New Baby Must-Have List
There's a plethora of baby gear, gadgets and supposed miracle contraptions out there marketed to expectant parents. How do you wade through it all? Well, I've got you covered. I mean, what more could you need right now than another list of what you are going to need? This is my personal I-actually-used-these-and-needed-them items. There are a gazillion lists out there, and you may or may not need/want lots of things on those lists. It's really helpful to read reviews, particularly for the more expensive items. Or better yet, borrow some of those higher ticket items, if possible!
Burp cloths - I would LOVE to provide a link for you to my favorite, adorable burp cloths, but I seriously have hated all of the ones I have purchased over the years. They are either too thin to really contain much spit up, or they are too wide and constantly slip off the shoulder, or aren't soft or absorbent. I have some lovely burp cloths that were hand made, and they are the only ones I have ever liked using. Really, the best, most absorbent way to catch your baby's spit up is with your good old fashioned prefold cloth diapers, although those still have the problem of not staying on your shoulder very easily due to their shape. If you know someone that loves crafty sewing projects, maybe ask for some with added adorable flair. Or pick some up off of Etsy, like these cute ones. Just make sure they are made from prefold cloth diapers or another super absorbent material. That's the good stuff.
Infant Probiotic drops - Babies have immature digestive systems, and tend to experience lots of discomfort digestively in the first several months. Probiotics can help alleviate some of the discomfort, as well as just being overall a necessity to populate the gut with good bacteria.
Vitamin D drops - It's sort of a widespread problem in all ages, but studies show that infants don't get enough vitamin D, so this is another supplement you want to make sure to add to your daily routine with your baby. (source)
Breast pump - Make sure to purchase before baby arrives so you can sterilize all the parts, get familiar with your unit and have it ready for when baby comes. Also, check with your insurance to see if you can get one free. I personally used a Medela Manual pump, and a Medela Swing for different babies. I honestly don't have much of a preference between the two, they both worked well. I thought that I would hate using the manual, but it was actually really handy to be able to pump anywhere without worrying about using a power source, it was really quiet and just as effective as the electric model. I recommend it to any mom that is regularly on the go, or expects to travel, yet doesn't want to lug a larger unit around everywhere. Lansinoh's model is $10 cheaper and gets 4 out of 5 stars on Amazon. If you plan to return to work before baby is weaned and would like to still provide breastmilk in your absence, I highly recommend getting a double pump AND a pumping bra so you can go hands free.
Breastmilk storage - You have pretty much two options for breastmilk storage, either bags or bottles. Bags are super handy and cheap, but wasteful since you have to toss them after a single use. Also, it's plastic, which may have harmful chemicals and fills up the waste dumps. Bottles are only slightly more expensive, and you may only need to buy a set or two depending on how much you expect to store. They can be reused over and over again, but also need to be washed and stored when not in use. If you expect to store and use breastmilk on a regular rotation, I would definitely opt for the bottles.
You could also store your breastmilk in glass, which is the best of the best material to use when storing any sort of food item. Just be sure the package says freezer safe. I would suggest 4 oz and/or 8 oz jars. Mason jars are easy to find (Target, your local grocery store or the hardware store) and inexpensive, as well as totally reusable for other purposes once you no longer need them for breastmilk. I also recommend buying the plastic lids to replace the metal canning rings that are super annoying to deal with if you aren't canning. (Be sure to note if you are buying/have regular mouth or wide mouth jars before ordering lids so you get the right size!)
Also, just one important tip for thawing out frozen breastmilk: If you are using bags, be sure to place the bag in a cup large enough to hold the breastmilk once thawed out. Sometimes the bags have leaks, and it would be devastating to discover an entire meal for your baby all over the bottom of your refrigerator.
Baby bottles - This is a category I have agonized over on so, so many occasions. There are so many factors to consider here. Sometimes babies have preferences for nipple shape, which makes finding the right one tricky. And, ideally, glass bottles. However, glass is not ideal in and of itself. It's heavy and breakable. But it is the best material if you want to avoid the potential of chemicals getting in the milk, which is why it is ideal. I have tried many, many different brands. Honestly, the ones my kids liked the best were the Medela bottles and the Tommee Tippee (NOT the anti-colic Tommee Tippee, that version was no good). I would suggest just buying one bottle (or set of two) of the one brand you prefer at a time and ensure your baby is good with the nipple shape. Once you're sure baby will take whatever bottle you've offered on the first several feedings, go ahead and buy more of what is working. And if you buy plastic, warm up cold breastmilk in glass whenever possible before you put it in the bottle, rather than warming the plastic bottle. Do not warm breastmilk in the microwave.
