When you think about it, a baby really doesn’t need that much stuff. They need to eat—breast milk or formula. They need to be kept warm—clothes, blankets, and cuddles. And they need to be kept clean—diapers and wipes. That’s about it.
But when it comes to comfort and peace-of-mind for a new mom, you need a lot more than baby. And when it comes to mother and baby products, everyone has an opinion. Just look at the Amazon reviews for some of your favorite products; I'm sure they're all over the place. So when I put together a list of the best baby products, just know they’re the best for moms like me and for babies like Henry and Betsy.
1. Video Monitor
I don’t know how people survived before video monitors. Actually, I know exactly how they survived. When they had a newborn, they would periodically sneak into the baby’s room on their hands and knees to check if the baby was still breathing. And when the baby got older, they probably just thought their little angel was sleeping soundly when he was actually doing quiet somersaults on his bed. Not that I’ve experienced this …
Let me tell you, this is no way to live. I love being able to turn on my monitor and see my baby’s tummy going up and down while they breathe. I also love being able to watch the hijinks they get into while they should be taking a nap.
For some people, the night-vision, stalker-feel to the video monitor freaks them out. But I would much rather feel like a stalker and also have peace of mind.
These are the cute little stuffed animals attached to the hospital pacifiers. First of all, they are super cute and come in all types of different animals. They’re also way more practical than I thought they would be. Think about it, a binky is just about the easiest thing in the world to lose. But when it’s attached to a stuffed animal, they’re a lot easier to hold onto. That’s true for mom and baby.
Both of my babies took binkies, and I LOVED it. The only problem was that I had to wake up several times a night to put the binky back in their mouth. But once you’re done swaddling baby and their hands are free, they can easily find their little wubbanub and pop that sucker back in all by themselves. That means more sleep for you and baby.
I was also really worried about the day when I would have to take away the binky, but I think the Wubbanub actually made the transition easier. I just cut the binky part off the stuffed animal, and my baby still had their little stuffed animal friend, even though the binky part was missing.
3. Swaddle wrap
Anything that will keep your baby’s arms from sneaking out in the night will do the trick. My go-to swaddles are Aden + Anais and the SwaddleMe velcro swaddles. Aden + Anais are perfect when they’re tiny and aren’t actively trying to escape the swaddle. And SwaddleMe is great when you need the swaddle to stay tight throughout the night to keep your baby sleeping soundly.
One brand that I haven’t tried yet, but looks fantastic, is The Ollie Swaddle. They’re like SwaddleMe, but the bottom of the sack can be easily tied and untied, so you can change diapers while they’re wrapped up. And if you want to see a bunch of cute babies sleeping, you should check out their Instagram: @theollieworld.
4. Book: Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child
There are a ton of different sleep books out there, and I’ve heard great things about all of them. So when you’re trying to choose a sleep book, it really comes down to your parenting style. The reason I love Healthy Sleep Habits is that it gives you step-by-step instructions to help your child sleep throughout their whole lives – from day one through their teen years. So at each developmental stage, you can easily see how much your child should be sleeping and what their sleep schedule should look like. It also includes a problem-solving section with suggested solutions at each stage.
This book has become my bible. I’ve been lucky enough to have great sleepers from day one, but when things haven’t gone smoothly, this book has saved my life. When it comes to figuring our sleep schedules, knowing when to get rid of naps, how to get my baby to go to sleep sooner and sleep through the night, etc., I know Dr. Weissbluth has my back.
Warning: this book will help your child sleep like a champ … at home. Just be aware that changing locations and schedules for vacations and other event can make things a little tricky. And you have to be consistent, otherwise the techniques won’t really work.
5. Onesies … lots and lots of onesies
All sorts of things are going to come out of your perfect little angel. Babies are a messy business, and your baby’s clothes get the brunt of it. So you want to be prepared with lots of backup onesies.
In the beginning, I swear my little boy was going through at least 3 onesies a day. There will be blowouts – that’s inevitable. But what I wasn’t prepared for was the crazy amount of spit-up that my baby would produce. No amount of spit-up rags could keep his clothes clean. And the smell of spit-up drenched clothing is a little too much for me to handle. Needless to say, we had lots of loads and laundry and a big stack of onesies.
6. Breast Pump
I’ve had manual and electric pumps and there is no comparison—electric is the only way to go. The manual pumps definitely get the job done, but the hand cramps are brutal. For both my babies, I used the Avent breast pump. I thought it was great. Just be aware that you can only use Avent bottles with the Avent pumps.
If you’re thinking, “I don’t need a breast pump. I’m going to breastfeed,” you still need a pump even if you nurse. In order to get my supply up at the beginning, I would pump after I nursed to get the hind milk, then I would feed it to my baby with a syringe to make sure they got the good stuff. You don’t need to do that for long, but if you ever need to be away from your baby for more than 3 hours, it’s a good idea to have a bottle of expressed milk for your babysitter to feed the baby.
One thing I learned in the hospital with my lactation specialist is that pillows are your best friend when nursing. And a pillow that contours to your body is every better. I always have two boppies: one in the living room for when I nurse on the couch and one in the bedroom for when I nurse in bed. Toting a boppy from one room to another doesn’t sound like a big deal, but having separate boppies in your main nursing areas really does make life so much easier.
7. Swing tees
My sister-in-law turned me onto swing tees when nursing, and it is genius. With swing tees, you really don’t need to carry a nursing cover with you. Just pop your baby under your shirt and you can sneak a peek through your collar.
Another great thing about the swing tee is that you can hide all kinds of things under it. I always wear a Cari-Cami under my swing tees, especially when I’m wearing leggings, and I can keep my phone and binkies in the pockets and I always know where they are.
You don’t have to go fancy on this one. I just got a bouncer off Amazon, and it did the trick. I know some moms swear by mamaRoo rockers and swings, but I’ve also heard of a lot of babies that absolutely hate them. So before you shell out the big bucks, it might be worth it to try out some less expensive options, and see what works best for your baby.
I used a lot of different carriers with my first baby – wraps, ring slings, pouch slings, and whatever else you can try. But I decided to register for an Ergobaby with my second baby and it changed my life! The shoulder straps are super padded, and the waistband puts all the weight on your hips, which means you can wear baby for long periods of time and not get sore or tired.
When your baby is a newborn, the need for baby-proofing seems like a long way off. But your baby is going to grow way faster than you expect and start getting into things way sooner than you want them to. Might as well be prepared, right? I’ve put baby locks on all accessible drawers and cupboards in our kitchen and bathrooms, and it keeps baby safe and me sane. I do, however, leave one drawer unlocked with things that are safe for the baby—cookie cutters, measuring cups, Tupperware, etc.—so they can still explore a little bit.
Now, this list is in now way comprehensive. I’m sure I’m going to think of 3 other products I love as soon as I hit “publish.” But these are definitely the products I wouldn’t want to live without. What about you? What are your favorite products that help make your life easier with baby?