Mom of 7 Shares Baby Gear “Must-Haves” and “Don’t-Needs”
These are the things I return to every time cause they’re just that good.
- My BrestFriend– Luke’s 3 months old and I’m still using this just about every time I nurse. It left the house with me during the first couple months. It’s the best nursing pillow for a few reasons: it buckles around me & doesn’t slip out of place (unlike the much-acclaimed Boppy), it’s thick and sturdy, and it has two slightly-raised places on either side, so you can place the baby’s head in various positions according to your needs. As a larger-chested woman, I use one hand to support/position my breast (and keep it back so it doesn’t suffocate the baby), and typically use a cross-over nursing position. The My BrestFriend Pillow allows me to have my hands free to focus on nursing, whereas with the Boppy, I always had to use a hand to hold the pillow close in to my body so the baby didn’t slip down (very frustrating!).
- Rock & Play Sleeper– This bed is the BEST. With our 7 children, I’ve had all sorts of first beds– cribs, bassinets, cradle, and pack and plays. (My daughter’s first bed was a large wicker basket with a lid, no joke! –she was born in Thailand.) This one beats them all. We have used it exclusively since he was born. Here’s what I love about it: baby sleeps on a slight incline, which helps settle his tummy and avoid as much acid-reflux & spitting up, it has curved, wide-u-shaped legs so you can gently rock the baby (on carpet and hard flooring), and it folds up, so it’s easy to transport from one room to another. It also folds flat so you can easily take it on vacation, or to someone else’s house just for the day to make napping easier. I just love, love, love this baby item. It’s become my favorite baby thing.
- Infant Gas Drops– This is plain-old simethicone, and it has been my go-to fussy-baby-soother since our very first little guy was born, 13 years ago. It’s so effective; a friend of ours called it “quiet juice.” With babies 6 months old and under, I always keep a couple boxes on hand. It doesn’t go into the blood stream, so it’s safe to use multiple times a day, and it is great for soothing fussy tummies.
- Swaddlers— This is something I didn’t use until baby #6 (to my knowledge they didn’t make them before that). I’ve used two brands: Halo Swaddle Sleepsacks are my favorite, because the baby’s arms are held snug and secure with no means of escape (as long as you’re using the right size!), but I also have some SwaddleMe and I like them too– this brand is less expensive, and it still works well, though I’ve occasionally had a hand slip out and wiggle at the bottom because it’s easier to get out of. I prefer Halo, but they’re both great swaddlers.
- Floor gym– I like these for that time when newborns are more alert (around 2 months) until they start crawling (for my babies, around 4-6 months). That may not sound long, but the truth is, because they’re not sitting up yet, there’s not a whole lot they can “DO” at this age. This is something they CAN enjoy doing during wake time when they aren’t yet crawling. All my babies have loved interacting with, batting at, grabbing, and looking around at the hanging toys on their floor gym. When they are about to start crawling, I turn them on their tummies, pull down the sides so they are flat, and it gives the baby something to reach for and crawl toward. The other thing I like about them is that, unlike other baby items, the soft varieties of these fold up and take up virtually NO space in the closet, so you can save it and pull it out for the next baby.
- Interlocking plastic links– I use these to attach rattles, music-players, and toys to the floor gym, car seat, and bouncy seat, so baby has a variety of things to do, hold, and look at when he/she’s just sitting in one spot.
- Oballs– These are such neat toys for babies, starting with the phase of grabbing everything in sight. The O-mesh-shape on these toys enables babies to grab in their erratic little way and still be able to hook onto the toy. But the great thing about these toys is that they don’t stop being fun at the infant stage. A toddler or preschooler can have just as much fun throwing the Oball as they did grabbing and gumming on it when they were tiny. And my little guys have all loved the Oball cars. They still play with them well into childhood!
- Babywise– This book helped me develop mommy-discernment and excellent sleep skills in all 7 of our kiddos (who slept through the night– without crying— somewhere between 5 & 12 weeks old). It’s not for everyone, but it’s worked splendidly for our family and I’d be remiss not to recommend it to others.
- Mid-size food processor w/ plenty of ice cube trays & ziplocs for making homemade baby food– rather than some sort of custom system with small dishes and lids and other nonsense to keep up with, I’ve always preferred to make baby food in a normal food processor, freeze it in ice cube trays, and pop those cubes into large gallon-sized Ziploc bags, pulling out food to thaw and use as needed. I’ve done this with all 7 babies and it’s so easy and inexpensive!
- Nursing Cover– Look, we all know they’re biologically made for breastfeeding. But…. we all also know they’re sexual, right? Both/and. So, I have this nursing cover and love it, but any nursing cover with a bendable boning insert at the neck will be handy so that you can see your baby while you’re nursing, and allow you to breastfeed without worrying about the watching world around you.
- Lansinoh nursing pads– Sometimes you’re out and about longer than you intend, and in that case, you want to have nursing pads in your bra! (Or, baby sleeps longer than you anticipate. Again, you’ll want to already be wearing these!) These are my favorites because they are super-absorbent, soft, and I’ve never had one leak (as long as it was actually covering my nipple). Whereas I’ve had other brands that leak often, or are odd-shaped and make strange poky-out spots through your bra & shirt, these are smooth and absorbent. They also wick the fabric away so you don’t ever get or feel wet. They’re the best!
