Now that I am an 'experienced' (hahahahaha) mother of a 6month old, I feel like I've gotten a few things figured out. Of course, everyone has their own way of doing things and their own philosophies on childrearing - so please don't be offended if your ways of doing things differ from mine! I'm sharing below how I have approached the intimidating world of 'baby gear' and what has worked for us.
For me and my husband we had a few priorities:
- Buy as little stuff as possible. We are aspirational minimalists and didn't want to spend the money on stuff nor have it clutter up our house. In fact, I STRONGLY suggest that you don't buy a bunch of stuff other than the pure basics until your baby is actually here - there are some things that you just won't know if you need or not. (i.e.: Is your baby a puker or not? We didn't end up buying shoulder burp clothes because Miss C rarely spit up, but we probably would have if she was a puker. Is your baby tiny or large? We had bought some newborn and some 0-3month clothes, but Miss C came out under 5 pounds, so we had to go out and get some preemie sized clothes for her, and by the time she fit into the newborn and 0-3 clothes we had been gifted tons of others - I wish we had literally only bought 2 newborn outfits to have and bought everything else after she arrived. Is your baby a scratcher? We bought baby mitts but didn't ever use them because she never scratched herself as a newborn.) This is not to say to not have a list of the best of the best items at your ready so you can find online and order them if you need them, but I would suggest holding off on getting sucked into the world of buying a ton of stuff for baby.
- Buy no ugly stuff. As an architect I'm pretty much a snob about anything that comes into my house. Most of the baby contraptions out there are just straight up ugly, big, and massively annoy me. Therefore it took a lot of effort for me to find things like a crib, moses basket, etc that looked good. I continue to struggle with this every time we find need for a new 'thing' for Miss C and spend an excessive amount of time looking online for the most beautiful version out there (in my price range).
- Buy nothing that makes noises, lights up, or plugs in / has batteries. Our personal approach to parenting is to remember that people have been having babies since well before plastic and electricity were invented. Therefore we chose to avoid buying things like motorized swings, rockers, toys etc. I know some parents swear by these things, I know most claim to have developmental benefits, and there is now doubt babies love them. Since I had the ability to take 6+ months off work to be home with Miss C I chose to use that time to soothe and entertain her with my arms and body rather than with any contraption. Yes, this is our first child, and yes, I understand why some parents choose or need to use these items, I'm just sharing how we chose to approach this.
So, here for your use are my personal top products for caring for your newborn, based on my experience!
Nursing Pillow. I only say this is a must because in that first week it will be nice to have in case you feel like you need it as you are just learning how to breastfeed. I was lucky to get a My Breast Friend for free at at event and used it a little bit the first couple weeks. I'm pretty sure I never used it at all past 6 weeks, it's already been passed on to a friend who has a younger baby than mine. This is definitely something you should try to get as a hand me down from a friend since it has such a short lifespan! And if you feel gross about it you can always buy replacement covers. The My Breast Friend is the best one out there according to almost everyone, so just don't look further unless you find later it doesn't work for you.
Rocker / Glider. OK, well this is another one that I put on here with some reluctance. I did not buy a glider because I think they look horribly ugly. I already owned a lovely vintage version of this small rocking chair and figured I would just use it. Well, I barely used it. Without the high back it was useless for nursing or relaxing while comforting baby, so it is back in my living room where it looks pretty and I sit in to read magazines. With our baby though I simply nursed her in our bed propped up with pillows and still find that to be the best place to nurse! However, I have sat in gliders at baby stores to nurse and they are hella comfy!!! If you have the space for it, and can stand how they look (or even better actually find one that you LIKE how it looks) I think this is a good thing to buy. Get a footrest while you're at it too - comfort deluxe!
Breast Pads. I was gifted a box of disposable pads, but found that the reusable/washable ones were more comfortable in addition to being less wasteful! So I highly recommend the Bamboobies brand.
