When getting ready to have a baby the amount of things we “needed” seemed crazy ridiculous. I wanted to keep my house simple, how much could it possibly need to change for one tiny person? However I also wanted to be prepared. So I went along and registered at both Target, Amazon and Buy Buy Baby. At Target I did things off of suggestions of friends. Amazon it was basically the things that I couldn’t find elsewhere. Buy Buy Baby is a hellscape of panicked soon to be, and new parents, being convinced to register or buy the most expensive version of every single thing that has ever been created for a child. Hardly any of it is necessary and the place has too many choices for the uninitiated to sort through and know which one is the one to get. So here, after my first year as a mother, I’m looking back. And I’m realizing what things were actually useful, and what were a complete waste of time and money. Here’s my favorites for your baby’s first year.
No matter how many times I was shown I cannot fucking swaddle. I’m an excellent mother, I love children and babies and had experience as a nanny and Auntie before having my own but newborn babies were an enigma. So when I discovered velcro swaddlers I was like PERFECT THIS WILL SAVE ME. Newborns like to be swaddled to go to sleep, it simulates the way it felt all squished inside your belly and makes them feel comforted so you might be able to put them down for approximately 10 minutes before they wake up again. At first they eat every 2 hours, what they don’t tell you is they also poop this often. Which means unswaddling, nursing or giving a bottle and reswaddling with about an hour sleep in you and a constant heavy fog from having had a baby recently. No thank you ma’am. Any amount of time saved, is time you could possibly be asleep again. Velcro swaddlers for the win. Many of these zip up the front and leave the arms free through little vest like holes and then when you are ready you put one side over the other and TA DA! Finished, a baby burrito. You can find them at Target, the store of parenthood.
Another one of my must haves when my girl was tiny was a co-sleeper. Yes it’s wonderful if you have a bassinet for them in your room and they will stay in it. However I had a baby who hated their bassinet and from what I’ve learned from other mothers it’s pretty damn common. They don’t want to be far from you, even if it’s only like 2 feet. They have been literally inside you for their entire lives and now they don’t understand this firm spaced out thing you keep putting them in. It’s why they love their swings too and I’ll be getting to that, but for at night especially if you are nursing or recovering from a c-section, not getting out of bed is a real win. I thought it was insane to spend this much (real talk the thing is over $100) on a co-sleeper but she loved it. We traveled with it, and she transferred to a crib with it (yes I know it’s not advised I’m not telling you to do this but it’s what we chose to do since they say it’s fine in Europe and no they don’t have higher rates of infant mortality because of co-sleeping beds). We used the dockatot. There’s others out there but we found this one to be the most comfortable to have in the bed with us, it’s like a pillow on the sides so we could cuddle up with her and rub her back as she went to sleep. You can also get them at Nordstrom and they have an excellent return policy if you don’t find it useful. It’ll also save you square footage in your bedroom if you have a tiny room like ours. Honestly we may not do a bassinet at all next time.
Some of the other basics that helped us was a Diaper caddy. It kept the diapers, wipes and burp clothes all in one place so we could easily carry it room to room from bedtime to day time. Since I wasn’t the most mobile I didn’t want to get up a lot with my c-section, this made everything right where I needed it. I also used a changing mat to keep any accidents from getting on our couch or bed. We also went through a TON of burp clothes. They were easy to use for everything but I felt that receiving blankets could work but weren’t as nice. These ones from Aden & Anais were a favorite. That brand is so nice for just about all the things. I also like their car seat strap covers because most car seats now have head rests but they don’t always have strap covers that keep it from digging into their tiny delicate bird necks.
A big purchase that helped us during the day was a swing and a carrier. The swing was great because she would sleep in it. I know that many people are against swings for letting baby sleep since they can become too used to it, but we never really had too big of an issue with that. Here’s the one we had, it’s not too expensive at $99. When she was older she liked to reach up and touch the bears, when she could pull on them we knew it was time to retire it.
Last but not least for before the baby arrives get yourself a backpack diaper bag. Skip Hop has some really cute ones that are affordable but go and try them out. Bring a ton of stuff and shove it into all the pockets. The every day things you think you’ll need, pick them out at the store, diapers, wipes, a bottle, a changing pad, extra clothes, your wallet, keys and phone, a snack container, your water bottle, sunscreen, LITERALLY EVERYTHING SMALL YOU CAN GRAB and put it in that fucker and see how comfortable it is and what doesn’t fit. That will help you decide. Do not pick based on how cute it looks on Instagram, you will regret that forever. Also don’t go super cheap, liking your diaper bag is essential. And then hand it to your spouse and see how they like carrying it because it’s not just your bag.
For Infants 3-6 months
Juni was obsessed with a few things during this time but it was also a time of a lot of change, she was getting bored of the swing, wanted to move around and started being interested in toys. She didn’t care at all for books yet even though I kept trying she was just not into it. Some babies are, mine wasn’t. She loved her baby gym and the swing and being on us. That’s about it.
So we got a lillebaby and it was a great use of our money. At Buy Buy Baby they had sold us on the most expensive carrier they had and it was a huge waste. That was the Stokke carrier was so fancy it looked like it would be great, it could be a backpack carrier or a front carrier, it had insane back support! But it was also so so hot, it didn’t have a pocket for a phone and you couldn’t use it with a small baby on the back anyway and when she was big enough to, she didn’t want to! The lillebaby came in mesh, had back support but only in a belt form with a pad not covering the back so it wasn’t hot which was important in Southern California. It also didn’t need an infant insert so it was all one piece. Their website has a ton of colors too. For a short time when we first had her I made do with a lightweight wrap, because I wasn’t ready to give up on the Stokke yet and buy another carrier it was a good choice. She was tiny and wanted to be close; I wanted to be hands free. Here is the cheap easy solution I got on amazon. It’s made of mesh and cheap enough I didn’t feel guilty overnighting it, this wrap was an easy sell but not necessarily a must have.
