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When I was pregnant with Landon, I scoured Pinterest and Google…and any other search engine…to compile a list of baby items I reaaaallllly needed. You see, I was determined to only buy the absolute necessities and skip all that baby clutter. We live in a small house with minimal storage, and I absolutely HATE clutter. HATE it.
Fast forward eight months later, and those items I thought I didn’t need are now cluttering my house. And you know what? It was worth it. That bottle warmer? Worth it’s weight in gold. The baby tub? So, so convenient, and when you pull the shower curtain closed, no one knows it’s residing in the tub. Bum brush? Need I say more? Your fingers and nails will thank you later.
HOWEVER, as great as these items are, do they fall under the category of ABSOLUTE necessity? Probably not…unless you bump it up to 13 items instead of 10. These items definitely make life better, but you can successfully survive without them. We did before I finally caved, and friends of ours are still holding strong. There are baby items I found we absolutely needed, though. So, without further ado… Our top 10 MUST HAVE baby items:
- Rock ‘n Play – Our first night home was an absolute nightmare. Scratch that; a nightmare still requires actually getting some sleep. I’m not sure who cried more – Landon or me. Who am I kidding? It was definitely me, and my poor husband had no idea how to soothe both his hysterical wife and his new child. The next day, we tried the Rock ‘n Play, and as I prepared for what I thought would be our next awful night, Landon surprised us and slept three hours before WE were the ones waking him to feed him. It was glorious, and the two months after that, he slept in his Rock ‘n Play every single night. (Disclaimer: do be aware of safe sleeping recommendations and make your best judgement. This was the method that worked best for us, but it may not be for you.) These mimic the security of a mother’s arms, are inclined, vibrate, and rock. He always slept great being held, but as soon as we laid him down flat, it was game over. This was an absolute lifesaver until he was older and more ready to be in the open space of a crib. You can find one like we used here.
- Swaddles – Landon slept so much better swaddled up like a burrito. We quickly learned, though, that there are good swaddle blankets and there are very bad swaddle blankets. For all you moms-to-be planning what you need, DO take home as many hospital receiving blankets as you can. They are seriously THE BEST. Hands down. When he was a newborn, many of the blankets we were gifted were too small to really do anything good, and the muslin swaddles we had specifically for swaddling were waaaaay too big for his tiny little body. And the velcro ones he managed to Houdini his way out of. But, those hospital blankets? Perfect size, perfect thickness, and absolutely wonderful. Ugly? Unfortunately, but so worth it. The best part of this point? It’s free to you! Well, they probably charge you somewhere in that massive hospital bill, but we’ll just not think of it that way. However, once he was older, bigger, and outgrew the hospital swaddle blankets, we did switch to the Aiden and Anais muslin swaddles and loved them then! You can find some of those here.
- Car mirror – This was one thing I didn’t see on many lists, but it makes my top ten easily. It’s impossible to see the baby without a mirror while you’re driving, and that scares me. Invest in this and use it. You won’t be sorry. It’s even an item that we buy now for all baby gifts we give. I feel so much better knowing exactly what is going on in that car seat at all times, and once baby is bigger and older, it’ll be a fun toy for him/her on car rides! You can find a cheap one here.
- Swing – Hear me out on this one. I read many posts that said you don’t need a swing, that they’re big and clunky and take up way too much space, that baby will only use it for a short amount of time, so on and so forth. I am so so so so so glad I decided to not follow that “advice.” Yes, they’re big and clunky and I definitely didn’t like the space it took up in his room and later our living room, BUT, he loved his swing. Almost all of his naps were in his swing, and later when he went through sleep regressions, so were many of his nights as well. It’s true that they won’t use them for long. By six months we had packed it up and stored it away, but I have absolutely no regrets about purchasing the swing. Ours also doubled as a bouncer chair, so it was like killing two birds with one stone. This is the swing we used and loved.
- Nursing cover – Oh, how I wish I had tried using mine sooner. One major bummer about having my family visit after Landon was born was how often he needed to eat. I didn’t feel comfortable letting it all hang out in front of my dad and brothers, so Landon and I always retreated back to the bedroom for his meals. His meals lasted 45 minutes to an hour each time, and then I always pumped afterwards. I am a social person, and being cooped up like that all by myself was really lonesome, especially when I was missing out on family time with people I don’t see often. Landon was several months old before I tried using my cover, and once I did, our social options really opened up big time. Get a cover that offers 360 coverage, is easy to slip on and off, and still offers the baby breathing space. I love the one I have and never had any troubles modestly nursing in public – no matter how much he kicked and flailed his arms, no one was going to see anything. You can find one like mine here. Bonus: it also doubles as a car seat cover and is gender neutral!
