If I’ve learned anything from the second baby, thus far, it’s that all babies REALLY are different. Sure, some of the products I LOVED the first time around are also on this list for the second time. But, there’s also some stuff I didn’t have to have with my first that I couldn’t do without this time. And, there is some stuff I loved with my first, I didn’t love this time.
Long story short, you can only be so prepared when it comes to babies. At the end of the day, what works for some babies and some families, won’t work for others. I’m going to share my newborn must haves in hopes to help you make the right choices for your family and your baby. And, I’ll make sure to share if it was a must-have for both babies or just this time around.
Dock a Tot
Ohhhh, the Dock a Tot. Debated by moms for years as a “gotta have it” or “product regret.” And this product is the PERFECT example of how every baby is different. We got this when I was pregnant with Miles and while we did use it, it definitely wasn’t a “gotta have it” item. We very much could have survived without the Dock a Tot. I didn’t totally get the hype.
Enter baby 2 and we use this thing EVERY DAY ALL DAY. Finley is much more of a “wants to be held a lot” baby. And, the Dock a Tot is often one of the few places she would happily sleep beside my arms the first few weeks. It’s been a must-have for us and definitely one of our most used products. I also bought this extra cover off Etsy and am very happy with it.
I get a lot of questions like “how do you use it, what’s the point?” The Dock a Tot is essentially a “baby lounger.” It’s somewhere the baby can lay down, which seems simple enough, but when you have a “wants to be held all the time” baby, it isn’t always that simple. We place ours on our bed, the sofa, or even our dining room table to let Finley nap while we are watching her.
(Also I feel the need to add: I’m not here to preach safe sleep, choose what’s right for your family, but technically babies should only sleep alone, on a flat surface without any blankets/pillows/bumpers. We do not let Finley sleep in this at night as we cannot watch her. We choose to only let her nap in it when our eyes can be on her 100% of the time.)
Baby Bjorn Mini
I am a HUGE lover of babywearing. We wore Miles ALL the time, and so I knew with a toddler and a newborn I’d be wearing a lot. It may seem overkill, but we have 4 baby-wearing contraptions. Do you NEED 4? Nah. But, I do find a need and use for each in my life as a mom of 2 under 3 and don’t regret any of them. I also feel like trying all these different kinds, and considering how much I baby wear, I have some good insight on what works and what doesn’t.
Now, since this post is all about newborn must-haves, I’ll share with you my favorite newborn carrier, and that’s the Baby Bjorn Mini. We also have the Lille Baby 6-in-1 carrier which we LOVE. It’s super versatile and you can wear the baby 6 ways including front and back, and technically can be used from birth to toddlerhood. However, I find that this carrier isn’t really ideal until they are about 3 months old. We’d have to prop them up in it with rolled-up burp clothes and it just never felt super cozy and secure with my newborns. It also can be a little tricky to adjust the straps so sometimes was a pain going back and forth between my husband wearing it and I wearing it, since we’re both different sizes.
So, this time around I got the Baby Bjorn Mini. It’s designed for 0-12 months. Finley feels super snug and secure in it, since day 1, and it’s super easy to take on/off and adjust the straps. It also is designed so you can actually take it off without really disturbing the baby, and I’ve even been able to take Finley fully asleep in it and lay her down on her lounger without waking her. This isn’t something I can do in any other carrier as you usually need to lift them out of it.
Long story short it is hands down, the best carrier I’ve used for a baby under 3 months. Like I said the only real downside is it’s only designed for the first 12 months and only designed for wearing the baby in front. So, while it’s not as versatile as our 6-in-1 carrier, if you think you’ll be baby-wearing a lot from 0-6 months, I HIGHLY recommend it.
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.
It’s not abnormal for babies to get kinda snotty. They can often sneeze some out, but it can get stuck and makes it’s a little uncomfortable for them. I notice it can impact how well Finley eats and sleeps. Nose Frida works like a CHARM to quickly suck it how and clear her nose.
NOTE: The Nose Frida is kinda pointless if you’re not using it with a saline drop or spray. The saline spray goes in first to soften the snot…again I know this is gross.. but it works.
White Noise Machine
MUST MUST MUST have for both babies. White noise is PURE MAGIC for newborns.
In the womb, they hear a constant, loud WHOOSHING sound 24/7. The real world is oddly quiet to them. White noise not only helps soothe them when they are fussy, but helps them fall asleep and stay asleep.
We use the Hatch and LOVE it. We have one for Miles and one for Finley. But, the Hatch is stationary, designed for a nursery, so I also HIGHLY recommend a portable one. We have the Hushh Portable White Noise Machine and have used it for both babies. I can hang it on the bassinet, throw it in our diaper bag, use it when he’s getting fussy in the car seat, place it next to the Dock a Tot, etc. A definite must-have item for me.
Sleep n Plays
My babies LIVE in Sleep n Plays. It’s just 100x easier to have one outfit all in one than to have to mess with buttons and snaps and pants and onesies. In general, about 75% of my kid’s wardrobe is sleep n plays for the first 3-6 months of life.
