As we are rapidly heading into Month 4, going through yet another growth spurt and I am trying to purge the apartment of things I should have got rid of when we moved in February (clothes and shoes and books), I have been thinking about all of the baby things we acquired before I gave birth. And also about those things that we got afterwards, as I realised that we REALLY needed them. While I was putting together our registry earlier this year (which I am continuing to use as a list of what we need or what we may need in the future), I had help from different friends and went with what would be the bare essentials: bouncer, play mat, bathtub, bassinet, Boppy, carriers etc. Most of the things that we got have been useful at some point, some more or less, and some I wish I had researched more before getting. But all in all I think we did a pretty good job.
I know that every child and every pregnancy is different, and what may work for us may not for others, but this list may possibly help someone else out along the way J. I have put together a running list of what was really essential for our household. Bear in mind that I do not have an easy child who is content to sit in her swing when she isn’t sleeping. She demands my attention at all times, and we had to adapt to that!
Play mat: Luna has one with the curves where you can hang toys from and I’ve put her in it since the second week. To be honest, at first she would stay in it happily on her back for about 5 minutes and on her tummy for less than 1, but she loves it now, rolls around in it and kicks the toys. It’s great when you need to put your baby down to do something essential like pee or drink the coffee that is going to help you through the day. It’s also great for tummy time, but for that you can also just use a blanket on the floor.
SWING: Oh my… I was one of those people who looked at swings and said “we don’t need one of those!”. I was SO wrong. SO VERY WRONG. About a month ago I went to visit a friend who has a baby a few months older than Luna. While once again I struggled to get Luna to nap, my friend’s son slept peacefully for over 2 hours in his swing. If you have a baby who doesn’t like to be swaddled and who constantly wakes herself up and prefers to sleep on you, then invest in a swing. A week after that visit a lovely friend of mine purchased a swing for us and my life changed. Luna finally sleeps! And so do I! Luna is currently sleeping in it at nights which isn’t something I wanted to do (I cried the first time I let her sleep in it), but now that she is getting her past the flailing arms period I am going to start transitioning her to her crib.
Something to sleep in (i.e. a bed): we had a stand up bassinet for the first few months. She only used it for about three weeks as for the first few weeks she slept on the Newborn Boppy Lounger next to me on the couch, and now she sleeps in the swing. I think I may get a rock and play for the next one, as it small enough to fit next to the bed, and can be rocked – which is all Luna wanted. She was constantly moving around the bassinet and wasn’t happy in it. I suppose every child is different, and you never know what is going to work until they are born. It was essential to me to have her right next to me in the first few weeks as I was constantly nursing her. We now have a crib which is important to have, but not for the first few months in my opinion. When you get a crib try getting one that can be used as a bed once your child is big enough.
Boppy: The Newborn Boppy Lounger was a godsend. I know you are not supposed to let your baby sleep on it, but it was all Luna would sleep on for the first month (if you don’t count my arms), and it was perfect right next to me on the couch. (I totally fail on the making sure your baby sleeps in the right places memo). I didn’t want to co-sleep, even though it probably would have saved us a lot of sleepless nights, as I felt our full size bed was too small and was way too worried Luna would get squashed and suffocate. We still use the lounger now, although never unattended as she’s grown so fast and rolls around and wriggles down it. It’s great as a place to put her on the couch when you are trying to eat your dinner.
Breastfeeding pillow: essential in the beginning, although we got a Boppy pillow and I didn’t find it comfortable at all – we use it for tummy time now. Once I started using my body pillow as a nursing pillow I found it much more comfortable. Essential when you are pregnant and afterwards! Mine wasn’t even that expensive and C. loves it too! Definitely worth investing in.
Carrier: if I didn’t wear Luna would NEVER get anything done. My mum got me a Snugli which was OK for the first few weeks, although I don’t know how comfortable they really are for the baby. I didn’t like that her face kept getting squished against me and that I couldn’t nurse in it. So we got a Mei Tai which is fine, but probably better after 4 months or so. I now have an Ergo which I LOVE (I still have to use the little pillow that comes with the infant insert as Luna isn’t quite big enough to sit in it comfortably without). I haven’t mastered nursing in it yet, but that shouldn’t take long. I bought a Moby before Luna was even born but I just don’t have the patience for the miles of material that come with it! I now really, really want a ring sling as I think it’s the best for the summer, and the best carrier to nurse in, and also the best carrier to carry a small child in when you are pregnant (hasn’t happened yet but who knows?).
For carriers I think the best thing to do is to join a baby wearing group where you live and try different ones on to see what suits you best.
Stroller: I love ours – it comes with a car seat that works as an infant seat, so you can see your baby when pushing it. That said, it’s really heavy with the infant seat in it and not easy to navigate in the subway (this is also where your carrier will come in use). It’s great to have a car seat though, as we have been in cars several times and I know that I can safely strap Luna in. There are some really cool city strollers out there too, but they can get really expensive. I think you should only invest in an expensive one if you are going to use it a lot, and if you have money to throw away. Our Graco one is great and was not too pricey as far as strollers go.
