A childhood friend of mine recently announced that she and her husband are expecting (Congratulations Emily and Clint!!) She asked me if I had any recommendations as she starts on their baby registry. Boy do I ever! Without the suggestions of several veteran mommas, we would’ve been up a creek…made of our own tears. I’m so grateful to all of the supermoms that sacrificed their valuable time to create lists for me filled with stories and personal experiences. With (almost) 5 months experience under my belt, I can hardly be considered a veteran, but I’d like to pass along what I’ve learned if it would help any other fledgling mothers. So cue your amazon wish list and grab a bag of lactation cookies, and let’s get to it!
First, I recommend making baby registries on amazon.com and target.com. When you create an Amazon registry and at least $10 worth is purchased from it, you get a free welcome box with all kinds of baby goodies in it. With Target, all you have to do is create a registry on their site, walk up to their customer service desk and show them your registry on your phone, and they hand you a bag of free baby items and coupons. For both sites, the freebies are actually good stuff–think bottles, baby lotion samples, swaddle blankets, bath toys, wipes, etc. #winning I do not recommend making a registry at Babies R Us because they are significantly more expensive than other places, so you’re getting less bang for your buck.
For Momma Bear/Breastfeeding
- Whether you plan on breastfeeding or bottle feeding, the Boppy pillow is extremely helpful. I felt hesitant about spending $40 on something like that, but I lucked out and found one for $25 at Ross. When my mom visited a few months ago, she commented that when she had infants, she used to just prop us up with bed pillows, and the Boppy would have made life so much easier. The neat thing about the Boppy is that even if you don’t use it for breastfeeding, it can be used to prop your baby up when they’re not quite able to sit up on their own, but aren’t content lying back anymore. It can also be used for supporting them during tummy time, too. Similar to the Boppy is the…brace yourself…My Brest Friend pillow. Could they have come up with a cheesier name?! I almost wish I had gotten this one instead of the Boppy because it has a strap and clasp that allows you to attach it around your waist which is super helpful considering we homo sapiens only have 2 hands.
- Breast pads. Thinking I would save a bunch of money, I bought washable, cloth breast pads. I do not recommend doing this. What I didn’t realize is that the leaking would only last for a few months, and the reusable ones are problematic: you have to rinse them thoroughly as soon as you take them off and you have to wash them shortly after using them or else they will get a spoiled milk smell that is very hard to get rid of. Also, if you leak too much, they will feel gross, and if you’re out and about it is much more convenient to throw away a disposable set than figure out what to do with the cloth ones. The disposable ones are much more comfortable, less maintenance, and only have to be used for a little while. These Lasinoh pads are my favorite.
- Breast pump. Whether you decide to exclusively breast feed (EBF) or not, you will need a breast pump at some point. You may need to build a stash before going back to work, you may want to store some for medicinal purposes for your baby or yourself (I treated and cured a case of pink eye with some of my milk. Yes, really), you may have an oversupply and want to donate, need to relieve the pain when (or in my case, if) your baby starts sleeping through the night, you may want some on hand in case you decide to go out of town for a weekend and leave the baby with grandma, etc. I got this Spectra, and it has done well, and I found it on a Groupon deal. Lots of people recommended that I get a hand pump as well, but I only used that before I got my electric one and haven’t touched it since. I got this Medela hand pump, and it worked fine, but I just prefer the electric pump so much more. Make sure you get breast milk storage bags as well. I’ve used Target’s brand and these Lasinoh bags, but I don’t see any difference between the two.
- Lanolin cream. You should only need this for the first month or less, so I’d go with a small tube of it, but when you need it, you need it right away so it’s good to have.
- Nursing clothes from Undercover Mama. The great thing about their clothing is that it attaches to any nursing bra, so it makes feeding a breeze. The 2 pieces I bought from them are staples in my breastfeeding wardrobe, and are some of the most comfortable clothes I’ve ever worn. In fact, I wore this shirt in the hospital, and it helped me discreetly feed her with people coming in and out…still with a nursing cover, of course. (See picture below)
- A nursing cover, but I don’t have any particular recommendations.