Nursing Bras. This is going to be a very personal decision, so I can just share what worked for me. Personally, throughout pregnancy and after my breasts only grew from a 34B to a 36C, so I didn't need any sort of crazy support. It was recommended to me by my OB me to get one cheap nursing bra sometime in your third trimester so that you have one for the first couple weeks after birth, because until your milk is fully in you just don't know how big (or not) your boobs are going to get! I decided not to and instead got some nursing tank tops to have on hand since that size wasn't going to change; this ended up being a good decision for me, and really you can just not wear a bra those first few days (er weeks...) then get one or two after your milk comes in, and get any more that you want after 6wks when things have settled down, your size will most likely go way up and then back down a bit - though mine just stayed 36C all along. I have these three and have found personally I like the crossover style, but some people prefer the clip style. Number one: Bravado Design. Recommended by my lactation consultant as a good one that will fit your early larger boobs and not be too baggy 6wks later when they go down a bit. Number two: Japanese Weekend. I got this one at the hospital newborn shop because they gave me a 10% off coupon to use and I wanted to try a crossover style one and this is the one they carried and recommended. It's ok, but seems to be getting stretched out/baggy after a few months. Number three: Target. I got this because I realized I liked the crossover style and needed a black bra, this is my favorite of the three now!
Daytime: Most of the moms I have talked to have agreed that the best nursing tanks around are the Gilligan & O‘Malley Cotton Nursing Camis from Target. I literally wear these basically every single day and have for the past 6 months. I wear them under other shirts or cardigan sweaters, I think I have 5 of them in different colors and patterns!
"Dressing Up": I bought these Old Navy Maternity Tulip-Hem Nursing Tops on a whim because they seemed nice for the price, and they are actually totally amazing!! They are really forgiving of your midsection before it returns back to normal, and they are extremely discreet for nursing in public. I basically don't have to use a nursing cover when I wear them. I also wear a lot of button down and partial button down / henley shirts now. The tops by Boob Design and Au Lait are also supposed to be nice, but just cost way more that I could justify spending.
Nighttime: I found that the Old Navy Maternity Cross-Front Jersey Nursing Camis are for me the perfect tank tops to wear to bed. (And frankly for those first few weeks I just wore them all day since I wasn't really leaving the house much!) They don't offer the support of a bra, so if your breasts grew dramatically maybe these aren't for you, but they worked wonderfully for me.
Nursing Cover. You will use this SO MUCH, so get one you love. I have the one from Covered Goods and LOVE it BIG TIME. I just really hate how the standard nursing covers look like you're wearing an apron around your neck. I came across this one in my quest and have recommended it to so many people. It also doubles as a car seat cover which I use almost daily as well, no more trying to tie a swaddle blanket to your stroller and car seat.
Breast Pump. Check with your health insurance to see what they cover / provide for you. I had the choice of a few pumps, and ended up getting the Medela Pump in Style. It has been working great for me so far and has both adapters for powering from the wall, as well as from a car adapter, and via battery pack, all of which were things I have needed to use for the places I need to pump. It has lots of add ons you can buy like ice packs for bottles etc.
Pumping Bra. The Simple Wishes pumping bra is the best I've used! I tried the Medela one first, but it was not very comfortable, which is the same comment I've heard from other moms. (Side note here that there is a newish product on the market called Freemie that allows you to pump with your regular bra and with your shirt still on! I just ordered it, so don't know yet if it's too good to be true, but it would negate the need for a pumping bra which is awesome!)
Bottles. This is very personal depending on your babe! We started with the Comotomo which we still use because it is supposed to be most similar in shape to the boob so in theory is easy for the babe to transition back and forth. We also got the Dr Browns Glass Bottles because I really wanted to use glass bottles, and these are highly rated for reducing colic/gas from bottle feeding. However, we don't use them anymore because they are heavier and now Miss C wants to help guide the bottle to her mouth, and these she cannot help with. We have struggled with bottle feeding though and Miss C is totally hit or miss if she'll take a bottle one time to the next! SO frustrating.
Bottle Brush. We have the Dr Browns bottle brush in pink so that it's OBVIOUS that it's not for cleaning dishes as it sits by our sink.
Bottle Drying Rack. This I put on here only because the Boon Grass one we have is fine and cute, but I don't think this is an essential and I wouldn't buy one if we hadn't been given this free as a hand me down. You can really just let this stuff dry on a towel. If you were going to buy one they have a new one called the Boon Patch that I think is actually more functional in shape.
Bibs. We do use a bib when we give Miss C a bottle since she likes to "help". I generally think bibs are super ugly, so I was excited to buy some cute bandana style bibs which have worked great. My favorites have been from H&M! (I've also heard really good things about the Aden and Anais Burpy Bibs, though I just got one now that we are teaching Miss C to drink from a cup, because that's kind of messy!)
Things I chose not to get and have not missed include...a sleep bra (but I do not have massive boobs nor massive leakage!), nipple cream (buy it when you need it, not preemptively, I know many women who have not needed it), a bottle steamer/sterilizer or bottle warmer (a pot of water on the stove works for both of these functions).
