I spent my pregnancy bouncing around like a maniac: Paris in the first trimester, Bermuda and London in the second, restaurant openings, barre classes, friend-dates, date-dates, beach weekends—even a late-third-trimester Subway Series game where a drunk fan careened into my belly in the Citi Field dining concourse. (All good.)
Two days before my due date last June, I decided I should finally pump the brakes. So I spent a free afternoon just as the patriarchy intended: barefoot in the kitchen, lazily baking Four & Twenty Blackbirds’ strawberry-balsamic pie. We had renovated the space about a year earlier, and I loved how pretty my latticed masterpiece, an hours-long labor of love, looked in the Brooklyn summer sunlight. Better soak in this room while I can, I thought at the time.
Since my son Miles was born a year ago, though, I’ve actually spent more time in my kitchen than I ever thought possible. It’s really not to cook—that task falls to my husband, Epi’s Chief Business Officer, for whom it is a lifelong hobby. Yet through the new lens of motherhood, I’ve gained a fresh appreciation for a room that is now, more than ever before, the heart of our home. Here are my top 8 picks for the best kitchen tools for new parents, presented in the chronological order in which you’ll need them.
Toddy Brewing Container with Handle
Quick coffee run across the street? Not a thing if you’re home alone with a newborn! Avert disaster by stockpiling your own supply of cold brew, that panacea upon which survival hinges those first few weeks. Even if you’re sleep deprived, presumably you're still capable of dumping things into a bucket, which means you can successfully maneuver Toddy’s signature product. Just remember to set the coffee grinder to “coarse”and buy the companion filters and rubber stoppers, as well.
Up&Up Fragrance-Free Baby Wipes
The all-beige nursery with typographical wall art (“Oh, the places you’ll go!”) has been Instagrammed; the diapering supplies have been arranged just so. But unless your baby is made of magic, your need for wipes will transcend space, time, and room function. Target’s water-based, fragrance- and dye-free baby wipes, a fixture on our kitchen island, remedy everything from sticky hands to spit-up, and they’re gentle on everything from bamboo floors to engineered-marble counters.
Boon Grass Countertop Drying Rack
Bottle-feeding parents can attest to the sheer ruthlessness with which the merch—bottles, nipples, caps—colonize every free inch of space. And although you could stash everything away in a drawer, there will be some occasion in the future when you’ll need to make a bottle with one hand while holding the baby with the other. Boon’s chic, minimalist, dishwasher-safe drying rack hides the supplies in plain sight. If you need more room, do as we did: buy two and place them side-by-side.
Inglesina Fast Table Chair with Dining Tray
Most high chairs swallow a good amount of floor space, a limited commodity in small apartments. Enter Inglesina’s clip-on high chair, which has been affixed to our island overhang—a thick piece of black walnut milled by 3 Dot Design, the furniture firm co-owned by Bon Appétit YouTube star Brad Leone—since Miles was old enough to hold his head up. The steel body is sturdy; the thick fabric is wipeable and machine-washable; the entire contraption folds into an attached drawstring pouch; and the twist-in-place arms don’t leave so much as a scratch.
OXO TOT Baby Food Containers
We—rather, I—fell prey to the schmancy baby-food-puree machine that I used for approximately three days. After starting Miles on table food—soft, bite-size pieces of whatever we happen to have around—we fell hard for these adorable 4-ounce containers from OXO, whose other products (garlic presses, can-openers) have been happily jamming up our drawers for years. OXO TOT’s leak-proof plastic cubes are great for portable daycare lunches and tiny portions of baby-friendly leftovers, not to mention homemade dressings and sauces.
Munchkin Soft-Tip Infant Spoons
Few food items actually require concentrated spoon-feeding. Yet we keep Munchkin’s plastic spoons around anyway. Not only do they allow us to bear witness to the drama that unfolds when you hand an infant a pre-loaded scoop of yogurt, but the rubberized handles do wonders for teething, and the bright colors are their own sort of fun. We also keep one in our diaper bag—whip one out at a restaurant, and you’ve scored even more precious minutes of distraction.
OXO TOT Silicone Bib
Table food is basically one gigantic mess waiting to happen, especially when it’s manhandled by a baby who’s still working on his pincer grasp. Thankfully, pieces that don’t make it into Miles' mouth land in OXO TOT’s marsupial-like silicone bibs, making cleanup so easy that you’ve gotta wonder why those plastic lobster bibs weren't designed better. Of course, Miles recently discovered mankind’s time-honored method of expressing discontent: throwing things on the floor. Anything that falls at too wide an angle for the bib gets taken care of by the dog.
Victorinox knives $24 for four on Amazon
Slicing a blueberry—in quarters. Dicing a single piece of peanut butter–clad bread into 25 bite-size pieces. Cutting a cherry tomato into—heck, cutting a cherry tomato at all. Unless you’ve employed a merry band of tiny elves, regular-size adult hands will have to miniaturize the seemingly un-miniaturizable. That’s where Victorinox’s sharp, serrated utility knives step in. They’re not sexy or confident like a beautiful chef’s knife—and they gall my husband, the true cook around here—but their slip-resident handles and manageable size allow you to tackle a fridge full of would-be choking hazards. (And they're actually a favorite of Epi Food Editor Anna Stockwell.) We’ll leave sexy and confident to the non-parents.
Originally Appeared on Epicurious