I’ve received some requests from some of my close friends for my “must have” list of things for a new baby. This is my list of recommended products for new moms. These are baby product reviews. With two under age three, I can assure you that I am either currently using these products OR have only just recently graduated out of these products. In some cases my products are already discontinued and I’ve selected what I would buy now if I were pregnant again today. I will break down products into their category of need. I also will tell you what not to waste money on – products that you will likely not need (i.e. nursing tops). At the end of this post I list some ways you can save on your baby item purchases, especially if you willing to buy used.
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I attempted to link each item to make it easier for you to go straight to the product I recommend. If you have problems with the link, you can also use this handy tool from Amazon to look up baby items/prices etc. I hope this helps! Feel free to leave a comment if you need to reach me, I’ll try to get back with you within 24 hours.
BOOKS – If you can, try to read before you have your baby – any down time you have after baby is born you’ll want to use for sleep.
- Baby Wise – read chapter six if you are sleep-deprived and don’t have much time. This book will help you establish a routine so your baby can learn to sleep through the night. My boys usually started sleeping for six hour lengths at about age four months. Link: On Becoming Baby Wise, Book 1: Learn How Over One Million Babies Were Trained to Sleep Through the Night the Natural Way
- Healthy Sleep Habits – Happy Child – I did not use this but have had several trusted moms highly recommend. Link: Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child Both books advocate establishing a routine to help your baby learn the difference between night and day so that they can learn to sleep through the night.
- What to Expect when You’re Expecting – Helps you stay sane when strange symptoms arise. Link: What to Expect When You’re Expecting, 4th Edition.
- Your Baby’s First Year – Again, a book for your sanity. Link: Your Baby’s First Year: Third Edition
- Your Pregnancy Week by Week – My OB recommended this over What to Expect When You’re Expecting – I have copies of both. Link: Your Pregnancy Week By Week 5th Edition (Your Pregnancy Series)
- SIDS – (not a book) I’ve attached an article on Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, please read it and get everyone in your household and all potential caretakers on the same page. 20% of SIDS deaths occur when someone’s baby is being watched by a caretaker. Even grandparents need to be brought up to speed.
- Personalized Baby Books – These make wonderful gifts. Help your child recognize the letters to their very own name. I have a special link to ISeeMe.com where you can take 15% off their Award-Winning Book “My Very Own Name” with coupon code “specialname”. Expires 2/29/2012
SLEEP – Yes. Even you – dear mama, can expect your baby to sleep at some point during the night.
- Fisher Price Rock N Play – My firstborn was on oxygen and had terrible reflux (my second also had terrible reflux – with colicky-like symptoms) – this sleeper was a life-saver, both slept comfortably in it until about four months of age. Length of use will vary based upon your baby’s size and ability to squirm. It’s short so you can easily see into it from your bed. Your baby’s head stays elevated – reducing the risk of SIDS and these newer models come with a manufacturer’s pillow to prevent flat-head – sweet! BOYS/Neutral bunny theme: Fisher-Price My Little Snugabunny Newborn Rock n’ Play Sleeper, GIRLS kitten/pink theme: Fisher-Price – Newborn Rock and Play Sleeper, Pink
- Bassinet – Arms Reach makes a dreamy bassinet/play-yard that you can practically connect to your own bed, Link: Arm’s Reach Co-Sleeper Original Bassinet, Coco Natural. It’s a little on the pricey side so a less expensive option is a pack-n-play that has a bassinet built into in. Link: Graco Pack N Play Playard with Bassinet, Pasadena. I like this PNP because it includes an arch that acts as a mobile to keep baby entertained. If you’re willing to spend a bit more, buy a model that includes a changing table – my husand and I used one like this when our eldest slept in the living room. Graco Pack ‘N Play Playard with Reversible Napper and Changer, Roman.
- A bassinet is your best option if you want your baby sleeping with you in the same room close-by but he or she has outgrown the rock-n-play. I had both my boys sleeping in the same room for about the first six months – after that, they outgrew the bassinet. SIDS experts say SIDS is significantly reduced when your baby sleeps in the same room with mommy – call it mother’s instinct but we have a natural built in sense of safety that no baby product can replicate. If you want to save $ and not purchase a bassinet, your other option is to move your baby out of your room into the nursery and into the crib (or put the crib in your room).