I'll add here at the end a few items that we are just now starting to buy for starting solids and teething, but these are things you certainly do NOT need for a newborn. Starting solids can probably be a whole other post once I have moved into that territory!
Highchair. We got the Stokke Steps highchair. I know the Stokke Tripp Trapp is all kinds of popular, but the Steps is way better looking in my opinion and has all the same "grows with your child" benefits! It was kind of a splurge, but since I have to look at it every day, I think it was worth it. The absolute best looking highchair out there I could find was the Micuna Ovo, but I couldn't find anywhere to buy it in the states and it also costs way too much, but it sure is pretty! Swoon. If you're looking for cheap cheap cheap (but still reasonably good looking) the IKEA Antilop gets rave reviews from everyone and you literally cannot beat the $20 price tag.
Splash Mat. We haven't started solids yet, but we already use the Let's Playground Mini mat under the highchair because we let Miss C play with water in her highchair and this catches all those drips (and is intended to catch all the food drips once we start solids)!
Sippy Cup. We chose to get the SipSnap which allows us to use any regular cup! We are using them with stainless steel and enamel cups. Since Miss C is currently rejecting the bottle at 6 months old we are now working on feeding her expressed milk in a cup instead.
Moses Basket. This was the first major purchase that I made for our baby. We had decided that we wanted her to sleep in the same room as us for at least 6 months as recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics. I really really disliked the looks of all of the bassinets, moses baskets, and co-sleepers on the market - until I stumbled across the Moba from the UK. This was my big splurge, and since they wouldn't ship to the USA (since they don't carry the US safety certifications) I had it shipped to a friend's mother in the UK who forwarded it on to me. I justified it knowing that this will turn into a big toy bin when she outgrows it! I bought the specific liner, mattress, mattress pad, and 4 fitted sheets that go with this moses basket. In retrospect I think that a co-sleeper would have been the most ideal sleeping solution. We ended up bed-sharing with Miss C for the first two months or so, and perhaps with a co-sleeper this would have not been necessary. This would be something I might reconsider if we have a second child. However, the Moba can't be beat for good looks, and once Miss C was sleeping out of our bed (and before she started rolling over and therefore needing to sleep in a crib - so for us months 2-5) this was absolutely perfect for us. Additionally, from day one we could pick it up and put it on the floor in any room we happened to be in, which meant she could sleep on the floor while we ate dinner, for example. That you cannot do with a co-sleeper, so food for thought.
Moses Basket Stand. Since our bed is quite low, I expected that I could sleep with the moses basket on the floor next to my side of the bed for the first few weeks, and then transition to the bassinet on a stand near the bed. I also couldn't find a stand in the US that wasn't fugly, so I had the John Lewis Moses Basket Stand shipped over with the moses basket. In retrospect it would have been nice early on to have a stand that rocked, but we made do without.
Bedside Light on a Dimmer. Since Miss C would be sleeping near us, I set up my bedside light so that I would be easily able to check on her in the night without turning on the overhead light (way too bright, even though it is on a dimmer). I kept this light on all night long for the first month or two, and after that would turn it off and back on only when I needed to get up and tend to her. Now I just do everything in the dark since I am so much more comfortable with her - keeping the room dark is so important for making nighttime waking as least disruptive to both of you as possible!
Pajamas. When Miss C was brand new she slept in a kimono top, diaper, and hat, and was swaddled on top of this - exactly like they will teach you in the hospital. Once her umbilical cord stump fell off we started having her sleep in convertible nightgowns, which she still sleeps in at 6 months (well, larger ones, but same design). There are lots of brands of both of these - but my favorite kimono tops are by Magbaby because they are SO EASY to put on and snap (magnets!!!) closed. The key features to look for are the kimono wrap design (does not go over the baby's head, which is both faster and easier to put on and doesn't make the baby pissed off) and the mitten cuff fold over detail in case you happen to have a baby that scratches themselves. For the convertible nightgowns we love the ones by Finn & Emma - these transition from nightgown mode (good for both boys and girls!) so that you have easy access to the diaper at night without having to fiddle with snaps in the dark, to pants for the day! Since let's be honest, you're probably not going to actually dress your baby in "real clothes" for a few weeks. These also have the mitten cuff fold over detail in case you end up needing that (we didn't).
