This is an awesome post, I have to say it. I wish this post existed when I was first pregnant. I have about 10 friends giving birth at roughly the same time this year, so I am inspired to let them know my essential must have list for their new babies. I swear I think we wasted at least a few thousand dollars on unnecessary items that we either never needed or the kids hated. Now, 3 years in and with 2 kids under my belt, I have a perfect honed down list of the items that will change your whole life. I will also write a few tips in here with each item that makes it easier, better and cheaper. And maybe at the end I will include the waste of time and money items as well. I included a trillion links to make your life easier.
1) Pack n Play – We have the Graco one I believe, but any Pack n Play will suit you just fine. This item has gone on every trip with us and I really just don’t even know how people would survive without it. We are still using it 3 years later as our new baby’s crib, we aren’t brave enough to put him in our toddlers room yet.
2) MamaDoo Mattress for the Pack N Play – You will not be able to use your Pack n Play without this. Simple as that. Period. End of story. The Pack n Play comes with a flat board made of wood for a mattress, and unless your baby or child truly has no problem sleeping on a plank of wood, you will not be using this for resting. The MamaDoo mattress is organic, soft yet firm, and it fits to the very edges of your Pack n Play, leaving no scary room for baby to have trouble breathing. With this mattress, our first child used the Pack n Play for all travel sleep until he was 2!!!!! And now baby is happily using it for his full-time sleep, so its going to last you a lifetime. We bought these sheets which are organic and fit perfectly. Done and done.
3) Baby Deedee Sleep Sack – Just stay far away from Babies R Us. They suck for almost everything except certain necessities. And this sleep sack is another life changing experience. Sounds silly, but when you are freaked out that your baby is cold and you don’t want to put a heater in the room because what if it cooks everything, this sleep sack makes you feel so happy and secure. They get everything right. It’s soft, it can be undone on the shoulder which you don’t think you need but you actually do, the zip goes in reverse so the sleep sack stays on for diaper changes in the middle of the night, it’s warm yet breathable, I could go on and on. And its ridiculously cute and well priced. I wouldn’t buy a different sleep sack if you paid me. It comes in this version, or an ultra light version for summer.
4) Swaddles – To start, the wrapping up thing is so lame. Babies are smart and usually get out easily very early on. So I have 2 choices for you. 1) Summer Infant Swaddle. It’s a swaddle, it has velcro, what further info do you need. So easy. If baby gets out of this, just type in Homemade Miracle Blanket into google and you can add a thin blanket to straight jacket them in nice and tight and they can’t escape. OR you can spend lots of money and buy a Miracle Blanket. Either way, two thumbs up. 2) For newborns in the bassinet: This swaddle makes me laugh but it’s also kind of awesome and baby feels great in it. I didn’t use one, but I have to recommend it because I know many moms who said they would die without it. 🙂
5) Munchkin White Noise Machine – This low cost noise machine is so great we bought 2. It has the perfect white noise sound (you will quickly become a connoisseur of white noise as soon as your baby is born) and it includes great lullabies and an animal projector. My toddler still loves it. And baby will stay in bed and extra half hour just to watch the animals on the ceiling and listen to some tunes.
6) Vitamix Blender – Or Blentec. Either is fine. I got my Vitamix for $299 and it isn’t just an amazing blender, it’s a game changer. Game. Changer. So yes, I make great smoothies for my toddler each day which ensures he gets his fruits and vegetables (it turns your carrots into liquid. Liquid). But then I had my baby and it came time for solids and I new I couldn’t put the time in like I did with my first when I used to make him all his baby food. I couldn’t peel and cut and cook and blend and freeze. Nope. So I started buying his food and damn, it’s not only expensive but it tastes pretty…..well….not great. So one day I made my oldest his smoothie and it was just banana and blueberry and spinach and thought, wait! This is basically baby food! And my baby LOVED it. And it took me under 2 minutes to make a huge mason jar full. Boom. I make his baby food as needed, no freezing and storing because it’s THAT EASY! Worth every penny.
