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What to Buy When You’re Expecting! Must Haves for Baby.
(I realize this is my blog for new nurses, however I’ve had quite a few requests for a post related to things we bought and used during my recent pregnancy and postpartum period of time. This is post is both for them and myself to reference later on when we hopefully have another child. I think people assume you’ll remember all of this stuff, but it’s really really easy to forget in that sleepless haze that embodies being a new parent. I wrote this post in October 2016.)
When my husband and I found out we were expecting our first child in early 2015, I was pretty overwhelmed. I’m a planner. I’m an organizer. I like to be ahead of the game. But this was something I didn’t even know how to begin getting ready for.
None of my siblings or my husbands had recently had kids. Our moms hadn’t had kids in almost 30 years so most of the products and things they used and loved were no longer available. I searched the internet but was overwhelmed by varying opinions and running into a lot of posts that were too general or written by companies and not parents.
I felt pretty prepared by the time Hannah Joy was born in January 2016 and have learned a lot since. I’d like to provide a list of things I used at various points in the prenatal, labor and delivery, and postpartum phases. Everything on this list was either used by myself or a close friend or family member that recently had a child.
To make sure we’re on the same page, I want to make sure you know that I am not providing this information from the perspective of an expert. I have had one child and she is still an infant. I am a registered nurse, however, I am not a registered nurse who routinely works with expecting mothers or newborns.
Some important things I learned
Having a baby was one the most challenging, yet rewarding things I’ve ever done. Nursing school is probably the only thing that could compare in the least. I was nauseated for 4 months. It challenged me emotionally, physically and spiritually.
There are a lot of things that can go wrong, but many people every single day have completely normal and complication-free pregnancies. I think it’s important to walk that line between praying for a healthy pregnancy, delivery and newborn and expecting that. Some people do experience complications, however most complications are something that physicians, midwives, and their support staff are highly experienced at dealing with.
One of my friends (Ashley Withers) said something really wise that I appreciated both as a mom and a nurse. She said, “Birth plans shouldn’t be called that. They should be called birth goals.” I think that’s an important distinction to have very clear in your mind as you begin your OMG IM GOING TO BE A PARENT journey.
What this is not
This is not a survival list of pregnancy and being a new parent.
This is not a list of “oh my gosh go buy this right now or you won’t be able to continue another moment!” items.
This is not a list of needs.
Honestly, you need very little. As long as the baby has somewhere safe to sleep, food to eat, clothes to keep warm, and clean diapers, you’re good. The rest is just icing on the cake. The chocolate cake. The chocolate cake I couldn’t have while pregnant because it instantly gave me heartburn.
Ugh now I want cake.
The items I recommend just make things a whole heck of a lot easier. And I am ALL about easier, people.
I don’t like a lot of excess and I don’t like to shop around a ton for the absolute highest quality for the best deal. I just don’t have time to do that. If I find a quality item for a decent price, I’m happy. I’m also really happy if one item can be multi-functional. I prefer natural cleaning and personal care products and want to avoid meds and chemicals if at all possible. I’ve decided to pick my battles. Hannah is breastfed and I’m making her solid foods, but I’m not using cloth diapers. I tried, but just have had too much other life stuff go on to learn how to do yet another thing. Some things are not as natural or perfect, but I’m okay with that.
- The Snoggle Pregnancy Pillow $60 – sleeping starts to get uncomfortable so this really helps support your back, hips, and belly.
- Nursing Bras ($25). Your rib cage expands and breasts enlarge during the prenatal period. I went ahead and purchased nursing bras in the larger size so that I could use them after she was born as well. I bought four of these Motherhood Maternity Seamless nursing bras. Another friend of mine that recently had a baby highly recommended these as well. I will continue wearing them until I am done nursing.
- A good water bottle that you can carry with you easily. This is my favorite one that only costs $10. I actually left it on a plane once and just went and bought a replacement because I liked it so much. Hydration is essential!
- I bought a decent amount of maternity clothes from Motherhood Maternity and Old Navy. Maternity clothes could be a post on its own! I did get a few cami’s and then used a lot of cardigans over them so I wasn’t buying a ton of maternity stuff because it gets expensive.
- I used the Honest Company’s Prenatal Vitamin ($19.95) and DHA supplements ($19.95). I bundled them together to save a little money.
- The Honest prenatal tablets are pretty big and I had a hard time swallowing them after a while (they’re just larger tabs that most people can swallow but I just had trouble) so I started using prenatal gummies ($6). They aren’t near as natural and have added sugar (ugh) but I was having a tough time swallowing and ended up making that decision to go with the gummies.
- Compression socks! I already had a good stock because I wear them to work as a nurse, but my faves are only $10 a pair. Cherokee Compression Socks, they stay up all day and aren’t too tight or too loose for my liking. (Trust me – I’ve tried a ton of compression socks out!)
I was very nauseated for the first 4 months. It took a while for me to get it under control to get to a point where I could go to work and not want to vomit. I made a little nausea prevention pack that was small enough to keep in my work bag or purse and I always kept it near me. I just used a smaller zip-up make up bag that I already had.
