I’ve been thinking about this post for a while, but I wanted to wait until Bear was solidly out of the newborn arena before putting pen to paper (er… fingers to keys?) on this one. I read a lot of “What stuff do you need to buy before the baby arrives?” lists while I was pregnant, and here’s the thing about those lists…
They tend to be written by stores. Stores that want you to buy a whole lot of baby stuff.
When really… a newborn doesn’t need very much. Fancy bedding? Not really. Toys? Nope. A wide-ranging wardrobe in newborn sizes? Please, no. He will outgrow them faster than you can blink.
In fact, totally honestly, you could probably raise a happy, healthy newborn without much more than a box of diapers, some wipes, and a swaddle blanket or two.
But, since sometimes you want more than just the bare minimum of essentials, here the products I couldn’t live without for the last four months:
#1: A Swing
See that picture above? That is Bear awake in the swing. That never happens. The swing is basically Ambien for babies — it knocks them out. When we got home from the hospital, Bear pretty much cried for like, 18 hours straight… and then we put him in the swing. Instant three-hour nap (I kid you not).
They’re a little pricy, but worth every penny. If you put one single item on your registry, it should be this. Our is this one from Fisher Price, although we actually borrowed it from a friend whose baby had outgrown it. A total lifesaver!
#2: A Carrier
For about five minutes, you can lug your baby around by putting him in the car seat and carrying that — but as he gets bigger, you quickly realize that Baby + Carseat = 1 Zillion Pounds of weight that you are carrying around anytime you want to do anything.
Strollers are great, but ours is two pieces, takes up the entire trunk of my car, and has to be re-assembled each time we want to transport it anywhere. A carrier requires none of these things, so for quick errands, it’s the way to go.
Our carrier is the Stokke My Carrier Cool, which I love (especially in Texas summers)! It can be worn three ways — baby facing in, baby facing out, and as a backpack. Bear didn’t love the “baby facing in” way, because he liked to look out at the world all the time — but now that he’s old enough to have him facing out, he loves it. If you have a baby who prefers to just snuggle and sleep (rather than looking at everything, everywhere, all the time, like mine!), this would work great from Day One.
#3: A Swaddle Sleepsack
Does it seem like every product on this list is geared towards getting your baby to sleep? Yes? That’s because any moment they sleep in those early days is the best thing to ever happen. They are happier, you are happier, and there’s less crying from both baby and mom.
Swaddle blankets are great, and in the hospital, the nurses will swaddle your baby and it will seem so easy. And then you get home, and realize that your baby can break out of a blanket swaddle in four seconds flat, and then he is awake and crying and it takes an hour to get him back to sleep.
What you need is a swaddle made with Velcro. That’s what these are. Little baby straightjackets.
And they are amazing.
#4: Swaddle Blankets
I know, I know. I just said that blankets don’t work for swaddles. And they don’t.
But they work for everything else. I used these blankets to clean up spit up, to keep the baby warm, to create some shade when we were out in the stroller (as pictured above!), to give him something for his little hands to hold onto, and pretty much anything else I could think of.
The best ones are by Aden and Anais — we had eight. I will probably still buy more. You can literally never have too many.
And to top it off, they are beautiful. Organic cotton, pretty delicate little patterns, and durable enough to stand up to all the bodily fluids a baby can create. Again, worth every penny and I love them to death.
#5: Bluetooth Speakers
And… here’s my random one. See, having a baby requires lots of sitting still, which is fine, except… it gets a little boring. Bear took hours to nurse himself to sleep at night, and there were days when I’d spend literally six or seven hours breastfeeding him.
I was too exhausted and sleep-deprived to read books or even watch TV most of the time, but I could still listen to music.
So that’s what I did. We’d sit in his room, sometimes just us, sometimes with the dogs, sometimes with Chad, and I’d listen to Bob Dylan or Neil Young or Crosby Stills and Nash — these soft little folk songs that I’ve always loved, that would make Bear drift off gently to sleep. I was so tired — so incredibly tired — but those moments? They were very, very happy moments.
So those are my top five! I have to give a few honorable mentions too: (1) the Total Baby app, which I used to keep track of his feeding and diapers for those first brutal few weeks; (2) Gas Relief Drops, which Bear still takes multiple times a day — they were a lifesaver for a baby that had terrible gas pains and saved us from so many tears; and (3) baby Tylenol, which you should buy for the night when you will eventually need it (because it is no fun to need it and not have it, even for a few minutes).
And with that, you’re ready to have a baby!