I’m only speaking out of experience here, I’m not an expert but I’ve been through this enough times that I’d like to think I have some things figured out. We all know that every baby is different; they each have their own likes and dislikes and have no problem letting you know how they feel about things. My three are no exception. But I have found a few things to be helpful (and not so helpful) with each one of them.
Swaddle Blankets– babies come out of a squished, comfy, warm space and being “out in the open” is new to them. Even if your baby shows no interest in a swaddle blanket, it’s not a bad idea to have some on hand. My first started off swaddled on day one but my second baby didn’t want to be swaddled till his sleep patterns changed around the time he turned 2 months old. My third was swaddled until a month ago (he’s almost 15 months old).
Heartbeat or White Noise Machine-I figured this one out right after my first son was born. Again, babies come out from a place where they hear whooshing sounds (your blood) and rhythmic beating sounds (your heart). Mimicking those sounds, along with your voice and smell, can help soothe a cranky baby. Trust me.
Bouncy Seats– Yes you will want to hold your new baby every second of the day but what about when you need to pee? I ended up with two bouncy seats when I had my first son and I’m so glad I kept both of them. I kept one upstairs and one downstairs and that was his favorite hangout spot. and I got to shower, pee or cook dinner. I did the same thing with my subsequent children as well.
Carrier– If your baby had a say, she’d want to be on you 24/7 so it’s best to invest in a carrier that will allow you to hold your baby and still have your hands free. Try on different carriers or ask around for advice to figure out which one you like the best. There are many different types from slings to wraps to structured carriers and each one of my kids liked something totally different. My first loved the sling, second preferred the wrap and my third loves him some Ergo.
Breast Pump– if you plan to breastfeed, invest in a good breast pump. I never thought I needed one (because I was a stay at home mom) but as it turned out, I had a few preemies that needed pumped milk during their NICU stays and battles with jaundice. It also helped with engorgement, prevented a blocked duct from becoming mastitis and allowed me to have some date nights with my husband. One of our favorites is the Medela Freestyle Breast Pump.
Battery Powered Nasal Aspirator– godsend. My 3-year-old and 1-year-old each have one and we swear by them. One of my favorites is the Graco Nasal Clear Nasal Aspirator.
Pack N Play– I’ve definitely gotten my money’s worth from this thing. I’ve used it as a changing station for middle of the night messes, I’ve taken it on vacation, I’ve used it as a play area so I can vacuum, I’ve taken it to the beach and I’ve used it as a coat hanger- a place to quickly put some clean clothes.
Wipe Warmer– just reading the warning labels will make you not want to plug the thing in. Then, when you do, you need to spend more money on “fresheners” and you’ll try to convince yourself that orange-colored wipes are normal. The only time I could see wanting a warm wipe is in the middle of the night (while you’re hoping not to wake baby even more than she already is) but a few seconds cupped in your hands should be good enough.
Baby Shoes– maybe if you take your 3 month old to get pictures taken on a fake surfboard would it be cute to put over-sized flip flops on your baby’s feet but other than that, baby shoes are just not practical. Not to mention they don’t look comfortable, at all.
A closet full of blankets– why is it that people gift a mom-to-be a million blankets? You really only need a handful of blankets. 1 or 2 large blankets for playing on the floor and a few to keep handy for bundling up when it’s cold.
Travel System– Don’t buy your stroller just because it conveniently attaches to a matching car seat. Most strollers on the market come with car seat attachments for a wide range of infant car seats. I had a travel system with my first son and while I loved the car seat, the stroller was bulky, kinda cheap and took up a lot of my trunk space. Not to mention all of my kids only lasted 4-6 months in their infant car seats before I switched them into a convertible rear-facing car seat. Research car seats and strollers separately, find the two you like and see if there’s an option for an adapter to make it a travel system. Why not start off with the stroller that you want and that will last you longer? If the stroller you like does not adapt to the car seat you like, look into a snap and go. Chances are, the stroller you want to keep for years, the infant car seat and the snap and go will end up costing you less in the long run.
Walkers– I don’t know why these are still made. They are said to be dangerous and put strain on a baby’s hips when they are used too early. Developmentally, children should not be putting weight on their hips or legs until they can pull to a standing position and cruise around furniture. If you do get a stationary entertainer (e.g. Exersaucer) make sure your baby’s toes are the only things touching the floor. You never want your baby to be flat-footed before they are developmentally ready.
Wait and See:
Bassinets– Borrow one or wait to invest in a bassinet. I had one with my first and luckily, he loved it. I then got one for my second and he wanted nothing to do with it. He never ended up using it and I ended up buying a structured in-the-bed co-sleeper for him. Definitely something I wish I would have waited on doing until after he was born. I didn’t buy anything for my third son and a few weeks after he was born I knew exactly what we both needed, a bedside co-sleeper! I saved some time and money not getting something before he was born. I know, it’s hard, but I resisted the nesting, gotta-have-everything-in-place feeling and waited.
Newborn Diapers– Don’t load up on packs of newborn-sized diapers. Send someone out to get you more IF you need them. And if you do buy newborn diapers, do not open the packages! An open package cannot be returned… and if you have a gigantic baby (like my third child) you will not need anything that says newborn on it. Newborn diapers typically only go to 8 pounds and remember the Rule Of Diapers: you always want to size up if your baby is near the end of the weight range to help avoid blow outs and leaks.
Play Gym– I much prefer the floor activity centers to the Play Gyms that have the toys that hang over the baby. None of my boys liked lying under an arc of toys and if they were on the floor, I’d much rather them spend it on their tummy’s, for tummy time. It’s not something you need right away so waiting to see the temperament of your child is probably not a bad idea.
Pacifiers– I stocked up on Binkis and my first son loved them. I stocked up for my second son and he never took one! I had opened the packs, sterilized them all and then they sat, unused. You think I would have learned my lesson by my third son but? I didn’t. Once again, I stocked up on Binkis, sterilized them and we ended up donating them a few months ago.