Bringing Home Baby – Essential Gear to Have on Hand

There are so many products out there for babies these days.  I remember being completely overwhelmed by the many options before I had Bobby.  In fact, I remember strolling the isles of Babies R’Us and Target looking at things I “needed” for baby.  With baby number two, things are a bit different.  Here is my list of essential baby items.  If you get overwhelmed, put it in perspective by thinking that moms have been raising kids for centuries without most of the comforts that are now available for our kids.

Soothing Supplies – When sleep is rare and emotions are high, supplies to sooth your baby seem more than essential.  If this is your first baby, then I highly recommend the movie the Happiest Baby on the Block.  It introduces concepts you can use to soothe baby.  Then, make sure you have the supplies – pacifiers, swaddle wraps, and a sound machine.  When it comes to pacifiers, make sure to purchase a couple of different kinds – some babies prefer the hard ones like the Soothie, others prefer a softer nipple like the Nuk.  My kids both liked the Nuk.  When it comes to swaddle wraps, you will want blankets as well as something that looks like a baby straight jacket.  True Womb makes an amazing one that works.  As for sound machines, there are a ton on the market that serve different purposes.  And, if you have an old radio around – you may just want to use that and tune it to a station playing white noise.  If you want to buy one then think about whether you want one with a timer or not.  Some like the Sleep Sheep by Cloud B have timers, others don’t.  If you want one to play continuously, I recommend the Graco Sweet Slumber Sound Machine.  It has a host of other features like nightlight and hooking up to a MP3.

Changing Supplies – You will want an area to change baby.  While the changing table is the traditional approach, you don’t need to buy a changing table to create a changing area.  In fact, you can put a changing pad on top of a dresser and screw it to the wall.  You will want to stock your changing area with diapers, wipes and diaper rash cream.  In addition, get some washable waterproof lap pads (they come in super handy!).

Bathing Supplies – Mild baby soap, small washcloths, soft fuzzy towel.

Clothes – Babies go through about a load of laundry a day.  So, you will want a few gowns, some long and short sleeve bodysuits, some daytime playsuits and some nightime sleepers.  In addition, booties and hats help keep baby cozy so pick up a few of those.

Sleeping area – bassinet, playyard, or something else to fit the billl.  Both of my boys have enjoyed a vintage Pram.  They love it and I love it as I can stroll it from room to room.

Monitoring –  From sound to movement, you can monitor every move your baby makes (or doesn’t).  If you are worried your baby will stop moving in the middle of the night, then you may want to check out a movement monitor that literally will sound an alarm if baby stops moving.  Of course there are sound monitors out there too!  Even some with video.  As with anything electronic, the sky is the limit.

Blankets– Not all blankets are created equal as you get what you pay for.  I recommend purchasing both the large cotton flannel swaddle blankets like those sold by Swaddle Designs and the muslin swaddle blankets by Aiden and Anis.

Feeding – if you decide to breastfeed, consider purchasing things to make that transition easier.  Breastfeeding pillows are most helpful.  For newborns, I recommend the My Breast Friend pillow as it fits very close to the body making it easy for a newborn.  For older babies, I recommend the Boppy.  Burp cloths are another must. Traditional cloth diapers like those our moms used on us work well.  I also recommend having the number of a lactation consultant or pediatric nurse on hand – so that in the event that things don’t go well, you know who to call.

Bottles – If you are going to bottlefeed, consider ones with system to reduce colic – like Dr. Browns or the VentAir bottles by Playtex.  Should you pump, the Medela Pump In Style rocks!

Carrier – You will want something to carry baby around in.  For me thinking of the features helped determine the purchase.  For example the Baby Bjorn allows baby to face both mommy and when they are older, the world.  In addition it offers great neck support for newborns.  The only downside is that unlike the Ergo where the weight is distributed on your hips, the Bjorn is an upper back carrier.  So, when baby grows you probably will pack this one away and want to purchase something else.   There other alternatives like slings and wraps that other folks swear by.  The Moby Wrap is a fun one to check out and there are numerous ways to use it (if you can figure them out).

Stroller – When it comes to strollers – all are not created equal.  Consider use and longevity.  When it comes to use, do you want something you can also jog with?  If so, I highly recommend the Bob.  While they are pricey, they are by far the easiest stroller to push around (even with one hand).  When it comes to longevity, think warranties.  Some strollers, like MacLarens, have warranties.  A warranty will come in handy when you get a squeaky wheel or the shocks stop working.

Carseats – Check out my article on carseats.  In general, I advocate for foregoing the infant carseat to invest in a convertible one.  My favorite carseats are made by Sunshine Kids.

Other things to consider – Swings and  vibrating chairs are helpful for some babies.  It seems though that it helps to train baby to use them.  I went through 3 swings before I found one that Bobby liked (Fisher Price Cradle Swing).  Constantine is different as he has enjoyed the swing from the beginning.   Maybe this is because I started putting him in it for brief periods of time from the day he came home.

Last but not least, you will want to get tons of support.  They say it takes a village to raise a child; I say, it takes a city to raise a newborn.  You’ll want to amass your resources to help when you need it.   So, collect your resources for support – family, friends.  Another resource are advice nurses – they are super helpful with answering those new parents questions.  In addition, check out your local mom’s group.  Here in Sonoma we are lucky to have the Sonoma Mother’s Club, which is open to all moms both current and expecting.  It has been invaluable to me for things from brainstorming with other moms to having meals prepared by fellow moms which eases the transition to having a newborn.

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