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Now obviously there are some basics that you absolutely need to have when bringing your newborn home, such as a crib and a car seat. I am going to focus on items beyond that which we found incredibly helpful to have and actually used and leave off the obvious ones. So here are my top 10:
Comfortable, Easy to put on 0-3 month sized clothes
Now this may not be true for everyone, but my daughter was out of her newborn clothes in less than a week after being home from the hospital. Some babies even go straight into these sizes! Now, I had planned not to buy a bunch of newborn clothes regardless because I had heard this tip from so many moms. I had many given to me at my baby shower, and I exchanged many for 0-3 month sizes and only kept a few newborn items. However, what no one told me is to think about is that you need practical outfits (i.e. easy to put on and take off outfits). Being a first time mom, I didn’t realize that all those snaps and bows and adorable rompers can be very time consuming to get on and off. We were actually encouraged to strip our daughter down to her diaper when feeding her to get her alert and eating more actively, but even if you have a good eater on your hands, there will be so many diapers to change in those first few weeks at home you want clothes that are not a hassle. Not to mention the middle of the night changes in the dark where you don’t want to resort to turning on a light to snap a hundred snaps back up. We had the best luck with zip up sleepers (pictured), side snap onesies, and regular onesies.
Halo Sleep Sack/Swaddle
We had a number of different swaddling contraptions that we were bought or given. It is amazing all the zipping and velcro that exists…we often felt like we were fighting to put our little bundle of joy into a straight jacket. However, once we found one that was easy to put on and that our daughter liked, we swore by it. It helps to prevent the startle reflex from awakening your newborn and provides them comfort. You can absolutely go the route of a swaddling blanket instead, but our daughter was rather strong and managed to break out of even the most excellently swaddled blanket. The brand we ended up liking the most was the Halo SleepSack Swaddle. We did eventually transition to the non-swaddle version, which my daughter still sleeps in now as a “wearable blanket”.
Electric Nail Trimmer
Now I think you will see plenty of reminders to buy nail clippers or files for your newborn, but I don’t know why no one mentions the electric option. Your little one will likely be born with long papery thin nails that they will attack their face with whenever you are not looking, leaving the saddest little cuts on their nose, cheek, forehead, etc. Using a clipper was way too daunting as a first time mom, and it is way too easy to slip and nip a little tiny finger. With old school nail files, I never seemed to get the nails short enough and there was always a sharp edge somewhere that I missed. Enter the electric nail trimmer. They come with super soft pads for a newborn, so they are truly foolproof. This Little Martin’s Drawer Baby Nail Trimmer is the one we used. If even those are too intimidating for you, buy some baby mitts and cover up those adorable little hands.
A baby wrap was a must-have for us because it was so soothing to our daughter, kept her upright helping with digestion, gave her a break from being on her back, increased the paternal bond, and freed up our hands to do other things. Such a win-win-win-win! Now you will hear all kinds of suggestions on what brand to get and opinions on a carrier versus a wrap. My advice to you would be to try them on and see what works for you (there are baby wearing classes where you can do this, and our preparing for baby class at the hospital had a section devoted to this as well). We personally had much more success with our wrap than our carrier, particularly in those first few months. The carrier requires an insert, and living in NC with a daughter born in July, she just got way too sweaty in the carrier. Additionally, I found it extremely hard to get on and off by myself. The wraps, while they seem more intimidating at first, are super easy to put on and get baby into once you know how. There are plenty of YouTube tutorials out there. One quick watch, and I was good to go. I personally used the Boba Wrap, and I really loved it (my husband did too).
