Let me just start by saying I have rarely been categorized as a minimalist when it comes to shopping… or pretty much anything else. So some may disagree with the following opinions about how much a person really “needs” for a new baby, if that is you, just skip this post, and I will see you next time! You still there? Well for those in the same boat as I was, those that have an overwhelming desire to be as uber-prepared (likely to a fault) as is humanly possible then read on!
“What will I need?” It seems like the question on the lips of every first time, expectant mom. Big box baby stores are little help with their registry suggestions. One such retail chain recommended I would need nine fitted sheets in addition to several mattress protectors, eight more waterproof pads and of course oodles of receiving/swaddling blankets, plus a generous sprinkling of heavier blankets on top just for good measure. Good grief Charlie Brown! Based on that list our kid would have more linens than the rest of the household combined! Since I figure much of these “helpful lists” are in a major effort to get you to buy, buy, buy, I did manage to rein my spending in some in this area but again that left me questioning what was necessary and what would be okay to skip.
As an overly hormonal pregnant lady I was deathly afraid I would omit something essential and become one of those crazy new moms sending her sleep deprived husband out in the middle of the night in search of that one item we would DIE without. Thankfully THAT didn’t happen as I had feared it would, whether it was due to driving all my already mom friends crazy with a bazillion questions ahead of time, our stockpile of baby goods, having an incredibly easygoing newborn, or just realizing some things could wait until the next day we will never know.
So let’s get right down to it. Here is my list (in no particular order) of things that I really DID find very helpful the first few steps on our journey into parenting.
1. A really good breast pump was so important! (Okay, so maybe this one is in order) Ours specifically is a Medela Pump in Style.
Why: I had trouble getting my milk to come in after Jayney was born and I am sure this is what made it big difference in getting what she needed. Plus once things did get flowing, I had a huge oversupply and being able to pump made life much more comfortable. Breast feeding is something you just never know how it is going to go for you until you try. It was a good thing for me we were prepared and had already budgeted/bought this item and didn’t have to rush out and get one in the heat of the situation. I have heard horror stories from many mom friends that originally picked an inexpensive pump and had it die within just a few uses, and then they had to go out and buy another one! Many places don’t let you return it once it has been used even if it broke and that doesn’t even touch the negative reviews that I read. Although ours was not the cheapest one we could have picked I am really glad spent the $200+ bucks to get it. We did save almost a hundred dollars by using $20 worth of rewards (earned through our registry), buying it when it was on coupon for 20% off and using our registry completion discount of an additional 10% off! Good pumps are often touted as essential for moms who are going back to work and will have to pump while away from their baby. But I have found it to be nearly indispensable even as a stay at home mom that is nearly always with my baby.
I had good friend think it through for me. She reminded me first of all how hard breast feeding can be and that it is super important to be committed in your mind, knowing that eventually it does get way easier. Then she did the math for me, which explained that the cost of formula alone is around $100 a month, so if the pump makes it so that you are able to breast feed for a little over 3 months (or by feeding breast milk longer because of the extra supply you will be able to freeze for later) , then it has essentially paid for itself and that is assuming you didn’t get a deal on your pump like I did! Plus if you buy a good pump it is likely to last for multiple children making it an even better investment. After figuring that it was decision done!
|Pumped milk makes it so Dusty can help feed too and JJ still gets my milk. This also shows her wearing (but still open) the Swaddle-me wrap described next.|
2. Summer Infant Swaddle-me baby wrap or Halo sleep sack with the swaddle wings
Why: We had a squirm-er! Right from the time she was first swaddled at the hospital Jayney was a wiggly baby. She could even wrestle her way out of the best wrap by the nurses. So it was no surprise when we brought her home my inexperienced baby burrito-ing was no match for our wormy wriggle. We quickly found that she wanted to have her arms out! But that made it hard to keep the blankets tight on her as is needed of safety. However we had gotten a couple of neat items that helped in this area. The Swaddle-me was able to be wrapped around her chest, under her arms and the Velcro closures kept JJ feeling secure while letting her arms be out to stretch. Similarly the Halo Sleep Sack with the extra wings for swaddling did the same but also went up over her shoulders for a little extra warmth at night. Now that she is a bit older and doesn’t need that snug feeling to sleep well this style sleep sack made an easy transition to a regular sleep sack without the wings.
|"Okay sleep, I surrender!" This is the wingless Sleep Sack style we now use most of the time so Jayney can sleep like a beauty|
3.“Gown” Style PJ’s that have elastic opening NOT snaps at the legs.
Why: I don’t care if you are having a boy or a girl, get yourself some of these things! Sleepy nighttime feedings are not when you want to try and be matching up little snaps to redress your baby. Once we moved past the stage of many, many nighttime feedings all those adorable little footy jammies were GREAT and very cozy. However they were not my friend in the first early days. We were so thankful to have been given some gown style sleepers that are like an ankle length dress with elastic at the hem so at night they can just be pushed up. Diaper changed, baby still mostly asleep, NO tiny snaps to match up!
