I’m lucky to have a handful of friends pregnant with their first baby, and I’m feeling blessed that they’re asking me for advice with their registries.
(It makes the know-it-all side of me very happy, but mostly I love sharing what I know so others don’t have to do the trial-and-error thing.)
As I’ve reviewed their registries and provided advice, I’ve noticed a few things that are usually missing, mostly because noobs just don’t realize they’ll need these things. I asked my mom friends to weigh in too. I took the greatest hits and made this little ol’ list.
**NOTE: Take these recommendations with a grain of salt! Diff’rent strokes for diff’rent folks, and more importantly, every baby is different.
Here’s my list of “you don’t know it yet, but you’ll want this” items for New Moms — some are predictable “duh” items, but others may be a little unexpected. And a list of “you really don’t need this crap” stuff thrown in for good measure.
1. A memory foam bath mat
You’ll probably use the sink to bathe baby at first, but after a few months, Baby will get too big for the sink, and it’s easier to bathe them in a baby tub placed inside the big tub. Once you make the move, you’ll find yourself kneeling beside the bathtub and lamenting your poor, aching knees for, oh… about two years.
Peanut is 20 months and I am still kneeling while I wash/rinse her hair, scrub her wittle face, and soap up my hands for what we call “The Credit Card” (cleaning her baby butt crack). Kneeling on linoleum = not cool. Having an inch of memory foam to cushion your kneecaps = teh awesome.
Yes, they sell little “kneeling pads” for bath time, but they’re tiny. You will be quickly chasing a toddler from end to end in that tub, so you need more kneeling space. Buy a 32-inch or longer memory foam bath mat and your knees can thank me later.
2. White short-sleeve onesies — in sizes from 0-3 to 24 months
With the exception of the hottest summer months, these puppies are amazingly useful for a LONG time (hence the recommendation to register for two years’ worth of sizes!). Get the ones with snuggle-in neck for easy on/off. I personally prefer Carter’s, because they are thicker and softer, but they’re also more expensive. Gerber brand onesies gets the job done too, and much cheaper, but keep in mind that they run really small, so don’t buy many in 0-3 size. Your kiddo will be out of them in no time. You can probably skip NB sizes completely if you buy Gerber.
3. Wipe-clean crumb catcher bibs
These seem odd when you’re pre-baby. But the tiny little cotton bibs you probably registered for are only practical for slobber, and when it comes to real food, they’re only good for a short time (you’ll also need a bunch of them since they’ll be in the wash a lot). The bigger wipe-clean bibs will be useful for much longer, and don’t need laundered very often. I say just cut to the chase and register for the good ones now. I like the Bumkins Waterproof Superbib.
4. A cheap swing that travels easily
It’s true that some babies hate swings. But if you plan to have more than one kid, the chances that at least one will dig the swing is good, so just go ahead and get it while someone else will foot the bill (yes, I said it).
I’m a firm believer that you don’t need the Cadillac of baby swings. Babies don’t give a crap. They just like the motion. If you have a Swing Lover on your hands, the swing might be one of the few places they’re actually happy. When that happens, you’ll want to take it everywhere you go. A giant swing with a seven-foot wingspan can’t easily go to your mother-in-law’s for the weekend. I recommend the open-top style — it’s affordable, travels easily, and you can probably find it dirt cheap at a garage sale. I found this Fisher-Price swing and seat for $20 barely used.
5. A Humidifier
We didn’t think to register for this (dammit!). But we use it so much that we’ve already killed one and are on to our second. We run it in Peanut’s room every night in the winter to keep her little sinuses from getting too dry.
Personally we prefer warm mist, because we live in the frigid midwest, and it warms the room a couple of degrees. We need all the help we can get to keep her room comfortable when it’s -15 outside. But if your toddler can escape the crib, it’s time to nix warm mist (there’s a burn risk). We also like the humidifier that takes the Vicks Vaposteam disks for when baby has a cold. It’s a good idea to keep a cool mist on hand for summer months, because those damn colds come in the summer, too. Urgh. This Vicks one came highly recommended by a friend who used to market humidifiers.
