There are so many baby products out there vying for our attention, it’s hard to weed out what we really need and what will just end up as clutter. That’s why I wanted to write a straight forward post on my top 7 newborn essentials. Each of these things I use every single day and sometimes multiple times per day.
I consider myself a minimalist and the biggest neat freak you will meet, mainly because I have a tiny yet expensive 3 bedroom house right outside of a big city, and I have no room for unnecessary products, square footage wise and budget wise.
So here is my list of what I consider essential baby products that will make mom life so much easier.
- Receiving Blankets
- Breast Pump, Bottles & Bottle Warmer
- Baby Carrier
- Sleeping/Lounging Nest or Bassinet with a Wearable Blanket
- Infant Carseat Stroller Combo and Car Mirror
- Cloth Diapers
1. Receiving Blankets
I use these every day for multiple purposes. When baby girl was a newborn, we used them as swaddle blankets. Now I mainly use them as burp cloths, I put them over my chest when I burp her in case she spits up on me. I also use them as a light blanket for her carseat or swing. These days she also like sucking on them.
Some days I’ll go through ten of these, thankfully my friend gave me about 20, but they’re pretty cheap to buy brand new.
Don’t forget to wash them before baby arrives in an all natural non-scented detergent.
2. Breast Pump, Bottles & Bottle Warmer
If you’re breastfeeding an want a moment to yourself, or if you have to go back to work, you have to get a pump. It’s also nice to have if baby decides she’s not hungry and your boobs are engorged, hard, and hurting.
One of my friends gave me her old Playtex 1st generation pump, but after about a month, both elbows broke and I couldn’t get any suction. Another friend gave me her unused handheld Medela pump, but it takes a lot of effort and time to work, my forearms were burning by the end. I thought I needed the $250 Medela pump, until I decided to do a little research.
I found this Haoqin pink single pump* for $30, and I was pleasantly surprised at how well it worked. It is so much smaller, lighter, and quieter than the 1st generation Playtex, plus it has different suction modes and speeds. It works so well, it only takes me 5 minutes to do both sides and I get almost 5 ounces every time. I love it! I decided to go with the single pump because I usually breast feed her while I’m pumping, so I hardly ever use 2 at a time. I do however bring the pump with me to work and it takes me an extra 2.5 minutes to switch and do the other side. If it were really that big of a deal and I needed a double pump I would buy the blue Beleef double pump for $90. Either way, I realized I don’t need the most expensive pump, these ones work just as well.
When you go to freeze your milk for later use, you’ll need a simple way to heat the milk back up. Dominick loves The First Years bottle warmer, since we do not use microwaves, plus it’s a great pacifier sterilizer. It’s really easy, just fill it up with a bit of water, cover it up, and push the button. That’s it, it even turns off by itself.
I really liked the idea of glass bottles, they clean better, no plastic chemicals to worry about leeching into milk and even if you dropped these, they don’t break easily, in fact we haven’t had one break yet. The only problem is that you can take a frozen glass bottle and put it in the bottle warmer. So we mostly end up using the Medela plastic bottles. However if I just pump and give the bottle directly to Dominick for feeding I use the glass bottles.
3. Baby Carrier
There are a lot of different baby carriers out there. The first decision you have to make is do you want a wrap/sling, best for newborns and younger babies or do you want the sturdier carrier that converts from newborn all the way through toddler years. I was thankfully gifted both and I like them both for different reasons. Baby girl likes the wrap/sling best as of 3 months, but eventually she’ll grow out of it.
The next decision is which brand has everything you want and need, adjustability, specific fabric, pockets, cost, etc. Based on the everything, I decided to go with Boboa, however I know a lot of people who also like the Bjorn and Moby wrap.
Warp/Sling Pros vs Cons
- (Pro) More flexible and soft for baby, hugs them in all the right places.
- (Pro) Cheaper.
- (Con) Harder to put on.
- (Con) Only good for a couple years.
- (Pro) Easier to put on and very adjustable.
- (Pro) Lasts through all stages of baby wanting to be held.
- (Con) More rigid and less flexible.
- (Con) Twice as expensive.
Either way baby girl likes to be held most of the time, but when momma has s*** to do, strapping her to me let’s me do what I gotta do while keeping her happy. They have also allowed me to climb mountains and walk the dog easily.
I was apprehensive at first because they take up so much room, but my mom was insistent that we needed a swing, especially since we didn’t have a rocking chair, and now I’m glad we have it. Adrianna loves her swing and uses it everyday. We love the Graco DuetSmooth because it changes directions from rocker to swing, it plays many different types of music, has 2 levels of vibration, and the seat reclines, has an insert that can be taken off easily and washed, and the whole seat comes off so you can transport it anywhere if she falls asleep in it. The only weird thing about it, is that the bears look like there hanging themselves lol, but she loves looking at them.
There are a lot of different options out there, you can get the expensive one that has 5 different motions and looks really nice and modern, the cheaper one that has one direction but fold ups nicely for easy storage, or the in between one that we have the rocks and swings. Most of them play music and come with a mobile.
5. Sleeping/Lounging Nest -or- Bassinet with a Wearable Blanket
At first I went with the bassinet and the Halo Sleep Sack, aka wearable blanket/swaddler, we also had to get a mattress pad and sheets. The mattress pad it comes with is so thin and uncomfortable it’s laugable. It was nice being able to move the bassinet to any room, she loves laying awake in it kicking her legs, but because there was so much empty space, it was hard to get her to stay asleep without startling herself. So that’s what made the swaddle blankets so nice, they keep her wrapped up tight so she doesn’t startle herself awake from flailing her arms or legs.
