Well, here we are. I’ve kept a small human alive an entire year and I’ve used some products that definitely made the whole thing a lot easier. So, here you go, my GOTTA HAVE ‘EM products for baby’s first life.
We knew we wanted Miles to sleep in a bassinet next to us in our bedroom. When I saw The Halo Bassinest, I thought it was a really smart design. Now that I’ve gone through the newborn stage, I can’t imagine using another bassinet. Why is it so great?
Well, first things first, the sides are all mesh. The one thing about mesh is that it’s very safe because it’s breathable if Miles ends up against the wall of the bassinet (which he did pretty much every night cause my dude was a mover and a shaker). The other perk of the mesh is I can see Miles while laying in bed, meaning I don’t have to get up to check on him every time I hear something. I can’t imagine having to get up every time Miles made a little noise. I loved that I can easily see him right from bed. Lastly, this bassinet also has a swivel stand. You can swivel the bassinet 360° so you can position it however you want on the edge of the bed and always have easy access to your baby. It also makes it easier to get in and out of bed. Finally, the short side of the bassinet pushes down, which makes taking your babe out of the bassinet from bed a cinch.
So, we had the Dock-a-Tot. For many people this on their “must-have” baby list. I’ll be honest I am still undecided if the Dock-a-Tot itself is a must-have (maybe someday baby number two will answer that). But, a baby lounger of SOME kind is a must. I’m sure there are cheaper alternatives to the Dock-a-Tot, and they probably work pretty well. We used our Dock-a-Tot a ton for newborn naps. And when Miles was a little older but still not crawling it was a perfect place to pop Miles to sit and play while I got ready in the morning. It’s great because it’s very portable, so you can bring it around to pretty much any room and have a place for baby to nap or hang out.
White Noise Machine
When someone asks for my must-have baby products, a white noise machine is top top top of the list. Get two — one for the nursery and a travel one for on-the-go. A womb is a LOUD place, and the real world isn’t. The white noise helps soothe a newborn and makes it easier for them to sleep. And, as your baby gets older, the white noise machine leads to longer naps and nighttime sleep because it’ll mask other sounds that might wake your baby.
But wait, won’t my baby become dependent on it to sleep? Short answer: kinda. But when your baby enters toddlerhood and you want to wean, you can easily just lower the sound a little every few nights, so the two weeks of simple weaning is well worth the much-improved baby sleep. Also, it’s not that Miles can’t sleep without his sound machine. He naps at daycare without one. He just sleeps BETTER with it.
Swaddling your baby is magic. Seriously, it is. Not only does the swaddle make them feel held and safe, which mimics the womb, it does more than just that. Swaddling your baby helps to keep their arms down at their sides away from their face. All babies are born with something called the Moro reflex. This reflex can best be described as the sensation of falling for your baby. You can probably easily identify this because the baby reacts by jolting their arms up. If you’ve ever been around of newborn for a period of time you’ve seen this. The problem is, babies fall asleep and then the Moro reflex kicks in making them throw their arms up which, in turn, wakes them up from their sound sleep. When a baby is swaddled, it prevents this from happening and allows them to sleep better and for longer stretches. (NOTE: Some people think their babies HATE to be swaddled, because many babies cry when initially swaddled. But, if followed up with other soothing techniques, a swaddle is KEY to helping your baby self-soothe and sleep. If you haven’t read it already, I highly suggest reading about Dr. Karp’s Five S’s. You can read a brief overview here, but I really suggest reading the whole book! Miles always acts like he doesn’t want to be swaddled with his arms down, but once soothed, he sleeps at least twice as long when swaddled this way.
My three favorite swaddles were the Happiest Baby Sleepea, Halo Sleep Sack, and SwaddleMe Originals.
This is kinda a “duh,” but obviously, a baby monitor is something that makes parenting a lot easier. I can’t say I have an amazing one to share. We went for the Summer Pixel — it’s good. It has all the basics you’d want in a monitor, and what I like most is it has a good price point, doesn’t use wifi, and can hook up to multiple cameras. We have two, which I highly suggest — we use one for travel without having to disassemble the one in the nursery. And when he was younger we had one for the bassinet and one for the crib. The image quality on it is “eh.” If you’re a more nervous parent who wants to see your baby in HD then it might not be the one for you. I also wish you could turn the brightness of the display monitor down more than it allows because it’s pretty bright to have in your bedroom at night. There are obviously much fancier ones, but you have to pick and choose which baby items you wanna splurge on, and a monitor just wasn’t on that list for me.
Breast Pump & Haaka (if nursing)
I had the Spectra S2 breast pump and thought it was good. From what I’ve heard it’s very quiet compared to others (although it AIN’T silent by any means). If I had known I was going to be pumping 24/7 my first 3 months (read my breastfeeding journey post for more on why) I honestly would have invested in a hands-free system like the Willow. Pumping while trying to care for a newborn is HARD. Something like the Willow pump would have made my life so much easier.
