Ah, babydom, that magical time in a mother’s life where everything she buys, wears, eats, drinks, touches and even sleeps in has something to do with her baby. Babydom is an intensive season for new and experienced mothers alike, and just when you think you have babydom all figured out, along comes another child to create havoc on your delicate babydom ecosystem. Take heart, you will get through it – even if it’s with a little help from your friend crazytown. :)
You and I both know every mother has a unique sense of what items are needed for her particular family’s well-being. It goes without saying your must-have baby items might be completely different from mine, but one thing is for sure - having certain items (ahem, a swing or a stroller) do not indicate how well a woman mothers her child (it’s the internet I have to say this, cuz there are crazies out there, y’all). Okay, with that disclaimer out of the way, let’s get to it. In no certain or particular order, I give to you my 17 must-have baby items:
1. Arms Reach mini co-sleeper: Having your baby near you at night is just common sense, especially if you’re breastfeeding. This co-sleeper is the right size and shape, not too big and not too little. It slides up snug against your bed, and keeps your little one within arms reach. (Get it?) A bonus for me was that I was able to keep my night-stand at the top of my bed and then add the co-sleeper just underneath it without it taking over the entire room.
2. Phil and Teds Double Stroller: I love, I mean really, really love my Phil and Ted’s stroller. There are so many ways this stroller can be used, including varieties that my kids can sit in, or even lay down in. Plus, it moves through tiny spaces on a dime, it’s compact, sleek, and I can maneuver it with just one hand while both my kids are in it, and while I walk my dog on her leash with my other hand, so what’s not to love! I’ve even jogged with mine…on rare occasions…like when stuck in rainstorms and stuff. Anyway, if you’ve got more than one child, or plan on having more than one, get this stroller.
3. HoMedics Sound machine: This hot little number has saved my sanity. I’ve tried several sound machines and this one is my favorite. It has 6 different sounds available, including a heart-beat (which most newborns love) rain, and ocean (just to name a few). Your new baby is programmed from the womb to be comforted by rhythmic shushing noises (think dishwasher). After all, imagine what they’re hearing as they sleep tight inside your tummy: your heart beating, muffled noises from the outside, and your blood pumping through your body, it’s loud in there! White noise mimics that noisy, comforting environment for your baby and helps them fall asleep and stay asleep. Plus, it’ll drown out the noise of the neighbors dog barking, or maybe it’s your dog barking.
4. Dunstan Baby Language: Not every mother is gifted with an innate ability to understand her newborn’s cry. If you’re one of them, then you need to write a book and make some money. If you’re like the rest of us, who during those first few weeks struggled to make heads or tails of the cries of your little love, then this DVD is for you. Essentially, your newborn, and every newborn on the planet, has five universal cries. This DVD teaches you how to identify and decipher these five cries, allowing you to better understand your newborn’s needs. For instance, a “neh” sound in your baby’s cry means they’re hungry, and an “owh” sound in your baby’s cry means they’re tired. Dunstan Baby Language sets you on the right track for those first 12 weeks of a newborn’s life.
Don’t just take my word for it, check out this video clip to get a better idea of Dunstan Baby Language!
5. The Baby Book, by Dr. Sears: This book is the grand poobah of baby books. Inside you’ll find tips for sleep, and breastfeeding, and understanding your baby’s cues, and even what to expect and when. It’s a great general resource to have on hand for any parent – no matter your parenting philosophy. Actually, I recommend all of Dr. Sears’ books (you can find a list of them here). He writes in simple everyday english, keeps his writing charming and to the point, and offers a clinical aspect that’s tempered with a parent’s heart. Make sure this book is in your library before you have your baby!
6. Aden + Anais Muslin Swaddle Blankets: Ack! I love these blankets. They’re big, they’re light-weight, they’ve got adorable non-babyish prints, they wash and dry in a cinch, they’re not too hot, and they swaddle like a dream. Go get you some, momma!
7. Mei Tai Babyhawk carrier: This is my favorite baby carrier, and I’ve used a lot out there! I like how light weight it is and how it’s easy to use. I like that I can wear my baby on my front or my back. Plus, I can throw mine in the wash (gentle cycle), not to mention, it fits easily in my diaper bag. Oh this too – I can wear my newborn in it or my toddler. Did I mention it comes in great colors and prints? Are you sold yet?
8. Howling Wolf Herbs Bottoms Up Salve: If a girl could have a love affair with an all natural diaper cream this would be the one I would run away to Costa Rica with. I’ve written about Regina’s products before, Regina is the Owner of Howling Wolf Herbs and she doesn’t pay me to rave about her work. I believe in her products and have seen the amazing difference her care line makes. Especially this diaper salve. It’s all natural, smells a little like lavender, isn’t a white sticky cream, and it glides easily on to your little baby’s bum. And it seriously delivers! After a long and tiring battle fighting diaper rash with my first baby, I tried everything I could get my hands on – even an RX. After one application of Bottoms Up Salve, the volatile rash on my daughter’s tush started to fade dramatically. Since I’ve used Bottoms Up Salve I’ve never had a problem with diaper rash with either of my kids. Plus, you can use it with cloth diapers.