Swaddles. Some babies love being swaddled, some hate it, and some hate it but require it to keep themselves from waking up - so you will find a million products on the market and you won't know what you need until you meet your babe! We started out with plain old swaddle blankets, which for the newbies are the same as "receiving blankets", which are the same as PLAIN OLD BLANKETS! I don't know where the fancy words all came from. There is no difference in these things. They will teach you how to swaddle your baby with blankets in the hospital, and our hospital sent us home with about 5 swaddle blankets. I actually found that some of the other swaddle blankets I had bought were easier to me to successfully swaddle with than the hospital ones - but to each their own! Miss C did not like being swaddled with her arms in after about 4 days of life - so we ended up swaddling her from the armpits down. Because of this, normal swaddle blankets worked just fine for us. I have both the classic and bamboo swaddle blankets from Aden and Anais and found the classic ones to be a bit big (though I use them all the time for other things) and the bamboo ones to be perfect for warmer nights. Most often I used a few I bought from Wren & Rumor which turned out to be the best/warmth weight (similar to the hospital swaddles), but easier for me to wrap.
Sleepsacks. Since Miss C never liked being swaddled we moved her into a sleep sack as soon as she was big enough since we were essentially using a swaddle as a sleepsack. (she was under 5lbs when she was born, and the weight limit for most of these is 10lbs) We found that the Halo Sleepsacks are wonderful - we use the micro-fleece most nights, and have a luxe-sherpa weight one for cold nights. We also have the Baby DeeDee Sleep Nest Lite for warmer weather nights. The key benefit of these is that if you need to do a nighttime diaper change you just unzip them part way up from the bottom, but don't have to take them all the way off! Combined with a nightgown and you have the easiest nighttime diaper change possible. (Sidenote: Halo also make sleepsack swaddles which many of my friends swore by, but we did not use.)
Crib. There are so many options out there for cribs, and so few attractive modern ones!! My most favorite crib out there is the Kalon Studios Caravan. However, it costs a pretty penny ($1000!). So in my eyes the best runner up is the IKEA Sniglar, which only costs $80!!!! Its the best, I highly recommend. We didn't buy this until Miss C needed it (once she started rolling over around 5 months), and we sleep with it in our bedroom still for now. I still enjoy having her close by.
Crib Mattress. We chose to spend a bit more on our crib mattress than on the actual crib since we wanted one that was healthy for her since it would be so close to her face so often. We knew we wanted a two stage mattress (firm side for infant use, and softer side for toddler use) so we ended up with this one from Naturepedic. We decided on the foam mattress (versus the innerspring mattress) since it is lighter and therefore easier to get in/out of the crib to change the crib sheets.
Crib Sheets. This is an obvious must and totally up to your taste! Personally we started with the ones from Aden and Anais, in part also because I could buy matching changing table covers and that matters to me. In case it hasn't already been passed on to you (slash beaten into you) - you should NOT buy crib bumpers or crib quits. All that should be in your crib is a mattress with fitted sheet.
Baby Monitor. So I am reluctantly including this because I actually really think this one is totally optional. We have a Dropcam set up over her crib now because we already owned it (we used to use it to spy on our dogs when we were housebreaking them) but we didn't install it until she was around 5 months old. We do not close the bedroom door when she goes to sleep because we wanted her to learn to sleep with some level of light and noise and not be disturbed by it, so I never have to spy on her with the camera, I just peek into the room. At night since we still share a room, there is no need, I just look over at her. I know some people use theirs heavily, but we do not, and if we didn't already own the Dropcam we would not have purchased one.
Things we chose not to get and have not missed include....a white noise machine (yes, seriously), blackout shades, a space heater, or an air purifier (though obviously those last two depend on your home/climate)
Changing Table. We kept it basic with the IKEA Gulliver Changing Table, knowing that this was a piece of furniture that would be used for just a few years and then no longer needed and sold on Craigslist. This one is perfect because it has two shelves for storing diapers, creams, etc. underneath. Some people will suggest that you can skip the changing table and just put the changing pad on top of a dresser. I would agree with them that this is an excellent solution, but since we didn't have a dresser for Miss C, I found this an essential for us.
Changing Pad. We didn't like the IKEA inflatable changing pad that they sell to go with their changing tables, and I wanted something healthy for her since it would be so close to Miss C all of the time. We ended up getting the Naturepedic Organic Cotton Changing Pad, and thankfully it fit the changing table well (somehow these things are not standardized in size so check that).
