The Big Stuff
- Bassinet + Travel Crib: Lotus. It's more expensive than the popular Graco Pack n' Play, but it's only 13lb vs 22lb and folds up into carry-on size. The insert pops off to transition from bassinet to travel crib.
- Carrier: Lillebaby. We used this exclusively to carry our little one for months before we even broke out the stroller. The air mesh is wonderful even in winter. It's $50 cheaper than the popular ErgoBaby, and it doesn't require an additional $25 infant insert. It fits both mom & dad well.
Burley Solstice. Offroad strollers are ridiculously expensive, costing $400-$600. BOB and Thule have ok reviews, but we got this heads up from REI. It's better built than other offroad strollers and has a giant bottom area to store bags. It's easier to operate the wheels. It's almost $200 cheaper than anything else. We got a deal on factory seconds direct from Burley's website for $200 total, no shipping or sales tax, for a ridiculously small "defect" the size of my thumbnail.
Baby Bjorn. It's ridiculously expensive, but it's tensioned so that when your baby starts moving or crying, it bounces, soothing them back to sleep. Other more affordable rockers don't move. The Baby Bjorn also has 3 recline positions as your baby grows. Many babies don't sleep flat on their backs, and this one is just a simple piece of canvas fabric, rather than a plush pillow material that babies could suffocate on.
- Changing "table":
We didn't have a separate changing table--they're expensive, they're just another piece of furniture you'll need to get rid of, you'll never take the time to organize diapers into drawers, and they all come with foam changing mats covered in cotton that you'll have to clean poop off of. We have a Lysol-able nylon pad we set up on a bed, chest of drawers, or the floor, and a simple box.
Diapers, Wipes, Changing
- Kirkland Signature diapers: They're Huggies diapers rebranded. They start at size 1, and we used Huggies for newborn size. I can't stand the smell of Pampers.
- OXO wipes dispenser. Buy the 1,000 bulk wipes at Costco or Amazon. The wipes dispenser comes with a nice colored weight on top so when you pull a wipe, the rest stay down. It has a silicone seal so nothing gets dried out.
- Amazon Basics enhanced doggie bags to dispose of dirty diapers.
- Childress changing pad. Simple, affordable, functional.
- Diaper bag: really, whatever backpack you have. Marketed diaper bags are big, heavy, and expensive. REI Flash 18 pack and REI toiletry zip (one for diapers, one for formula/bottles).
Blankets + Swaddles
- Miracle Blanket. Swaddling's not new, but the Miracle Blanket really is a miracle! It's a 4-flap swaddle system that puts babies' arms straight down their sides and is almost impossible to break out of. Other swaddles/sleep sacks have zippers or velcro and aren't as secure. Other swaddles don't come close if your baby is fond of jailbreaking.
- Bamboo muslin swaddles. Muslin can be soft, but the bamboo ones are super soft. We didn't use them for swaddling--we used them for throwing over the carseat because it's breathable enough.
- Woolino blanket. One side's merino wool, the other cotton. It's super soft and warm!
- Gerber wiggle proof socks. You want baby socks that have a long-fold down cuff (and keep it up), or they'll get kicked off. Yet so many socks are short, cute, and non-functional. These socks narrow slightly at the ankle, keeping them on. They run small--the 6mo size fit our baby starting at 3mo.
- Primary.com. It is impossible to find baby clothes that don't come in multi-packs of mind-numbing greys/navy blues or pinks/flowers. You get grey-on-blue and the same pattern blue-on-grey. We ended up with 23 onesies and only 1 that wasn't black, grey, navy blue, or white. Primary.com has a brilliant business: they offer 20+ colors and 15+ styles. Mix and match. Purple hoodie for my boy? Check.
Breastfeeding + Mom
- Motherhood Maternity Clip-Down Nursing bra. The price is right and it's comfy.
- Lansinoh hot/cold pack. Microwaveable or freezer-able. Really helped to use warm before pumping to get the milk flowing, and to freeze to help reduce engorgement when stopping feeding.
- Breast pump: If you can get one, rent a hospital-grade pump from a hospital. They're more powerful and more comfortable, and will save you tons of time not attached to a terrible vacuum device.
Feeding + Bottles
- Dr. Brown's bottles. The green inserts prevent a vacuum in the bottle, so baby doesn't swallow air and burp.
- Burp cloths--cloth diapers. They're cheap, they're white, they're big enough, they're thick enough. Most other burp cloths are way too small, and they're 3x the price! Stash one in every room.
- Bibs: anything with a velcro. You don't want to mess around with a snap one-handed.
- Munchkin formula dispenser. Another simple item that no one else gets right.
- Boon Lawn drying mat. Comes in various sizes and colors.
- Formula: if you're using Similac, Kirkland Signature is manufactured in the same facility at nearly 1/2 the cost. Comparing ingredients is nearly identical until you get halfway down the "Less than 2% of" list, and the containers are exactly the same. (Sidenote: Similac for sensitive stomachs has corn syrup as the first ingredient and sugar as the 5th ingredient, instead of milk lactose and whey protein.)
- Pacifier: Avent Soothie. It's the simplest and worked amazingly well for our baby. It's trippy to watch the pacifier hole when they're chewing!
- Pacifier evolved: Wubbanub (Avent Soothie + beanie baby). They come in an array of animals (monster and dragon too!). The pacifier is permanently attached to the stuffed animal, so it can rest on baby's stomach and they might find it again without needing your Pacifier Re-Insertion Specialist skillz.
- Bamboo towel. There's a million hooded towels, we got this one as a gift, and it's by far the softest.
- Tub: Fisher Price Whale of a Tub. Who would've thought it'd be so difficult to find a simple tub? We were ready to resort to a storage tub. This one is an actual mini tub with no scoops or indentations on the bottom. There's a removable seat for infants which sits them upright and is really secure. So many other tubs have weird scoop shapes in the bottom that scrunch Baby and they can't kick around. (This isn't to be confused with Fisher Price's Planet of a Whale tub.)
- 3 Sprouts laundry hamper. Cute animals, great price, mesh bottom (so clothes don't stink like sour milk), the flaps have holes that double as the dirty clothes insertion point and handles.
- Boppy Lounger. Almost thought of returning this gift, but it's great! You can lounge Baby anywhere in the house much easier than moving a Baby Bjorn-type rocker. Great to feed them in, great for photos! Nearly 2,000 4.8 stars...
- 4moms infant tub. The temperature control is kinda cool, but the tub was a terrible configuration. Baby would slide all the way down and be scrunched awkward.
- Boppy Nursing Pillow. I only breastfed for a month. At that size, Baby was too small to even use the boppy nursing pillow. I had to stack pillows. Maybe when they're larger, if you breast feed that long?
- The Baby Shusher. If your baby likes to hear you "shush," they'll like this. It's not white noise. But, it's impossible to tell what noise level it's set at, and since it's shaped like a bugle, it's deceptively loud in one direction. And it only has 2 settings: turn off at 15min and turn off at 30min--it won't keep going.
- Get baby's hand/feetprints in first 2 weeks before they plump up and get fat--all their palm/sole features disappear. We used this ink pad.
- Have formula + bottles on hand before birth, and don't be afraid to supplement with formula in the first few days before your milk comes in.