8) Medical Grade Breast Pump – Medela. Plain and simple. The In Style is awesome. And a pumping bra, which allows you to pump hands free AND you get to look like this:
Look how happy she is! Anyways, get one. Buy smaller in size than you think you need, it stretches. And check with your insurance company, they have to provide a medical grade pump for you these days. I got a second one with my new baby and didn’t even need it, the first one was still a champ.
9) Stroller Frame – If I could go back in time I would NEVER have gotten the horrible carseat stroller combo. The stroller that my carseat came with was huge, bulky, inconvenient, and made me cry once. In hindsight, I would have gotten a carseat, a stroller frame which fits the carseat and weighs like 5 pounds, and then a lightweight nice awesome stroller like a Bugaboo for when baby is out of the carseat and can sit up (which happens faster than you think). I got my Bugaboo Bee on Craigslist and it was the best purchase of all time. The love I felt inside for that stroller was intense, and when I sold it 2 years later to afford a double stroller I almost got all that I paid for it back! Like, it was free!!!!!! Hello!!??
10) Black Out Curtains – There are many to shop from, I know Target carries them. We opted for just some Black Out Material from Joann’s, it cost about $6.95. We put it up under the ridge of the window and it fits to every edge. When we travel, it folds to almost flat and we take it with us for hotel rooms or Nana’s house. I have to say I’m obsessed with it. The kids room is pretty much black.
11) Night Vision Goggles – I’m joking. But seriously, I wish I had some. Just saying. But joking.
12) The NoseFrida – This is all you need. Throw out the bulb syringe, or any other sucking device. This gets it out in one suck, everything, all of it. So much faster and easier for you and baby. There really is no comparison, they have cornered the market. For some reason, this makes my husband gag to breathe in this fast, but mother bears everywhere will do it with ease and with a smile on their faces. I heart you Sweden. You make good things.
13) The Ergo – I tried many carriers and the reason I am sticking to this tried and true choice is simple: It’s the best. Firstly, it’s the only carrier designed with both the mommy and the baby in mind. The Ergo was made to insure that your growing baby is held properly, allowing for the hips and back to continue to grow in the correct way. Same for mommy’s back! These carriers can really hurt, The Ergo was designed to minimize back ache and discomfort for the wearer as well. Chiropractors recommend it above all carriers. And now they have the Ergo 360, and baby can face forward as well! The feature that takes the cake for me is the sun cover though. When baby needs to sleep, pop them in the Ergo and cover their heads over with the wonderful suncover and it’s lights out. Honestly, I don’t think any other carrier is even close. Side note: Wore my almost 3 year old in the Ergo at the airport the other day because he fell asleep on the plane and I needed to high tail it outta there, that’s a long life span for this item!
14) Amazon Prime – Currently I pay $109 a year for this delightful service. For that price I get instant T.V. shows and movies comparable to Netflix and Hulu, I get free shipping and tax free on all orders, and my orders come within 2 days. This means if I need trash bags or diapers or light bulbs for my house, I sit down and order them for usually cheaper than store prices with no tax or shipping and then they just arrive on my doorstep. Dear mommies, this is life saving. And it has all the best kid shows and tons of movies. If you want to see something that just came out in theaters and can’t get out to see a movie, rent it here. I would die without it. Seriously though. Bonus, you can sign up free for Amazon Mom, this gives you extra discounts on things like diapers etc. Done and Done.