My nausea pack contained:
- 1 granola bar
- 1 pack of saltines
- A few Preggie Pop Drops $5
- Peppermint essential oil (I use the Doterra brand)
- Lemon essential oil
- An airplane puke bag that I snagged from a flight
- Peppermint gum
- 2-3 doses of 4 mg Zofran ODT (a prescription anti-nausea medication that I only used a handful of time, when the nausea was so severe I could not control it otherwise)
Essential oils – I know I’ve mentioned these a few times so here is where I purchase mine. I use the doTERRA brand of essential oils.
I personally enjoy this brand the most, however there are many out there with various price-points. Get whatever works for you! I honestly went with this brand because a few close friends whom I love and trust use this brand. I haven’t tried out all the different kinds and decided to go doTERRA, it’s just as simple as my smart, wonderful and trustworthy buds use it.
I am somewhat of a novice/one-trick pony when it comes to these oils. I am no expert, but I really enjoy them and really appreciated how they curbed my nausea when I was miserable. I like to diffuse certain ones when I’m working (wild orange, lemon, peppermint), when I’m not feeling so hot (breathe, on-guard), or when I need to relax (lavender). I also started using the deep blue kind with some fractionated coconut oil on my neck or my husband’s back when we’re sore. Please know, these aren’t going to cure anything but they’re wonderful to help with symptom management and general discomfort.
Nausea and vomiting tips
Your carbohydrate metabolism changes during pregnancy. This is why carbohydrates can really relieve nausea. Typically, nausea decreases significantly once the placenta is developed after the first trimester, although it can persist the entire pregnancy.
- Have crackers or some other quick snack on your night stand and eat before you get out of bed (or any time you wake during the night). I found that if I started my day off with nausea controlled before even getting out of bed, I did better the entire day.
- Eat small amounts frequently
- Start with carbs and once that decreases the nausea enough to allow you to eat, then consume protein (which will keep the nausea at bay much longer than the carbs)
- Drink water in between meals, not during
- Peppermint and lemon essential oils were really helpful to me. If I felt a wave of nausea coming, especially in a public place, I would sniff one of them and it could keep the nausea at bay long enough to get a snack down and relieve it for even longer. It definitely didn’t cure the nausea but really helped decrease it.
- When I felt a wave hit me: I’d sniff some oil, then once I could eat something I’d eat my granola bar in my nausea pack
- Note: ginger ale only works for nausea if it is warm and flat. I recommend ginger essential oils or Altoids before ginger ale – it is much more effective and much much less sugar than traditional ginger ale.
- If you are taking Zofran: it typically causes constipation. Pregnancy causes constipation normally and add on Zofran and you are in for some trouble! There are a lot of great gentle, over the counter options for constipation. Every time I took 4 mg Zofran, I’d take 100 mg oral Colace (a cheap over the counter stool softener).
- Do not use peppermint if you have heartburn – it will make it worse
- Eat smaller meals more frequently
- I cut out chocolate, caffeine and coffee (one 8oz cup of coffee per day is safe) completely and it made a huge difference
- Do not lie down after meals
- Sleeping sitting up may help
- Drink water in between meals, not during
- I took some over the counter medications under the direction of my physician that helped a lot
Labor, delivery, and the postpartum period in the hospital
Alright people, this is going to get really, really personal. Sorry not sorry.
Doula – we decided to have a family friend who is a doula present at the birth with my husband and I. It was definitely worth the investment, in my opinion. My husband and I could focus on what I needed to and just did what she suggested, and she could worry about the big picture and talking with the doctors/nurses while I’m screaming my way through contractions. I had an induction without an epidural (I do NOT recommend doing an induction without an epidural). I progressed so quickly that we just couldn’t get one in, but because of her, my mind was at ease and she could advocate for both myself and my husband when we were focused elsewhere. She was very reassuring and comforting, which was amazing.
Here are the things I brought in my hospital bag:
- A lightweight robe to walk around during labor and after she was born. Hospital gowns don’t close totally in the back so it’s really nice to have a short, light-weight robe to throw on. I bought this Jockey robe for $33 and still wear it now.
- Cheap slippers. As a nurse that has seen what has hit that hospital floor, I didn’t want to wear the same shoes I wore in the hospital in my bedroom at home. I honestly don’t remember where I got them. Just get some that are cheap and functional.
- A birthing ball – $18. Many hospitals have some.. they really help align the pelvis and you can work through contractions while sitting on them. It’s nice to get up and have a different position to labor in other than in the bed. My OB doc highly recommended it and was really happy that we brought one. This link I provided has different sizes and we went with the 75 cm size (I’m about 6ft tall). Please note that if you have an epidural, you cannot use a birthing ball out of bed typically.
- I used some lavender essential oil and this Aromatherapy diffuser for $18. It definitely wasn’t a must-have but it was really nice and helpful during the labor. I was already nervous and it helped keep me calm.
- I brought my own toiletries because I know the hospital ones aren’t the nicest. I brought some make-up removing wipes, shampoo, conditioner, lotion, and toothpaste.
- Phone charger. Duh.
- I brought a few snacks to have on hand for times when we were exhausted and needed something to eat but didn’t feel like leaving the room to grab something (granola bars, nuts, fruit).
