DISCLAIMER: I don’t profess to be an expert by any means; these are just my opinions.
- Boppy pillow. When I feed Kayla away from home, I struggle without it. Especially now that the little chunker is almost 16 pounds. A spare cover is a must as well for those unexpected leaks, spit ups and diaper blowouts.
- Itzbeen Baby Care Timer. This thing has been a life saver, especially when we are out. I can see at a glance how long it had been since Kayla ate, was changed or fell asleep/woke up. I know a lot of people subscribe to the old notebook method (I did too at first) but once I felt comfortable that Kayla was gaining weight and no longer needed to track how many wet/dirty diapers she made, this was A LOT easier. There is nothing more frustrating than struggling to remember when your little one last ate (which I did often in the early days when night and day ran together and I didn’t know what day it was 99% of the time) and I still use it now.
- Bjorn and Moby. I know every baby likes to be carried differently, but Kayla particularly likes these. The Moby is great if you have the time to tie it on and adjust it. The Bjorn is perfect for when she’s crying and wants to be held NOW but my hands are busy.
- Bumbo seat and tray. When she was just getting control of her head, this was great to sit her in to help her develop her neck strength, as well as her ability to manipulate things with her hands when we put toys on the tray for her. Now it’s a great spare spot to feed her, and when she wants to be in the kitchen with me I sit her in there so she can watch me, be up off the hard floor and can’t go rolling away.
- Play mat. This was the beginning of her playing and checking out the world around her. We use some of the toys from the mat to entertain her in her jumper and in her car seat, even now.
- Jumper/ExerSaucer. Kayla has a Jumper at home, and they have several exersaucers at her daycare. She loves them. They really aren’t needed before baby is a few months old, but I’m glad we registered for one.
- For moms who plan to breastfeed and work (or not), I am really happy with my Medela Pump-in-Style pump in the shoulder bag. Part of me wishes I had bought it sooner, but I am also glad I waited (and rented a pump for one month) to be sure I was going to be able to maintain a supply. I rented a Medela pump, so I was left with a spare set of parts as well; very handy.
- Especially for Mom (BRU Brand) breast pads. These worked great even when my supply was still regulating (read – I leaked like Niagra falls). Now that I have less leakage issues, I wear washable pads a lot of the time, but still use the disposable ones overnight occasionally or when all of my washables are waiting to be washed.
- Cloth diapers. Not for diapering (I admire the ladies that do this, but Pampers have been my best friend from day one) but to use as burp cloths. I bought a few of the pretty terrycloth ones, but I don’t think I’ve ever even used them.
- Playtex Drop Ins bottles, nipples and liners. I purchased the gift pack after my shower, and had received two 8 – 10 ounce bottles from various places. They include a variety of nipples in the gift pack, and that allows you to experiment until you find what works best for you and baby. Fortunately Kayla wasn’t fussy, and went back and forth from the breast to the bottle very early on. The only things I’ve had to purchase since then are the liners and some fast-flow nipples once she was ready for those.
- Faded Glory brand infant socks (found at Walmart). These stayed in place really well, unless Kayla was really pissed off. I’ve bought other (more expensive) socks since and they just don’t stay put as well.
- Toys: Kayla had a soft rattle, plastic keys, a teething ring and one of the little phone rattles from early on. Those and the play mat kept her occupied for quite some time. She also loves the Bright Starts Lots of Links. They’re great for attaching car seat toys, or just for chewing.
- As mentioned above, cute burp cloths.
- Flannel/thermal receiving blankets. I used these fairly frequently after she was born when it was cool in the house but hot outside; I found that the recommended number (I think a dozen or so) was way too many. I was fortunate to not have a baby who spit up a lot though, so I rarely needed to change them. Start with a few, and then buy more if you think you need to. I did manage to make it out of the hospital with two or three of theirs as well.
- Swaddle Me wraps. These were great for about 3 weeks, although she taught herself how to wiggle an arm out of the swaddle before that point. After that, she no longer wanted to be swaddled. I’d have been better off just continuing to use the receiving blankets that I pilfered from the hospital.
Didn’t like or need/Wish I’d known:
- Extra mattress pads. Yet. I guess we’re fortunate that Kayla hasn’t had any nighttime blowouts that required a sheet and mattress pad change. I may have changed the mattress pad once to wash it. Her sheets rarely get that gross though, so I don’t feel like the mattress pad needs changed weekly.
- Gerber brand clothing. The sleep and plays, as well as the plain white Onesies all seem to run small. If you buy the Onesies, skip the newborn size all together and buy the 3 – 6 month ones sparingly until you know how big your baby is for sure. Kayla is 6 months old (a little under 16 pounds) and wearing the 9-12 month onesies. They are pretty snug.
- Learning Years teething ring. We’ve lost two of these now – one to an unfortunate stepping on and another to an unexplained leak. They’re great toys, but I wish they held up better.