The problem is, she mostly likes to fall asleep nursing, or in my arms; trying to get her swaddled up while she’s sleeping is the trickiest task I have ever encountered. Then I would try to anticipate her falling asleep and put the swaddle blanket on before, but it’s awkward to have her arms swaddled up while nursing, she likes to grab me and have her hands free, plus I don’t feel comfortable wrapping her up tight while holding her tight to my chest for an adequate latch. It just wasn’t woking as smooth as I’d like.
The other problem is, the bassinet label says it’s only safe up up to 10lbs which most babies hit at 3 months so you can’t use it for long before you have to store it. Thankfully it does fold up nice. I did like he fact that I could take her outside with the bugs getting her, so she could get her vitamin D and some fresh air.
My whole world opened up when I got the sleeping nest. Before I basically just caved and kept her on my chest because if I laid her down, I’d risk waking her up and getting her cranky from not napping well. I was stuck for hours upon hours, but I thought “embrace it, this is only a phase, enjoy every last second of her being this little.” I still embrace it but I needed a little more freedom.
The sleeping nest hugs her so if she does startle, she hits the walls of the nest and goes back to sleep. Finally I could lay her down and get her to stay asleep, this was my magic ticket to getting work done in the office, eating lunch in peace, or just having a second to breath. I don’t even mess with the swaddle blankets anymore, I just make sure she’s dressed warm and sometimes I’ll put a blanket over her and tuck the sides under the nest so she can’t move it.
If I had to do it all over again I would skip the bassinet and sleep-sacks and just get the Lappi Baby Nest and save a bunch of money. This is even more portable than the bassinet and you can put it on the couch, on the bed, or even on the floor. It evens fits in the bassinet so I could have skipped the mattress and used this instead, oh well you live and you learn.
There is also a more expensive verison called dock-a-tot, but why pay more when the Lappi is so well made, and I actually think it looks better.
I think I’ll even get the grand size once she grows out of this one, but this one will probably last her until she’s 6 months old, and maybe she won’t even need it by then and I’ll just put her in her big crib.
6. Infant Carseat Stroller Combo and Car Mirror
Dominick and I were a little naive when it came to transporting baby girl. We thought “oh we don’t need a stroller, we’ll just carry her around in the baby carrier”. Well then reality set in, and baby girl fell asleep in the car, we don’t want to wake her, so this next essential is a car seat that comes with a base and a stroller so you can easily take it out of the car and directly into the stroller or into the house. This makes a world of a difference and not only for when she fall’s asleep, but if you have a quick errand to run and you don’t want to unfasten and fasten her back up, as well as putting on and taking off the baby carrier. It’s also nice to be able to store the diaper bag underneath the stroller and to be able to put a blanket over her in the winter.
I bought the first one shown below, but now looking back I wish I had bought the second one because we like to go off roading on dirt trails and the big wheels would do much better. That’s why I’m writing this post to help all the new mom’s out there make the best decisions for their needs the first time.
Another useful product is the car mirror. So many times I wanted to know what she was doing and if she was still breathing while I drove an hour to my clients and back. I couldn’t see her and the worry would set in, did her sweatshirt creep up onto her face, did her head fall to one side and cramp up her neck, did she kick the blanket up into her face? You know all the little things that new moms worry about. But with the mirror I could see that nothing crazy happened, and she was just being quiet looking around and eventually falling asleep.
7. Cloth Diapers
We started off with the pamper newborns that the hospital gave us. I liked that it had a line that changed colors to let us know when it was soiled and needed to be changed. But the problem with disposable diapers, besides the exorbitant cost, is that they gave baby girl rashes, and this is probably just me but I hated that she always smelled like baby powder. It’s also a pain when you weren’t expecting to make a trip but you have to go out to buy more diapers. Also we had a few blowouts where poop travelled up her back somehow.
Once we switched to cloth diapers all those problems went away. She hasn’t gotten a rash since, we never have to make a sudden trip because we didn’t anticipate how many diapers we needed for the week, she doesn’t smell like baby powder, no blowouts and we’re saving a bunch of money!!
For wipes we use Viva paper towels and dip them in a pint sized mason jar filled with 1 part apple cider vinegar and 3 parts water. The apple cider vinegar helps keep rashes away, pee can actually burn their skin because it’s so alkaline. We then rub on coconut oil mixed with almond oil on her bum, put the poo catching diaper liner on the cloth diaper and button her up. We also use two small covered trash cans, one for cloth diapers and one for dirty wipes and liners.
So far it has been fairly easy, now when we need diapers we just do a load of laundry, the only part that’s not so fun is removing the microfiber pads from the pocket of the diaper, it’s just damp and smells like pee, the poo catcher really does catch the poo so it’s easy to get rid of and doesn’t stain the diaper. The last step is putting the pads back in the diaper once they’re clean. Overall not too labor intensive.
There are a couple different types of cloth diapers, we tried the pre-folds but they always leaked through, so I’m not even going to list these. The pocket diapers are by far the best, they have a waterproof cover that can snap into different sizes from newborns to toddlers, you should be able to use them until they are potty trained. In the waterproof liner there is a pocket where you stick in the microfiber or bamboo insert, these are highly absorbent and we have never had a leak through or blow out.
We bought 12 diapers and that’s really all we need. We rarely have to use all of them in one day which allows us to wash them every other day. 18 would definitely get you through a day and a half or so. We have also been able to use only one diaper throughout the night, as long as she doesn’t poop, which is really nice and allows us to stay somewhat asleep even though feedings.
I’m writing a post about all the benefits of cloth diapers and how to cloth diaper like pro. Stay tuned.
That completes my list of baby essentials, let me know what you think or if you have anything else to add!