As far as a Haaka, I used mine on and off, but I think it’s great for any nursing mom to have. You basically pop it onto the breast the baby isn’t currently nursing off and it catches letdown you can store away to help with your stash. It was also good to keep by my bedside for early mornings.
Yes, high chairs plural. So, in my opinion, you’ll want a high chair for eating at home and then something portable for on the go.
Let’s start with the at-home high chair. I have the Abbiie Beyond High Chair. I like it a lot. It’s wooden, it’s very versatile and adjustable, and it grows into a child’s chair. The tray clips off with one hand. Everything pops off for easy cleaning, and, it’s not hideous like some high chairs. That being said, I don’t know that you have to get a high chair this expensive. I do like it, but I can’t say that’s it’s necessarily 100% worth the price unless you prefer wood and/or prefer a chair that transitions into a child’s chair. For us, the high chair is in our great room a lot, so I do enjoy that it’s not this big ugly obtrusive-looking thing.
Ok, onto portable high chairs. This could be dependent on your lifestyle, but having an on-the-go chair for us has been very helpful. I just keep ours right in the car. It’s great for eating on the go or even just having a place to pop the baby when you’re out and about. We opted for a clip-on chair. It is super convenient in the sense that we can clip it to just about any table. It also works great at bar-height counters like if you have a kitchen island. That being said, you do NEED a table for this to work. So, in some instances, I wish I had gone for a pop-up chair and tray like this one from Summer Infant. This is kind of nice because it can be used on the ground if you’re on a picnic or at the beach since it has its own tray, but it also can be clipped onto a chair if you’re at a restaurant. They both definitely have their pros and cons, so you really have to pick what’s right for your lifestyle.
I LOVED my silicon feeder for Miles from about 5-8 months. It’s just a little silicon cup with a handle. The top pops off and you can pop fruit inside. This was great for Miles when he was teething. I’d put in frozen fruit or purees.
The Babpron has been my favorite baby bib we’ve used. It’s quick and easy. But, most importantly, it’s not too distracting. Miles gets distracted by most bibs, especially the ones with the little flip up front to catch anything that’s dropped. He just sits and pulls and tugs on it. This one he doesn’t even realize is on, it washes quick, it covers a good amount of him to prevent spills, and it’s super small when folded up, so great for on the go.
Out and About
Going for a backpack diaper bag has been the best. It’s so great to be hands-free, and I like that it’s not too big so it limits you from wanting to bring EVERYTHING. Check out this post for my favorite diaper backpacks and what I keep inside.
Not everyone wants or needs a nursing cover, but personally, I always carried one with me. While I was never uncomfortable with nursing in public, I preferred being able to have the privacy of the cover. This was my favorite nursing cover because it gave me the coverage I wanted but also popped out a little at the neck so I could look down and see Miles.
Portable Changing Mat
A portable changing mat like this one that holds wipes and diapers is great for on the go, and I used it endlessly. Not much else to say about that, haha.
Oh boy, the stroller. SO MANY CHOICES. I feel like it’s the one thing we realllllly spend a lot of time deciding on. I think you have to think about a few things when it comes to a stroller.
- How often do you plan to use it? Do you walk a lot? Do you go out and about a lot?
- Where do you plan to be using it the most? Like, will you mostly be walking from home, or will you be putting it into your car to use elsewhere, or a decent mix of both?
- What will you be using it for the most? Long walks, hikes, or runs? Travel? Shopping?
- Do you want something that can grow with your family (for example, something that can transition to hold 2+ children)?
Personally, I walk ALL THE TIME – pretty much every day. So I wanted something that was high-quality and would hold up to being used a lot. I also use it from home the most and then maybe take it with me 1-2x a month. So, while I wanted something that can fold easily, I wasn’t hauling it around constantly, so it didn’t need to be overly small or lightweight. I also wanted something with decent storage since I knew I’d be using it to walk into town for errands, etc.
So the stroller we went for was the Uppababy Vista. I absolutely love it. It certainly isn’t a cheap stroller, but as someone who knew I’d be using my stroller almost every day, I wanted to invest in a quality piece.
Here’s what I love about the Uppababy Vista:
- Versatile – It is compatible with the infant car seat, which we used all the time when Miles was little, but also has a bassinet insert and then a toddler seat for when they are a little bigger. It also can be forward-facing or rear-facing.
- Grows with us – Like I said, it can go from infant car seat to toddler seat. But in addition, it can hold two toddler seats or a toddler seat and infant car seat, so it’s ideal for a growing family. It also has a kickboard off the back so an older child can stand/ride on it.
- Good storage – I knew I wanted something that gave good storage for running errands.
- Folds down easily – It’s not as simple as some and does take two hands to fold down, but that was fine for our lifestyle.
