The following is my list of must-haves. I will continue to add to it as I remember items. I would love your input about your favorite products for me to check out too!
Health & Safety
- Summer Infant Day & Night Handheld Color Video Monitor - I am a control freak. I'll be the first to admit it. With the help of this video monitor, I have always felt in control when it has come to Ethan's sleep. I don't have to worry about what he was doing every time I heard a noise, I could sneak a peek on the monitor without worrying about waking him up by peeking in the room. Also great for naps to see if he is actually awake or just making noises in his sleep. I never have to worry about waking him up because of my need to check on him! :)
- Safety gate - Obviously once your child starts crawling, safety gates are a must at the top of stairs! I love this Evenflo gate! It is one that you actually screw in place, not a removable one. We figured we would need one for quite some time, so we decided to go with this more permanent option. I must say that the removable ones drive me nuts. I can never seem to grip hard enough to take them down and then putting them back in place takes me forever. This one stays in place and then you just simply squeeze the handle in and push down to open. Not something an older child (3-5 yrs probably) could do easily to be able to let themselves out, but easy for an adult. You can adjust the width to fit the stairs or other openings in the house. I like this color of this one too. It's taupe, so it matches the walls in our house, blending in so that it doesn't stand out much.
- Ear thermometer - I really like this Braun one. The pacifier thermometers never worked well with Ethan. He always spit them out before they were done. This ear one works quick, so even with a fussy, wiggly little guy, you will get an accurate temp every time. We also have the traditional digital one that we use in his bum for the most accurate temperature reading, but the ear one is good for most purposes and well, much less interesting...
- Hyland's teething tablets - These were great when Ethan started teething. He loved them and they seemed to keep him in a much better mood when those pesky teeth were breaking through!
- Itzbeen baby care timer - Feeling like a zombie from those midnight, 3 am, 6 am, etc, etc feedings for the past few weeks? Can't remember which boob your baby last nursed from, or if you changed that diaper, or wait, did you feed them?? This timer will solve your problems. You can keep track of the last time you fed them, changed them, gave them medicine, when they slept, etc. It also has a nice little switch to let you remember which boob they last nursed from too! It's got a clip and a light, so you can always see it and never lose it. Awesome.
- Mylicon - As their website states, gas hurts. And it makes babies scream. Yep, fun stuff. We went through a lot of this stuff with Ethan when he was little. It really seemed to be help him. I wouldn't say that he was "colic" but he definitely had his fussy periods that seemed to be gas-related. This is a great product to have on hand!
- A formula dispenser - I bought a couple of these Bornfree ones. Each had three sections. I pre-measured out Ethan's cereal (rice, oatmeal, etc) and put it in the divider along with the correct amount of powdered formula. When it came time to make him a meal, I could just dump what I needed in the bowl and add water! This was really helpful when we were out to eat (a definite space saver in the diaper bag) and a timesaver at home when the little man was hungry....now! ;)
- Good, leak-proof sippy cups - There are several that I like. Here is a Playtex one. Ethan still uses these for water. He can tote it all around the house and I don't have to worry about it leaking everywhere. :) Here is another Playtex one. This one has been great as he has gotten older. It's a little bigger, insulated better, and great for taking on the go. He can figure out how to get it open himself and feels like a big boy with the straw. He also has super cool ones with trucks and stuff on them. ;) I can't find the link to the Gerber ones I love, but they are the first ones I used with Ethan. They have handles and only hold 6 ozs of liquid, but we still use them for milk for Ethan. They also have never leaked, despite many trips across the dining room table, floor, etc! ;) You get the idea.
- Food mill - I can't find a link to the one I have, but any food mill should do. You can take a banana, for example, and grind it through, making the perfect consistency banana mush for your infant who is new to solid foods! This is a much cheaper option than buying baby food at the store and I feel better knowing there are absolutely no additives going in too. I am planning on purchasing more items this time around for making my own baby food here at home.
