Now that I am back in the thick of babyhood, I’ve thought a lot about the gear that I really can’t do without and the crap I amassed that is useless. Preparing for a baby is exciting and overwhelming. There seems to rules and guidelines for everything baby and so much baby gear thrown in your face that if you are a new parent you have no idea where to start.
So here’s my two cents on the stuff that you will be glad you had if you are welcoming a new bundle of joy.
*Disclosure: this post includes affiliate links, meaning, at no additional cost to you, I will earn a commission if you click through and make a purchase. That said, the thoughts are my own.
Boppy Nursing Pillow
The Boppy is a classic, and is a must-have if you plan to breastfeed. Babies are like sacks of potatoes and it’s amazing how heavy a newborn can feel when you are trying to get him or her positioned right to breastfeed. A Boppy provides much needed support while you get baby latched on.
Not breastfeeding? No problem, I still recommend the Boppy. A comfortable pillow is still nice relief if you are holding your baby (doesn’t everyone look for a pillow to jam under an arm?). And as baby gets older, you can use the Boppy to prop him up and added support as he learns to sit up. As baby turns into a toddler, it makes a nice pillow – my three year old is obsessed with it and I can often find it in his bed. Therefore, this is first on my list and well worth the money.
With my new baby, I picked up a Boppy Newborn Lounger simply because it was on clearance for $10 and I thought it was so cute. In reality, I don’t use it nearly as much as I do the nursing pillow. The newborn lounger is larger and takes up more space, but is a nice place to lay baby. I use it on the floor of his nursery if we are in there playing. In my opinion, it’s definitely not necessary and I’m glad I only spent $10 on it. My older son does like to use it as a floor pillow, so there’s a future there.
We have this adorable grey one with animals: Boppy Nursing Pillow and Positioner, Sketch Slate Gray
Fisher-Price Rock n’ Play
Unless you’re able to hold your baby every second of the day, you need a safe place to put them while you carry on with other parts of your life and not have them scream their adorable little head off. Enter the Rock and Play.
I came across this gem when my first son was a couple months old and quickly began kicking myself for not getting one sooner. It’s portable, doesn’t take up a lot of space, and babies love them.
With my second baby, I stepped it up a notch and got one of those sweet automatic rockers with all the bells and whistles. Totally worth it.
This is similar to what I have: Fisher-Price Auto Rock ‘n Play Sleeper, Aqua Stone
One of the most hotly-debated topics of babyhood revolves around sleep. Should they room in with parents? What do they sleep in? How long? One of the first things new parents learn is “back is best” and flat, firm surfaces like a crib or bassinet is where they should sleep to reduce the risk of SIDS.
I believe parents should feel comfortable deciding on the sleep situation with whatever works best for them and their family as long as they are making safe choices. For me, I wanted my babies next to my bed for as long as I felt they needed to be there. For my first son, this was about four months in a pack and play before we transitioned him to a crib in his own room.
The pack and play is a common choice but there are things I didn’t like about it. We got one with a bassinet and diaper-changing attachments. I ended up never using the bassinet part because I found it quite flimsy and my son kept rolling to one of the sides. I also didn’t like how much room it took up next to my bed. And it wasn’t very conducive to my c-section recovery.
With my second son, I had my eye on something else: HALO Bassinest Swivel Sleeper Bassinet – Essentia Series. I loved that it adjusted to various heights and swiveled, and could be pulled up next to me in bed. Like co-sleeping but not.
He’s three months now and it is still a comfortable place for him to sleep. I plan to keep him in our room for another three months, so I’m very happy with my decision to get the Bassinest.
Muslin Swaddle Blankets
Swaddle blankets are hot items and come in some adorably cute patterns and designs. I can easily see how these adorable blankets can start an obsessive collection. That said, they really are handy. They are lightweight, breathable, and soft.
With both of my kids summer babies, I have gotten a lot of use out of muslin blankets since they are lighter than the super soft and cuddly fleece blankets. Muslin blankets are also great as burp cloths in a pinch and even a nursing cover. Everywhere I go, I usually have two muslin blankets on hand. And my second son has grown to love grasping them and playing with them when he gets tired, so that’s adorable.
The one thing I really don’t use muslin swaddle blankets for? Swaddling. They work fine when your newborn is fresh out of the womb and doesn’t do much kicking. You can wrap those babies up in swaddle blankets like a burrito.
