A little over a year ago we had our fourth (and final) boy and I was reflecting on the most useful items we’ve had along the way. Here are my best gift ideas, or the must-haves of motherhood:

Glow-in-the-dark pacifiers. Why why why did I not think of these myself? I could retire on the brilliance of this slight paci alteration. For our first and second sons, we would walk into the crying baby’s room in a hazy, exhausted, zombie-like state, horrified when we were unable to find even one of the thousands of pacifiers our little one needed to allow us to go back to sleep. We’d search the corners of the crib, sweeping hands drunkenly along the floor and under the crib. Unable to find even one of the gosh darn bleepedy-bleep things in the dark, in desperation, we would turn on the light. GAAAAH! Now, our precious bundle is Awake with a capital A.

Right before son #3 was born a little miracle was invented…the glow-in-the-dark pacifier. Get it, use it, sleep.  

While this isn’t the most brilliant photography, I hope you can see how great these are – actually, glowing in the dark!

Refillable food pouches. A couple of years ago we spent the night at a friend’s house when our second son was about 18 months old. The next day, before we got on a long place ride to Hawaii, our friends gave us these strange new baby food things – basically baby food in squeezy pouches. Intrigued, we took these with us – and fell in love. (Note: these pouches will set off a metal detector in the airport). Now, of course, you all have heard of these handy baby (and even big kid) pouches.

A few years ago, when we had our third boy, my sister-in-law gave us re-fillable pouches, AND THEY ARE AWESOME!!!  We put our homemade baby food in these and take them all over. We especially like putting cold things (yogurt, applesauce, etc) in them and freezing them. Then, if we leave in the morning, they thaw by snack or lunch time. Also, sometimes in desperation (because our fourth kid is a picky eater and we haven’t had one of those yet) we will put dinner from a bowl into these pouches and the little (turd) sweet fourth child will, then, eat the previously unpalatable food. We use this brand: Squooshi. I like that they fill from the bottom. 

We seem to use the lion pouch a lot, I’m not sure why. Maybe because boy #4 growls.

Breast milk alcohol test strip. Okay, I’ll be honest here – I’ve been trying to get pregnant, growing a baby, or nursing for almost 9 years. I’ve had 7 pregnancies, 3 miscarriages, and 4 births. I’ve been on the little or no alcohol diet for some time. Those times when I could drink, when a beer or a margarita sounded like the perfect end to my day, I still worried. The last thing I wanted to do was jeopardize my little one. These magic strips bring peace of mind for nursing moms that might indulge in a beverage or two.

The Bissel Sweeper. Oh! Get this right now, if you don’t have it! I’m serious. I actually asked for this for Christmas this past year (4 kids in) and I am not lying – it is a game changer – especially now that our older kids (who am I kidding, even the 3 year old uses it!) can help. This amazing sweeper can be used after meals to sweep up all the crumbles that end up…well, everywhere, or after they tromp grass and mud in after playing outside, or when they accidentally dump…well, all the things. Now, if you have a dog, it’s possible you don’t need this magic sweeper. We do not, so we have this. It even works on carpet and rugs for a quick refresh before someone is stopping by. I’m kind of embarrassed how much I love this little thing – I mean, can I love a vacuum?

Munch, Munch! Who’s There? or as we call it in our extended family: baby crack. This little board book is by far the BEST BABY GIFT EVER. I know what you’re thinking: what’s so special about this book? My kids love the Sarah Boynton board books, or Thomas the Train, or the Bright Baby set (highly recommend). These are all great choices, yes, I agree, but they do not hold a candle to Munch, Munch! Literally, this tiny brilliant book keeps small kids entertained for long minutes – think 10 or 15 minutes (a ridiculously long while in baby time). I know this is a gift from heaven, because we have used this book with each of our kids and it has kept them entertained almost the full length of the sermon as we sit in church. This book is a true blessing!

What are your go-to, best ever baby/toddler/kid items? We can all use some advice on the must-haves! Give us your best in the comments, please!


  1. One simple must have for us are my baby’s teething rings. She’s loved them ever since she laid eyes on them over a month ago and if she’s a bit fussy for no reason, the rings bring her right back to her happy self.

    Sound machine. She was hospitalized for a while and her wonderful nurses introduced us to sound machines and we haven’t looked back. We have an app on our phone and the “ocean waves” button would be worn out if it were a real button!

    Colorful books are another go-to. She likes books with a little color but goes NUTS for super colorful books, and they keep her entertained for 10-15 minutes at a time.


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