Mom of 7 Shares Baby Gear “Must-Haves” and “Don’t-Needs”

Mom of 7 Shares Baby Gear "Must-Haves" and "Don't-Needs" // jessconnnell.com

These are the things I return to every time cause they’re just that good.

  1. 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!).
  2. rockNplayRock & Play SleeperThis 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. Oballsoball– 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!
  8. 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.
  9. 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!
  10. 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.
  11. 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!
  12. 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.
  13. Orajel teething gel & icy teethers— Because teething is a real thing. And these make it temporarily better.
  14. 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.
  15. 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.
  16. 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.
  17. Scalp Scrubby for cradle cap // Mom of 7 Shares Baby Must-HavesCradle 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!
  18. 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!
  19. 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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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?
  3. 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.
  4. 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?
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.
  8. Carseat/stroller systems – too bulky & expensive for too little use. See my comments extolling the umbrella stroller.
  9. 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.
  10. Baby shoes under size 5– They are only for looks, don’t stay on, and are definitely more trouble than they’re worth.
  11. 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.)
  12. 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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Jess Connell

Jesus-follower, Happy wife, Mom of 8 neat people. Former world-traveler, now settled in Washington. Host of Mom On Purpose podcast (momonpurpose.com). I write and wrangle kids.

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17 Responses

  1. Kami Crawford says:

    My husband’s buisness Epipheo did a video for MyBrestFriend. I’ve never used a fancy pillow for breastfeeding my 5 kids but after seeing my friend breast feed with it I’d highly consider it if we have another child. Looks comfortable and would’ve probably saved my back.

    I appreciate you letting other Mom’s in on this list. It’s such a confusing culture we live in where if you’re a first time Mom (or second, third) you feel inundated with pressure from marketing, society, our culture, to have a ton of baby stuff. But very few people will tell you what you really NEED. This could save Mom’s a lot of money and frustration.

    • Jess Connell says:

      I’m the hugest fan of MyBrestFriend… After hating the Boppy with baby #1, I’ve always just used the armrests of couches, built up pillows around me, etc. But this is so easy, especially now with Luke. He had a tongue tie, lip tie, and a lazy suck so this has seriously made it so much easier for me to just focus on getting a good latch with him.

      Thanks for your comment!

  2. Erin says:

    I personally think crib bumpers are helpful. I used one with my first two, then they were possibly unsafe so took them off with my next two for a time and they would constantly get a leg through the slats in the crib and not be able to get it out easily and would wake up (this was once they were too big to stay swaddled – I used regular blankets to swaddle). Just my observation. :-) Otherwise I agree completely. My husband and I can’t help but laugh and /or roll our eyes at first time parents and all they think they need. We were there once too, but I try to share a similar list to this with any first time parents I know well.

    • Jess Connell says:

      Good to know! That’s one of the things on the list that my opinion is less fixed about, because we never had one (so I know a mom can manage without it), but also, 3 of our 7 babies were almost always in a pack-and-play. Glad to get feedback from you, Erin!

  3. Christy says:

    I liked the breathable crib bumper we used with our 4th. No suffocation risk, but it also kept her arms and legs from getting stuck.

    And I don’t use the Orajel anymore since there’ve been so many warnings regarding the dangers to babies. Hyland’s Teething tablets are homeopathic and AWESOME. I’d panic if they were out of stock at the store sometimes. :-) I’d rank them up there with the gas drops!

    I have to disagree about the baby bibs, too. If you have a spitter (and we had a few), it really is so much more convenient to change a bib than change the baby’s shirt or outfit. Oh, now I just saw that you said “tiny” baby bibs. Not sure I’ve seen any tiny ones…just the regular soft bibs. But I always found those helpful for my spitters.

    I never tried Butt Paste with any of my babies. Desitin worked well for us, but with the last baby I found that homemade “butt paste” or just plain coconut oil with some lavender EO worked really well and didn’t have yucky ingredients in.

    • Jess Connell says:

      Hmm… Interesting about the bibs! For my spitter-uppers, it was always much more projectile which meant it went far past those tiny bibs. I use burp cloths for my spitter-upper babies (like, I always have a burp cloth nearby right now with Luke cause he’s just a gassy/spitty baby) and just burped the rest of em.

      I hadn’t heard warnings against orajel. I’ll have to look into that– sometimes when you’re a mom of little ones for longer than just a few years, there are things like his you miss. I’ll check it out; thanks!

