When I was pregnant and trying to prepare for the arrival of my little one, any little thing could send me into an emotional meltdown. A trip to Babies R Us guaranteed a tear-fest. Every time I went, my husband was in a hurry to leave, I was overwhelmed by the bazillion choices and “must-haves,” and I would leave in tears. Every. Time.
Looking at the registry lists at mega-stores can have any mom-to-be overwhelmed. I mean, some of these lists name four or five different types of strollers you “should” have. My thinking would go something like this: I need four strollers? Really? Oh my gosh, I’m not fit to be a mother! SOB.
My daughter then arrived a whopping five weeks early, and I learned quickly: You don’t actually need much. I didn’t even have a kitchen floor or working stove, let alone have the nursery done. Or four strollers. And we survived. First and foremost, babies need food, diapers, a few clothes and love. If you’ve got those, you’re well on your way.
There are, however, some items that do make life a lot easier. These are the items that now, almost six months in, I wouldn’t want to do without (with links to specific items on Amazon)!
My 15 Mega-Must-Have Baby Items
1. Glider and ottoman. I wouldn’t go without some sort of rocking-chair device. It’s a great place to feed, snuggle, read, and rock a crying baby to sleep. I’ve already gotten my money’s worth.
2. Infant car seat/stroller. I drove myself crazy wondering if I needed an infant car seat or whether I should just go with a convertible from the get-go. I must say, even though the infant car seat is getting heavy and can be tough to get in and out of the car, I’m still so glad I went with it. It keeps the baby contained when we go to a restaurant or store, and until she’s sitting up on her own, I wouldn’t have her in anything else.
3. Changing table. Whether it’s a low dresser you can put a changing pad on or an actual changing table, this one was a must for me. It saves my back from bending over on the floor constantly, and gives me storage for books, diaper supplies and other baby necessities.
4. Changing table covers/waterproof mattress pads/lap pads. Maybe I’m an incompetent diaper changer, but the little girl pees as soon as her diaper comes off. This led to me washing our changing table pad covers constantly. So I started “barriers of defense” and started layering waterproof sheet savers over waterproof lap pads. That way, when she inevitably pees during a change, I can whisk away the dirtied pad or sheet saver and not have to launder and change the entire pad cover.
5. Burp cloths/cloth diapers. Anything to have handy in all rooms of the house to sop up messes!
6. Bibs. For the nonstop drool. We can easily go through several a day, so buy a 10-pack!
7. Play mat. I adore our play mat. You can never have enough safe places to put a baby or enough play “stations” to rotate to fill your days. Our jungle play mat is a favorite and would keep Avery entertained if I had to step out of the room for a minute or two. Now that she’s interacting with it, it’s all the more fun. And now that she’s getting more mobile, I won’t be able to rely on it for a few minutes away, but it was lovely while it lasted!
8. Bouncer/Swing. Again, safe places to put the baby. Our bouncer was a godsend when the baby wanted nonstop vibration, movement or those rare occasions when she didn’t want to be held. She’s now trying to escape it, and I’m sad because it was such a great spot to put her and so easy to move room to room. I’m using the swing more now when I have to make dinner, but it’s not as easy to maneuver around the house.
9. Baby carrier. The Ergo came in very handy when the baby refused to be put down and dinner needed a-cookin’.
10. Monitor. I went with a basic baby monitor, and it’s heaven sent! Babies can go from zero to 60 in just a few minutes, so it’s nice to hear moans and groans before they become an all out cry-fest. I can step outside with the monitor or head to the basement to do laundry and know that she’s still snoozing happily. Plus it has the added bonus of being a one-way communication device for parents, handy if I need to tell my husband to bring me something from downstairs.
11. Baby Legs. I knew about these suckers years ago and only just recently purchased a few pairs. They can be used as leg or arm warmers and make diaper changes so much easier because you’re not pulling pants on and off. Plus, they’re adorable and make your baby look like she could be in Flashdance AND will help you get use out of onesies in the cold winter months.
12. Teethers/Rattles/Books. In the early days, toy-type items are more for you than for the baby. I passed many hours reading to Avery or trying to stick rattles in her hand. It’s fun to watch as your baby learns to put rattles in her mouth and then moves along to reaching for toys herself or playing with book pages. Another good “station” to help pass the time!
13. Mobile. I wasn’t sold on the mobile in the early months when the baby was so not impressed. But as she gets older she grows increasingly fascinated with the animals dancing around. The couple of minutes the mobile plays music buys me time to shower or throw in a load of laundry.
14. Desitin or another diaper rash cream. We’ve had almost no problems with diaper rash, but some babies have sensitive bums and may develop it more easily. Start using a cream at the first sign of rash to head it off. And now that the baby is sleeping longer at night, I slather her up before bed to prevent the booty rash.
15. Boppy/Breastfeeding pillow. Even babies that are 6 pounds get heavy! The Boppy is great because it will support your arm, whether you’re breastfeeding or just holding the baby while he or she sleeps. I even got a second one so I could have one in the baby’s room. I still use it for feedings, but you can also use it for tummy time or to assist your baby in sitting (supervised, of course).
Wait to Buy…
Pump. Even if you’re planning to breastfeed or pump breast milk, wait to purchase a pump. In the early days you can rent one from the hospital at a weekly rate, and your insurance may even cover it. I know too many moms who have doled out big dough for a fancy pump, only to give up on breastfeeding a few weeks in. Wait to make this big purchase, unless you’re like me and knew you would breastfeed come hell or high water.
Baby gates/outlet covers. There’s no rush on baby-proofing. Newborns are far from mobile, and you’ll know when your baby is thinking about moving, so don’t stress about the house being baby-proofed right out of the hospital.
Play yard/pack and play. This wasn’t a necessity right away because for awhile, babies aren’t going anywhere. I’m glad I waited to get this until we could retire a few other baby items to the basement. If you travel a lot or want the bassinet/changing table features, it would be worth purchasing sooner.
High chair. Your baby won’t be sitting on her own or eating solids for 4 to 6 months, so you can skip the additional kitchen clutter for awhile!
Granted, I went from not needing much to having—and loving—a lot of baby products! Babies have a way of making your house explode though—chaos, laundry, poop, STUFF. What were some of your can’t-live-without-it baby products? What did you buy and never use? Inquiring moms want to know! —Erin