- Crib – Don’t scrimp on a crib. I had a cheaper drop-side crib (these are now illegal to sell due to injuries/deaths) for my first-born son and as he got heavier, it became harder and harder to lower him as a sleeping baby into the crib. The side eventually dipped and some screws popped out. We fixed the screws but even now I have to be careful not to learn against my cheaper crib. A crib with sturdy side walls allows you to lean against it with your entire body. Makes gently laying a sleep baby down much easier. If you’re short like me, this Medela nursing stool serves multiple uses – you can use it when you nurse and when you need to lower baby over the side of the crib. You can also save money by buying one that adapts to a toddler bed and a full-size bed. Here are a few of my recommendations based upon their value of sturdy-ness and price. To shop more cribs, go to: Get up to 50% off baby cribs | changing tables and more | plus get Free Shipping on orders over $50.
- Stork Craft – highly recommended and reputable company. This crib comes in white, expresso and everything in-between and is convertible. Stork Craft 4 in 1 Crib. *** $50 gift card from Amazon right now (1/12/13).
- You’ll want a Nursery Glider to go w/your crib– A rocking chair or rocking reclining chair are things I highly recommend for baby’s room. I have three in my home right now – one in each of the rooms where my boys sleep and one in the spare bedroom. A great place for shopping for gliders/rockers is NurseryGliders.com with two links for savings: Super Sale! Up to 40% Off Top Rated Nursery Gliders and FREE Shipping on Everything! Use Code EB-4374
- Breathable crib bumpers – SIDS experts do not recommend using cloth baby bumpers in your crib. Breathable crib bumpers are a solution to your baby knocking his or her head against hard wood and they help you sleep easy too. By the time it’s safe to put crib bumpers in your baby’s crib they can usually stand up in the crib which makes the bumper a stepping stone to elevate themselves up higher and possibly over the edge. If you buy cloth bumpers (as a part of a bedding set) just know you may never use them.
- Sleep Sack – Both my boys used these until they were at least a year old. Again, SIDS experts DO NOT recommend blankets or any other soft bedding in the crib until at least one year of age. If you’re worried about warmth layer on socks and a fleece sleep-n-play (a footed PJ). Monitor your baby’s temperature though. Dress them too warm and it actually increases SIDS risk. Sleep sacks do not have sleeves because even fluffy sleeves present a SIDS risk. GIRLS: Pink Halo Sleep Sack, Medium, BOYS: Blue Pup Pals Halo Sleep Sack, Medium. These sacks also come in green and other colors/patterns. I prefer the micro fleece. You would use cotton in the summer if you do not have AC.
- Sound Machine – We use the rain setting on our Home-medics Sound Machine. Works like magic with our eleven month old.
- Fan – Place a fan in your baby’s room. It reduces the risk of SIDS and creates a soothing white noise. My eldest loves the sound of the fan in his room. I selected a fan on a pedestal to make it harder for baby to get his fingers into the fan once he or she starts crawling.
- Monitor – This has been so valuable to us, we still use it today – and our eldest is almost three. It’s just so nice to be able to see into his room without having to open a door. We highly recommend the MobiCam products. We have three cameras and one receiver. When we had issues with the receiver we sent the set back to MobiCam not just once but twice and they fixed it for free. They have excellent customer service and support. As a back up (and a cheaper option) is a sound only monitor. We use the Sony Baby Call Nursery Monitor as a back-up sound only monitor and this one works great.
NURSING – If nursing is something you want to make a part of your lifestyle with baby, check out nursing classes or support groups at your local hospital. Le Leche League is also an excellent source of information.
- My Breast Friend – hands down the best product under $50 I purchased for my baby and me. The velcro band ensures a snug fit from the time your little one arrives until you lose all the baby weight. My baby slept on it, nursed on it, I even changed him a few times on it. Do not waste your time on boppy. You can’t walk around your house hands-free wearing your nursing pillow unless you buy My Breast Friend. It even has a pocket to put a pacifier or TV remote. It comes in blue,
- Nursery Glider – A rocking chair or rocking reclining chair are things I highly recommend for baby’s room. I have three in my home right now. A great place for shopping for gliders/rockers is NurseryGliders.com with two links for savings: Super Sale! Up to 40% Off Top Rated Nursery Gliders and FREE Shipping on Everything! Use Code EB-4374
- Medela Breast Pump – two options here, the more affordable one comes with fewer accessories. The fancier version has an extra storage bag and other accessories. Both can be made into hands-free pumps with a strapless hands-free bra (I highly recommend the hands free bra – it makes pumping so much easier – pumping takes 10-15 minutes). With my firstborn at 30 weeks and a weak suck I pumped for 13 months using this machine, and pumping is not luxurious but this tool made it easy, sanitary, and simple. You can clean the parts by boiling them in water and after an initial sterilizing by using warm water and dish soap. If you think you’ll need to pump milk – this is the best breast pump in my opinion. The other nice thing, it’s so commonly used you can find spare parts at Walmart (or Target) if needed.
