Having had two newborns, one fairly recently, I have tried quite a few products. These are the things that top my personal list and the ones that I also recommend to doula clients and friends who are pregnant or who have recently given birth. I am on the crunchier side of the spectrum so you won’t see bottles, pumps, cribs, popular brands of disposable diapers, strollers or lots of baby gear on my list. However, some people find those things to be absolutely necessary, and there is nothing wrong with that. The following are the things that I could not live without.
1. A Breastfeeding Pillow
If you are going to breastfeed having the right pillow, to support your baby in the proper position and bring them level to your breast to ensure the right latch, is extremely important. I recommend the following:
- The New Boppy Nursing Pillow and
- The Nesting Pillow Organic Nursing Pillow by Blessed Nest
The New Boppy is heads and shoulders above the original version for nursing purposes. It provides multiple types of support with its two sides with different levels of support, it has a waist belt to hold it tightly to your body, and it holds baby up high, at the right level for nursing. The Nesting Pillow is made of all natural and organic materials, and provides firm support for mother and baby for a variety of uses as well as for breastfeeding.
2. Nipple Cream
Breastfeeding is a partnership between mother and baby that can have a steep learning curve. Until both have had quite a bit of practice, improper technique and latch can result in sore, chapped and cracked nipples. Nipple creams are very helpful in addressing sore and wounded nipples while nursing. I prefer creams that have organic, natural ingredients that do not need to be removed before breastfeeding. My favorite creams are Lansinoh HPA Lanolin for Breastfeeding Mothers, Earth Mama Angel Baby Natural Nipple Butter, and 100% pure coconut oil.
3. Baby Carrier
While I do make use of strollers myself from time to time, I find that no newborn wants to be that far away from the body of their mom or dad in the first three months. Baby carriers are a great option for allowing your baby to be close to the sights, sounds, and smells of your body, but still giving you free hands to fold laundry, carry groceries or cook a meal. I love wrap carriers like the Moby Wrap, and soft structured carriers like Ergo, Beco and Boba. I do not really recommend slings much as they distribute your baby’s weight unevenly, which can give you back and shoulder trouble if you don’t already have back problems.
Diapers, oh where do I begin? We are not an exclusively cloth family. We use disposables when out and about and when traveling, but we find that cloth diapers are what work best for us, both during the day and at night. I have tried numerous brands and types of diapers. If you want to be the most economic, I recommend buying prefolds and covers to go over them. There are also fitted diapers (must be used with covers) pocket diapers (allows you to change absorbency levels), all in one (AIO) diapers, and hybrid diapers. At the moment, we are mostly using Grovia Hybrid diaperswith cloth inserts at home and we use disposables while out and about.
Even if you don’t cloth diaper, I urge you to try cloth wipes. They are softer and gentler on your baby’s skin than disposable wipes and easy to launder. You also use less and they result in fewer rashes because they aren’t full of soaps. If you do opt for disposables, I recommend Kirkland Premium Baby Wipes which are hypoallergenic and alcohol-free.
6. Baby Clothing
This goes without saying, but if you want to leave your house with your baby, he will have to be clothed. While we all love to dress your babies to suit our tastes and style, it is important to remember that they need to wear things that are soft, comfortable against sensitive skin and that can be removed quickly for frequent diaper changes.
7. Swaddlers or Swaddling Blankets
Newborns love to be in your arms and snuggled up to you, but when they can’t be, they absolutely prefer being swaddled, hands down. There are so many great swaddlers on the market but my absolute favorites are by Aden + Anais, the Miracle Blanket and Kiddopotamus.
8. Nursing Bras
It is absolutely essential that you have a supportive nursing bra for breastfeeding. There are a range of options on the market with a variety of fabrics and prices. Popular brands of nursing bras are Bravado and Glamourmom. Also, there is a really new bra that is a nursing/pumping combo bra which would be a lifesaver for moms who have to pump. It’s called the Arden All-in-One Nursing Bra.
9. Nursing Tanks
I do not encourage investing a ton of money in nursing tops or dresses, but buying a handful of nursing tanks will make it so much easier for you to nurse comfortably without having to expose your tummy or back each time you do so. There are a wide variety of these on the market. Some of my favorite brands are Glamourmom, Bravado’s Essential nursing tank in normal and curvylicious sizes, and Undercover Mama.
10. Place For Your Baby to Sleep
Why doesn’t this say crib? I believe there are a variety of ways for your baby to sleep safely. At different times my babies have slept in our bed, in a bassinet, in a co-sleeper, in an open-front crib side-car to our bed, in a playpen, and in a stand-alone crib. Figure out where you will feel most comfortable with your baby sleeping and make it work safely.
11. White Noise Machine
While some people believe that babies don’t need these things, having had two children who were difficult to get to sleep and keep asleep, I find a white noise machine of some kind can really help. Beware though, she may get so used to sleeping with it that you will have to tote it to Grandma’s and on vacation, so don’t buy one too big for travel.
12. Diaper Bag
I do not actually believe you need one of those cute, mass-marketed deals to tote your diapers in. While nice, they aren’t always that sturdy or fashionable. Any large bag will really work as long as it is sturdy and you are comfortable carrying it around.
Note: If you are going to wear your baby often, backpack style bags are often more functional than shoulder bags.
13. Baby Car Seat
Being from the United States, no matter how much I wear and carry by little one, he has to go in a car seat sometime. Find the best, safest car seat you can afford. I personally really like convertible and combination car seats like the Diono RadianRXT Convertible Car Seat. It fits children 5-120lbs, so it will work for newborns to kindergarteners, folds for air travel and will fit three across in a car. It also has an 8 year expiration date, much longer than the 3-5 year expiration dates on most car seats.
14. The Happiest Baby on the Block
This is both a book written by Dr. Harvey Karp and a DVD narrated by him. It explains key ways to calm and soothe your newborn. It is so helpful for first time parents and I believe even experienced parents could learn a thing or two from it. It is a must read!
15. Dunstan Baby Language
This was a fabulous find when I was a new mom. They cries of a newborn baby can be so hard to decode and once I saw this video, both my husband and I felt our frustrations melt away. Priscilla Dunstan teaches the five cries a newborn makes and what they mean on her hour long DVD. After watching this, I could distinguish hungry cries from sleepy cries or uncomfortable cries. Ms. Dunstan has also expanded this to a book released last year called Calm the Crying where she identifies 10 sounds that you can identify during the newborn phase to help distinguish your baby’s need and calm her. I highly recommend both the video and the book if you want to figure out what your baby is saying and communicate to their needs!