When I was making my baby registry I scoured Pinterest and the Internet searching for all the baby essential items and lists everyone said I needed to have. I spent night after night adding and deleting bibs and swaddles and baby contraptions until I had a finely tuned list.
I felt proud and knowledgeable because I DID my research. I was ready for whatever that baby was gonna THROW (or squirt) at me.
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Even though I received or bought most everything from my registry, I felt completely unprepared as soon as the nurse handed me my tiny little bundle. I remember thinking, how the hell am I going to keep this sweet baby alive? I mean, seriously! I was terrified.
For one thing, Squiggles didn’t nurse AT ALL for a long, long time (read more about my breastfeeding horrors and eventual success), and since I just had my stomach cut open I literally had no idea how I was going to get out of the hospital bed let alone change and swaddle my child.
AND it was even worse when I got home from the hospital.
All the gear I had acquired just felt useless. And for the next two months we were buying new stuff every day just to try to keep up with Squiggles. I mean, thank the LORD for Amazon Prime!
Here’s what I wish I had made sure I had on hand when we first brought Squiggles home.
Well, what I wish we had BEFORE we brought her home.
Seriously – read this list, buy these items, and trust me your first few weeks (and following months) with your new baby will be sooooo much easier. I promise.
1. Double Electric Breast Pump
Because if you’re anything like me your milk will take FOREVER to come in, so you’ll need to pump after each time you try to feed your baby. And it can be awful if you don’t have a good pump – I strongly recommend renting a hospital grade pump for at least the first month. I already had a pump from insurance (and also another one I bought at a consignment sale – it wasn’t used I promise!), but the hospital grade pump was wayyyy better.
IF your little one nurses well right from the start you probably will only want to pump once a day, but if your baby doesn’t you’ll be pumping at least EIGHT TIMES a day, so I’d also get extra pump part sets so you don’t have to keep washing between each pump. I eventually just bought eight whole sets (a little crazy I know…) but it was totally worth it.
2. Pumping/Nursing Bra Combo
So I learned this one the hard way. Using a double electric breast pump without a pumping bra is no joke! It is the absolute worst, especially if you end up in my shoes and have to do this pumping charade every three hours.
Immediately my husband procured the snap on one so I could pump more freely while in the hospital. It was cheap, and good if you only pump once or twice a day, but was a pain to get on an off. As soon as I got home order more pumping nursing bras (like these Rumina ones) and I still wear these bras every day. Game changer.
3. Zipper and Velcro Swaddles
Because someday your husband (who mastered the art form of swaddling while you were pumping or washing pump parts or simply just lying in bed recovering from the shock of what your body has just been through) will have a business trip and leave you all alone with your baby.
And you will have NO IDEA how the hell he gets that swaddle so damn tight and neat.
We LOVED the Halo Sleepsack Swaddles and used these until Squiggles was at least six months old. Skip the pretty swaddle blankets and safe yourself the headache, trust me.
4. Zip Up Onesies
Again another ode to the zipper!
Those snaps might seem easy at first, but as baby starts to move more you will realize snaps are the Devil’s creation.
And I’ll say this – even though I’m a total hypocrite – but try to resist all those cutesy outfits. You’ll be sorry when the first time you put baby in that hipster baby dress it’s covered in poop ten minutes later. Onesies are just so much easier (and usually cheaper).
5. Quality Baby Carrier
I really wish I would have used a baby carrier from the get-go. It would have made nursing in public so much easier, but by the time I tried ours out with Squiggles she was not a fan. I finally got a ring sling and she tolerated that pretty well. Once she was older we were able to use our Ergo 360 and that was clutch on our first airport experience.
I’d recommend a ring sling carrier like Wild Bird for when your baby is little and then transitioning to something like the Ergo 360 around 5-6 months.
And honestly all you need is the rectal one. The one time when Squiggles actually had a fever I wasted time with the forehead thermometer. I took her temperature four times before I gave up. Rectal is what your pediatrician relies on anyways.
Better get some vaseline to go with this one too!
7. Nose Frida
I understand why this little gadget is considered revolutionary when it comes to the practice of snot sucking: those bulbs don’t do shit. And yeah, the Nose Frida looks super gross but it does the trick.
P.S. your baby will probably hate when you use this but I looked it up – you can’t suck too hard!
8. Baby Nail Clippers
Because baby nails are like talons. Clip your baby’s nails frequently and your boobs will thank you.
9. Diaper Bag with Shoulder Strap
I had a tote diaper bag at first and it kept falling off myself whenever I had to carry it and the baby. It drove me crazy.
