Before my first son was born I read just about every must-have baby checklist out there. I bought the required number of crib sheets and made certain I had swaddling blankets and burp cloths on hand from day one.
Along the way I discovered that a lot of items were completely unnecessary while others seemed vital in those first few months.
Here are a few of my favorite newborn and infant related products. These were the first things I pulled out of storage the second time around.
The co-sleeper. My first son slept in our bedroom until he was six months old. The first few months we attached the co-sleeper to the side of our bed where he was within arms reach next to me, but not actually laying on the mattress beside me. This was the best thing for nighttime feedings. I’d lean over, grab him, pull him into bed with me, swaddle him when he was finished eating and lay him back in the co-sleeper. This is larger than the typical bassinet so your baby can typically sleep in it until he really needs a full sized crib. It has wheels on two sides so you can also roll it out of the way in the morning.
There are a ton of different swaddling blankets on the market, but most simply aren’t large enough to provide a tight swaddle. I make tall children and most blankets don’t seem to fit their 21 inch bodies. Their feet tend to poke out the bottom or they manage to wiggle their hands free. Aden + Anais blankets are wide, long and lightweight enough to swaddle a baby comfortably. They are more expensive then other brands but worth their weight in gold. My babies prefer a tight swaddle and if the blanket doesn’t fit properly I guarantee they’ll find a way to slip out of it. In my experience an unswaddled baby is typically an unhappy one.
In the middle of the night when I am utterly exhausted and half asleep I do not want to fumble around in the dark with buttons and zippers. Sleeping gowns are the best trick for quick changes. You simply lift the bottom of the nightgown, pull off the dirty diaper, wipe, place a new diaper on and pull the gown back down. I don’t know of any other item on the market that requires less work.
If you plan to breastfeed invest in a few pairs of reusable nursing pads. I prefer Bamboobies, which come in two varieties; a thin version for daytime and an ultra-thick version for nighttime wear. These are so much softer than disposable pads and they can be thrown directly into the washing machine and reused over and over again. I cannot say enough good things about these. They are my number one baby shower gift for breastfeeding moms!
Another breastfeeding favorite of mine are pull-down nursing tops. A lot of tank tops have snaps at the top that can be unsnapped during feeding and snapped back up when finished. I’ve never found these to be particularly comfortable. I like the soft cotton shirts that can simply be stretched down past the breast and then pulled back up. I bought six pull-down nursing shirts and wear them exclusively. I throw a button down shirt or sweatshirt over top of them and simply pull them down whenever the need to nurse arises. The cotton is incredibly soft and comfortable.
I registered for this high chair before my son was born, but I had no idea how much I would love using it. Unlike most high chairs that can only be used when your baby begins to sit up, this one can be used very early on. You can recline the seat for very young babies who cannot hold their heads up. Your baby can sit at the table at meal time even though he or she isn’t actually eating yet. When my son was little we’d put him in the high chair so he could see us and watch us converse at dinner time. It freed our hands to eat dinner, but made us feel like our little guy was already becoming a part of the meal time routine. I like that he sat eye-to-eye with us, rather than putting him in a swing or other contraption, which typically sits low to the floor. Of course, this also grows with your child. My son sat in this chair until he turned eighteen months.
If you plan to run a lot of errands with your child a baby carrier is definitely worth the money. It’s easier to strap a baby to your chest and walk through the grocery store then it is to drag that awful car seat wherever you go. Car seats are heavy and awkward, not to mention I could never fit groceries in the cart once I placed the seat in there. With two kids the carrier has become a vital piece of baby gear. I strap the baby onto my chest and my arms are still free to help my three year old.
I don’t use baby equipment on an every day basis. I’m not a huge fan of placing babies in swings or other contraptions for long periods of time, but both of my children love the Fisher Price bouncy seat. The seat is soft and although it is reclined the baby is sitting quite upright. From this angle they can look around the room and watch the activity of everyone in the household. This also helps in those early months when rumbling bellies and gas may be an issue. The upright position seems to make digestion easier for our little tikes.
It’s funny how many things I thought I needed in the first six months and how few things I actually ended up using. Did you have any go-to products that made your life as a parent easier in those first few months? Is there anything you bought that turned out to be a complete waste of money?