1. Cloth diapers...DUH! Check out my love affair with them here.
2. A GOOD baby swing. Before my manwich was born, I got a portable swing to save space and after he was born, he HATED it. He never slept. One day when he was a few weeks old, we went to my best friend's house and she had a Fisher Price side-to-side swing and he slept for 3 HOURS!! I stopped at a consignment store on the way home and immediately bought one! It was my LIFESAVER for the first however many months until my son was so big the swing no longer moved, haha! Now, I have had friends whose children did not favor the swing, so this is all about preference, but the side-to-side movement and cradle "basket" worked wonders for us.
3. A baby carrier. There are many types (wraps, slings, carriers, etc.) and I think it's all about preference. I liked my Infantino front carrier (very similar to a baby bjorn but a fraction of the price and it was great!) and my Moby wrap.
4. Aden and Anais swaddle blankets: MUST HAVE!!! The. end. They are huge, thin, soft, and the BEST swaddle around! They are great because you can tightly swaddle your child (or just let them use it as a blanket) but you don't have to worry about your child over-heating because they are so thin. Other brands make the same type of blankets. I'm sure they work just as well. I think the key things are the size (42 or 44 inch square and made of a thin muslin material). They make TONS of cute designs, too!!!!
5. Mom's On Call book. If I had to recommend only 1 thing, it would be this book! It is only 150 pages, choc full of accessible information. Most of it is in list form. Who has time to read hundreds of pages with a newborn? It's written by two nurses who have a combined 8 children. Lots of experience! And the best part...it comes with a dvd which briefly but thoroughly explains all the basics...how to suction noses, take rectal temps, give baths, and SWADDLE correctly! The most valuable piece of information in my opinion! This book is FANTASTIC and cheap, too! $12!
6. We opted for a portable high chair and I'm so glad! It's such a space saver and great for transition now that my boy is getting older. Also, easy peasy to clean and fantastic for travel!
7. Umbrella stroller! They are small, light, and a smooth ride. Also, much cheaper than a full size. I hardly use my stroller system stroller any more (except for going running) but use the umbrella stroller EVERYWHERE! The little bag on the back is the perfect size for a bottle, burp cloth, a few toys, and snacks. I also put my purse over one of the handles and it's just fine. My son started using it around 4 months with a blanket under him for padding. For us, if we went out before this age, he was usually in a carrier or his car seat, so the full-size stroller didn't get as much use as we thought. Now, the umbrella stroller also doubles as a toy for my little man to stroll around his toys, haha!
8. Waterproof pads and lap pads...I learned this trick somewhere (I can't remember) and it has been great!
Over your crib mattress and waterproof mattress pad, layer a waterproof pad and a crib sheet 4 times. It is much easier to pull off a dirty sheet and pad than to have to change sheets in the middle of the night and hope you have a clean mattress pad ready. GREAT TIP! I use the lap pads on the changing table to catch pee or spit up. Again, much easier to wash than the whole pad cover. just take it off and throw the dirty one in the hamper. Get 2 packs of each.
9. You will be thankful for a Medela Double Breast Pump if you are planning to breast feed. LIFESAVER! You do literally feel like a cow, but it's the most efficient way to go. I ended up exclusively pumping for a few weeks after my son got bite-happy and learned a great tip. Since breast milk is good refrigerated for almost a week, after you pump, put all of your pump parts in a ziplock bag in the fridge and they will be good to go for your next use instead of having to sterilize everything after each use (which is every few hours) and then just sterilize once at the end of the day. Also, use Medela microwaveable steam sterilizing bags to make your life so much easier with this uber important step.
10. Aquaphor. I'm in love and use it for EVERYTHING! It's a bit expensive and after my son was a few months old, I switched to vaseline for his body (he has really sensitive/dry skin) and use Aquaphor for his face and eczema patches.
11. Gerber cloth diapers as burp cloths. The cute ones are nice, but not always as absorbent or too small for everyday use. You will want thicker ones for while you’re at home and during feedings. I prefer the Gerber cloth diapers-double ply 6 pack. Get AT LEAST 2 packs!!!! Don’t get the 12 pack of thinner diapers. They aren’t very absorbent as half them is a gauze-y material.
12. An assortment of pacifiers. Babies like different kinds at different ages. At first my manwich loved the Soothies pacifier and later was really into the Nuk. It's all about preference here. :)
13. Bumbo! This is great because your baby can "sit up" before he can do so independently. You can find these at a great bargain at consignment stores and sales (or maybe from friends). It's not something the baby will use for a long time, but while he or she can, probably will love it and use it quite often.
14. Boppy or Brest Friend. With Manwich, I had a Boppy and didn't find much help while breastfeeding (I felt like he curled into my stomach too much), but it was great for propping him up and "tummy time". Next time, I'd like to give the Brest Friend a whirl as it is supposed to better support the baby for feedings. This one is all about preference. Each have really cute slipcovers, too. :)
15. Video Monitor. We did not have one until my son was a little over a year, and it has been FABULOUS! It is definitely not a necessity, but if you can get one, it really does help with peace of mind. Also, they are available several places, but about $80 cheaper than anywhere I've found on amazon.com. Also, they sell extra cameras for this model that will link up to the same monitor if you have two children. Awesome! (Also, you could put one in a playroom and bedroom...)
A few random tips:
1. Bite their nails instead of trimming with clippers. Babies move so quickly (as they don’t have much control over their movements for a while) and it’s super easy to cut their poor fingers. If you bite them, it’s easier to hold and you can trim the nail close without causing their fingers to bleed. Sounds a little gross or weird, but it worked well for us. I usually do this while I’m feeding my son. He’s typically calm then and he’s close. (PS-I did this until he was 9 months or so, not anymore.)
2. Keep a grocery bag with a few diapers, wipes, extra burp cloths, extra bibs, change of clothes for baby, and a change of clothes (or shirt) for you in the car. You never know when you will get pooped on or spit up on while you’re out. Also this has been really helpful for times where you’re running out quickly to the store and you don’t want to lug the diaper bag, but you still have an emergency diaper/etc. in the car if needed.
3. My hairdresser told me the best way to get rid of cradle cap is to use a small baby toothbrush ( the little rubber kind that fits on your finger) and gently rub the area in a circular motion while baby is in the bath. When he/she gets out, puncture a capsule of Vitamin E and rub it on the area. Repeat once daily until it’s gone. It should only take a few days. Follow up every few days to prevent it if it seems to be coming back. This worked really well for us (and actually, I didn’t have Vitamin E for a while and used Aquaphor instead and it also worked quite well.)
4. KEEP PLENTY OF BATTERIES ON HAND!!!!! It really sucks when the swing or bouncer stop working and you’re stuck and it’s 5 am and you want to go back to sleep!!!! LOL! This has happened to me SEVERAL times and each time, I cursed to myself!!! LOL!
5. Breastfeeding book: A friend of mine has several children and swears by this book. I did not know about it in time for my little man, but looked at it and will definitely use it as a resource next time.
6. I used bibs on my baby ALL THE TIME! He was constantly spitting up and it got really annoying to change his clothes all the time, so I started keeping bibs on him. I could just easily switch it out without waking the baby or having the hassle of changing clothes.
Happy babies, friends!!! If you have a must-have product or great tip, please leave a comment!