- Milk Storage – Lansinoh storage bags – don’t shake milk before giving in bottle to baby – it traps air bubbles in the milk increasing the need to burp and or colic-like symptoms, stir warm milk with stir stick (I used a butter knife). After you pump milk store it in a bag by pouring it into the bag and then carefully pressing out all the air to prevent freezer burn. It closes just like a zip lock bag. Defrost the bags upside down in warm water – I used a water pitcher full of warm water. If the bag leaks, it is usually on the bottom, by defrosting it upside down you don’t lose any milk during the defrost. Never microwave milk – it changes the properties of the milk AND can be dangerous for baby as microwaves tend to heat unevenly. Lansinoh: The 50 count box of bags link here.
- Munchkin Bottle Warmer – has two trays, one for bottle and one to sterilize a pacifier. The tray for the pacifier can later be used to heat jars of baby food. I still use mine with my 11-month old. I don’t like to microwave baby food due to uneven heating. Always stir food and or milk before serving to ensure even heat distribution.
- Nursing Cover – Udder Covers has some beautiful nursing covers that are large enough to wrap around your sides as you nurse your baby. The cover has slip D-rings for adjustable neckline and a metal expansion lip so you can see your baby while he or she is nursing – this helps make nursing easier. Udder Covers has this special offer: Get a FREE Patterned Nursing Cover with promo code PJBABY
- Breast Pads – A mom of six babies (not all at once of course) swore by Johnson’s breast pads so these are the only kind I ever used and the ones I can recommend. Johnson’s 60 count. Johnson’s 36 count. You may want to get the smaller quantity first and see if you even need these. I only needed them for a short time in the beginning until my body adjusted to the needs of my babies.
- Nursing Bra – I love my nursing bra so much that I bought two and almost never go without one on. It’s the Bravado Body Silk Seamless Nursing Bra in Butterscotch (which is really skin color). I sleep in it and wear it all day. It’s so comfortable and adjusts as you change in weight. In fact, I’ll be sad when I go back to a regular bra unless I can find one just like it that isn’t a nursing bra. I never want to take mine off. I tried another bra that had under wire and regretted it – the wire pinched my sides and was uncomfortable. Trust me, when you’ve got babies to chase and pick up, you want comfort.
- Nursing Tops – I do not recommend buying yourself a wardrobe of nursing tops. Just get a few – visit Motherhood Maternity to try them on. Once you get the hang of nursing and as you start losing baby weight you can find V-neck shirts you can wear that still allow you to easily access your breasts. You can also lift your shirt up and if you’re using a nursing pillow no one will be able to see much of anything (plus you have a nursing cover). In fact, I found a zippered bathing suit cover-up in terry cloth at Target that was perfect for nursing. I just un-zipped to nurse and wore a cardigan underneath to stay warm. This was my uniform along with my PJ pants for the first few months of my eldest’s life.
- Changing Table – Buy one that matches your crib. I would also warn against one that is attached to the crib as it poses a safety hazard for a toddler. The brands I’ve listed for crib purchase are highly reputable and they make quality products. My best advice is to buy your dresser, changing table and crib from the same company.
- Diaper Pail – I love my Baby Trend Diaper Champ Deluxe. It fits a standard 13 gal kitchen trash bag which means I don’t have to buy special bags. It also does a fairly decent job of keeping the nursery from smelling for the first six months. Once your baby starts to eat solid foods you’ll want to dispose of “poppy” diapers somewhere other than the nursery no mater what kind of diaper pail you are using.
- Desitin – This is the best diaper rash cream I have used. I tried butt paste, Arborn, generic, and a few others I can’t even remember. But Desitin IS the best. It came recommended by the NICU nurses when we brought our eldest home and they knew what they were talking about. Our eldest had watery stool and this healed his skin. Don’t waste money on anything else.
