Well, I haven’t had a chance to post in quite a while because I have been consumed with the life of parenthood! Our little baby girl arrived 3 months ago, and our life has been forever changed. I can’t describe just how much I love little Baby E, and how happy I am to be a part of her life. I am loving the time that I spend with her!
I know when I was getting ready for our baby, I wasn’t sure what to buy. I knew that you needed a lot of things as a new parent, but when I did Google searches for “newborn essentials”, the lists were often over 50 items long!! I wanted the best for my baby, but also didn’t feel that we really needed all of the items that are marketed to parents today. So … I present to you my list – Newborn Baby: The 1st Month Essentials!
- The Big Ticket Items: of course, it goes without saying that you will need a car seat to bring baby home in, and a place for baby to sleep. We bought a Graco Snugride car seat because it had good reviews and it worked with our stroller. Baby E started off sleeping in our room in a cradle that we borrowed from a friend. We also have a crib in her room, but I know that (for now!) I sleep much better at night knowing that she is there beside me in our bedroom.
- Changing station: during the first month you will spend a lot of time changing your baby’s diapers! Therefore one of the most important things you can have as a new parent is a changing station equipped with the basics. My parents (and husband!) actually made us the most amazing changing station – they sanded and painted an old dresser that they had, and then my Dad built a change table on top of it. My husband and I are both tall, so this raised the change table to a height that wouldn’t hurt our backs! We equipped the change station with: a plastic change table pad covered in a blanket/cloth (much easier to wash/switch the cloth and wipe down the pad), washcloths for pee diapers, a bucket for warm water, disposable wipes for the dirtier diapers (!), a diaper pail, diapers, diaper cream (our pediatrician recommended ‘SkinFix‘ from Shoppers) and Mortimer – a stuffed moose that my Dad hung above the change table to entertain Baby E while we changed her diaper! See photo to the right.
- Nursing/feeding area: during the first month you will be feeding your baby every 3 hours or less! That’s a lot of time spent feeding or nursing! We set up a little area in Baby E’s room with a comfy chair, and a side table to hold some key items: a nursing pillow (great if you’re nursing, or using bottles), Vit D drops, Baby’s Best Chance book (I found I would read sections of this while feeding Baby E those first few weeks), lanolin cream (a must-have), and activities to keep you awake (for me, I couldn’t have done without my iPad with Netflix – the best way to stay awake during those sleepless nights!)
- Bouncy chair: we borrowed the Comfy Time Bouncer from a friend, and found it extremely useful in the first few weeks. It was because of this chair that I was able to hop in the shower (most days!), while peeking out every few minutes to say hello and check on Baby E.
- Cuddlywrap: we didn’t find out about this key baby item for a few weeks, and I sure wish I’d known about it from the start! It took me a little while to get good at tying the Cuddlywrap around me, but every time I used it Baby E would stop crying and fall asleep within minutes of being put in the wrap! See photo to the right.
- Bath Time items: bath time was one of the things that made me the most nervous when we brought Baby E home! The first few times she didn’t enjoy the experience … meaning that neither did I! But very soon she started loving it. We decided not to buy an expensive tub from the baby store, but instead found everything that we needed for much cheaper! The items that we found helpful were: a cheap bath tub from Walmart ($10), a mesh liner for baby to lie on ($7 – absolutely essential!), Aveeno baby wash, 2 hooded towels, and a little cup for pouring water over baby to keep her warm.
- Swaddle sleep sacs: the first few weeks, Baby E loved to be swaddled! We swaddled her in blankets at the hospital, but when we got home we started using swaddle sleep sacs. With velcro to wrap the sac around baby, it was much easier than trying to master the art of swaddling with a blanket (something I was never very good at!) And Baby E loved it! We had one Summer Infant SwaddleMe, and one Halo SleepSack Swaddle, and liked them both.
- Clothing: to be honest, we didn’t end up buying a lot of clothing for Baby E. We were very lucky to receive a lot of clothing as gifts (once she was born, and everyone learned she was a she!), and a friend of ours passed along a lot of second hand clothes. During the 1st few weeks, Baby E pretty much lived in sleepers day and night! They were so easy to put on, and kept her warm and cozy – I would definitely recommend sleepers with a zipper instead of snaps. Those snaps can be so tricky to line up in the middle of the night when you’re tired! The one thing I would be sure to do next time is have a few tiny sleepers on hand. I never thought that she would be small enough to fit in those tiny little newborn sleepers, but she sure was! We ended up having to head to Sears to buy some 7lb sleepers after she was born!
- Comfy nursing bras: if you’re nursing, these bras are so convenient. Don’t make my mistake of only buying one bra though – you will definitely want a couple to rotate between, and maybe even a comfy nursing bra for sleeping. I also really like the washable nursing pads (I use Kushies).
- Sleep Sheep: we got the Sleep Sheep as a gift, and it was one of our favorties. If Baby E was a bit fussy or couldn’t fall asleep, the heart beat sound from the Sleep Sheep always soothed her. We velcroed the Sleep Sheep onto her cradle so that we could have it close to her at night.
- Camera: this isn’t a baby-specific item, but for me it was one of the most important items! I LOVE photos, and within the first few weeks I had more photos of Baby E than I could imagine. At 3 weeks, we began taking a weekly photo of Baby E – in the same chair, with a sign indicating how many weeks old she was. It is so incredible to look through these photos and see how she has changed from Week 3 to Week 13!
- Support network of family & friends: I can’t tell you how important this was to me. I had no idea how difficult the first week or two could be, and how much the lack of sleep would take a toll on me. Knowing that I had family and friends to turn to for help and support was huge for me. My Mom and my best friend especially gave me more help and support than I could ever ask for. I can’t thank them enough.
- Dryer: that first week at home, the dryer saved us! Baby E would not calm down at night unless I stood in our tiny little laundry room with the dryer going on air fluff. This is obviously not a long term solution, as the hydro bill will soon sky rocket … but it really did save me those first few nights at home! See the next point, iPhone apps, for a cheaper/more green alternative!
- iPhone Apps: these may not be your traditional newborn essentials, but there are a few apps that we have found really helpful! Here are my faves for the first month: Baby Aid – Falling Asleep (this app provides various sounds that can help soothe baby to sleep – Baby E loves the xylophone, but there are vacuum and hairdryer sounds that may have replaced the dryer during that 1st week!); NuuNest (designed by 2 registered nurses, this app was a great help with recording Vit D drops, feedings, diaper changes and more during the first few weeks); and WhatsApp (we use this app to keep in touch with family that lives in South America, constantly sending photos and updates within a little family group that we created in the app).
For me, those were the absolute essentials for the 1st month of Baby E’s life. Do you have any others you would recommend? The first month goes by in a blur, but it’s a beautiful time for the new family. Watch for my future posts of the essential baby items for the 2nd and 3rd months!