Changing Pad Covers. We got two, which has been sufficient. I like the ones by Aden and Anais, but obviously this is a personal aesthetic preference.
Stack of Cloth Diapers. We use disposable diapers, but we keep one cloth diaper on the changing table at all times. This way if Miss C has a blowout or leak, or just straight up pees or poops while she's being changed, there is a chance that the cloth diaper will catch the pee/poop before it hits the changing pad cover. Otherwise we would be changing the changing pad cover multiple times a week, and sometimes multiple times a day, which is just unnecessary. Let the cloth diaper catch most of the dirty stuff and just toss it in the hamper and throw a new one on there. We never had to buy any of these since we were given a bunch from the hospital when we delivered, so you might as well!
Diaper Pail. We picked the Diaper Dekor because it got really good reviews for cloth diapering which we were considering doing. It has still worked out really wonderfully for disposable diapers. I think the key feature is the foot pedal that opens the top lid, and then the inner lid is able to be pushed with one hand. This keeps the stink in really well. It also came in colors that I liked. Make sure it is located within arms reach of your changing table so that you can toss the dirty diaper without taking your other hand off your babe.
Diapers. We use Honest diapers because they come in the most adorable patterns, and I'm a total sucker for that. It also is attractive that they are somewhat environmentally responsible. Inside I truly wanted to do cloth diapers, or at the very least compostable diapers, but things have just not worked out that way, and I am fine with that. Make sure the diapers are stacked and easy to access. I recommend having just one package of newborn diapers at the ready before baby arrives. We ended up needing to put Miss C in preemie diapers for quite awhile, and some friends have jumped directly to size 1 diapers. No need to stock up until you know what you're in for with your specific baby, and all you have to do is order online when you know!
Wipes. We also use Honest wipes because we order them in a bundle with the diapers. I do actually like them better than other brands that I've used, but I won't claim to be an expert on that since I haven't tried very many. Some babies bums are very sensitive and you will have to see what works for your babe. We have been fortunate that Miss C is not too picky.
Wipes Dispenser. This is something that I didn't have for a few months, but I now consider an essential that I wish I had bought from the beginning. We got the Oxo Perfect Pull Wipes Dispenser and it has saved me from middle of the night frustration trying to get the last of the wipes out one-handed from those stupid packages they come in, which usually resulted in my shaking the package and it flying across the room.
Diaper Cream. We use Weleda Calendula Diaper Rash Cream. This is personal preference, we found this cleared up the only bout of diaper rash that Miss C got in just a few days, so now we use it religiously (only after poops, not after pees unless she has active diaper rash).
Reading Light. This is the secret sauce of our setup. Since this is all set up in our bedroom, just feet from the bed, I needed to be able to get up and do the middle of the night diaper changes without waking up my husband. This little light proved to be the magic solution of getting just the right amount of light right where it's needed without lighting up the whole room! I can't find online the exact one we have, but it is something like this.
Mobile. Last but not least I actually think this is an important one. We have several mobiles in Miss C's corner of our room, and the one she is most fascinated by hangs over her changing table and keeps her entertained while we change her diapers! This is really important because it significantly reduced the amount of fussing we had to deal with once we got it hung! It's nothing fancy, just a beautiful array of folded paper cranes, but she loves it. It's a great chance to pick out a pretty one you love.
Things we chose not to get and have not missed include....a wipes warmer.
LOUNGING & PLAYING
Bouncer Chair. We didn't want to buy too much big stuff that would be sitting around the house, and wanted Miss C to spend as much time as she could lying on blankets and practicing moving, but we knew realistically that we needed one place where we would stick her and strap her in so she was safely contained for when we needed to do things like shower and prepare food. For us the solution is the Baby Bjorn Bouncer. It is not horribly ugly (though still makes me cringe a tiny bit) and it collapses down easily to store or stick in the car. My husband calls it her mini Aeron chair (designer humor). Most importantly it is ergonomic, and not motorized. We can bounce it with our foot or hand, and as Miss C got bigger she could bounce herself by kicking her feet. We also got the wooden toy for it. We wanted to get the fabric toy too so we could swap them out, but now at 6 months old I'm glad we didn't bother, because she doesn't really even use the toy anymore already! The chair is great because it grows with them until they are around 2 years old!
Boppy Pillow. The Boppy is a classic and something that surely someone will happily hand down to you. I did not use it as a nursing pillow, but I did find it useful for propping Miss C up in when I needed to set her down for a few minutes to do something like answer a phone call. By about 3 or 4 months old this is also obsolete, so just borrow someones!
