As a serious planner, I tried to prepare as much as possible ahead of Julian’s arrival. Not only did it calm my anxiety about our lives changing so drastically, but it made me feel in control when I felt like my body was out of control during pregnancy. I read so many blogs, went through pre-made checklists, and asked friends what they felt they couldn’t live without in those first few months with their babies. Some were super obvious and the same across the board—diapers, wipes, a swing, and sound machines. And some were things I hadn’t really thought of.
Of course, as much as I had prepared, there were a few things I figured out as I went along. Every baby is different and temperamental, so you have to find what works best for you. But I’m going to share a few of my must-haves to get you started.
Before I get into specific products that I like, let’s talk about diaper changes. We’re only at week 8 and I can tell you that we still change his diapers downstairs during the day and upstairs at night. I saw this coming so I made up a few “changing station” baskets that I could move around, if needed. I also made one for the car as a backup for the diaper bag. I bought cheap baskets from the Target dollar section and filled them with:
- Wipes (consider Water Wipes for the first couple of weeks)
- Changing pad
- Pacifier/bottle wipes
- Vaseline AND Aquaphor (PS: Aquaphor fixes everything)
- Hand sanitizer
- Suction bulb (we added this once we got home from the hospital)
One mistake I did make was to open two boxes of newborn diapers. Turns out, I had a giant kid who was in size 1 diapers within a week of being home. Pro-tip: you can return unopened diapers to Target—even without a receipt. So, leave the diapers to be stocked later on.
Now, for some products we couldn’t live without. I’m not sponsored for any of these products (yet), so if it’s here, I truly used it and loved it. That being said, I am an Amazon Affiliate, so if you buy from my links I get a tiny percentage to keep this blog going. (Thanks in advance)
As far as sleeping goes, it’s hit or miss and this is probably where babies differ the most. You’ll get a ton of advice from people and there are so many sleep courses online. What I learned is that newborns don’t really respond to them until at least four weeks. Clearly, I’m not going to give you a bunch of advice there because newborns do their own thang (and our kids isn’t an awesome sleeper). However, I have a few sleep products that we’ve tried and like.
The Ollie swaddle
This swaddle is a little pricey, but it feels amazing and it makes middle-of-the-night diaper changes so easy because it’s open on the bottom and just closes with an elastic. Just undo the elastic and his feet are exposed to unzip those jams and change the diaper. The key to this is to ensure it’s below his shoulders. Buy Here
SwaddleMe Velcro Swaddles
We have these in every room of the house. They’re really easy to use and get that nice, tight swaddle. They’re economical too. The only drawback is that you have to take the baby all the way out of it for diaper changes which makes middle-of-the-night changes a little more disruptive than I’d like. Buy Here
Yes, they’re for girls and boys. You might see a theme here, but these are awesome for diaper changes. No unzipping/buttoning a footie which means less disturbing baby. Their tootsies may get a little cold in these but pair them with a swaddle and you’re good to go for easy nighttime feedings/changes. Hell, I like them during the day too! Buy Here
The Owlet Sleep Monitor
Listen, I scoffed at this and said I wouldn’t register for it or buy it because it was expensive and “unnecessary.” Fast forward to week 4 and me waking up constantly to make sure the baby was still breathing. I ordered it and haven’t looked back. It monitors the baby’s heart rate and oxygen (sleep, too). It has a base station that alarms if oxygen dips below 80% and an app you can track it all on. I sleep so much better knowing that we’ll be woken up if anything happens. Buy Here
Arlo Baby Camera
We had a different brand for a couple of months and it shit the bed. Which was incredibly frustrating. I did extensive research and couldn’t decide, but settled on the Arlo. And I’m glad I did. This guy works really well and it’s stable. It’s wifi enabled and works with their app (use on your phone or tablet). It’s also compatible with Apple HomeKit. Buy Here
If you’re not breastfeeding, it’s totally ok. I tried breastfeeding for a couple of weeks but ran into complications that made it impossible. So, my baby is formula-fed. And there are some pretty cool products on the market for formula—you’ll find some below. Even if you’re breastfeeding, take note of these. You never know where you may find yourself in a few months (especially if daycare is on your agenda).
