My must haves:
- A baby bath tub
|Fisher-Price Precious Planet Whale of a Tub|
Babies are tiny, and when they're wet, they're super slippery! For their first couple weeks, they just get sponge baths until their umbilical cord stump falls off. I tried many many many different kinds of bath tubs, and I didn't find a winner until I had Ryan. Not only is it super cute (how can you not love the whale?), but it was the only one that I didn't have trouble with leaks. Also, the green insert is contoured so the baby sits in there and doesn't slip down (another thing other tubs were lacking!). The insert does come out later so when the baby can sit, they can sit in that bottom part. Ryan loved his so much that we were still using it on our kitchen counter after he turned one. It was a sad day when we put the whale tub away :(
- Potty chair
|Fisher-Price Precious Planet Potty|
Okay, so we didn't need this until later (for some of our kids it was much much later...). But it's so cuuuute! My favorite part about this one is that where the eyes are is nice and high up and acts as a splash guard for messy little boys. It's rounded and has no sharp edges, so when boys sit down, they won't hurt themselves (we had 2 previous potties that the splash guard hurt Nate, causing him to not want to use the potty anymore). It's also easy to clean, and the insert is big enough that it doesn't leak. It doesn't have bells and whistles like some do (which some kids love), but all in all this one was and still is a winner!
- An infant car seat
|Graco Snugride Classic Connect Infant Car Seat, Little Hoot pattern|
I don't know how some parents can skip this step and go right to the convertible car seat! My sister-in-law Jen skipped an infant car seat with my nephew, and I am just in awe of that. I loooved the infant seat primarily for one reason: I didn't have to keep pulling a baby out of their seat. With an infant one, if you're grocery shopping and your baby is sleeping, you just unhook the seat from it's base (which remains strapped in the car), and carry the seat or put it in a shopping cart. My kids always slept in their car seat when we'd be in the car, and they hated getting out of it. The whole not having to keep moving a sleeping baby was really handy for us. We only really ever needed one base, but if both parents are working and sharing pick up from daycare duties, two bases could really be handy.
Also, a higher price tag does not always mean better quality. Research the seats before you get one! We liked the cheaper Graco ones, and they were just as good in reviews and safety scores as some of the more expensive ones. Oh, and you cannot leave the hospital unless your baby is in a car seat and strapped in properly!
- A high chair or booster seat
|Graco Simple Switch High Chair, Little Hoot pattern|
I actually have not found a high chair that I am super in love with. All the ones I have used have had pros and cons to them, but one thing is for sure: babies are messy, and feeding them in your lap is not the best option!
A high chair has to be easy to clean. One of the chairs we had was so hard to clean we'd actually have to put the whole thing in our shower, let hot water run over it for 10 - 20 minutes, then let it sit for an hour just to get all the food out of the nooks and crannies. It was a huge pain in the butt!
A new feature they have (which I never saw until after Ry was born) is that they have combination high chair and booster seat. Once the baby doesn't need a high chair and can start eating at the table, it can convert into a booster seat. One less thing to buy!
If space is a problem, just skip a high chair and get a booster seat.
- Lots of diapers and wipes
This one is hopefully a given. We did disposable diapers, but have heard a lot of wonderful things about cloth diapers as well.
Some tips on diapers:
- Make sure you have a lot on hand! You will need them.
- Don't go buy all one brand of diapers before the baby is born. Get a few small packs of each brand until you know what works for your baby. We used Luvs for the boys, but could use generic store brand for Paige. One of my friends can only use Huggies. Babies come in all shapes and sizes, and some diapers will work and other definitely won't.
- A bouncy seat
|Fisher-Price Infant to Toddler Rocker in Bug Friends pattern|
Sometimes a Mommy just needs to take a shower for 5 minutes, and no one is around to hold the baby. A bouncy seat is awesome because you can strap a baby in, and there are toys to distract them long enough to realize Mommy's no where to be seen or she's not holding me (hopefully!).
There are two kinds of seats that I really liked. The first one was one we borrowed from a friend when Paige was little. It was awesome because whenever she'd kick her legs, it would light up and play music. It encouraged her to move, and it kept her distracted enough that I could get a shower in or finish up a home work assignment for college. This Monkey bouncer would have been perfect for my little monkey, and it has the same features as the one we had 8 years ago.
The other kind we had for Nate and Ry. It didn't have any bells and whistles, which was a plus when Mommy had a headache, but they still loved it and tried batting at the toys. One of the things we loved about this style is when you're done with it as a bouncer chair, it switched into a toddler rocking chair!
- Infant Tylenol (or something similar)
This is a lifesaver when teething starts. Or for after shots. Make sure that you are always aware of how much their dose should be (it goes by weight, so it changes often).
- An exersaucer
|Evenflo Exersaucer Triple Fun Active Learning Center, Life in the Amazon pattern|
These things are HUGE. But once a baby is too big or bored of a bouncy seat and has decent core muscle strength, this is a great way to keep them entertained. Or it can be used as a baby jail if they're crawling and getting into things they shouldn't. We had a simple one that my aunt got for like $10 at a garage sale for Paige, and then when I was pregnant with Ry, another aunt and uncle bought one for their grandson when they were all in town, and when they left, they gave it to us for Ry :) My sister-in-law Gretchen either wanted this one (or a similar style) or got it for my niece; it looks even better than a normal exersaucer because it can do more and grow with the baby, too!
