When I was pregnant with Alice, I felt like I had no idea what a baby needed. I remember walking into Babies 'R Us to do some research on what to register for and nearly having an anxiety attack - similar to my first foray into a wedding dress shop, where I walked in and immediately walked out again. I can't remember if I walked out of Babies 'R Us immediately, I kind of think I did but it was far away from my house so I may have forced myself to stay and wander around in an aimless, anxious panic. But either way, I was totally overwhelmed. I still had no idea what a baby really needed or where to even start figuring out what to get.
As it turns out, babies don't really need much aside from milk and cuddles, as many moms and dads all over the world can tell you. There are so many parents and babies making it work with only what comes with the kid - i.e., nothing. But baby gear has evolved to make things easier and safer and more convenient, and with all the cute doodads and fun gadgets and cool technology, it's easier and more convenient - and more fun - than ever to spend a fortune on stuff.
So after three kids, here's what we used and what we loved, and what I would put on a registry if I were doing it for the first time all over again. These are my favorite essential items, the things I couldn't - or wouldn't want to - do without. Some are specific to our "lifestyle choices", so if you are doing something different, these might not be relevant at all!
I've put together an Amazon affiliate store where you can shop lots of these goodies in one place. By shopping there, it generates income for me (a teeny, tiny bit!) though I have not received any compensation whatsoever for recommending or including any of these products. Many of the links below are affiliate links to my little storefront.
|Leachco Back 'N Belly Contoured Body Pillow|
I was so sorry I waited until my third pregnancy to buy this. It is wonderful and I couldn't have survived without it. I was scared away by the one-star reviews, and I totally see the issues that they mention, but they didn't really bother me and it totally worked for me.
Ok, this isn't something you can register for, but I found it really helpful and used it a lot in the last few weeks of pregnancy.
Full Term app: Pregnancy reference, kick counter, and labor contraction timer. I used this to time my contractions and then found out it was one of the apps my midwives and birth center preferred because of the visual read out it provided them. Available on the iTunes store and the Google Play store.
If you deliver at a hospital, you will likely go home with a big swag bag full of super useful stuff. I had no idea how amazing stretchy mesh underpants could be. However, if you deliver at a birthing center or at home, you will probably not get a goodie bag full of freebies. And even if you do get a swag bag, you might need to stock your own supplies for when the swag runs out. Since I wasn't planning on a hospital birth this last time, I made sure to have all of my favorites on hand ahead of time, including:
|My favorite postpartum supplies.|
Perineum bottle: Cleansing gentle enough for perineal stitches. Ouch.
Dermoplast: A numbing spray to take the sting away from those tender stitches. Again, ouch.
Water bottle: So you can keep plenty of water nearby during those long nursing sessions, and once you and baby are on the go.
Kindle! Jon got me a Kindle Paperwhite for Christmas and I love it. I didn't even know I needed or wanted one. I read more books in the first two months of this year than I did all last year. My library makes it so easy to check out books online and you can borrow and buy from Amazon right from your device. Plus, I use the Kindle app on my iPhone and literally always have my book with me. When I'm nursing, I can easily switch back and forth between my book and other apps to do anything I need.
OK, again, this one isn't something you need to register for, but I love it and use it all the time once baby comes home.
Total Baby iPhone app: Time and track baby's feedings, diapers, sleeping, milestones, doctor visits, growth, vaccines, allergies, and more. I rely on this heavily to keep track of nursing so I can remember what side I finished on, when baby ate, when baby will want to eat again. In the very early days, I find it really helpful to keep track of diapers and sleeping patterns as well. I can also keep track of how much I pumped and when. Only available for iPhone and iPad, but can manually sync between multiple users and devices.
*Sadly, I could not find a great source to buy your own stretchy mesh underpants, so if anyone knows where to get those outside of the hospital, do let us know!
