Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Baby Must-Haves

I've been meaning to write this post forever (well, for about six months), so when my friend Katie asked for a list of favorite baby items to help her new-mom-to-be friend register, I took it as a sign that I need to make this list. 

Of course, I read about a million "must-have" lists, blog posts, etc., before Marshall came along. I researched like crazy to decide what we needed for our registry, which brands were best, what products would help us be the best parents and help our new baby feel comfortable, safe, and happy upon entry into the world. Here's what I learned:

1) Every list is different. One list will say, "YOU ABSOLUTELY MUST HAVE A BABY SWING!!!" And then the very next list says, "I bought a swing, but we never used it," or, "Our baby hated the swing!" I read a ton of lists and averaged them out.

2) Every baby is different. I have learned this lesson time and time again as I've talked to other moms over the last year or so. One baby may spit up a lot and therefore require tons of burp cloths (ahem...) while another might spit up once the entire first year of his life. These are things you cannot know until your baby is born, so you have to just guess and hope for the best, knowing you can always purchase things later or make returns as needed.

3) People give strange advice about babies, so take everything with a grain of salt. I can't tell you how many times I heard people say something to the effect of, "You know, you really don't need much for the first few weeks. Honestly, as long as you have the car seat to bring the baby home and a few onesies and diapers, you'll be fine."

Okay, I get what you're saying (I shouldn't freak out about checking off every registry item before baby arrives), BUT I don't know many moms-to-be who would feel completely comfortable bringing baby home to a house with no more than some diapers. It's a sweet sentiment, but I wanted to know from moms who knew more than I did--what products worked best? Why were they good? Would they have preferred something else? Anything they wish they hadn't purchased? 

So here's my list, what worked for our family, our baby, our situation. 

Baby Must-Haves:

- Backseat mirror--I always tell Terry I feel so reassured when I can see Marshall in the backseat, especially since we often drive just me and him and get stuck in traffic. It's good to know if he's spat up all over himself, which is often the case. 

- Burp cloths (simple, thick, white ones are my favorite). Oh man. So many. I think we have 50 (seriously). But obviously only needed if you have a spitter. Still, I'd say 10 is good for any family.

- Some sort of infant tub for baths. We used ours as an infant tub for at least five months because Marshall couldn't sit up for the longest time. We like that ours transitions to a toddler tub, because we give him his baths in our room, which is a standing shower only, and I think it uses less water (and time) to fill the little tub instead of filling a whole bathtub.

- Sleep space for baby next to mom and dad's bed, with at least two changes of sheets. I loved our co-sleeper. It was exactly like the situation at the hospital, so it was an easy transition for us from hospital to home, and Marshall was able to fit in it until five months (and he's a big boy!). Plus we still use it (even though he's pretty tight in there) for travel, and it's nice and small for packing in the car.

- Good swaddles--we loved the Miracle Blanket when Marshall got super feisty. :-)

- Obviously the necessities like infant car seat (I would opt for a lighter one if I could--we have the Britax), convertible car seat (we've barely used this one yet but it seems comfy), high chair (we love the Graco 4-in-1 because it came with all parts to go from infant to toddler to booster), stroller of choice (I love the BOB Revolution SE for everything, especially jogging, but it is bulky and heavy--I could barely lift it on my own after my C-section). 

When was he ever that little???

- Bottles - our breastfeeding class suggested Dr. Brown's and we found that Marshall almost never spits up when he drinks from those bottles (likely because the flow is slower than what he gets when he nurses).

- Socks: I feel like I can't have too many baby socks now that it's cold.

- A few little hats to keep baby's head warm (we took several from the hospital because one night in the hospital Marshall had pulled the hat over his face and spat up into it and it scared me half to death, so I was glad to have the semi-mesh ones in case he did it again at night).

- Obviously diapers, wipes (I like Water Wipes), diaper rash cream (I like Natural Butt Paste because it doesn't smell and Honest Company Diaper Rash Cream and Healing Balm), baby shampoo (we all use the Honest Company Shampoo + Body Wash), etc.

- Baby nail clippers/nail file. Cutting a baby's nails sucks. We have tried filing, clipping, and scissors, and we now stick with this nail clipper, but no method has been perfect.

- Thermometer. We've been lucky not to have to use our thermometers, but I love knowing they're there. We have one forehead version and one rectal. 

- Baby-safe laundry detergent (we use Honest Company for all our laundry, but another good brand is Molly's Suds). 

- We got sets of plain white onesies (short and long sleeve) for nighttime sleep, plus some newborn long sleeve t-shirts. Again, Marshall was a summer baby during a heat wave, so cooler weather would warrant warmer clothes.

- Clothes: Some people say not to register for clothes because people will buy what they want to buy, but since we didn't find out the gender until Marshall was born, we did put some items on the registry to show our guests what we thought were appropriate gender-neutral clothes. And surprisingly, we didn't get a ton of clothes like I thought we might! So if you don't want a lot of clothes, don't find out your baby's gender ahead of time. :-) 

***One tip: A lot of people bought us adorable newborn clothes that were super warm, like jackets or fleece sleepers. But since Marshall was a May baby, he never wore them! So something to think about is sizing for different types of clothes based on expected weather for baby's arrival. If it's a summer baby, lots of onesies and maybe only one or two warm outfits. 

