This post is long overdue, but after six months with Lucy, I’ve had time to reflect on what I recommend if you have a little one on the way. I’m also going to be honest and share what I didn’t buy or use. I am by no means a baby expert, but after spending hours researching what we should or must have before Lucy’s arrival, I now realize you actually don’t need much. We live in a tiny 1880’s house and we don’t have space for a lot of stuff, so I had to be selective.
Sit back and grab a snack because this is a long one. Hopefully this list helps if you’re a first time mom.
The Owlet. This is the only reason I sleep at night. We didn’t use it the first month when Lucy slept in the bassinet next to our bed, but we did when we moved her into the nursery and I’m so thankful for the peace of mind. It’s easy to travel with; we’ve taken it to the lake and to Florida. As long as you have wifi, it’s not difficult to set up. The app shows Lucy’s heart rate and oxygen level in real time, as well as a review of her nightly sleep session. The Owlet is hands down the one item I’d recommend to any parent. Nanit has a breathing wrap, but I like that the Owlet is on her foot and concealed. I haven’t heard much about the Nanit, so I can’t compare the two, but both sell complementary monitors. $249
Baby Monitor. I decided to go with the no frills Infant Optics baby monitor. It’s a black and white screen with adequate zoom features. I didn’t want a monitor that has to connect to wifi and I also didn’t want to have to be on my phone to view the nursery. $166
Halo Sleep Sack. I had no idea what this magical fleece bag was until I was in the hospital with Lucy. Buy at least two so that you can have one in the laundry and one in use at all times. It’s like a cozy hug for your little one and it’s a lot easier than swaddling, especially if you have a Houdini baby like ours. We have several of these fleece sleep sacks ($10-25) and we keep a few at grandma’s house too.
Baby Bjorn. This was the only thing Nick actually wanted from our baby registry and it is a game changer. Hands free baby wearing. I can make dinner while wearing Lucy, do laundry, chase the dogs. It’s also easy to clean; just throw it in the washer and hang to dry. $80
Baby sunglasses. Yes, I consider these essential. Lucy will not ride in her stroller without them and she’s basically the Steve McQueen of babies when she wears them. We have the navy pair and they’re worth the $20!
Pajamas with zippers and magnets. Who decided it was a good idea to put snaps on baby pajamas? We love Hanna Andersson zippered pajamas and they come in fun colors and patterns. Many of the styles also come in adult sizes so you can match your baby (if you’re into that). We were gifted a pair of Magnetic Me pajamas and they quickly became my favorite pair because of how easy they were for diaper changes.
Elvie breast pump. If you plan to breastfeed, I cannot recommend the Elvie breast pump enough. You don’t have to be plugged into the wall and it allows me to multi-task while pumping. I have the single pump since the price is steep, but they do accept HSA funds, which is what I used. Their customer service is also excellent. My pump stopped working and Elvie responded to my email within hours. I received a replacement pump that week and I was so impressed with the quick turnaround. I don’t use the app, but it is a nice feature if you want to track your output. $279 for one pump
Snot sucker and clear bulb. I never knew I’d be blowing into my baby’s nose to unleash boogers, but here we are. The Frida Snot Sucker ($15) with saline spray is a lifesaver when your little one is congested. We also use the classic nasal bulb – I recommend this clear one ($12) that comes apart so that you know it’s clean.
A seat. Any seat will do. For some reason it had not occurred to me that I’d eventually need to set the baby down. We waited way too long to get one. We started with this Fisher Price ($30) seat loaned to us by a family member and when Lucy passed the weight limit, we replaced it with the Baby Bjorn ($200) version that holds up to 29 pounds. Both have removable covers and are easy to clean.
Taggies blanket. This was a gift and it goes with Lucy everywhere. It is indestructible and gets washed a few times a week due to two large puppies that love the Taggies as much as Lucy does. If you’ve seen the movie Mr. Mom, you know that every kid needs a woobie. $18
NICE TO HAVE
Gingham blackout curtains. Would you expect anything other than gingham curtains from me? These are great quality and really do keep the light out of the nursery. We have two sets of the gray and white gingham. Crate and Barrel $69
Girl Dad t-shirt. If you’re having a girl, it doesn’t get much cuter than this. Nick’s mom packed this in my hospital bag for Nick to wear after Lucy was born. Aspen + Company $26
Boon dishwasher basket. Have you ever had the smell of burning plastic come from your dishwasher? Well, it’s not pleasant. I took Lucy for a very long walk and opened all the windows after a bottle melted to the bottom of our brand new dishwasher. Lesson learned, get this basket. It holds bottle tops to prevent a melting mishap. $10
Tripp Trapp. My brother got us this highchair and it was the nicest surprise. I almost didn’t ask for it because of the price, but it should last forever and we plan on using it for multiple kids. The tray needs to be purchased separately and if you plan to use it before six months, you’ll need the infant adapter seat. Lucy is just now sitting up and using the Tripp Trapp at six months. She loves it and we are really enjoying having mealtime with her at the dinner table. I also love how nice it looks – we have the gray and it matches our kitchen perfectly. $269
Anything from Pehr. This is my favorite baby brand for blankets, swaddles, storage totes, diaper mats, play mats, etc. None of this is necessary, but they occasionally have sales. Lucy has the Noah’s Art blanket and accessories.
