At this very moment I know eight women who are pregnant.
That’s a whole lotta babies, folks! And most of these ladies are expecting their first child, which brings a different and exciting level of anticipation. It also brings a whole different level of wondering, “what the heck do I need to have on hand when this little person arrives and moves in for-ev-er?!”
There are so many stinkin’ baby products out there, and the amount of choice is overwhelming, especially when a pregnant mind is already bogged down with thoughts about so many things. I’ve had a few of my pregnant friends email or text me with questions about my favorite items, so I figured it might be worth sharing my thoughts and top picks here, particularly for anyone living in a big city or with limited space.
If you’re expecting (congrats!), I hope this is helpful. If you’re shopping for a friend or family member and an item from this list makes you the shining star at an upcoming baby shower, well, you can thank me later.
To frame this list, let me start by saying that a newborn really only needs a few key things — to be fed, to be clean, to be clothed, to get sleep, and to be loved. Parenting can get very complicated very quickly, but I think keeping things as simple as possible benefits both parents and children. So here are my favorite picks to support each key need…
BABY GEAR TOP PICKS
To Be Fed
I chose to breastfeed Jameson (and boy, the first several weeks were rough!), so my recommendations on this topic are limited to nursing items.
- A boppy pillow can be a great assistance to position the baby for latching and can be used for development as the baby grows (tummy time, napping, sitting up). Up the style factor with a cute cover from Etsy, like this one.
- The Medela Double Pump was huge for allowing me to pump relatively quickly and enable Jordan or other people to feed Jameson. This is covered by most insurance companies so check with yours before buying.
- I didn’t have one, but I’d also suggest a Medela Manual Pump, that you can take with you in a small purse and use if you happen to need some quick relief from full breasts and you’re away from baby. No lie — I recently went to the Drake concert at Madison Square Garden, and one of my girlfriends who is nursing stepped away for a quick minute to relieve some pressure, lol. And who says moms can’t go out and have fun? :-)
- Nursing pads are a must, because the last thing you want is to be out somewhere and to look down and see big milk stains on your shirt. #notcute #callmecow
To Be Clean
- When people say things like, “You can never have enough diapers,” boy, they ain’t neva lied. My cousins made us a huge diaper cake, and that gift was everything. Our hospital used Pampers Swaddlers, and we stuck with them, but whether it’s disposable or cloth, it’s just a matter of using what works best for you.
- If diaper rash becomes an issue, Boudreaux’s Buttpaste (All Natural) is worthy of all the hype.
- Baby bathtubs can take up a ton of space, which is something we don’t have much of here in NYC. So we started off with the Puj Tub, which we were able to fit in a carry-on suitcase when we traveled and hang up on the back of our bathroom door when it wasn’t in use. Once Jameson got bigger, we switched to this tub, which collapses flat and can also be hung on a shower rod or door. We store it under our clawfoot tub.
- For those inevitable diaper blowouts that legit have you wondering how such mess could be produced by such a tiny, cute package — OxiClean gel sticks work miracles. I’m convinced every home with a baby should have one.
To Be Clothed
- Baby clothes are adorable, and people love to buy them. I typically suggest people go light on the amount of clothes they register for, because people will buy you clothes even when that’s not what you’ve asked for, particularly if they know the gender of the baby. And you’ll get adorable stuff, like the bathrobe Jameson has on in this photo.
- Basic onesies are good to have, and the ones from Carter’s tend to be rated high in terms of feel, cost, and quality. Just note they tend to run small or TTS, so start with some in the newborn to six-month-old range.
To Get Sleep
- Like most people, we had Jameson sleeping in our room at night for the first few months of his life, because it made attending to his needs in the middle of the night easier for everyone. Our stroller came with a bassinet and a stand, so he slept in that. For people with a small space, I think a pack n’ play with a bassinet attachment is a great solution that will cut down on things to store/buy.
- When Jameson took naps during the day, he would hang in the living room or kitchen in this rocker. It came in handy and was easy to move around the apartment.
- We’re big fans of swaddling babies when they sleep, because it helped Jameson sleep so well. These aden + anais muslin blankets are lightweight and great for swaddling and a ton of other uses (keeping baby warm, wiping up a mess, etc). Swaddling with a blanket can take some practice, so when the baby gets a little bigger, SwaddleMe’s are the perfect no-skill-required solution.