I’ve found what I prefer for swaddling is next on my list:
Swaddle Me Wrap Blankets
SwaddleMe Original Swaddle are like pre-made burritos that you just stuff your baby in. A cozy little sack that keeps their arms and legs inside the ride at all times. Just like regular swaddle blankets, you have to stop using these once baby is able to roll from back to belly, but for the first few months most babies like the coziness of being wrapped up. And with the velcro fastener, you don’t have to worry about loose blankets.
Therefore, you can collect some super cute muslin blankets, but you need a few of these wrap blankets in your arsenal for some serious swaddling and sleep time.
This is actually another item that I bought post-baby once I realized my baby likes sound to fall asleep. Both of my sons have been comforted by white noise and crashing ocean waves (I mean, who doesn’t want to close their eyes and imagine the beach?). My second son especially. It’s like magic. He gets fussy and nothing seems to work and then I turn on his ocean waves and, boom, he stops crying immediately and I watch his eyelids get heavy.
You have to remember that it’s noisy in the womb with rushing blood flow, heartbeat, and whatever other bodily noises babies hear in there. So it’s a little piece of “home” that can be comforting to a lot of babies. These are relatively inexpensive, but you can also download an app for your smartphone that works just the same.
Before my first son was born, I was totally against him getting hooked on a pacifier. It was equal parts buying into “nipple confusion” and not wanting to try and pry it from his mouth as a toddler. But I got a slap of reality real quick.
My first son liked to use me as his pacifier and would often get mad when he was sucking for comfort and instead got a mouthful of milk. A trip to urgent care when he was three weeks old and screaming resulted in the suggestion of a pacifier. That was our first “first time parents and we have no shit what’s going on” moment. So I popped a pacifier in his mouth and never looked back.
With my second son, I made sure to pack pacifiers in my hospital bag. He didn’t take to them as quickly as my first son did, but they are definitely a comfort item that I’m glad I have.
But just like bottles, not all pacifiers are created the same. Like boobs, they come in all shapes and sizes and it takes some trial and error to find the one that your baby prefers. And some babies just aren’t into pacifiers and that’s okay too.
If you plan to ever leave the house, you really should be equipped with a nice stroller. There are some incredible strollers out there and if you have the funds, I’d say go for those Cadillac-types of strollers. But you don’t have to break the bank. Just look for something that folds up easily, is something you can handle, and pushes well.
I use my stroller almost on a daily basis to take the baby for walks, so I wanted something that was easy for me to steer and not clunky. I have been very happy with my Chicco Bravo travel system.
Baby Carriers/Baby Wearing
Strollers are great, but there are times when you just want to wear your baby and free up your hands and get more mobile. Baby wearing has grown really popular and you can get good baby carriers at your local Target. But there are a lot of options and if you’re unsure of where to start, I highly recommend seeking out an expert at your local specialty baby store.
My first carrier was a Boba Wrap that I registered for with my first son. This worked really well when he was a little newborn and enjoyed the comfort of being wrapped close to me.
As he got bigger, I wanted something with a little more structure, so I invested in an Ergobaby 360 carrier. This got a lot of use with my first son and he seemed to enjoy being carried.
I purchased a ring sling with this new baby in hopes of wearing him around the house while doing some chores. I liked that it isn’t as bulky and cumbersome as a structured carrier, taking up the same amount of space as an infinity scarf. And it’s less work to put on than a wrap.
But my son hasn’t been much of a fan of being worn in a baby carrier. I’m hoping he will grow into it, because with a three year old, it would be helpful to be able to carry the baby while being hands free.
There is A LOT of baby gear out there. It’s easy to feel overwhelmed with the choices and feel like you need ALL THE THINGS. These are the basic items that have made my life easier with babies, newborn to 3 months. It obviously doesn’t include everything, like bottles and a car seat, but these are the bonus items that I don’t think I could live without.
If you are preparing for the arrival of a baby, I highly encourage you to create a registry on Amazon. Just by creating a registry, you get a FREE welcome box. I did this with my latest baby and was pleasantly surprised by what I received in the box. I actually got a full-size adorable muslin blanket with little hedgehogs on it! Who doesn’t love free stuff? Click the banner below to get started on your Amazon registry.