- Cetaphil – If your baby has sensitive skin – ours has excema, this makes a great baby wash. You can find it at Walgreens and Walmart.
- Tub with Sling/Insert – A tub that converts from infant tub to pre-todler tub makes the most sense for several reasons. First off is safety. You want your baby safely cradled in the water – which is why a sling is a good idea. The second major reason is useful longevity/economy. Once you take the sling out it should still be useful for you and your baby once he/she can sit upright. My boys both love the rainforest bath center and here I’ve inked both the pink and green versions. Pink Fisher Price Tub and Fisher Price Rainforest Bath Center.
- Wash Cloth – I know it seems silly, but if you want to take any pics of your baby in the tub you’ll want a cute wash mit or wash towel for baby. I happen to like this one. Jumping Beans Bath Mitt – Frog. You can also get a hooded bath towel, but honestly they don’t seem to dry as well (they tend to run a little thin). So you may want to get some for pictures but we use a large bath sheet to dry our little ones.
- Bath Spout Cover – You probably won’t need this right away but I do recommend a bath spout cover. Once your toddler starts moving around it the tub you’ll want to protect them from the sharp edges of the spout. Skip Hop Whale Spout Cover.
- Wipes Warmer – Munchkin Warm Glow Wipe Warmer. At first I did not think I’d need one of these. But let me say, one swipe with a cold wipe and you’re likely to trigger a shower on your hand and all over the changing table if you neglect to get one of these. I highly recommend this brand – it has a built in night light and the wipes stay moist even after long periods of being stored inside (as long as the lid is closed).
- SITZ bottles – I received two of these as a part of my care package when I checked out of the hospital. They also make wonderful aides for bathing baby. Lavette Bottle – Perineal Irrigation Bottle.
- Diaper Bag – Petunia Pickle Bottom makes the BEST diaper bag. I can’t believe all the stuff I can fit into it and it still looks stylish no matter what. Pockets for bottles, creams, extra clothes, diapers, food, you name it. It converts from a satchel to backpack and has hooks that you can hang from most strollers. It’s a little on the pricey side but ohhhh so worth it. I LOVE mine. It comes in every color combo imaginable. A few examples below… (Amazon had almost 1,000 different PPB bags when I checked.) If this a little pricey for you, I suggest shopping here for the best price/value and just use the features of the PPB bag as your standard: Diaper Bags Clearance Sale – Save Up to 60%!
- Carrier – Ergo Baby Carrier Black with Camel Lining – erognomically correct for baby AND for mom. I tried other carriers and they put the straps on my shoulders but nothing at the waist. This created an ache in my lower back that made carrrying baby painful. The ERGO places the baby’s weight on your hips AND aligns baby’s spine. It can be worn as a front or back pack. Baby always faces you. Baby can not face out, but I seriously doubt you can find a more comfortable carrier. You can also get the infant liner if you think you’ll need it. This comes in other colors, organic fabric, and patterns too.
- High Chair- This Graco Contempo Highchair, Rittenhouse has all the features I like: wipeable seat cover, reclining seat, adjustable height, and folds easily for storage. The tray is removable and fits into the dishwasher and the colors are neutral which should match any dining area decor. You might find something you like better style-wise – just keep in mind the features above – especially the recline feature – you want it to recline to feed an infant.
Other colors available:
- Portable Chair – If you travel (even just go to eat at a friend’s house), this portable chair will be a life-saver. It also reclines and comes in four beautiful colors. Fisher-Price 2012 Space Saver High Chair.
- Pack-N-Play – as above, I recommend Graco Pack N Play Playard with Bassinet, Pasadena. I like this PNP because it includes an arch that acts as a mobile to keep baby entertained. If you’re willing to spend a bit more, buy a model that includes a changing table – my husand and I used one like this when our eldest slept in the living room. Graco Pack ‘N Play Playard with Reversible Napper and Changer, Roman.
- Strollers – The best stroller depends upon its use. I have owned five strollers so far and each has been based upon it’s use. A good place to see a TON of strollers is: Stroller Superstore
- All purpose car-seat and stroller system – Chicco Cortina Keyfit 30 Travel System – my husband and I were required to attend a four hour long car seat safety course before we could take our first born home from the hospital. The Keyfit 30 was the highest recommended car seat. It can carry a premie to a pre-toddler. I love this car seat and can highly recommend it. The stroller can sit with the car seat inside of it until the baby can sit upright on his/her own. It comes in several beautiful colors including navy, pink, red and green.