- Disposable placemats - I love bringing these along whenever we are eating out. If you haven't already noticed, I am kind of anal retentive about cleanliness and such. You can stick these mats right to the table and feel good knowing that your child is eating off of a clean surface. At the end of the meal, you can just gather up the whole mess and toss it! Perfect. Ethan loves the Cars ones. ;)
- Breast pump - A wonderful tool for nursing moms. A must-have for nursing, working moms. I have this Medela Swing Single Electric one. Had I been working, I would have went with a double pump to save time, but as a SAHM, a single pump works fine for me. I do recommend an electric one versus a manual one, because I think my hand would tire too quickly trying to do all the work myself! I got my pump shortly after delivering Ethan. At the risk of revealing TMI...my milk wasn't coming in very quickly and the pump was great for helping with this! If you are nursing exclusively and want any chance at a break from your little one, then you need a pump. You can pump bottles for someone else to feed your baby if you need to get away for more than ~2 hours (if your child is anything like mine, he thinks your boobs are an all you can eat buffet open 24/7!) :(
- Boppy pillow - Also be sure to get at least one extra cover. Never underestimate the number of times your baby will spit up all over everything in a day. :( You don't want to leave a wet, stinky cover on it when you can toss that one in the wash and put a fresh one on! The pillow makes nursing much more comfortable for you and your baby. I always toted mine along if I knew I would need to nurse while I was out!
- Pacifier - Some people like them, some don't. For us, a pacifier did just that - pacified him. It was a relief. And it may possibly save your boobs from needing to be nursed on 24/7! Yay! Though I feared he would never want to get rid of it as he seemed to become more and more attached to it as time went by, he did. I managed to break him of it (cold turkey) at 14 months. Maybe I took it away before he was ready, but I feared he would be that four-year-old that everyone would stare at in stores because he couldn't give up the paci. So I took it. It was a rough couple of days, but we both survived. Ethan really took to these Avent ones more than any of the others we tried. I liked these completely clear ones, so they didn't stand out quite so much in pics too.
- Nursing pads and nipple cream - Oh yeah, I went there. After trying several brands, I prefer these Lansinoh ones. They are nice and thin so your boobs won't scream "look at me!" with big, bulky pads on top of already crazy swollen, huge boobs. Since the lining is pink (lining in general is great, it holds the moisture in better than a pad without any sort of plastic lining), it doesn't show through white tops like a white pad can. They are individually wrapped, so you can stuff some in your diaper bag and know that they will still be clean when it comes time to use them. They also have adhesive on them to help them stick in place which is key. Nothing more embarrassing than your pad slipping out of place and leaking through your shirt! Yeah, super hot. You'll also probably want a good nipple cream. Your nipples will likely be raw that first couple of weeks and this Lansinoh cream will work wonders!
- Nursing tanks - I love these Bestform ones. I have several in black and white. They are nice enough that you can wear them alone or under other shirts. They are comfortable for sleeping in too! They are as supportive as you are going to get with a built-in bra tank and are a nice alternative to nursing bras. They also keep your tummy covered if you need to lift a regular shirt to nurse (versus buying a bunch of nursing tops).
- Hooter hider - I have this classic, ivory cover from Bebe au Lait. Very stylish and useful if you need to nurse in public. This one is great because it has a rigid neckline that juts out so you can keep an eye on your baby (and them on you) while also ventilating well, without the rest of the world also getting a free show! ;)
- Cloth diapers - Nope, I didn't use these on Ethan's bum, I actually used them as burp cloths. While I love a nice, cute burp cloth, I soon realized that my child was like Old Faithful when it came to spitting up. I easily went through 5 to 6 cloths a day, so buying these diapers in bulk was a much more affordable option.
- Shower - Yep, simply that. If you have one of those children who does not like taking a bath, try a shower! Ethan wasn't thrilled with the idea of the infant tub, so we let Josh try taking him in the shower one time. He loved it! Problem solved. Your child gets clean, your hubby gets clean, and you get a breather. What could be better than that? ;) This is also a great idea if your baby has a stuffy nose or cold. The steam from being right there in the shower will help loosen it all up and trust me, it's much easier than trying to use the snot sucker!