For Baby Bear
- If you don’t register for anything else on this list, register for the Fisher-Price Auto Rock n Play!! I have an awesome mama-friend who gave me her older version of this that does not automatically rock, but even it has been the biggest lifesaver! This is the only thing that allowed either of us to get any sleep when she was tiny and colicky, allowed me to cook any meals, go to the bathroom, take the occasional shower, give my arms a break back when I was holding her 14-18 hours a day (no exaggeration I’m afraid #banginbiceps). Our baby cakes is almost 5 months old, and I still put her in it at least 5 times a day long enough to get a quick thing or two done. I have more pictures of Emory in her Rock n Play than anywhere else cause that is where she has been the happiest…see?!
2. Arguably just as essential as the Rock n Play, is the Pack n Play. I got this basic version, but my mom got this tricked out one from her first-time-Grandma shower. I was able to buy mine used from a friend for $35, and Emory has napped in it daily; plus we took a trip to New Orleans when she was 2 months old (yes, we are cray-cray), and the basic Pack n Play was perfect to take along for her to sleep in. However, my mom’s version is super convenient because it has a changing table attached to it for those middle-of-the-night diaper changes. Pro-tip: If you want your baby to take naps in this, you might want to buy the Pack n Play fitted sheet, or you can be cheap like me and just use a crib sheet tucked tight.
3. Thermometer. I have no specific brand suggestion, but just get a standard type rather than an ear or pacifier thermometer because when you call the pediatrician’s office with a question about your potentially sick baby, they are going to ask for a rectal reading of your baby’s temperature so don’t waste your money ($30 in my case) on a different kind of thermometer. This one or even a $2 version from Walmart works.
4. You probably won’t have to buy many clothes for your little one at first because that’s everyone favorite thing to give at baby showers, but if you have to purchase fill in pieces, I do NOT recommend buying Gerber’s onesies. They shrink A LOT in the dryer. If you do get them, plan on the next size up or two from what your baby needs at any given time. I learned this one the hard way. My favorite brand is Carter’s because of their quality and cuteness. My second favorite brand is Child of Mine. Because we have a farm baby, we also have some Carhartt and John Deere clothes that I love as well, and they are very durable and adorable.
5. I’ve heard a lot of people say that a wipe warmer is a waste of money, but ours has been worth every penny. Our farm baby was born in March, and it was still cold. She had colic, so she cried all the time, but she revved it up a notch when that cold, wet wipe hit her baby bottom. We got this one, and I love it. It heats the wipes to just the right warmth.
6. Do yourself a favor, and get this Baby Einstein Sea Dream Soother for the crib! Emory adores this, and she has already figured out how to turn it on and off herself by kicking the starfish-shaped button. This thing plays beautiful music and sea sounds, the sea animals move, it lights up, and has a ‘crib check’ light for those middle of the night “oh my gosh, are you still breathing?!?!?!?!” checks…or so I’ve heard. This wasn’t on my registry, but I’m SO glad some older, wiser ladies gifted it to us anyways.
7. Our little farmer girl took a pacifier a few times, but has turned her button nose up to them ever since. However, when I was making our registry, I made sure to add pacis that are BPA-free silicone or rubber such as these or these.
8. When it comes to bottles, 2 words: Dr. Brown’s. Unless you want to play the infant version of Russian Roulette trying to figure out which bottle will give your baby the most gas and worst gas pains, just get these. (I breastfeed, so Emory has only been given a bottle maybe a dozen times, but these were still worth the money!)
9. Swaddle blankets! Before Emory was born, I thought it was absolutely essential that I become an expert swaddler of babies…so much so that I watched YouTube videos on how to swaddle an infant and went to a preparatory baby class where I had to demonstrate how to swaddle on a germy, Chucky-looking doll. My male nurse in the maternity wing swaddled Emory so tightly I thought her head was going to pop off. She enjoyed that for all of 6 hours. We quickly learned that she couldn’t stand to have her hands restrained, so my obsession with swaddling was a waste of time. BUT swaddle blankets are something I have used and she has enjoyed every day since. I use them to cover her while she’s nursing and they’re the only blankets I’ll put on her in her crib because I know that if they cover her face she can still breathe. I got this 3-pack and use them daily…plus they’re cute.
10. Camera Monitor. You may not be like me, but I have anxiety issues, so it is a must for me to be able to see baby girl while she’s sleeping. We got the Summer Infant SURE SIGHT 2.0 Digital Color Video Baby Monitor…say that 10 times fast! I like it…99% of the time. It has a very clear picture, AND I can actually see Emory breathing, which has meant a lot of peace of mind for me. However, the camera and screen have had spotty connectivity a couple of times which was frustrating. The video only cut in and out for a few minutes before working flawlessly again, but my concern is that it could happen while I’m asleep, and I wouldn’t know it. So, read reviews and figure out the one that is going to meet your needs–based on your anxiety level and sleeping arrangements ;).
