When I say that I was THE most naive first-time parent the world ever saw, I mean it.
I had no idea what was in store for me, and I didn’t really have any pre-conceived notion as to what parenting was going to be like, other than, of course, lots of sleepless nights, and tons of baby cuddles – but it essentially ended there. On top of this, I didn’t have any idea as to what I’d REALLY need, other than the essentials, of course. However, I didn’t really have a list of “must haves” that people claimed would have made my life easier, so I’ve put together some must-haves that I quickly learned I couldn’t live without (some are super bizarre!) and that made Poppy’s newborn days a little bit easier on me, and that definitely will be on my list of must-haves if another little one ever comes along.
1. Halo Sleep Sack & Baby Marlin’s Magic Sleep Suit
Oh my goodness guys, I will rant and rave about how fabulous these things are until I’m blue in the face. When Poppy was first born, we were swaddling her in blankets, and even to this day, I haven’t perfected the art of swaddling. When we were in the hospital, I would literally call our nurse in just to help me swaddle Poppy, and regardless of tons of swaddling lessons and tips from her, I just couldn’t get it. However, I kept seeing this sleep sack on the shelf in our hospital room, but didn’t reach for it until the day we were discharged, just to give it a shot.
This thing was an absolute life changer for Poppy. When I initially opened it up, it looked HUGE. Massive actually, but when I put it on I was so surprised at how well she fit into it. And the best part? It was almost impossible to bust out of. If you can fold a couple flaps of fabric, and stick some velcro down, you can master the Halo Sleep Sack. You and your baby will be very, very happy.
When we were ready to transition Poppy out of her swaddle (and also start doing some mild sleep training) we transitioned her into her Baby Marlin’s Magic Sleep Suit. She absolutely loved it. It hindered her baby reflexes, and kept her feeling secure, but with a little more freedom to move and what-not, all while still sleeping like an angel. She was in this suit about 2 months before she was ready to sleep in big girl jammies! These two things were crucial to working our way through sleep with our baby, and we absolutely could not have lived without them.
2. Swaddle Blankets (but NOT for swaddling!)
See, I found that when I used normal burp clothes (you know – those tiny little pieces of fabric?) that either Poppy would never actually spit up ON it, but would often times miss it, or spit up would get on her clothes. I quickly found out that cloth swaddle blankets are AMAZING burp cloths. I would often cover my hand with the swaddle blanket, then rest Poppy’s chin on my hand, so her ENTIRE body was covered from the chin down from any potential spit-up disaster. It was like the super-hero of after-feeding burp sessions. Poppy also spit up a lot during her first few months, so this was a serious life saver from doing triple the laundry, and needing to change her outfit 8 times a day. They also worked like a charms for when I would burp her on my shoulder; I’d rest the swaddle blanket over my shoulder and essentially the whole side of my body where she was being burped was protected. They worked so great!
On top of using them as burp clothes, I would also use them to cover up baby-changing stations before putting her changing mat down to offer more coverage, and a softer surface for her to rest her head on. When I change her diaper, I also put one underneath her bum incase she pees or poos mid-change. I have a pile of these underneath her changing table, and am still using them constantly, and always have at least 2 in my diaper bag!
3. Baby Carrier!
Alright, so after I found a carrier that my daughter and I both liked, I quickly started to wonder how anyone with a baby has ever lived without one. Here’s the thing for me though – Poppy HATED (and I mean HATED) being in a carrier that faced toward my body, so I wasn’t really able to put her in a carrier until she could hold her head up really well on her own, and could face outward. I have a MacLaren Techno baby carrier, and let me tell you what, I’ve been using it with her for the past 4-or-so months, and she goes in it so often. Groceries? Baby carrier. Shopping? Baby carrier. Mama loves a hands-free option that allows Poppy to be right with me at all times.
On top of this, my baby carrier made doing household chores SO much easier on so many occasions. Poppy also loves watching the vacuum, so that helped too – but I’d often wear her to do some cleaning, or even prepare dinner. She always loved to be up and able to see what was going on at all times, and while I love how attentive and explorative she is, it often made it difficult to do things because she always wanted to be a part of the action. So this made that SO much easier!
4. Mamaroo / ANY type of swing!
These things were life-savers for my fiance and I. These were our secret weapon to doing super exciting things like being able to sit at the dinner table and eat dinner together, or running to the bathroom really quickly. You guys with babes understand – those once taken-for-granted things that you always did, soon become marathon tasks, and no one can run a marathon with a baby in one arm – or at least I wouldn’t suggest it. To this day, Poppy still sits in her Mamaroo from time-to-time to play with toys, or to just relax with a Baby Einstein show and a bottle before nap time.
5. A Diaper Bag for Mom (that You Also Don’t Mind Calling Your Purse) AND a Diaper bag for Dad!
Okay, so there’s two parts to this one. First of all, Mommas, whether you want to accept it or not, your diaper bag WILL become your purse. I didn’t think it would either, but it inevitably happened. Because of that, I got myself a black, leather backpack-purse that I could throw my wallet in, and also throw a change of clothes, a few diapers, travel wipes, butt-paste a toy or two, a bottle and a couple other things that I’d need, and since all of those things are pretty light weight, carrying the backpack around the mall, or doing groceries was a breeze, and left my hands-free. This was especially convenient when I was also carrying Poppy in her MacLaren baby carrier, so I could carry what I needed, along with Poppy and have my hands free at all times. However, if a tote-style bag works best for you, do your thing Mama! And, if you dig the traditional diaper bags, go for it! Whatever works for you! This is just what I found most convenient for me. I obviously have other purses for when I’m out and about without Poppy, but for when we’re both running errands together, the backpack is a must for us.