Angel Dear Burp Cloths
These are the best. They’re thick, but really soft. They hold up well to washing. Now that our guy doesn’t spit up as much, he still loves them as little mini blankets and they’re fun for peekaboo! Buy Here
Dr. Brown’s Anti-Colic Bottles
Yes, they’re sort of a pain to clean. But honestly, it’s worth it. Our guy spit up a ton and these really helped. At nine months, we’re still using them but don’t use the insert anymore (hallelujah). Buy Here
Munchkin Sponge Bottle Brush
The sponge on this is really perfect to quickly sweep into the bottle and get all the gunk. Bonus is the awesome nipple brush in the handle. I recommend this AND the next one. Buy Here
Munchkin Bottle Brush
The bristles get in all the groves of the cap as well as the innards of the Dr. Brown’s insert. Buy Here
Boon Drying Rack
I know, I know. EVERYONE has this. But it’s for a good reason. If you’re bottle feeding, you have to dry them somewhere where they won’t roll away. This thing is cute and really, really useful. It also has cute add-ons if you wanna get fancy. Buy Here
Tommee Tippee Milk Powder Dispensers
You can certainly buy pre-mixed formula or even to-go packs. I did that for a bit but then had to switch to a sensitive formula that was hard to find in that convenient packaging. I found these milk powder dispensers and they’re the perfect size to throw into the front pocket of our diaper bag. They hold up to three scoops of formula powder. Buy Here
Dr. Browns Formula Mixing Pitcher
We make about 8 (4 oz) bottles ahead each day (well, the night before). If you’ve ever made hot cocoa or protein powder drinks, you know how annoying it can be to get the powder to mix with water without any clumps. This pitcher fixes that problem. It’s sort of like a suped-up protein bottle. We measure enough for all the bottles, mix it up, and pour it in. So easy! Pro-tip: if you’re making 24 oz you can use 1 c. of formula powder rather than using the small scoop to measure it all out. Of course, check your formula to make sure this measurement works for your brand too. Buy Here
Little Remedies Gas Drops
Buy this and have it on hand. Trust me on this. Babies have immature digestive systems and gas is extremely common. If baby is still crying once you’ve fed him, changed his diaper, given him his pacifier, and loved on him—try this.* You can use it up to TWELVE times per day. Some people even put the drops right into each bottle. Our pediatrician said this brand is a-ok so we feel comfortable using as needed. This helps almost immediately. Buy Here
*after you’ve talked to your doctor, of course. This isn’t medical advice.
Clothing & Accessories
All those cute newborn outfits? Probably not going to wear them much. Our little guy pretty much lived in footies—specifically soft footies with zippers (bonus if they zippered from the bottom up). Pro-tip: Julian in newborn clothing for all of about 5 days. He’s incredibly long. Pack both a newborn outfit and a 0-3 months in your hospital bag because you never know. And have both sizes washed and ready for when you get home.
Kyte Baby Zipper Footie
Ok, so, I’m obsessed with everything Kyte. Their footies/bodysuits are made from bamboo viscose which is this insanely soft and stretchy material. My baby seems most comfortable in these and they’re so much easier to change him in because of how much they stretch. They’re a bit pricey, but 10000% worth it. Oh, and the hats are the best too. Buy Here
Angel Dear Zipper Footies
They’re the same material as the Kyte footies and the same price. They have some fun patterns too. I buy a lot of these in addition to the Kyte footies. I mean, who doesn’t want a taco footie? Buy Here
Little Unicorn Ev.Ry.Thang
Seriously though. We started our obsession with their muslin swaddles in the cutest prints. They’re way softer than any other brand and about the same price. Muslin swaddles are great because they’re lightweight and breathable—which makes me feel better because air can flow through just in case it happens to get near baby’s face. We also have a couple of heavier blankets (that aren’t as affordable but worth it) and a muslin blanket that is used as a background for his monthly photos. Everything I’ve ordered has been premium quality. Get started with some swaddles and fall in love. Buy Here
Zutano Fleece Booties
Every mom I talked to recommended these. And boy were they right. They’re the only booties/socks that actually stay on. They come in so many colors and sizes. Plus, they’re cute as hell. Buy Here
Seventh Generation Baby Detergent (sensitive skin)
For the first few months of a baby’s life, it’s recommended that you use a gentle, unscented laundry detergent because their skin is so sensitive. Everyone always talks about Dreft when baby laundry detergent comes up, but it turns out that it’s actually full of a bunch of bad stuff. Seventh Generation makes a few formulations that are safer and I usually go for this sensitive skin formula. Their organic unscented is good as well. Buy Here
Travel & Out-n-About
Leaving the house with a newborn might feel daunting, but it’s doable. You. Can. Do. It. And you should for your mental health. Cover baby in his carrier or babywear to deter others from trying to touch him. Also, avoid really crowded places and sick kids. My go-to outings are Starbucks, Target, and even just the grocery store. As a family, we go. out to eat quite often, too.