- Diapers. No, not baby diapers. Mom diapers. Seriously. You basically have gone 9 months without a period. After you deliver your baby, you will bleed. A lot. It it normal to bleed for up to 6 weeks and it can be heavy bleeding. Most hospitals will provide pads. However, they’re short and thick and (in my opinion) uncomfortable to sit on after giving birth. I took someone’s advice and bought some Always Discreet diapers. They were so amazing in the hospital. Those pads are not only uncomfortable to sit on, they move around easily. You can bleed through or around them without even noticing. That can feel super embarrassing getting up to use the restroom in front of visitors and seeing a pool of blood on your hospital bed in front of everyone. The diapers prevent that from occurring and you don’t screw up any underwear. I felt safe and secure. I will buy some for all subsequent births! I actually had a friend go grab more for me because I wasn’t sure if I would like them and I totally loved them.
- Perineal ice packs. If you deliver vaginally, you are quite sore down there. The absolute best thing is an ice pack. You just do not know how amazing that feels after the birth. It brings down inflammation and significantly reduced pain. Afterwards, between my ice packs and 800 mg Motrin every 6 hours, that was all I needed for pain relief. Now in the hospital, they can make ice packs for you. But I didn’t want to have to put on my call light every time I wanted an ice pack. And being a nurse, I didn’t want to have to bother the staff for that request as frequently as I wanted one (every few hours). So I bought one-time use perineal packs on Amazon and they were AMAZING. They were $40 for 24. Worth every single cent, if you ask me. I used them frequently and I hope that sped up my healing time (but I have nothing to compare it to so I won’t make that claim). I would grab one, activate it to make it cold, put it in the diaper (it fit perfectly) and then would toss it once the cold wore off. The perineal ones are made to absorb blood so they made the diapers last twice as long. The combo was outstanding. It was almost as good as chicken and waffles… fries and a Frosty! Steak and potatoes! And now this lactating mother is hungry.. ugh dangit.
- Comfortable clothes to wear around. I ended up being most comfortable in my sweats or yoga pants, my diaper/cold pack combo, a nursing bra, hospital gown, and robe. After delivery, you won’t fit into your pregnancy clothes but you won’t fit into your pre-pregnancy clothes either. You’ll walk out of the hospital about the size you were when you were 6 months pregnant (roughly).
- My memory foam pillow (I know some friends that brought their Snoogle). I wanted something that felt like home so I opted for my favorite pillow.
- My Brest Friend nursing pillow $40. I had both the Boppy and the Brest Friend pillows and I liked the Brest Friend one better. It was more sturdy and offered more support. The lactation consultant showed my how to use it with Hannah and it really helped with positioning. (More on breastfeeding later.)
- An outfit to to take the baby home in (I’ll discuss clothes more later).
- A car seat and base that you know how to use (more later).
Random advice about the hospitala picture of Hannah that my dad took when she was 1 week old
- A word about hospital photography… the fancy newborn pics are expensive. We paid $150 for the flash drive of pictures the photographer took. We won’t do that again. While they were nice, they weren’t $150-nice. My parents drove in a few days later and my dad took pictures that looked just as good. However if you want to get the hospital photography, go for it. It was really nice to have high quality pics to email out to everyone immediately.
- Don’t worry about bringing diapers or wipes. The hospital will have some for you to take home. They typically will let you take whatever is left in the room upon discharge. If you’re really worried about it, just bring 1-2 and a few wipes in a ziplock.
- Don’t worry about bringing a bunch of outfits. They’ll have stuff for the baby to be in until discharge.
- Don’t forget about nursing pads! I didn’t realize I would need this. I had disposable ones at the hospital that worked fine. (I’ll talk about this more later.)
- Take home the peri spray bottles! You will not be able to wipe normally afterwards. They will want you to put warm water in a peri spray bottle and gently spray water on your lady area. If you live in a home with multiple floors and bathrooms, grab one for each floor.
- Stool softeners are not just a good idea, they are necessary. It’s a really good idea to be proactive about this. It will hurt the first time you have a bowel movement after giving birth. Your physician may already have this medication ordered. Mine did not – I had to ask for it and I am REALLY glad I did. I took 100 mg oral Colace twice a day until normal bowel habits resumed. It worked beautifully and every single friend of mine that has given birth emphatically agreed with me. (If you have bowel issues, please consult your physician about this before starting.)
- Bring your own nipple cream if you plan on breastfeeding. I’ll talk more about this later.
- I did not bring my breast pump. I used the hospital pump and supplies and worked with the lactation consultants. You could bring yours if you wanted to and look at it with the lactation consultant. I did have a freak out moment that first night home because the time came for me to use my pump at home and it looked completely different from the one at the hospital so I wasn’t sure about what to do.
Breastfeeding in another thing that was incredibly challenging but I am really glad I stuck with it. John and I took a breastfeeding class together while I was pregnant and I am really glad that we did. If you don’t have time for an in-person class, I recommend getting a book. There is a lot to know about this topic and a lot of it doesn’t just come naturally, like I just assumed it would. There are quite a few things to know ahead of time that will prevent a lot of frustration and stress.
The lactation consultant that taught the class was incredible. They not only explained the how-to’s but they went over all of the whys as well. During those really tough moments when I was thinking about giving up, I remembered the things that they lactation consultant told us about why breastfeeding is so important. The instructor told me that if the baby latches correctly then you shouldn’t have to worry about cracked or bleeding nipples. So when she said that, I interpreted that as “there is a right way to do it and if you experience pain or bleeding, then you’re doing it wrong”. That’s not the case.