- Johnson & Johnson Bedtime Bath - Not only does the lavender scent smell wonderful, but it helps them go to sleep faster/better too! :) Sounds like a win-win to me!
- Pampers diapers - Everyone has their preference when it comes to diapers. For us, it's Pampers. We started Ethan in the newborn Swaddlers, used the Baby Dry at night for awhile, and now Ethan has been in the Cruisers for awhile. I personally love the new dry-max that they switched to. Some moms reported problems with these diapers causing bad rashes, but we have never had any issues with Ethan. They save lots of space in a diaper bag or purse and they really do soak up a lot of liquid. Ethan has always been a good sleeper, yet even after 14 hours of sleep and pee, he doesn't leak out of his diaper often. Also, in case you didn't know, Pampers has a Gifts to Grow program where you enter codes from the packages of diapers and wipes that you purchase. Once you accumulate so many points you can redeem them for some pretty cool gifts! Unfortunately I didn't know about this at first, so I lost out on several months worth of points, but we now have almost 3000 points and we'll start thinking about redeeming soon! :)
- A tote-along changing pad - (This is the one I have, a JJ Cole, in a different color.) The diaper bag is great, but I especially love the changing pad tote. It has a pocket, so you can stick a diaper or two and some wipes in there, and just take the little bag with you to change the baby. Changing tables are nasty. It really doesn't matter where you are, they are often not going to be the cleanest of surfaces. I love having the pad to put on the table to keep my baby clean! It's also great in a pinch when there isn't a changing table around and you need to change your child on the floor, on a carseat, etc. It protects the surface in case you have a messy one...fun stuff!
- A Diaper Genie - Dirty diapers stink. Literally. You do not want to just throw them in the trash, even if you empty the can daily. Sure you can take them directly outside to the trash bin, but who has time for that when you are changing diapers 10 times a day? And yes, you will change your baby that often in the beginning! I have this Genie II Elite one. I like that this one has a nice step pedal to open it up so you can just drop the diaper in and be done with it. This genie does great at keeping the stink to a minimum and is definitely a must-have in my book!
- A jogging stroller - (This isn't the exact one I have, but I do have a Baby Trend one that came with the infant car seat.) Having any stroller is great, but having a jogging one (even as a non-jogger) has been especially nice. We may not jog with it, but we do walk a lot on our street, and the ability to "off-road" with this one is an added bonus.
- A pack 'n play - (This Graco one is the exact one I have, minus the cool bassinet. They didn't come with those when I got mine!) These are great!! Ethan actually slept in his (in our room) for his first 8 weeks. It was a great option without needing to buy a separate bassinet. I like the changing table and diaper bag - they were handy. Now we use it just for traveling as his bed, which is great, especially when staying in hotels. I liked the little sound/light machine that came with this one too. Ethan loved this when he was tiny for falling asleep at night! :) In addition to ours, we have a small waterproof mattress (just in case!) and fabric cover that fits right into this. It helps make it even more comfortable for sleeping at night and in case of accidents, you only need to wash the cover and the insert will stay clean! It folds up pretty compact and it's easy to do (yep, even for those who are not mechanically inclined, like myself!)
