How much stuff do you really need for a baby?

Note: I am continuing to update this as the baby grows and needs new/different stuff.

I don’t intend this to be the baby blog, but since I put together a list for a friend, I thought I would put some tips accumulated from the last 4 or 5 months into one post, as well as things we bought for baby that I found useful. I thought I would put it in one place so I can point to it again if I need to.

Babies can be intimidating. And I was given lots of negative “advice” – you’ll never sleep again, everything is going to change (like it’s a threat, not a good thing), you’ll never eat out again, etc etc. I was terrified. We like our lives. We wanted to add to it, not take away.

Also, every baby is different and you don’t know what you will get until they’re there. Colic is a crap shoot. We (for once) rolled a good die number; it did not land on colic.

For a non-colic-y baby, here some stuff that worked for us. Your mileage may vary.

One of my friends said the best advice she got was to not tiptoe around the baby while they are sleeping. If they get used to sleeping while people are making noise or the TV or music is on, then you won’t have to worry about them only being able to sleep while it’s totally silent. That has worked well for us in regards to napping – at least until she was 3 or 4 months old and started to have more discrete sleep and awake times. And until we moved her into her own room/she hit the 4 month sleep regression/we had to stop swaddling her.

Young babies are super portable, and we found that Elena napped quite nicely at restaurants. She found the white noise of the background peaceful, and tended to naturally gravitate towards napping around lunch and dinner time. So she was super easy. Around 3 month old, her napping shifted and she started waking around meal times. She still did fine. I would take her out, sit her on my knee and let her

At first, it was scary and she felt like a ticking time bomb that might go off any minute. But she never really did in restaurants.  Her first one was a week after she was born, and she cried in the car but we took her out of her carrier and she was fine. But give them a try.  We started with places where we could pay up front and leave when we needed to.  But we’ve not had a problem.

We had friends and family babysit for us pretty early so we could see Star Wars or go grocery shopping.  We liked the idea too of her being used to other trustworthy adults.

When she was smaller I would shower during her naps, but these days, I just put her in the bassinet and give her some toys, and then shower.

Re: sleeping

When they are newborns really, they are too young for schedules or sleep training.  What you want to do is help them differentiate between day and night.  So during the day, even during naps, leave the lights on, and keep things bright.  At night, turn off lights, keep things dim and cosy.  When the get a little older still, you can start developing a bedtime routine to signal that it’s night and bedtime.  This likely won’t be effective til they are 2-3 months old. We found reading to her didn’t work until just recently. But the idea of dim lights, maybe a bath (ours hated them and they didn’t relax her), a story, and then some rocking to sleepiness has been working.

We were putting her down pretty late, between 10-11pm at first, because we didn’t want her waking up for the day at like 4am.  But we’ve slowly shifted it a bit earlier. Now it’s between 8:30-9:30.

Getting a baby who doesn’t like the bassinet to sleep in it can be really tricky.

Our best luck came with using the pack and play with bassinet insert, with a better mattress.  We would turn a white noise machine on, warm the mattress with a hot water bottle so the transition from warm arms to cold mattress wasn’t so stark, and kept the lights dim as possible. And we used the shusher.

The shusher comes from Harvey Karp, the Happiest Baby.  The current theory is there are things you can do to sooth the baby that mimic the womb environment.  They are: 1) shushing the baby – a literal SSHHHH SSSHHHHH sound.  It mimics them hearing your heartbeat and digestion and other body sounds and it triggers a relaxation reflex in them.  They actually have a shusher you can buy, and it’s magic.  We use it every night.  2) Swaddling is the other thing – it makes them feel like they are in utero again, and dampens the startle reflex, and helps them sleep. The hospital taught us how to do it.  Some babies like it, some don’t, but it always stopped the crying. There are tutorials on this on Youtube.  And 3) putting them in a football hold, tilt them down slightly (they are used to being upside down) and gently jiggling them.  All three of these things will help with crying – you can find youtube videos that demonstrate and you can find a DVD on Amazon too.

Here is the shusher – seriously, this thing is magic, and it’s only real failing is that at most it will stay on for a half hour. I’m thinking about recording it and making a longer version of the sound for us to use!

A combo of swaddling/hot water bottle/white noise/shusher helped us get her sleeping really well at night.

Ok, here follows a big data dump of everything we bought that we found useful for the few four months. I’m not getting paid to promote anything, and I was too lazy to do affiliate links or anything, so I’m not making any money.

Baby tub:

At first we used a little plastic tub because she was so tiny. But without a month maybe, we started using this which will work for baby and toddler, and it has a newborn insert.  We didn’t give her a ton of baths.  She didn’t really like them. They don’t really  need them that often at first. She tends to get formula in her neck folds so once that happens, she needs a bath!

This duck is great for telling you the temp of the water and if it’s too hot or cold:

We just got this one for when she is a little bigger. The person that looks after our daughter during the day has one and had to give Elena a bath after a diaper explosion and Elena liked it.

We bought a pack n play with the infant insert and she is still sleeping in that.  It is fairly sizeable (which is good once they start getting bigger but aren’t ready for the crib yet) and won’t fit through the doorway without folding it.  It is really portable for trips though so we are happy with it.

The mattress is super hard, so based on amazon comments and reviews I bought this mattress to go in it. It’s still firm enough that I don’t think it is a sleep hazard, but it’s more comfortable than what comes with it.