11. Diaper bag. A sweet friend gave me this cute one off of my Target registry, and I love it. The only thing I’ll say is whatever diaper bag you get, make sure it has lots of compartments. You’re going to want a different slot for wipes, diapers, pacifiers, toys, a change of clothes, socks, shoes, burp cloths, diaper cream, etc. Trust me on this…not that I’ve ever had to manage a squirming, screaming baby on a narrow changing table whose diaper I’ve already opened without being prepared for what I was about to see, while frantically scratching my way through a diaper bag for anything resembling a wipe but instead pulling a Mary Poppins and coming up with everything but what I’m looking for. Nope, not me…but I’ve heard it can be a little harrying.
12. Baby tub. Sink baths won’t be a possibility for quite a few months, so go ahead and get a baby tub. Unless you plan on setting the baby tub in your actual bath tub, check the measurements and make sure it’s going to fit in your sink…or else you’ll be sloshing a baby bathtub full of water back and forth from your sink to the kitchen table…like me. Here’s the one I received from my amazing supervisors/boss moms at my internship site. It’s great because it comes with a removable infant hammock-type insert, then a small insert for the next stage when your baby is starting to gain some core strength, and then you take that out once your baby is sitting up. It also comes with a couple bath toys and has a handy hook on the back so that you can let it air dry.
13. Gerber Birdseye 3-Ply Prefold Cloth Diapers. Now, before you skip this one because you’re not using cloth diapers, you are going to want these. These weren’t on my registry, but a friend gave them to me at a baby shower, and I’m so glad she did. They are a great all-purpose item, and I use them daily. They can be used as burp cloths, clean-up-anything cloths, and what I use them for most it to pat dry my baby’s bum since I heard that someone, somewhere decided that baby powder predisposes infants to asthma. Whatever you use them for, this is something you definitely want on hand.
14. Baby Medicine Bottle. I have been in some scary and hair-raising situations in my life, but nothing even comes close to how helpless and terrified I felt the couple of times that Emory choked…to the point of turning blue and gasping for breath, unable to take one…on medicine we tried to give her using a medicine dropper that comes with the product. Those times it happened, I thought I was going to watch our precious, weeks-old baby die in my arms, and each time I was a snotting, sobbing mess for the half hour following. I do not want anyone going through what we did. SO…buy these or the Safety 1st Infant Kit that contains one, which is also a great item to have on your registry. Your baby may not be a choker, but you do NOT want to find out the way that we did. With this medicine bottle, I can pump a little breastmilk, add the medicine to it in the bottle and feed it to her that way with no issues or near heart attacks.
15. A baby carrier. We splurged on this item and got the Ergobaby 360 Cool Mesh Baby Carrier. But you shouldn’t. Don’t get me wrong–this one is great, and I have no complaints at all, but I’ve talked to parents that bought a $30 version and love it just as much as our fancy smanshy one. Friends don’t let friends buy overpriced items. And even though the mesh and coolness factor is why we ultimately went with this one, let’s face it…when you have 2 bodies squished up against each other for longer than a few minutes, it’s going to get a little sweaty no matter what kind of carrier you get. Some people’s babies love baby wraps instead of carriers, but mine hated being put in the wrap, so I can’t speak to those. And it took about 174 times of watching the tutorial on YouTube to get it put on correctly in my case…maybe that was because of the sleep deprivation…either way, no bueno. However, if you want to wear your baby before they hit the minimum weight for a carrier, you’ll probably need a baby wrap or to buy an infant insert to go inside the baby carrier. This is the infant insert that went in our carrier.
16. Baby wipes. This is an obvious one, but I am all about reducing and/or eliminating the amount of chemicals that I expose my family to. If this is something that’s important to you, too, you need to download an app called ‘Think Dirty’. It allows you to scan an item’s barcode or type in its name, and it will bring up a list of its’ ingredients, what impact those ingredients are known to have on the body, and the toxicity level of the product on a scale from 0-10, with 10 being very toxic. Imagine my surprise when I discovered the Pampers wipes I was using were a 9 out of 10!! So my favorite wipes are Water Wipes and Seventh Generation. There is an unfortunate trend of everything that is better/good for us is more expensive than those that are not too/harmful to us. So chemical-free wipes, diapers, materials, shampoo, etc. are more expensive, but I’ve learned to just prioritize and keep rolling…cause mom guilt is a big, ugly bear, and it will maul you if you just sit there thinking about how you should model your life after Little House on the Praire.