15) The Berkey Water Filter – So here you get to benefit from me doing almost a year of research on water, yay for you! Water in Los Angeles, let’s talk. Not great. All current tap water reads high for pesticides, heavy metals, chlorine, fluoride, and many other toxins you don’t even know exist. So, we take this water and pour it into our Brita pitcher and feel safer. Yeah, so, not so much. I looked into test readings from Brita Filtered water and guess what? Exact same readings on all pesticides, metals and fluoride. Only change was a tiny trace of chlorine removed. Yikes. I mean it really doesn’t do ANYTHING! On tiny baby bodies and toddlers it’s unthinkable to put these things into their system to me. So let’s test bottled water. Guess what? Same readings as tap (except maybe Fiji and Mountain Spring Mineral Water). So I look into filters and good lord there are so many! All expensive, and all complicated. After almost a year of calling companies and researching I found one I could afford and which removes EVERYTHING. The Berkey. Comes in all shapes and sizes. Added bonus, in emergencies you can take this Berkey filter and use any water in it to make drinkable water. River water, stream water, pool water, whatever. And you will be drinking clean water within an hour! Up front for the size I got I paid $300 for everything. I even got 2 extra filters. Seems like a lot, but 1) The filters last 18 months and 2) The water is delicious. I even cook with it! So all in all the price actually evens out almost with my sad old Brita. This is a must have for me.
16) Wraps – This depends on you, but something is necessary in those early months. I have the Moby Wrap, loved it. But the K’Tan is the same and lighter weight. I also got a Maya Wrap and still use it all the time. The thing with this wrap is, it’s so so so easy. Take baby out of the car seat, pop in the wrap, tighten, you are in the super market and hands free. And baby can look all around and isn’t stuck against you like in the ergo or the other wraps. This one, must.
17) Video Baby Monitor – We started out with a sound only monitor. When we had our second, we switched it up to a video monitor and wow, what a difference. I thought it would be too much, watching them all the time. But you can see useful information that you can base your choices on, like whether or not you need to go back in or wait a few more minutes. Or what on earth your toddler is really up to. Spying on your toddler is reason enough really, it’s pure comedy happening in that dark room. There are many great brands, but video is essential.
18) Car Seat Mirrors – We learned this the hard way. After several times pulling over to see if the baby is choking or laughing, we learned about the car seat mirror and ran to our Amazon Prime to save us. They are great for baby to be able to see you and know that they are not alone. We got boring grey, but after you have a car ride with a crying baby you may (like myself) opt for something with music and lights, something baby will enjoy looking at. This one was amazing for us.
19) Car Organizer – We tried a million different ways to get around this, but you straight up need something in the car to put diapers, wipes, and maybe hold a few toys, binkys and hand sanitizer on your day trips. Without one of these organizers, your car becomes a bomb sight of toys and random objects and you often find yourself without the diaper you thought you had in your bag without any backups in the car.
20) Car Window Shades – This is hard to find. Yes, there are many to chose from but will they work? Do they stick? I have purchased at least 5 types, here are the ones that worked for us. And yes, this is a must have. You will find that even in an SUV, when you turn the wrong corner at the wrong time in the morning that your poor baby will be suddenly faced with direct sunlight burning into their eyeballs and then of course you are faced with scream cries and have to pull over and figure out how to block it. SO here is your answer. Window shade 1. Window shade 2. The second shade has the dreaded suction cups and of course you know how those can be, I prefer the first one. But if you want everything inside the car, number 2 is your best bet.
21) Bouncer – Want some free time? Want to cook dinner? Want to shower? Maybe peruse the computer for some news? Of course you do. Get a bouncer. Just go get one. Here’s what they look like:
This puppy will keep baby bouncing like a fiend for minimum 45 minutes. Both my babies were bouncing like crazy in this and loved it so much, my 2 year old tried to fit inside when I put it back together for the new baby. That’s love my friends.
22) Rock n’ Play – Holy cow. Thats all I have to say. It’s lightweight, you can move it from room to room, it vibrates, baby can sleep happily in it especially when sick or if they have reflux, there is nothing I can say that isn;t a commercial for this product. It allowed me to cook dinner with baby happily watching, blow-dry my hair, and sleep extra hours in the night. The only downfall is the fact that it can give your baby flat head, but there is a solution to this. Boppy Noggin insert makes it comfy and keeps baby’s head nice and round. Done.
