Unsung Hero Baby Products

Mother kisses young baby. Baby is wearing a striped outfit and the mother is holding the baby with the top of her head to the camera. Their home is in the background.

If you have children or are currently expecting, you know that the best baby products are often the workhorses that you don't even think about when you are telling a friend about your favorite baby products. Despite rarely giving them out as recommendations, you would not have survived parenthood without them.

If you're a new or soon-to-be parent you might be wondering what these "unsung hero" baby products are that people love but don't always think to recommend, so I listed out a few of my favorites below. I will update this when I think about all of the items I missed because it's REALLY hard to think about the things that make a huge difference but we don't think about much every day!

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Unsung Hero Baby Products

On-The-Go Changing Pads

A small, foldable changing pad (affiliate link) is such a simple solution when you need to change baby anywhere besides a changing table. They clean up easily, fold up small, and can easily be hidden away in your car, diaper bag, or any room of your house. 

Dish Drying Rack

Whether you are pumping, bottle feeding, using a pacifier, or starting to feed your baby solids, at some point in your parenting journey you'll have a lot of baby dishes that need to dry. I like to use our drying rack (affiliate link) for both drying hand-washed items and for letting baby items that went through the dishwasher fully dry before I put them away. Is that overkill? Probably, but it gives me peace of mind because baby items are often small and intricate and the last thing I want to happen is for mold to form!

Don't forget to wash your dish drying rack periodically!

Bottle Brush

Buy a dishwasher-safe bottle brush (affiliate link) and nipple cleaner. These will help with everything from pump parts to pacifiers to bottle parts to sippy cups!

I typically replace mine every few months just in case and keep two on hand - one just in case the other one's in the dishwasher. I keep these separate from the items I use to wash my regular dishes, these are only used for baby items. Is all of this also overkill? Probably, but it gives me the confidence to know my daughter's dishes are clean!

Baby-Specific Dish Soap

It took me a while to come around to this one - I thought it was a marketing gimmick. Then one day I ran out and started using regular dish soap to hand wash baby items, and realized just how much milk film can stay on "clean" dishes when the soap isn't designed for milk film! I still use Dapple (affiliate link) dish soap with my nearly two-year-old for her milk cups. 

I use regular dish soap for items that don't have milk, but for anything that gets milk on it I highly recommend buying a baby-specific dish soap!

Laundry Detergent For the Whole Family

I asked around and heard mixed reviews on buying baby-specific laundry detergent. Some of you love the smell, others don't like what's in it. What was universally recommended by parents with multiple kids is finding one laundry detergent that works for the entire family, including baby, and using it for everything.

I tried Dreft, which is designed for babies, but wasn't a huge fan. My allergies and sensitive skin do not take kindly to laundry detergents with scents in them, so even though my daughter did fine with the Dreft, my skin was too sensitive for it. When we were using Dreft for our daughter and using our normal detergent for everything else, my husband and I both occasionally found it hard to remember to use the right detergent at the right time. Quite a few times we used adult detergent on baby laundry and vice versa, it was one too many things to think about during the sleep deprived newborn stage!

We switched to Seventh Generation Free and Clear (affiliate link) and Tide Free and Gentle (affiliate link). Both work for every one of our laundry needs, and both actually work really well as a stain pre-treatment for spit-up stains. Seventh Generation seemed to last us longer, but Tide Free and Gentle was easier for us to find in stores, so we used whichever we could find during covid shortages. Free & clear formulations don't have the strong scents and dyes that some babies (and in my case, mothers!) don't like, but will keep the adults happy too!

Microwavable Sterilizer Bags

Whether it's pacifiers, pump parts, or bottles, these (affiliate link) microwavable steam sterilizer bags can come in handy to quickly sterilize anything for the baby. Some parents have countertop sanitizers/sterilizers, I found the microwavable version more helpful for quick sanitizing. For those that enjoy traveling or plan to spend time staying with family, these are very lightweight and easy to pack!

When you order a breast pump through insurance, be sure to ask if there is any discount on accessories. There is a chance your insurance benefits will cover or offer a discount on microwavable sanitizer bags!