  4. Kondwani says:

    I had my first when I had been living in one of the top 10 poorest countries in the world. I saw women with so very little manage just fine. I remember at 26 weeks pregnant being at a conference in Cape Town and I went into a baby shop and burst into tears because of all the ‘stuff’. What was it all for? Since then I seem to spent a lot of time telling people not to worry about ‘stuff’. I think there is a market directed at people like I was – relatively well off, middle class first time mums in their 30s with very little experience of children. I wanted to give my baby ‘the best possible start’ and would have been tempted, had I been in a suitable location, to buy many more things.

    My essentials:

    1) Nappies! (I used washable mainly because of location, but found they were better – but I know this is controversial)
    2) Baby carrier. I’ve used several types at different times. I could never manage a pram/ stroller, partly through crazy potholed roads, and then with toddlers who would try to ‘help’ me push. It was just easier to carry!
    3) Some kind of cot. I used the travel cot part of a ‘travel system’ for the first six months for all 4. But when on the road, we used other things, even the old ‘bottom drawer’!
    4) Breast pads. Yes. Washable ones, not disposables which felt uncomfortable. Maybe I was just very leaky, but these were essential!

    I actually can’t think of much else :) For my second child, we fitted everything we needed for the birth and first four months into the back of a small Skoda and moved to a new town. For the next, it happened suddenly (adoption) and I already had a baby so we just shared things. By the next, it was kind of routine.

    What I didn’t find at all useful:

    1) Changing mat – what’s wrong with the floor?
    2) Wipes – occasionally used out and about, but inside we just rinse the baby under the tap. It seemed to get them cleaner
    3) Pushchair

    • Jess Connell says:

      Interesting, I’ve always wanted to like the washable nursing pads, but just haven’t been able to. They always leak straight through for me, which makes me all wet and embarrassed.

      Changing mat: GOOD CALL! Totally forgot to mention this item. They’re not small enough to stay on it very long, for one… and then, like you, what’s the big deal about the floor or a couch? Maybe with the first baby, though, I could see not changing the diaper quickly enough (especially with a boy!) to get them changed in time before they pee again? Anyway, yeah, I’ve never really needed one.

  5. Anne says:

    I would also say scip the wipes (I only use them when out of home) otherwise I use old fabric hankerschiefs and throw them in the laundry.
    I would not recommand a pack and play. Medical wise it restricts the baby to much in the turning movement of the hips (even before they turn around) which leads to weaker back muscles and later in life they have more trouble with back problems (I worked as a doctor in the othopedic ward before the kids came along and pediatrist try to get parents away from this kind of things). If the baby has problems with acid just put a big folder under the matress and you have a bed with a slope. (Also a good trick when they have a cold and trouble breathing).
    Otherwise I can only agree, that most of the equipment in the baby shops is unnecessary.
    Good list!

  6. Katie S says:

    Wow, I didn’t know about cradle cap brushes! Our two both needed to endure the oil/regular comb treatment – I am excited to know there’s an alternative.

    • Jess Connell says:

      Yes and it works so well, it kinds of gently “shreds” (which, I know, doesn’t sound gentle LOL) that top layer of oily gunk to break it down and get it out of the hair. Used in collusion with baby soap, it works like a charm!

  7. Amy M says:

    Great list! I have been on the “as little gear as possible” side myself. However, there are some things I never thought I’d use that ended up being invaluable. For instance, I’m definitely in the pro-swing camp and I never thought I would be. Also a big fan of swaddlers. By the way, if like me, anyone out there has a preemie or just a smaller-than-usual baby, the company that makes SwaddleMe also makes Swaddlepods for the 5-10 pounders. I’ve had a preemie, and those were so helpful for him.

  8. Melissa says:

    My Brest Friend and the Rock n Play have absolutely been our MVPs! For nursing tanks, I have found Old Navy’s Tamis to be amazing. They stretch below the breast easily, but spring right back and don’t lose their shape. And they’re much cheaper than nursing tanks. http://oldnavy.gap.com/browse/product.do?vid=1&pid=706081032

  9. Rachel says:

    Great list. We couldn’t live without our swing! It has earned it’s place in storage for sure. Here’s a list I wrote before baby #4 (still the same now). http://somerosaga.blogspot.com/2011/07/since-were-expecting-4-soon-here-ive.html

  1. September 18, 2015

    […] Mom of 7 Shares Baby Gear MUST-HAVES and DON’T-NEEDS […]

  2. November 30, 2015

    […] Have you seen my full list of newborn must-haves? […]

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