I did so much research during my pregnancy trying to figure out the things I really needed for my newborn… and I still had a hard time deciding. Some things I wasn’t sure about I ended up loving, and some things I thought were must-haves have yet to be used. I've also found some small business brands I really love along the way. I figured there might be someone out there with similar questions, so I've compiled all my research and real-life experience into this post.
These are my honest, thorough, and unsponsored opinions on my 13 must-haves for a new baby. Prepare for information overload!
- Kekaroo Peanut Diaper Changing Pad – This changing pad is maybe my favorite baby item. Why do I love it so much? I LOVE that I can clean it with a wipe or a rag. I LOVE that it is nice and sturdy and I can move it around easily from room to room. I LOVE that it looks modern and has simple, clean design. I LOVE that it has room to grow. This changing pad is totally worth the splurge, and Ray hangs out on it all the time, not just during diaper changes.
- Boon Grass – If you are planning on pumping or using bottles at all, I highly recommend the Boon Grass (and twig) for drying purposes. I like having a totally separate space to let bottles and pump parts air dry, and the grass just makes me happy and looks so fun on my counter. P.S. I’ve tried a few and the Munchkin bottle brush is my favorite. The bristles aren’t too stiff, so it doesn’t spray everywhere when cleaning bottles.
- Board Books – Any will do, but I particularly love the BabyLit Book collection. In their words, “It’s a fashionable way to introduce your child to the world of classic literature.” They have a variety of color, number, shape, sound, etc. primers based on classic lit, and they brighten up our nursery! We also love their All Aboard! Series that hits on major cities and national parks. Some other favorites include: Goodnight, Gorilla, Little Pea, Big Red Barn, Jamberry, You Are My I Love You, Goodnight Moon, Brown Bear, Brown Bear, Alphaprints, and Dear Zoo. If you want any other book recommendations, give my mom a call. It’s never too early to start reading!
- Night Gowns – I really had no idea how many diapers I would be changing those first four weeks, and night gowns are nighttime diaper change’s saving grace! Who wants to deal with snaps at 3 AM? Not me! I have a few cute ones that I love (like this one from all snazzied up), but I ended up buying a few packs of the Gerber ones—their elastic isn’t too tight, they are nice and long, and I wouldn’t be too sad if Ray had a blow out while wearing one. These are on constant nighttime rotation.
- Marley’s Monsters Crinkle Paper – I adore this brand so I had to include them. They are all about ecofriendly solutions to many disposable products, but they also make these super cute little crinkle papers. It’s easy to throw in my diaper bag, and I can entertain Ray with it, just by setting it on top of him.
- Muslin Swaddles – These are basically the only blankets I use, and my two favorite brands are Little Unicorn and Modern Burlap. Both brands are bigger than the Aden and Anais ones I have, and they come in the most adorable prints. I like the muslin because it is light, which means it’s not too warm for South Florida life and Ray can get a kick out of kicking it off. We have around 15+ of these which I thought would be too many, but it’s the perfect amount. I can use it for a day, wipe up spit-up, drool, etc. throw it in the laundry, and have plenty more handy.
- Wildbird Ring Sling – Baby wearing really appealed to me during my pregnancy, and I debated for a long time between Wildbird and Solly Baby Wrap. Ultimately, I picked the ring sling because less fabric around me and baby seemed like it would be better for the climate I live in. It definitely took a few tries to figure it out, but now I love the sling and Ray sure seems to too. He slept soundly through two live theatre performances and multiple flights in it! I couldn’t have survived the airport without it.
- Augie and Lola Travel Changing Pad – Another brand that I love. This changing pad is the one I keep in my diaper bag. It’s a great size, it’s durable, it folds up nicely, and the fabric on the back just makes me happy. Seriously go check out all their cute fabric options. I also keep one of their wet bags in my diaper bag in case of emergency.