At discharge, my physician said something that really stuck with me and comforted me when things were tough. He said,
“You don’t know what you’re doing. Your baby doesn’t know what she’s doing. And you guys can’t talk to each other! It’s not realistic to expect to get it right on the first few times, but you will get there.”
That really put things into perspective for me. I think I had this unrealistic expectation that it should work immediately and that we would be good at it from the start. I felt a lot better after he told me that because I was feeling like such a failure when she wouldn’t latch or I wasn’t producing.
Until you get used to it, it’ll be painful. And the fairer your skin, typically the more painful it is. Breastfeeding was really painful the first month for me. The lactation consultant told me that if the baby had a good latch, I shouldn’t have pain and therefore shouldn’t need nipple cream or anything for my breasts. Therefore, when I felt like I did need those products, I felt like a failure because clearly I was doing something wrong. I don’t think she meant it to come across that way, but that’s how I heard it. Looking back, I should have just gotten what I needed when I needed it, instead of trying to tough it out.
I used some products that I discuss below that helped ease the pain but nothing took it all away. I had a few crying in the shower experiences when I just wanted a few pain-free moments. Between the nips and the downstairs situation, I was pretty miserable. John was incredibly helpful and understanding, as was my mom. They really helped me through those first few challenging weeks.
Breastfeeding items I used and recommend:
- Honest Company nipple cream. I know a lot of people like Lanolin, but I’m allergic to wool so I was instructed not to use that.
- Medela Pump in Style breast pump with a set of back up accessories (phalanges, hoses). If you’re borrowing a friend’s pump (as many people do), make sure you buy your own set of accessories. They are very affordable. Please note, the phalanges come in sizes (which I did not realize before buying). Thankfully I incidentally purchased the correct size, but keep that in mind or check a size chart before ordering.
- Matching Medela breast pump storage kit. This comes with back up bottles that connect directly to the pump that you can just screw a top on when you’re done and don’t need to pour the milk into another container.
- Breast milk storage bags. Breast milk is only good in the fridge for 3-8 days (per the Medela guidelines), but it’s good for up to 1 year frozen. Therefore, I had to freeze a lot of milk (in particular, the milk that I pumped while at work). Breast milk storage bags are another essential.
- Hands-free breast pump bra. This is not optional if you are breastfeeding. You MUST use this. I didn’t know I would need this and ran out to get it. If you do not use one of these, you must hold the phalanges up to your breasts for 15 minutes straight every time you pump. Ain’t nobody got time for that. They look utterly (HA!) ridiculous, but it is seriously a must.
- The LactMed App. If you’re someone who takes a lot of medications, it’s really helpful to be able to quickly look up what’s safe and what’s not from a reliable source.
Nursing bras and pads
Not everyone uses nursing bras but I really love them.
I purchased 2 kinds of nursing bras. I have one kind for wearing everywhere (those ones I mentioned earlier) and another kind of sleeping or laying around the house. I know some people just used sports bras with nursing pads, but sports bras are not very comfortable to me. I am much more comfortable in a nursing bra, and it is much easier to feed when I’m wearing one. I also found that I needed the support of a bra even while sleeping. I need to keep my nursing pads in place and support, so I bought these bras per a friend’s recommendation and was really glad I did.
These are the every day nursing brasI wear. They were $24/each and I got a free one when I bought 3. I’m VERY glad I have 4.
There are 2 kinds of nursing bras.. the clip up and the pull aside kind. I like the clip up for every day, and the pull aside for at home stuff. The pull aside kind have thicker straps, so wearing them with tank tops doesn’t look so awesome.. but I think they are more comfortable so whenever I’m home I’ll wear those.
These are the pull asidenursing brasthat I love… This is just the ones I just happened to get, they’re not like the best brand ever or anything, but they work. I have 3 of these kind and wear them at home a lot.
There are also 2 kinds of nursing pads… disposable and reusable. I thought I would like disposable more, but I definitely preferred reusable. They are softer and if they have one side that’s solid, they typically don’t leak. If you sweat a bunch, the disposable can be irritating to your skin. I bought two packs of reusable ones and had a box of disposable ones as a back up. Sometimes I just didn’t get to the laundry in time and it was great to have a back up to grab when running out the door!
These are the disposable nursing padsthat I used. They are about $10/box and a box has about 60 pads.
These are the reusable nursing padsthat I used. They are about $16 for 10 pads. I suggest buying two packs of these, with one box of disposables as a back up and you should be good to go.
This section is going to be a little thinner because I don’t have a ton of information to add for it. Hannah is having some formula now, as she eats more and more solids. My experience with formula is a bit limited.
A friend highly recommended this Dr. Brown’s Formula Mixing Pitcher, which evenly mixes the formula.
I won’t go into actual formula recommendations because I do not know enough about that to speak to it appropriately. I highly recommend discussing formula brands with your pediatrician and following their recommendations.
If your baby has issue with reflux, the Dr. Browns Bottle slow-flow bottles are great. I wouldn’t use them if your baby doesn’t struggle with it though, simply because it takes them longer to feed and there are just more parts to clean, which is annoying. If you don’t need to do it, don’t waste your time and money with it.
