My older sister is pregnant (yay!!) with number 4 (yes, 4!) but her youngest is 7 so it’s been awhile since she’s been in the baby mode. Since I have have 2 under 2, I have a good grasp on baby items and she asked me to write up a blog about what products I love and need. I also decided to add in things I like but don’t “need” and things that are “maybes” depending on your preferences, and some must-haves for new mommies.
The Must Haves
The first thing on my list is an obvious one, but you don’t want to forget to register for it.
We have the Graco Snugride 35 for our infant seat (handed down to Charlotte). Infant seats aren’t necessary, as you could go straight to a convertible seat that has infant capabilities. I prefer the infant seat because it is also a carrier and you can move a sleeping baby from the car without unbuckling them. You can also put the seat in most strollers, which is good for sleeping, but also when they are too small to go in the regular stroller seat (although I wear my newbies a lot). The Snugride goes up to 35 lbs, which is sort of ridiculous because at that point you can’t really carry them around in it, and a 35 lb baby is likely too tall for an infant seat any way. But that being said, it was nice to not be held to a 20lb limit. (We switched to a convertible seat just after Matthew turned one, he was about 23 lbs and he is still currently rear facing.)
I’m opposed to “travel systems” because they are huge and bulky. A stroller should make your life easier, not be a pain in the butt. They are also pretty expensive, so what I recommend is buying a car seat, and then a frame stroller that fits your brand. We bought the Graco frame stroller on Craigslist and I loved it. We used it exclusively until Matthew was 6 months old. It makes it easy to just pop the car seat in and go. It’s super light weight and small. There are several brands and most accommodate most brands of car seats.
After this stroller, we had planned to buy a small lightweight stroller, like the UppaBaby GLuxe. It has all the benefits of a bigger stroller (big basket, reclining seat, sun cover) but it could fit in our trunk. However, at that time we found out that we were expecting again so we decided to look for a double stroller. If you plan on having more kids, I highly recommend the Baby Jogger City Select. I can’t say enough good things about this stroller. I know it’s a big price tag, but I think it’s worth the investment (we don’t plan on stopping the baby train any time soon!) I don’t run, like ever, however if you are planning to buy a jogging stroller, this would be a good plan for that too! Whatever you do, test drive it before you buy. And take a diaper bag (or really big purse) and try to put it in the basket. Some people who make strollers have never used one and put a ridiculous bar right across the top which makes it impossible to get your things in there, and babies do not travel light.
Speaking of diaper bags, that’s a personal preference but you’re going to need one. I had a really cute one with Matthew. Then I had Charlotte and had to get practical, so I bought a giant one. I have diaper clutches for each kid – with their size diapers and a wipe container so that I (or Dad) don’t have to bring the whole bag into the bathroom. I also always carry a receiving blanket to change them on, because let’s face it public changing tables are gross.
All babies sleep…not all of them sleep the same though. So, this is based solely on my experience and you might find it to be different, for every one of your kids. We have a crib, but Matthew didn’t start sleeping in it until he was 6 months old. We had him in a cradle next to our bed until then. Charlotte is in that one now. If you plan to bed share, then you may not need a cradle, and might prefer a co-sleeper like the Arm’s Reach. I am lazy, and don’t like to get up to nurse, so I have her right next to the bed and I barely have to move to get her in the middle of the night. You’re also going to register for sheets, which I recommend a couple so you can wash them. I personally think bedding sets are a waste of money. I had bed skirts custom made for my kids, but they are purely decorative (and so I can store things under the crib).
I have the Fisher Price Whale-of-a-Tub and I love it. There is a seat insert made for new babies and then you can take it out for bigger babies. Matthew was done with it by the time he was 8 months old, and now he loves to swim and splash in the big tub. It is bulky, and therefore hard to store, but we tied a string on it, and hang it off a 3M hook on the back of the shower.
I also have a sponge mat that I love, especially for traveling. It is easy to throw in a suit case. I also used it on the shower floor when Matthew was small enough, so that he could lay and play while I got a shower in.
