Babies! How can such a tiny being take up so much space in your heart, & in your home? I love research, so reading about all the baby items was a bit of a thrill. I talked to friends, read Lucie’s List, devoured books, blog posts, & reddit threads. These are the things I found most useful in those first months being a mom – & some that have carried us through to now, with an 18 month old.
This list is technically my few favourites from while I was still pregnant, & some resources I consistently went back to when I felt unsure about something.
- Lucie’s List: I loved slowly going through this whole list & thinking about what pieces I might need or not. It’s probably not for the faint of heart, so if you don’t love information, it might not be the best resource for you (but check it out & cherry pick the info you do want!)
- CandoKiddo: I wish I had found this website/IG sooner. Rachel is a pediatric OT & I love all her cheap & easy ideas for what to do with your newborn. There is SO much information about pregnancy (& sleep & eating), but very little about what to actually do with this little baby once they’re here. This is it! (Her tips also gave me the confidence to not going overboard with baby gear like swings, bouncers, etc., & instead wait to see what I needed.) Bring on the great tummy time activities & tips!
- The Baby Whisperer: I will admit that I kind of found Tracey condescending when I first read her book. She firmly believes in her techniques & isn’t afraid to tell you why she’s right. Sleep Training is a touchy subject (do it, don’t do it, you do you!), but I found her routine suggestions invaluable & totally agree with her that babies are born with certain personalities. I followed her EASY (eat, activity, sleep (you)) routine from the day I brought Anni home from the hospital & I think it set us up with a lot of great habits. (I could go on about sleep, so I’ll leave it at this: do some reading before you’re super sleep deprived with a newborn. My brain was basically mush for the first three months, even though I felt like I was fine.)
- Taking Cara Babies: I only did a but of reading from her site before I gave birth, but since then I’ve found her Instagram stories amazing & insightful, & she has lots of great (free) blog posts for many different milestones (& flexible routines, not rigid schedules! 😉)
Aside from labour, this was probably the thing I was most nervous about. As someone who loves a plan, it’s just one more thing you can’t really plan for. That fact really influenced my choices. I didn’t have any insurance coverage for a pump & I didn’t want to spend a lot in case it didn’t work out. I was lucky enough to inherit a hand pump from a friend, which I wound up using the whole time.
- Madela Harmony Manual Breast Pump: This handpump worked great. I’ve read that you can get more milk with a hand pump, but I don’t know if that is true. Since I wasn’t exclusively pumping, I found this worked perfectly for me. It was also small enough to throw in my purse or overnight bag the first few times I was away from Annika over a feeding.
- Haakaa: This little pump is amazing! It works by suction. You put it on the opposite side to the one babe is nursing on. In the beginning, I would easily get 4 oz while she fed & it really helped me build a freezer stash.
- Bamboobies Nursing Pads: I found these especially useful at night & ordered an extra set for overnight.
- Formula: There are lots of companies that are willing to send out free samples & I took advantage of that, although we never really wound up using much of it. It was nice to know we had a backup if we needed.
- Bottles: My madela pump came with a few bottles, but Anni never liked them, so we ended up using another free sample – a Philips Avent bottle. It took Nathan trying every night for months for her to reliably take it, but eventually she did & has been great with it ever since. Don’t forget to look into different nipples as they grow (I didn’t really realize nipple flow rates were a thing at first!).
- Glider: We went with a white leatherette glider that swivels & reclines. I’ve spent many hours in this chair & I’m glad we went with one that reclined. It made those overnight feeds so much more manageable. That said, we also have one of those typical Ikea chairs you find in virtually every University student’s apartment. When it got really hot in the summer, we slept in our basement & I used that. It totally did the trick.
Oh baby sleep. Aside from breastfeeding (or not breastfeeding), this may be the most talked about baby thing. When you’re sleep deprived, there’s little else you can think about. This is some of our favourite sleep-related baby gear:
- Bassinet: we used a Moses basket that we bought off a friend. I just wanted Annika nearby & this is what worked for us. It sat on a rocker, which I don’t necessarily think is necessary, but was nice sometimes. I liked that it was lightweight & easy to move closer to our bed if we needed.
- Velcro swaddles: It took me a long time to master a regular swaddle (like the ones the nurses so effortlessly manage in the hospital), so velcro swaddles really came in handy for us. I liked the Halo brand, but there are so many out there.
- Miracle blanket: Once Anni Houdini-ed her way out of the velcro sleep sacks, we moved on to the Miracle Blanket. It’s basically a straight jacket for babies who aren’t ready to transition to a sleep sack, but end up with a lot of loose blankets in their crib/bassinet.
- Pack n Play: This is probably one of the most versatile pieces of baby gear out there. There are so many brands – we have the Graco one, which works great, but if you have the budget there are definitely some better lighter weight options out there. Besides its more obvious uses (travel, a safe place to let your baby play), we primarily used this for getting back to hanging out with friends. Seriously, it’s invaluable. Find a dark room, set it up, & put baby down at their regular bedtime while you spend some time with friends. The best. We still do this pretty often, as do several friends in our group & it’s definitely helped us get back to feeling like ourselves.
- Sound Machine: We swear by our sound machines (yes, we have more than one because we got so used to sleeping with one when Ans was in our room that we kept it there). The Hatch Baby Rest is my favourite. You can set up programs from your phone (so it eventually works as a time to rise clock when Anni gets older) & it’s sleep & simple. We recently added a travel version to the roster, so we’d always have it on the go.
