There are many questions that first time moms ask their veteran friends. Among the top of the list is:
What do you really need to care for a baby?
A few years ago, I was asked this question by one of my friends, so I wrote up my list. When another asked, I used my old email to reply. Now, that I have several friends asking, I decided that I should share my list here for the benefit of everyone.
With my firstborn as a rising elementary school student, I decided to revisit my recommendations yet again. I reopened my old Baby Registry and my former emails to friends to make a list of which items we have loved for babies and young children.
Here is a summary of the best items for our family which I’d recommend for your Baby Registry:
In bathing, we have loved Luvable Friends hooded towel. As an infant, these towels are large enough to swaddle them up for drying. Now, as a young child, these towels make amazing capes to race off in after a bath. We still use and love them today.
We also got The First Years Tub to make bathing easier. Although you can technically bathe baby in either the sink or the bath, the tub had the added benefit that, when baby was old enough to play independently, I could take the bath tub into the shower with me. This meant that I could clean both myself and baby at the same time. (For those of you that don’t know, showers can be harder to find time for after becoming a parent.)
I love our car seat, the Safety 1st Grow and Go 3-in-1 Car Seat. It truly goes from newborn all the way until they are 40 lbs. First, she was in the newborn insert. Then, we removed the insert. Then, we raised the headrest and moved the buckle. At just over four and a half, my daughter outgrew rear facing and we turned the seat around. In the future, it can even be a child booster seat. It is amazing.
While you may dream of always being within hearing distance of baby, having a baby monitor makes it easier to get things done while your baby or toddler naps. We have gotten great use out of the VTech DM111 Audio Baby Monitor. It is simple, affordable, and reliable.
Reusable Baby Wipes
First off, although our cloth diapers failed us, we were successfully able to use cloth wipes. As we are still in toilet training now, we are still regularly using these little wipes to clean up. We purchased the OsoCozy Flannel Baby Wipes and have been completely satisfied. Alongside the wipes, we used the diaper wipe solution described in “The Complete Guide to DIY Household Cleaners” to great success. Our recipe is:
- 1 Tbsp Olive Oil (or an olive-oil-based herbal infusion)
- 1 Tbsp Liquid Castile Soap (we use Dr. Bronner’s Pure-Castile Liquid Soap – Baby Unscented)
- 16 oz Water
We use 1 tablespoon of each because it is an easy measurement, less would do just as well. If you’re using a harsher soap than Castile soap, you should definitely use less of it. To mix, use a funnel or an extremely steady hand to add all the ingredients to your spray bottle (we got this 3 pack).
How does it work? The soap cleans. If you’re using Castile soap (an oil-based soap), it also moisturizes a little. The olive oil moisturizes. It also creates a barrier that prevents poop from drying and sticking to your baby the next time. It also can prevent diaper rash, when the rash would have been caused by chaffing on dry skin.
To use, shake the spray bottle to mix the oil back in and spray some around the cloth wipe. Then, wipe and put in hamper. We don’t do any pre-wash for the wipes. For us, they can sit in the hamper for a week with poop on them and still clean to their normal sandy color in one HOT laundry wash.
I did baby led weaning when it came to breastfeeding, which means I have nursed my child a lot longer than the average mother. That also means that I truly stress-tested all my nursing supplies, including these Baby Voice nursing pads. I have loved them. Often times when you are breastfeeding on one side, the other will let down some (or a lot) of milk even though no baby is there to drink it up. These pads catch that leakage so you don’t have to change your entire outfit. Then, it is easy to change the nursing pad out for a new one.
On the topic of nursing outfits, I also loved the Jessica Simpson nursing camisoles for nursing friendly undergarments. These tops are versatile enough to accommodate modest nursing scenarios regardless of what kind of top you want to wear.
Another trick I used to catch leakage is tucking one burp cloth into your nursing bra while using another one like a bib on the baby. My favorite burp clothes were Gerber Baby flannel burp cloths. Not only were these amazingly helpful at catching dribble, spit-ups, leakage, and more, but they became comfort objects for my daughter, a sign of mom even when mom is not around. Even today, her security blanket (lovey) is one of these burp cloths.
For feeding, we got the Fisher-Price Booster Seat. Its biggest advantage was that it was highly portable. We carried it to restaurants, friend’s houses, and sometimes even my work lunches so that we could ensure that our daughter always had a chair.
Also for feeding, we got a few bowls as spoons to use as early toys and later early feeding. We liked the BABYBJORN set the best for baby led weaning because it was easiest for our daughter to feed herself. The rounded edges help babies scoop up a lot while the pointed ends give them a leverage point for lifting.
My girl hated swaddling but tolerated Halo sleepsacks. We used these for warmth on cold, winter nights.
Both my husband and I liked the Boba Wrap Baby Carrier. Although initially tricky to put on properly (especially for my husband), once you know how to do it, it is easy. It shines the most from the time baby can hold her head up until just before two years old. You can even breastfeed while wearing the carrier once you, your baby, and your supply have all acclimated to breastfeeding.
We purchased MyKazoe waterproof mats to use as changing pads, play mats, extra absorptive bedding, and more. If we were every worried about something making a mess, we made sure to place one of these. We still use them to this day if we are going to do something wet like a water activity.
Each December, I have cataloged my daughter’s favorite things from the past year into an article in the “Gift Ideas for Grandchildren” series. I focus those articles specifically on clothing, books, toys, and financial gifts. I would recommend reading the “Gift Ideas for Your Grandbabies: 0-12 months” for more ideas.
One such item I want to highlight though is The Book with No Pictures by B.J. Novak. This book also has played an integral role in helping my daughter realize how reading works. Now at age four and half, she can read essentially everything, and I attribute some of that early reading success to this simple book. Plus, its silly sounds and phrases inspire deep belly laughs at young ages, which are and were a real treat to us all.
Another gift idea is a 529 college savings account. The power of saving and investing while young means that this will be the gift that keeps on giving. We recommend that you start saving for college the day that your children are born and baby shower gifts from grandparents is a great way to achieve this goal.
Screenshot of product images from Amazon listings.