For bath soaps and products, I prefer Burts Bees. Johnson and Johnson has had a lot bad ju-ju lately for containing cancer causing chemicals. While I’m not the crunchiest of moms, I’m not a fan of chemicals on or in my baby so I prefer a more natural soap. Burts Bees is really good for a mainstream brand, so I don’t need to go to Whole Foods to find it, and it’s not a fortune. I also use their diaper rash cream, but recently I’ve discovered that coconut oil kicks diaper rash’s butt so I use that instead.
Don’t forget to register for washcloths and towels. We have a ton, but I use them more now for Matthew than I do for Charlotte! That kid is a mess!!
While we’re talking about laundry… don’t forget
Burp Cloths and Blankets
A lot of people use those Gerber cloth diapers for burp cloths. I have a few that were gifts and adorned with some pretty ribbons and stuff. Other than that, any thing that wipes up spit is good for me. Matthew hardly ever spit up… Charlotte spits up all the time. I also use them to wipe up leaky breastmilk or relieve fast let-down before I start nursing.
Flannel receiving blankets are awesome, and I have ton. Their pretty cheap, so stock up. That way, if you have to toss one because it’s stained or something it’s no biggie. I use them as changing pads or laying baby on them when napping on the bed or couch (in case anything comes out). I always have one in the car and the diaper bag. I also love, love, love Aiden and Anais swaddle wraps. These are one the BEST products I could recommend. They are huge, they are light weight and the are comfy. They work great for swaddling (receiving blankets are rectangle… does not work!) and I use them as nursing covers. Love these. Get them!! (I swear I am not paid to say this!)
That brings me to…
If you’re going to exclusively breastfeed, you need boobs. And a nursing cover if you prefer to cover, I know some moms can nurse modestly without one, I cannot. I don’t really care for things like Hooter Hiders, I think they’re a little flashy and kind of yell “Hey look I’m nursing!” but also I didn’t want to become dependent on a product like that and then not be able to nurse without it. Like I said above, I use an Aden and Anais blanket, I tuck it into my bra strap and it’s great. It’s big enough to cover all sides and it’s light weight so we’re not dying in the heat.
If you’re going to pump, you’ll need to pick a pump based on your needs. If you’re pumping to bottle feed a lot (like going to work) I’d recommend a double electric. I used a Medela Pump In Style and it was great. I also have a hand pump, that was $20, I used that a lot for traveling. It’s not as efficient, but it gets the job done. I’m not planning to use bottles for Charlotte, so I’m not pumping this go-around (although I did hand pump when I felt a clogged duct, so it’s nice to have on hand).
Bottles are a tough one. I used Playtex VentAire standard, but there are also wide ones. Matthew did great with those so we never changed. They do have a lot of parts, which is a pain for washing, and eventually when he got older I would buy the cheap ones from Walmart and he did fine with those. I have heard that wide nipple bottles are great for breast fed babies that have a hard time taking a bottle. I just wouldn’t invest a ton of money into one until you know for sure that your baby likes it. If you’re planning to formula feed (or like me, not planning to but end up any way) I totally recommend a formula dispenser. It carries premeasured formula and pours neatly into the bottle. We swore by this thing, when I lost it, I ran straight to Walmart for a new one!
Eventually, you’re going to need a high chair. We started out feeding Matthew in the Bumbo, but that didn’t last long because he quickly decided that purees were for babies and he wanted whole food so we needed to give him more freedom to feed himself. We bought a booster high chair that attaches to the chair. That worked until he was about 13 months old, when the chair it was attached to became lighter than him and he tipped the whole thing over. We now have an Ikea high chair that is simple, small and awesome. I am not a fan of the big ones that take up a ton of room and recline and all that. Plus, they make it sound great that they fold away but I use it at least 3 times a day, so why would I fold it up?!
I registered for a baby food maker because I wanted to make everything homemade. At first, it was awesome. And then, like I said above, my child thought he was too cool for purees and I started learning about Baby Led Solids. This isn’t a parenting post, so I won’t get into it, but basically we started feeding him whole soft foods. I do use the baby food maker a lot as a food processor for making sauces, salsa and dressings so it’s not a total waste. I’ll probably just do the same with Charlotte (using whole foods was so easy as I could just throw a banana into the diaper bag and not have to worry about spoons, cold packs, etc.) Also, those pouches are pretty neat for traveling and he did take those from time to time.