4. A swing seat/bouncer chair with vibration
Why: Our swing is also our bouncer chair since the seat part can be removed to be carried around easier. Example: put her in it and bring to the bathroom when I want to take a shower. Then just start the little soothing buzzer and baby is lights out while I have a nice relaxing shower. We have a small house so the added bonus that we don’t have two separate items taking up space is very important! The little extra bit of motion from the swing and vibration of the bouncer help Jayney stay asleep longer during daytime naps than when she is in her crib and that means Mama gets more done! Win/Win!
|Portability of her seat means this baby can go anywhere! Like in the craft shed here.|
5. Pack and Play Crib with the Bassinet insert
Why: The first days home it was perfect to have in our living room as I had become a bit of a couch dweller, unsure of whether it was supposed to be day or night, but really it doesn’t matter when you want to sleep either way. Our specific model also had a changing table attachment which was handy but I don’t know that I would have to have had it. Later when some semblance of a schedule had returned to our life, or at least knowing the difference between night and day, it was great to move the pack and play into our room. Again, like our swing its multiple uses came in great as a practical way to have baby in our room without having to also purchase a separate bassinet. Now JJ is sleeping in her room at night but the Pack and Play is still very nice for when we have traveled out of town.
6. A play mat with overhead arches
Why: This thing has been the best entertainer for when I need a few minutes to set Jayney down and make dinner/answer the door/ go to the bathroom/etc. She loves reaching up and grabbing the stuff on the arches now and it was so cute to see her learn this skill early on. It is also great for tummy time. Bonus: it folds up and it goes in to a travel bag for out of town trips. We took it camping with us and Jayney loved having her toys even while we were away from home.
|Now she shakes the hanging toys wildly, which is quite the change from how she just poked at them curiously with her exploratory finger when she was younger!|
7. A Good (digital) Monitor
Why: We had a sound only, analog monitor at first and it was not the best. Perhaps it was because we live in a tin box but it didn’t get good reception. Our baby’s room is only 10 feet down the hall from our room and the monitor would just buzz like crazy. So much so I would hardly be able to hear anything JJ was doing over the static hum! We ended up getting a video monitor (Tommy Tippy) which is great. It has a pad that goes under the mattress and detects whether your child is still breathing! If it thinks your baby is not moving it sounds an alarm. I liked that when we first moved her out of our room as it provided a sense of security for my worrywart mommy brain but since the mattress is fairly thick sometime it would alarm falsely… I think. I would like to assuming that is the case because each of the times that the alarm went off, I would rush into Jayney’s room to find her still sleeping (and breathing) peacefully. Eventually we got sick of the alarm going off for no reason at night or when we lifted baby out of the crib to change her in the morning. At this point the sensor pad got unplugged but the monitor still works amazingly well and I can even go out of my house into the garden without losing reception.
8. A Bumbo seat
Why: Jayney loves to sit in her Bumbo and watch me while I do laundry, mix ingredients for dinner, read to her, or do my makeup and hair. We didn’t use it right away as she was too little but now it is so great because I can move her anywhere in it. Even though it says you are not supposed to set it on any “elevated surface” we just use it carefully and keep a close eye/hand on her. Eventually this will be more difficult to set just anywhere but right now she isn’t able to kick enough to even budge it at all/
|Bumbo-ing in the crib while I picked some clothes out for miss JJ|
|Jayney just hanging out on the middle of the bed while do my hair|
9. Diaper Genie garbage can
Why: It keeps the stink in! With a week in between garbage days this thing is a trooper. Nobody wants their house to smell like poopy diapers and this helps a ton! It works because it has bags inside and two compartments; one for the diapers to be kept in and one that is the intake when you first throw the dirties in the can. Ours is the type that has a foot pedal so you don’t even have to have two hands.
10. Boppy Nursing Pillow
Why: It raises the baby up and gives you somewhere to set your arms while nursing making it easier for everyone. It is also fabulous for propping baby up or laying on top of it for some tummy time practice. The thing that we use it most for is little naps where Jayney could rest in the middle and feel like she has someone’s arms still wrapped around her. Many people know about this but with as important as it had been to our daily life, it seems unfair to leave it off my list.
|Does she look like she wants to nap?|
11. Music or white noise for baby’s room
Why: Jayney doesn’t like it when the room is deathly silent. This took some experimenting the hard way to figure out. For the first few weeks I couldn’t figure out why she would sleep just great (day or night) in the living room but the minute we took her to the nice calm, quiet bed room she would be wide awake. Then after a while I realized it was because when we were hanging out in the living room I always had some sort of noise going. TV, radio, or people talking, it didn’t matter as long as it was not quiet, then she could sleep.
12. Really good stain remover
Why: With a newborn it won’t be long before poop ends up somewhere that you don’t want to stare at a poop stain for the rest of that items life so stock up with however you plan to get rid of said stain. Our first explosion was post bath/pre diaper, all over Jayney’s cute light pink, brand new hooded towel! Yup, big mess for everyone involved. We have a common spray and wash stain remover. It isn’t anything fancy but it makes a big difference in how hard I have to work to get the stain off.
