Our kids are 8, 6, and almost 3. Here are some things* that we grew to love and that made our lives more pleasant:
1. Babybjorn plastic bib. Three kids, same bib (and still in use daily). It is amazing. It catches all the crumbs and it is very easy to clean. I love it.... I just rinse it after each meal and that's it!!!
2. Baby monitor (Sony). We just had a simple audio one - it worked great. It gave me a little bit of freedom while the baby was napping. I could be out in the backyard and still within an earshot of any noise my baby made. The older kids even used it as a one-way walkie-talkie. Now that i think about it, maybe instead of donating it, I should find some clever use for it (eavesdropping on the kids?).
3. Kangaroo Korner sling. Used daily with all 3 kids when they were infants (until about 5-6 months).
4. Kritter toddler bed ( IKEA). We got an inexpensive toddler bed for IKEA after my second child was born. It held up really well. Because my kids are pretty close in age, they all got to transition from the crib into the toddler bed one after another... it's been in near-continuous use for the last 5.5 years. My third child is now sleeping in it and will probably use it for another year or so.
5. BOB Revolution stroller. We've used it non-stop since our first child was 5 months old. Currently, it is in use by child 3 (and, occasionally, child 2+3 together). It has held up very well. The kids love riding in it and my husband and I love pushing it (easy to push, easy to control with one hand). The two drawbacks - the storage area under the stroller is very small and the stroller itself takes up a lot of space even when folded up.
6. Ergo Carrier - only had it for the 3rd child. Wish I had it for the first two. It distributed weight evenly over my shoulder and was super comfortable both for me and the baby (she napped happily). I used it daily after my third child was about 5 months (great for hikes, exploring historic towns, exploring caves, etc)! I stopped using it when # 3 got too heavy for me to carry comfortably (about 19 months).
7. Comfortable rocking chair in the nursery. I did not have one at first, so i know how bad it can feel when you are stuck nursing/rocking your child in a tiny wooden rocking chair. It hurt my tailbone every time i tried to lean back. There were no armrests. Just thinking about it makes me grumpy! Having a comfortable place to sit and hold your baby in the same room as the crib/bassinet makes a big difference. Trust me.
8. Breast pump (Medela). That was money well spent. Pumped 3-4 times/day for my oldest son after going back to work. I also used it with the younger kids, but not as much (I stayed home with them when they were babies). I am so glad I had it.
9. Fisher Price Booster sit. Easy to clean, folds for easy transport, can be used at a table or with its own tray. Cheap.
Things that did not make this list but were still used with all 3 kids:
1. Crib from Babies R Us. It was ok. It worked fine and we used it extensively with all 3 kids. I don't love it but I don't hate it, either. The rails got chewed , but otherwise it held up well. It has a drop side that we only used on occasion with our first child. When we were looking for a crib, a drop side seemed like a "must-have." Nah, it wasn't all that convenient and I think they are illegal now.
2. Graco foldable high chair. We got a (relatively) cheap version at Babies R Us. It was horrible. We used it with all 3 kids, but we hated it. There were lots of crevices where food got stuck. It was really difficult to clean. The height adjustment mechanism was easy to confuse with the buttons for folding it (and we hardly ever folded it... even though we didn't have a whole lot of space in our first house when the first 1 kids were little).
3. Swings... we used them, a bit. The kids liked them, but they took up a ton of space and the kids always tended to have their heads at some awkward angle if they fell asleep.
Things that I would do/buy differently:
1. Get a high chair that is easy to clean!!!
2. For any infant furniture (ie, swings) - make sure it reclines far enough and has the head positioning thingy. Even if they can hold their heads. All our kids loved to swing, but the head was always at some awful angle to the rest of the body!
3. Use Boudreaux's butt paste for diaper rashes. Other brands worked ok (used aquaphore with #3, mostly), but I just love the butt paste.
4. Get a beautiful baby mobile. Our son had an amazing one, with cardboard spinning on thin wires... unfortunately, it got accidentally destroyed when he was a toddler. We never got a replacement.
5. Skip the "my breast friend" pillow. We got one when our second child was born. I used it, at most, for a couple of weeks.
*I am not paid to write any of this.