10. Olive Oil: When babies are fresh from the womb, for the first few days of their life, they have a very strange type of poo called meconium. This poo, while very normal for newborns, is black and tar-like, and sticks like burnt cheese on a frying pan to your baby’s soft little buns. In other words, it is a chore to clean. However, if when you change your newborn’s diaper, you apply with your finger or cotton swab, an ample coating of olive oil to their clean tushy, the next time they poop, the meconium will wipe up easily – making your diaper change a hundred times faster, and you’ll be so happy about this that you may come back and write me a thank you note – and I hope you do.
11. Kiddopotamus SwaddleMe Blankets: Swaddling is getting some mixed reviews in the childbirth community, and with reason. For one, there is a lot a baby can tell us about how they’re feeling based on what’s happening with their hands. Open palms with tense, rigid fingers mean that your baby is distressed, you’ll miss this cue if your baby is swaddled. On the other hand, soft, open, gentle fingers when nursing mean that your baby is getting full. In general it’s not a good idea to keep your baby swaddled all the time, especially when nursing – that’s actually when you want your baby skin-to-skin. However, my personal judgment tells me there is a time and place for a swaddle, and for my babies, swaddling at the end of the day calmed them down and helped them sleep. That said, sometimes my swaddles wouldn’t last the whole night through, but these SwaddleMe blankets with their velcro tabs kept the swaddle in place and kept my little ones from jerking awake with those random sleepy newborn arm waves (trust me, you’ll know what I mean when you see it happen).
12. Waterproof Lap Pads: You know how I slept with my babies right next to me, right? That meant that in the middle of night I would change their diaper right there on my bed, and these waterproof pads made that possible. I kept a small stack in my diaper caddy, (which I kept on my night stand) and at three in the morning after that 20 minute nursing session when the baby’s BM would arrive shortly after, I would lay this waterproof pad on my bed, grab a diaper and get ‘er done.
13. The 90 Minute Baby Sleep Program: Why isn’t this book more well-known? I just don’t know! It offers practical and sure-fire ways to get your baby to sleep without tears and gnashing of teeth. You can read Mommypotamus’ review and her experience with this book’s sleep suggestions here. I love this book so much – I think I loaned it to someone a while ago, because it’s been burning a hole in its empty spot on my book shelf. If you have it, can I have it back now, please?
14. Happiest Baby on the Block: You would be surprised at how many of us out there aren’t savvy to the brilliant concept of the fourth trimester this book shares and why this matters to us and our little ones. Essentially, the fourth trimester is the first three months of your baby’s life, and these 12 weeks or so need to mimic the life your baby experienced in the womb as much as posible. So how do we do that? With the five “S’s”: swaddling, side/stomach position, shushing, swinging and sucking. These simple comfort measures trigger our little one’s calming reflexes and allows our baby to find their happy place. The author teaches us exactly how to do the five “S’s” and explains why they’re necessary for our babies during their first three months of life. To learn more about the fourth trimester and the five “S’s”, click here for a great blog post.
15. Baby Swing: While not everyone agrees that swings are necessary, most everyone can agree that they’re useful. With my first child, we didn’t need a swing much – if ever, but with my second it gave me a chance to have uninterrupted quality time with my daughter. Plus, it was pretty much the only way I could get my son to take extended naps during the day when he was very young. My favorite swings are the kind that swing from side-to-side rather than front-to-back. Consumer Reports has a great piece on finding quality baby swings here.
16. Radio Fuzz: Can white noise on the radio be considered a baby item? Well that depends on if your baby cries like it’s doomsday every time they’re inside a moving vehicle. Try this trick out and let me know if it works to calm your baby like it did mine. Find a non-station on your radio dial – you know that white-fuzz-static noise station and add it to your radio’s memory. The next time your wee one begins to cry at full volume in the car while you’re driving 70 miles an hour down the highway – switch the radio to your white-noise station and turn it up … loud. Your little one should stop crying very quickly and your cortisol levels should begin to decline in moments.
17. Baby Glider: Every mother should have a corner set up somewhere in the house that is her designated love, rock, nurse, and gaze at the baby station. Mine has always been in my baby’s room. I love having one spot that I can take my baby to when it’s time to sleep and nurse. In order to make my spot comfy, I looked for a great baby glider. Simple right? Well, not really. If you know me very well at all, you know I don’t make any purchase without researching it first, including rocking chairs. And according to Consumer Reports, there’s a few things you need to know when choosing one for your nursery. Look at the seat of the glider, pick up the cushion and look under it. Are there springs there? If so, perfect. If it’s just wood, it’s going to make your tush sore – especially directly postpartum. So find a quality rocker that has springs on the seat. Next, look at the arms. Are they just plain wood? If so, that’s going to be uncomfortable for you and your baby. Find a glider that has padded arms. Also, don’t do what I did and buy a white glider…children and white just don’t mix, find a nice dark shade that hides the grub and you’ll be just fine.
There you have it! My 17 must-have baby items. Did you see anything you liked? Did you see something that didn’t work for you? What are your must-have baby items? Let me know what worked for you and why!
P.S. Stay tuned for my must-haves on postpartum care and breastfeeding – coming soon!