23) Baby Walker/Wagon – The plastic ones are, well, plastic and gross, but they also don’t work and baby topples over easily. These wooden wagon ones are legit, and serve 2 purposes. Babies love to put things inside and then walk them around the house. You can take these to the park and go on grass with them, They love them much longer than the weird useless plastic ones. Simple, effective, cheaper, wonderful. Lots of different kinds, just go with the sturdy choice and you are good to go!
23) The Most Comfortable Glider Chair of All Time – Yes folks, this is a must must must. When shopping for this diamond in the rough, think of it like this, “I will be living in this chair. I will be sleeping in this chair. For years, this will be used all day and all night.” Repeat this mantra each time you shop for one and sit down. In my opinion, I would not give a fig if it matches the “decor” or your super posh nursery, or if the material isn’t the right type of material or that the particular “hue” isn’t the right shade of eggshell. I swear to you, none of that sh*t will matter at all at 3am on no sleep while you are stuck in one position in this chair and unable to move an inch for fear of waking your chest sleeping baby. So, long story short, make sure it glides, make sure it turns, make sure it is insanely comfy, make sure you have an ottoman, and if possible, make sure it reclines. There, don’t say I didn’t warn you .
24) Cool Mist Humidifier – Essential. You will use this more than you know. We have the Crane Cool Mist and really like it, but some come in cute animal shapes and various other concoctions, so just look it up online and read the reviews. This is a must have.
Okay, those are my must haves. Now maybe some good things to have around?
- Gates – You need these sooner than you think. Depending when baby starts crawling and how many stairs and areas you need to keep blocked off, you want the easiest opening gates available. Here are my top 2, one for doorways and one for making a play pen anywhere and everywhere (even outside). Gate 1. Gate 2. If you have pets.
- Bottles – Many moms spend time searching and searching for the perfect bottles and end up buying all different kinds to try out with no success and wasting money. Save yourself. Here are two that are fail safe every time. Tommee Tippee are BPA free plastic and have a shape that mimics the natural shape of the breast. Not only that, it has a small hole in the top to prevent air being sucked which decreases your new baby’s gas issues. But it is plastic. Lifefactory are bottles made of glass and are absolutely wonderful. You only really ever need a four pack of these, as they last a lifetime and all you would ever need is new nipples. With glass bottles you can have a clear conscience about the chemicals being leached into your breast milk, which only this year has been released in a study. They have found that even BPA free leaches very toxic chemicals and hormone blockers into all liquids, so hopefully our FDA will get on this and change our laws about allowing these plastics to even be used at all. Visit my blog page on going plastic free in the home, I have tons of suggestions for spoons, straws, bowls, everything! Oh yes, and never forget a good ole bottle brush. This one is amazing.
- Diaper Genie – Yes, you need one. But refills are expensive, and the plastic bags are of course awful for the environment. Here is a link to having a guilt free and CHEAPER Diaper Genie with a Twist.
- Diapers – I can’t tell you how much I implore you to think long and hard about diapers before you chose a brand. Diapers are one of the biggest land fill problems we have today, as they are plastic and non biodegradable. In an effort to make a clean planet for our babies to grow up in, why not start by ridding the planet of this huge issue? It’s easy to do, just don’t buy gross plastic diapers! Here are a few amazing alternatives you can have ordered and sent to your house each month (so easy) or even buy at your local Target and Wholefoods. 1) Honest Company. 2) Bamboo. 3) Earth’s Best. All are far superior not only for the planet but for your baby’s wellness too. They are 3x more absorbent than plastic store brands, and the natural plastic free material prevents rashes and other irritations babies can receive from brands like Pampers or Huggies, which even contain toxic crystals that can leak on your baby if they become ripped. Seriously. Can you believe it?
- Binkies – If you decide to give these a try, the NUK binky is the best to use. It is recommended by dentists to form in the mouth without hurting the shape of the teeth. Not only that, babies all like this one. The rest can be a crap shoot, these are guaranteed.