I dig it! I’m not super into it, I do use strollers and stuff… but man, it’s convenient. I have three carriers and I love them all for different reasons.
– Ring Sling This is the one I use the most right now. It’s perfect for infant hold, it’s not too hot and I can nurse in it. I totally recommend learning to nurse in a carrier. I’ve had people (mostly people who have never breastfed) ask me why in the world one would walk through the grocery store nursing, but let’s be real here: babies don’t wait, and sometimes you just have to get things done. Plus, with a toddler, I can’t exactly say “Here honey, stand here for 30 minutes while I nurse and don’t get into anything”. The ring sling has a big “tail” and I can use it to cover so that I am still modest while I nurse. I used it with Matthew too, in a hip hold. Click on that link above and it’ll show you everything it can do. It’s super cool, I promise.
– Moby Wrap If you have known me since Matthew was born, you know I love love love my Moby. I haven’t used it much with Charlotte because it’s been so hot but I use it in the house and I will use it this fall for sure. It’s super comfy. I know it seems overwhelming to use, but it’s not. I will personally show you how to use it (if you know me in real life) and I promise to post a tutorial here very soon!
– Beco Butterfly II The Beco is similar to the more popular Ergo. It is a soft-structured carrier and can go on back or front. It can hold up to 45 lbs and it super comfortable. I really don’t recommend the Bjorn or other “crotch danglers” because not only are they uncomfortable, but they are not ergonomic for you or baby. You don’t really want to wear a baby forward facing at all, and not having the baby’s hips supported is dangerous.
My super cute hubby wearing Matthew in our Beco Butterfly (he has used all of our baby carriers, and it’s so attractive! All Dads should babywear!)
And for when you need to put baby down…
Bouncer or Swing
We have the Bright Starts (pretty much love everything by this brand) bouncer and swing set. Honestly, I think you need just one, but whatever works. I like this bouncer because it actually bounces, not just vibrates.
We also have the matching pack and play, which is a big must (the pack and play, not that it matches). There are simple ones and not-so-simple ones. Ours is in between. Whatever one you pick, just make sure it folds up and is easy to transport. We do wish our had a shoulder strap on the carrier, so I’ve thought about sewing one on myself. When you have your hands full, carrying a heavy thing with your hand is a bummer!
First Aid Stuff
When I first had Matthew, I was pretty mainstream with this kind of thing. Now, I am a little more natural. I mentioned coconut oil before, and I recommend it for everything from diaper rash, cradle cap and baby acne to sore nipples. It’s really awesome. I got mine at Walmart in the cooking section.
I also recommend having some baby pain reliever on hand. I don’t use it a lot, but when you do need it you don’t want to have to run out for it. I prefer the dye-free kind – it doesn’t stain if it comes back out. You also want to grab some gas drops, saline spray, a nasal aspirator and a rectal thermometer. Nail clippers are a must (grab some of those little mittens while you’re at it). Hylands teething tablets are great, but you won’t need those for a couple of months.
These items aren’t necessary, but they’re nice to have.
We have a little baby gym and it’s a nice place to lay the baby for tummy time and other floor play. They can take up a lot of space but the one we have is pretty small, and it also turns into a tunnel for when baby starts to crawl. If you have the space, get one. If not, a blanket is great for playing on!
There are lots of different options of these, and they also take up a lot of room. I liked it because Matthew could have snacks in there, and play with toys without going any where. Definitely helpful for getting chores done once they are on the move. We borrowed one from a friend the first time, and this time we got one from Bright Starts (see, I told you I love this brand!) and I can’t wait for Charlotte to use it! It’s smaller than the borrowed one so it’ll fit better in our small apartment.
Sophie is a teething toy. It looks and sounds like a dog toy. And it’s $20. It’s absolutely ridiculous. But there is something about this giraffe that babies love. Plus, unlike traditional teething rings, small babies can actually get the legs and head into their mouth to help their aching gums. I like Sophie. I hate teething. If you don’t get her as a gift, I’d splurge. Really.