My two go-to swaddles for newborns have been the same with both babies and that’s the Happiest Baby Sleepea and the SwaddleMe swaddles. I really love both these swaddles for their ease and effectiveness. I’d say the Sleepea is my favorite and the one we tend to use 99% of the time.
I have found with Finley I prefer to use the Super Swaddle method to swaddle her (Google it). She doesn’t love things tight across her chest/belly if she’s gassy, and this allows me to swaddle her arms down, without having to make the swaddle too snug across the belly. I can do this “super swaddle” method easily with both these swaddles.
Shoutout to Bumble Baby for this recommendation, the Bibs pacifiers are the best I’ve used. They don’t pop out of their mouth as easily as others do. Once I started using these I got rid of pretty much all the other ones we had.
Often called muslin swaddles, these are just large muslin cloths. Sure, you can swaddle in them, but they aren’t really the ideal swaddle since little arms can break out of them. So, reference my swaddle suggestions above for my favorite swaddles. What I love these clothes for is just how multi-purpose they are. I use them as blankets, I use them as burp cloths, I use them for tummy time, I use them for bath time. I literally use them for EVERYTHING. They are way more versatile than a regular burp cloth, in my opinion, because they are larger. My favorite ones are from Spearmint Baby and Little Unicorn. I also LOVE the swaddle blankets from Copper Pearl. These are more stretchy and soft. Again I use them for all the things listed above but also love these ones for tucking arms in on the car seat or stroller for on-the-go naps.
Infant to Toddler Rocker
A rocker or swing is definitely a must-have for me with a newborn. Now, I’m not saying there is just one that’s perfect. Like I said, all babies are different and one baby that hates something another will love. But BOTH my babies have loved this damn chair so much I gotta mention it.
The thing about newborns is you’re holding them a lot, so it’s nice to have 1-2 places you can easily and safely put them down. While we love our Dock a Tot for sleep, but it’s nice to have some type of rocker or swing for awake time. With Miles, we tried the MamaRoo which he hated, but he LOVED his Rock n Play. Unfortunately, the Rock and Play was discontinued, so we had to get something else for Finley. We decided to go for the Snugapuppy swing because even though it was hideous, it was recommended SO MUCH. Turns out, Finley hates the swing. At about 3 weeks we retired it to the basement. She may like it now, but we’ve just been using our Infant to Toddler rocker instead which not only is a fraction of the price but takes up a fraction of the space. We haven’t had a need for a swing.
This Infant to Toddler chair is just so simple. It’s lightweight and easy to move around to different rooms. It can be propped up stationary or used as a rocker. It has a vibrating option which is good when the baby is gassy. And the toy bar can be clipped on or off. I can’t tell you HOW MANY HOURS I spent researching swings and chairs, all to just come back to using this $40 one. It’s just been one of those “simpler is better,” things.
- Small quilt: We have been using our Lovevery quilt pretty much every day for floor time. We use it for tummy time or to let Finley stretch out during her awake time. It’s nice to have something you can throw down on the ground for baby that then just quickly folds back up.
- Black and white high contrast images: These will forever be a baby must-have for me and I always gift some type of black and white something to every new mom. When babies are first born, they only see black and white. High contrast images are very interesting to them. Both my babies adored inspecting the black and white cards from our Lovevery Play Mat and Play Subscription for long stretches when he was a newborn. It was the only way I could get anything done some mornings! They also sell black and white high contrast books, this one and this one are my favs.
- Carseat cover: I love a simple fabric carseat cover for multiple reasons. It helps cover up the carseat when you’re out and about to protect from germs, wind, and bright sun. This is great to keep baby safe and help them nap if you’re on the go. I prefer these simple fabric ones because they are easy to pop on and off (I always take it off when IN the car for safety) and they have a little hole so I can still see baby at all times (again for safety)
- Baby-wearing jacket: I splurged on this 3-in-1 maternity and baby-wearing jacket and it’s been amazing. I wore it all through my pregnancy and now that Finley is here I use it constantly to babywear when we’re outside with Miles. It’s so easy and very toasty, so I love that I can easily bring Finely from inside to outside and back inside without having to take her in and out of the carrier to put her jacket on/off. You can also buy pieces that make any jacket into a baby-wearing jacket, which is another brilliant option.
- Burt’s Bees diaper rash cream: Just a shoutout cause this is, in my opinion, the best diaper cream. Miles rarely ever had any diaper rash and if he did this would help get rid of it so quickly. And huge bonus it doesn’t smell bad like the other ones.
- Postpartum essentials for mom: When planning for baby don’t forget to plan for mom too. It’s easy to overlook some postpartum essentials but it truly makes the newborn phase easier when you’re taking care of yourself too. See my postpartum must-haves here.
- Zutano Booties or Husdon Booties: Let me save you the hassle of baby socks and shoes. Any time either of my babies had an outfit that didn’t include feet, we skipped right over the socks and shoes and went for booties. They can’t kick them off and you can get them on in 2 seconds. My favorites are Zutano (slightly nicer quality by pricier) and Husdon Booties (a more budget-friendly option).