Once upon a time, I went to the hospital on a beautiful day in Minneapolis. It was April 2014. I was in some pain, but mostly I was euphoric. He was on his way! Soon, we would be meeting the little man who would change our lives forever.
Of course, the planning had begun months before. Multiple baby showers, baby registries, and advice from dear and trusted friends had been carefully compiled and notated. Because little J was arriving on time (he was actually 6 days early, but close enough!) we felt ready to welcome him. The crib was constructed. The bottles were washed. We had been playing “crying baby” sounds for my dog and cat for weeks. My mother was on an airplane. Life was changing everywhere we looked.
Nothing really prepares you for a baby. As a mom, you glide into this deep, dreamy, hormonal, sleepless fog that can last for months. It is so beautiful, but it is also full of questions. Did I buy the right diaper cream? Do I need a warmer? Will he take a bottle? Will he take a pacifier?
Every baby is COMPLETELY different. I thought I could help out a little, however, by putting together my list for the Top 10 Tips and Products for bringing baby home. Some are just overarching suggestions. Others are specific items that we found to be lifesavers. What I think you’ll also find is that this list of suggestions will save you considerable money in the long run!
Top 10 Tips and Products for Bringing Home Baby
1. Keep the Receipts
It’s easy to assume that a baby will eventually use a bottle. Right? Kid #1 tried 6-7 different bottles before finally going with the basic Medela model. Kid #2 . . . she never took a bottle. EVER. Went straight from boob to straw, and that took over a year. So when I say keep the receipts, I mean do it for absolutely everything. Babies have opinions, and they will let you know what they like! To read more about our breastfeeding/bottle-feeding journey, click here.
Naturally, you will receive some gifts without receipts, since not everyone is going to be that conscientious. I put stuff without receipts that we were not using into a gift box, and we have pulled many handy items from it to re-gift to other friends.
2. Changing Table for Every Floor
If your home has multiple stories, place a changing table or pad and a stack of diapers and wipes on each one. I can’t tell you how exhausting it’s going to feel to realize your child has just pooped, you’ve slept for exactly one hour, and now you need to climb two flights of stairs to get him changed. Yea . . . no thanks.
This table has served us well for over 4 years and two states!
3. Get a Car Seat that Grows With Baby
Here is a tip that we should have paid better attention to–buying a solid, high-end convertible car seat. If you pick out something that can take your babe from infant to toddler, you will save yourself a lot of money in the end. Here are the top-rated 2018 picks. I recommend something from Graco because it will fit into one of their many affordable strollers. Otherwise, I love the Diono. Yes, it’s pricey, but consider that it goes from infant to 120 pounds! Also, it’s narrow enough that in some SUVs and minivans, 3 can fit side by side!
4. The Rock and Play
It wouldn’t be a top-ten baby list without this little guy. I have heard from literally hundreds of moms who list this item as their #1 pick. There are other rock and plays on the market, but this one is by far the most popular.
The Fisher Price model comes with different designs and color schemes, and there is a fancy version that does the rocking for you. We had the base model, which vibrates and can be rocked manually. Both our son and daughter slept in this for several weeks, which helped with the transition to the crib, and with my daughter’s gas issues. It was also one of the only ways that either child was OK with being put down!
5. Do Not Buy a Monitor
Yup, you heard me. Don’t spend ridiculous amounts of money on what amounts to a tiny portable camera. Use an old phone, iPod or iPad and set up your own monitor with the use of any number of free Baby Monitor apps. If your device has a camera, then BAM – you’ve got a free video monitor!
6. A Backpack Beats a Diaper Bag Every Time
I was really excited to buy a diaper bag. We ended up registering for, and receiving, two of them. They range from affordable to very high-end, but I found all of them to be really frustrating. I carry my child on the right side, which is also where the bag goes. So anytime I didn’t have the stroller, I carried a tremendous amount of weight on my right shoulder, and soon it really started to hurt. The bag would also tip over and threaten to hit the baby when I had to lean forward. It also didn’t help that my son was off the charts for both height and weight!
Both my husband and I recommend using a regular old backpack as the diaper bag. It already contains multiple compartments. It’s roomy enough for a change of clothes, diaper pad, diapers, wipes, and a couple of toys and snacks. To this day, we use that backpack while traveling. Backpack purses are also really trendy right now, so I always keep a diaper/wipes in my own bag! (I LOVE this bag.)
7. Get Two Breast Pumps, Not One
Most women receive a breast pump through their insurance–get a big, motorized, efficient beast to keep at home and pump on a regular, planned schedule. Then spend $15-20 bucks on a hand pump that can go with you on long car rides, to stash in your locker at work, on trips, etc. Finding yourself engorged without a pump nearby is a painful situation, and having a smaller inexpensive option around can really save the day.
8. The Nursing Pillow is a Must
There are actually THREE pillows I recommend getting, in this order:
Full-body sleeping pillow (during pregnancy)
Wedge pillow for sitting/nursing
The nursing pillow is something like a Boppy, circular in shape and ideal for baby to lie on as he/she takes in their meal. Don’t be fooled into purchasing a brand-name pillow for this task, however. If it’s washable, it’ll work.
The full-body sleeping pillow really comes in handy during that sleepless third trimester when every position is a painful one. I highly recommend getting someone’s hand-me-down and then passing it on to another mama when you’re done. So many of these pillows cost a ton of money, and they’re pretty limited in use!
Finally, I love my $40 wedge pillow from Bed Bath & Beyond. I used it to save my back during nursing, and I still use it every night with the kids during reading time, and even when I do the occasional work from bed. I considered many more expensive models before settling on this one, and it was everything I needed and more.
9. Clean Baby Bath Products
I like 3 different brands when it comes to bath and skin products for my babes: BeautyCounter, Aveeno, and Honest Brand. I linked the baby bundle to BeautyCounter because I think it is an excellent value, and a great registry item. The Honest Lavender Bubble Bath is something we just discovered a few weeks ago, and we LOVE it, for the scent and for the many bubbles. Now I just have to deal with all of the tears when it’s time to drain the tub!
10. Best Baby Bather
With some baby items, the more you pay, the better product you receive. Not so with baby bathers! There are all kinds of fancy baby baths out there, and the majority of them are completely impractical. The one that is shaped like a flower is cute, but it collapsed under our daughter! Other smaller sink-based baths are also cute, but make the most sense for tiny premie babies.
We used this bath for both our son and our daughter before we transitioned to an inflatable tub, and finally, to the full bath. As you can see, it costs less than $20, and has a removable sling. The sling is perfect for those infrequent newborn sponge baths. The entire thing does also have slots to allow you to place it on the sink! And once the sling is removed, the baby can be seated facing in either direction with differing back support depending on how big and stable they are.
Every Baby is Different
Babies enter our lives via c-section, adoption, foster care, in pairs and in triplets. They surprise us, they scare us, and so many of our questions cannot be answered until we actually meet them and see what they prefer! My mother loves to tell the story of how she learned to vacuum constantly around me, because she quickly learned that it was the best way to calm me down and keep me asleep. For our kids, it was the vent fan above the stove that shushed them best! These little quirks will come to you as you welcome your sweet babe home.
I hope this list was helpful – and I’d love it if other experienced moms weighed in below!