On top of this, I will say that Dad should have a diaper bag that he likes, and doesn’t look too much like a man-purse. This could even be any backpack, or whatever works best. We chose diaper bags, or purses, to carry baby’s things around in that we like – so why shouldn’t Dad? However, if Dad is all about rocking a cute purse, or diaper bag you go for it!
6. A Sound Machine!
Nothing soothes my sweet Poppy quite like some loud – and I mean LOUD – white noise going on. On the days where I literally couldn’t get her to nap, I’d rock her in my arms, pull up youtube on my phone, put some white noise on, place it by her ear, and she’d relax and go to sleep so much easier. To this day, she sleeps with a humidifier and a noise machine during her naps and at night, and it works wonders for her. Also, when she was sleeping in Nick and I’s room for the first 3.5 months of her life, noise machines were great for muffling the noise of us readjusting in bed, Nicks occasional snoring (even though that would end really quickly after I elbowed him in the back a few times), or even any honking or cars driving by. We used, and still use, the myBaby Soundspa Lullaby Sound Machine and Projector. It offers several different types of sounds, even though we always leave it on “Rain”.
7. Infant Bath Seat / Bath Tub
For the first 4-or-so months of Poppy’s life, we bathed in her the bathtub in an infant bath seat. This seat had a head rest, and propped her up just enough to be able to cover her body with water, and still keep her in a comfortable position since she wasn’t even close to supporting her own head, or sitting up by herself. With that being said, it had a bar that adjusted the back of the seat allowing baby to be lower, or higher as needed. However, when Poppy was sitting up better by herself, and also growing out of the bath-seat, we found that an infant bath tub worked best. This was also great because it was more versatile in where we could bathe her. For example, we’d often times fill up the tub, and bathe her on the counter top, or in the sink in the kitchen – something that is higher up, that doesn’t require us to bend 90 degrees for 20+ minutes just to hold her steady and give her a bath, but rather just be able to stand with her, enjoy bath time with her, but mostly importantly, have fun with her!
PS: Along with an infant bath tub, I’d highly advise baby wash cloths! Regular wash clothes are pretty rough, and the baby ones are so soft, and much gentler on their skin.
8. A Stroller (But not just ANY stroller)
You might think that wherever you go, you’ll always have a cart, or be able to carry baby, or whatever, but I’m telling you – YOU NEED A STROLLER! And you need one that will fit your car seat, especially. I found out that if Poppy and I need to do errands, and she’s a little bit sleepy, or fussy that day, she responds way better to just staying in her car-seat, than in a baby carrier, so having a stroller that her car seat can snap right into has been so awesome. Also if I just need to run into the gas station to grab something really quick, I don’t want to take Poppy out of her car seat, just to have to put her back in two minutes later, so just being able to snap her carseat into a stroller is so convenient!
I have the the Baby Trend LX Range Jogger Stroller. I know what you’re thinking – “Why would I need a jogger stroller?” And honestly – you don’t! But here’s what I found about this stroller: going for walks, and jogs is a breeze with this thing, and it’s not a convenience that I’ll get with a normal stroller. But most importantly, it’s an absolute dream to maneuver, turn and is so perfect to steer in and out of isles in the mall, or to go grocery shopping. It’s 3-wheel design makes it a little more compact and lighter (in my opinion), and is so easy to take wherever you need to go. It also folds up with just the pull of two levers by the handle bars, and can be stored in the car, or your home so quickly and compactly. On top of this, ti has two cup-holders, and a basket-like storage area underneath to put a diaper bag, or whatever other belongings you need to keep with you that day. I will NEVER get a different stroller.
9. A Breast Pump!
Obviously, this is only for the Mommas who are deciding to breast feed. If you’re deciding to just formula feed, instead of a breast pump, I’d recommend just stocking up on some really awesome bottles. I find that I really enjoy a taller, thinner bottle strictly because of how it fits in my hand. So search around and see what you like!
However, if you are breastfeeding, this one is non-negotiable. Before I had Poppy, I’d always say, “I’ll never need a break, or get a babysitter! I’ll be fine staying home all of the time!”
I was SO WRONG.
Momma, you will want some time to yourself. You will want to be able to leave the house for a few hours and be alone, or go to dinner with your girlfriends, or go have some drinks at night, or WHATEVER, and you will needs to pump those boobs. Obviously if you’re going back to work, pumping is a no brainer, as well!
I have a Medela Pump In Style and it’s been so great. It’s so small and compact, so if you need to bring it to work, it’s absolutely perfect, or if you just need it to sit on your bed stand, it’s wonderful. I always found myself pumping early mornings when my daughter would wake up – around 4AM – because that’s when my milk supply was most plentiful, so I always had it right with me on my night-stand. It also has adjustable suction-strength (or whatever you want to call it) so you can adjust it to what’s most comfortable for you! It’s not large, or bulky whatsoever, and works really, really well. I’ve been super happy with it, and feel no need to ever try a different pump.
(Bonus) 10. Weekend Wine
I need not say more.
I understand that there are essentials that go without saying – a car seat, crib, clothes, and so-on and so-forth; however, I remember thinking, “Am I ever going to use a stroller?” and honestly, swaddling never even crossed my mind, and I quickly realized that these are essentials! While these are what I know would be on the top of my shopping list for baby round two, I also noticed that I accumulated a lot of stuff that I never, ever touched and also thought that I would need! I’m going to dedicate a whole new post to that…and I can guarantee the list is going to be MUCH longer than this one!
I’d love to hear from you guys and what your must-haves were, and still are! I know everyone’s needs are so different, so I’d love your input!
You’re kicking ass, Mama!