When I was pregnant (and absolutely terrified about becoming a mom) I remember posting some sort of Facebook Status asking all of my fellow mama friends out there what they absolutely couldn’t live with out when it came to bringing the baby home. While most of the advice I received generally involved how to make my “lady garden” a little more comfortable after pushing a baby out of it, one piece of advice really stuck with me:
“all you really need is a box big enough for your baby, some diapers, and a sleeper and you will be fine.”
While, for the most part, this holds true – new babies generally don’t need much – there were a few items that I felt as if they should be considered as “must-haves” or “can’t live withouts”.
Every mom (and every child) is different. You will find that while some things may have worked for other mama’s and babies they might not work for you. And somethings that don’t work for others may work beautifully for you. These are the things that I absolutely couldn’t have done without – and will be some of the first things I pick up again if and when we decide to have more kids.
***Note: This post may contain affiliate links. If you make a purchase or sign up for a service through one of these links, I may receive a small commission towards making my dream of staying home full time with my son a reality at no extra cost to you. Every opinion expressed through this post is my own and I genuinely believe in each item listed and they are used regularly in my home. I would never endorse or recommend something I have not used myself. You can see my full disclosure policy here.
- Receiving Blankets
My goodness did this kid ever spew. It was constant spit up. He would feed and then puke. Sleep and then puke. Poop and then puke! It got to a point where I was almost concerned that perhaps he wasn’t actually eating enough. Especially after those few days in the hospital where I thought he was latching on properly but he wasn’t. All I could think about was him not getting enough. After our first Doctor’s visit, all of my concerns were eased – the kid was already growing like a weed. And so the amount of vomit I constantly battled was considered completely normal. I thought I had enough receiving blankets – but I was wrong – oh so very wrong.
I found myself doing laundry once or twice a day. Having just had an emergency c-section (and sitting just shy of 5 feet tall) all the bending over the top loading washer wasn’t completely ideal. And as a new mom, trying to navigate the whole being responsible for another human’s well-being – I didn’t really want to spend all my time doing laundry. Especially when there so many sweet little cuddles and (attempted) sleep to be had.
I found that I liked Garanimals best. They come in handy little 4 packs and seemed to have the best absorbancy. I think when it was all said and done we had close to 20 receiving blankets, maybe a few more. Oh, and these are definitely items that you don’t need to buy new. Garage Sales and Facebook Shop and Swap groups are great for finding items like these.
- A Baby Carrier
Eventually your arms are going to get tired from carrying your darling little bundle of joy. Or you are going to get to a point where being hands free is something you dream of. For me, I actually started to miss being able to do the dishes, fold the laundry, or make a meal. Plus, we had a spring baby and are a fairly active family, so a carrier was a necessity for us and our lifestyle. We love a good hike.
I had purchased a wrap from a local vendor before the babe came. It was beautiful and made of the softest bamboo. I loved the thing. It was perfect for the summer – super breathable, lightweight, etc (even if it eventually couldn’t support the weight of my monstrous child). We had also been given a back pack style carrier from a league mate of mine so we figured we were set. We managed to get quite the use out of both carriers and it wasn’t until my child started to go through the phase of never wanting to be put down (or only sleeping while on my back) that I realized I needed to invest in something a little more comfortable.
After purchasing a (what I believed to be a super expensive) quality carrier I was floored by the difference it made. All of a sudden I went from having incredible upper back and hip pain to feeling incredibly supported and secure. In the previous carrier I was only able to wear my child for roughly 45 minutes before I started to feel some tremendous pain. In my new carrier, I am able to wear him for close to two hours (the longest he naps in it) before I start to feel even the slightest discomfort – and he’s just about 25 pounds now. Plus I can wear him 4 different ways, which is a huge bonus.
**If you are curious as to which carrier we use it is the Beco Gemini Organic Black
- A Breast Pump
If you are someone who is planning on breast-feeding. I highly recommend a pump. For one, it helped me establish my milk supply in the beginning. As I mentioned early, we had a moment in the hospital where my son wasn’t latching properly and because he wasn’t actually eating, my milk didn’t seem to want to come in. I was lucky enough to have a wonderful nurse who recommended pumping (and a darling friend who bought me one). From then on, every time he ate, I would pump which ever side he wasn’t eating from. I have been fortunate enough to never have a problem with milk supply again.
Secondly, if you have pumped milk someone else can take over feeding duties – like your partner. Not only does it give your partner a chance to bond with your new baby, it also lets you take a break. I mentioned in an earlier post about having to feed your newborn every two hours (regardless of the time of day) and having milk on hand allows someone else to take over a nighttime feeding – allowing you to hopefully get a little extra sleep.
It also comes in handy when your nipples start to get a little raw (yes, this definitely does happen – but there are some great products out there to help with this issue). I can tell you first hand that a pump and a baby’s mouth feel very different. There were times when feeding my baby directly was far too painful and I needed some time to heal. I wouldn’t have been able to do this if I didn’t have a pump.
You don’t need to go out and purchase a super expensive electric pump either – though it may come in handy. The pump I was gifted was under $40 dollars and I have been using it for over 9 months now. It is one that I would highly recommend to any mom.
- A Swing or Vibrating Chair
This is one of those “what might work for you doesn’t work for someone else” kind of things, which is why I suggested both of these items. My little monster hated – and I mean HATED – his vibrating chair. It was something that was suggested to me very early on in my pregnancy. I had a number girlfriends who absolutely swore by the vibrating chair. Their babies easily fell asleep in one and since most are so portable and light – it made it an absolute dream when it came to taking showers, getting chores done, etc. I was not so lucky. My little one enjoyed it once. Every other time we put him in it, he screamed bloody murder. I fortunate enough that I was able to trade it for a swing.
Thank goodness for those facebook shop and swap groups.
My swing. Oh, how I loved my swing. Not only did it keep the babe entertained (thanks to the mobile attached), but he loved to fall asleep – and stay asleep – in the swing. We found one that had 6 different speeds, a timer, played classical music and nature sounds, and even had a white noise and heart beat setting. It may not have helped me shower, but it did give me some much needed hands-free (without the kid in a carrier) time. And because we found it used and in great condition, it only cost us $25. Talk about a money – and a life – saver.
And last, but certainly not least….
So this one might not necessarily be one of those items you need for a newborn, but it is an item that I used (and still use) multiple times a day once my little one was strong enough to hold up his own head. It is incredibly light, easy to clean, and surprisingly both stable and secure. We fed our little man in this chair and it helped him develop his “sitting on his own” muscles. It also happened to be my one saving grace when it came (and comes) to showering.
This was another one of those items that we were able to purchase secondhand. Not that you would have guessed it based on the condition it came in. We use it all the time, and take it everywhere with us – to friends houses, to family dinners, to restaurants, etc. My son loves his bumbo, we love his bumbo, and I am not sure that anything else would have fit the needs of our family.
and as a final note:
There is so much about being a new mom that is incredibly terrifying, and bringing home your baby shouldn’t be one of them – though I know for most it is. Another piece of advice that really stuck with me was something my doctor said:
“Babies aren’t nearly as fragile as you think. You are going to an amazing job.”