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So you’re a new parent. Or you’re going to be. Or maybe you’re just planning on having children someday. If you fit into any of these categories, then I’ve got some news you need to listen to.

It’s a jungle out there for first-time parents. I’m not kidding. Yeah, I know. It’s supposed to be this wonderful experience that a couple can share, as they bring a new life into the world. And on a personal level, that’s true. I can tell you quite sincerely that neither my wife nor I would trade the childbirth experience we had with our eleven-month old son for any worldly possession.

But kids don’t come free. No, unfortunately, they don’t.

Maybe in the bad old days, all it took was a warm piece of fur to wrap the kid up while he suckled at Mommy’s breast. But nowadays, it’s different. Not less cutthroat, mind you, just different.

There’s an entire industry out there that preys off of new parents’ insecurities by selling them child care “essentials” they don’t need, at prices they can’t afford. And there’s not really much help on the Web, either. If you go online to look for an “unbiased” review of baby products, nine times out of ten you’re going to get sent to a sponsored site whose only purpose is to sell you something.

That’s why listening to advice from those who have gone before you – like the advice contained in this writeup, for instance – is so important. For example, I can tell you right now that there are some “must have” items to cross off your list immediately:

  • Baby Video Monitors: Cost five times as much as the audio versions, and give you practically zero value added.

  • Electric Baby Wipes Warmers: I mean, really. OK, so maybe your kid doesn’t like a cold baby wipe. Warm it in your hands before you use it. The real reason your baby is crying is that you just took off his nice warm diaper and you’re sticking your fingers up between his ass cheeks. No Wipes Warmer is going to change that cold, hard fact.
  • The Avent® Baby Bottle Warmer: Ever heard of a microwave? I know they tell you that a microwave will leave “hot spots” in the formula. Maybe so, but how about swirling the formula around in the bottle for 15 seconds or so before you give it to your baby? It’s never failed for us.
  • But what about the things that a new parent just can’t live without? Is there anything my wife and I learned in those hard-fought night hours after our son was born that that I might be able to pass along to interested newcomers? Well, thankfully, there is. For a brand new baby, for example, I can tell you about three items you will not want to live without

    • Mylicon® Gas Drops: Yes, it sounds gross, but in addition to producing copious amounts of poop, your new baby is also going to be building up gas in his intestines like you would not believe. Especially if he’s bottle-fed. And it’s not just a problem for the parents, who have to gag their way through it. The gas causes distension in the little fella’s abdomen, which is really painful. These little drops are a true lifesaver.

  • The Hospital’s Pacifiers: As far as I can tell, every hospital in the country uses the same pacifiers. They’re green, rubber, and they’re made in a single piece. There’s even a little hole in the back the parent can put their finger in to keep the sucker in the baby’s mouth. These simple pieces of rubber are -- bar none -- the best pacifiers on the market. Commercial pacifiers, with all their little bells, whistles, and pretty pictures, just don’t measure up. When my wife and I ran out of the green kind, we went back to the hospital to ask for some more. The nurses took pity on us and gave us a few extra dozen. My advice? Save yourself the trip and take as many as you can in the first place.
  • Seventh Generation® Chlorine-Free, Hypo-Allergenic Diapers: Yes, they look like they were made out of a brown paper grocery bag. But they work. No leaks, no messes, and they fit as well as the big brands do. What’s the difference? No Diaper Rash! Our son has very sensitive skin, and was breaking out within a few days after coming home. I looked online for anything that might help, and found these. We’ve never looked back. You can find them at any Whole Foods® grocery store, or if there isn’t one near you, you can order them in bulk from Amazon.com. You won’t regret it.
  • But what if your baby’s a little older, you might ask? Are there any pearls of wisdom left that I can give to the parent-to-be? Well, yes, and it’s contained in the title to this write-up.

    The BabyJogger®.

    If I were allowed to keep only one item of my choosing now – with my child nearing his one-year mark – it would be the BabyJogger®. Why, you ask? It’s simple. As any parent knows, a good stroller is the foundation, the very bedrock, of a parent’s mental health. Without it, the parent – and child – are doomed to a life of confinement in the house. A bad stroller means that the baby can go out only if both parents are with him, because one parent has to hold the baby while the other messes with the inferior stroller. And if the baby – and by extension, the primary caregiver -- have to stay at home all day until the other parent gets home, everyone is going to be so miserable that no one will want to go out. So you’re sentenced to house arrest until your child is something like three or four years old.

    Enter the BabyJogger®. Specifically, the City Series®. This stroller has it all. It’s built to withstand jogging, so it can handle most day-to-day errands around town. It’s got three wheels, rather than four, so it fits through doorways and aisles more easily. And, with its hardened aluminum frame, it weighs next to nothing. But I haven’t even gotten to the best features yet.

    • Swiveling Front Wheel: The front wheel can be locked in place for actual jogging, but can be set loose to turn at will with the simple turn of a latch. That means you can literally turn on a dime. I’m not kidding. With this stroller, you can start facing in one direction, and turn the stroller in place until you’re facing the opposite way. Those of you without children can’t possible understand what this means, but you parents do.

  • Easy latches and five-point child harness: Needs no real explanation, but I can tell you that I haven’t found a single glitch yet.
  • One-step brake for rear wheels: No hands required to get your baby stroller firmly set in place while you take your child out.
  • Access window in sun canopy: Easy-to-use window in sun canopy so you can keep an eye on your child in transit.
  • Quick-Fold® Technology: Finally, I’ve saved the best for last. You can open and close this stroller with one hand! Really. There’s a latch you grab with your free hand to close the stroller when it’s open, and you just let the stroller “unfold” itself to open it when you take it out of your trunk. I’ve never seen anything this simple. My wife, who’s a fairly small woman, can maneuver this stroller around like it’s nothing, even while she’s holding our son. Women have come up to her at least a dozen times asking where they can get one. And I’m proud to say that each time she tells them that “My husband found it.”
  • I know this reads like some kind of advertisement for the BabyJogger®, but it’s not. It’s just something that my wife and I agree has been a godsend in the day-to-day struggle to raise our infant son. Hopefully, some of this experience will be useful to others on this site.

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