17. Baby hat. You are going to want to protect that buttery smooth skin and those baby blues, so make sure you get a hat. I highly recommend this one because it is adjustable to the size of your slobber monster’s rapidly growing cranium. This is one of those things that once you need it, it’s too late, so go ahead and get one now.
18. Baby socks and mittens. Everyone told me not to get these because they would just fall off repeatedly, but I’m one of those 90-year-old women trapped in a 20-something-year-old’s body, so my hands and feet are chronically cold, and I hate having cold appendages. So, I got them for Emory, and even though I’ve had to place and replace them on her feet a lot, it gave me peace of mind knowing my little love bunch is warm and cozy. I would just recommend getting ones like these that have extra material that folds over the top because it helps keep them on. For the first couple of months, Emory’s hands always seemed to be cold, and as I mentioned above, she hated them wrapped up in a blanket, so I went to the store and bought mittens. Even though she only used them for the first few months before she started staring at and sucking on her hands all the time, I’m glad I got them. These are the ones I got, but you might want to try a different brand because one mitten always seemed bigger than the other and would more easily fall off all the time.
19. Diaper Genie. This isn’t an essential, but it sure is nice to have. Yes, you smell dirty diapers with a sprinkle of pit ‘o hell for the 2 seconds that it is open, but once it’s shut again, the smell truly is locked in. The only thing I don’t like about it is that you have to keep buying the bag refills. If you don’t get the Diaper Genie, at least get a trashcan with a foot pedal that will keep a lid on the contents at all times.
20. Crib. My lovely MIL and sisters-in-law got this crib, and we love it, AND it was easy to put together.
21. Diaper rash cream. Boudreaux’s Butt Paste really works.
22. Sound machine. This item probably depends on your theory on infant sleep and whether or not you decide to sleep train, but I would say it’s better to have it and return it if you find you don’t need it. My personal favorite is this adorable owl sound machine and nightlight by Skip Hop for several reasons. It’s has a feature that allows you to set the sound for 15, 30, 60 minutes or continuously. It also projects starts on the ceiling with the push of a button, and has multiple songs and sounds to choose from. If you think you’ll be traveling with your little one a lot, you may want to look into getting the Sleep Sheep. It will only play for 23 or 45 minutes, but that was long enough to get Emory to sleep on our trip to New Orleans. But it also has lots of different sounds and songs to choose from.
22. Breathable Mesh Crib Liner. This one equals so much peace of mind for me. I don’t want Pookie Bear’s little arms or legs sticking out of the crib, but I also don’t want to fix that problem by creating a smothering hazard. This offers the best of both worlds.
23. Car seat. The wonderful women at our church gave us this Britax B Agile/B Safe 35 Travel System, and it affords a lot of peace of mind on top of being very easy to use and switch back and forth from the car to the stroller.
Here are some more important items in no particular order:
- Baby swing (We got this one and this one and liked them. One is stationary and one is portable.)
- Bottle dryer rack (We have this one with no complaints)
- Changing table, changing table pad, pad covers–the cuter the better, but they will get poop on them at some point (Ours is a Graco-similar to this one- and Emory loves staring at the Graco emblem on the back…she’s been fascinated by it since she was only weeks old!)
- Hooded towels (we have these and this one and love them…they’re so cute!)
- Wash cloths
- Nursing bras
- Mattress cover and sheets
- Burp cloths
- Fingernail file (I’m nervous about using the nail clippers on her just yet)
- Nursing cover
- Baby toys for various developmental stages. I do recommend this one, and this one is Emory’s absolute favorite
- Backseat car mirror
- Diapers, of course (we’ve used mostly Pampers, but I prefer Pampers Baby Dry, and dislike Pampers Swaddlers)
Lastly, you’re going to want to get on Facebook and type in ‘Daily Dose of Pink Rose Momma’ in the search box and join the page. This page is the ultimate hookup to deals, price drops, and coupons on baby, kids, momma, and family items on Amazon. Alternatively, just shoot me a message that you’d like to be added, and I’ll add you! This has seriously saved us so much money.
What #1 most essential baby item would you recommend to a first time mom?