Baby Shampoo - My two favorites for gentleness and purity (meaning, I am not concerned about toxic ingredients) are Earth Mama Angel Baby and Dr. Bronner's Castile soap unscented baby version. These are not tear-free, which I prefer. Tear-free formulas have numbing agents, which I think is best to avoid.
Nosefrida - When a good friend described this contraption to me (pre-kids), I thought it sounded like the most disgusting thing I had ever heard of. But, it's not. It's actually a lifesaver for those little stuffy noses. I had three different brands of bulb aspirators with my first baby, and found them all to be ineffective. I frequently use the Nosefrida after treating clogged baby nasal passages with Xclear or breastmilk to help loosen the mucous before suctioning. Works like a charm. I mean, your baby is gonna scream, but at least she'll be able to breathe once it's all over!
Camilia - There's a lot of teething going on in the first two years. This stuff may not get you all the way through the night as well as, say, Motrin, but it can go a long way in helping with some of the irritability you may encounter with teething. (Check out Mommypotamus' teething relief oil for a natural topical treatment)
Tiny Tabs cold remedy - If you have older children, chances are pretty good your baby will pick up a cold in that first year. I liked using these in conjunction with the Nosefrida when #2 came down with her first cold.
Teething necklace - Okay, so these may help, and they may not. It's hard to say. I used one on #1 regularly, and we didn't have too many issues with teething. Just always remember to remove it when putting baby down to sleep.
Homeopathic children's kit - Since I prefer to reach for homeopathic remedies when a health concern arises, I was glad to come across this little kit. It definitely saved me time in running to the store for individual remedies each time something came up.
Thermometer - I have the temporal scanner, but I like the looks, ease of use, accuracy claims and reviews on the Braun Thermoscan. If it's in your budget, go for the Braun. Otherwise, a simple thermometer that is designed for rectal use is supposed to give the most accurate reading.
Dye-free ibuprofen - I prefer to avoid using over-the-counter drugs whenever possible with my whole family; however, there are times when someone really needs some relief, either from a fever in order to sleep at night, or excessive pain from teething, etc. Typically with a fever, I will let it work itself out as studies suggest fevers are actually good for the immune system (more on that here, here, here and here). I also know that not all OTC drugs are created equal and try to avoid giving Tylenol/acetaminophen whenever possible due to issues of safety (source), however I do keep a bottle on hand as a very last resort for pain that is not alleviated with ibuprofen, which has only happened once or twice during an ear infection. I prefer having Little Fevers on hand, instead of Tylenol. It's the same drug without the dyes and parabens. (I would never give my baby or child aspirin unless specifically instructed to by a doctor, due to a possible link with Reye Syndrome, see here, here and here). I prefer to keep dye-free Motrin on hand when in need of ibuprofen. Always seek your doctor's advice before administering any medication to a baby.
Colic Calm and/or Colic Calm Plus - I used both of these regularly with #2. I found them to be really helpful, especially during her evening fussy period she experienced during the first two months. Colic Calm Plus was more effective at alleviating her symptoms than the regular Colic Calm.
Pacifier - I know this item can be controversial, but here are my recommendations for types if you want to use one. I really wanted all three of my babies to use them, personally, but I was only able to get #3 to sort of use one. I suggest either the Hevea or similar natural rubber or the Philip's silicone ones. I have been advised by lactation consultants not to use the orthodontic versions (the kind with a flat side on the tip). Also, you'll need a clip to keep it from flying all over the ground. (If there is a latex allergy in the family, avoid the rubber pacifiers.)
Swing or bouncy seat or both - With my first two babies I thought for sure I wouldn't need either one of these things, but with both babies, sure enough I used them. And with my third I borrowed two swings (one for upstairs, one for downstairs) and a bouncy seat. While I have always enjoyed babywearing, sometimes it's nice to have a safe, comforting place for baby to be during waking times other than on mom. I also found the swing helpful for those early days when naps were erratic and baby needed a little extra soothing to get a decent nap. This is one baby item I definitely try to borrow. The swings can be on the pricey side, and are only good for use in the first 4-6 months. After that, babies just get too big/too heavy/too mobile for them.
Baby carrier - My two personal favorites are the Ergo and the Moby. I found I wanted and needed/loved both. Moby for newborn until baby reaches about 15 lbs, and the Ergo for after that. If I could do it over again, I would get the Ergo Omni 360. Since I already had an Ergo from my firstborn, I didn't want to buy a new one and the original has held up over three babies and 8 years. So, I haven't tried this newest version, but it looks like it is the best of all worlds. It may even be sufficient in replacing the Moby. I used the infant insert with the original Ergo, and got annoyed with it. Too cumbersome to be worth it, but the Omni 360 adjusts to accommodate a newborn position without an insert, so that's a major bonus. Avoid wearing the type of carrier that faces baby forward and/or leaves them dangling from their crotch in forward or inward facing (more on baby wearing here). The Ergo that has the forward facing option provides hip support, whereas lots of other models do not. It is very important for their physical development that they rest in a seated position (see here for visuals on proper positioning, and the risks of hip dysplasia in baby wearing). It is also wise to do a search for any recalls on carriers, as babies have died in certain types/models. Safety is of utmost priority here.
