Have you ever walked into a baby store and about had a panic attack? I have. I stopped in one day early in my pregnancy, just to look, and was so overwhelmed with all the multitudes of toys, blankets, bedding, etc. that I practically ran out of there after just a few short minutes.
“Do babies really need all that stuff? Do I have to buy it all? That’d be LOT of money! Is there any of this stuff that I can skip??”
I became a bit obsessive about researching what all I’d really need for baby. What did other mom’s swear by? I read list upon list of other mother’s baby essentials to determine what I had to have and what I could do without. I even took one of my mommy friends with us to register to get her opinion on what we needed and what we didn’t (I highly recommend you do that! Makes everything so much easier and less scary!). I wanted to get everything that I’d need, but I really didn’t want my house overrun with baby stuff. I’m a minimalist like that.
I definitely felt more prepared, knowing what other mom’s thought. I’m sure I could have figured it all out by myself, but I like information. It makes me feel safe. I need to know what to expect so I can try and prepare. Years ago, I heard of a family that got trapped in their car in a snowbank for days. After that, I had a bag with extra clothes, blankets, etc. in my car at all times. Just in case. I live in Southern Arizona. I can’t help it. It’s just how I roll.
So I thought I’d share my thoughts on what I’ve found super helpful these first few months.
1. Boppy Pillow – This pillow is probably the biggest workhorse in our baby arsenal. Lots of mothers buy this to help support baby when breastfeeding, but it’s so much more than that. We like to toss it next to us on the couch and lay Emma in it. She’s next to us, but propped up so she can see what’s going on a little better. You can put baby on her stomach and use it for tummy time. Use it to help them learn to sit up. Even the dogs like to curl up in it! Make sure you get an extra slipcover for babies’ messy moments!
2. Aden + Anais Muslin Swaddle Blankets – We have a bunch of these and use them for everything! They’re ideal for swaddling because of their large size. Plenty of fabric to wrap baby up like a little burrito! We also use them as light blankets, burp cloths, toss it on the floor for tummy time. I even tie the ends to the car seat handle and use it as a lightweight car seat cover. Love these!
3. Aden +Anais Burpy Bib – We have 3 of these. We also have a million cheap receiving blankets that we use as burp clothes too, but these Burpy Bibs are by far our favorites! They’re super absorbent and contoured to fit around snugly as a burp cloth as well as around babies neck (which is great for us because Little Miss is a messy eater). The little snaps on each side convert it into a regular bib that baby can use when they’re big enough that they don’t really need burp cloths anymore. And they’re bigger than traditional bibs, so they can catch the messes better.
4. Swaddle Wraps – We’ve swaddled Emma from day one. She’s just so wiggly, that she’d flail her arms and smack herself in the face. So she gets swaddled every night and for her naps. We originally were using the Aden + Anais Muslin Swaddle Blankets (above #2), but as Emma got bigger, she’d eventually wiggle herself out of them no matter how tight we wrapped her. So we ran out and bought her some swaddle wraps. We have both the SwaddleMe (velcro) and the Woombie (zipper). I like the Woombies because I think the zipper is easier (and they make this kind that leaves the legs free – great for swaddling in a car seat, swing, etc), but Hubby thinks the SwaddleMe are easier to use. Both are great, so get whatever you like. The #1 thing to remember is that a swaddled baby sleeps longer . . . and that’s all that matters!!
5. Sound Machine – When I was pregnant, I read pediatrician Dr. Harvey Karp’s book The Happiest Baby on the Block (if you haven’t read it, do it now. trust me). In the book he talks about all the sounds the baby hears in the uterus. Did you know that sounds in there are louder than a vacuum cleaner?? Sound machines are one of the ways to help soothe baby by reminding them of the womb. We have the Sleep Sheep and the mybaby HoMedics On-The-Go SoundSpa. We generally lay Emma down to sleep while she’s still awake, and the white noise from these machines help her drift off to dreamland. We can’t live without these!
6. Nosefrida Snotsucker – Snotsucker?? Sounds disgusting, I know (Hubby refuses to use it). But this thing is amazing! Using your own lung capacity to suck out the boogies is so much easier than trying to do it with one of those dumb bulb things! And don’t worry about actually sucking the snot into your own mouth (yuck!), there’s a filter that stops that grossness from making it’s way up. Plus, its see-thru and comes apart for easy cleaning. Who knows what’s growing in those bulb things! ::shudder::
7. Swing/Bouncer – As we all would love to just sit and hold our baby all day, if you’re anything like me, you got things to do! Whether its laundry, dinner, or even just a shower a bouncer or swing is a great place to securely put baby down and help keep her entertained. We have both a swing and a bouncer and we regularly lay Emma down for a nap in both. The swing is great because it has an AC adapter, so you don’t have to waste batteries. However, when awake, Emma seems to prefer the bouncer. Each baby’s different, but one of the two is super helpful when you just gotta put baby down.
8. Baby Carrier – At first, I wasn’t really that interested in having a baby carrier. I didn’t really think I would use it. Isn’t it easier to push a stroller than strap a baby to your chest? But I got a hand-me-down one from a friend and hung on to it just in case. Thank goodness I did! Forget about just wearing it while you’re out. A carrier is fantastic for when baby needs to be held, but you have other things to do. I’ve worn Little Miss while cooking dinner, watering the plants, doing laundry, even painting! There are a bunch of different types of carriers so finding one that suits your needs should be cake! I have a traditional baby carrier as well as a DIY Moby Wrap that I made (instructions here) and a sling. So unless you plan on growing an extra set of hands, find what works for you and get one . . . now!
9. Stroller Frame – I didn’t even know these existed before I got pregnant. I stumbled upon them while working on my registry. They seemed cool, but I figured I wouldn’t need one since my infant seat snapped into my regular stroller. Why would I need two? I’ll tell you why! For starters the stroller frame is not only smaller, but super lightweight. It is way easier to take this in and out of my trunk than a traditional stroller. It’s also more maneuverable, so pushing it through a crowded shopping center is less of a danger to sales racks and other people’s shins. And the thing that really sold it for me . . . the bottom basket. Yes, my regular stroller has one, but in order to snap in the car seat, the stroller seat has to be reclined all the way back, which then blocks the basket and renders it useless. Not OK! So, while you’ll need a big kid stroller at some point, a stroller frame is the way to go in the beginning. As long as your baby fits in the infant car seat, you can use the stroller frame. You’ll thank me. Promise!
10. Baby Monitor – What list of baby essentials is complete without a baby monitor? A definite MUST! We chose a video monitor because we like to let Emma try and soothe herself. A video monitor lets us check to see if she really needs us, or if she’s just fussing a little bit. Hubby and I have this one from Summer Infant. It is awesome! The video is nice and clear as is the sound. Plus, you can adjust where the camera is pointed right from the touch screen pad. And you can always purchase and add more cameras to the same control pad, which will come in handy whenever we get around to baby #2.
So there it is. My list of baby must-haves. Hopefully some of you expecting/first-time moms find this helpful. As for the old pros out there, what do you think? Anything I missed? What are your suggestions?