A friend of mine is preparing to welcome her first baby this fall, and – as any first-time mom can attest – she’s having a hard time deciding what products to put on her baby registry. For mamas expecting their first baby (or babies), it’s impossible to guess at which items will be lifesavers and which will end up being a waste of money.
Since I’ve been around the block a few times now, I’ve tried dozens of baby products. Many didn’t stand the test of time, but these did. The following items are indispensable in my book.
*Note: as a notorious cheapskate, I’m always considering quality and versatility. Most of these products have held up reliably for all three babies, and several of them continue to be useful beyond baby’s first year.
#1: Newborn-to-Toddler Tub
With the mesh sling, the tub is perfect for bathing newborns. Without, it’s plenty roomy for an infant and even a toddler up to 25 pounds. This tub fit beautifully for us in the deeper kitchen and laundry room sinks.
#2: Baby K’tan
I’ve tried three different carriers, and, for me, this was the easiest to manage with a newborn and infant. It can be configured to carry your little one in several positions, including front-facing and on the hip for older babies.
My oldest never took to a pacifier, which bothered me not in the slightest (“think of all we’ll save on orthodontia down the road,” I reasoned), but she was a happy, easy baby. Number two was a different story. With my second, we waited only the minimum amount of time recommended by the doctor to avoid nipple confusion, then never left the house without half a dozen pacifiers, just in case.
Ever since, we’ve been die-hard fans of Soothies, the pacis distributed by most hospitals. One thing we learned quickly, though, is that Soothies have legs. If baby loses this pacifier and it hits a tile or wood floor, it’s sure to roll halfway across the room and under the couch. The WubbaNub is such a perfect product not only because it solves this issue, but also because it gives your little one something to grab hold of and helps her to self-soothe.
#4: Changing Pad
My husband and I bought a dedicated changing table with Baby #1. Don’t be like us. The changing table is really only useful for that one purpose. A dresser is a better bet for changing diapers, and the kiddo will need one anyway, eventually. Just pop this sucker on top and call it a day.
#5: Zippered, Long-Sleeved Sleepers
We were definitely late to the game on these. The person who invented the zippered sleeper is a hero as far as I’m concerned. When you’re sleep deprived, there’s little more frustrating than trying to match up snaps on a screaming, squirming baby in the near dark at 2 a.m. Zippers are so much faster!
#6: Breast Pump
If you choose to breastfeed, a breast pump will be invaluable. I recommend having one on hand before baby comes home, even. For the first few months, it will feel like baby eats nearly constantly. You’ll be giddy when your baby sleeps through the night for the first time, but your body won’t have gotten the memo. Engorged breasts are no picnic, so consider having a back-up plan in place to provide yourself some relief.
A breast pump will also be a godsend when you and your partner finally steal away for the first date Post Baby. With a bottle or two in reserve, you will have bought for yourself a much-needed evening out, just the two of you.
#7: Spacesaver High Chair
Family dinners are big in our house, and we were serious about including the babies, even in infancy. This high chair straps to a regular kitchen chair behind and below, and the seat reclines, making it ideal for babies not yet big enough to sit up on their own. Our youngest is occupying the seat now, but the middle girl used this high chair well beyond her second birthday.
#8: Pack and Play with Bassinet
Each of my littles slept in the master bedroom with us for the first few months. The beauty of this model of the Pack and Play is that it’s a napper and changing station all in one. Plus, it grows with baby. Remove the bassinet insert when baby reaches the weight limit, continue using the elevated napper until baby begins to roll, and convert to the play yard for a convenient and mobile play space that’s great for toddlers!