When you’re expecting, everyone has opinions about what you absolutely cannot live without with a baby. We’re no different. So we’ve compiled our allmomdoes list of baby must-haves. And because we also love saving you money, we’ve made a list of our top useless items, too.
Ten Baby Must-Haves
1. A Diaper Backpack – We know how adorable some of those diaper bags are, but having one you can carry on your back is so much more practical and comfortable. Plus, you probably have a better chance of your husband carrying it.
2. Fisher Price Rock ‘n Play Sleeper – I am as anti-baby-gear as they come, but every mom should own this. It’s reclined and cozy, but rated as a bassinet so you can feel safe having your little one sleep in it. Plus it’s light-weight, portable, and doesn’t take up a ton of space. I’m not making any promises, but my kid slept five hours from the first day we came home from the hospital. Pure magic.
3. NoseFrida – Want a better way to suck the snot out of your baby’s nose? Try this instead of a bulb syringe. Parents swear by it!
4. A frame stroller – It might seem frivolous to have a stroller that can only be used for the first year, but this was hands-down my favorite thing (aside from the magical sleeper above). It’s so much smaller and easy to maneuver than those larger strollers that come with the “car seat system.” I could lift and open it one-handed from the trunk of my car, snap the car seat in so baby is secured without having to remove them from the actual car seat, and be on my merry way without taking up the entire sidewalk. So easy, so quick, and so convenient. (Note: Make sure you buy one that specifically fits your infant carrier car seat brand.)
5. Lansinoh breast milk bags – Pumping enough to freeze your milk? Most moms won’t trust any other brand than this one, and for good reason. It’s tried-and-true.
6. White noise machine – This doesn’t have to be expensive or fancy. Quite honestly, it could be a radio tuned in to static. But this will be your lifesaver for sleep!
7. Newborn photography – I know this isn’t really essential, but I didn’t do newborn photography for either of my kids and I totally regret it. You don’t have to go all-out for an expensive session or get 50 different images. Really, one or two will do. They change so much so quickly it’s nice to have. It’s best to do this within the first week (two weeks max) while they’re still sleeping all the time. Don’t stretch your budget just for this but if you can, buy one or two images from the people that come around the hospital. If you really don’t have the money, ask a friend who takes decent photos to help.
8. Swaddle blankets – Swaddling takes a good amount of fabric; make sure you get blankets that are large enough! Some of our faves are Aden + Anais and Just One You. I’ll admit that the Velcro swaddle sacks are nice, but the Velcro wears out eventually. Instead, just learn how to swaddle. Ask the nurses at the hospital to show you. Then ask them again. And again. By the time you leave, you’ll be a pro!
9. Sleeping gowns – Trust me on this one, you DO NOT want to be wrangling little legs back into little pajamas at 12:30, 2:00, and 5:30 am. You will want to be in-and-out as quickly as possible. Sleeping gowns (with open elastic bottoms instead of fitted legs with zippers or snaps) are a lifesaver.
10. Ergo baby carrier – There are a zillion options for babywearing. For most of us this brand was our personal favorite. You can wear the baby on your front, on your back, and up until they’re 30 pounds. It’s super comfy for mom, super simple to put on, and is designed with baby’s hip development in mind to prevent injury.
Ten Baby Items to Skip
1. Wipe Warmer – Yes, some people love this. But the reality is that it’s not necessary. It’s bulky, you’ve got to plug it in, you have to refill it when it’s empty. Not worth the hassle in our opinion (though in the interest of full disclosure there was some internal debate).
2. Bath toys that squirt water – Nope, because one day you will playfully squirt your kiddo in the bathtub and out will come a gross slimy mildew that has inevitably built up inside that cheap plastic. Get toys that don’t suck up water. Better yet, just give them the measuring cups from your kitchen. Same thing.
3. Four Costco boxes of newborn diapers – In reality you don’t know what size your baby will be. They might spend three months in newborn sizes or skip right to Size 2. You also don’t know whether Pampers, Huggies, or the generic budget-friendly diapers will work. It might sound silly if this is your first baby, but trust me – fit and performance is different for every baby. What works for your BFF’s baby might leak horribly for yours. Buy a package and stock up once your baby arrives and you know what works best.
4. Books with batteries – Three reasons NOT to purchase books with batteries: 1) They are annoying. 2) Replacement batteries are super expensive. 3) When the batteries start to die they sound SUPER CREEPY.
5. Receiving blankets – I don’t know what the big deal is with those receiving blankets. They’re too small to swaddle or do anything with. You don’t need them.
6. Expensive nursery bedding – I completely understand the draw to buy an adorable nursery set to help decorate your child’s room. But the truth is that you’re not supposed to use crib bumpers anymore (suffocation risk) nor are you supposed to use blankets (especially heavy blankets) in a baby’s crib, so the main components of the bedding set are basically useless. Waste of money.
7. Bulb syringe – Don’t buy one of these. You’ll get one at the hospital, and it will be way better than any that you buy at the baby supply store. If you want something different, try a NoseFrida instead (see above).
8. Multiple baby seats – At one point I looked around my house and had a swing, a baby seat, a rock-n-play, a bumbo, a car seat, and a play mat all taking up real estate in my teeny living room. You don’t need all of them. For instance, my kids never sat in our swing.
9. A pack-n-play – I’m not saying that pack-n-plays are not good to have. But before you buy one, consider – why do you think you need one? If you’re using it for an in-room bassinet, great. If you plan to travel a lot and need to bring your own bed for the baby, buy one. But if you’re buying one just because you think it’s a must-have that everyone gets, consider skipping it. We probably used ours a total of four times between both of our kids combined. We just preferred other items more, and when we traveled borrowed one from other people at our destination to avoid having one more thing to tote along.
10. Stuffed animals that play bedtime music – They’re cute and seem like a great idea, but these auto-shutoff toys and devices can actually cause sleep issues once your baby gets a little older, plus they are quieter than you typically need for effective white bedtime noise. (Read more about that here.)