Full disclosure: I have an ulterior motive for writing this article. I am about to become a mom for the first time. I’ve read all the books and purchased a mind-boggling number of baby items, but I still feel woefully underprepared for my baby’s arrival. I have this recurring dream in which we bring home the baby only to find that we literally have nothing ready for his arrival. No diapers, no crib…we purchased not even one little pacifier in my dream. All the books I’ve read were great, but there’s nothing like advice from real moms who have been there. These are the must-have products real moms never knew they needed but can’t live without.
You’re told “breast is best.” But no one tells you how hard breastfeeding can be. These products are must-haves for nursing.
Nursing Pillow Imagine snuggling a medium-sized bowling ball against your chest every two hours for at least 30 minutes. That’s what it’s like to breastfeed a newborn baby. Give your arms and upper back a rest with a nursing pillow. Kayla, a first-time mom, swears by My Brest Friend, which has a backrest for mom and a convenient pocket for nursing accessories. Other moms love the Boppy pillow. It’s great for nursing, but mom Ashley says, “I actually used my Boppy pillow regularly more so to support baby while playing versus nursing.” Holly, another first-time mom, says “My Boppy is my best friend for all those feedings and it has been great for propping him up, especially while we are traveling and away from swings, bouncers, and all those other goodies at home that let you put down your baby.” Breast Cups You’d never know there were so many breast-related accessories unless you start breastfeeding. A veteran mom of three recently sent me Medela SoftShells. They’re great for sore breasts and easily stick inside your bra. Pro tip: Stick these in your bra on the way to the hospital (if you can remember) to make latching for the first time a bit easier.
You’re told babies should sleep on their backs. But no one tells you exactly how to get your baby to sleep. Moms swear by these soothing sleep products.
Sleep Sacks and Swaddles Babies should always sleep on their backs on a firm surface to reduce the risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS). Loose blankets are a no-no for the same reason. First-time mom Leah recommends “sleep sacks! Light ones, warm ones, big ones, and small. We still use those things and probably will until she goes into a toddler bed. Buy them at consignment stores. Expensive, yo.” The Halo SleepSack is one brand all moms love. These sleep sacks allow baby to be swaddled safely, so they’ll sleep through the night. This mom below shows just how easy the Halo SleepSack is to get on your baby.
Not Just Any Pacifier You’ll quickly learn that despite having approximately 4.5 billion pacifiers around the house, your baby will prefer just one. If you can, make sure the pacifier your baby loves is the MAM Glow in the Dark pacifier. Ali, a mom of two, swears by the MAM because it is so easy to find when baby wakes at 2 a.m. “I would give up ALL my baby gear before this. It was a lifesaver for both kids.” White Noise Machine When the baby comes home, new moms usually try to make their baby’s sleep environment as silent as possible, but because the womb is such a loud place, babies are actually soothed by white noise. New mom Leah didn’t think they needed a white noise machine at first but quickly changed her mind: “It was one of those gifts we got where we sorta rolled our eyes. We have literally used it every night (and for naps) for months. Even take it on vacation.” Pro tip: If you have an Amazon Alexa, you can enable white noise sounds, like a fan, vacuum, or the ocean to play on an Alexa device in any room.
You’re told to get a diaper bag for travel. But no one tells you what to pack. These items are lifesavers on the go.
Not Just Any Diaper Bag Every mom knows that a diaper bag is a baby essential, but what you might not realize right away is that your diaper bag essentially becomes your purse for the next few years. Choose something functional, sure, but also choose a diaper bag that can be an accessory. I splurged on a Kate Spade diaper bag, and it was one of the best decisions I made. It might sound silly, but when you’re walking around with baby drool all over your shirt, it’s nice to feel put together with a fabulous bag. Disposable Pee Pads Our friend Dave recently sent us a giant pack of disposable pet pee pads, which he said were a must-have when he was a new dad. Babies (especially boys) will pee everywhere. Instead of swapping the cover on your changing table all the time, just lay down a pee pad first and toss it in the trash when you’re finished changing the baby’s diaper. These are also super handy to use in public restrooms, in the car, on a park bench…wherever your baby needs changing quickly. If you’d rather have something less disposable, veteran mom Christy recommends a diaper clutch that unfolds into a changing pad. “If I had to pick one thing I didn’t know I needed, that would be it.” Travel High Chair Mom Ashley says, “I highly suggest a small high chair that you can take anywhere and grow into a booster seat. That way you can take it anywhere and it saves room.” Travel high chairs like the Chicco 360 Hook On Highchair are great because they fold up neatly, easily fitting in the bottom basket of a stroller, and can be attached to almost any table quickly.
You’ve read all the registry guides, but no one tells you what’s actually useful. Moms share their must-haves for the first week home.
Wipe Warmer Do they make these for adults? A wipe warmer is one of the greatest inventions ever. No baby likes having their diaper changed, and who could blame them? A cold wipe on your bum can’t be pleasant. Wipe warmers are an inexpensive way to make diaper changing a pleasant experience for both mom and baby. NoseFrida The hospital will send you home with a traditional bulb syringe, which just collects all baby’s boogers until the end of time. Gross. Enter the NoseFrida. The NoseFrida is a more hygienic than a bulb syringe and has a disposable filter that can just be tossed in the trash when you’re done. Mom of three Jessica says, “It looks/sounds gross, but it is so good!” Add sucking your baby’s snot out with a syringe to the list of things you never thought you’d be doing. Ah, motherhood. Never Too Many Onesies Let me emphasize: You can never have too many simple white onesies. Babies poop. A lot. That poop does not always stay in their diaper, and you will have to change them a gazillion times a day. Instead of ruining adorable outfits at home, just throw another white onesie on and presto! Clean baby. Pro tip: Pam has the greatest tip for cleaning up baby blow-outs: “I didn’t learn until baby No. 2 that the necks of onesies are designed to pull down over the body if necessary, avoiding getting anything on the sweet baby head.” Yoga Ball New mom Beverly’s lifesaver? “A yoga ball for bouncing. I lived on it for four months.” That first week home, your baby needs to be fed every couple of hours. Between feedings, you might feel like all you get done is soothing your baby back to sleep. That’s why a yoga ball is a must-have. Babies love the bouncing motion, because it reminds them of the womb. Forget those swings with all the bells and whistles. A few minutes on the yoga ball, and your new baby will be soothed to sleep in no time.