- Smart add-ons – I just thought it was thought-through. It comes with a super simple rain cover and mosquito net cover, both of which we’ve used many times. You can get a clip-on snack tray, the kickboard, and a few other helpful add-ons.
Babywearing is great with newborns. As a new mom, you might be a little hesitant to try it because you can worry if they are in it correctly. Some babies also fuss in it at first until they settle down. But in this first month, some of the only ways I could get anything done (like brush my teeth or clean bottles) was to wear Miles.
We have two carriers. I have the Boba Baby Wrap as well as the LÍLLÉbaby Complete baby carrier. I like them both for different reasons. The Boba Baby Wrap is overall more comfortable because it’s just a soft, super stretchy material. And, now that Miles is older, I like using it just because it’s comfier for both of us. The LÍLLÉbaby Complete baby carrier is more versatile. You can use it six different ways including front and back wearing. It’s also, overall, a little more sturdy. I use it for times when I’m more active such as hiking, when we flew to Florida, or when I’m cleaning the house. Overall, I’m glad we have both because they both have their uses.
Car Seat Cover
I bought a five-in-one car seat cover that doubles as a nursing cover. A car seat cover is great because it keeps your baby covered from the elements while you go in and out of stores or doctor’s appointments as well as added protection from any germs that may be flying around, especially when they are newborns. And they work great for naps on the go since it darkens the car seat to help for longer naps.
Portable Fold-up Blanket
Pretty much for the first year of your baby’s life, you’ll either need to hold them or place them down. The problem is, lots of times there isn’t somewhere TO put them down. I loved having a simple fold-up blanket that I can pop in my car, the stroller, my bag, and then wherever we are I could plop Miles down. It was also great for times when we were out and about and Miles just needed a chance to stretch his legs and get some energy out. I used this when traveling (great for the airport), at the farmer’s market, at friends’ houses, just when I’m out running errands.
I have an entire post on my favorite toys from age 0-8 months, but I’ll highlight just a few.
Crinkle Toys – The sound of crinkling is something all babies love. Paper bags and tissue paper work great, but there are also tons of toys that do it too! They come in just about every variety from just soft crinkle paper, to toys with crinkle parts, to soft books with crinkle pages.
O-Ball – Babies love o-ball because the shape and holes make is super easy to grasp even as they are still learning their Palmar grasp. Because it rolls away from the baby when they drop it, it’s also been a great toy for encouraging Miles to flip, roll and crawl. Miles really loved the ones that rattle.
Wooden Walker – Ok, it doesn’t have to be wooden, that’s just what ours is. We got this for Miles when he was maybe 9 months old. Once he really started pulling himself up he couldn’t get ENOUGH of this thing. He walks all over the living room with it and loves collecting his favorite toys in the bin. It also worked great in the grass because he’d pull himself up on it but it didn’t roll.
Mirrors – Babies are vain. They love to look at themselves. I mean, you can’t blame them — they are adorable. Any mirror that props up is great, like this stand-up mirror, or the one that came with our Lovevery Play mat. When Miles got older and could grasp toys, he loved having a handheld mirror, and it would keep him entertained through many diaper changes!
If you haven’t heard of Nose Frida, it’s a nasal aspirator that basically allows you to suck out your baby’s snot. Sounds gross, but trust me, it’s totally sanitary and clean. They give you an aspirator at the hospital, but this thing works way better. Trust me, when you have a snotty baby that can’t nurse well or sleep well because they are full of boogers, you’ll thank me.
5 Things I Wish I Had Gotten
The one carrier I wish I had (especially now that Miles is older) is a ring sling. They are just super quick and easy to pop on and off that I feel like they’d be so much better for using out and about, running errands, etc. I honestly don’t know if it’s insane to have three carriers, but I’m considering it. If I had to do over, I might opt for that one over my Boba.
I didn’t get the boppy right away because I always just thought it was a nursing pillow, and Miles was always fine nursing with a regular pillow. But what I never realized what that it’s the easiest little baby lounger when they aren’t sitting upright yet. I’ll DEF be getting one for baby 2.
The SlumberPod is a pop-up tent that goes OVER your Pack n Play or portable crib for when you’re traveling. It darkens that crib for sleep (since you don’t know what the window situation will be) and helps with room sharing when you’re traveling. The reason I wish I got this one is the monitor pouch! Other covers (like the SnoozeShade that I bought and regret) don’t have a place for a monitor camera, so you can’t zip it up (and make it fully dark) if you also want to be able to watch your baby on the monitor.
Pop-Up Play Yard
A pop-up play yard is probably going to be a must when we have baby number 2. I feel like I survived without it only because I could watch Miles 24/7 since he’s an only child. But, I know it’ll be necessary when there are two kids. It’s just nice to know you can pop your baby (or toddler) inside and run to pee or check the stove and know they are safe and contained. And, they are amazing for outdoors or at the beach.