- Sport/Jogging Stroller– BOB Revolution CE Single Stroller, Black best sport stroller on the market – highly recommended by moms I know. This also comes in other colors. If you decide this is a bit pricey – look for the same features online at: Stroller Superstore – think safety – easy to break, recline for little one, safety strap to prevent runaway and then comfort – adjustable handles, cup holder, etc.
- Peg Pergo – If you want super lightweight AND sturdy try Peg Pergo, here she is in Geranium (red), and she also comes in black and java. I have two of these – a single and a double and just love them b/c they are so lightweight. My Chicco car seat fits right into the seat.
- Your infant will eventually outgrow the infant carrier and you’ll need a larger car seat. The best brand out there is Britax – a brand you can trust – they test and prove their car seats to European crash standards. I made the mistake of trying to save $40 and purchased an Evenflo. My toddler tore apart the styrofoam and I’ve regretted this purchase ever since. I should’ve spent the extra money and gotten the Britax. It comes in many different colors so you’re sure to find a style you love.
- IMPORTANT NOTE: Car Seat – BUY NEW. The plastic drys out and can crack over time. Plus the manufacturer’s warranty does have a three to five year expiration date. Do not buy independent neck rests or inserts – waste of money and voids the manufactuer’s warranty on the safety and effectiveness of the car seat. Our car seat safety class instructor says BUY NEW, so I say BUY NEW.
FOR BABY – When thinking about entertainment for baby you’ve got to think about two things – baby’s development – they can’t hold their head up for at least the first few months and the layout of your home. Do you want to be dragging a swing from room to room or would you like to have an exersaucer in the living room, a pack-n-play in the kitchen, and a swing in the bedroom? I like to have a place to put baby in my most frequented rooms and I don’t like having to move things around (it’s hard to do when you usually are already carrying baby). So, with this in mind, here is what I recommend for baby.
- Play Mat – There are so many cute options out there. We loved our Fisher-Price Rainforest Melodies and Lights Deluxe Gym – it has so many attachments and the cutest jungle music and a soothing music option too.
- Play Mat– If you are having a girl I love the mirror and the pillow for tummy time in this Infantino Baby Girl Animals Twist and Fold Activity Gym and Playmat
- Tummy Time – We used the Tiny Love Tummy Time Fun Activity Mat for tummy time with our boys. At first no baby likes tummy time but you need to do it to prevent flat head syndrome and to help them get ready for crawling.
- Activity Center – This is a great place to put baby once they can hold their head upright. Evenflo ExerSaucer Triple Fun – Jungle. There are so many options in style and color. Click the link and look for similar items in your search for what matches your decor/needs.
- Swing – I love this swing because it not only swings back and forth but side to side. Fisher-Price Cradle ‘N Swing, My Little Snugabunny – the my little sweetie version comes in pink. If this swing is a little pricey for you, I can also recommend Fisher-Price Open Top Take-Along Swing – Alligator Stripes – it’s portable and doesn’t take up too much space.
- Play Table – Another MOPS mom turned me on to this play table Leap Frog Learn and Grove Musical Table. You won’t need this right away but at about nine months this is a great toy for baby. The legs are removable so it can rest on the floor and as baby grows its a great table for them to pull themselves up to.
WAYS TO SAVE
- Local MOPS groups – oftentimes MOPS moms donate to the group.
- Garage Sales
- Just Between Friends Consignment Sale – if you can find one in your area they usually have a sale in the fall and one in the spring. Buying and selling used baby items is a great way to save money. Just know that there is no guarantee that what you are looking for will be at the sale, so you’ll want to buy critical items before baby arrives.
- Friends who have same sex children just a year or so ahead of your baby – see if you can buy their used items.
There is only one thing on this list that I highly recommend you purchase new – the car seat. My husband and I were required to attend a four hour course on car seat safety before taking our firstborn home from the hospital and the intrustor there recommends new car seats only. Watch the car-seat-lady online and I think you’ll agree. Buy your car seat new.
I pray this list is a blessing to you. Feel free to contact me if you have any questions.
In His Grip,
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