I live on the Jersey Shore, where we have endless miles of beaches, boardwalks, and promenades, and are only a few miles from a handful of wooded trails. We also travel a lot, incorporating running and lots of walking into said travels. If you are an active family building a registry and are looking for ways to include baby in your ‘funtivities’ or need a gift for expecting parents, this list is for you. Here is my top 10 list of really good gear for active parents*:
1. A good baby carrier:
I LOVE. LOVE. LOVE my Boba 4G Carrier. We use it EVERY day. I started when Georgie was only a few days old and now, over a year later, it’s still every bit as awesome. Although she’s been showing signs that she’s ready for it, I have yet to try it as a back-carrier (but I’ll get back to you once I get around to that). I get a LOT of comments from people with older kids and those who have other brands about how comfortable we look and how convenient the straps, clips, and pockets are. I can probably write an entire post one this one item alone (maybe you’ll see that pop up on here one day)! To check out the benefits of babywearing click here. I can attest to the “comfort and convenience” tenfold.
2. Jogging stroller:
We have a gently loved BOB Revolution jogger that was handed down from friends. Unfortunately, they don’t make adapters for our car seat, so we didn’t start running with it until Georgie was 6 months old. We were doing short, slow runs and lots of walking with our Uppababy, which is totally awesome, too, but holy moly was the BOB a game changer. So smooth, it was like the fog had lifted and suddenly I was a runner again. There are lots of brands out there if you can’t swing the price tag (or don’t have totally awesome friends to loan you one for a while). According to this review: http://bestreviews.com/best-jogging-strollers , BabyTrend is the best bang for your buck.
3. Baby bunting:
Author of A Coast to Coast Walk, Alfred Waintwright said, “There’s no such thing as bad weather, only unsuitable clothing.” In NJ, we have weeks when temps reach 60 degrees one day and can drop to below freezing the next. Therefore, in order to continue to do the things I enjoy most in life, we adapt through our wardrobes, including the little peanut’s. Babies don’t need to be bundled beyond recognition, though. Experts, like those at the St. Louis Children’s Hospital, say to dress babies as you would yourselves in the same conditions plus one additional layer. A general rule of thumb to remember is “cool feet, warm belly.” Our layer of choice for long walks with the dog, winter bike rides or when going for a run in the cold is the Columbia Tiny Bear fleece bunting (which came from Amazon). It got so much use last year that I bought one for this winter, too. She’s already gotten her money’s worth out of it (see picture in previous post). You can get any kind of bunting at most outdoor retailers such as L.L. Bean and the North Face. Gap and Costco have some more affordable options, as well.
4. Sunblock (for you and baby):
While it is important to get a good dose of vitamin D every day, a few uncovered minutes in the sun is more than sufficient. Anything beyond that requires coverage. According to the Skin Cancer Foundation, “there is strong evidence that sun exposure and sunburns during childhood multiply the risk of one day developing skin cancer, including melanoma.” Therefore, it’s imperative to protect baby from the sun. You can do this with clothing and accessories (see below), but you’ll also need a good, safe sunscreen to apply to baby’s skin (don’t forget the tops of ears and feet!). Check out your favorite brand on www.ewg.org/skindeep to see an analysis of the ingredients. We use Babo Botanicals (b/c we need more things that that start w/ B’s in our lives) but there are plenty of brands readily available that are low on the toxicity scale. If you hike wooded trails, add bug spray to your search and opt for one made from essential oils.
5. Long Sleeve Rashguard:
Any time baby is in the sun for an extended time, he or she should be covered as much as comfortably possible. Wearing lightweight and lightly colored rashgards is an easy way to allow baby to enjoy fun in the sun and water while staying smart about their skin. My favorite brands are Rufflebutts for girls (as seen in picture), Primary and i play inc. for both boys and girls.
6. Swim diapers:
You’ll need them for swim lessons and- unless you want an explosion of ooey, gooey gel- any time baby is submerged in anything other than a bathtub. Most brands make disposable swim diapers, which we do use, but a 2nd layer of insurance never hurt anyone. We layer on reusables from Alva Baby, which I like b/c they have SUCH CUTE patterns and are adjustable. (Target also has some that are around $10). We often used them on the beach, in the pool, and during Mommy & Me Stand Up Paddle sessions, paired with a solid-color rashguard in place of a swimsuit. Interested in putting baby on a board?! Shoot me a message via the contact page or visit http://www.endlesssupcompany.com.
Protecting your eyes is important when you spend as much time outdoors as we do. I’ve been wearing Smith Optics for 20 years and they do the job fine. I buy a pair at our local surf shop once every few years (although I did also have to grab a pair from Curl in Disney Springs a few years ago b/c I left my sunglasses at home!). Georgie has an awesome polarized, flexible, lifetime-warrantied pair that we purchased at the Endless SUP Company around the corner. If you’re local to me, grab yourself a pair at 809 Main St. in Belmar! They’re awesome.
8. Bike seat:
We get around town on our bikes often. I would not have survived summer w/ a baby if it weren’t for a child bike seat. We use the Limo from CoPilot. It’s easy to use, stable, safe, and looked kind of cool (gray with just a splash of bright blue and neon green, which happen to match my beach cruiser). It also transfers easily from one bike to another in roughly 30 seconds, provided you’ve already got racks on both bikes. I don’t like the idea of front-mounted seats for the same reason you never put a baby in the front seat of a car- objects in motion remain in motion (thank you, Mr. Newton). Weekends are crazy around here in the summer, so the thought of dragging a trailer on the ground behind me also feels a bit scary, but if you’re looking to ride on paths or trails without cars, go for it. My husband, Georgie, and I are all extremely happy w/ our rear-mounted CoPilot.
Because we were only using it for one summer on such a tiny head that would soon grow, we opted for an affordable (i.e. less expensive, but still safe!) Lazer Baby on Board Helmet. When she’s a little older (and I am back to a regular paycheck!), maybe we’ll grab a nicer Giro or a Nutcase that will last a few years. Remember that helmets don’t cover baby’s face like a good hat does, so be sure to apply sunblock!
10. Fun w/ Fido:
Got a dog? A hands-free leash will make your life as a parent of 2- and 4-legged creatures whole lot easier. I don’t think I could live without one now that there’s a baby here. It allows the pup to get her exercise and feel like she’s part of the pack without it being a chore to fit in at odd hours. Of course, I could use the regular leash, but having both hands free to push a stroller, point things out when Georgie is in the Boba, or carry packages to return at the post office is really convenient. We’ve had our leash for years- we used to run w/ the dog often- and I have no recollection of where it came from, but you can find them at your local pet store or on Amazon.
If you’ve got comments on great brands you love for outdoor fun with babies, shoot us a message! I’d love to hear your thoughts on balance bikes, skooters, and toddler sneakers.
*Disclaimer- I am not compensated in any way by ANY of these companies for my thoughts and reviews (though I wish some of them WOULD pay me b/c I promote the heck out of them). I’ve just spent countless hours researching and don’t like to keep quiet when I find something worth sharing.