Ah, newborns. Those squishy, adorable, cuddly little pieces of magic. Before having a newborn, I couldn't have imagined the love, the poop or the lack of sleep that I inevitably came face to face with. In those early days of trial and error, I quickly developed my own set of necessities. The things that made my life just a little bit easier and helped me keep my sanity slightly more intact. I know everyone has their own list, but here is mine. I hope you find it helpful!
My top 10 newborn essentials:
1. A moveable sleep spot. Get a Fisher Price Rock and Play (and while you're at it, register for the one that actually rocks by itself. It's more expensive, but I really wish we had done that!) It's super light so it can move around your house with you while the baby sleeps throughout the day, it has an incline so it's good for spitting up and/or colic and/or general mommy-fears of choking. My little guy slept in this until he was four months or so; I just put it next to my side of the bed for easy nighttime access for nursing. The less expensive one that we have vibrates, which is great, but I would often rock it myself because damn. Infants just want to move.
2. A good swaddle assist. For a tiny infant the Summer Infant Swaddle Mes are great. These helped my baby sleep when he was really young. The "Halo" sleep sacks and swaddles were waaaaaay too big for him for the first few months. The Summer Infant swaddles were great and since it was winter when he was a newborn, we'd put him in a onesie, swaddle and then actually swaddle him in a blanket too. Like a little sleepy cocoon.
3. A go-to soother. Before becoming a mama, I read countless articles and blog posts that literally made me feel like if I gave my newborn a pacifier I might as well just give up right then and there because how DARE I even consider it?! I was also scared shitless about "nipple confusion", i.e. if you give you infant a pacifier, they'll get confused and refuse to nurse. After living through newbornhood myself, I officially call bull shit on both. Babies know the difference because a warm, milk-giving boob attached to their mom and a plastic fake that their exhausted parents try to trick them with to go to sleep. My son loves the "Wubbanubs" and has used them since he was little. And honestly, he doesn't use them that much, just when he needs it to sleep or soothe himself (this is still key for successful car rides.) We tried the super expensive, super natural ones that are made out of tree bark and fairy dust but he literally spat it out in my face. The wubbanubs are great now too because they double as toys and he's starting to actually hold them and cuddle with the little animal when he needs something to soothe him. So basically, do you thing, pacifier or not. But really, don't let anyone tell you that you're a bad parent or risking your child's good eating habits if you give a pacifier. Those people aren't up at 2am trying to get a screaming infant back to sleep.
4, 5 & 6. Clothing that doesn't require waging a major battle to put on. Ah, newborn clothing. The bane of my husband's existence. We've really loved H&M baby clothes. They're inexpensive and the sizing is much more nuanced (0-1 months, 1-2 months, 2-4 months) so you can find stuff that actually FITS your baby. A lot of their baby stuff is from their "H&M conscious" organic cotton line, which is always really nice and super soft. They have two types of onesies that I couldn't recommend enough: wrapover bodysuits and sleeveless bodysuits. They have them in lots of colors/styles, but just stocking up on white for the beginning would totally be worth it. I cannot stress enough how AWESOME the wrapover onesies are for young babies (especially for Daddy's trying to get the hang out dressing a screaming, squirming baby). Not having to pull something over a super young baby's head is like magic. The sleeveless onesies are also much easier to put on than typical short sleeved onesies just because you don't have to deal with the sleeve issue. Seriously. It seems like a small thing, but its key. H&M also has great little footed tights that are awesome for throwing on small babies and not having to worry about socks.
7. Diaper delivery: do it if you can! I tried a million different "natural" diapers (literally almost every brand) and I didn't hate any to be honest. It's much more about sizing and the shape of your baby. My baby hasn't been able to really do cloth diapers because he's so narrow and skinny. So I ended up doing the Honest Diaper bundle. It's about $80/month and you get most of the diapers you'll need for the month and wipes. It's kind of pricey, but I sometimes find coupons (and they sometimes give you awesome freebies like pretty nursing scarves!) Bottom line is that for a busy mama, it's amazing to get the diapers delivered every month AND the diapers are adorable (and don't have that aggressive smell of Pampers or Huggies.) The monthly charge is sometimes still hard to swallow, but for me personally, it's worth it for the peace of mind I get knowing I have a stash of tried and true diapers and wipes at all times!
8. A bottle for Daddy. So here's my truth: Nursing is amazing and magical and also the most draining and isolating thing ever. It creates a situation where your baby is wholly dependent on you and it can be really hard for Dad (especially at the beginning.) I would definitely recommend getting a breast pump (you should have this covered by insurance) so that after some period of time you can pump and someone else (i.e. your husband or partner) can feed the baby. I think its important for Daddy- bonding and for Mama- maintaining sanity. I'll talk more about my Medela pump in another blog post, but I used these Dr. Browns bottles for when our little guy was a newborn and I really recommend them. The glass makes them easy to clean well and my son never had issues with colic or gas.
9. Get yourself a kick ass stroller. If you have a family member or friend looking to get you a big ticket item, make it a stroller. I got the Bumbleride Indie stroller and I absolutely LOVE IT. It's an all-terrain stroller, but it's SUPER lightweight, folds up easily and is super portable. It also has an enormous sun canopy, is made of eco-friendly fabric and is perfect for infants right off the bat because it's both car seat compatible AND completely reclines. Seriously. It's amazing. My advice is to get a stroller and use it a lot. Fussy babies will often do a 180 once they're outside, and getting out for a walk will help you feel just that liiiiiiittle bit more like a normal adult when you're in the midst of newborn-mania.
10. And finally. My advice on a baby carrier: get one. Quickly. We have the Ergo baby performance carrier; I found it on sale at Zulily. There are lots of good carriers, but it's so worth getting one that you can put an infant in (i.e. that has a good infant insert like the Ergo) and I'd recommend going for something with a breathable fabric so both you and your baby are more comfortable. Having a solid carrier was another key for Daddy when our little guy was a newborn. It became my husband's "thing" to put the baby in the carrier and go for walks. Our son would go right to sleep and it was awesome for Daddy to have some alone time with him. It's also awesome for getting outside (because seriously those first few weeks can make you feel like a hermit). We use it all the the time to go on trail walks or beach walks and I stick my son in it now and vacuum the house sometimes. So add a carrier to your list for sure!
These are my essentials for surviving infant-hood! What are yours?
In the coming weeks, I'll share my top 10 new mama essentials!
Hi! I'm Erin.
I'm a working mama, wife, writer and owner of a little red house. I'm trying to sort through the noise and live a life that is genuine, happy and grounded in simplicity.