- Nursing Cover – This is a must! I have a Covered Goods cover and a Copper Pearl cover, and I love them both. (Covered Goods can be worn as a scarf, but Copper Pearl’s top opening is a little less wide… that’s the only difference I’ve noticed.) I love that they cover you in front and in back and stand firm against flailing baby arms so you can nurse worry-free. I’ve used them at restaurants, in the car, at church, at home, on the plane, in Yellowstone National Park… really anywhere. It does get a little warm when using it outside during summertime, but still worth it. I also LOVE using it as a car seat cover, especially when Ray was brand new. Having two is perfect.
- Tubby Todd Bath Soap and Lotion – During my pregnancy, I definitely became more aware of the less-than-great ingredients in some of the bath and beauty products I was using, so I turned to more natural brands. I figured if I did that for myself, I should for baby too! I was super excited to try the Tubby Todd brand, and it did not disappoint. It has a light, refreshing, happy scent, and every ingredient is 100% natural and extra gentle. We love bath time!
- Night Light – I’d highly recommend a night light of sorts for late night nursing sessions, especially in the first few weeks when you are still changing lots of diapers and getting baby’s latch figured out. I love our Munchkin Owl night light because it emits a very soft glow that’s perfect for seeing what’s going on, but doesn’t bother Ray or wake him up too much. It has a feature that shuts it off after 20 or so minutes which means one less thing you have to remember late at night. We also have two touch activated, battery-powered night lights that have come in handy.
- Freshly Picked Moccasins – I honestly didn’t think I’d get too much use out of these little mocs (their smallest size meant for newborns) because babies don’t really need shoes, but they have been worn on countless occasions! They stay on so much better than socks, they make me feel like Ray’s feet are warm and protected (from what… germs? who knows), and they are just too cute. Prepare to get so many compliments on these things. I know there are similar, cheaper mocs out there, but the quality of FP makes them worth the splurge. They are extremely well-made, easy to put on, and soft enough for little baby feet.
- Puj Baby Towel & Tub – Another great brand with solid products. If you plan on single-handedly bathing a slippery newborn, you should probably snag yourself a Puj Hug towel. It has interlocking silicone tabs that allow you to hook the towel around your neck so you can use both hands to pick up baby and get him in the towel. Hard to explain but totally ingenious. I purchased the Splash Gift set, and we have loved everything included. I even took the Puj Flyte tub with me to Montana, and it was perfect in our little cabin sink.
New Baby Gear Honorable Mentions
Below you’ll find more honest, thorough, and unsponsored opinions on several other items we use regularly. They may not be for everyone, but they work for us!
Newborn sized clothes & diapers – I wasn’t sure if I would need newborn size clothes or diapers because they just seem SO small, but I’m so glad I bought a few outfits. Ray wore them for the first 2-3 weeks, even though he was well past the 7lbs 17 in. limit that many tags suggested. The hospital stocked us with a few packages of newborn diapers, but I ended up needing to buy another box before our skinny-legged dude filled out a size one.
Shout – Two words: explosive poop. The bad news: it happens. The good news: most cute outfits can be saved with some stain remover.
First Aid Kit – Skip the cheap ones that are already put together for you. My friend (who happens to be a nurse) gave me a nice Tupperware box stocked with Motrin, gas relief drops, Bourdreaux Butt paste (great stuff), a thermometer (get one that can take baby’s temperature rectally), hand sanitizer, nail clippers, and more. It was a genius gift and is great to have on hand. P.S. If you are exclusively breastfeeding (EBF) there is a good chance your pediatrician will recommend that baby take Vitamin D drops, because they won’t be getting enough from your breastmilk and shouldn’t spend too much time in the sun.
Peepee Teepees -- Calling all boy moms! These things are equally adorable and hilarious, but they are definitely useful, if you remember to use them.
Lucy Darling Baby Book – For a simple, adorable way to keep track of fun milestones without too much work… these are the way to go. If I’m taking 1000 pictures a month, I better use some somewhere!