4Moms Infant Bathtub
Now for many of my recommendations, I do not think that the specific brand matters very much; however, I big puffy heart loved the 4Moms Infant Bathtub. So I specifically do recommend it. It comes with a built in thermometer so you know your baby is in the right temperature water (for your little baby, I promise you this will be reassuring to you). The thing I really love is that it cycles out the dirty water with fresh water. Trust me as soon as you get your little one undressed and in the tub, they will inevitably pee and get the water all dirty. Or maybe you are washing them because they had a big blowout already. No big deal with this tub! Dirty water out and clean water in. It also comes with a small cup for rinsing too! The only one thing I would caution is to be sure it fits in your kitchen sink. It did with ours, but if you have a smaller sink, it might not work as well.
Now I will say, I have heard this can be a hit or a miss depending on your child’s disposition, but swings are a godsend for colicky babies. They usually have toys attached and often have lights and sounds too to soothe and keep your little one entertained. We found swings particularly helpful to keep baby contented with the motion and keeping her in a slightly elevated position, preventing spit-up and allowing you to have your hands free to quickly eat or do laundry or wash bottles, etc. We actually ended up with two swings, but the one I would highly recommend is the 4moms mamaRoo. It’s a little bit different than other swings and bouncers, but our baby loved the motion settings. It have 5 different motions with 5 different speed settings. It has built in sounds, but you can also plug in your phone or other device to play music over it as well. MamaRoos are even apparently used in NICUs for calming upset infants. The fabric seat zips off for easy cleaning, always a plus!
If you are breastfeeding, I would strongly consider buying a nursing pillow (and bringing it with you to the hospital). Now, you can absolutely use regular pillows and blankets and stack them to support your baby while breastfeeding, but a nursing pillow just makes it so much easier. Particularly if you have a C-section and are struggling with not being as nimble, why make it harder on yourself? The nursing pillow gives support to you and your baby while breastfeeding, giving your arms a break, and keeps your baby in one place. I particularly liked the My Breast Friend Original Nursing Pillow since it has a flat surface as opposed to rounded, which prevented baby from rolling during a feeding session. I also loved that it clips around the waist, keeping it secure and in one place instead of shifting. There are even pockets to store water bottles or breast pads. So convenient and handy to have on hand!
Keekaroo Changing Pad
Again this is going to be one where I tout a specific brand because I really really loved it. The Keekaroo Peanut Changer is a soft rubbery-like non-slip changing pad. The key component is that it is waterproof and wipeable. You can simply wipe it down when an accident happens and keep on going with your day. So fast, quick and easy…I loved it. It’s also portable! We used it in our bedroom first when we had our baby in a bassinet in the room (simply plopping on top of the bed for a quick change) and later moved it to on top of her dresser in the nursery. The one con is that it is pretty pricey, but I say it is well worth it for the easy cleaning it enables during those diaper change disasters, and I plan on reusing with our next baby. It also comes in a variety of colors; always nice to have options!
Playmat or Activity Gym
Our Pediatrician was a big advocate of tummy-time as soon as we brought our baby home from the hospital. Since babies spend so much time on their backs these days, it is important to provide supervised tummy time to build their muscles and provide time off of the back of their heads. Having a playmat or activity gym provides a soft engaging surface to play on (look for one with mirrors and crinkly objects on the mat itself as well as the dangling toys). The mat also keeps them entertained when on their backs and gets them reaching out and grabbing for items as they get older. We like the Skip Hop Baby Treetop Friends Activity Gym, but there are a plethora of options out there!
Pack N Play Playard or Portable Crib
If you travel or have multiple stories in your home, I would highly recommend getting a Pack N Play or Portable Crib. There will be times when you want to set your newborn down somewhere safe in another room than the nursery in the house. It’s a handy spot for them to nap or play and many these days come with built in changing stations and bassinets (I know some moms buy these Pack N Plays in place of a separate bassinet and use in their bedroom). These are also helpful as a bed when traveling. These seem to cycle pretty quickly and be relatively comparable across brands, so I would just do a little investigation to see what stations and styles you like.
I hope my list of newborn must-haves helps some of you first time moms struggling with what to register for or buy. Do you have a favorite that I missed? Leave a comment with it below!