My good friend is expecting her first baby and I’ll freely admit that I’m living vicariously. When I don’t have to personally tackle the sleepless nights and endless feedings / diaper changes, it’s super fun to remember the new baby smell, the snuggly moments and the tiny socks. I’ve been harassing her with my endless knowledge on the subject of baby stuff because now that I’m at the other end of the whole baby stage, I have finely honed opinions on what stuff was important and what stuff was a waste of time. With the caveat that everyone’s taste and lifestyle is different, I thought I’d share the twelve items that were in my opinion Must Haves in the business of raising a baby.
Note: This list leaves off some major baby purchases that you’ll probably also need. Things like cribs, car seats, high chairs, ten million onesies. Those aren’t on this list either because they are boring or because there are too many variables to consider when choosing the right one for you.They’d each require a post of their very own and I’m sure google and relatives can help you pick those out.
It also doesn’t really think much past the first six months because when you are planning for a new baby, six months is a lifetime away and it’s way easier to figure out what you need then as you get there, one piece at a time.
What is included are the little extra things that you maybe haven’t thought of yet that I found hugely helpful and important. Like…
Things To Put Them In
- It might seem silly but the boppy was my lifeline. I had one on every floor of the house, at all times. Especially helpful for nursing moms, this put baby at just the right level for nursing. In later months it doubled as a sort of cushiony chair thing that baby loved to relax on and in a few months of pregnancy it made a helpful pillow for finding that perfect comfortable position. It’s a team player that finds more uses than you’ll expect. Note: The link above is just for the slipcover photographed in the collage which is beautiful but pricey. Make sure you get the actual pillow! You should be able to get one with a slipcover included.
- My mother in law got us a cosleeper after a few rough months of bassinets and night nursing. This genius bassinet actually attaches right to the bed so that you can reach right in without getting out of bed at all – but gives a nice separate and safe place for the baby to sleep so there are no concerns of rolling onto them. It was a godsend and I wouldn’t want to go without one now. Some cosleepers can transition into being a kind of pack and play later and I’ve seen others that are tiny portable numbers that can go right on the bed.
- The baby sleep sack is a stroke of genius that handles the whole blanket or no blanket conundrum. Gowns or footie pajamas are great, too but inevitably baby feet sneak their way out in the middle of the night (or you will find yourself deliriously playing the how many wrong ways can you snap these snaps game). I like one that is sleeveless so that you can adapt to the weather a bit – throw on a long sleeve or short sleeve onesie depending on the season. They also make fleece sacks and cotton sacks to further tailor to the season.
- A good baby carrier will make your life much easier. It’s the answer to “How will I ever cook again” and “Isn’t there a way to go shopping or grab a cup of coffee without carrying this car seat around?” There are so many different styles and every mom has her favorite. I’ve tried most of them and my favorite is the Mei Tai which has become trendy – which is a good thing because it means there are more affordable and readily available options these days. Yay! I feel like this style is a marriage of everything great about baby wraps like the Moby and those clip on carriers like the Ergo. They are also relatively easy to make if you are a handy seamstress. My husband made one in an afternoon while we were visiting family one year and it’s still kicking around today.
Things To Keep Your Life Clean and Tidy
5. Do yourself a favor and get a diaper bag you don’t hate. Preferably one you love – bonus points if your husband won’t hate being seen holding it. It should also have ALL the pockets and hopefully a changing pad included. The good news is that there is a plethora of beautiful diaper bags out there these days. Almost too many – good luck choosing just one! I actually had more than one diaper bag – I had one that was permanently living in my car so that I never had to experience the thrill of forgetting it. This one only had the nonperishable essentials though and I had to remember to switch out diapers when my baby insisted on growing.
6. This might sound strange but these weird little toy carabiner link dohookies are genius and you should just buy a dozen. A lot of kids toys will have a little tag that you can slip one of these onto – that you can then clip to your stroller, car seat handle, belt loop – whatever is at the right height for your little one’s hands. The end result is that you don’t have to play the “Oops! You dropped it!” game over and over and over and over and over and…
7. You should get a package of cloth diapers even if you have absolutely no intention of cloth diapering. They make the best burp cloths because they are so absorbent. You won’t have that super awesome leaked through onto my shirt anyway problem and you can use them in a million other cleaning up that spill real quick or fast thinking nursing cover solution situations. You can also use tiny swaddle blankets or anything else flat, rectangular and cotton but you can’t beat cloth diapers in the search for absorbency.
8. I know talking about butts isn’t really fun but get used to poop being a regular conversation in your life because seriously. And get used to the idea that you’ll need a life saving diaper cream on hands at all times. This four pack of Butt Paste might sound excessive and hilarious but it’s actually really practical because you can have one for the diaper bag, one for the spare diaper bag, one for the changing table and one for that other place you always find yourself changing diapers. And back in my diaper changing days, Butt Paste was the big heavy of rash creams that always got the job done right. And the name is hilarious, so.
Things They Can Play With
9. If you wear a lot of jewelry or even just a nice necklace, you’re going to want to think about whether you want that pretty bling in your baby’s mouth and how comfy it’s going to feel when they try to pull it off you. I loved my teething necklace because it was literally made to go in baby’s mouth and it came on a breakaway chain that won’t literally break if it’ tugged on. And there are dozens of gorgeous teething necklaces on the market if this one isn’t your personal style. You do you.
10. At some point you are going to want to put the baby down and maybe you hope they’ll be amused while you aren’t holding them. In a pinch, any blanket or towel will do, but these little activity blankets really are the perfect solution. Whether your baby is enjoying tummy time or lying on their back – or maybe even sitting up!!! – there is something to look at, touch, play with or put in their mouth intentionally. There are lots of different styles so you can probably find one that doesn’t make your eyes bleed. And they usually fold up pretty compactly if you want to take it on the go or shove it out of sight.
11. They also probably want something they can hold and play with and love forever. There is no shortage of baby toys on the market but I think one of the best essentials these day or those taggie toys – of which there are another billion varieties but you really only need one or two good ones because babies are really not the most active players. The genius of taggie toys is the variety of colors, textures and patterns that they manage of fit into one soft toy – babies are all about exploring with their hands and mouths and a good taggie toy will give them endless exploration and comfort. Find a nice soft one that maybe doubles a small blanket that makes your heart kind of fall into your ankles when you look at it.
12. Lastly, I wouldn’t be satisfied if I didn’t include a book on this list because my life isn’t complete without books so my baby’s life wouldn’t be either. This Pat the Bunny cloth book is one of the first books I read ad nauseum to my kids and it has a very special weepy place in my heart. We are also VERY big fans of We’re Going on a Bear Hunt which has fantastic read out loud appeal (rare, seriously) and beautiful illustrations. And if you find yourself with twelve minutes to read by yourself, I really recommend Bringing Up Bebe by Pamela Druckerman, the only “parenting book” that I find myself mentioning to friends. Great for all ages and stages, really, but I wish I’d read it when I had new babies to raise.
What things would be on your list of must have baby items?