There’s a lot to keep track of as a new mom. All of a sudden, you’re scrambling to learn how to care for a tiny person, without sleep and with a lot of new responsibilities. It’s a rough adjustment that takes time, patience and probably at least a few crying jags to get the hang of. If you’re looking for the perfect gift for a new mother, give her time to sleep. If you’re looking for the next best thing, try these helpful gadgets that are designed to make the job at least a little easier.
Having a soft light on during nighttime feeds and diaper changes can be really helpful, especially when you’re sleep deprived. And a lot of experts will recommend using a white noise machine to help babies sleep soundly. Hatch’s Rest line combines both functions into a single device that can be controlled entirely from a smartphone. The Rest, and Rest+, offer 11 colors and sounds that can be combined, favorited, programed and timed to help your baby doze. The Rest+ is more expensive at $90, but adds a clock, battery power and a two-way audio monitor feature. It can also be voice controlled using Alexa. I’ve used it successfully to help sleep train the twins and, when they’re bigger, it can be programmed to help them learn when to wake up.
Owlet baby monitor and smart sensor
If there is only one piece of tech that makes it into the nursery, it should be a baby monitor. Being able to check on your sleeping infant without waking them is an invaluable gift, and you’ll want one that’s reliable, clear and adds thoughtful features (not just tech for tech’s sake).
Owlet makes a $149 Cam that streams 1080p HD video to an app on your phone. The camera itself can sit on a base or get mounted to a wall. It has a 130-degree wide-angle lens to cover the room, but has to be manually tilted or adjusted so you can’t pan remotely. The video feed has night vision and displays in color during the day. The camera has two-way audio, so you can both hear your little one and speak to them through the device. There’s also background audio so sound from the camera will play over other apps if you have it up and running as well. In addition, it can send you notifications if it senses movement or sound coming from your baby’s crib. The Cam uses AES 128-bit encryption and a TSL connection to WiFi for security, though the feed can be shared with up to five people at a time (assuming you’ve shared your log-in credentials with them).
Lastly, it can be paired with Owlet's wearable sensor, the Smart Sock, which measures an infant’s heart rate and pulse ox. If the baby’s stats take a dive or shoot into irregular levels, you’ll get a very unsubtle alert on your phone — and on the sock’s base station. Because it’s intended to be worn at night and during naps, the Owlet Sock also tracks babies’ sleep habits. All this data is viewable in the app, making it a fairly complete monitoring system.
Jabra Elite 75t
Between the several lovely noise-making toys the twins have received and their general shrieks and cries, I seek daily solace in my wireless earbuds. Not only do they muffle the ambient noise that toddlers are famous for, but I can also use them to play podcasts or music for a quick pick-me-up. The pass-through feature lets me minimize audio so I can have a quick conversation without removing the buds. Though we haven’t officially reviewed the JBL Live 300TWS earbuds that I’m using, my colleague BIlly Steele tried them out during CES last year. Though he liked the customizable controls and audio quality, he prefers the Jabra Elite 75t — which now have active noise-cancelling (ANC).
Besides that, the Elite 75t earned Billy’s approval for the depth and detail of the sound, along with quick charge capabilities, long battery life and an app that lets you tweak the EQ. Meanwhile, the small size makes them comfortable to wear for long periods of time, and the IP55 rating means they can withstand a trip to the gym, so they should be able to handle a bit of splashing if you’re wearing them during baby’s bathtime.
Baby Brezza Safe + Smart bottle warmer
I’m not sure exactly how many steps I’m earning walking up and downstairs to check on the bottle warmer, but it’s probably a fair percentage of my daily exercise. Baby Brezza makes a Safe + Smart Baby Bottle Warmer that uses Bluetooth to connect the device to your phone. Using the Baby Brezza app you can operate the warmer remotely and get alerts when the bottle is ready. Though the app is pretty minimal, that’s not always a bad thing when you’re bleary-eyed and trying to feed an infant in the early morning hours. Plus, having controls on your phone allows you to turn off the warmer and avoid overheating a bottle. The downside is that the Safe + Smart warmer only holds a single bottle at a time.