Also, opt for the drool guards, either these all around ones, or the shoulder strap covers, if you find your baby is a big drooler. My #3 didn't drool AT ALL. I was SHOCKED. But #1 was a super duper drooler, and #2 was average. It's much easier to throw pads in the wash than throw the whole carrier in the wash on a daily basis.
Car seat - Obvious no-brainer here. You gotta have 'em. If I had a baby today, I would buy from UPPAbaby. They make the only car seat on the market that does not have flame retardants in the foam or cover. Every single other manufacturer uses flame retardants in their products. Since this was not an option when I had my kids, I went with Britax and Diono for car seats. Britax doesn't use the flame retardants on the "worst" list, which is at least better than some other manufacturers. I like Britax Advocate because it is super comfy and super safe with extra side protection. I just feel like you can never overdo it on car safety, and although the extra side protection makes the seat quite wide, I don't need to fit another seat next to it, so it works for us. Diono is super strong with steel components, but also really heavy. Not awesome for transporting anywhere (such as on an airplane), but it has a really great low profile so it is easy to hop into for a toddler, and is much narrower than other brands which means you can fit three across in a car. Unheard of with every other model.
Stroller - This is a category that is very budget and lifestyle specific, so I do recommend you spend a good deal of time researching this area in particular, thinking about longterm expectations and to definitely show up in person at the store to physically test some of the stroller options out before you make your choice. I will just give you my review of why I chose the stroller I did, and what I would choose now if I were to do it all over again. This was my criteria:
- Must accommodate a growing family. I knew we wanted at least two children, and I really didn't want to buy a single stroller, and then a double stroller two years later. I wanted a stroller that could be a single or double, without it being the typical double stroller.
- Must have great sunshade range.
- Must have lots of seating arrangements and accessory options: car seat, bassinet, double seating, a rear ride-on board accessory for an older child.
- Large basket underneath.
- Tires that I would never have to fuss with or inflate ever, ever, ever.
- Smooth and easy maneuvering. One-handed piloting when necessary and comfortable handle.
- Ability to ride through grass and uneven surfaces easily.
- A brake that wouldn't scuff up my shoes.
- High quality and durable. I wanted to buy one stroller, and one stroller only. Forever.
I would say "lightweight" was also on my wishlist, but when you want to be able to accommodate two children, that just isn't possible. Notice "be able to go on runs with the stroller" is not on my list. I am not a jogger or a runner. Be realistic about what activities you perform the most that you will be doing with your offspring and look for something that most closely accommodates those activities.
I ended up getting the Baby Jogger City Select, which was really the first stroller model of its kind at the time when I had my first baby. In fact I had to wait four months just to get one when I ordered it, as they were brand new and filling a huge demand. Other stroller manufacturers have followed suit and offered similar concept products, and I think that is great. It can be a single or double, there are multiple seat configurations, you can add a bassinet or car seat as well as a ride-on board for bigger kids. The basket underneath is amazingly huge and unzips from both sides for easy access or to store long items. The brake is on the handle, which I also love, and the sunshade is more than adequate.
Currently, I would either get the Baby Jogger City Select LUX or the UPPAbaby Vista. They both have an amazing array of options and accessories, and you may never have to buy another stroller, ever, ever. I have loved my City Select, and expect to be able to use it until we exit the stroller stage.
The cons to this model are the weight (30 lbs), can't be folded and stored one-handed, sits awkwardly when folded and takes up a lot of space when folded.
The LUX edition has solved some of the space issues by reconfiguring the model to fold more compactly, which is nice. I love that they added a hand operated deceleration feature. I live in a hilly area and would love to be able to control the speed of my stroller down the steeper hills we go out on. I also dig the bench seat accessory. I think I would prefer that over the ride-on board.
If your preferred features mirror mine at all, give these models a test run at the store, or check out some of the other brands that offer the flexibility of tandem seating arrangements and multiple seating positions. More and more manufacturers are offering the flexibility that this stroller style provides.
Also, check out my recommendations for the new mom in this post, to get the low down on what I absolutely wanted and used in the first three months of new mommy life.
Already had your baby? Share below what you couldn't live without in that first year with your little one!