And while we’re on to teething…
Baltic Amber teething necklace
This is one of those things that people either swear by or think is a joke. I don’t really swear by it, but I think it there is some merit to it. Now, that being said, I also realize I only have one child so maybe he’s just a relatively easy teether and sleeper. But I prefer something natural and non-invasive over giving medication and there are no side effects or risks to it… so why the heck not? I never take Matthew’s off, I leave it around his neck, even while he’s asleep. I have taken it off to wash it with Dawn dish soap and let it dry in the sun. He doesn’t pull on it and I’m not worried about him choking. If you want to know more about how it works, check out the amazing PaxBaby site. In fact, that reminds me, I need to head over there and order one for Charlotte.
Maybe You’d Like to Haves
Here are some things that I have, and I’m not 100% sure that everyone needs them… so you decide.
Boppy (or other nursing pillow)
I never use the Boppy to nurse. Okay, well, I do. But mostly when I want to eat or something. I think it doesn’t work well for me because I have small boobies. Even with baby on the Boppy, I have to lean over to get it in her mouth! I just put my knee up and prop her on that. However, we do use it for sitting baby in so she doesn’t roll of the couch and we used it for Matthew while he held his own bottle. So, it’s not terrible to have around but I don’t see it as a must have. I do know there are moms that need it to nurse, and that’s great. I just didn’t learn to rely on it because I didn’t want to have to lug it around with me when I was out.
Like I said before, I used it for a month or so to give Matthew meals, but we didn’t really use it a lot. It’s nice to give baby a different view though, so we’ll keep using it. Although, I think I want to get the tray this time.
Before Charlotte was born, I’d have said this was a must have. Matthew needed his to live. It was a freaking emergency if that thing fell out of his mouth (and then we learned about pacifier leashes!). But Charlotte wants nothing to do with it. I’ve tried 3 different kinds. Charlotte wants boob. End of story. So, don’t invest in a ton of them because you just never know.
With Matthew, the glider was in his nursery and we just didn’t really spend too much time in there. There were times when we read to him in it or just rocked him and sang during particular tough nights but it wasn’t a must have item. Charlotte has times where the rocking chair is the only thing that soothes her. It was a really wonderful gift from my mother in law, and I always felt bad that we didn’t use it more… but it’s getting used plenty with Charlotte. If you can swing it, get one. If it’s going to break the bank, you can live without it.
Must Haves for Mom (for the first couple weeks home)
Again, I am sure everyone has different opinion on these things, but I recommend having these things at home for the recovery time (which by the way is different for everyone… if it takes you 2 weeks great, if it takes 6, it’s ok … rest and recover AND BOND!)
Peri bottle is a little squirt bottle, you should be able to get one from your care provider (my hospital sends them home). You fill it with warm water and use it to rinse after you go potty. I LOVE mine. I actually have 3, I’m not sure why!
Witch Hazel pads (tucks)
These were also given to me in the hospital and I liked them (more so for Matthew’s, I think I healed quicker down there this time). Put one or two on your pad and let it heal you!!
Seriously. Best ice pack ever. And you may need a little ice down there for a couple days. (I actually pulled a tendon in my pelvic area and it still hurts! I try to ice it when I can get a minute to sit.)
Water Cup with a Straw
Nursing makes you SO thirsty! It’s really easy to get dehydrated. Keep a water cup by your side all the time, and it may as well be cute! I got mine at Wal Mart.
Well, I have to admit I’m cheap and nursing tops are not so I just use those stretchy camis that you can get at Charlotte Russe or Styles For Less. I like the kind with the bra inside for at home, but they’re not really appropriate for being out, so I like the not-bra kind for that. Some people like wearing a lose shirt over a cami and pulling one up and one down. I don’t. I can’t see my boob that way and the shirt gets in my way. I just prefer to wear stuff I can pull to the side so I usually wear a cami under a button up or v-neck shirt.
Well that’s my 2 cents. Hope it helps!!