- Baby Monitor: We are one of the few families we know that didn’t go with a video monitor. We’d had an unsettling experience with our dog camera & decided we were fine with just sound. Our Philips Avent monitor has been great. Sound only comes through if it detects a change (such as baby crying) so we don’t have to listen to the sound machine all night, & it shows the temperature. The range is pretty good & the battery lasts more than 24 hours. No complaints. It has a few extra features that we don’t use, but overall, it’s a simple & effective monitor.
I really tried to keep a lot of baby gear to a minimum. A lot of it is only useful for a very short amount of time & I was finding that everyone had different favourites. Often they offered really conflicting opinions. What worked for one baby wasn’t necessarily going to work for my baby.
I also felt that if I had access to a lot of gear, it would be really easy to overuse it. So I decided to be really choosy about what we did buy (basically the essentials) & see how it went for the rest. We wound up using a swing borrowed from family friends & were gifted a Fisher Price bouncer that we used a lot when we wanted to put Anni down & eat dinner or make something. She loved the vibration. So of my other favourite baby gear includes:
- Stroller: This is one of the pieces of baby gear I was most excited about, & 19 months later, I’m still really happy with my choice. We went with the Thule Urban Glide 2. I think it fits our lifestyle perfectly. If you’re planning on using it to hit the mall, it’s not your best option. Since I’m more likely to be hitting the paths or going for walks in our neighbourhood, it’s rugged suspension & smooth maneuverability is exactly what I was looking for. & as Anni got older, I was able to go for runs, which is so amazing. It fits great in the rooftop box on my car & is light enough for me to lift it up there. No regrets. (Find YOUR stroller – there are so many great options out there!)
- A wrap: Babywearing very quickly became one of my favourite things. Wraps are a little bit intimidating at first, but once you get it, there’s no looking back. Watch a couple YouTube videos (Solly Baby has a ton of great tutorials) & you’ll figure out it in no time. I had a Milk Snob wrap, but I hear the Solly Baby ones are incredible too. I basically never went anywhere without my wrap – Anni had some of her best naps in it.
- Baby carrier: As babe gets older, & heavier, carriers are amazing. We have the Ergo Baby Omni 360 & I love it so much. If you can find a store that will let you try a few (after baby comes) to figure out what you really like, that’s probably your best option. We still use ours for short hikes (we carry her on our backs now) so we’ve really gotten a lot of mileage out of it.
- Diaper bag: This might seem silly, but having a diaper bag you love really makes a difference. My mother-in-law gifted me a black Freshly Picked bag & I LOVE it. You can wear it as a backpack or shoulder bag, but it’s not immediately recognizable as a diaper bag. In fact, I still use it now as a work bag.
- Ikea Play Gym: I got this one at the recommendation of Rachel from CandoKiddo. A lot of play gyms don’t allow you to move things around to very many places & are pretty expensive. The Ikea one is cheap, adaptable, & does what you need it to.
I’m not going to list a ton here. Everyone has their own priorities when it comes to clothes, so I’ll just list the couple truly practical things I love. There are a ton of local brands out there too, so check your local market for some seriously amazing finds.
- Bonds zippy’s: two way zippers, hand & foot cuffs, adorable patterns, reasonable prices. I can’t say enough good things about Bonds sleepers. We were gifted a 0-3 month size that fit Anni from the time she was about a month old until she was over 6 months old. They fit large (so the foot cuffs generally fit when they’re on the younger end of the size & then later they can still wear them without their feet in them). They’re based in Australia, so it takes a bit of planning if you want to order. I generally wait for a sale & then recruit enough friends to meet the minimum requirement for free shipping. It takes about 2 weeks for them to arrive & you have to pay duties, but for how long Anni is able to wear each set, they’re worth it.
- Robeez socks: The only baby socks that really stay on. I bought her a pack of three pairs when she was little & anytime she wore a different brand, I wondered why I’d even bothered.
Last section! Woohoo! Even my attempt at a really minimal baby list is getting long. It’s hard to reign it in.
- Jacket Extender: I opted to use a jacket extender for my non-maternity jacket instead of getting a winter maternity jacket. The best thing about this decision is that you can flip it around and use it over your wrap or carrier after baby comes. It came in really handy for getting out in cooler weather.
- Keekaroo Peanut Changer: It might seem a bit silly, but when you’re doing as much laundry as you tend to with a newborn, anything that cuts down on that is amazing. In the beginning, she serious peed every time we went to change her diaper & all we had to do was wipe it up & be done with it. Now that she’s super squirmy, & often doesn’t want her diaper changed, it still comes in handy. It’s a bit of a splurge, but arguably worth it.
- Baby ComfyNose Nasal Aspirator: A snot sucker. Definitely up there on the list of things you probably haven’t pictured yourself doing. Babies can’t blow their noses though, so you’ll inevitably probably need this at some point. The Frida Baby version is really popular, but we like this brand because you don’t need to buy expensive filters (you can use tissue paper or toilet paper).
- Carseat cover: Our milk snob carseat cover has gotten a ton of mileage. I used it over our bucket seat when she was little & now it lives in my car so I can use it to hide all the grimy shopping cart parts from little hands.
So there you have it – my newborn essentials. I tried to keep in pretty minimal (I truly don’t believe you need as much stuff as you probably feel you do when you’re looking at that seemingly endless list while pregnant). A lot of gear can be replaced with a soft spot on your floor (you can never have too many blankets) or a playard. So don’t stress if it’s not in your budget (& seriously, check out @Candokiddo – she has a million great, inexpensive ideas for what to do with your new baby!). In order to keep this list manageable, I also limited myself to things we used in the first 3 months or so – the sleepy newborn phase. The next phases are truly my favourite though, so I’ll be back with some of the feeding, sleep, & play gear we love!