You really want a baby bottle brush to make sure you in there to clean them appropriately. It’s only about $5 and definitely worth the cost.
I love this bottle drying rack. It’s nice, sturdy, and only $14. Oh, and my wine glasses fit real nicely in there sooo…
We use the Avent bottle system now and love it. The bottles are easy to clean, the nips don’t leak, and the bottles are easy to grip. We’ve got a handful of 5 oz and 9 oz bottles. At the beginning, they eat less and you really only need those smaller bottles. As they grow, they’ll eat more at a time so then you’ll need the larger options.
Keep in mind, you’ll need different nipple sizes as they grow. Sizes 1-2 are usually for less than 6 months old, 3-4 are for over 6 months – generally speaking.
The Actual Baby (Oh yeah…??)
After talking about all of the things you’ll need for yourself, you’ll want/need a few things for that little one. This list is utterly exhaustive. I tried to think of everything I used at each stage that were important or helpful.
Newborn diapers – I like Costco diapers best. I tried the Honest Company ones and they were somewhat stiff and I like the cheaper ones better. Hannah went through a phase where she would blow out every diaper with the poops. After a recommendation from a friend, we temporarily switched to Luvs and that seemed to hold in poop explosions much better. We are now back to my favorite Costco diapers.
Diaper cream – something that I recommend is putting the cream on regularly before you notice a rash. The kind I use is organic and made by a fellow nurse in central Illinois! It’s called Baby Bottom Butter by Wright Family Products and I love it. It lasts so long! You really will probably only need one container. Hannah had very mild diaper rash once and I think it was because we were proactive with application.
Lotion – I use the Honest Company for all shampoo, conditioner and lotion. I use lavender for myself and then the unscented for Hannah. It’s wonderful, natural and cost-effective.
Baby DHA – I also use the Honest Company for daily DHA. My pediatrician recommended this shortly after Hannah was born and just added it to my monthly bundle with the Honest Company.
Bubble bath – Again, I use the Honest Company. However, infant skin is very sensitive so wait on using this until they’re older. I was using it regularly and Hannah’s skin got super irritated and I realized it was because I kept using the bubble bath.
Baby wipes – It is way cheaper to purchase baby wipes on Amazon. I pay about $13 for 550 wipes for Huggies Natural. Two boxes of these make a GREAT baby shower gift because the new parents will be good with wipes for quite a while with this supply. (Shout out to Kristen Thomas, RN for getting that for us!)
Wipe warmer – this is not at all necessary but it is really nice. We got one as a gift and I think it’s wonderful to have the wipes warm. I use wipes on my patients at work all the time and we keep the wipes in a warmer there as well. It’s just much more comfortable on the baby’s skin to have the wipes not cold.
Baby carrier – love these… it makes walking around and doing things 10,982,301,928,309 easier. I was using a friends Baby Bjorn for a while and casually posted a pic of John using it. A few people mentioned that it wasn’t good for their hips. Never hearing that before, I checked with my family members that are physical therapists and sure enough, they were correct. We ended up buying a 4 in 1 Baby Carrier from the Honest Company one and adding it to a bundle, so we got it for $100 instead of $140. I like it. I also have a K’Tan one as well. I honestly didn’t have the patience to figure that thing out, but know people that love it and it worked wonderfully for them.
Want to Connect With Other Nurses?
Our non-Facebook community is just what you need.
Baby clothes – it’s important to have an outfit or two to go out to appointments in, but you’ll use those sleep n’ play outfits the most. They are either snap-ups or zip-ups. Everyone seems to have a preference, and after using both for a while, I decided I like the zip-up ones much better. I would get some normal onesies without the pants, but sleep n’ play ones are freaking awesome.
Diaper genie Some people think they’re pointless and some rave about them. We live in a 2-story home with Hannah’s nursery on the 2nd floor, so taking every dirty diaper down to the trash bin wasn’t happening. I actually really like it. We got ours as a gift and then buy all of our refills at Costco or on Amazon (about the same price).
Newborn hats for the first few weeks at home. Just a few, nothing crazy. Might as well get a few pairs of socks too.
Newborn socks – many outfits will have footies on them so socks aren’t desperately needed, but it’s nice to have a few pairs on hand for the occasional outfit.
Thermometer – this would be good to invest in now because you’ll need one inevitably. If you’re not too keen on rectal temps (I just do those on Hannah if they’re needed), they have quite a few options for forehead thermometers.
Diaper bags – get one that your spouse will also carry around. My only requirement for this thing was that it had a shoulder strap and it was gender neutral. However, I stopped using it when she was about 4 months old. I just use a bigger purse of mine and toss a diaper and some wipes in a dispenser, cream, small changing pad, and a back up outfit in there and it doesn’t take up much room and is easier than carrying an additional bag.
- To-go diaper cream – I use this Honest Company diaper cream in my to-go bag because it’s small and travels well. It’s also cheaper so if I lose it, I’m not heartbroken.
- To-go wipe dispenser – I use a reusable one from the Honest Company, which I can no longer find on the website. Not sure if it’s out of stock or just not being made anymore, but I like it. It’s slim and reusable. You can use a ziplock or something, but it’s nice to have something you don’t have to continually switch out and create more waste.
