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My sister is due with her first baby in four short weeks and I cannot wait for my niece’s arrival! I recently threw her a baby shower, which prompted me to make a list of the items that I could not have survived those first few months without. These items were must-haves for me and after speaking with other parents, I realized that I am not alone in this.
With so many items on the market, it is hard to decide what is a necessity and what is more of a luxury. Expecting your first baby? Have a sister, brother, or friend expecting and have no idea what to gift them? Or maybe it’s been years since your last baby and you have no clue where to start. Trying to figure out which product is worth the price tag can be stressful and the last thing any soon-to-be parent needs is stress. Here’s a list that will help you with essentials and I consider all of these items to be money very well spent.
1. Car seat and stroller with click connect compatibility
I know that a car seat seems like stating the obvious, but I cannot stress enough how important the click connect compatibility is. When you have an infant sleeping, you do not want to wake them, trust me. Being able to take the baby on the go while staying secured in the car seat is a lifesaver. Having a stroller to click into is even better. Those infant seats get heavy after a while. I used Baby Trend and loved it. It is cheaper than the big name brands and works just as well. My mother just bought this Baby Trend car seat for my sister (already has a compatible stroller) and she loves it. It is padded for comfort and gender neutral.
Car seat-stroller combo’s are the way to go if a stroller is needed. This is the car seat-stroller combo I had with my daughter and I loved it (so much so, that I bought a double-jogger from them a year later). She has outgrown the car seat, but we still use the jogging stroller and it has held up well. The tires are “real” and not plastic, which was a must for me! Of course, not everyone wants a jogging stroller and baby trend makes a travel system stroller as well.
2. Rock ‘n Play Sleeper
Okay, so if a car seat wasn’t an absolute necessity, this would have been #1 on my personal list. My daughter would not sleep in her bassinet, whatsoever. She had to be propped up at an angle and the Rock ‘n Play Sleeper does just that. My daughter slept in hers until she was four months old, naps and all. Traveling? Forget the Pack ‘n Play, I was bringing this lifesaver with me. I took it everywhere. It folds up easily and is super lightweight. There isn’t one negative thing I have to say about this amazing product.
I honestly don’t think I would have gotten any sleep without the Rock ‘n Play Sleeper. It was a blessing and I made sure to write a super sweet thank you note for the friend who got it for me (whom I can still name to this day, seriously, she saved my life). I recommend the Rock ‘n Play sleeper to all parents. I have found that everyone who uses one, absolutely loves it. The incline design on all Rock ‘n Play Sleepers is also great for babies who suffer from acid reflux and/or excessive spitting up. Trust me, this is well worth the 50 bucks it costs.
3. Halo Sleepsack
Another sleeping essential is the Halo Sleepsack Swaddle. It was the only swaddle my little girl would sleep in because I could swaddle her with her arms out. The Velcro straps make it easy to swaddle your baby and takes all of the guesswork out of swaddling. Another bonus perk, you can unzip the bottom half of the Sleepsack to change those late-night diapers all without un-swaddling your little one.
This company is all about safe sleep, which I love. They also make a wearable Sleepsack blanket to adapt to your baby’s needs as he or she grows. The sleep sack replaces a blanket for the first year of your little one’s life. The sleep sacks come in either micro-fleece or 100% cotton, I had one of each in each size. I’m also a huge fan of the “back is best” reminder on each of their sleep sacks. Safe sleep is essential and this company knocked it out of the park with these sleep sacks!
4. Boppy pillow
My Boppy pillow was such a big help when it came to breastfeeding in those first couple of months. I ended up with an unplanned, emergency C-section with my daughter. I had a lot of unexpected hurdles and recovery time. Thankfully, I had a Boppy which allowed me to take the weight of my little one off of my arms and very sore belly area. The Boppy is great for the football hold (another breastfeeding position to master if you had a C-section) and I don’t think I had enough strength after delivery to make that position work without my Boppy. It was my best friend for breastfeeding. Breastfeeding is not an easy job and I think that this is an essential product to help mom breastfeed comfortably.
The Boppy is also great for bonding with your little one. Your sweet baby can snuggle in your lap while you have free hands for play. When your baby is old enough, you can use the boppy for back support and tummy time. Be careful though, dads are very fond of your Boppy pillow and you may have to fight them for it (see image on right).
The Boppy is the first gift that my sister received. My younger sister actually learned to sew and made her a Boppy pillow. I told her that we totally have to DIY another for the blog! Until then, here is a gender neutral Boppy pillow that I think is just perfect for the new mommy.
5. Baby Carrier
Best carrier for newborn stage
There are two different baby carriers that I recommend to all new parents. The first carrier is considered a wrap and is soft and stretchy. It is perfect for the early months when your baby wants to be on your chest 24/7. I tried the ring sling and Moby wrap, but I didn’t like those brands as much I did the Boba wrap.
The Boba wrap was more soft and easier to work with versus the other two brands. My daughter would fall right asleep in the Boba wrap. This wrap fully supports your newborn’s head and allows you to be completely hands-free. What I really loved was that she was always right where I could see her. I could get housework done and grocery shop while she slept on my chest. And bonus perk, you will have less strangers coming up and trying to touch your baby’s face because it will literally be covered and laying between your breasts. Total win if you ask me.
I used my Boba wrap for the first 6 months of my daughter’s life and it worked perfectly. There are tons of YouTube videos for learning to use it. Once you learn, you won’t forget. I tested it with our 40 pound 4 year old before passing it on to my sister and it supported him well. This wrap is the real deal and can be used for a long time. The only thing about the Boba is that it can get a little warm. This is great during winter months, but not so much if it’s dead summer here in Charleston, SC. Still great and very much worth it for household chores and/or grocery store trips.
Best carrier as baby grows (4+ months)
The next carrier that I highly recommend is the Infantino Flip Advanced 4-in-1 carrier. Not only is it great as your baby grows, it will save you a pretty penny compared to the other (and much more expensive) carriers.
I started using this carrier when my daughter was about 4 months old and it was great for outside activities. It allowed me to to be hands free, so I was able to care for Travis and Lillian at the same time. It was also a big help when I needed to walk my dog. The Infantino carrier is lightweight and padded for comfort. This carrier isn’t as warm as the Boba wrap, making it perfect for summer activities. I have nothing negative to say about this carrier, however, I wouldn’t recommend it for newborns because it does not offer the same head support as the Boba wrap. Make sure your baby has good head control before using this carrier.
6. Baby monitor
My husband doesn’t think that this is an essential, but the mommy worry-wart that I am disagrees with him. When my daughter moved to her crib at 4 months old, I was overcome with panic. I am a huge advocate for safe sleep and I was terrified of SIDS. I did some research and found the Angelcare movement and sound monitor. These can get extremely pricey mostly due to the video capability. Thankfully, my pediatrician convinced me that this expensive aspect of a monitor really isn’t worth the money. Therefore, I decided to purchase the unit that monitored movement and sound only. This monitor tracks the slightest movement of your baby when sleeping. It can detect the movement from breathing! If it fails to pick up movement, it will alarm very loudly. This one runs right about $60 now, but very much worth the piece of mind to me.
There you have it, my list of baby must-haves. I hope you found this helpful and I hope it helps alleviate any stress of welcoming a new baby home. These products made my life so much easier and I think they will do the same for you.
What are your baby must-haves? What do you think about this list?