- When Jameson was particularly fussy, holding him as we bounced on an exercise ball was incredibly soothing and helpful in getting him to sleep. We may or may not have bought one for the children’s ministry department at church so that
Jamesonall the infants could use it.
- From early on Jameson liked ocean wave white noise, so we would play it from an iPad on repeat through the night. We still use it, and it helps with drowning out the inevitable NYC siren or the loud laughter of visitors. I honestly missed the white noise when he moved from our room to his room.
To Be Loved
- You’ll of course have your own special way of loving your baby like no one else can. In addition to that, putting the baby in a carrier of some kind can really help with the bonding process and helping them feel soothed/secure. When Jameson was really small, we used a wrap carrier, like the Boba Wrap. The wrap carriers can be tricky, but watching a few YouTube videos helps with that. Whenever he went in the wrap carrier, it was lights out for that dude.
- When he got bigger, I switched to an Ergobaby carrier, which I still use, and he loves. I also have a ring sling which can be great for times around the house when he wants to be close, but I still need free hands.
And finally, a couple notes on books I read…
- I started out with the quintessential read, What to Expect When You’re Expecting, but I actually stopped reading it before getting halfway through. The book is thorough, but perhaps too much so in telling you everything that could go wrong during your pregnancy. The amount of detail might not bother you, but it made me pretty anxious, so I put it down.
- Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth – I didn’t end up having a natural childbirth, but I still feel like reading the birth stories in this book helped me go into labor as prepared as I could be and way less nervous.
- Jordan and I loooove our sleep, so we prayed for Jameson to be a good sleeper (among other things), and I read a ton of books about sleep. My favorites are Cherish the First Six Weeks: A Plan that Creates Calm, Confident Parents and a Happy, Secure Baby and The Baby Sleep Solution: A Proven Program to Teach Your Baby to Sleep Twelve Hours aNight. Just remember that your ability/quality as a parent never hinges on how well your baby sleeps. Some stuff is outside of your control.
- We also followed the instructions from The Happiest Baby on the Block DVD, which is where we learned all about swaddling and white noise.
- And though it’s somewhat controversial, I enjoyed reading Bringing Up Bébé: One American Mother Discovers the Wisdom of French Parenting, mainly for the idea it presents about babies being little people who are capable of learning a whole lot. I like this book for the way it argues that babies should fit into the existing family structure as opposed to parents making every accommodation for the baby.
So that’s my list!
For any parents out there — what would you add? For those expecting — anything you want to know more about?
Tanya VelardoAugust 24, 2016 at 8:33 am
“We may or may not have bought one for the children’s ministry department at church so that (Jameson) all the infants could use it.” LOL………
Jessica RiceAugust 24, 2016 at 10:42 am
Alisa (Stephens) ShieldsAugust 24, 2016 at 10:24 am
Great list! Wish I’d known about those apartment-friendly tubs. One thing I’d add is the Nose Frida. That saved us with the early colds, especially after starting daycare. And saline spray.
Jessica RiceAugust 24, 2016 at 10:41 am
Yes! The Nose Frida is a great addition!
chelsea jacobsAugust 24, 2016 at 12:26 pm
I loved Bringing Up Bebe for the same reasons!
Ma RiceAugust 24, 2016 at 4:45 pm
I wish we had this stuff when I was having babies – you young mothers are blessed! And I must have that picture of Jameson in the bathrobe – it is too cute for words!
Jessica RiceSeptember 2, 2016 at 10:28 pm
It’s true – there’s every gadget you could think of! I’ll send you a quality version of the pic. :-)
Sherri CurtisAugust 25, 2016 at 1:57 pm
Jessica – I love this list and hope you don’t mind me sharing on my facebook page (as I too know a lot of new moms)! The Rock n Play sleeper saved my life with my son. Before we bought it, he didn’t sleep longer than 20 minutes lol
Jessica RiceSeptember 2, 2016 at 10:28 pm
Thanks, Sherri! And I don’t mind you sharing at all. Those rock n plays really do have magical powers. :-)
CarolineAugust 26, 2016 at 4:35 pm
Thank you! -1 of 8 :)
Jessica RiceSeptember 2, 2016 at 10:27 pm
Ooooh, I can’t wait to meet your bundle of joy!