Toys – I was talking about toys with a friend and we both said we underestimated the need for toys for babies. A close friend of mine sent us a bunch of toys that her kiddo like and Hannah just loves them. Things with lights, that crinkle, make nosies, that you can chew on are awesome. Just make sure that if it does play music, that you can take listening to it about 943,094,290,890 times. I highly recommend these:
- Baby Einstein music player
- Playgro First Bead Buddy Giraffe
- Mega Bloks Building blocks
- Manhattan Toy Sensory Teether Activity
- Infantino Play Lovable Linking Jittery
- Sassy Fascination Station
- Baby Einstein Rhythm Activity Saucer
Books – it’s good to start a collection and get reading early on. We read the same two every night as part of our bedtime routine and I think it helps get Hannah in the mindset of going to bed. Those baby books with the thick cardboard pages are the best. It’s a cute idea for a baby shower, if you ask everyone to bring a book instead of a card and write something on the inside cover.
Pacifier – WubbaNub pacifiers all day every day, people. These are by far my favorite. They’re expensive, about $14/each, but so worth it. The little kiddos can hang on to them a little better and they fall out of the car seat much less. This makes a really great gift, since that’s a lot to shell out for one pacifier. I’d put 2 on registry and then get a few back ups that are regular pacifiers and not as awesome. I know some people don’t recommend them, but there are positives and negatives to both sides. Here’s a pretty good article that explains the two sides of pacifiers. At the end of the day, we decided to use one. After a little while, Hannah wasn’t too interested in hers so we didn’t have to wean her off of them at all. But I know some kids that are inconsolable without theirs, so it’s important to make sure they can self-soothe when they are upset without a pacifier. You want to have a plan to be able to transition away from it. The younger you do it, the better.
Play mat – this is something we didn’t buy and I didn’t think we would need. A friend gave us one and I’m so glad they did. Hannah absolutely loves this thing. She just loves to lay there and look up at everything. I really recommend buying one. We got the Fisher Price Rainforest Melodies used from a friend and it’s been great. It’s $50 and worth every single cent.
Swing – We were generously given a swing. It was not something I thought we’d need, so I didn’t register for it… but I was SO thankful we were given it. I personally like the stand up ones that don’t sit right on the floor better, simply because strapping them in and getting them out of one sitting low to the ground is a bit more of a hassle. The one we used was a hand-me down and is no longer available. I’ve heard great things about these two… one is much more expensive than the other and I cannot speak to whether or not the extra money is worth it. I do know that having a swing was wonderful and we will definitely be getting
High chair – We have a used one from a friend that works great. It’s an easy to clean, standalone chair. I also have a portable high chair to take on vacations or to other peoples homes. I like the standalone one at home because we have the room at our dining room table to put another chair there. If you’re tight on space, the portable one will do just fine. Keep in mind, you won’t need this until they start eating solids so you can definitely wait on this one until you really need it.
Changing pad – We just bought one of these and have it sitting on top of a dresser, rather than buying another piece of furniture. We just got an affordable one on Amazon and are pretty happy with it.
Changing pad cover with 2 back ups. You need a cover for the changing pad and I recommend having a back up cover so if you get the poops on it, you can just toss a new one on without having to immediately do laundry.
Crib – we bought a crib that converts to a toddler bed and then to a twin bed eventually. I honestly can’t remember the brand, but the Honest Company has a pretty legit looking one as well. You can spend a ton or very little on these. We decided to spend a little more and have one that converts rather than buying more furniture later. So far we’ve been pretty happy with it.
Mattress – this is the mattress we purchased. I honestly can’t remember why I picked this one specifically, but it’s been good. No complaints with it at all.
Mattress cover – I bought a mattress cover just in case some poops escaped the diaper. I’m glad I did because we’ve had that happen a few times. We were given one as a gift and I don’t remember the brand, but I’d recommend having one.
Crib sheets – these are pretty standard… get whatever brand you like, but make sure you get a few extra so you can toss a new one on if one gets dirty to avoid doing laundry right away.
Crib liner – so we bought a crib liner and I’m really glad we did. Some people think these are unnecessary, but I truly think it’s helped my peace of mind more than anything. I got so worried she’d get her tiny hands/feet caught and hurt herself and ended up buying this last minute. Hannah’s been sleeping in her crib since 3 weeks so she was pretty young. It was really annoying to put on, but I’m glad we have it.
Bassinet – the first few weeks, you’ll want your kiddo close to you at night most likely. This is especially helpful if you’re breastfeeding. It’s not practical to move a full crib into your room and back to the nursery, so most parents will utilize a portable sleep space, like a bassinet, sleeper, pack n’ play, etc. A word of caution, the best thing for your baby to prevent SIDS is for him/her to sleep on a flat surface, so things like the Rock ‘N Play sleeper would not fall into that category. While they’re awesome and we loved it for Hannah, for our next baby I’ll use the infant attachment that came with our pack ‘n play now that I’ve read some articles and research on the popular Rock ‘N Play.
