20 Newborn Essentials
After a major health scare and emergency surgery, I’m soooo happy to report that Kai turns four-weeks old today – and is doing GREAT. Sam and I, on the other hand, are still recovering from such an emotional rollercoaster! Speaking of which, we are so appreciative of all of the support we got – both in real life and on social media. Your support and love means the world and helped us get through a very tough time. So, thank you from the bottom of our hearts.
Being a mommy for four weeks does not make me a baby expert. But I do feel like I’ve learned quite a bit after our short time with this little dude. Before he was born, I found lots of mixed messages online about what you need vs. don’t need in the first few months of baby’s life. The diapers and wipes, car seat, and adorable little outfits are obvious. But let’s be clear: you’ll need a lot more stuff to help you survive the newborn stage! While it’s all very fresh in my mind, I’ve put together a roundup of our most loved items these past few weeks. Every baby is different, but here’s a look at what’s worked for us:
(for sleepy time)
1. Bassinest Swivel Sleeper Bassinet – We’re living with my parents to save some money after our big move, so we don’t have a separate nursery for Kai. In the interest of saving space, we opted out of purchasing most of the typical baby furniture, but focused on finding a solid co-sleeper instead. After scouring online reviews, we chose the Bassinest. It’s sort of like a traditional bassinet that sits alongside the bed, but it has some really nice bonus features including vibration, night light, music, swivel rotation and more. So far, it’s been worth every penny.
2. Fisher Price Baby Bouncer – A friend gave us her baby bouncer, and I couldn’t be more grateful. This wasn’t a product we registered for, but it’s been a saving grace. The Bassinest is too heavy to carry in and out of the bedroom, but the bouncer is really easy to transport. We carry it to the kitchen, living room (even the bathroom!) when we need to. Plus, Kai sleeps really well in it (something about the combination of the slight upright motion plus the vibration).
3. Summer Velcro Swaddlers – We had heard all about the benefits of swaddling, but the swaddle blanket vs. velcro swaddlers debate was a little confusing pre-baby. Turns out that for us, the velcro swaddlers are a saving grace. We started out with 1 pack and have actually bought a few more just so that we don’t have to stress about doing laundry as often. I can’t recommend these swaddlers enough.
4. Aden + Anais Swaddle Blankets – Although we opt to use the velcro swaddlers at night, these Aden + Anais swaddle blankets are literally the perfect blanket for warm Hawaii weather. They are breathable and super soft, and we use them literally every day – whether we’re covering the car seat or wrapping Kai up on the bouncer.
5. Baby Shusher – Sam rolled his eyes when we received the shusher as a baby gift. A machine that makes the shhhh noise that humans can make? Lame, right? Um, no. At 2am when your baby has been screaming for 2 hours and your back is tired from walking laps around the living room and your lips are about to go numb from shhhhing, this little handheld device will be your new best friend. The shusher has turned into Sam’s favorite item.
(for mom’s recovery)
6. Hydroflask Water Bottle – The minute I became pregnant, I turned into a thirst machine. I literally couldn’t drink enough water. Things haven’t changed that much after giving birth. And it’s more important than ever to stay hydrated to facilitate recovery as well as lactation. Sam and I are both currently obsessed with our hydroflask water bottle, which keeps water ice cold (even on a hot Hawaii day).
7. Perineal Cold Packs – I’m going to spare you the gory details (you’re welcome). Let’s just say that birthing a baby that was almost 10 pounds left me with some serious recovery time. The hospital gave me perineal cold packs during my stay, but only sent me home with a few. I ordered a whole box on Amazon and couldn’t have been happier with my decision.
8. Snacks – It goes without saying that keeping your body nourished helps with the recovery of labor and birth, but it’s way easier said than done. I can assure you that cooking dinner will no longer be your #1 priority (as if it was before baby). I stocked up on some healthy(ish) snacks including trail mix and granola bars for those moments where I needed to eat but couldn’t spare 30 minutes to actually make a meal. These snacks are also perfect for middle-of-the-night nursing sessions when you’re utterly exhausted but need a little boost.
