Saturday, August 15, 2015

Baby Registry Must Haves

Now that I'm five months in to this motherhood gig, I have remarked numerous times that Baby Registries are "wasted" on first-time moms.  I'm mostly kidding of course, but what I mean is that if I were to re-do my baby registry now, it would look a bit different than when I did it before Jacob was born.  Parenthood has an extremely high learning curve - I am way more qualified to select "must have" items now than I was even six months ago.  While I was doing research for my registry, I read that the "rule of thumb" is to register for things you'd need in the first year, but my list below is on the things that have been lifesavers in Jacob's first five months.  After the page break is a list of the things I recommend for any baby registry:

Video Monitor  This was among the most expensive items we registered for, and one of the most crucial for helping the transition from our bedroom to his nursery.  I'll be honest, I didn't do a ton of research on this item - two of my girlfriends had this monitor and loved it so I decided to take their word for it and we've been very pleased.  I haven't tested the range too much, but it has crystal clear image/sound from the nursery to our backyard, frontyard and basement.  It is wireless so you can move it around with you.

Swaddle Blankets We registered for quite a few beautiful receiving blankets, and while those have a place, the swaddle blanket (with velcro) was a game-changer for us in terms of sleep.  The hospital provided one for our use while we were admitted, and after only one night without it at home, my dad and Scott ran out to find a few of them.  We now have three (two fleece pictured below, one cotton) in two different sizes, and he almost never sleeps without them.  The current recommendation is no blankets in the crib until age 1, so this is a way to make sure he stays safe and warm for the early months.

Sound Machine  My mother-in law heard about the aden+anais Serenity Star from a client, and she gave it to us at one of my baby showers.  It's really neat - it doubles as a noise machine, a night-light with a clock, a thermometer to tell you the temperature of the nursery, and you can even use it to record which side you nursed last.  This is admittedly a top-of-the-line product, but I really like how many things it does - we use it every night as his noise machine, and I love the nightlight/clock function, especially during the middle-of-the-night feedings when you want to see what time it is without disturbing the babe.  This particular noise machine is A+, and any noise-machine is a must-have.

Humidifier  Babies little noses can get congested really easily, so a good humidifier in the nursery can help a lot.  I wanted one that looked cool (not baby-ish) so that it could move to a different room later.  We went with this one and we have no complaints - there are multiple settings to dictate how strongly you want it to work.  

I didn't realize how many hours of my life would be spent making sure my little one had a full belly.  There are many, MANY tools available to make this easier, and here are a few that I found helpful.

Breastpump, accessories and compatible bottles  If you're planning to breastfeed, a good pump can be key to building a little stash in the fridge so that dad or grandma can help take a shift now and then.  Many insurances cover breastpumps, although ours did not.  Medela is considered amongst the best BFing brands in the world, and I've been very pleased with their products and customer service (I had an issue with one of the parts, I called customer service and they overnighted me that part free of charge!)  I went with the Medela Pump In Style Advanced, in large part due to it being "THE ONE" that my cousin and three separate girlfriends all had.  I can't say pumping is the most fun you'll ever have, but this pump is efficient and a solid product.   The pump comes with a battery pack, a cooler for easy transport, an icepack, 4 or 5 bottles with nipples/lids.  I also suggest having a few of the accessories on hand (water-free cleaning wipes for on the go, an extra set of pump parts so you have duplicates, extra bottles - we like the 5 and 8 oz ones).

Cloth Diapers  I know this seems a little crazy, but someone suggested we get a pack of cloth diapers for burp rags... and they are the best spitup rags EVER.

Boppy Pillow with Covers  I am borrowing the Boppy from my cousin, and I love it.  It is great for nursing, or even just holding your babe with a little extra support.  I also have two slipcovers for the Boppy - they are washable and easy to change out.  They can also be used for propping (pictured below) and tummy time when babe is a bit older.

Tommee Tippee bibs  I stumbled upon these bibs and they are the only ones we use for bottles.  There is this extra fold of soft fabric around the neck which catches milk dribbles to prevent the "milk rash" that many babies get around their necks.  We bought two - two packs and that's a great amount as you pretty much only get one day of use out of each one (the neck gets kind of crusty from the milk dribbles).

Bottle storage/drying rack  I received this as a baby shower gift, and we love it.  It doesn't look bad when it's left out on the counter (which is good, because it's always left out on the counter) and it works really well.  It comes in two sizes, and I'd suggest getting the largest size that can comfortably sit on your counter.  We keep ours immediately next to the sink for ease.

Thermometer/baby meds
I hated thinking about having a baby who got sick, but I was very glad I registered/purchased the below things.  Jacob is five months old and I've used every single one on at least one occasion (and when your baby isn't feeling well, it's SO NICE to already have these in the house and not have to run out to buy them).

Thermometer  We have this one

Infant Tylenol, Infant Vicks Rub, Gripe Water This is another category that I go "name-brand" on.

