There are a number of Magpie readers expecting their first babies (and a couple of mothers expecting #2, #3 and even #4!) who have reached out with newborn-related inquiries in the past few weeks, and while I can barely remember the newborn days (God’s way of ensuring women are open to having more than one child?), I do handily recall a few products that I leaned on heavily those hazy first few weeks. I think that if you only bought the following items, you would be more or less squared away until the baby is a few months old…
1 // [ED NOTE: I believe the Boppy lounger has been recalled at this point! I think the bigger point is having several places to ‘put baby down’ — rule of thumb being have one ‘baby holder’ in each room!] Dock a Tot or Boppy Lounger. I had the latter (a fraction the cost of the Dock-a-Tot), but the former comes in prettier prints. Whichever you go with, these serve an urgent purpose: they give you an extra space to put down the baby when you are not feeding, burping, or rocking. I love these cushions in particular because they are lightweight and portable — you can plop them down on the couch, on a table, on the floor of a bathroom, etc. — and they work from the day the baby is born (other contraptions like swings/bouncers may not). You can also swaddle them and put them down for naps in these, feed them bottles while propped up in these next to you, etc.
2 // Baby Bjorn Mini. Simply the easiest-to-use carrier I ever tried. I really wanted to be one of those baby-wearing moms, but I never felt like I got the hang of the slings/wraps, and I tried three — I always felt like my babies were falling out of them? I am sure this was user error but the Baby Bjorn mini enabled me to carry Hill around everywhere and partially fulfill my dream of being a baby-wearer. This is SO easy and comfortable to use! I’ve written about this extensively elsewhere, but I feel like so many of the baby carriers try to do too much. Wear to the front! The back! Facing upside down! Doubles as a backpack! Includes a sun visor! Because of this, a lot of carriers are over-engineered and have too many straps and clasps. (Is there anything more alarming than finding your way into one and then ending up with random snaps and straps in your hand? Like, where does this go?) This one has a simpler purpose: it makes carrying a baby under a year a dream.
3 // Ubbi Diaper Pail. Not the area you want to scrimp — these are attractive and contain the smell.
4 // Tubby Todd Ointment. Just the best. Works on anything from baby acne to diaper rush to dry skin. Still buy this in bulk to use on my children!
5 // Kissy Kissy footies. My favorite brand — the sweetest prints, the softest cotton, and they hold up excellently in the wash. Whenever my mom asked me if I needed anything for the babies, I’d ask for more Kissy Kissy footies.
6 // Philips Avent bottles. Some babies prefer certain brands (and their nipples) over others, and so I bought a couple different brands for both children, but these were always everyone’s favorite. They make mixing formula easy because the mouth is wide, and they don’t come with like ten parts (some bottles have so many components). I also like that this brand has nipples with different speeds — you can swap out the “0” or “1” speed for “2, 3, 4” as baby grows and becomes more adept at using the bottle. Interestingly, mini went from 0-speed to 4-speed within a year but Hill has always been happy at speed 2! Philips Avent also comes in 4 oz and 8 oz sizes, but the tops/nipples are interchangeable, which was great. Other popular brands we tried: Comotomo (shape is supposed to mimic mom’s breast better than others — I found this one more likely to leak and easier to knock over on the bedside table, but the babies liked it; on the plus side, it has an extra-wide mouth so it made formula mixing SUPER easy) and LifeFactory (the mouth is super-narrow and difficult to mix formula in, and I found the nipple more difficult for my children to use — it’s a little firmer than others — but it is glass, and I know that some moms prefer that to plastic!)
7 // OXO Weighted Wipes Dispenser — I can’t imagine life without this. (Still.) It enables you to grab just one wipe with one hand. (You tap the top once and it springs open. You grab one wipe, single-handed — not a chain of 34 or a clump stuck together.) An absolute must-have. Anything that enables you to do anything with one hand as a parent is worth it.
8 // Sleep to Dream swaddles — I am a total convert. I used old-fashioned swaddles with mini but these were a godsend because Hill really liked to sleep with his hands up by his face (he was always angrily writhing out of my swaddles!) but these prevented him from waking himself with his own startle reflex. Absolutely brilliant.
