My Top 20 Essentials for Baby
Updated: Mar 16
When I found out I was pregnant, I immediately created a baby registry. I was so excited. There was only one problem- I had no idea what I actually needed. I envisioned her cute nursery with beautiful sheets, a cute mobile, books, toys, but what items would be actually crucial in those first few weeks and months? I knew the obvious stuff like a crib, bassinet, diapers, etc. but I didn't know what other items I might need. I asked a lot of people what they registered for and if it seemed important, I went ahead and registered for it myself! Pearl is six months old now and I can now honestly reflect on which items I would deem *essential* and which ones I could have lived without. Here are my top 20 actually useful items, in no particular order.
1) Night Light & Sound Machine - I love this night light. We have used it every single day and night since we brought Pearl home from the hospital. You can customize it completely- sound, color, volume, you name it. It has an app that you can operate and control from your phone too, which has been super useful. We have even brought this with us when traveling to help Pearl sleep just as soundly in strange environments.
2) Boppy Lounger - I used this daily until Pearl grew too long for it. This really came in handy for awake time, especially when she had zero head control. It held her comfortably near me if I had to pump or my arms needed a break. She loved hanging out in it, and I could play with her and read to her with her laying in it.
3) Sleep Sacks - These helped us a ton. Pearl absolutely hated her bassinet until we started using a sleep sack and I think it helped her stay cozy and settled. Halo is a great brand for sleep sacks. Carters makes them as well. My only tip when shopping for sleep sacks is to get them in a few different thicknesses and sizes.
4) Baby Monitor - Hear me out on this one, Infant Optix is a video monitor that doesn't connect to your phone and therefore does NOT connect via wifi. There were all sorts of reports coming out about hackers connecting via wifi and watching people/children on their video monitors. This freaked me out so I opted for something a little less "hi tech". I love this monitor so far, and we've been using it for six months.
5) Changing Pad Liners - If theres one item that I could label as the MVP item- this might be it. Get yourself a pack of changing pad liners. I bought a three pack on a whim and ended up ordering another one after our first week home. If you're like me and you have a super cute changing pad cover, you don't want it getting ruined with blowouts the first few weeks home. I keep these next to my changing pad and I put one under her when I change her diaper, that way if she has a crazy blow out or pees suddenly it is a way quicker clean up.
6) Healthcare / Grooming Kit - This is a great item to register for. It's something I've just kept on hand and is easy to throw into a bag when we travel too. Love that it can all be kept in the carrying case. The tiny baby nail files have come in handy when her nails were like little razorblades, and the thermometer is super easy to use. I keep the little suction tool on hand for sucking out boogers (yes, you will be suctioning out boogers).
7) Burp Cloths - Babies spit up. Everywhere. Especially if you've just changed them into a clean outfit, or strapped them into a car seat to go somewhere. You're going to want to be FLUSH with burp cloths those first few months. I make and sell handmade burp cloths out of 100% cotton if you are looking for something ethically made (some shameless self promotion), or you can also order a billion off Amazon too.
8) High Chair - You might think, duh, I know I need a high chair. I've heard a lot of recommendations for the cute one from Ikea, but then I also heard some friends complaining about the legs sticking out so far and tripping over it. We have a pretty small house and space is limited. I wanted something that could fold down with one motion and be stored. The Slim Snacker from Graco is what I settled on. It is a decent price point, easy to wipe down, AND folds in half with one pull of a strap. If space is an issue for you, I definitely recommend this one.
9) Silicone Bibs - We received lots of different style bibs at our baby shower, but by far the most useful one has been the waterproof kind with a pocket to catch food as it drops. This has been SO handy as Pearl is learning to hold food and feed herself, which is a very messy business. If food falls, the pocket catches it and helps her so she can try again. Otherwise it would just end up all over her, the chair, and the floor.
10) Drying Rack - If you are planning to pump or formula feed, I really recommend a bottle drying rack. It is pretty spacious, so we were able to fit a large amount of bottles as well as my pumping accessories when they are drying. It comes with a little "tree" part which can hold the bottle nipples, and other small things like pacifiers. Huge fan.
11. Breast Pump - If you are looking for a breast pump, this Spectra pump is the best one in my personal opinion. Easy to use, easy to clean, etc. If you have health insurance, definitely try to request a pump through your insurance. Mine was covered by my health insurance, which was a life saver because these get pretty expensive. You can also ask your doctor to write you a prescription for a pump, if your insurance requires one.
