New Moms: The Must-Have List

As my youngest, our last baby, approaches his first birthday, I have come to the realization that the baby days in our house are almost over (sob!). It’s a strange feeling, as when my firstborn outgrew toys and clothes, I simply cleaned them and packed them away cheerfully, knowing I’d likely have a 2nd child who would use them. This time, however, it’s different. I hear Semisonic’s “Closing Time” playing in my head as I pile tiny clothes into heaps to be donated to friends and Goodwill, wash the fabric seat of the exersaucer a final time before collapsing it, and sanitize the little rattles and teethers for the last time before passing them along to other people’s new arrivals.

Looking at my sizable inventory of baby gear, I am left thinking about what was really great– what exceeded my expectations and really did make life easier with a baby in his first year- and what wasn’t worth it. I have many friends who are expecting, and decided to make a list of what I would call the “worth it” purchases…

The Boppy

I nursed both boys and found the Boppy pillow fantastic and helpful as a nursing support pillow, but my husband also used it when giving occasional bottles to our sons or simply rocking them to sleep. It really saves your arms and back. It was also wonderful for supporting the boys for tummy time, as well as preventing many a baby tip-over when they were new sitters.

Rock ‘N Play Sleeper

When Nate was born, my mother gave me a beautiful Pack ‘N Play for him to sleep in during the early weeks. He hardly made a dent in that little mattress. It was bulky to set up and travel with, and I just generally didn’t get much use out of it. However, with our 2nd, we bought the Rock ‘N Play sleeper. It folds up flat in literally two seconds, with one motion, and sets up just as easily. It weighs very little, so we just tossed it in the trunk of our car whenever we visited friends and family and needed a place for the little guy to nap. The best part was if he started fussing, it rocked ever so slightly and rocked him back to sleep. He even slept in it at home in our room when he was tiny. It really helped keep his arms from flinging out when he had the dreaded startle reflex. So worth the money.

Exersaucer

With both boys, I found the exersaucer was a great place to let them play while I made dinner, did dishes, etc. We started using it at around 4-5 months, and I still sometimes put Joshua in it at 10 months. Most have a snack and cup tray and many fun, attached toys (that you won’t have to pick up 500 times!). Both boys really liked it, and I liked knowing they couldn’t tip over or roll away like they could on a blanket while I was nearby but doing other things.

Nursing Cover

If you’re going to nurse, I highly recommend buying (or making, if you’re crafty!) one of these. Seriously. The first time around, I thought they were silly and a waste of money. I figured I could do the exact same thing with a blanket. I was wrong. The neck loop is key. The baby can’t pull this off mid-feeding. Especially with the 2nd child, I was always on the go. I had to feed the baby, even if he was hungry while Nate was playing in a children’s museum or at the park, and I didn’t want to sit in my hot car with a whining toddler while the newborn was snacking. This was a great purchase.

Zip-Top Boat and Tote Bag

For reasons that I’ve yet to determine, I hate diaper bags. I don’t know why. I carry one extra diaper and a small container of wipes in my purse and the rest stays in my trunk in this bag. The zip top is key (if you take the corners like I do when you’re driving, anyway!). I leave this in my trunk at all times stocked with lots of extra diapers and wipes, tons of non-perishable snacks, a full change of clothing for each boy, toys, and a clean shirt for me (when you have a baby…you’ll know why). I almost never actually carry it with me, but it’s there if we need any supplies. And best of all…it’s guaranteed for life and totally usable post baby days.

Joovy Caboose Stand-On Tandem Stroller

I’m a minimalist when it comes to baby gear. I like tiny umbrella strollers and front carriers. However…this is amazing if you have both a baby and a toddler. For the most part, my 3.5 year old walks everywhere when we’re out and about. But if you have ever carried an exhausted 40lb 3.5 year old whilst pushing a baby in a stroller, you can understand that sometimes, you just need a double stroller.  This one is genius. The front works just like a regular stroller- it has a snack tray, 5-point harness, etc. Behind the front part, facing the opposite direction so the kids are sitting back-to-back, there’s a small, unobtrusive little bench seat that the bigger kid can hop on and off of on his own. Tired? Hop on! Want to walk? Hop off! SO easy and smart!! It also fits in the trunk of my tiny Elantra, which isn’t an easy feat for many double strollers.

The Ergo

I really postponed buying this item, as it’s pricey. When Nate was born, I bought several different cheaper front carriers and used each one or two times. I sold them on Craigslist and didn’t even bother saving them for #2 because they were uncomfortable to wear and made me feel like the baby wasn’t secure in there. It was never really hands free. When Josh came around, I realized I needed my hands free for my toddler, so I broke down, shelled out the money and bought this. My only regret is that I didn’t buy it when my first son was born so I could have gotten more use out of it! I have worn Josh, at nearly 10 months old and 21 lbs, in the Ergo for over an hour and a half with absolutely no back pain at all. We haven’t tried the back carry option yet, but that’s because he still fits comfortably in the front. It’s made of all fabric parts (except for the plastic clips) and takes up almost no space in the car. Totally worth the price tag. My only caveat is that the “infant insert” is bulky and not comfortable if you have a tiny baby in the summer months because it’s so hot…but aside from that…amazing all around.

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