9. Lansinoh Thera Pearl 3-in-1 Breast Therapy – I’m going to be honest with you: nursing is hard! The process hasn’t been as smooth (or pain-free) as I imagined, so I’ve gotten a lot of use out of these Lansinoh therapy packs. These gel pads are reusable and can be heated or frozen. Either way, they provide some much needed relief. Just trust me on this one.
10. Lansinoh Soothies Gel Pads – Did I mention that nursing is hard? When your little peanut needs to eat every 2 hours, 24 hours a day, I can assure you that your nipples pay a price. Especially over the first few weeks. But these gel pads really do provide relief. I recommend picking up a pack (or 2!).
11. MotherLove Nipple Cream – I don’t think this one needs explaining, other than me reiterating that nursing is hard! I tried a few different types of creams, but this one was far and away the best.
12. Bob’s Red Mill Oatmeal – It takes a few days to actually start producing milk, but there are some ingredients that can help get things kickstarted. Oatmeal is one of them. I was told that it also helps increase supply, which was important for me as I had trouble keeping up with the demand once Kai had his surgery and was starting to heal.
13. Motherhood Clip Down Nursing Cami – I LIVED in these nursing tanks when we first got home from the hospital. Wait, who am I kidding… I’m wearing one right now. They’re nothing fancy, but believe me, you won’t be worried about making a fashion statement. And if you haven’t already, make sure to invest in some nursing bras, too. Because eventually you’ll want to leave the house.
14. My Brest Friend Nursing Pillow – We have two different nursing pillows: Boppy and My Brest Friend. The Boppy seems to be more transitional as the baby grows, but I’m finding that My Brest Friend makes nursing much easier as the pillow doesn’t slide around. And that’s worth everything right now. I’d also recommend investing in an extra cover in case your baby ends up being a pro at projectile spit-ups like Kai.
15. Skip Hop Duo Signature Diaper Bag – We’ve spent a lot more time outside the house than I originally expected, because of issues with nursing and Kai’s weight, and then the surgery and hospital stay. All that time back and forth between the pediatrician and hospital made me grateful we had invested in such a practical (and unisex!) diaper bag.
16. Netflix – I wasn’t a huge Netflix person pre-Kai. Sam loves movies, but I usually feel too busy to find the time to sit and watch shows for hours on end. WELL. That has changed. My iPad has a new home at our nursing station, and it’s permanently open to the Netflix app. Watching cheesy romantic comedies is the perfect mindless distraction, especially when pumping.
17. Graco Pack N’ Play – As I mentioned earlier, we’re limited on space for baby gear. Instead of investing in a changing table, we opted to get a Pack N’ Play system that’s a bit more multi-functional. We chose the deluxe version which includes a changing pad setup. It was worth every penny for us. We only spend, like, every 30 minutes of our day there.
18. Gerber Side Snap Mitten Cuffs Shirt – We have a lot of friends with slightly older kids, and were fortunate to get a ton of adorable hand-me-down clothes. That said, we haven’t spent much thought or money on Kai’s wardrobe. With the exception of one thing: snap shirts. If your baby could only have 1 piece of clothing, this would be it. As you might imagine, these shirts snap in the front so you don’t have to struggle with pulling clothing over baby’s head. Plus, the hand covers are amazing. Baby’s nails are crazy sharp, and those little hand mitts simply don’t stay on. Kai has been living in snap shirts, diapers, and swaddle blankets. Who needs pants, really?
19. Baby Diary App – This app saved our lives, especially during our first few days home before our routine was established. The app records data and sends reminders for just about everything baby-related, from nursing times to medicine reminders for mom. Typically I wouldn’t need an app to run my life, but being sleep-deprived and physically exhausted can really mess with your head! It’s a free download, so just do it.
20. Boon Grass and Stem Bottle Drying Rack – I had every intention of breastfeeding exclusively. But due to some difficulties producing enough milk early on, I ended up having to rely on pumping and supplementing with formula. We were completely unprepared for this scenario, but quickly invested in all the bottles and nipple supplies. Most important of all? The drying rack. I had no idea how many times a day I’d be washing and re-washing the same items.