- Portable seat - We received this Chicco caddy hook on chair as a gift from a friend with two children. If you like going out to eat, this is a must have! Sure you can use the highchairs or booster seats at a restaurant, but do you know how many germs those things possess? Yuck. This seat folds up flat, so it's easy to leave in the vehicle all the time so that you always have it with you. It hooks right on to almost any table you will encounter and keeps your child at the perfect height (versus watching them struggle to reach up to a high table while sitting in a short highchair). You can start using it as soon as your child is able to sit up unsupported and it holds them up until 37 lbs! This has come in very handy for us too at restaurants that either don't have highchairs, or don't have enough. We always have a seat for our little man! :)
- Baby carrier - I love my Baby Bjorn. It's great for toting around a little one that you want to keep close to you or have to keep close in situations that won't allow a stroller. I plan on using mine a lot with this next baby while shopping. I can throw Ethan in the cart seat, keep the baby in the carrier, then still have an entire cart open for my purchases! ;)
- A good bouncer - (Again, not the exact one I have, but mine is a Fisher Price one that bounces and vibrates). This was perfect when Ethan was little and not really moving around yet. I could move the bouncer easily from room to room if needed. This is definitely how I got a shower every day for the first 3 months of his life. Ethan was content to sit in his vibrating bouncer and bat at the dangly toys. Often it would put him right to sleep while mommy got clean (and in a better mood)! :) If you are anything like me, a shower is what makes you feel sane again in the middle of a chaotic day. A tiny little escape when you need it most. This one definitely makes my list!
- A good swing - (Not the same pattern as mine, but you get the idea - a Graco Lovin' Hug Swing). I like this one because it swings, vibrates and plays music! The music was classical, so not annoying and you could adjust the volume as needed. If you haven't already noticed, Ethan was a fan of vibrating things, so that was also a nice feature with this one too. It has 6 different speeds and the seat can recline too. This was great when I needed a break from holding him (I know, I know, who needs a break? Well, sometimes things like eating and cleaning become essential.) ;) Ethan took many naps in his swing before I started doing naps in his crib. This one worked out great!
- Bumbo seat - This is a great little seat for helping your infant sit-up before they can actually do it on their own. You can add trays to them too if you want to use it for feeding them! Want to take some good pics of your little one but they keep flopping to the side? :( Put a nice blanket over the seat and slip them in. Viola!
Clothing & Accessories
- Sleep sack - If your child is anything like mine, a blanket is not an option at night because of how much they moves around in their sleep. This Halo sleep sack is great because their blanket always stays on no matter how much they wiggle, so you don't have to worry if they are warm enough. The zipper goes from top to bottom (opposite of normal), so even once they get smart enough to know how to unzip things, they can't get this undone. :) I am planning to get one of the swaddle ones for the next baby. Ethan needed to be swaddled for the first 4-5 months, so this will be perfect!
- As for my favorite brands of clothing to buy, here is a short list of our top picks:
- Old Navy: They have tons of super cute, fashionable clothes! As for sizing, they are pretty true to size by age for Ethan. He is tall and skinny, but does have short legs. Everything seems to fit pretty well on him though from this store. For example, at age 9 months, he was wearing the 6-12 month size, at 19 months, the 18-24 month size.
- The Children's Place: Another store with super cute, fashionable clothes! :) Sizing here runs very big on Ethan. For example, they recommend getting a 12 month shirt when aged 9-12 months or an 18 month shirt when aged 12-18 months. For Ethan, he was wearing a 12 month sized shirt here after he had already turned 12 months and can still wear an 18 month shirt now, at almost 2 years old. A tip for this store - Never pay full price, always shop here during sales or with coupons! They almost always have 15-20% off your entire purchase coupons available.
- Carter brand: These clothes are cute and they run very true to size by age as well. Added bonus - you can find this brand almost anywhere you can find children's clothing. They offer tons of super comfy options and we buy lots of their jammies. :)
Last, but certainly not least on the list, alcohol and a hot bubble bath. Nope, not to be rubbed on your teething infant's gums, nor to soak your spit-up covered baby in. These items are for you to enjoy at the end of one of those days when nothing has gone right. You know, the day the dog puked all over the new carpet, your son's outfit needed changed four times because he couldn't stop pooping everywhere, you burnt dinner and you ran over a happy little bunny with your freshly washed vehicle. Darn postpartum hormones. Please tell me I'm not the only one who has had days like these! ;)
This list is far from complete, but it's a good start! I can't wait to see what products you other moms and dads love most! :)
This list is far from complete, but it's a good start! I can't wait to see what products you other moms and dads love most! :)