- All Natural Cleaners – The chemicals you have been using to clean are highly toxic and quite unnecessary. They have been proven over and over to add more chemicals to the human body and clean just as much as a natural cleaner would. So cut it out, your baby will not be able to handle the products you have been using. (Did you know when you are done with your bleaches and harsh cleaning products you are supposed to take it to a facility to dispose of the empty bottle safely? That’s how hard core they are. Most people throw them in the trash, super good for the planet). So, you can zip over to a health food store and buy some natural kinds, or you can take the old containers and fill them with your own homemade concoctions. And the homemade ones are awesome. You can add essential oils like lemon or orange and it smells great. Here is a basic recipe for a DIY cleaner, you can modify and add as much as you want to make it your own.
- Baby Wash – So my favorite natural baby wash is a little pricy, but sold at Target and Wholefoods. California Baby is amazing, and the calming body wash/shampoo is perfect for a bath before bedtime to relax your baby or toddler and send them to sleep. It’s chemical free, organic, and made from natural oils and herbs. The entire line is essential if you can afford it. You only need a small amount, and one squirt in the bath makes for bubbly bubbles as well. A less expensive and equally great all natural brand is EO, also at Wholeoods.
- Hand Sanitizer – A newborn baby in the house and visitors coming in from all directions…heck yeah you will be squirting them all over with hand sanitizer. So the thing with hand sanitizer (and all anti bacteria soap) is, they contain a chemical called Triclosan. Banned in most countries, this chemical has a long nasty list of the effects it has on the human body which I won’t go into here. Doctors agree that using regular hand soap is equally effective in removing the same amount of germs as anti bacterial soap, so it isn’t even necessary. Now that we know this awesome info, we can use natural healthy hand soaps and sanitizers. Favorites: I am a big fan of the essential oil called “Thieves Blend” used centuries ago to keep people from getting The Plague. So it’s strong, it will clean the hell out of any germs, it’s wonderful. Here is a Thieves Soap I love. For sanitizers I use EO all the way, both the spray which I carry in my bag and the pumps which I have throughout my house. Completey natural and kills 99% of germs.
- Toothpaste and toothbrush – Yep, you need to brush those baby teeth! And they come in faster than you think. So, for an all natural fluoride free paste, Weleda is AMAZING. You can also try Honest brand in strawberry flavor as well. And for a baby brush, here is a good one they can use on their own. And a finger one for you to use. And a silly one that takes the cake!
- Medicine – Unfortunately you will need a bunch of medicine, some natural and some not. Here is a list of what to have in your medicine cabinet for when baby is born:
– Infant Acetaminophen
– Infant Ibuprofen
– Hylands Teething Tablets
– Camilla Drops
– Aquafor and Coconut Oil
– Butt Paste
– Thermometer with attachments (for rectal, underarm and mouth)
– Nail Clippers
– Mother’s Milk Tea or Drops, Fenugreek for boosting supply. (For you)
Just remember to read about fevers, use medication in extreme circumstances only (they say to try to limit use for any child under the age of 2, the effects of medication could potentially be worse than the fever your child has), and go with your gut. The saying “Mother Knows Best” is because you do. Mother’s instinct is a powerful thing. Listen to it, trust it. And hopefully have a pediatrician you can call any time of the night because honestly, you will call.
- Dry Shampoo – If you are not familiar with this product, becoming a mother will quickly have you realizing this is a must have staple in your beauty regime. Babies are the best thing to ever happen for the California drought. You basically get between 60 seconds and 3 minutes to shower, sometimes only leaving you with the time for a quick body wash. Hair suffers, innocent bystanders suffer, your husband suffers, you need to degrease that hair and do everyone a favor. So, dry shampoo. The easiest and most convenient ones can be found at any CVS. Some tips for usage: This item gets sprayed on your roots only. A little goes a long way. Try spraying it on before bed and let it work its magic through the night, then brush in the morning. If you are using it in the morning, spray on your roots and let it sit for 5 minutes while you do your makeup, then brush it through. It needs a little time to actually soak up the oils. Here are my favs:
After you use your dry shampoo, if your hair is feeling a little dry you can run a shine serum through the ends and you will look (and smell) fresh and clean.
