soothe with their favorite pacifier – freeing Mom from having to pop it back in over and over (and over) again.
3. A Pacifier That Stays Put
When babies need a binky, they tend to need it now — not in five or ten minutes when you finally find the thing after upturning your entire living room. Enter the Wubbanub, a combination paci/toy created by a mom tired of the never-ending game of pacifier hide-and-seek. Beyond just being adorable, the small stuffed animal attached to the binky makes it much harder to pull a disappearing act.
4. A Remedy For Stuffy Noses
Babies aren't immune from the joys of cold and flu season: sore throats, coughing, boogers...oh, the boogers. So. Many. Boogers. You can try holding your baby down and squirting saline up a tiny baby nostril to clear the congestion, which may work if you wrangle wild mustangs for a living. Two moms took a hard pass on that and teamed up to create Boogie Wipes, which contain saline to help break up and clear mucus, without the risk of anyone getting poked in the eye.
5. A Less Messy Diaper Change
Despite always washing my hands after diaper changes, I can never seem to fully scrub the diaper cream's whitish pallor and "eau de Desitin" aroma from my hands. (This makes sense, as the whole point is that it repels moisture, but it's still annoying.) To make diaper changes less messy, one mom created a silicone spatula used for scooping out diaper cream and then frosting — er, applying to — a baby's bum. Wipe it clean after use, and you're good to go.
6. On-The-Go Organization
Despite our best efforts, diaper bags can often become bottomless pits of toys, backup clothing for when the inevitable poop explosion happens, and the odd Cheerio or two or 700. Stocking up on reusable, washable pouches can get things back in order by keeping snacks (or anything, really) in one place so you can actually find the diapers in your diaper bag. (Concept!)
7. Magical Sleep
As babies grow, swaddling becomes unsafe, and the snug, cozy feeling infants get from being wrapped up tightly like baby burritos must come to an end. This puffy, marshmallow-man sleepsuit, invented by a mom whose son was all "nah" on sleep, gently weighs tiny limbs down to keep babies sleeping longer and more peacefully. (Personal note: Yes, it works, and yes, babies look awesome in it.)
8. A Wiggle-Free Pillow
If you've got a squirmer, you know how difficult diaper changes can be. To simplify the process, one mom invented this wiggle-free, interactive pillow to keep little ones in place during that messiest of daily tasks. Simply attach your little one's favorite toys – or slide your smartphone into the transparent pocket – and then position the pillow over your baby's tummy to make diaper changes a breeze. The Snuggwugg can also be used as a toy at home (it's a great, supportive bolster to use for tummy time) or on-the-go (place it on your baby's lap in car seats, strollers, grocery carts, and restaurants), but its magical ability to keep babies entertained while getting changed is why this product can make your life easier.
9. Cloth Diapering Made Easy
Diapers — and lots of them — are one of the messier aspects of parenthood, but the process can be made easier (and cuter), even for moms who opt for cloth diapers. The brain behind BumGenius cloth diapers created a leakproof, easy-to-use diaper that fits most babies from seven to 35-plus pounds comfortably. The fact that it comes in plenty of bright, happy colors makes them even better.
10. A Sanity-Saving Car Seat Organizer
Moms can work miracles, but reaching a child's dropped toy, snack, or sippy cup while operating an automobile isn't one of them. (Really, don't try this at home.) This clip-on toy organizer attaches to most car seats, booster seats, or vehicle armrests, and can be filled with toys, sippy cups, snacks, security blankets — anything they need to ensure a happy car ride. Kids can keep their favorite toys and treats within reach, and you can keep your eyes on the road.
11. A Comfy Cozy Sleeping Bag For Baby
Sleep sacks help babies stay cozy and warm without the safety risk loose blankets pose, which is why they're a perennial mom-favorite. One mom upped the sleep-sack game when she invented the Baby DeeDee Sleep Nest, which adds clever shoulder snaps to an already great product to make it easier to put on — even if your baby is fast asleep. Simply lay the Sleep Nest down, unzip the zipper, and unsnap the snaps before placing your baby inside, which helps to avoid the "find the armhole" challenge other sleep sacks pose.
P.S. If you live in a warmer climate, check out the company's lightweight version.
12. A Safer Swimsuit
Sun protection is serious stuff, as one mom who battled skin cancer in her 20s learned the hard way. She knew she wanted better for her children, so she invented SwimZip swimwear — cute, playful bathing suits for kids that block 98 percent of UVA and UVB rays and even feature a front zipper to simplify dressing, undressing, and diaper changes. (Have you ever tried pulling a tight, soaking-wet swimsuit off of a wriggly baby? It's not easy!) Clothe your baby in this, get yourself an oversized sun hat, slather on some sunscreen, and be safe out there!
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