12. Bumbo Seat - I love the Bumbo seat! It's been really helping Pearl practice sitting up. They make a variety of toys that can suction cup onto the tray and keep her busy without the toys flying off. This has been super handy if I need to make dinner, clean up, or want her with me and somewhat occupied.
13. Nursing Pillow - If you are planning on breastfeeding I do recommend getting some sort of nursing pillow. I used a Brest Friend pillow and as silly as it seemed it really came in handy those first few weeks when she was nursing non-stop. My arms were so exhausted and it helped hold her, as well as support my arms.
14. Activity Mat - We LOVE this activity mat. This mat has a LOT going on. Each toy and piece that comes with it has something different to offer through the different stages of baby's first few months of life. From squeakers, to music, a mirror, teether, rattle, etc. you've got it covered all in one mat. The mirror really helped Pearl with tummy time, because she loves looking at herself. The rattle was the first toy she really played with, then the crinkly toys caught her attention. She's six months old and is still playing a ton on this mat. My favorite part is that even when she outgrows playing with an activity mat, the arch piece that the toys hang from can come off and be used as a growth chart! Plus the mat can be thrown into the washer easily to get spit up off. I wash it on delicate and hang to dry. They do sell it on amazon, but I was able to find it at a Buy Buy Baby near me and use the 20% off coupon on it to make it a little less pricey.
15) Swaddles - Many babies love to be swaddled, and for many it really helps them sleep. Although Pearl really didn't care to be swaddled at all, I used these daily the first few months of her life as light airy sun shields on her stroller. She was born in August and the sun was beating down on us those first few months. I wanted to get her out on walks but make sure her skin was protected. It was too hot for an actual blanket, so a light airy swaddle really came in handy! Another shameless self promotion here, but of course there are lots of places to order swaddles! I recommend getting a few. We had three of four on a constant rotation.
16) Baby Carrier - We love the Ergobaby Omni 360 carrier. It goes from newborn to toddler (7-45 lbs) and can be worn in multiple positions. It was extremely easy to figure out and adjust. We use it for everything- going on walks, hiking, around the house, etc. My husband really likes this one too. It's a great, versatile structured carrier.
17) Baby Wrap - I have loved having a wrap. The Solly wrap allowed me to wear her really close to me, and I could even tuck her in nice and tight. When she was really small and fussy it would help her calm down. The best part is I could pack it up super small and throw it in a diaper bag unlike the big structured character. These go from newborn to 25 lbs.
18) Car Seat & Nursing Cover - Milk Snob makes these amazing fitted car seat covers that stretch over any infant car seat, which is great for when you're carrying the seat and want to protect them from wind, light rain, gross strangers, etc. The best feature about this cover is that you can literally wear it around your neck as a nursing cover. We took it on a beach trip and when the wind hit it couldn't blow off me because it was all the way around me, unlike a swaddle or other nursing covers. It was amazing! I keep this in the diaper bag and have been able to nurse anytime, anywhere with this. You absolutely do not need a cover when nursing, but sometimes if it's windy or theres some weirdos staring at you, it comes in handy.
19) Poop Bags - Hear me out on this one. Sometimes you are somewhere where you can't just toss a diaper, and your baby has had a massive blowout. This happened to me at our pediatricians office- twice. They don't allow you to leave any dirty diapers there. I luckily had a roll of poop bags on me, and was able to bag up the diaper, and used another bag for her entire poop soaked outfit so I could bring it home without destroying the diaper bag. You could literally just use a roll of dog poop bags, but Ubbi does make a cute one specifically marketed for babies.
20) A Reliable Diaper Bag - I strongly suggest a backpack style diaper bag, but of course everyone has their own personal preference. For me I really needed one that looked simple, yet stylish and functional. The diaper bag from Parker Baby Co. checked all the boxes for me. The organizational features on this bag are amazing, plus it comes with stroller clips! I've used this bag everyday for six months and it still looks brand new. They do make an all grey version if the white bag intimidates you. They also make a mini version if a full size bag seems like too much.
I've omitted the obvious items on this list, like a crib or bassinet. I wanted to put the items you might not think of right away, especially if you were like me- a first time mom with zero baby experience! My only other recommendation is if you're having a baby shower, I strongly encourage some kind of diaper raffle or game so guests will bring lots of different brands of diapers in different sizes. If you are looking for even more ideas, check out my complete "baby" list on my Amazon storefront. I hope this list helps you if you are expecting, or even if you're looking for the perfect gift for someone who is!
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