Gifts for new parents (not their babies) that will make their lives easier

Not everything has to come in binky, plushie, or onesie form.

guy reading to his child
They welcome all the help.Picsea via Unsplash

Facing down first-time parenting is the most terrifying thing I’ve experienced, and I’m not alone. Because of this, parents like me buy bucketloads of baby-related products aimed at delivering sleep, quiet, and healthy babies. Some of that stuff works, some don’t, and some are still in boxes.

This is not a list of that stuff. This is a list of the stuff that wasn’t created as a siren song for fear-addled over-caffeinated cooing cuddle-zombies. Yet it proved so clutch, I would have happily traded my waterproof bouncy seat with built-in puke-guards for it any day of my kid’s first three months.

Wireless charger

Mophie Powerstation Wireless External Battery Charger

Mophie Powerstation Wireless External Battery Charger

A charging brick to add juice (not of the apple variety) to your life.Amazon

You never know which spot will be the magic one—the place where your baby will fall asleep—but you can be reasonably sure there won’t be a phone charger there. And you’re an idiot if you try to move a sleeping newborn just to scarf a few volts. This pack will recharge any phone equipped with wireless charging (i.e., most new phones) multiple times, no cord necessary. I toted this thing with me everywhere, from the window where my daughter and I watched the birds, to the couch where she liked to fall asleep on my chest.

Drink cooler

Yeti Hopper Flip

Yeti Hopper Flip

Keep the baby's beverage of choice on hand at all times.Amazon

Every drop of breast milk is like liquid gold-diamonds. You don’t waste a gram of the stuff. So if you’re moving from place to place and want to tote around your stash, you need to keep it fresh. Yeti makes the absolute best coolers out there—end of discussion—and their soft-sided Hoppers kept our precious supply cool and safe as we navigated multi-hour treks to doctors’ offices, grandparents’ homes, and more.

Self-heating mug

Ember 14-ounce ceramic mug

Ember 14-ounce ceramic mug

Turn that instant cup of coffee into an hour-long one.Amazon

You wanna know how to make a cup of coffee last all morning long? Have a kid. Between diaper blow-outs, marathon sessions of Googling “is _____ normal,” and the various things you need to do to keep a kid happy and breathing, you’re lucky to grab a precious sip of coffee every 10 minutes. Ember, a PopSci staff favorite, keeps your java at your desired temperature as long as its little battery lasts. (Ember claims 80 minutes, but your mileage may vary.) This new larger version might as well say “world’s least experienced dad” on it. Awwww, you guys! You shouldn’t have!

Baby “rocker”

Trideer Exercise Ball

Trideer Exercise Ball

Bounce with the baby, then convert it to other uses.Amazon

Your office yogi uses this instead of a desk chair. Surprisingly swole people work out on it at the gym. And I bounced up and down on one with a baby in my lap for who knows how many hours. When nothing else worked, I could be sure that a bounce session would quiet our daughter. Oh, and I use it as a desk chair now.

White noise app

White Noise App

White Noise App

Not all lullabies are the same.Amazon

I downloaded this app the first night of my daughter’s life. While pirouetting through the maternity ward at godawful o’clock, this thing stuck out of my shirt pocket, playing its formless, soothing screech and somehow soothing our new arrival’s frayed nerves. (Doctors say it sounds like what fetuses hear in the womb.)

Anti-squeak lubricant

WD40

WD40

If only it would work on chipmunks, too.Amazon

You know what squeaks? Everything. And few moments are more stressful than opening a door or closet or whatever and creating a squeak that you fear might wake your baby. For the first month of her life, if I didn’t have our daughter in my arms, I was likely toting a can of this magical make-it-quiet juice.

Smart bulb

LIFX bulbs

LIFX bulbs

Smarter bulbs, smarter life.Amazon

I still snicker every time I say “Hey Google, turn the baby off,” but man oh man are voice-controlled lights convenient when you could use 10 extra arms to tote bottles and diaper rags and intravenous Red Bull. There are a million smart bulbs out there. I like LIFX because they work with every smart home system, are easy to set up, and you don’t need a hub. Bonus: They dim really nicely, and if you spend for the more expensive model, you can even change the warmth of white light.