13. Binky, soother, pacifier, whatever you want to call them just get some.
Jayney would just be lost without her binky. She loves that little thing especially when falling asleep! We found that she definitely has a preference for which brand too. Her favorite are the MAM brand, possibly because that is what she had first at the hospital. I don’t know. It is a great type because it can go in the baby’s mouth either way and doesn’t have a right side up so to say. Many other kinds of binkies stay in her mouth for just a moment and then are forcefully ejected out. It is like she can’t hold it in well or something, because it is not intentional and she gets very upset after she has accidentally spit them out. I don’t push the issue with other trying to get other brands to work. We found one that works and I am glad we had lots of styles to chose from when we were trying to figure out which were her favorite. I know some people avoid giving them to their baby for a while because of possible nipple confusion or baby satiating their need to suck without getting the necessary nutrients but we didn’t worry about it and she has been fine. There are often times when she wants to suck but not eat. Believe me, there have been nights I have tried to make her nurse because she is chomping on the binky so much I think she must be hungry… it doesn’t work and I wouldn’t suggest it to anyone. You just end up with a mad baby. Our doctor reminded us at our one week visit that you can take a binky away when baby gets older but you can’t chop off fingers if that is what they have learned to suck on. Also there are studies that say falling asleep with a pacifier may reduce the risk for SIDs. Either way at this house we are a big fan of the binky! Did you know MAM binkies come in glow in the dark too? They are easy to find in the crib at nighttime, it is awesome!
|"You wouldn't ever take my binky from me... would you?"|
14.Infant carrier of some sort
Why: When Jayney was itty bitty she didn’t want to be put down much. Having a carrier I could wear made it much easier to go for walks, cleanup or fold laundry. We have two types. One is a buckle on type has leg holes and can be worn as a front or back facing. That works well now for walking and hiking. The section of fabric between the legs was too wide for her at first and because it wasn’t form fitting to her, she flopped around a bit too much for my liking when she was a newborn. When she was first born I much preferred the Infantino Mei Tai (my tie) carrier. It is like the Moby Wrap in that it ties on and baby is directly up against you, but is much simpler to put on for those that are knot-tying, direction-following challenged like myself. It was perfect because she could sit in a frog leg position wrapped in a blanket then tied onto my front when she was tiny. Now that she is bigger she can ride with her legs flapping around, facing in or out or even on my hip all while tied onto me for hands free ease.
|All wrapped up with her legs in when she was just a teeny bug!|
|Getting bigger so now she can hang her legs out while I am working in the yard.|
15. A couch pouch and blanket basket.
Why: Okay that one is going to take some explanation, huh? I got this little soft sided tote that is just perfect to sit on the back of the couch against the wall and collect all the little things I like to keep at hand. It often includes a burp cloth, a binky, a few small toys or teethers, and baby nail clippers so I can get that done once she falls asleep after nursing. Before we established the couch pouch I would sit down and start feeding JJ and then realize I had forgotten to grab one of the items it now contains. She is not a girl that likes to have her meal interrupted so if I forgot it would just have to wait. The blanket basket is more self-explanatory. It sits on the floor in our living room as that is the place many of Jayney’s blankets and toys like to congregate. I swear they just sprout feet and march out there on their own. I know I certainly couldn’t have helped her make such a mess strewn about the room. The basket and couch pouch are both a tremendous help for corralling the objects quickly when I see someone pull in our driveway and I need to make a hasty cleanup of my house or at the end of the day when I am too tired to actually put things away but I don’t want to go to bed with a giant mess to wake up to in the morning.
16. Hair bows and shoes!
Why: Well isn’t that clear, they are just too cute NOT to have. Okay so I joke a little as this is included in our list of necessities. Maybe this isn’t a NEED per say, but we do use them nearly every day, they bring lots of joy to our life and in my opinion, make our precious baby girl even cuter!
|This bow really brings out pretty blue her eyes, don't you think!?!|
Well, I guess that would be my top sixteen!
I cannot even be a minimalist with my list, but I warned you of that when we got started. Of course this is just what worked well for us, it might not for you. I am by no means an expert on the subject. And there were other things we NEEDED too but many of them are rather obvious in nature. You know things like a car seat or diapers and wipes. I am not going to belittle you in assuming you need to know about baby stuff like that but just in case you are wondering here is the quick list of items we used very frequently and made our life much easier: Rocker, mittens, changing table, CHOCOLATE for mom, nursing pads for leaks, freezer/quick meals for when you are first home after delivery, full body fuzzy bear suits for outside, bedtime baby wash and lotion.
P.S. Two things I didn’t use much with my nearly 9 pound, hairy baby: Hats and newborn size outfits. My advice would be have just a few for going home outfits and wait to see if you need many before you rush out to get them. Plus you don’t want clothes too tight on that tender umbilical stump in the days right after they are born. Newborn outfits are easy for a friend or someone other than you to pick up if your baby ends up being teeny and hairless. You will in all likelihood, end up getting some newborn outfits as gifts at the baby’s birth whether you request them or not!