- Sound machine--I would get a different one if I could go back. The Sleep Sheep only plays for 45 minutes, and it shuts off really abruptly, which woke Marshall up a couple of times. I'd get one that allows you to set how long it plays. But I did find the white noise helpful since our place is small and you can hear every sound in every room.

- Monitor. We got an audio-only as I mentioned yesterday because I'm paranoid enough and decided a video monitor would make me worse. But then now that he's in his own room I kinda wish I had the option of a video so I could see if he truly needs me or if he's just getting settled. So that's a thought.

- Crib, mattress, sheets (2 sets), mattress pad (waterproof--2 sets). I love TL Care's line--SO soft!

- Boppy pillow. I didn't think I'd need it or use it, but I love it. I use it at night when I'm especially tired, and I can rest without holding Marshall up. I also used it a ton when I first got home and it protected my C-section incision. A lot of people like the My Breast Friend, too, so I think it's a personal choice.

Terry thinks this photo is hilarious.

- Bonus: Somewhere to place the baby for five minutes to use the bathroom/take a shower/stir something hot on the stove. We had a Snugapuppy bouncer for several months, and Marshall just got an Exersaucer for Christmas, which was perfect timing because the bouncer can't contain that busy boy!

- Baby carrier. We LOVE our Ergo Performance and use it every single day. I strap Marshall into it to carry him down to the car while I also juggle a diaper bag, water bottle, and whatever else I'm lugging. I also use it for almost all errands (I love chatting with Marshall while I shop, he is safe and calm, and he can see so much more than in his infant car seat), and of course I use it around the house when he's having a rough day and needs a nap. 

- Diaper bag of choice.

- Multiple portable diaper changing pads. We have several: one in the diaper bag, one in the back seat of the car (for the many, many, many diaper changes we've made in parking lots), one in our room for middle of the night changes, and one in my little diaper bag clutch for times I don't want to lug the big diaper bag.

Another bonus: Our favorite baby toys (that I could find online) are below:
  • Taggies Blanket
  • This stacking toy (obviously he has no idea how to stack it yet, but he loves the rings and the stick!)
  • This bucket and blocks set
  • This play mat--Marshall would hang out on that mat for up to an hour, smiling at all the toys!
  • Soft rattles (he loves the sounds but often whacks himself in the head)
  • Board books (delicious and educational)

He's having fun, I swear.

Stuff I thought I HAD to have that turned out to be useless or I could have lived without:

- Changing table. Instead we use a big dresser and have the changing pad on top of that, along with all the diaper supplies. Works great and saves space.

- Changing pad covers. They got poop/pee/spit up on them so quickly and so often that they were in the laundry more than on the changing pad, so I just leave them off and wipe down the pad itself every now and then.

- Receiving blankets. I'm not sure what they were supposed to be used for, but maybe they're better for cold weather newborns. We used ours once or twice and I have eight, so they pretty much just sat there looking cute. In a drawer.

- Playpen/Play yard. We didn't buy one, and we've never felt like we needed one. We used the co-sleeper for travel, though, so if the baby's normal sleeping situation isn't travel-friendly then I think a play yard would be necessary. At this point, Marshall has just about had it with his co-sleeper even for travel, and I don't think I'll buy a play yard still because it wouldn't last that much longer in terms of his length. Now when we travel he almost always sleeps in the bed with us.

For mom/dad:

- Nursing bras/tanks. I have about eight and use them all, even after seven months. I started with just two (my parents had to go to our apartment and wash them for me because I went into labor before I had the chance!) and have found more and more that I like. I'd recommend a variety--some tanks to wear if it's warm where you are, some comfy cotton bras for nighttime or underneath casual clothes, and regular bras that double as nursing bras. Ideally, wait a few weeks or even a month or two before purchasing a bunch, because your size will likely fluctuate.

- Breast pads in case of leaking (start with just a few because some people don't leak!). 

- Pump, storage containers for milk, supplies for formula, etc. (Remember you get a free pump with insurance!)

- Something fun and lighthearted to watch on TV. I was completely emotionally unstable the first few weeks and watching my favorite TV shows helped me immensely. This was also recommended to new moms at a breastfeeding support group I went to, so I guess I'm not the only one!

Okay! I'm sure I forgot something, but that's a pretty solid list there. Anything you would add?


  1. LOL I love the "he's having fun, I swear!" photo. We have the same activity gym.

  2. Great post and suggestions!

    One thing I found to be a must have (that I still use with a 23 month old)is a Eddie Bauer shopping cart and restaurant high chair cover. We got ours at Target for around 34.00 but Amazon has them too!
    I love it because when I take Jaxon with me to the store and its cold, the cover prevents him from having to sit directly on the cold metal of the shopping cart.The one we have also has a couple of toys attached so it gives their hands/mind something to play with while shopping or eating.They are also great because if the spill, spit up or they get it dirty just throw it in the wash and dryer and you’re good to go.No special care.The only downside is they don’t normally fit in a diaper bag so it’s one more thing to carry, but it’s totally worth it.

    The one thing I found I thought we needed but wasn’t worth the money was a bottle warmer.Ours came from Target and maybe we didn’t get the right brand but it never warmed the milk/formula.It would only warm the outside of the bottle. We ended up measuring out the amount Jaxon would need then warming it up in a glass measuring cup in the microwave so it would get warm all the way through.

    Marshall is adorable!

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