I’ve got several friends on the cusp of parenthood and I thought it would be fun to make a list of what I believe to be the best stuff to have around for little babies. Now that Jack is almost six months old (!) I’ve got a pretty good grip on what’s worth the money (or just time and effort, in some cases). Most of this stuff I have, some I’ve only coveted. Feel free to skip this post if you have no interest in babies whatsoever. But if you’re expecting or have any babies on your list this holiday season, stay tuned for my two cents. Without further adieu:
Jack is still exclusively breastfed. All the basic equipment is free, haha, but there are still a few accoutrements I’ve found especially handy.
These Target nursing tanks are inexpensive ($20) and long enough to cover a postpartum belly. Tanks are nice in that you can lift your shirt to nurse without exposing the warzone that is your midsection. As the months wore on I found it a little TOO long and it’s started looking pretty stretched out in places, but for twenty bucks it’s put up with a lot of wear and tear.
I thought I didn’t need a nursing cover at first, I’d just make do with a blanket, but I received one as a gift and it was a lifesaver in those first few months when I needed to be able to see what I was doing. These days, I use it just to get him latched, then pull it down from around my neck and just let it rest over his head so it’s not so glaringly obvious that I’m breastfeeding.
Lactation Cookies. I had never heard of these before I started turning to the internet for breastfeeding support. They’re delicious, nutritious, and great for boosting milk supply.
Lanolin is a must in the early days and the Medela brand smells really nice
I love my boppy pillow for nursing as well as reclining a baby who’s in no mood to lie flat. You can buy a cover from the manufacturer or get one of the many available on etsy (I don’t recommend making one like I did unless you are a skilled seamstress. Mine is falling apart.)
This magical little piece of fabric is called a crinkle square. I’ve also heard it called baby paper. It’s very easy to tote everywhere in the diaper bag and babies love ‘em. This link is to sew one yourself but I’m sure you can find them on etsy if you’re not crafty.
There’s a reason why Sophie the Giraffe is so popular. This is just a really well-designed toy. She’s easy for little hands to hold and fun to chew on.
This is called an Oball and is very easy for babies to grab and hold when they first learn to grasp. Can go in the bathtub, too. It was the first toy Jack was able to grab and it’s still his favorite.
White noise is very soothing for babies. Use this free website, the free White Noise Lite iPhone app, a white noise machine, or even a radio tuned to static. We have the app loaded on an older iPod touch that Nick’s brother gave us when he got an iPhone. We just leave it on in the room whenever Jack is sleeping.
A pack n play is great for keeping baby in your room as well as for traveling. We’ve successfully checked it as baggage when flying. I have seen cheaper brands in person and our Graco is much sturdier. The bassinet is really helpful for making younger babies easy to reach. Ours didn’t have the changing station or storage pockets and we didn’t miss them.
Swaddling for dummies! It doesn’t get any easier than this, people. We use the Summer Infant SwaddleMe.
The HALO Sleepsack is great for keeping babies warm once they are too old to be swaddled. You can also get them with velcro flaps to wrap around to swaddle baby’s arms, but Jack was often able to break free. This was the only way we could swaddle him when he was in the harness.
For Houdini babies! The Miracle Blanket is more expensive and more work than the swaddleme, but tougher to break out of.
Snuza Portable Baby Movement Monitor. So you’re not constantly checking to make sure baby is still breathing. Works in crib, carseat, bassinet, etc.
We use cloth diapers, but even if you’re not cloth diapering, cotton prefolds make great burp cloths. Paired with a Flip cover you’ve got a backup solution for those times you run out of diapers and just cannot make it to the store right away. These are also good for letting baby air out to heal a rash–just lay a prefold under baby to make cleanup easy. If you are planning to use more modern cloth diapers (pockets, all-in-ones, etc.) these are still nice to have on hand as extras since they’re so cheap.
Flip diaper covers. These are so easy to use. Just stick an insert in it and go. You can buy inserts specifically made for it, use inserts or “doublers” made by other companies, fold a prefold into thirds, or even fold a receiving blanket up into a pad shape and pop it in. I love them with Gdiaper inserts, which are super trim and absorbent. No need for complicated folding or pinning. Disposable inserts are also available.
It took me a while to come around, but I love these diapers. The microfiber keeps moisture away from baby’s skin, they’re almost as easy to use as disposables, and the snap-down rise adjusts to fit babies and toddlers alike. Cute colors and a major cost savings over disposables.
Grandma El’s is the best rash treatment for babies who wear cloth diapers. Definitely worth the money. Love this stuff!
Burt’s Bees Baby Bee Diaper Ointment is the best for use with disposables. This stuff is amazing, but shouldn’t be used with cloth without a liner. I’m planning to write a more detailed post about our cloth diapers eventually.
It’s a hot debate on pregnancy forums. Travel system or snap n go? (related: infant carseat vs. convertible). I got an infant carrier and love that it doubles as a place for him to sit or sleep when we’re at restaurants or other public places. The snap n’ go stroller is super light and I can pop the carseat right into it–very convenient if baby is sleeping! When he outgrows the infant carrier I’ll get an inexpensive umbrella stroller.
At $5 this is expensive as apps go, but totally worth it in my mind. Did you know that you are expected to keep track of all your baby’s bodily functions while still in the hospital, as well as the first few weeks that you’re home? I was off the heavy pain meds pretty soon after my c-section, but I still had trouble with remembering how many diapers he’d gone through or how long he’d nursed for when the nurses would ask. I really could have used this app. It’s also really helpful for figuring out sleeping and eating habits even in older babies. I’ve heard that the other app like it, Baby Connect, is also very good.
Baby gas drops! I think this stuff is made of pure magic. Instantly calmed my fussy newborn
Babylegs are super cute on boys or girls and sooooo convenient for diaper changing, especially away from home. They’re about $12/pair, which is not bad considering they supposedly fit from infancy through toddlerhood, but there are also frequent sales as well as other, cheaper, brands (including work at home moms on etsy).
Nosefrida The Snotsucker Nasal Aspirator. My cousin Robyn first told me about this thing. Jack has never been truly sick (knock on wood), but we have had a bit of a stuffy nose with the change in weather recently. The Nosefrida works so much better than the aspiration bulbs. Please note that there is no way for snot to get in your mouth, but even if it could I don’t think I’d care. You’d be surprised what parenthood does to your perception of bodily fluids. I don’t think twice before catching spit-up in my hand to keep it from hitting the couch. Anyway, this stuff gets the snot out before your baby is old enough to blow his/her own nose.
aden + anais Muslin Blankets. I’ve heard these are great for swaddling but I use the cheater Velcro blankets (see Swaddleme above). I still love these because they are breathable enough to toss over the carseat for a stimulation-free sleeping environment without worrying about suffocation. They also fold up really small in the diaper bag so you can keep one with you. They’re really big and nice for letting an older baby play on.
So there ya go. Twenty-five items to add to your baby registry or consider gifting to any young babies or parents-to-be on your Christmas list. Anything I missed?