9 // 1212 onesies. My favorite. So soft and so thoughtfully-designed — the lap-shoulder opening makes it easy to take on and off baby’s delicate head without any yanking, and there are only two snaps at the crotch! Two, not three!
10 // OXO formula dispenser. If you are using formula or supplementing with it, this will be your best friend. It has obvious uses outside the home, but I found it a Godsend for nighttime, when I’d measure out enough formula in each compartment for all three nighttime feeds, pre-fill bottles with the appropriate amount of water, and have it all lined up on my bedside table.
11 // Monte Ninna Nanna Bassinet. Truthfully, any bassinet would work — I just love the design of this style (I have a slightly older model that is all wood). I did not try the Snoo because I’d invested in the Monte before it was really a thing, but I would be intrigued if I were a new mom! I think you can rent it, which is brilliant especially for urban moms. I’m currently in a situation where I just cannot part ways with the bassinet (I am so irrationally attached to it!) and yet it takes up SO much space in our apartment! I also think the Stokke Sleepi (especially the mini style — perfect for small apartments or if you have twins!) is attractive and can see the appeal of the Halo Bassinest, which more or less becomes like a sidecar off your bed — i.e., a dream for nighttime feeds.
12 // 4Moms Swing. Another heavily, heavily used item in our home. Basically, the more places you have to “put down your baby” (safely) so you can wash the dishes, take a shower, or just glaze over in front of the TV, the better. Both of my babies loved this, but the Baby Bjorn bouncer is another good contender — takes up a little less space and more attractive to look at. Both items are a bit of a risky buy since some babies HATE swings, or HATE bouncers, or HATE both, but I say go for one or the other because when you are exhausted, you will happily pay $200 to attempt to give yourself a break for some stretch of time. Worth the risk.
13 // Bugaboo Stroller. Hot debate between the Bugaboo and Uppababy, but I love our Bugaboo. The point is to find a stroller that meets your needs. Because we live a pedestrian life, we have found the full feature stroller a necessity — like our traveling home base! — and I love how easy-to-use and lightweight this one is compared to other brands. (It also comes with great accessories, including a foot board for Emory to ride on, a snack tray, cupholders, etc.)
14 // Nuna Pipa Carseat. Ultra-safe and one of the lightest-weight on the market (maybe still the lightest weight?), which is important because you WILL find yourself near-dragging it down a street in haste at some point. I also like that this is compatible (with the purchase of adapters) with a lot of other stroller sets, including the Bugaboo and Yoyo, which we also own.
15 // Aden + Anais Burpy Bibs. These and plain-old Gerber cloth diapers were my favorite burp cloths because they are both highly absorbent and ultra-soft. The Burpy bibs earn a slight edge because I like the design — fit around the crook of your neck when burping a baby over your shoulder, but can also be used as a bib for feeding baby from a bottle (it snaps around baby’s neck). Genius.
Three smaller items I loved but that aren’t quite as urgent as the items above — these fleece booties (only ones I found that actually stayed on baby’s foot), Wubbanub pacifiers (cute but have the more important functions of keeping the pacifier in baby’s mouth — harder for them to displace — and being easier to retrieve/find under crib), and Boon drying grass.
If you are having your first, I feel very confident that if you buy the items above, you will be well teed-up for at least the first few months. You can get by without a baby bath (sink works), baby gym/mat (old quilt works), and even a proper changing table (if you are like me, and baby sleeps in your room, you will do most diaper changes at the foot of your bed) until the baby is older! We also used a sound machine with both babies but in retrospect I’m not totally sure it was necessary. (I think it’s important to have babies adjust to the ambient sounds of the house and its inhabitants at some point…!) You can even hold off on the baby monitor until baby is out of your room, if you’re deferring purchases for whatever reason. (We have the Infant Optics one, which has served us well and without many complaints for almost four years now, and you can even add extra cameras onto it — which we did when Hill was younger and we wanted to keep an eye on both babies simultaneously. This Eufy was not out when I bought the I.O. nearly four years ago, but I would probably pick it if I were buying now — it gets even better reviews.)
I am not even touching upon items you need for yourself — breast bump, nipple cream, etc — but will work on that post shortly!
You got this, mama!
P.P.S. The lopsided dance of motherhood.
P.P.P.S. To the new mom feeding her baby at 3 a.m.