- Rocking chair – This is a big one, but oh, so worth it. Do NOT skimp out on a rocking chair. Find one that’s comfortable, one you wouldn’t mind sitting hours in. Trust me, you will…you might even spend entire nights in it, so choose wisely. I did not realize how wonderful a rocking chair was until we moved Landon into his nursery at two months. Until then, it sat unused in his unused nursery. I so wish I had moved it into our bedroom back when he was sleeping with us. It sure would have made night feeds way more comfortable and probably much safer. We got ours for a major steal at a garage sale, but this is one similar to what we have. Just make sure the arms are the right height for nursing, your feet can touch the floor so you can rock, and the back comes up high enough for you to be able to lean your head back. Ours even reclines, which is another very nice feature.
- Baby carrier – This is another short-use item, at least for us, but one that was very much worth it. I used that carrier as soon as Landon was big enough to fit in it (8 pounds is the minimum weight, and Landon was 5 pounds when born, so it took awhile for us before we could use it). I was able to get sooooo much done around the house while wearing him. If you have other kids you’ll be trying to keep up with, I think this is an absolute must. Plus, these don’t have to be spendy, high-ticket items like all the other lists out there. My husband’s parents gifted us the Infantino baby carrier, and it worked great for us. It was adjustable so both of us could wear him, and often times my husband would wear him while he studied so I could get stuff done around the house. You can find one here for only $30, one of the cheapest out there!
- Nose Frida – The ultimate snot sucker. Seriously, it’s the grossest concept out there, but also one of the most genius inventions. It works so much better than the bulb suckers you can buy, it’s way easier to clean because you can actually see if it’s dirty or not, and, in Landon’s case, he handled the Nose Frida waaaay better than those bulbs. He would scream bloody murder every time we tried to suction his nose with a bulb suction but didn’t mind the Nose Frida at all. I think the bulb actually might have hurt his tender little nose, but the Nose Frida is gentle and you can control how hard the suction is. Once you see how great it works, you’ll jump on this gross bandwagon too! Find yours here.
- Diaper pail – Note: this does not mean a diaper genie! I was adamantly against getting a diaper genie because I did NOT want to spend a small fortune on special, overpriced bags to hold, well, poop. I found a different kind of pail that takes regular trash bags, and so far, eight months in, it’s been great! It keeps the smell out, it’s easy to use, and not near as expensive. I had originally thought I’d just use a regular trash can and wrap the really smelly diapers in plastic grocery bags. I even came up with a plastic grocery bag storage system. What I didn’t realize is that when you have a screaming baby who hates diaper changes, the last thing you want is to have to take extra precautions to keep your house from smelling like crap while your baby is screaming his poor little lungs out. This diaper pail is worth the money for the very little effort it takes to maintain and use it! This is the one we have.
- Zipper Sleepers – Now, I realize your baby will definitely need more clothes than just sleepers, but, oh, please don’t make the mistake of snaps! In theory, they’d be convenient for late night diaper changes where you’d only have to unsnap the bottom portion, change the diaper, and everyone get back to sleep. Ha! Maybe that works for some people, but not for us. We had a Houdini pee-er. We had to change Landon every. single. time. during all his night feedings because somehow he managed to pee out his diaper and up his back. It just got to the point that we didn’t even bother with onesies or sleepers while he was a newborn because he hated things being pulled over his head. We just added an extra swaddle blanket and called it good. Now that he isn’t swaddled, he sleeps in zipper sleepers. The way he flails and slaps our arms away, we’d never be able to wrestle him into a snap sleeper. Also, circling back to the beginning, they make zipper sleepers that zip from the top down now, so you could still just unzip the bottom half, change the baby, and then zip them back up. Easy peasy, and no need for pesky snaps ever! We like just regular, cheap sleepers from Target, which you can find here.
These are the top ten baby items we wouldn’t survive without, in addition to the obvious necessities like a car seat, crib, bottles if not exclusively nursing, diapers, wipes, clothes, probably a pacifier, and maybe a stroller. Depending on your lifestyle, you may not really need a stroller until later. We have only just recently started using our stroller. I paid way too much for something I thought I “needed” and have hardly ever used. Other people are different, though, and use their stroller all the time, so use your best judgment!
Are there any other baby items you absolutely couldn’t live without? Leave a note in the comments!