Just about every new expectant mother has typed in a google search to the effect of “what things do I need for this new baby?” And google has happily delivered pages upon pages of lists with titles like “Essential Baby Gear” and “10 Things Every New Baby Needs” and “101 things to put on your registry.” And then every new expectant mother has felt the panic that comes with realization that this new baby could cost you thousands upon thousands of dollars before they even turn a year old.
I’m going to try not to do that to you.
When it comes down to it, everything a baby needs can be found within his mother’s arms. Food to eat, a cozy place to sleep, warmth, safety, and a whole lot of love.
But there are a few material items that, while not essential, have been useful in my personal experience. Many other mothers would swear by a totally different list of items. But, these are the things I find myself thinking I’m glad we have on a regular basis. So here’s a run-down of a few of my favorite items for a new baby.
This little contraption has proved to be the best solution when trying to navigate all the differing views on safe sleep for babies, at least for me. It provides the benefits of a crib – the baby has a safe separate space to sleep with plenty of air circulation and a good firm mattress and no risk of getting squished. But it also has the benefits of co-sleeping – I can easily hear my baby and attend to her right away if she needs it, and transitioning from sleeping to nursing and back to sleeping in the middle of the night is (comparatively) painless. It’s also good for me. If I have a baby in bed with me I can’t sleep for fear of either squishing or waking her with my movements. If I have a baby in another room I can’t sleep for fear that I won’t hear or notice when she needs me. With the co-sleeper, the sleep I get is peaceful.
These blankets seem pretty pricey, but I’m so glad we allowed ourselves this little splurge. I find these blankets to be useful for all sorts of things – swaddling, a nursing cover, a car seat cover, spread out on the floor to play on, etc. They are lightweight enough that they are easy to fold up and stick in a bag. But they are much bigger than most of the typical cotton or flannel receiving blankets you find at the store that start to seem much to small after the baby is a couple of months old. They get softer the more you wash them and have just enough stretch to make a good swaddle. They’re also adorable.
Most of the little pieces of fabric sold as burp cloths in the baby aisle are much too small to catch anything of any significance. And my babies know how to burp with significance. A big pack (or two. or three.) of prefold cloth diapers are much bigger and much more absorbent. And you can never have too many. Never once have I thought that we have too many burp clothes.
I know rear-facing carseats are the safest for babies. But I hate not being able to see them in the car. A good shatter-proof car mirror gives me the peace of mind I’m looking for.
Baby monitors in general are much contested over whether or not they needed. Video monitors kind of have a reputation for being a little overboard and overprotective. But I gotta say, my video monitor is one of my new favorite baby things. When Poppy started to get too big for the co-sleeper (see #1 favorite thing) she had to move into a crib in her brother’s room. I felt some slight anxiety at that thought of her no longer sleeping right next to me. So I got a monitor to compensate. Now I can check on her at any time without disturbing her or her brother’s sleep. It’s also useful for those times when the baby (or three year old, for that matter) is making noises in her sleep and you aren’t sure if they need help or not. A quick check with the video monitor tells me if they are waking up or just dreaming.
There are many different types of carriers, all with various pros and cons, but I love having a way to keep my baby next to me without using up all of my hands. I find carriers most useful when running errands, doing light housework, and playing with your older child in the backyard. Babywearing is also fantastic for soothing a fussy baby and getting stubborn non-nappers to fall asleep. I started off with the Baby K’Tan and loved it. It was super easy to get on and off and very comfortable. However it doesn’t work as well with larger babies so I’ve been dipping my toes into the the wild world of ring slings and woven wraps.
As I look back on my list I realize that I chose a lot of these items because they help me feel closer and more connected to my baby. I stand firm that all a baby really needs can be found in her mama’s arms, but mama’s arms need a break occasionally. So if you’re a new mama trying to figure out what you need for your new baby, my best advice is this: Pick the things that sound the most helpful in giving you a break. The individual items will be different for everyone, but the goal is the same – to keep our babies safe and loved.