6. A Dog
This is kind of a joke… but honestly, if you already have a furry best friend, you’ll be shocked at how useful puppy becomes once your little one begins eating solid food.
My friend has a son just a few months older than Peanut. When he talks about his son taking a fistful of pears and squeezing them, then flinging them across the room, I silently give thanks for my dog. He’d have that biznass licked up in a flash.
Added bonus: Puppy’s poop-sniffing ability will also help to detect dirty diapers! (He may also eat those diapers if you leave them out, but hey, you gotta take the good with the bad.)
I am lucky enough to have a crazy toddler who loves having her nose suctioned with the bulb syringe. But most kids hate it. Their squirming makes it hard to use the bulb syringe, so many moms swear by the NoseFrida, powered by your very own super-capacity lungs! When I asked my mom friends for advice on must-haves, several said the NoseFrida was top of their list. Buy this puppy at Target, Amazon, and lots of other places.
Now, if sucking snot grosses you out (it shouldn’t; there’s a lot more offensive stuff in Babyland, but maybe you’re snotophobic?), the alternative is to use a bulb syringe. Listen carefully: TAKE THE BULB SYRINGE THEY GIVE YOU AT THE HOSPITAL WITH YOU WHEN YOU LEAVE! You will never find a bulb syringe that works as well as the hospital ones. Better yet, ask for a second one too. Otherwise, when your dog eats it (or your neighbor’s dog eats it while you’re dogsitting), you’re stuck begging your nurse friends to “liberate” bulb syringes from the maternity ward for you. I speak from experience.
8. Cloth Diapers for Burp Rags
Nothing sucks more than a burp rag that doesn’t absorb spit-up. The best ones are made from ghetto Gerber cloth diapers. If you can’t stand the plainness, pretty them up with ribbon or something, but don’t go overboard. This is an item who’s sole use is mopping up barf.
Pre-baby, I liked my house dark at night. I wasn’t up in the wee hours very often except to pee.
Post-baby, I suddenly found myself needing to navigate the house at 3am without banging into furniture or falling down the stairs. Keeping the lights off helps baby establish a day/night rhythm, so the nightlights are key to avoid turning lights on during middle-of-the-night feedings.
I bought 4 or 5 basic nightlights and sprinkled them throughout the house — kitchen, bathroom, and the path from our room to Peanut’s room. We kept a really faint green nightlight in her room to help us see her in the crib, and for diaper changes in the dark.
We use them less now that she’s sleeping through the night, but they were lifesavers in the beginning.
10. Lansinoh Breast Pads
If you plan to breastfeed, or even if you don’t, you’ll need something to soak up the milk flood (or to catch drips after feedings) without giving you that “College Student in a Wet T-shirt Contest” look. I tried several brands, and these are my favorite disposable ones. They’re slightly cupped, making them less likely to show through your bra, and have two little adhesive strips (many have just one) so they stay where ya put ’em. Awesomeness. Buy in bulk on Amazon. For reusable ones, I like these.
And now… drum roll please!
Crap You Probably Don’t Need
First, since when is getting your ass wiped supposed to be pleasant? Second, these often turn your wipes crusty and can make the wipes at the bottom dry out, which wastes your hard-earned money. I say skip it.
This is like the Amway of diaper storage systems. Once you have one, you’re locked in for life. It only uses Diaper Genie brand bags. I much prefer the Diaper Champ, which works with any ol’ garbage bag.
A Changing Table
I heard this from a few moms and I personally agree. We used a twin bed as our changing table, and still do. It was a little rough in the very beginning, because of the leaning over (and my mother-in-law hated it!), but I’m glad now that we have such a big surface to change her on. Many moms set a changing pad on the floor, eliminating all “roll-off” risk. Especially if your baby’s room is on another level of your house! Get a basket to fill with essentials (diapers, wipes, rash cream, plastic bags for blowouts) and keep it in the most-trafficked room of your house. You won’t want to be running upstairs to change diapers all the time.
Okay, other moms out there. Time to rip me apart. Everyone has their opinions on this stuff, so let me hear yours. What am I way off base on, in your opinion? What did I forget? Leave it in the comments and help a sister out. 🙂