This is the first checklist of my Baby Checklists series: 10 Baby Must Haves
I know there are a gazillion checklists out there for baby “essentials,” and most of those are pretty self explanatory. Diapers, wipes, nursery furniture, carseat, etc. This is not one of those checklists. I thought about putting all of those things onto a checklist to include in this series, but that’s not the stuff you need advice or opinions on, you just get them.
However, there were a handful of items that I either received as gifts or purchased for myself that are my “must haves.” You can be sure these items will be stored in our basement until baby #2 comes along, because they made life with a newborn SO much easier!
A little disclaimer before we get started…the term “must haves” is, of course, relative. You can certainly get by without any of these things. And I realize that having a baby can be very expensive, and most people (including me!) don’t have the means to go out and buy every “must-have” they read about online…or the space to keep it all, for that matter! Of all of these items, I bought four of them brand new. I purchased two of them used on craigslist, and the rest were gifts.
I am hoping that by sharing my advice and opinions with you, I can help you to distinguish what may end up being most essential to YOU, based on your needs, lifestyle, and parenting decisions.
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This book is an INCREDIBLE and comprehensive resource! If you’re feeling overwhelmed with all the baby gear out there and have no idea where to start with your registry, this is exactly what you need. It has detailed reviews for every kind of baby item imaginable, from cribs and nursery furniture to car seats to bedding to toys to baby monitors and everything in between. They even have a section on maternity clothing! They place a huge emphasis on safety, and even include recall histories for manufacturers. You’ll also find thoughts on baby items that are indispensable and ones that are just not worth purchasing. I read this book with a highlighter in one hand and a pad of paper to take notes in the other! The back of the book includes a sample registry with 2-3 recommendations for each item by price point. This book will save you time, money, and stress! Make sure you buy the most recent edition, though, as they update it regularly. Even if you don’t get anything else from this list, get this book!
2. Boppy Pillow
I actually purchased two nursing pillows – My BrestFriend and Boppy. I liked the Boppy much more! The MyBrestFriend has a latch on it and was just too much of a pain to get situated with a baby in one arm every time I sat down to nurse. I also got a lot of use out of the Boppy when my daughter was just learning how to sit up – it was great to put around her so if she fell over she wouldn’t bump her head on the floor.
There are several brands of these out there, but we purchased the Boppy Waterproof Pads and I am SO glad we did! We’ve had multiple “accidents” on the changing table, but they are no big deal because I can just toss the pad into the washer. That is so much easier than having to change the entire changing pad cover every time! Plus it is absorbant, so the wetness doesn’t get all over the baby’s back as she’s lying on the changing table. Some of the reviews say they have had issues with the edges rolling up, but I haven’t had any problems. You do have to line dry them, and I store them rolled up just the way they came in the package, and they are still good as new.
We weren’t able to use these for swaddling (since our little escape artist would keep getting out of it), but these were still wonderful for our summer baby. They are large blankets and very lightweight and breathable. Perfect for draping over the car seat or laying out on the ground for tummy time. AND they come in lots of adorable prints!
Not just for diapers! Cute little burp clothes are nice to carry around when you’re out and about, but these are industrial strength. We bought several packages of them and strategically placed them around the house so one was always within arm’s reach for spit up, drool, diaper leaks, whatever. You will use these all the time!
Okay, hear me out on this one. The Itzbeen is a timer that has 4 buttons – feeding, changing, sleeping, and star (for whatever you want it to be.) When you press a button, it starts a timer that keeps counting until you press it again. “That’s silly,” you’re probably thinking, “who needs a time to know when the last time the baby was fed/changed/etc? When the baby is hungry, I’ll feed him.” Here’s your answer: the middle of the night. When you’re sleep deprived and waking up in the middle of the night to a screaming baby, you will not remember when the last time baby ate was. There were times when I would wake up, feed my daughter, put her back down, and go back to sleep…and the next time she wakes up, it feels like you’ve only been sleeping 15 minutes, when it’s really been 3 hours. Or vice versa, it feels like you’ve been sleeping 3 hours and it’s only been 15 minutes! That will totally change how you go about deciding to soothe your baby. It’s also helpful when you have two parents at home taking care of the baby – you’re not constantly asking each other when the last diaper change was, how long the baby has been asleep, etc. It is also incredibly helpful if you are trying to work toward a routine with your baby. Depending on your parenting philosophy and personality, you may find this more or less necessary – but for me, it was a LIFESAVER!