I've been able to breastfeed exclusively with all my kids, and I haven't tried out a lot of gear in the feeding arena. But here's what I've loved.
|Ameda Comfort Gel pads|
Medela Pump In Style tote breast pump: A pump is an obvious must for any working mom, but I would recommend that all stay-at-home moms get one, too - I've already banked nearly 50oz of milk, and Elliott is only 7 weeks old. Especially now that the Affordable Healthcare Act requires that insurance providers cover the cost of a pump (thanks, Obamacare!!). Medela is a leader in the breast pump game and my original pump has lasted me five years, through nearly twelve months of pumping at work, and it's still going strong. Talk to your doctor though, as their recommendation may affect what your insurance will reimburse.
|Medela freezer containers|
|I have this Bebe Au Lait cover in Yoko|
|Motherlove More Milk Plus supplement|
|Mother's Milk tea|
I'd like to try:
An infinity nursing scarf. I'm planning to make a few of my own but if I can't get around to it, I really like the looks of these from Bebe Au Lait and these by Itzy Ritzy.
|Infinity nursing scarves from Bebe Au Lait and Itzy Ritzy.|
A pumping bra: I probably should have used one, what with all the pumping I did at work! If I'd pumped in my own office, I would have definitely gotten one so that I could have kept working...
Didn't totally love:
Boppy nursing pillow: I mean, I do love the Boppy pillow, I just didn't think it was super necessary. I used it a lot with Alice in the beginning, but then I just used whatever pillow was around to prop under my elbow. I only used it a few times with Ivy, and haven't used it for nursing at all with Elliott. If you are having trouble any breastfeeding, or are anxious about it, a positioning pillow is a great tool. I figure though, that our bodies are pretty much made to do this without any expensive accessories, so I just kind of do whatever feels most comfortable for the situation we're in. Though I do like to prop babies up in the Boppy, before they are ready for the Bumbo seat!
Lanolin. I find it to be too sticky. When I've had cracked nips (usually just in the first few weeks), coconut oil has worked just fine.
|Baby-Led Weaning instruction manual|
Baby-Led Weaning by Gill Rapley and Tracey Murkett
We got a crib for the nursery that transitions to a toddler bed and then to a full-size headboard. I think it's a great investment given the longevity of the furniture. Alternatively, a cheap crib and a cheap toddler bed, and a cheap and versatile "big kid" bed could be about the same cost as a good piece of furniture if you don't want to commit to one piece for that long. Worth thinking about your long-term plan, there, though! And because we've always had a baby in the crib, we haven't even actually used the crib as a toddler bed though, we've always just bumped the kid up to a new bed...
|Naturepedic organic crib mattress|
We like our babies to sleep in our room for a while, as that reduces the risk of SIDS, but I'm not into the family bed situation (sleep is my most precious resource and I need my space!). So we looked for a good baby bed/bassinet option to fit the bill and our room. We tried a few different things with the girls, but what we're using with Elliott is the winner hands-down. I think it came out after Ivy was born, so I'm glad I had a third just so I could get and use one!
|HALO Bassinest Swivel Sleeper|
|Angelcare Monitor AC401 Deluxe|
Video Monitor: Some people question whether audio/video monitors are necessary. Our old house was very small and we could normally hear anyone crying, so we didn't usually use the audio functions on either monitor. We would turn up the audio if we went outside, or were in the shower or something. But the video function was super helpful to check on our kids when they were crying, to figure out whether we needed to rush in there or not. I've also loved being able to see them sleeping without having to risk waking them. We call it the baby channel, and we frequently use up the battery just checking in to see them sleeping. Grandparents especially enjoy. And I have a whole photo series of their cute sleeping positions... So I would definitely recommend a video monitor, for entertainment value alone, even if you aren't totally convinced that you really need it.
|Summer Infant SwaddleMe velcro swaddle|
I'd like to try:
I've had my eye on a few other types of swaddles, like the Swaddle Up and the Swaddle Strap.
The Sproutling Monitor also looks pretty awesome, in place of the Angel Care monitor. I just don't know that you'd be able to use it for quite as long as the Angel Care before a curious toddler starts fiddling with it.
Didn't totally love:
|Graco Pack 'N Play with Snuggle Suite|
|Hushamok Dream Hammock|
Baby Delight Snuggle Nest: We tried a version of this in our bed and didn't love it. It just didn't seem comfortable for the baby, and we weren't comfortable having between us in our bed. We didn't like that we couldn't use the Angel Care monitor, either. I know a lot of people love this, and love co-sleeping and bed sharing, but this set up just wasn't right for us.
I hope some of this is helpful for other moms, or anyone with a new or expecting mama in their life. I'll share some more favorites in my next post, including diapers, strollers, bouncer seats, and high chairs!
What are/were your favorite must-haves for pregnancy, postpartum, and baby feeding and sleeping?