- Sign Language Book or Online Basics – Yep, your baby will sign with you.
- Parenting Book – Look into which method works for you. RIE parenting has changed my household, so I highly recommend looking into it. We went from power struggles and ineffective time outs to a happy peaceful home. It’s wonderful. And a great website and Facebook page by Janet Lansbury.
- Apps – So here are a few apps you may want: Relax Melodies (Great white noise and rain sounds on your phone or iPad in emergencies or for travel), Peekaboo Barn, Petting Zoo, Peek-a-Zoo, Rumble In The Jungle, ABC Flash Cards, Fisher-Price Laugh and Learn, Baby Finger…..Lord the list is long….. You can also do a mommy app to track feedings and sleep and poop, and also a great Kegel App to get everything down there strong and healthy again. (Blush)
- The Only Toy I Will Put on Here – Michaels Unpainted Wood Barn. I believe it’s under $10 and has been a staple in our house for 3 years. At all ages, this is the one toy my toddler (and now baby) have been infatuated with since birth. You can buy a pack of farm animals and you are good to go. We have added various animals, unicorns and dinosaurs to the barn over the years, but you will not be sorry for this low cost investment. It may look simple but it’s all kinds of fun and excitement for them. The roof opens, the doors open, animals are inside waiting to come out…..win win. Usually never have a problem eating dinner because we bring out the barn to play with every night.
And now, the wastes of time:
- Baby shoes – Yes, super cute. Will they ever, ever be used? No, they won’t. Ever. Huge waste of money. You will probably not use any shoes for almost a year on your baby, just socks. To make up for this terrible news, here are some fabulous shoe socks instead! And even some with laces! Problem solved. (There are many girls ones as well)
- Wiper Warmer – Waste. Of. Money. If you want a warmer wipe, when you set baby on the table and begin the undressing, stick a few wipes in your sports bra. They will be nice and warm when they touch baby, you save $40 and you don’t have yet another contraption laying around taking up space.
- Bottle Warmer – Bottle, meet a glass of hot water. Hot water, meet bottle. Problem solved. Had a warmer, never used it, gave it away. So dumb.
- Bumbo Seat – I did use it, maybe 4 or 5 times. It’s useless. Baby falls to the side, it’s bad for baby’s development in sitting up, it’s just an awkward thing. That’s the only way to put it really. Awkward.
- Swings – They are big, they are expensive, some babies like them and some hate them. Regardless, try the Rock n Play first. If for some reason that does’t cut it you can think about a swing. I am thinking you won’t need one, and if you get one it won’t get used as much as one might hope.
- Baby Changing Table – Why. Just why? When you are finished with this piece of furniture, then what? Junk. Eyesore. Do yourself a favor and buy a dresser, one you like and will want to keep and matches your decor. Put a changing pad on top (most have ties with a clip so that it doesn’t fall off, mine does. But I have never needed that either) and you now have a changing table. With great drawers inside. Ikea has drawer separators that will make putting diapers and socks and nose suckers in the right places and it will look fantastic. DON’T FORGET TO ANCHOR ALL FURNITURE TO THE WALL IN YOUR HOME. Dressers, book shelves, TV stands, even your TV. Babies pull these items and climb on them, then get crushed underneath if they fall.
- A Thousand Plastic Toys and Bowls and Junk – It’s clutter, it’s annoying, it makes the house look bad, it’s plastic. A few awesome wooden toys or fabric toys, even just pieces of fabric, maybe one or two plastic must haves, done. One bowl. A few non plastic spoons. Keep it simple, minimal. It will make your life so much better. Seriously, the less toys the better. Babies don’t even like toys, they like things around the house. Pots and pans. Toys are so damn stressful and add clutter and cleaning for you every day. No thank you.
I am going to keep updating this post because it is HUGE and there is always something I forgot. If you have something I missed, let me know!!