- A diaper bag
|Diaper Dude Diaper bag|
These come in all shapes and sizes. We've had regular diaper bags, a backpack style one, small ones, large ones....my personal favorite was the fifty cent canvas bag we got at a garage sale! It had two large pockets on the inside with a zippered pocket dividing them, and then a bunch of little pockets all around the outside. It was fantastic, and we still use it sometimes when the kids are going to spend the night at their grandparent's house. Our friends at church just use a regular backpack. It doesn't have to be fancy or cost a lot of money. But pockets are a great thing to help keep things organized and easily accessible!
- Baby sized nail clippers
|Safety 1st Fold-Up Baby Nail Clipper|
Baby nails grow so ridiculously fast! And they are sooooo tiny. And the babies squirm. All these things put together make it very easy to accidentally cut fingers along with the nails (but trust me, it bothers whoever's trimming nails more than it does the baby). These are my most favoritist nail clippers. They're longer and fit in your hand better, giving the person clipping the nails better control. These are just a couple dollars at Target, which makes it handy because they're very easy to lose.
- Silky blankets
Babies love texture, especially if it's silky. When we were in the hospital just after having Paige, Gretchen brought Paigey a pink silky blanket. Gretchen had had one when she was little, so Paige needed one, too. We found out quickly that we'd need a second one as Paige couldn't sleep without it (making washing her blanket very difficult). When we were pregnant with Nate, we registered for two. It was very sad when we were pregnant with Ryan and discovered that they weren't made anymore in the style and size we wanted. So I made two. All three of my kids still love theirs and sleep with them (although Paige is getting to the point where it's only an at home thing...man, they grow up fast!).
- Lanolin cream
|Lansinoh Lanolin cream|
This is a must if you nurse. NO EXCUSES. I nursed Nate for 10 months without this and was in excruciating pain the whole time. I didn't make that mistake with Ryan. If I missed an application or two, I could tell the difference! It made the whole nursing process go much smoother and I didn't dread feeding time...well, at least until he got teeth at 2 1/2 months, but that's another story.
Things I didn't like/need:
- Wipes warmer
We were given one of these for Paige, but we never used it. My big fear was that she would get used to warm wipes and then we'd be out somewhere and cold wipes would freak her out. I've also heard a lot of warmers dry out the wipes.
- Diaper pail
Whoa, what? I didn't like a diaper pail? No, not really. We tried these three times, once with Paige and twice with Nate. After a week each time we pretty much gave up and used a plastic grocery bag and threw it out every night. When babies are little, their poop doesn't smell until you start feeding them solid foods. As long as you take the bag out every night, you won't have a build up of pee smell. By the time they're ready for solid foods, their diapers are so big that, at least for us, we felt like we were emptying it ever few diapers. It wasn't worth the cost to us. Also, I didn't like the scent for the liners we had been using.
- Burp cloths
How can you not love burp cloths? They're so cute and have fun patterns, and you always get a ton of them for your baby shower! Maybe because when a baby spits up it goes all over the teensy weensy little burp cloth and then it goes all over Mom or Dad's shoulder, the couch, the hair, etc. etc. We always used receiving blankets; they were much bigger, and we always had plenty of them!
Handy, but not necessary:
- Nursing pillow
I had an off brand one, and honestly I did like it, but more for propping Nate up when he was little because he had acid reflux and couldn't lie flat. For that reason alone, I loved having one of these. I never seemed to get enough support from the pillow to nurse properly. Pillows always worked just fine for me. My sister-in-law Gretchen loves this one; the only downside is/was that the covers are expensive (and you'll want covers).
- Swaddle blankets
Again, some people can't live without these. However, my oldest two children HATED being swaddled. Ryan loved it, but I just used oversized lightweight blankets for him and finally learned the proper swaddling technique before we left the hospital. Better late than never, right? These come in two different styles: oversized blanket or easy to use swaddlers that have to make sure the baby stays swaddled. Have some oversized blankets but your baby hates being swaddled? They work great for floor mats or car seat covers for protecting the baby from the elements.
- A swing
Oh man oh man. A swing is not used for very long, but those first few weeks of life, babies like gentle movements and a swing can provide those movements when your arms get oh so very tired. The problem is that not all babies like the way a swing moves. My kids liked their swings for the most part; the swing I have for them was amazing, but I don't think they make it anymore. It had a built in sensor so it could tell if the baby was asleep (it would stop playing music and moving), and if the baby started to wake, it would start up again. It was AWESOME.
One feature that I wish it had was that it would move side to side rather than just back and forth. Babies seem to prefer side to side motion, and this swing here has that feature. Where were these things when I needed them? :)
I'm sure I missed a lot of things we loved using or absolutely hated. Did I need everything on my must have list? No, we definitely could have lived without some of the items...but they definitely made our lives easier with them. Not everyone will agree with every item on my list; not even my kids all agree on the items! Each child is different, so figuring out what is a must have can be tricky.
What is on your must have list? Anything you absolutely hated or never used?