Then I got a backpack diaper bag. It was much easier to handle, but the problem with backpacks is that you have to root around to find the thing you want inside. I would always throw what I needed on top and everything turned into a piled-up mess.
When you need wipes or a pacifier fast, you need a bag that can stay organized. You also need one you can carry while also handling a loaded carseat.
Bags with should straps – like this one – rule.
10. Quality Baby Monitor
Even as I write this post I’m zooming in with our monitor to make sure Squiggles is still breathing.
I’m constantly worrying about this, and you probably will too.
And if you are like me you won’t trust your monitor because let’s face it, there really isn’t a great monitor out there. They all have their drawbacks, so you will inevitably decide to pop in and check for yourself just be sure. And you will wake her up.
If you have friends with babies, ask which monitors they prefer. Better yet, go and check out your friends’ monitors yourself and see which one you actually like.
11. Rock-N-Play and/or ARMS Reach Bassinet
In the beginning the rock-n-play was a life safer. It helped Squiggles settle and sleep easily.
But even though I know her plagiocephaly had nothing to do with the rock-n-play, it still made me nervous if I used it too much.
We LOVED our Arms Reach Clear-Vue Bassinet. It could be put close to our bed and had storage space below. Yeah, the Halo Bassinet would have been nice but Squiggles was 11 lbs, so I’m not sure the Halo would have lasted us very long. It’s not much to look at, but the Arm’s Reach did it’s job and Squiggles slept in it until we moved her to her own room at five months.
12. Palmolive Dish Soap – Natural / Unscented
This was the soap the hospital recommended using on pump parts and bottles. I’m sure there are plenty of other safe soaps out there, so make sure you stock up before baby arrives.
Because if you plan to use a bottle or to pump, you will be washing these things. A lot.
13. Hand Sanitizer
Get at least three bottles. Put one by the changing pad, one in the kitchen, and one by your bedside. Because you will get baby poop on your hands. I love EO’s lavender hand sanitizer.
14. A Comfy Robe and Nursing Tanks
I lived in my pink fluffy robe when Squiggles was a newborn. In the first weeks you will be half naked most of the time trying to feed your little one, so invest in a good robe. I really wish I had splurged on the Ugg Duffield Robe – it looks sooo cozy!
I only have one nursing tank at the moment, and I wish I had more. It’s so much easier to make any outfit into a nursing outfit when you have nursing tanks. Get the ones with a built-in bra and padding.
15. Shower Caddy
Trust me on this. You probably won’t want to be moving too much if you’ve had a c-section (although it is important that you move – helps with recovery!), and even if you had a vaginal birth you probably don’t want to be running from room to room looking for all of YOUR essentials as you take care of baby,
I had my pain meds, Gatorade, lactation cookies, coconut oil (for my pump parts), extra pump parts, hand sanitizer, nipple shields, baby nail clippers, stool softeners (because yes you need these), and God knows what else in my shower caddy. I would just take it from room to room with me so I never lost track of anything. I even slept with my caddy in the middle of the bed!
16. Changing Table You Can Stand At
Because you will be changing at least 12 diapers a day in those first few months and you don’t want to be getting up and down off the ground constantly (unless you really want to start working out your glutes again – but come on, enjoy this time when you have an excuse not to exercise!).
I thought just a changing pad on a dresser would be enough, but since Squiggles’ nursery is upstairs, and I couldn’t go up the stairs for the first few weeks, we got a cheap free-standing changing station for downstairs.
And I mean cheap. Like picked-up-off-the-curb cheap. Check out Facebook resale groups and consignment sales, because you don’t want to spend a lot on this. Once baby starts rolling it will be easier to change your little on the bed (carefully!) or on the floor.
17. Baby Gym and Mirror
Squiggle had low muscle tone issues when she was born, so from day one we established a baby workout routine. That poor child has worked out so much more than I have in the past eight months, but I’m so glad we kept at it! Tummy time is so key, and hanging toys and mirrors really help babies stay engaged during these exercise sessions.
Now of course you’ll need a carseat (we had the Chicco Keyfit 30 and it did the job!) and probably a stroller, although Squiggles hated both of these during her first few months of life.
I had insisted on getting the Bob Flex stroller because of course I’ll be able to take her on long walks or jogs whatever I wanted to…right? Well, I still have yet to complete a walk with the Bob without having to hold her at some point, so mostly I use the Bravo travel system stroller I keep in the car when I go places (because eight-month-old Squiggles + carseat = too damn heavy).
Hopefully this list will help you be more prepared than I was to tackle those shock-to-your-system newborn months and beyond!