Bouncer: Luna has only just started appreciating her bouncy chair to be honest, now that she has figured out that if she kicks around it will bounce. I only used it to put her down when I was making the bed or when I really needed to shower and she wouldn’t nap, as I could put it in the bathroom. I think it’s good to have one so you can strap your child in somewhere while you do things like the housework, but it really depends on whether your baby is content to sit and watch or not (mine wasn’t and still isn’t really).
Clothing: don’t get too many NB size clothes. Luna went from 18 inches at birth to 23 inches at her 2 month doctor appointment. At 3 months she’s wearing 3-6 month clothes and she wasn’t a large baby at birth. If people offer you hand-me-downs take them! You will get the coolest of things, and if you are like me and like to dress your child in different, fun outfits all the time it’s an excellent way to spice up your child’s wardrobe (big shout out to Gina and Ryvenna for being awesome people and providing Luna with a whole load of cool clothes). Babies grow FAST. Try to use every outfit as fast as you can, because you are only one growth spurt away from them never even being worn.
Breastfeeding essentials: some kind of pillow (see above), a pump (check if your insurance provides one, if not I recommend an electric one – the Medela is the best), milk freezer bags (Lansinoh), nursing pads (I suggest waiting to get these as I don’t need them and have 4 big boxes taking up space in my cupboards if anyone wants them!), some kind of bottles (we have Born Free bottles, but have only used them once up until now when I left Luna with C while I went to the doctor. She was fine drinking from it).
Bath tub: we have one that comes with a newborn sling – excellent if you are bathing a small baby alone and aren’t too confident. Luna loves her baths, and is really content in the sling. The tub should fit most sinks (it doesn’t fit in our so we just bathe her on the ground), and you can also put it in the regular bath tub too). Also one of those water thermometers is great so you don’t have to worry whether the water is too hot or cold. Also make sure you have baby towels with the little hoods!
Receiving blankets: in my opinion you can never have enough of these. Great for swaddling, wrapping, covering etc etc. Invest in thicker ones and lightweight cotton ones, and if you are lucky you will have wonderful friends who will make some for you too.
Thermometer: so you can check if your child has a fever every time they cry if you feel the need to (yes, I did have the thermometer on hand for the first 4 weeks…).
Baby Aquaphor: Luna has super sensitive skin, and this really helped with baby eczema. In regards to lotions, I really suggest getting hypoallergenic everything. And also invest in sensitive skin detergent for all the baby clothes.
Baby nail scissors: scissors work better than clippers… Good luck.
Gripe water: really, really helped Luna with her little tummy aches during the first month.
Diaper bag: You don’t technically need a bag that is specifically made for carrying baby travel essentials, but you need a bag big enough to fit everything you need, and comfortable enough to carry if you are wearing your baby (it should fit in the basket under your stroller too). If you have a separate bag that is always packed you don’t have to worry about getting it ready every time you go out.
Changing station/area: I love Luna’s changing area. My mother got us a gorgeous dresser for all her clothes, and I use the top as a changing station – with her changing pad (and covers), diapers, lotions and powders. And a diaper genie! I LOVE not having to smell diapers, especially as everything is in our bedroom, and it’s not possible to go to the garbage outside the building every hour.
Wash cloths: I use them for everything, bath time, face cleaning, dusting etc. Get a whole bunch of them. I’m lucky, Luna hardly ever spits up, but you can use them for that too.
Hmmm… What else? I think I have captured the essentials, or basically what is/was essential to me. I do wish sometimes that I wasn’t so strong willed and shy and had asked more friends what worked and didn’t work for them, instead of just going with what I thought may work. We were lucky because most of what we did get was very very useful, but I do regret not having a baby sling from day one, and for not getting the swing then too – although it has helped me appreciate the joys of sleeping for 3 hours in a row so much more! And I’m definitely getting those biceps I had when I used to squeeze gallons of limes a day back.
Oh! One must have! A blender! Essential for making juices and smoothies. It may be the only thing you have time to eat over the first few weeks, and it definitely beats chips and cookies nutritionally speaking.
I’m sure there are now other things that we should start thinking about getting (a high chair for once we start introducing solids (not until at least 6 months), exersaucer or bouncy door thing, baby proofing material for the entire apartment once Luna begins to crawl etc etc), so I will probably keep an ongoing list like this for future reference. I would love to hear other people’s input too!
Also, I would love to know where one can donate baby things… I won’t be giving much away now, as we both really want another, but one day there will come a time when we don’t need things anymore. As a lot of the things we have were given to us as gifts, and therefore were an enormous help to us, I like to think that one day we will be able to donate them to someone who needs them too.