Pack ‘N Play – this is basically a portable crib. They’re great and horrific at the same time. If you are someone who is easily frustrated, do not try to assemble this thing by yourself. You will send yourself into a hypertensive crisis. Learning to use this thing made me SO MAD. SO MAD GUYS. ((Deep cleansing breath…)) But, it is worth it. I promise. These are so convenient. Especially when we go to a friends house in the evening, we’ll just bring the Pack ‘N Play and put Hannah down at a friend’s house. We have this one and (after I figured out how to use it) I really love it. It’s also great if a friend with a kid that needs to nap comes over and we can just assemble it quickly and we’ve got an additional safe sleep space for another baby.
Newborn Pillow – this is another one of those things I didn’t think we’d need. I never put it on a registry, but a very smart and wonderful friend (thank you Leneè) bought us this. It was nice to have somewhere safe and comfy to set Hannah down. I know it sounds simple, but when they can’t hold their head up… sitting them up in something or in that sleeper thing just wasn’t always an option because you can’t move it quickly. So this small, light pillow was glorious. I can safely carry it and the baby from one room to the next, set her down and she’s safe and comfortable. I highly recommend this; it’s worth every cent.
Bumbo – this is a great place for the baby to sit once he/she can hold their head up. We have friends that loved their Bumbo and used it all the time, so we made sure to put it on the registry. Alas, Hannah didn’t like this as much as we thought she would. She cried a lot when we put her in it. And then when she wasn’t crying, she’d lean over and practically knock herself out of it. So, I know parents that love these and parents like myself whose kids weren’t that into it.
Infant tub – this is definitely not a need, but it makes things easier. We are actually still using ours and Hannah is 9 months. It’s got an infant sling and then as the baby grows, you just use the other sides. I just set this bad boy in the regular tub and bathe her that way. I don’t have to worry about her falling over or anything. It’s a lot easier to bathe them with two hands. You can always just use your kitchen sink, but I’m usually cooking dinner when we’re trying to do bedtime as well.
Baby monitor. I like this one, but it’s not amazing. The app is very fickle and frustrating sometimes. I honestly will probably purchase a different kind for baby #2. It was a headache to set up and the app frustrates me. I would recommend a video monitor that you can see on your phone. It’s a great to be able to see her on the camera to just check on her real quick without actually walking into the room. A video baby monitor is definitely a worthwhile investment.
If you are a parent and have experience with a good baby monitor you’d recommend, please comment on this post!
Owlet – this is sort of a new thing. It’s essentially a SIDS (sudden infant death syndrome) monitor. It is a little monitor that goes on their foot and constantly monitors their heart rate and oxygen saturation. This can be a wonderful thing and an awful thing. Some people hate it because they get false alarms and it increases their anxiety rather than offers comfort and reassurance. I wasn’t going to buy one originally because I didn’t want to pay the $250. However, my mom told me that she had a friend who had a baby right when my mom had me and she died at 3 months from SIDS and offered to buy it for us and I quickly agreed. The theory/thought is that the respiratory drive is immature during that first year of life and some kids for whatever reason will be asleep and they stop breathing and just don’t start up again. Theoretically, with something monitoring the oxygen saturation constantly, you may be able to prevent a SIDS death, as it would detect a low level and the parents could intervene immediately with rescue breathing or CPR if needed. I know it helped me sleep better personally and gave me peace of mind. We still use ours nightly on Hannah. Plus, being a nurse… I really like being able to pull up the app and see her heart rate and oxygen saturation. (owletcare.com) Parents of babies that had an extended NICU stay or complications whose child is at a higher risk of SIDS may find a monitor like this extremely comforting, especially feeling overwhelmed with additional care responsibilities (like at home oxygen). I’m really glad we have it. We did have one night were it said her oxygen level was below 80% and we ran in and she woke up and no intervention was needed. I don’t know if it was a false alarm of if her oxygen was truly that low. But after having it for 9 months, I’ll take one false alarm over the peace of mind it’s given me (if it truly was a false alarm!).
Levana Oma Snuza is a cheaper option than the Owlet, if you’re interested. I personally have not used it, but someone on Twitter mentioned this as another option!
Sound machine – we bought this one for $20 and it’s great. We didn’t think we’d need one, but it’s nice to have something to drown out the normal house sounds during daily naps. I also use this when we put Hannah down for a nap or the night at someone else’s home just to have a familiar sound and (hopefully) enable better sleep.
Sleep sack – “What the heck is a sleep sack!?” I know I know.. it sounds weird and unnecessary. Basically, you can’t/shouldn’t wrap your kiddo in a bunch of blankets because they could get wrapped up in them and asphyxiate themselves accidentally. So the solution is to put them in a sleep sack! You do this after they are done needing to be swaddled / after the Moro reflex disappears. I have 2 sleep sacks that I alternate and really like. You can get a lighter one for summer or a warmer one for winter. (I advise waiting to get one until your baby needs it, and then getting the appropriate size/warmth level so you don’t get something early and then they don’t fit in it when you need it)
Swaddle blankets: I didn’t swaddle Hannah in the beginning because I convinced myself she didn’t like it. Why, you ask? Because I’m a terrible swaddler. The nurses in the hospital made it look so easy! But each time I did it, she broke free in about as long as it takes my dog Mac to eat a chicken nugget. 0.00003 seconds. However, I bought some easy swaddlers (more below) and realized how much swaddling improved my newborn’s sleep. Newborns have a reflex called the Moro reflex, which can startle them awake suddenly and make it awfully difficult to fall back asleep. For those of you that have more swaddle game than myself, invest in some good swaddle blankets. These are by FAR my favorite. I don’t/didn’t swaddle Hannah in these, but used them all the time as just a general lightweight blanket. We still use one every single day. These are expensive, but they’re a really good brand and great quality. They make a wonderful gift as well.
