Cruise through the internet and you’ll find list after list of baby products. My own search revealed an abundance of superfluous items. (What kids needs 3 different squeaky giraffes??) To follow suit, I made my own list of items that we couldn’t have lived without. (Well, we probably could but our mental faculties would have been destroyed.)
Let’s start at the top!
1. Bitybean ($60-80)
Gus was very much a hold-me baby. And since it’s impossible to spoil an infant, I held him a TON. However, I still had a lot to get done around the house… I’ve used all sorts of baby-carrying methods: Moby wraps (nice, but require some serious technique to tie), Baby Bjorn carriers (totally stiff and uncomfortable), and a baby sling (awkward, hurt my shoulders, and Gus HATED it). The Bitybean was a gift from a cousin and a lifesaver. Lightweight and incredibly flexible, babies and toddlers can fit in it. Extra bonus: Gus still can fit in it! I wear him on my back now. And he still loves it.
2. Medela Breast Pump ($200-300)
My goal was to breastfeed for a year; we only lasted 6 months. Even so, I learned a TON about breastfeeding. Since I was going to school full time and working part time, I had to pump. The hospital grade Medela pump is phenomenal. However, those are hard to come buy and even more expensive. I bought this pump myself. Yes, it was a splurge I really couldn’t afford. However, since formula is SUPER expensive, I was able to rationalize the purchase! And you get what you pay for in the pump department. Side note, those cheap store brand bottles you can buy (like $1) fit just as well as the bottles it comes with.
BONUS: Coconut oil ($10)
One of the big problems I encountered while pumping was chafing. The flanges are plastic. Breasts are not and nipples bleed relatively easily. I used lanolin for a while, but wanted to find something more natural to use. (Lanolin is literally wool-oil. Ew.) SO I found coconut oil. It’s healthy to consume and acts the perfect lubrication for pumping. Heads up, coconut is (or should) be solid at room temperature, but melts at the touch of your finger. I just wish I had found this a lot sooner—would have saved me a lot of pain and frustration!
3. Fisher Price Newborn Rock’n’Play Sleeper ($50-80)
Since I was constantly moving while pregnant, I wasn’t too surprised when Gus preferred movement. Bouncing, rocking, walking…any kind of moving! Reclining vibrator chairs didn’t cut it. Then I found this. The Rock’n’Play was perfect. I could rock him to sleep with my foot when my hands were busy. Because it’s a cradle-type thing, I didn’t have to transition to his crib when he finally slept.
4. Hyland Teething Tablets ($8)
Teething sucks. For baby and for everybody else. Who wants to have something rip through your gums? Not me! And the crying, inconsolable baby is hard to deal with for longer than five minutes. Orajel is wonderful, but you have to be careful of dosage—it’s easy to give too much. These tablets dissolve on their gums (I rubbed it on for Gus). Bonus, it’s marketed as a natural pain reliever!
5. Fisher Price Space Saver High Chair ($50)
I had two high chairs. One was the traditional “stands by itself” chair; the other was this space saver chair. It easily straps to chairs. You can recline the seat to suit the physical capabilities of your child. And to be honest, I used it for more than just feedings. So many ‘chairs’ for infants are bulky and frustrating to lug around. This one was perfect! Gus still sits in it today.
6. Baby Bath Tub ($40)
Gus took a lot of baths in the sink. But newborns are slippery when wet. And since they don’t sit, sink-baths were difficult for us. Bathing Gus in the tub seemed ridiculous—all that water for just a little dude. There are plenty of recliners that you can place in the tub, but that still requires a considerable amount of water. This tub conquers both problems—a sling to hold the infant and a tub that minimizes water.
7. Car Seat Cover ($15-30)
Since Gus was born in October, the weather was chilly from the get-go. You can only layer a kid so much in clothes and blankets before it’s just unreasonable. You don’t have to buy some fancy, expensive cover. They all get the job done. There are quite a few styles of covers, but I like this one the best. It’s close to the baby and keeps more heat in with less draft. Two zippers open to plop the baby in and a face-flap velcros down.
8. Magic Bullet ($40)
In an attempt to save money and avoid the preservatives of jarred baby food, I made a lot of food for Gus. You can buy various blenders and bullets specifically marketed towards making baby food. However, my mother bought me this one. Not only can you blend more food in one round, you can use it for cooking in general. Tip: blend a bunch at once and freeze it in ice cube trays!
9. Boudreaux’s Butt Paste & Aquaphor ($6)
Diaper rash. Aquaphor is amazing to prevent. Boudreaux’s Butt Paste is amazing to treat. Not much else needs to be said on this one!
10. Best Bottom Diapers
Inserts ($4), Covers ($17), Packages ($90-300)
By now you’ve probably figured out that we didn’t have a lot of money when Gus was born. My parents used cloth diapers with me because I was allergic to disposable ones. We got cloth ones for two reasons: the potential for Gus to have the same allergy (he didn’t) and to save money. “Save money,” you laugh, “they’re $300 for the big package!” Point one: the packages come with everything you’ll need. Point two: in the first year alone you’ll spend over SIX HUNDRED DOLLARS on disposables. Point three: they’re so easy!! Forget the plastic pants and diaper pins, this is 2015. We’ve upgraded to snaps and Velcro. You can still buy the pre-fold diapers, but I preferred these. The liners simply snap in. I recommend a thin fabric or flushable liner to lie on top when their poop becomes solid. (Pick up the liner and toss!) With minimal prep-work and laundering, these diapers are just as good as disposables and cost a LOT less in the long run.
Shout out to my mother who bought me my first package as a baby shower gift! Smart lady, that mom!
It takes a lot of searching, but you occasionally may find a list of what items a baby truly needs. Hoping to help other lost, confused, overwhelmed, and hormonal women, I have made a list of the basic items a baby HAS to have.
Be it breast milk or formula, they just need to eat. For the record, generic formula is comparable to brand name formula. Infant formula is perhaps the most highly regulated item in the entire grocery store.
Infants go through clothes slower than toddlers, but you still want to have a few outfits lying around. Gus had a TON of hand-me-downs. I recommend enough clothes to get you through a week without having to do laundry.
Cloth or disposables, just something to cover their bum. We used both. See the rant above for more information about cloth diapers.
4. A Place to Sleep
Cribs, pack’n’plays, bassinets, co-sleeping, rock’n’plays, a mat on the floor… it doesn’t matter. Simple as that.
Remember that babies don’t care if you have top of the line equipment for them. They don’t care that you have entirely hand-me-downs and thrift shop finds. Babies DO care that their needs are met. You don’t have to break the bank to do that. You got this, new mama! No one can parent that baby better than you; you are his/her mother. Just breathe.