New Dad Gift Guide

Gear Patrol founder Eric Yang reveals the gear he’s got on his own holiday list.

New Dad Gift Guide

Gear, gear, gear. When you’re having a baby, it’s pretty much all you talk about. Which “thing” will make your life easier or baby quieter or mom and dad happier...even if only for a few months, or weeks, or days.

But Gear Patrol founder and new dad Eric Yang gives it to us straight: “It’s easy to just keep buying things to solve problems. That’s not really a good way to go about it — as parents, I think we focus more on quality over quantity now more than ever. There’s so much junk out there and it’s easy to just buy it all on Amazon.’”


While Yang tries to look at the “long-term play” with every purchase, he admits to a little obsession with his Boppy newborn lounger for 3-month-old Hunter, and realizes he’ll probably “throw out all the sensibility when he grows into Legos and Brio train sets.”

But what about Dad? Well, he’s entitled to some indulgent gear sometimes, especially around the holidays. Below, find Eric’s own gear wish list for the holiday season, filled with smart suggestions for the new dad in your life. (Note: this guy gets extra points for his first pick. Seriously, ladies, this is a gift guide you’ll want to pass on.)

1. Massage Certificates. My wife is the house hero — so what little physical relief I can offer is nice to supplement with massage certificates. She doesn't like to splurge on herself, so a nice stack of these do just nicely.

2.. Cordless Vacuum: Dyson v6 HEPA. I have a weird love for spot cleaning and I hate cords. Being able to just pop this off the wall and go to town makes it that much easier. $299

3. Versatile Shirts: Buck Mason T-Shirts. During the week I stick to a basic “uniform,” which makes getting ready easier on those bleary eyed, 3-hours-of-sleep mornings. Part of that includes plain ol' Gap t-shirts, which are great, but Buck Masons are worth the upgrade. They’re comfortable enough for nights and weekends but come in a couple of styles that make it easy for everything from nights to weekends and even work. Plus, they’re made in America. $28

4. Portrait Lens: Fujifilm 56mm f/1.2 Lens. To be perfectly fair, the bulk of our baby photos are on our phone because it’s always on us, but seeing a really great photograph of your kid that you took feels especially nice. This lens isn’t the easiest thing to use — it’s a “prime” lens, which means a fixed focal distance, but it knocks frame worthy photos out of the park (it’s similar to what a wedding photographer might use). If you have a DSLR, you can find similar lenses for less. $799

5. Portable Speaker: Bowers & Wilkins T7 Speaker. Hunter has a fair share of music sessions through the day from his bedtime routine to jazz sessions with dad. This speaker gets a lot of use because it’s easy to tote around, the batteries last forever and it just sounds terrific. It isn’t widely known, but a good speaker can play the full range of music at lower volumes so you don’t have to play them loudly to hear everything, which is helpful around the little one. $350.

This is how we’re defining success this school year

Hint: It's not related to grades.

In the ever-moving lives of parents and children, opportunities to slow down and reflect on priorities can be hard to come by. But a new school year scheduled to begin in the midst of a global pandemic offers the chance to reflect on how we should all think about measures of success. For both parents and kids, that may mean putting a fresh emphasis on optimism, creativity and curiosity.

Throughout recent decades, "school success" became entangled with "academic achievement," with cases of anxiety among school children dramatically increasing in the past few generations. Then, almost overnight, the American school system was turned on its head in the spring of 2020. As we look ahead to a new school year that will look like no year past, more is being asked of teachers, students and parents, such as acclimating to distance learning, collaborating with peers from afar and aiming to maintain consistency with schooling amidst general instability due to COVID.

Despite the inherent challenges, there is also an overdue opportunity to redefine success during the school year by finding fresh ways to keep students and their parents involved in the learning process.

"I always encourage my son to try at least one difficult thing every school year," says Arushi Garg, parenting blogger and mom of a 4-year-old. "This challenges him but also allows me to remind him to be optimistic! Lots of things in life are hard, and it's important we learn to be positive during difficult times. Fostering a sense of optimism allows kids to push beyond what they thought possible, like biking without training wheels or reading above their grade level."

Here are a few mantras to keep in mind this school year:

Quality learning matters more than quantifying learning

After focusing on standardized measures of academic success for so long, the learning environment this next school year may involve more independent, remote learning. Some parents are considering this an exciting opportunity for their children to assume a bigger role in what they are learning—and parents are also getting on board by supporting their children's education with engaging, positive learning materials like Highlights Magazine.

As a working mom, Garg also appreciates that Highlights Magazine can help engage her son while she's also working. She says, "He sits next to me and solves puzzles in the magazine or practices his writing from the workbook."

Keep an open mind as "school" looks different

Whether children are of preschool age or in the midst of high school, "going to school" is bound to look different this year. Naturally, this may require some adjustment as kids become accustomed to new guidelines. Although many parents may wish to shelter our kids from challenges, others believe optimism can be fostered through adversity when everyone is committed to adapting to new experiences.

"Honestly, I am yet to figure out when I will be comfortable sending [my son] back [to school]," says Garg. In the meantime, she's helping her son remain connected with friends who also read Highlights Magazine by encouraging the kids to talk about what they are learning on video calls.

Follow children's cues about what interests them

For Garg, her biggest hope for this school year is that her son will create "success" for himself by embracing new learning possibilities with positivity.

"Encouraging my son to try new things has given him a chance to prove that he can do anything," she says. "He takes his previous success as an example now and feels he can fail multiple times before he succeeds."

There's no denying that this school year will be far from the norm. But, perhaps, we can create a new, better way of defining our children's success in school because of it.

This article was sponsored by Highlights. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Motherly and mamas.

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