I know several people who have recently become first time parents, or are about to become first time parents in the next few months. Some of these people have asked me for my opinion or advice on a few things, including a few questions about the items that are really necessary for a new baby. That, plus the fact that I'm about to have another baby myself, have had me thinking recently about just what a new parent really does need for baby. Of course, there are the obvious things, clothing, diapers, a place to sleep, etc. But in thinking about the things that really made my life easier, I came up with the following list and wanted to share (plus, this is a fun excuse to post some old photos of my girls).
1. A few good swaddle blankets. I have always preferred the blankets that fasten in some way, like with velcro (this one is Kiddopotomus).
This one is my personal favorite, The Miracle Blanket. These are like little baby straight jackets and were the only swaddle that my girls couldn't wiggle right out of.
These Halo sleep sacks with the velcro swaddle wrap are nice too.
I have lots of Aden and Anais swaddle blankets too, but I usually use those for other purposes. I always just found the regular blankets to be too easy for my girls to wiggle out of. I love swaddling. Both of my girls were pretty great sleepers, and I attribute this at least in part to swaddling (it helped that they were also both pretty huge and big eaters). I also found that sometimes when my girls would just get fussy and I couldn't seem to soothe them in other ways, swaddling often helped calm them right away. It was the perfect way to get Lass to settle when she would get fussy in the evenings. I know not everyone is a fan, but great swaddling blankets are a must-have here.
2. A video monitor. We started out with a regular audio monitor with Miss. I had read a book that said that video monitors weren't worth the money and recommended just getting a good sound-only monitor. At some point before Lass was born, the monitor I had wasn't working very well, so I decided to replace it with a video monitor. I am so happy I did. Not only is is great for keeping an eye on a newborn, but it is fantastic for watching a toddler too. When Miss transitioned to her big girl bed, it was fabulous. We take them with us when we travel and have broken two monitor screens this way, but I have continued to replace them because they are such a great tool to have.
3. A swing or bouncy seat, or both if possible. Miss loved her bouncy seat. She would fall asleep in it when nothing else worked. She had her days and nights mixed up for a bit, and liked to wake up and want to play at 3 am. My husband and I spent many nights, half awake, bouncing her back to sleep in her bouncy seat. Lass was a swing baby. That swing could get her to sleep so easily. These items were so helpful with the girls that my husband used to take them apart and we'd travel with them on road trips. We even put the disassembled bouncy seat in a suitcase on more than one occasion when flying somewhere with Miss.
4. A good nursing pillow. Especially if you're new to breastfeeding, and/or with a tiny baby who is new to nursing, a good pillow is such a help. I always have one right at my rocker in my baby's room for night time nursing especially. I have been known to doze off while nursing and the pillow helps keep baby in place. My favorite is the Boppy though I know some people swear by the "My Breast Friend" pillow. I tried that one and didn't like it much. Plus the Boppy is good for tummy time and helping with sitting too.
5. A Bumbo. Speaking of sitting, a Bumbo is just an awesome little thing to have once baby is old enough to use it. I think both of my girls were able to sit in it around 3-ish months. I used it for feeding both of my girls when they first started solids.
I also found it to be a great way for Lass to be able to be upright and part of the "action" with her sister before she was actually able to sit up on her own.
6. A good carrier. Okay, everyone has different preferences when it comes to baby carriers. I started out with a Bjorn and a Moby Wrap and a ring sling. I never found the Bjorn to be comfortable, and the ring sling just didn't work for me at all. I liked the Moby, but since it was stretchy, I couldn't use it for long before my girls were too big for it. I eventually found that my favorite carrier for teeny tiny newborns is a woven wrap. The one I have is a Babyette.
And my favorite carrier of all time is the Ergo. I love my Ergo. It is so comfortable, even when worn for hours, like when Miss went on her first antiquing expedition with my mom and me.
And it is a carrier that my husband can and will wear too.
It even works for hiking.
And when you've got more than one babe in the mix, it is essential. Before she was mobile, I could carry Lass and still be quite active with Miss.
I've also tried a Mei Tai style carrier, which I've never gotten comfortable with, and a few different slings, like the Hot Sling. I don't love the Hot Sling, as I don't find it to be super comfortable, and I am just not comfortable using a sling with a tiny one. But, the Hot Sling was great to use during the first six or so months of my second two pregnancies. It allowed me to wear Miss, and then Lass, once I couldn't wear the Ergo anymore because of my belly (I've never been very good at a back carry and found the hip carry to be uncomfortable), since I could carry the girls above the belly with the sling.
7. An upright, freestanding immobilization device. For us, this has been our excersaucer. I love this thing. Miss used to sit in it in the garage while we worked out.
Both Miss and Lass have spent many shower times in this thing. It allowed me to take a shower with my baby/toddler in sight and unable to get into things, so I didn't have to waste precious nap time minutes with showering.
And this past summer I discovered the portable/outdoor version of this.
I occasionally used it at home, but it was most useful when out and about.
I took it to the pool and used it as a high chair for Lass. I took it to outdoor concerts, parks, etc. It folds up like a lawn chair and has a bag with a strap to carry it.
Okay, so those are my essentials. Each of the above things made my life with a tiny one, and then a toddler plus a tiny one, much easier. I had to learn what would work and what didn't through trial and error, but I am so glad I discovered each of these things. I know not everyone will think these items are important, and others will have their own lists of essentials. So, feel free to share. What things did you find essential to surviving the early months of parenting or of adjusting to two or more babes?