- 2 yards of cotton fabric for a homemade sling — I love this because it’s a sling, swaddler, blanket, and nursing cover all in one.
- Orajel teething gel & icy teethers— Because teething is a real thing. And these make it temporarily better.
- Diaper-style burpcloths– These need to be washed and dried at least 3-5 times before use. But after that, they get better and better. More absorbent… they’re the best if you have a spitter-upper. I also really, really, really like flannel ones; they’re uper soft & absorbent.
- NoseFrida. Even though it seems gross, it deals with snot like a champ. When you have a newborn struggling to breathe because of a nose full of snot, having this is like a miracle compared to those old bulb snot suckers.
- Umbrella stroller – Umbrella strollers are handy, can fold-up and store anywhere, and are just the thing for a baby over 6 months old. Before that, you’ll often use a carrier or car seat.
- Cradle Cap Brush– Every infant of mine has had cradle cap– a scaly, thick, hard-to-get-off crust on the scalp. With some babies, I’ve not had one of these brushes on hand and so I’ve had to irritate them with a normal comb & oil, oil, oil, until it all came off. But these cradle cap brushes make it so easy. The bristles are sturdy enough to, in collusion with one another, easily remove the scaly crust, but soft enough that Luke is smiling and happy while I’m using it. Win-win!
- Boudreaux’s Butt Paste— I’ll be honest, I don’t like the word “butt.” It’s not cause I’m a prude; I just think it’s a rude-sounding word. I remember using it to put people down as a child. So to me it’s not a nice word. That said, this diaper rash cream is incredible enough to get me over not liking that word. It’s WON.DER.FUL!
- Nursing tank tops. (Amazon doesn’t seem to carry my favorites– which I got at Wal-Mart. Yes, seriously. They’re cheap– $13 each– and LONG so you don’t have to worry about them riding up and showing your postpartum jelly belly.) I LOVE THESE AND LIVE IN THEM the first few weeks with a new baby. And they make great layers anytime you want to use them, for the full year+ of nursing a baby.
Things I’ve Never Had, or Had & Didn’t Use enough to justify space, upkeep, & cost:
- Swing- While some people use them, I found it to be a huge piece of equipment that is only used for a short amount of time. Even if you get one that is strong enough to swing a heavier baby (past the first month or two), you’ve still got to face the storage problem. Plus, if you use it to get your baby to sleep you’ve created a habit you don’t want to (and can’t, once they’re bigger) keep going.
- Wipes warmer- We’ve never had one. This one’s just unnecessary. Your baby really will survive and adjust rather quickly to room temperature wipes used on their nether regions. Plus, you won’t have a wipes warmer when you go anywhere else, so why create a habit for something you can’t keep up?
- Diaper Genie- This should be renamed “stink bucket” (with expensive bags!) If you’re a formula mom (with ultra-stinky diapers), you’ll want to change it more frequently than when this thing is full of diapers, just to keep up with the stink. And if you’re a breastfeeding mom, your baby’s diapers won’t have major stink until you start them on solids. Skip this, and just use a trash can, with tightly-tied grocery bags for the stinkiest diapers.
- Crib bumper- Even if you do have a super-swank one from Pottery Barn kids or something, this one is totally unneccessary. Plus they keep going back and forth on whether or not they’re safe. Why bother?
- Baby bathtubs- Newborns can be easily bathed in the sink (or resting on your legs, while you take a bath), and then once they can sit up, they’ll transition easily to the big bathtub (there are even great pinterest ideas– like using a hamper basket– for helping that transition happen). Don’t waste the money or the space on this one.
- Booties- Our kiddos have skinny feet, so maybe this is unique to our family, but I’ve never used booties, because they simply won’t stay on. They look cute, but they’re truly impractical.
- Tiny baby bibs – By tiny, I’m talking about bibs with less than a good 6-8 inches in both directions. By the time your baby needs a bib, those tiny ones that look so cute won’t remotely cover the area you need them to cover.
- Carseat/stroller systems – too bulky & expensive for too little use. See my comments extolling the umbrella stroller.
- When I lived in TX: fleece footie sleepers. They’re adorable, but pointless and sweaty in hot climates. Never had a use for them. Now that we’re in Washington state? TOTALLY different story and my 2 & 4 year olds practically live in them in the winter. Lesson: consider your climate before you stock up on all wardrobe items that the baby store offers.
- Baby shoes under size 5– They are only for looks, don’t stay on, and are definitely more trouble than they’re worth.
- Baby powder & Baby lotion— there’s a reason people say “smooth as a baby’s bottom.” After the crackly-skin newborn period (which happens whether you use lotion or not), most babies don’t need lotion. It’s us old people that need lotion on our skin. (I do know this can be an ethnic thing in regard to skin type so please note that I’m saying this as a white mom.)
- Nursing shirts with holes/slits — they’re weird. Weird weird weird. And they could leave you revealing more than you intend as they get washed and stretched out of the way they look on the rack at the maternity store. Forget this and just use a normal shirt with a nursing tank underneath.
AGREE with my list? DISAGREE? What say you?
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