Easy swaddlers – For those of you like myself who are challenged in the swaddling department, here are easy swaddlers, which are made of the same fabric but you just snap it closed and you baby is snuggled up just right. They look ridiculous and uncomfortable, but their sleep is less likely to be interrupted, which is always a glorious thing. This is one of those things I ran out and bought and was so happy that I did.
Burp cloths – You can never have too many of these! They are all about the same – except one brand was so awesome. Hanna Andersson’s organic pima cotton burb cloths were glorious. We got a few of these as gifts and they were some of my favorites. It’s definitely a splurge and not realistic to purchase all burp cloths and clothes in this brand, but it’s so nice to have a few of these.
Bibs – I learned my favorite bibs are the ones with the snap button on the side. I do NOT like velcro because I forget to take them out of the washing machine before throwing them in the dryer and they stick to and ruin other clothes. It’d be nice to have about 6-10 good ones so you’re not pressed to do laundry. These were given as a gift and my absolute FAVORITE. I did laundry early a few times just to use these bad boys. They’re pricey.. $20 for 3, but they’re so good. Plus I just love this brand.
Registries – I did Babylist registry and liked it. It was cool because I could put anything from any site on it. The only downside was that it wasn’t set up like normal bridal or baby registries, so we did have a few people purchase things on there but not take them off the registry so I got a few duplicates. And people that would rather just go to a store and have the list printed and then purchase a gift couldn’t do that. Otherwise, it was pretty awesome. They have an app and whatnot that I enjoyed.
Car seats – there are a few important things to know about car seats. First of all, car seats expire. Secondly, if the car seat has ever been in any accident (even a fender-bender), you must purchase a new one. Here’s a great little article on car seats. In saying this, don’t get one on Craig’s List. This is something you either must purchase new or get from a close friend or family member that you trust. We bought one from a friend along with 2 car seat bases (one in each car). Make sure you know how to use it before going to the hospital, if possible. We did not do that and had to have the hospital security guy show us as we were discharged. We felt so ridiculous because neither of us had really tried to use it before. We knew how it clicked into the car, but we didn’t know how to strap the baby in. Grab a stuffed animal and go through the instructions before the due date if you’re able. I also recommend checking out factory videos or YouTube videos to make sure you’d doing this right. It’s really important.
Strollers – There are a few options with strollers. We chose the car seat with matching stroller combo, again used from a friend. I’m very happy with it. We have an older model of this. I like that I can leave her in the car seat (super wonderful when they are tiny infants) when going from car to stroller. You can get a jogging stroller, but for me that wasn’t something I was interested in getting because this lady does not jog. This is one of those things that is expensive and there isn’t really a way around it, unfortunately.
Stroller toy bar – this is again something I never thought would be helpful. My mom just got one and we put it on our car seat for Hannah to look at and she loves this thing so much. When she’s fussy because we put her in the car seat, she immediately calms down because she loves looking at this and playing with it. I highly recommend having one.. it keeps her calm in grocery store and in the car because she’s so distracted by it. I love this thing.
Sleep training – I highly, highly recommend sleep training. There are a few different books that you can read and use. John and I used The Good Night, Sleep Tight book written by Kim West. I really liked it, and if your kiddo has a particularly difficult time getting to sleep, then you can even purchase a consult from her to address your specific needs. We know multiple kids that have been sleeping 12 hours/night since about 8 weeks using this technique. Hannah started sleeping 12 hours/night around 6-8 weeks, with 3 naps during the day. We read the book before she was born and continue to read it as she grows, and just follow the recommendations. It’s been absolutely wonderful. We will use this same sleep training method / mentality for any other kids we may have in the future. I cannot recommend this enough. This is one of those things you want to read beforehand so you have some basic foundational knowledge before the big day
Baby Bullet – I love this bad boy. You can just use an immersion blender or a Magic Bullet as well, but this came with a few other things that those do not. This is absolutely not necessary, but pretty cool.
Resources for Parents – No one is the perfect parent, we are all flawed humans, raising children in a flawed world. There is no perfect parenting book out there. However, I think there are a few resources that have really good and helpful knowledge to enable us to figure out our paths.
empoweringparents.com is a great resource if you’re finding you are having behavioral problems
(I know this is a relationship book, however the concepts are powerful and can help make sense of not only our marriages, but also how we understand our relationships and communicate our needs and realize the needs of our children as well.)
This is the parenting version of this book, however I have not personally read this: The 5 Love Languages Children
(I haven’t read this one either but heard wonderful things)
Thank you so much for taking the time to read that ridiculously long post. I hope it helps you during this exciting, yet expensive time. Remember, at the end of the day… as long as your baby’s tummy is full, their butt is dry and they are warm and snuggly, that’s all you truly need.
If you are a parent and have specific things you recommend or purchased and did not like, please comment below! We can all learn from one another!
I’d like to give a shoutout to friends, family, and social media buds who offered their expertise to help me complete this enormous list!