Must Have Baby Items From a Mom of Four
When I was expecting my first child, I was overwhelmed with all of the things I was told I needed for my little one. Since I didn't have any experience with babies, I didn't know what I really needed and what I could do without. A few years (and four kids) later, I've discovered that the only things you truly need are a way to feed the baby and a way to get the baby around from place to place.
But, there are a few things that will make your life easier …
It's normal for babies to want to be held all the time. While you may blissfully spend the first few days (or even weeks) snuggled in bed with your little squish, chances are soon you will want to resume a few of your pre-mom activities and do things you did before you had a baby — like eat with two hands. A baby carrier of some sort will enable to you carry your baby and engage in all sorts of activities. Nursing moms will eventually be able to nurse in a carrier as well.
There are so many different types of carriers out there! Some moms may find it useful to find a babywearing group, such as Babywearing International, to talk to other moms and try on wraps, soft structured carriers, and slings. From my experience, while I have tried some truly gorgeous wraps, they become cumbersome to use. I've also found that ring slings are great for newborns but that I prefer a soft, structured carrier for long-term use. That's me in the photo above using a Tula, which is comfortable enough for long walks with my little one.
It's well known that most babies will fall asleep in the car. In fact, I've known some moms who get in the car and drive around for as long as it takes to get their little one to take a decent nap. (If you do this, map out drive through coffee shops in advance). However, many babies will stay asleep in their car seats for a good long while after the motor stops, making nap time a perfect time to get out and walk or run some errands.
To make sure you are able to transport your little one in his car seat easily, I recommend investing in a stroller travel system that allows you to snap an infant car seat into your sturdy stroller frame. A good example of an easy-t0-use system is the Quinny Buzz Xtra that is compatible with the super-light Maxi Cosi car seat. Another option is a light-weight car seat frame, such as this universal model from Baby Trend.
Babies use a lot of blankets and for a lot of different uses. Blankets from aden +anais weren't around when I had my first child but by the time I had my third, it seemed like they were everywhere I had to check them out for myself; and once I did I discovered why so many moms considered them a must-have.
These blankets are a great weight and size — not to mention they are super cute. I've used mine for everything from swaddling, a nursing cover, a cover for my car seat and stroller when my baby was napping, and to use as a play blanket in the park. They come in different weights, from the classic muslin to a silky-soft bamboo, and also for different seasons and climates. Be sure to include a pack or two on your registry!
I'm the most well-read I've been in a while now that I am caring for a baby. Why? I find myself spending a lot of time sitting while nursing and lying down with my little one. I treasure these moments with my baby, but won't lie and say I never get bored when pinned down by a fussy, feeding, or sleeping baby.
I've found that my Kindle Paperwhite has been a great companion during these times. It's much lighter than a book so I can hold it with one hand, it emits very little light so it won't disturb the baby, and can hold a nearly limitless amount of reading material — including magazines — so I never need to worry about running out of something to keep me occupied. It's also small enough that I always throw it in my diaper bag for those times my baby falls asleep while we are out and about. As a bonus, its low light means it doesn't wake my husband up so I can read during late-night feedings.
Almost as soon as your baby realizes he has hands, he will start using them to pick up anything and everything. Then, he will start throwing whatever he picks up. While your baby will likely find your constant stooping down to retrieve his discarded toys hilarious, you are likely to get frustrated, particularly when he starts tossing toys out of his stroller and car seat. For this reason, I've found a good toy “leash” such as a ‘lil sidekick to be indispensable.
Before too long, your baby's beautiful toothless grin becomes a toothy smile. Those little teeth look cute but can mean some ouchies for your baby. Your little one will thank you for getting her a good teether or two to help her cope with the pain.
Chewbeads are a good choice not just because babies love them but also because they look good on Mom's neck or wrist for easy access for your little one.
Appeteethers are a cute option for when you just want to give baby something to hold. There are teethers that look just like real food. They have everything from broccoli to lollipops.
A good diaper bag will make your life easier. Must-have features are a wipe-off interior, lots of pockets to stay organized, and room to grow with all the things you'll be carrying, like diapers to carrying diapers, snacks, sippy cups, toys, etc.
You will also be using your diaper bag a lot, and for at least a few years, so choose one that you love right off the bat so you won't feel like you want a replacement before your diaper bag days are over. Ju-Ju-Be bags are a popular option because they have so many styles and are constantly introducing new prints.
A good playmat is a must — sometimes they're called activity gyms. These serve as a landing pad for new babies, it's a space where they can look at brightly colored toys for stimulation in their early days. As babies get older, playmats are a soft place for tummy time. Once babies can sit, playmats are the perfect place for babies to sit and practice batting at and grabbing toys. A good playmat will have a few activities for baby and lots of room for hanging toys. I also prefer a padded playmat so baby will be extra comfortable. An example of a good playmat is the Light & Sound Lotty Ladybird from Mamas & Papas.
Before I had my fourth child, it seemed like everyone was telling me about something I had to get: the NoseFrida. I discovered for myself is the absolute best way to clear a tiny stuffed-up nose. You will need to do this more often than you think! Don't be put-off by the weird-looking contraption – it's the best and fastest way to make your baby more comfortable when he has a cold.
FridaBaby also has a couple of new items that work just as well.
Another thing you will need to do a lot of, perhaps starting right out of the womb, is cut tiny fingernails on tiny fingers. The thought of doing this struck fear into my heart. So I was happy to find the NailFrida which was designed especially to cut little nails — a far better solution than inefficient emery boards or trying not to cut your baby's finger with clippers designed for a grown-up.
The FeverFrida is a flat design that my baby seems to prefer. And, unlike any other thermometer I've seen, it can be worn by your baby while he sleeps and you can get updates sent to your phone – complete with alerts if your baby's fever goes above a certain temperature. When my infant had a nasty cold I was able to sleep a little better myself knowing I would get an alert if my baby started heating up. Another bonus is that the app stores your baby's temperature so you don't need to worry about remembering the details to share with the doctor in the morning.
Before your baby can sit up on her own, she will be able to sit up with some support — and she will want to look around. A floor seat is a good option to engage baby with the world. I loved putting all of my little ones in floor seats so that they could watch me doing whatever it was I was doing, from making dinner to folding laundry. My younger kids loved being able to sit up and watch the older kids. Look for a floor seat with a tray so that you can put toys on it for baby to play with and later use for feeding. Some floor seats, like the Baby Snug, from Mamas & Papas have compatible toy attachments and removable inserts for when baby gets bigger (and to make cleaning easier).
A swing or a bouncer is a must-have. If you're lucky, your baby will like either or both. Some babies make things difficult and only like one or the other. It's impossible to know which your baby will like before he's born, so if you can borrow both, even for a short while, it will help narrow things down. Some swings are basic, some have more bells and whistles like the InLighten Cradling Swing that will give your baby a light show and plays music via an MP3 hook-up.
You probably already know that it's not safe for babies to sleep with blankets. You also probably know that babies get cold too! The answer: baby sleeping bags. I thought it was a strange concept at first, but they work really well for keeping babies warm. Look for something super soft, and importantly allows easy access to your baby for diaper changes. Candide Padded Baby Wraps are a great choice. You don't need a ton of these but consider at least two in case one gets dirty or the baby spits up at night.
Remember, the most important thing your baby needs is YOU. Enjoy lots of cuddles, lots of play time, and don't fuss too much over the stuff. As long as your baby has you, she is happy!