Baby Gym. This is a really useful toy for babies from newborn age until they can roll over because you can really watch them develop awareness as they first ignore it, then look at the toys, then play with them! However, this is also something that become obsolete after a few months, so I didn't want to spend a ton of money on it, and I also didn't want one of the huge fugly ones that I saw everywhere. IKEA makes the absolute best one for the money - the Leka. Best $30 I spent! Personally I didn't love the plastic hanging toys that it came with, so I customized it by instead using this IKEA mobile and these stroller toys from Finn and Emma.
Toys. Newborns don't need toys. See what people give you as gifts and buy things as you need them at a later date. Miss C's favorite 'toy' is a tied for a piece of fabric or my sunglasses. Second to that she loves paper napkins. Babies are pretty easy to entertain.
Things we chose not to get and have not missed include....a bumbo seat (there is actually some opinion of physical therapists that this delays the correct development of their core muscles; it was originally designed to help children with special needs sit up and I am confused how it became mainstream for people to feel like they need their babies to sit up before they are strong enough to on their own), an exersaucer, walker, or jumper (we just let her lie on a blanket on the floor), or foam floor tiles (we just put her blanket on a rug and don't find it necessary in our house for her to lie on the hardwood floor where she would bonk her head as she learns to roll over).
Car Seat. We went with the Chicco Keyfit 30 which is a really popular choice among my mom friends. It's pretty light (as far as these things go) and has a good reputation. The only complaint I have about it is that it does not have a contoured handle so it is a bit hard to carry, and the sunshade should be larger. I think this is a fine choice, but I would say it's worth looking at other options for those reasons. You might also consider getting additional head support inserts for once the babe has outgrown the infant insert that comes with the carseat, and before they can do without one completely. Another accessory we have is a Gate Check bag for when you travel with your carseat.
Car Mirror. We didn't have this for the first few weeks and once we got it I felt SO much better about driving around with Miss C! We got one from Diono and it is excellent.
Sunshade. So you do need one of these for the car because the sun DOES get in your babe's face, and I still haven't found a good one for us! Because my husband is a car snob he didn't want the kind that stick to your windows - but I think those are a good solution if you're not a car snob. I've also seen the Uppababy Cabana, which seems like it has potential for use in a car, though it is designed for use on a stroller, but we haven't gotten one to try yet as we've been trying some other options currently (none worth writing about here).
Stroller. At first I started down the road of researching all the best strollers out there that convert from car seat adapter to bassinet to rear facing seat to front facing seat, ones with second seats you can add for a second child or skateboards you can attached for an older child. I had a whole spreadsheet with car seat compatibility, features, size, and weight. Then I just decided that these were all freaking huge and babies are tiny and I really didn't need one of these. Maybe you feel you do, but in the end we decided we were looking to find the smallest stroller we could get that would fit an infant carseat all the way up until the baby was a kid and out of the stroller. It needed to be small and light and good for travel. We landed on the Mountain Buggy Nano and I have nothing but amazing things to say about it! It has traveled all over the US and Canada with us and I can get it and the carseat packed up and onto an airplane with Miss C is a carrier solo. It's just great. We also have the travel bag for the Nano (though I really wish this came in red - because all the other gate check bags are red for easy ID by the airport staff, our stroller was once set to baggage claim instead of left at the gate for us because they hadn't realized it had a gate check tag on it...pain in my ass because I was traveling solo!), the bug and rain covers, the cup holder for carrying your latte, and a stroller organizer for carrying all your other crap. (Our next job is looking for a jogging stroller...we still have a bit more time before Miss C is big enough to ride in one, so that research is on going.)