Infant saline drops (not spray) with Nose Frieda  The Nose Frieda might be my #1 greatest tip.  This thing seems incredibly gross, but it is A GENIUS product.  We use this twice a week when J is healthy, and twice a day when he has a cold.  They also make replacement filters, but we haven't needed to change the filter yet in five months of using it (although now I'm wondering if that's really gross and maybe we should change it :)  The Infant Saline Drops were recco'ed to us by our pediatrician - you drop a few drops in to baby's nose to help loosen the boogies and then they can get sucked out much more easily.  This brand is for babies - JSS barely reacts when we use 'em, just wrinkles his nose a bit :)

Bath Gear
Bathing a brand new baby (or even a 5-month old) can be a little scary.  They are so tiny and fragile and when they get wet they are so slippery.  You're told to do sponge baths until the baby's umbilical cord stump falls off (between 1-3 weeks of age - Jacob's took almost the full three weeks) and we continued doing sink baths until he was four months old.  We started baths in the bathtub the day he turned four months.

Oversized baby sponge  My mom was with us the first 16 days of Jacob's life, and she mentioned that she had this oversized sponge to bath us with when we were babies (the child would literally be laid ON the sponge).  So she found one and got it for us.  This is the one we have, and I love it.  I should probably swap it out for a new one, it's gotten a little dingy (and at only $6 a pop, it isn't too big of an expense to make bath time a LOT easier). When J was getting sink baths, we'd put him on top of it on the counter or in the sink and bath him that way, now Scott lays the sponge on the tub floor and puts Jacob on top of it so he doesn't slip-slide around.

Baby Soap  I love Burt's Bees baby products and we use this soap - it's Tear Free and 99.9% natural.  (There are tons of great products out there - this happens to be the one we went with and since we never had any issues and have loved it from day 1, we've never tried other brands)

Baby Lotion  I like this lotion a TON (and I always "accidentally" put a little too much in my hands to rub on JSS so I have to put it on myself so it doesn't go to waste:).  It's also a really thick lotion and is 99.9% Natural :)

Baby towel I like anything soft with a hood (so it's extra cozy after a bath).  We have two and love them both.

Baby Washcloths I  love this twelve pack of white washcloths.  They are perfect for giving baths to babies.  They are really soft, the perfect fabric weight, and cheap enough that they can be replaced if it gets damaged in an unfortunate incident with poo ;)  Bonus: later, you can get them a little wet and put them in the freezer for a cheap & easy teething soother.

Shampoo Rinser This is a pretty cool tool that makes bathtime easier.  It's a soft sided cup for pouring water over baby's head - the design means that the bendable plastic forms around baby's head so that you don't get any water or soap in their eyes.

Variety of different diapers  Diapers.  Man, there is almost nothing I hate spending money on more.  I tried a few different kinds (Honest Company, Pampers, Hugs, Target Up & Up).  Jacob has a bit of a sensitive hiney (sorry for telling the whole internet that, kid) so he got Pampers Sensitives until he was 14 weeks old.  Then we "downgraded" to Pampers Swaddlers without any issue.  He's currently using Target Up & Up Overnights, and Pampers Swaddlers during the day.  I haven't noticed a huge difference in quality between any of the above, except... Honest Company.  Guys, I really wanted to love these.  They are SO cute - they have really adorable designs on the outside (like Giraffes!) but I hated the quality.  They felt like cardboard, and Jacob leaked out of them constantly.  I have read that they are the best kind for the environment - which is probably why they felt like cardboard - but I just really disliked them.  :(  I'd suggest registering for a small pack of a few different kinds to see what you prefer.  Tip: if I'm remembering correctly, newborn diapers go up to only 8 pounds, so don't buy too many packs of those.  If/when I do this again, I'll probably aim for about 3-4 packs of 24 newborn diaps and the rest size one.  (You can definitely stretch that 8 pound "limit" up a pound or two, you just risk more leaks and poo explosions :)

Diaper Rash Cream My cousin suggested the purple version of Desitin (extra strength) because it has the highest zinc percentage, and we have not deviated from that.

Wipes  We use Pampers Sensitive wipes which I buy in the largest box that Target sells.  I do have friends that swear by Target Up & Up wipes.

Baby Powder  There is some controversy over whether baby powder is good for babies.  In a pre-baby class we took at the hospital, they told us it was THE WORST THING EVER because the puff of powder that comes out when you open the tub can get in baby's lungs (scary).  In reality though, this is the only thing that keeps Jacob's sensitive bum dry and diaper rash away.  He had a terrible rash from about four through eight weeks of life, and as soon as we started with the powder it was gone within 48 hours.  Baby Powder used to be made from Talc - make sure you avoid that and instead get the 100% corn starch kind.  We like this Johnsons version.

Diaper Genie  This is something that I rolled my eyes at P-J (pre-Jacob) but I am a big convert now.  This is a glorified trashcan, with a small area in the top to shove the dirty diaps down in to the device.  I don't know if it's technology or magic, but I swear this completely eliminates the odor in the nursery.  It probably fits 30-ish diapers in each can (more for the tiny newborn diaps, less for bigger-size diaps) so you only need to empty it maybe 2x a week.  It's awesome.

