We’re going to have a new baby in the family this summer. Don’t worry – she’s not ours. Ryan’s brother and sister-in-law are having their first and we can hardly wait! My Jones side is already overflowing with kiddos (12 kids ages 11 and under), but this will be the first new baby on the other side of the family besides our kids.
It will also be the first time I can be an auntie to a new baby without having a baby of my own! I’m so looking forward to holding and spoiling her and watching our kids fall in love with their baby cousin.
Since this is the first baby for my sister-in-law, she is brand new at all of this. The other day she sent me the most darling text that went something like this:
“I had a slight panic attack in Target when we went to register. There is just so much stuff!! We got through an aisle and a half before I freaked out. The breast pumps were what did me in. Any suggestions for what we’ll actually want/need?”
First, I laughed. Because it is quite overwhelming – especially when you’re new to the whole baby thing. And then next, I replied with an equally overwhelming long list of what she’ll want/not want. Apparently I have some opinions on baby paraphernalia.
Even though I’ve been out of this baby game for 5 years, I did do it four times and have a pretty good idea of what was totally necessary, what products I loved and what items were a waste when it came to setting up a nursery.
Since we’re in that springtime season of baby showers, I thought it might be helpful to share that list with all of you as well.
(Keep in mind that I’m 5 years removed from the baby trends. It seems like all sorts of ingenious and adorable products have been introduced since I had Audrey, so feel free to chime in at the end to let us know what fantastic and essential items you would add to my list.)
So, here it is – my list for my soon-to-be first time mama sister-in-law:
The key to choosing an infant carseat is making sure it is comfortable to hold between the crook of your elbow while juggling 18 other things. This one from Britax is a favorite. You’ll probably want a stroller you can clip the carseat into, so whichever carseat you select, be sure to grab the coordinating travel system.
2. Bouncy Seat
I know you’ll want to hold your baby all the time, but soon enough you’ll find you just need to set her down for a few minutes (or hour) and a bouncy seat that vibrates is key. I wish they would not put such baby-ish designs on these things, but one like this isn’t too offensive and will work like a dream.
There are so many different ones to choose from. I just like how simple to use and easy-on-the-eyes this one from 4moms is.
4. Booster Seat
This one is totally up to you, but we never bought a real high chair. We used this booster seat for all 4 kids (just buckled it onto a chair). It is easy to bring with you when you visit friends for dinner and can be scrubbed down without much effort.
5. Bumbo Seat
Once the little darling is old enough to sit up, the bouncy seat will lose it’s magic and in will come the bumbo seat. It allows the baby to sit up with support and watch what’s going on. Just don’t leave the baby sitting in it on the counter. That freaks me out.
A light-weight, easy-to-fold stroller like this Maclaren version is essential once the baby grows out of the carseat carrier. Just beware that hanging a heavy diaper bag on the handles causes it to tip backward. Not that I have any experience with this or anything.
7. Moses Basket
When the baby is a newborn, she’ll sleep all the time. I loved having a small moses basket nearby to let the baby nap. We also used this for the first month or so in our room before we moved the babies to their own cribs.
1. Changing Pad
This curved changing pad is great for adding to the top of a dresser instead of purchasing a changing table.
Just add a simple terry cloth changing pad cover to the pad (or go with a patterned or colored one – there are so many designs to choose from). You’ll probably want at least two covers, so you can switch them out and wash regularly.
To save on washing the entire changing pad, these waterproof liners are great for layering over-top to catch any leaks (of which there will be plenty).
You’ll become an expert in wrapping your baby up like a burrito, and these extra-large swaddling blankets from Swaddle Designs are my favorite. They come in many different stylish patterns and are super soft. Or, if you want a lighter option (especially great for warmer climates), these muslin swaddles are great too.
My babies each had a special blanket (actually, they all still sleep with theirs still) and these fluffy ones from Little Giraffe are the best. You really can never have too many blankets – great for snuggling up in the stroller for morning walks – and there are endless options. This classic white knit blanket is sweet, and this pom pom version is super cute too.
When your baby starts breaking out of a regular blanket swaddle, these sleep sacks make it so easy to give them that comforting swaddle feel and extra warmth of a blanket. It’s a little bit like a straight jacket, but just try to see past that part.
7. Baby Monitor
Go with your gut on this one, but my recommendation is to skip the video monitor and stick with just the sound monitor version. Honestly, we hardly even used ours. There is a mother’s instinct that just knows when a baby is about to wake up, so rarely was I surprised to hear the baby. Also, babies make strange noises when they sleep and I never felt the need to hear all of them while I tried to get a few hours of rest. It’s up to you, though. I know everyone has different opinions on this one.
The womb is a noisy place, so a little white noise makes it easier for a baby to sleep. And if your household is noisy, a sound machine will cover up those noises to prevent premature wake-ups.
My aunt bought a set of trumpette socks for my first son before he was born and I became an instant fan. They are socks that stay on babies’ little feet and have the cutest designs. The Mary Janes are my favorite.
3. Burp Cloths
Such an essential item for little ones who spit up (mine were the worst). I love these soft, simple organic burp cloths, or you could make a bunch of your own with terrycloth and cotton (tutorial here).
These sweet onesies are a splurge for sure, but well worth it. These soft shirts can be worn on their own during the early days of snuggling the newborn, or worn under clothes for an extra layer. The crossover style makes changing baby much easier without having to pull a shirt over her head. And once you feel the quality of material, there’s no going back.
5. Pilot Cap
Hats are a good idea for babies, and these organic cotton pilot caps from Hanna Andersson are not only adorable, but also practical. The chin ties keep the hat on and ear flaps keep tiny ears warm. Start with a lightweight one for warmer months and switch to a thicker winter version when the weather turns chilly.
6. Board Books
One can never have too many books. Good, solid board books are great for baby. These are our family’s favorites of all: Tumble Bumble, Peepo, Going on a Bear Hunt, Sheep in a Jeep. For more books for baby, check out this post.
7. Diaper Bag
You’ll want a good diaper bag. It doesn’t have to be huge with tons of pockets or even one from Petunia Pickle Bottom (although they make great bags!), just roomy enough to hold an extra change of clothes, diapering items, snacks, toys, your wallet, phone and lipstick and random things like socks and hats and bottles and binkies and sunscreen and hand sanitizer. Actually, I take that back. You will want something huge.
8. Plush Bunny
While pregnant with No.1, I vowed that we would not be a stuffed animal family. I’m not sure why, exactly, other than that there are a lot of weird looking stuffed animals that I did not want cluttering up the nursery. And then my mom gave me our first JellyCat stuffed bunny and my mind was changed. These are darling plush toys that the kids love and so I’ve given in. And (of course) my kids turned out to be total stuffed animal fans.
So there it is. My list of baby essentials.
I’d love to know … what’s on your list of nursery necessities?