Carriers. Since I really just don't like strollers in the urban environment (please just please don't bring your giant stroller into my tiny grocery store and block all of the aisles!!!), I have always carried Miss C a lot. I have a few carriers now that have all worked for different functions and I am sure my collection will continue to grow as she does. The first one I used and continued to use until she started to be really active is the Solly baby wrap. This one is similar to the Moby and Boba wraps, but a lighter stretchier material that I think makes it far superior. This wrap can wrap the tiniest baby up to the biggest! For the first few months as soon as I put Miss C in the wrap she would be asleep within minutes. As she got older and more alert she spends more time awake while we are walking together, and this wrap doesn't work as well now because she wants her arms out and free to play with. (Side note, there is this awesome new company called Nesting Days that was not around just a few short months ago when Miss C was born and makes newborn carriers/shirts - but I've met several women in my yoga class who are using it with their newborns and it looks AMAZING. I would totally consider getting this shirt if it had been available!) So, moving on, since the Solly baby wrap doesn't work as well now because she wants her arms out and free to play with, the second carrier that I got is the Wildbird ring sling. I really wanted a ring sling for carrying Miss C around the house with me when she was being fussy, and for times when I wanted to put her in and out of the carrier quickly, like just walking to yoga etc. I chose the Wildbird brand because it seemed the nicest product for a reasonable price. Many of the ring slings can be really expensive. I still use this ring sling a lot and expect I will as Miss C grows into a toddler! The final carrier that I have is the Beco Gemini. This one I actually got for free from an event I went to and wasn't sure if I would use because I thought I would just use my Solly Baby Wrap. However, once Miss C became more active and the Solly Baby Wrap wasn't doing the trick, having this (or any other buckle type carrier) has been amazing! I use it when I am walking the dogs or grocery shopping or doing something else where I need both hands free and to know that she is 100% secure. She can flail her arms and legs around. I still use the ring sling a lot, but I feel like this is safer for when my hands are totally otherwise occupied. A lot of my friends got the Ergo 360 carrier, but I really feel that this carrier is better for us because it is not as bulky but can do all the same things (front carry facing in, front carry facing out, hip carry, back carry). I'm looking forward to exploring other lightweight buckle carriers and woven wraps as Miss C gets big and strong enough to be carried in a back carry (which is OK once she can sit on her own)! (Another sidenote, here is another wrap, the Beachfront Baby Wrap, that I wish I had known about before I traveled to hot humid North Carolina and Ohio with a newborn this summer - consider this if you'll be going anywhere hot hot hot with your little babe. It is made of mesh, which would have been amazing since Miss C was overheating in all of the other carriers.) A great resource for all of this is Babywearing International - I have been to a San Francisco meeting and am part of their really informational Facebook group. I recommend checking them out if you think carriers are going to be your jam.
Travel Highchair. I feel like I could write a whole other post on travel tips, but I'll throw just a few items out there for this list. Once your babe is big enough to stick them in a highchair, this is an excellent thing to bring along on travel! We haven't started solids yet, but we do travel with the Mountain Buggy Pod clip on highchair, and that way Miss C can sit at the table or counter with us and play with some toys while we are eating or otherwise spending time in the kitchen or at a table. It is the smallest of this style that I've found and has the 'C' style clamp (versus the 'lobster' style clamp) so that it works on tables that have a lip on the underside. It will also be good when taking her to restaurants when she's eating solids.
Travel 'Crib'. We first traveled with Miss C when she was 3-1/2 months old, and at the time were looking for the most lightweight and packable travel crib out there. If you have ever seen the classic Graco Pack-n-Play packed up in person you will realize that is is NOT small and NOT light. This is seriously it's own piece of checked luggage! They serve a purpose, and we do keep one (a hand me down) at my parents house for when we visit, but they are not airplane material. We wanted something that went into our luggage, and ideally into a carry-on. We ended up with the KidCo Peapod, and even though it says it is only to be used by babes over age one, we have used it with Miss C many times from age 3-6 months so far after hearing from other friends that they had used it successfully with young babes, and it is wonderful. It packs down so small, you can't beat it. It cannot really be used as a playpen, which is the advantage of a Pack-n-Play style travel crib, but I'm OK with that. Maybe my opinion will change when Miss C becomes more mobile, I will have to wait and see on that. Of the more traditional crib style travel cribs, the most compact and lightweight option we found was the Phil & Teds Traveller.
Airplane Carrier. This is a product I haven't bought because I don't think it is as relevant for older babies, but had I known about it for our very first trips with Miss C I would have! It is the Flyebaby airplane carrier, and makes sharing a seat with a baby seem a whole lot more enjoyable!