Diaper Genie refills  Tip:  I'm a BIG FAN of generics, but I really dislike the generic version of these refills.  I've had them rip THREE TIMES spilling dirty diapers all over my floor.  Dirty diapers aren't super fun - and that is amplified by 10,000 when they are OLD dirty diaps.  The name-brand are about $1 more per refill (and we get about 3-4 weeks out of each one).

Changing pad / pad cover  We got our changing pad used (I believe this is another item we're borrowing from my cousin) and just got a fabric cover from Target.  I have two different covers so that we can swap one out in the laundry every week or two. Below you can see the changing pad cover (white with texture) as well as the liner that I'll mention in my next bullet point.

Changing pad liners These are something I stumbled upon during my registry research, and they are AWESOME.  The ones we use (pictured above with the black & white edge) came in 3-packs; I'd get at least 4 3-packs.  (I will admit to being a terrible environmentalist on a few occasions - when the blowout got all over the liner, I'd say SEE YA and pitch it.  Cleaning up poo is the worst).

Miscellaneous  You'll probably need things like a Crib, a dresser, a changing table, but I am using all secondhand stuff for that gear (I guess I did buy the changing table at Ikea) so I don't have tons of suggestions there.  This portion will focus on the other "gear" that may make your life easier!

Swing/Mamaroo/Pack N Play I highly suggest a place for baby to lay/sleep that has a rocking motion.  There are many studies about how you shouldn't let your baby sleep in a swing, but... most newborn babies will only sleep in something that moves (they are used to the motion in utero).  We borrowed a Mamaroo and Swing from my cousin, and JSS slept in the Mamaroo for the first 7 weeks of his life.  It was a lifesaver - so much so that I would literally move the 'Roo from our room to the living room during the day and back again at night.  I also have friends that swear by the Pack N Play, but I don't have any first hand experience.

Baby Connect App  This might be the first app that I've ever paid for.  It's $5 via the iTunes store, and it has paid for itself 10x over.  It allows you to record the times of diaper changes, nursing duration, ounces consumed per bottle, naps, activities, and more.  You can also have multiple people be able to access/enter the data - so I have access, and so does Scott and my mom.  That way, if my mom is watching him, she can enter the information so we know exactly what happened while we were away.  It was HUGE for the early days - back then, we even recorded when he was sleeping so that if I was napping, I could pull it up before I got out of bed, and know if I should be extra quiet walking out of my room.  It's also allowed my mom to feel extra connected from 250 miles away - she can open the app in the morning and see if we had a good or rough night.  This is def in my top 5 purchases for JSS.

Carseat with compatible stroller  I had a different stroller picked out when Scott pointed out that it wasn't compatible with a carseat.  GREAT POINT.  We ended up selecting the Britax B-Agile/B-Safe combination, which is a carseat and stroller combination (and received it, thanks to my in-laws!)  I love that you can take the carseat out of the car and snap it directly in to the stroller, making for easy transport of your new baby.  It can also be used even after babe has outgrown the carseat as the stroller part can be used separately.  We have it in black, and I think it's sleek, stylish and extremely comfortable.  We also received an extra base, so Scott and I can each have a base in our car. (Be careful to test the base - they changed the size in 2013 or 2014 so you want to double check that your carseat fits in the extra base before you get rid of the packaging).   We also bought the stroller organizer that has two cupholders and a small cooler compartment (perfect for one bottle).  At the time, I thought $25 was outrageous for the organizer - and it is! - but we use it on almost every walk.

Baby Carriers  I love "baby wearing".  I was fortunate to borrow a TON of baby carriers from two of my cousins who recently had babies, so I've tried a number of them.  I am especially partial to the K'Tan and the Boba Carrier.


Jumper  Jacob is OBSESSED with his jumper.  We ordered a fairly inexpensive one that had good reviews, and we've been very pleased with it.  It has adjustable straps to grow with your baby.  I believe you are supposed to wait until the baby can sit up by himself, but we started this around 4 months (maybe a little earlier) and stuck a blanket behind him.  Definitely against the manufacturer recco, but works for us :)

Pacifiers  I don't have a specific brand to reco, but rather a suggestion:  have a few different brands/types on hand.  Jacob will keep exactly ONE KIND in his mouth - the rest he spits out immediately with a disgusted look on his face :)

Car stuff We have a seat protector for the carseat, and we also have a mirror so that I can see Jacob's face while driving.


  1. Love Jacob's sweet face in that jumper pic! This post is such a good've certainly learned a lot and are clearly the subject matter expert! So proud of you and Scott for all the thoughtful and educated decisions you are making on JSS's behalf! He's lucky to have you two as his parents!

  2. When the day comes for me, I will definitely be back to this post for reference. Great resource!!!


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