This one depends on your climate and time of year, but if you will have an infant in wintertime somewhere cold, this is AWESOME! It is a blanket that stays in the carseat and zips up…you don’t have to try to tuck blankets around your little one and have them kick it off; it’s easy to unzip quietly around a sleeping baby once you get inside and want to leave them in the carseat so they don’t overheat; and it’s so cozy and warm! If you are worried about making sure the straps fit snugly enough while using the BundleMe, check out this video tutorial on how to modify the BundleMe to make it safe for using in a moving vehicle.
UPDATE: For my second baby (who was born in January) we bought a different car seat cover that I loved even more than the Bundleme – the Jolly Jumper Arctic Sneak-a-Peak Cover. It is a “shower cap” style cover, which is much safer to use in a car seat since there’s nothing between the baby and the seat. I loved this one because it had a blanket attached and perfectly sized to tuck up around the baby – that means no blanket getting lost, falling out of the seat, or getting pulled over baby’s face while you’re driving. Plus the material on the exterior of the cover is water-resistant so it doesn’t get soaked in the rain when you’re walking from the car into a store. Highly recommend for a fall or winter baby in any kind of a colder climate.
I am a believer that swaddling helps all new babies to sleep better and longer, even if they seem to fight it at first. We had a little Houdini – at first we used the Muslin Swaddle Blankets I mentioned above, but she would always manage to get her arms out of the swaddle blanket and then wake herself up! We tried the velcro SwaddleMes and they were great too, but then she figured out how to get halfway out of them…and would get really frustrated and again, wake herself up. So we tried the Miracle Blanket, and it really was a miracle! She slept great (she was sleeping 8 uninterrupted hours at night by 7 weeks old!) and didn’t escape this one. Definitely a great product if you have a Houdini like ours!
Okay, you caught me, this one isn’t REALLY a must-have persay…but if you are planning to use a pacifier with your little one, I’d highly recommend a WubbaNub, mostly because they are just SO darn cute! But because they have a little stuffed animal attached to them (and they have lots of different animals to choose from, not just the puppy), it’s something for your little one to grab onto and snuggle with…plus it’s made to be balanced just right so the animal rests on their chest and the pacifier stays in their mouth better.
10. Graco SnugRider
I saved the best for last. This is by far my FAVORITE and MOST ESSENTIAL baby item! I can’t recommend this enough. You will quickly discover that infant car seats are heavy and awkward to carry around, and it’s much easier to attach it to a stroller to go anywhere. But if you get a travel system that come with a car seat and a big, bulky stroller, it will be pretty much unmanageable for quick trips and you’ll never use it. Instead, I’d recommend getting a larger car seat (we got a Graco one that goes up to 35 pounds) and a stroller frame to go with it. This one is for Graco Car Seats, but there is also another brand that fits lots of other carseat brands. Anytime I’m going anywhere – church, the grocery store, Target, the mall, wherever – I put the carseat in the stroller frame and away we go! It is so light, compact, and easy to maneuver. There’s a decent size basket underneath that is perfect for quick trips to the store so you don’t have to worry about a cart. It is SO easy! I seriously cannot say enough good things about this stroller. It is AMAZING!!
BONUS: Baby Organizer
This isn’t something you can go out and buy, but if you don’t get this fantastic folder as a gift at your baby shower, I’d recommend making one for yourself! You will end up with all sorts of random (but important!) baby-related papers that can easily get misplaced. This folder has a place for everything plus it’s easily portable for your hospital bag or doctor’s appointments.
I hope this list is helpful for you as you prepare for the birth of your little one! You don’t NEED any of these things to be a good parent. They’re just great tools and conveniences to help make your job a little easier :)
Still trying to decide if you want to find out the gender of your baby before birth? We didn’t find out with any of our kids and I wouldn’t have it any other way. Here are 5 Reasons NOT to find out the gender of your baby.
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