Little Unicorn Diaper Bag – Great quality, lots of pockets, classy look, survived me dumping an entire water bottle into it in the airport security line at 4:30 AM while also carrying Ray and a backpack… this thing has my stamp of approval.
Backseat Mirror – Driving Ray alone by far stressed me out more than anything else in new motherhood. If you’re anything like me, get a backseat mirror. We have an Eddie Bauer one, and it was difficult to attach and get set up right, but it serves its purpose.
mamaRoo – We received our mamaRoo seat as a gift and we LOVE it. In fact, Ray is sitting in his mamaRoo as I write this. It is so handy to have a secure place to put baby down for those times when you need both hands. Ray fallen asleep countless times to the soothing motion, and we use the white noise feature more often than I thought we would. Also, Ray is currently in love with the weird mobile attached to the chair and smiles at it more than anything else (including me). Is it a must-have? No. Do we love it and use it daily? Yes. The mamaRoo is perfect for our small, one-story space, however, if you want something you can easily move from room to room that is a bit more affordable, I’d recommend the Bjorn Bouncer, it gets the job done and conveniently folds up when you aren’t using it.
Chicco Lullago Bassinet – We’ve had Ray sleep in this little bassinet in our room, and it’s a solid purchase. Great height, folds up easily, good quality, simple design, doesn’t take too much space. My only con would be the sheet is very particular to the two-piece mattress, isn’t sold separately, and is technically hand-wash only. I’ve thrown it in the wash a few times, but I’m too scared to dry it… a little inconvenient, but overall, great for the price.
Britax B Agile Travel System – I did WAY TOO MUCH research on car seats and strollers. Ask Andrew. Or Jenn (I made her go test strollers in Provo for me). I really wanted the Uppababy because I like pretty things, lots of storage, the bassinet attachment, and the seat that could face either direction. Then I moved on to the Nuna Mixx because it was also pretty, had lots of storage, and was a little less expensive. Then, I accepted the fact that we are in medical school, and we got a great deal on our Britax travel system at Target. It’s also the lightest stroller we looked at and by far the easiest to fold, and after loading the stroller into our trunk multiple times a day for two months, I realize weight + ease >>> pretty. We love our Britax travel system: car seat is super easy to install with the base and our stroller has gotten plenty of use for those debating if you need a stroller in those early months.
P.S. If you’re flying southwest, they sell a travel bag at the check-in counter for $15 that fit our car seat, base, and stroller.
Ergobaby 360 – So far we’ve only used this three times… but I do like the added support and the sun shade feature. Until baby weighs 14 pounds, you have to use an additional infant insert, which was kind of tricky to figure out and get Ray comfortable in. I know we will get lots of use out of it eventually, but for the first few months, our ring sling has done the trick.
Monitor & White Noise Machine – This was something I didn’t need for the first few months, but now that Ray has started taking longer naps in his crib, these two things have really come in handy.
Other obvious things you’ll need: clothes (duh! I liked having a variety of onesies/pants and one piece outfits), burp cloths (lots! lots!), diapers (we like pampers swaddlers), wipes, pacifiers (Ray only likes MAM brand), pacifier clips, baby brush, bibs, wash cloths, hats/sunhats, socks, the basics!
Things I don’t have and haven’t needed or do have and haven’t used: Diaper pail, wipes warmer, changing table, more than one bottle (we got a free Munchkin Latch bottle by registering at Target), bottle warmer, nursing pillow, miracle blanket/special swaddler, receiving blankets, humidifier, nose frieda (I’ve heard such great things but just haven’t needed it yet!)
That's a wrap. If you have any questions, don't hesitate to ask. I'm not joking when I say I did too much research on almost every baby product out there, and I'm an open book. Like what you see? Feel free to pin or share the image below! Stay tuned for my New Mama Must-Haves if you want another round of way too much information.