UppaBaby Vista Stroller and Car Seat. This is a huge splurge. My mom gifted us the stroller, bassinet, and Mesa car seat when I was in my second trimester and I am so appreciative. It’s like the Rolls-Royce of strollers and while I couldn’t stop thinking about it after taking it for a spin around Buy Buy Baby, I also couldn’t justify the price. Lucy slept in the bassinet for the first month and we took her back and forth to her grandparents’ house in it. We have the Henry blue and I love the color. We never used the bassinet on the stroller and opted to use the infant insert instead ($39). Side note: Lucy just outgrew the Mesa car seat, so keep that in mind if you don’t want to have to replace it with a convertible car seat later. We just purchased a Clek Fllo after a recommendation from a friend. I also looked at Mockingbird strollers as a more affordable option, so that is worth investigating if you’re looking for an alternative.
Land’s End monogrammed tote. This is what I use for Lucy when we’re out and about. It’s not your typical diaper bag, it’s not too feminine, and Lucy can use it when she’s older. $30
Loververy subscription. We look forward to this every two months and Lucy has loved the activities so far. The items in each developmental box are selected for your baby’s age. We loved the magic tissues and ball in the 5 to 6 months box. Kits start at $36 a month.
VERDICT IS STILL OUT
Bottles. This is a total crap-shoot. Whether you plan to breastfeed or do formula, you’re going to need bottles. Lucy hated the glass Dr. Brown bottles, but she liked the tall plastic ones. This is a trial and error process to find the one that your baby will like, so I suggest only buying one at a time until you find the ONE.
Ubbi diaper pail. I have a love hate relationship with this thing. You have to touch the handle to put the diaper in the pail, so I am constantly sanitizing the handle. If you overfill the trash bag, it can be a real challenge to get the bag out. I do like that the Ubbi uses standard size trash bags, so you don’t need to buy special bags to fit. We will see if I cave and move our old hands-free Simple Human trash can into the nursery before Lucy turns one.
Sleep sound machine. We never bought one and Lucy seems to sleep well without it. Again, not sure if it would help and I might eventually get her the Hatch sound machine, especially when she is older since it can be programmed to teach toddlers when it’s time to get up.
Pacifiers. Lucy will not do a pacifier, so I recommend waiting to see if your baby likes them before stocking up. I didn’t buy any in advance, so the only one that went to waste was the pacifier they sent us home with from the hospital.
OVERRATED (IN MY OPINION)
The Snoo. I know this is a controversial one, but I honestly don’t understand the hype. If you can afford to fork over the $1,395, then go for it. You can only use it for the first few months and then you start over with the sleep training process once you move your little one to a crib.
Dock-a-tot. It looks like an expensive pillow to me. We have the $32 Boppy and it works just fine.
Bottle sanitizer and bottle warmer. Again, we don’t have much kitchen space, but I didn’t miss either of these items. The mug with warm water trick works when we’ve had to warm a bottle.
Changing table. We have a trundle bed in the nursery and we use it to change Lucy. I keep a changing pad on top of the duvet and move it to wherever I need to change her.
Wipe warmer. Seems unnecessary and using a cold wipe to wake a newborn is actually helpful when you have to feed them during the night those first few weeks.
Baby Merlin suit. This was recommended by several people and I never bought one. It’s like a Ralphie snowsuit that the baby wears to bed to prevent them from rolling and I worried about Lucy overheating. I’m not a sleep expert, but I tried to limit the amount of “tools” we used to prevent having to introduce items and then eventually take it away. $40
Bouncers and swings. It’s mostly a space issue in our house, but also saved money and prevented us from accumulating too many things.
Baby food makers. So far, I’ve used my Vitamix for purees. You can also use a mini food processor. I’m all about kitchen gadgets that serve multiple purposes.
Blankets and clothes. People love to give you both. It doesn’t get much cuter than baby clothes, but it was one thing I didn’t register for because I knew people would buy clothes for Lucy either way. We received lots of cute things, but babies don’t need much and Lucy outgrew a lot of it. If you do buy baby clothes as a gift, I’d recommend buying a larger size to ensure it actually gets worn!