Never in my life did I think that I would be recommending people use a fanny pack but motherhood has changed me in multiple ways — and one of those ways is that I now carry a variety of spoons, burp cloths, pacifiers and rattles around with me in addition to my usual accoutrement. Since I’m just not that into cargo pants, I’ve opted to wear either my Carhartt Essentials Pouch (which converts to a waist bag) or my Renegade Craft Fair waist apron around the house. It is well worth the dorky mom points I’m earning to make sure I have my phone for photos or a pacifier to whip out when someone inevitably starts crying.
Carhartt makes a Duck Nail Apron which is made from sturdy canvas and has four generous pockets. It comes in either black or brown and has utility loops on the belt. While it’s intended for more industrial purposes, it looks like it could handle mom duties pretty easily. As far as the fanny pack-style bags go, I also like Patagonia’s Ultralight Black Hole Mini Hip Bag which has two pockets (zippered front and main), measures 4.75 x 8 x 2 inches and weighs 3.52 ounces. The nylon ripstop fabric is treated with silicone and a PU back coating so is weather resistant. Plus, the zipper closures will keep little hands from snagging your stuff.
Smart breast pump
If your giftee is breastfeeding or pumping, a smart breast pump from Elvie or Willow is going to be a huge time saver. These wearable pumps let Mom keep on schedule while keeping her hands free to do any of the 40 other things she’s got on her plate. The pump, power supply and container are all contained in the egg-shaped device, which pairs to an app using Bluetooth. They’re a bit cumbersome to wear, but comfortable to use, and it beats being tethered to a wall unit, though the results are not always as consistent.
Though both products are similar in design and functionality, there are some differences between them. The Willow pump can be used with reusable containers or disposable bags, while the Elvie only has the container option. The Elvie pump is quieter and more discreet, while the Willow pump offers a spill-proof system that can be used even while upside down. (I tested this myself and it works.) They can be purchased in a set or two, or as an individual pump.
Wabi Baby 3-in-1 sanitizer
While my children are very cute, they also like to chew on my house slippers, eat post-its and lick the touch-and-feel books. So I spend a lot of time cleaning the things that do belong in their mouths like pacifiers and teethers and plastic toys, which invariably end up on the car floor. While most of these things are easy to throw into boiling water, it can be worth the time saved to let a sanitizer do the job. The Wabi Baby sanitizer is something that I received as a gift, and it’s served me well. It takes up a fair amount of counter space but it’s relatively quiet; it fits a wide variety of bottles, dinnerware and accessories; and it can run a drying cycle after the steam sanitation session.
The display shows how much longer the process will run, it’s fairly simple to operate and it automatically remembers your last session so you can select it again easily. However, you can only use distilled water which can admittedly be a pain. Also, you have to be careful about where you put the Wabi; it requires a drainage mat for excess water.
At 14 months, my twins are now aware enough of my phone to reach for it like little screen zombies every time I try to take their picture. They’ll even try to pick my pockets for it if they know it’s there. If I had known how quickly it would become a distraction, I would have snagged myself a privacy shield to extend the time that they were blissfully unaware of the screens that take up so much of my own day. Also, I’d really love to be able to take a conference call without two toddlers pushing each other to get a better view.
Zagg makes a line of Invisible Shield screen protectors that also act as privacy shields, available in a variety of sizes for smartphones, smartwatches and tablets. The Invisible Shield is designed to protect your screen from drops, scratches, fingerprints and bacteria (via its antimicrobial properties) and comes with an installation tray to make application easier. However, the line isn’t available for laptop sizes. SightPro makes a good agnostic privacy screen for laptops, but it isn’t touch optimized.
Music or audiobook subscription
Taking care of infants all day can be hilarious, gross, exhausting and surprisingly monotonous. Spotify helps keep me energized, or calm, depending on the playlist. I’ve also recently started making my kids themed playlists for mellow mornings or bedtime wind-down. I’ve started exploring their podcast options too, which has a whole list of shows that aren’t on the Apple podcast app. A subscription to Spotify — and perhaps her own custom-made playlist — is a great gift for a mom. If she already has Spotify, try Audible which also has exclusive podcasts along with thousands of audiobooks. Trust me, that’s the only way a new mom is going to have time to get through all those parenting books.