Unisex Diaper Bag
This bag has nearly 5k reviews on Amazon and that’s why I registered for it. At less than $40, it just seemed like a no-brainer. Plus, it’s not too frilly so my fiance is fine carrying it too. The top opens completely and there is a zipper on the back that opens the entire large compartment. The front pocket has insulated bottle holders, the inside is large and has many pockets/holders for all your goodies, and it’s lightweight. I have yet to find a flaw. It’s affordable, looks nice, and holds it all. Buy Here
Graco SnugRider3 Carseat Carrier (stroller)
This works with all Graco ClickConnect infant car seats. This isn’t our “main” stroller, but honestly, the one we use the most at this stage. It’s super light and compact so it’s easy to whip out of the trunk when you’re running in somewhere quickly. It also takes up way less space when you’re in stores or restaurants. The infant seat just clicks right on super easily. I don’t know what we’d do without it. Buy Here
Car Seat Cover
We have the Milk Snob brand of car seat cover but there are many other good ones out there (check out the Itsy Ritzy one here). When taking very young babies out (especially during flu season, yuck), avoiding germs is key. We pull this over the car seat and feel a little more at ease. It stops people from breathing on him or touching him. Plus, It’s SUPER soft and stretchy. It also has a ton of other uses (cover-up for when breastfeeding, is just one), so you’ll get a ton of use out of it. Buy Here
Boba X Baby Carrier
Babywearing helps build strong bonds, keeps other people from touching baby, almost immediately puts the baby to sleep, and honestly just helps you get shit done. I have a few different kinds of wraps and carriers (Ergo, K’Tan, sling, and wrap), and the winner for this newborn stage has been the Boba X for me. I like it because it’s comfortable, feels secure, has the option to cross the straps in the back, and doesn’t require an insert for newborns. What works for you and your baby may be totally different. Check Facebook for a local a babywearing group in your city to try on different brands/kinds of wraps and learn how to use them. Regardless of what you choose, give babywearing a whirl—it’s life-changing. Buy Here
That first *real* bath is a little intimidating, but our dude liked it so much more than those cold sponge baths he was getting before. There are a plethora of awesome bath products on the market and I chose a baby tub based on being able to place it in bathtub and not have to lean over too much. I also wanted clean products to use on his skin after hearing how bad the popular brands actually were.
Sure Comfort Infant to Newborn Tub
This fits over a sink or bathtub so that you don’t have to lean over too far. The mesh sling holds small babies perfectly so that they’re safely above the water, but also submerged enough to stay warm. My little guy feels secure in it and I love that I don’t have to have a sore back after bathtime. Bonus: there is a plug that you open up to empty it so you don’t have to pick it up. Buy Here
*Note: I will say that my tall dude outgrew this really quickly. We didn’t like it without the mesh. We then switched to this and loved it.
Honest Vanilla Orange Everything
I originally started with Babyganics unscented body wash (and I still highly recommend this), but I felt that the funky spoiled milk smell that was coming from dude’s neck rolls needed a little lightly-scented love. After a little research, I felt comfortable using Honest’s Sweet Orange Vanilla body wash. I then bought the lotion. It’s a very light and lovely scent that definitely helps with that stinky foot smell caused by milk. Buy Here
Random Things We Love
These are things we use so often, but I don’t have a category to throw them into. Basically, the junk drawer of “buy this shit.”
Boppy Newborn Lounger
God bless this lounger. It’s a comfy place to lie baby down when your arms need a break. I set it on the couch next to us so we can watch him and also keep him a part of the action. He absolutely loves it and I attribute that to how it ever-so-slightly hugs his little body. Should baby sleep in this? No. Do we let baby catnap it in when we’re right next to him and supervising him? Yes. Always keep safe sleep practices in mind when using anything besides a flat, solid surface. Buy Here
Babyganics Alcohol-Free Foaming Hand Sanitizer
I have one of these in pretty much every room (and a travel size in the diaper bag). It’s natural and fragrance-free, which feels important with how much we use it. Yes, it makes your hands a little dry, but far less than its harsher competitors. Buy Here
Speaking of dry hands—they’re gonna be screaming. Between all the handwashing, hand sanitizing, and washing of bottles, my hands are mega dry. It doesn’t help that it’s winter either. I recently bought this from Whole Foods and I like that it’s not a lotion that needs to be rubbed in forever. It’s a tad greasy but in a good way. I also recommend Aquaphor even though it’s a bit heavier. Whatever you do, stock up on some heavy-duty hand salve. Buy Here
Oogie Bear (nose-picker)
We all know about the Nose Frida because every parent talks about this disgusting, yet effective, snot sucker endlessly. But here’s one I didn’t know about right away, the Oogie Bear. Basically, it’s a soft nose-picker. Might not seem important, but we use it a lot. Their little nostrils are so small and it’s impossible to pick their nose with your finger. And you’d be shocked at how many hard boogies form in there. It’s oddly satisfying and I kind of want one for myself. Buy Here
Lovevery Development Play Kits
From their About Us page: “Our goal is to help every parent feel confident. Our play products are designed by child development experts and distilled to their simplest, purest purpose: to be exactly what children need at each stage.” These research-backed and professionally-developed play kits are so frickin’ cute. Basically, you can buy a single kit or subscribe to receive them at each stage. You get a box full of goodies that stimulate perfectly age-appropriate development. Plus, they come with instructions and research so you better understand the “why” and how to use each item. I love getting new things for the baby to do and learning how to play with him in a way that helps him grow. Buy Here
Best Baby Shower Registry
If you found yourself here while trying to prepare your registry, I want to recommend Babylist. You can add items from any website and also import your current registries from places like Target and Amazon so they’re all in one place. You can even add a cash fund! Pro-tip: still make registries at Target and other stores. Target, for example, gives you 15% off anything you had on your registry if you don’t get it from someone else. What I did was start a registry on Target’s site and then import it to Babylist and I kept adding products there. After my shower, I went back to my Target registry and added any items I didn’t get onto it—then I was ABLE TO GET THE DISCOUNT EVEN ON THE NEW ITEMS!