When it comes to diapers, I thought generic = leaky, diaper rash, etc. Boy was I wrong! I used Pampers and Huggies from size Newborn to 2, with hit or miss success. Both had their leaking issues from time to time. Then when we got to size 3, I had a trial pack of Parent's Choice from a baby shower game, and decided to give them a try (no sense in wasting diapers). And I LOVE them. They fit Little J's legs snugger than Pampers or Huggies, and they have the elastic waste in the back like Huggies to keep the up-the-back blow-outs contained. We haven't had any leak issues or rash, and they are WAY CUTER than the name brand. And did I mention they are SO MUCH CHEAPER ($0.14/ea vs. $0.22/ea on average). AND you can order them online from Walmart.com, and if you spend $45 they ship for free, or if you don't want to spend $45, they are still only $0.97 to ship (that's cheaper than the gas to drive to Walmart)!
2. Wipes: Parent's Choice not Pampers/Huggies/Up & Up
Again, the generic wins out in this one again. Pampers wipes are way too wet, Huggies don't feed through the pop-up dispenser so you have to keep opening the lid and fishing them out, and Up & Up are too flimsy. Parent's Choice are the perfect thickness so that you can use less wipes, they're not too wet and not too dry, and they feed nicely in the dispenser. And they have these cute little graphics on their wipes, and who doesn't like cute when you're wiping poo off your baby's bum? Oh, and again, did I mention that they are cheap! And the shipping from Walmart.com is the same as the diapers!
3. Diaper Rash Cream: Dr. Smith's not Boudreaux's Butt Paste/A&D
When it comes to diaper rash cream, we want something that works and doesn't smell nasty. Dr. Smith's will cure even the most stubborn case of diaper rash in nothing flat, and it has a very pleasant scent. Boudreaux's and A&D both smell a bit funky (sort of like fish), and neither work as well. I'd say a close runner up to Dr. Smith's is Burt's Bees Baby Bee Diaper Cream. It smells FANTASTIC, but it's a bit stickier than Dr. Smith's, so harder to wipe off.
4. Formula: Enfamil maybe Similac not Gerber Good Start
So this one is a little bit complicated, because there are different factors to consider with formula, but for me since Little J will eat anything, smell and how well it mixes are the most important factors. Enfamil doesn't smell great (kind of smells like pennies because of the iron), but it mixes the best (no bubbles), which keeps baby gas pains at bay. Also, you can get it in these great little travel pouches pre-measured for a 4 oz bottle that are SUPER convenient. Similac comes in close second because it has the least offensive smell, but when you shake it up, it froths up terribly (like a baby cappuccino)! This makes it pretty awful if your baby is prone to gas, like mine is. HOWEVER, I did just discover that if you add a tiny bit of breast milk to the water before you add the Similac powder, you get no bubbles! So this makes Similac a great option if you are using it just to supplement and have some breast milk on hand. Gerber Good Start neither mixes well, and it smells terribly like fish. Ew. I have not tried any generic brands for formula, but did just buy the Parent's Choice version of Similac to try because I read it mixes better than the brand name, and oh yeah, it's WAY cheaper, so I'll let you know how it is.
UPDATE: We've been using the Parent's Choice Advantage for a few weeks now, and it is AWESOME. It smells way better than Enfamil, and Little J seems to prefer the taste to all others. Also, it mixes better than the Similac Advance, no clumps or frothing. I HIGHLY recommend it, and it's less than half the price, and it ships from Walmart.com like the diapers and wipes!
5. Thermometers: Vick's Baby Rectal not Exergen Temporal
So when I was pregnant, I wanted the Exergen Temporal Thermometer because it seemed so easy to use. Then I started reading that the ONLY accurate body temperature for the first year of life is the rectal temperature. I also soon found out that taking my baby's temperature rectally is super easy, and really no big deal, especially if you have the right equipment. Vick's Pediatric Baby Rectal thermometer has a short shaft, so you can put it all the way in and not worry about hurting your baby, and it takes the temperature in 10 seconds, so no trying to hold a squirmy baby for a whole minute with a thermometer in their bum!
6. Bottles: Medela Breastmilk Bottles/AVENT not Playtex VentAire Advanced/First Years Breast Flow
We found that when it came to bottles, simple was better. Both the Medela & AVENT bottles are pretty basic, but they both worked well. The AVENT bottles seem to vent a little better than the Medela. The Playtex VentAire bottles didn't vent that well like they were supposed to, and you can't put them in the bottle warmer, which just made them impractical for us. Also, they have a ton of parts, which was kind of a pain when you are juggling a hungry baby on your hip. The First Years Breast Flow bottles were just awful. They are supposed to mimic the breast, but the nipple would just collapse creating these gaps between the nipple and baby's mouth.
7. Baby Food Spoons: Munchkin Soft-Tip not Gerber Soft Bite
So when I went out and bought our first baby spoons for those first few rice cereal bites, I went for the same kind my mom used. You know, those Gerber ones that are like metal spoons dipped in rubber. Well then I got a free sample of a Munchkin spoon, and I went and bought a whole package of them. The Gerber ones are super shallow, and since baby food is super runny, it just slides off the spoon and you can't get much on the spoon either. The Munchkins have a nice scoop to them, but they are still super soft. It's easier to scoop the food, and easier for baby to get the food into their mouth (instead of running down their chin).
8. Baby Sunscreen: Banana Boat not Aveeno
This one is easy. Banana Boat has a no-sting formula for baby's eyes, Aveeno does not. Enough said.
Other essentials I highly recommend:
Aveeno Active Naturals Skin Relief 24 Hour Moisturizing Lotion
When you have a new baby, you could never have imagined how much you will wash your hands in one day. And all that washing makes for some chapped, cracked, miserable hands. And who wants to be snagging their scraggly hands on that super soft baby skin?? This lotion is the ONLY lotion that will keep your hands from cracking off, promise.
Johnson’s Baby Hand and Face Wipes
These are AWESOME! They are just little no-more-tears wipes that you use to clean baby's hands and face. Baby's don't get very dirty, so you'll only bathe them every few days or so, but they do put their little hands on everything, and you can't very well lean your baby over the sink to wash their hands, so this is a great product to wash baby's hands and face before meals, at the end of the day, or just any time that baby needs a little refresher. And they smell heavenly!
Simply Saline Baby Sterile Saline Nasal Mist
When baby gets congested, which happens a lot in the beginning, and then will rock your world when baby gets his first cold, this saline mist is a LIFE SAVER! It works so well. It basically thins out the mucus so baby can more easily sneeze it out or swallow it. It also helps soften congestion to make it easier to suck out with the little bulb aspirator.