The bag itself is important, as are the contents. For the bag itself my husband and I agreed that we should only have ONE diaper bag. I know some people keep one in each car, and have one stashed in the stroller, and then mom has a cute one she carries around. To me this just seems like a lot of bags that are likely to end up not fully stocked when you need it. I'm sure it depends on your lifestyle. For us having just one bag that is always cleaned and restocked when we get home from an outing, and always left hanging on the same hook in the bedroom has been the most sane option for us. Additionally, since we use carriers and walk placed much more often than we use a stroller or the car, having a backpack style bag is really important to us. With carriers you can't really use a cross body strap bag, and walking around with a bag slung on just one shoulder would be a hassle and uncomfortable too. So we ended up using a plain old backpack - nothing fancy, anything that both you and your husband will carry would work. I had thought that having a bag that zipped all the way open would be important (versus a top loading only style bag) in order to easily get at all the stuff I would be keeping in there - but it turns out that a top loader might actually be better! I find that my bag sometimes unzips itself down the side and then I have to struggle to get everything back in there. Here is what we keep inside ours:
Diaper Change Bag. I have a drawstring bag (it's actually a 'wet bag') inside my diaper bag that has all of the diapering essentials in one place for easy changes. Here's what's in that bag:
Travel Change Pad - I love that ours is padded and not a plasticky finish.
Chux Pad - backup to the travel change pad in case there is a major poopsplosion that renders the travel change pad useless for the next change
3 Diapers - Three, not two...you can easily go through two in one changing! Grab more when you're gone for more than a few hours.
Travel Size Diaper Wipes - Most brands sell travel size packs of wipes, carrying around a full pack is very heavy.
Diaper Rash Stick - This can't leak like other creams can!
Gallon Size Zip Lock Bag - To put your dirty diapers / soiled clothes in.
Extra (ugly) Outfit - I always keep a footed pair of PJs that she's almost outgrown in here as my last resort backup
Extra Outfit - I only take an cute extra outfit if I'm going somewhere for the whole day, or somewhere like a party where I actually care that she has backup clothes. If your baby ends up being a puker, you'll probably go through more outfits that if they're not.
Nursing Cover - Obviously.
Patagonia Bunting - This isn't the exact one that we have, but is the same concept. I like to keep it in the bag since San Francisco weather can be so variable. That way I always have a warm layer in case I get caught out somewhere and Miss C is underdressed for the weather. We use it more than you would think - especially once the sun goes down in the winter!
Carrier - I keep my Solly Baby Wrap in here just in case I leave the house without one (ie in the car or with the stroller) and end up needing a wrap. This one is really lightweight so I don't mind carrying it around with me all of the time.
Swaddle Blanket - Use for warmth, sun protection, to lay on and play at the park, very versatile.
Washcloth - Keep this is an easy to grab spot for wiping up messes fast!
Pacifier - Miss C doesn't actually use a pacifier. We decided we didn't want her to become dependent on one because they kind of gross me out, they're always falling on the floor, so after one very short failed attempt at offering it to her we put it away and don't use one. We do however keep one in the diaper bag and very occasionally shove it in her face if she's crying at a very inappropriate time (ie - during a wedding!)
Hand sanitizer - I carry it, but actually haven't found occasion to use it. Probably a personal call.
Compressible totebag - I use this all the time for shopping.
Bulb syringe - Just in case of emergencies, they will give you one at the hospital.
Waterbottle - Because when you are breastfeeding your will be OMGSOTHIRSTYALLOFTHETIME.
Small zippered pouch containing...
extra pair of breast pads - because you WILL walk out of the house one day without them in and realize too late
menstrual pad - because I have a constant fear that my period is going to come back and catch me off guard!
Bathing. Some people make a nightly bath part of their bedtime routine, or even every other night. We really just don't bathe Miss C that often since she really doesn't get dirty yet. In any case, here is what we do use when we bathe her...
Infant Bath Tub. We got the Boon Naked tub as a hand me down from a friend and it has been OK, but if I were to buy my own I think I would have gone with the Stokke Flexi Bath with newborn support insert. The Puj is also really popular for giving baths in a sink, but didn't make sense for our home.
Bath Sponge. Essential with the Boon Naked or for bathing in the adult tub is a contoured bath sponge, so your slippery wobbly newborn doesn't slide all over the place.
Soap / Shampoo. Personal preference, we have been using California Baby products.
Washcloth. Lie a warm wet one over your baby while you bathe them! Someone taught me this trick and it works!
Sponge. We use a natural bath sponge to clean her little body.
Hooded Towel. We were gifted this cute Pottery Barn Hooded Towel, but any hooded towel would work!
Other Toiletries. Beyond bathing there are a few toiletries you'll find useful, but everything else I suggest buying as you need it. We haven't used anything else on our babe yet!
hair brush (they gave us one at the hospital)
First Aid Kit. Of course you should have a few basics around in case you need them. We have...
You made it to the end of this list! That sure ended up being longer than I expected, but I hope you find it thorough and useful.