Around this time we realized we had made a big mistake on another purchase. We had only one stroller and it was huge. We had a B.O.B. My Mother In Law had purchased it without talking to us because she assumed we would want a hiking stroller, since my husband likes the outdoors. Not once has this been used for hiking. It’s also heavy, bulky and can only be used with Britax carseats. So we bought the Britax carseat thinking this would be our only stroller. Let me tell you my friends, there is very few strollers that can get you through EVERY activity. In fact if you find one that is both lightweight but sturdy enough for big bumps or jogging and has a huge amount of storage LET ME KNOW. Until then here is my suggestion. Wait on a light weight stroller until they are big enough to sit without a carseat. Get a stroller with storage for every day, one that folds easily, the Baby Jogger city select is great for this but still has a large foot print so not great in stores or around small corners. However I did choose it because it could go with our expensive Britax carseat and could be made into a double stroller when we were ready. The Joovy is very good and the Uppababy vista all have essentially the same features. They all lay flat, have storage, and can have a car seat attached. So basically there is a ton to choose from.
Here is what you should do. Go to the store, try them out, see how well they turn in the tightest aisles and put all your stuff on the bottom. DO NOT ASK THE SALES PERSON WHICH ONE IS BEST. They WILL show you the most expensive. Don’t panic like I did and give in on the first time you go because you think you NEED this stroller for an upcoming trip and GODDAMNIT YOU WON’T GO TO BUY BUY BABY AGAIN YOU CAN’T OR YOU’LL DIE. You’ll end up back in that hellscape at some point or you can ask the grandparents to go with your money because they love that shit anyway. Otherwise you’ll end up like me with 4 strollers in your garage and a husband that thinks, no wait, KNOWS that you’re insane.
Some smaller items
Sleep sacks are awesome, they are basically the next step up from swaddlers. Around 4-5 months maybe sooner your baby will become like houdini and be able to pop an arm or two out of the bottom or top of the swaddler. Then they will push it over their face and you will awake terrified they can’t breathe. Save yourself some worry and get a sleep sack that is warm and cozy and put it over their long sleeve onesie because babies don’t know what the hell to do to keep a blanket on a night. They will be safe and cozy and warm. Goodnight.
Aden and Anais linen blankets. These are awesome, drape them over your stroller for more shade or to keep creepy people from looking or touching your baby. Use it as a burp cloth when you don’t have one on hand. Let them cuddle with it, wrap it around your waste as a sarong on vacation SO MANY USES. Get like 6. They usually come in a pack. I suggest gender neutral ones because there is so many and if you are me you want more kids.
Your a mom but you still want to look cute right? So you’ll just keep wearing your jewelry you’ve always worn… WRONG. No you can’t, they will tear that shit right off and eat it. And then you’ll be worried about heavy metal poisoning for like a week until you find out something else to worry unnecessarily about. Save yourself some worry and get some chew beads. They make cute necklaces made out of silicone that your babe can put in her mouth all day and it’s nbd.
Babies 6 – 9 months
Sometime around now your baby will crawl and you will panic. You will quickly need to move to something contained. You think a pack and play will be fine, but a pack and play isn’t always enough space for toys. We got one of these play pens because you can change the shape for the space and later take it apart and block different areas. When she started walking we moved the pieces to block the desk and guitars and now basically it’s a husband play pen.
Toy bins, you will get toys. Like they will slowly creep into your house on the arms of friends and family, you probably don’t even need to buy them. I think we’ve bought like 5 toys, mostly she just hugs something at someone elses house and they give it to her. It’s great. But then where to put the damn stolen toys? These bins work great if you are like every other millennial mother and own one of these cube shelves.
This is when we decided it was time for one more stroller. Yes I know I’m insane. I now look at strollers as I used to look at a new purse or shoes. I eye up the style, comfort level and convenience. So now as I have previous mentioned, I have not one, not two, but 4 strollers. They all do something different and I still almost weekly think about getting another. The one I use most I bought when Juniper was about 9 months old. It’s lightweight and folds very small. The reason I like it best is because the others aren’t great for travel. We’ve always set out to be a family that continues to travel after having children and this one makes getting through the airport as easy as possible. This is the one I chose. This is one that I wish I had. The reason being is that it has more storage and a phone holder and a larger shade. But no matter what a light weight stroller is essential for traveling. You put the baby in the carrier and all your shit in the stroller. The stroller then gets used for the baby after your arrival.
It was also around this time we did full baby proofing. We padded the edges of our metal tables and put the locks on the cabinets. Until this time she hadn’t been very curious or naughty but something about turning one changed that. She wants to get into everything. These were the essential baby proofing items we got.
So that’s my list, the must haves. The ones I really used. Everything else is just a fun gamble! God speed and good luck.
Since making friends with a ton of other mamas this last years here is a few items I’ve learned about. The zippadee zip for if you’re baby just doesn’t love swaddling at all but needs something for a startle reflex. And for mama, a beautiful robe to cover your puke and milk stained clothing when people first come to visit!