These sheets fit that mattress and are nice and soft:

And I also got a waterproof mattress cover.

This is the diaper pail we bought and I’ve been really happy with it so far.

This is the diaper bag we bought and I love it. I highly recommend hands-free because you have enough stuff to carry. This you can put on your back and not have to tie up a hand holding it. It has a ton of pockets too.

You’ll probably want to buy like one of each type of pacifier to see what baby likes. Mine only liked one kind. So I have just bought more of those.  Also, once baby hits about 3-4 months, you’ll want little clips because I cannot tell you how many pacifiers have totally disappeared on us. They are great for keeping small toys attached to baby so they don’t end up on the floor.

These are the pacifiers mine likes. (They come in random colors so I have received pink and blue both.)

These are the best burp clothes:

On formula:  it’s best to use the pre-mixed stuff if you can afford it (it’s suuuper expensive) while they are a newborn, because there is  less chance for contamination.  After 3 months, you can switch to powdered (much cheaper) and just use filtered tap water with it.  

Bottle wise (for formula or pumped milk), we really liked the Dr. Browns bottles because they are supposed to cut down on the amount of air they get and thus cut down on gas. This set has small and larger bottles both.  Initially, for bottle feeding, they’ll only take 2 oz at a time, and then you’ll build up to 4.  By 4 months, they can take 6 or more.   The amount she eats varies a lot even now, so we still use both sizes depending on how much we are giving her.  At first you’ll want the number 1 nipples that come with these. By 3 months, you’ll probably want to buy some number 2 ones and switch them out, like if the baby seems like they aren’t getting enough out of the bottle. We forgot there were multiple sizes.  And you definitely don’t want to give a newborn size 2, the flow will be too much.

For gas, we used mylicon drops – you can get it at a drugstore or amazon. It’s safe and you can use it in every bottle.  We think it helped?? It definitely helps now that we are using powdered formula because shaking it up creates a ton of air bubbles and that stuff dissolves them.

This is the formula we used – the pre-mixed stuff. They come in little 2 oz bottles. They do not need to be refrigerated.  Once the baby’s mouth is on a bottle, you basically have an hour with it. After that you have to get rid of it because of the bacteria in their mouths.

If you do decide to use formula, get on Similac (or Enfamil or whatever brand you use)’s mailing list and they will send you coupons.

Many people recommend gripe water for fussiness or gas.  Test them with it first to make sure they don’t have a reaction to it. It should be safe but if you read amazon reviews, sometimes a baby vomits because of it. But most of them do fine.  My only advice is do NOT use the dropper that comes with it. It’s too much liquid for them.  Put it in their formula or breast milk, or dropper it very very slowly in their mouths.  We didn’t realize and she had a bad coughing episode because we didn’t realize we gave her it too much too fast.  After that I read that their dropper sucks.

Bottle cleaner:

We bought a microwave sterilizer for bottles and bottle accesssories too. We switched to mostly the dishwasher after 3 months when she is less vulnerable. You’ll want a bottle rack for drying stuff too.

Also, re bottles, I have heard it recommend to NOT get a bottle warmer.  If they get used to bottles being warmed, it’ll be hard to feed them if you are out and about and can’t warm it.   We have not used a warmer.  The only time you need one probably is if you’re using fridged formula (the powdered needs to be fridged) or frozen breast milk that you have thawed.  But maybe hold off til you think you need it.

Should you use powdered formula, this is great for travel:

And for mixing large batches of formula:

Also don’t get a wipe warmer. Once they get used to warm wipes, you’ll never be able to clean them if you have non-warmed ones!!

Boppy pillows are great for breastfeeding. If you have one and intend to breastfeed, bring it to the hospital with you!

This is the rock and play – Elena liked it better than the bassinet, so she naps in it.  Get the one that won’t turn off after a half hour. This one will rock indefinitely:

I was recommend the ergo carrier – it’s much better for the baby’s hip joints than other carriers.   If you do get it, you need an infant insert for it (which I did not realize).

This book series is awesome:

Stain sticks are a must. :-)

This diaper changing clutch is great.  You can stick wipes and diapers in the pocket, and if you’re in a restaurant or something, you don’t have to bring the whole diaper bag. Just loop this on your arm and grab the baby and go!  I use this a lot. I usually restock the diapers and wipe it down (since it touches the changing tables in the bathrooms) after I use it. I keep it in the diaper bag.

This is the carrier seat cushion we  bought. We are still using the neck pillow since it’s nice and supportive.

This is the baby monitor we bought, I’ve been happy with it. It looks out of stock, but maybe there is a newer model?

This stroller was recc’d to me by a friend and it’s the one we bought. The stroller is nice and light and I can lift it by myself. It deploys really easily (once you figure out how) and I can do that one-handed. It comes with the carrier, one car base, and the stroller.  The stroller can be used once they outgrow the carrier too.

Elena used this baby seat at maybe 2 months old and she’s now starting outgrow it.

We just bought this baby seat (it comes in a bunch of color ways) because Elena is outgrowing her other seat).  Watch the prices though – it has gone from 28 bucks to 44 bucks every other day. Don’t buy it for 44 bucks.  This chair will be perfect once baby is 3-4 months old – you can use it into the toddler years.   One of the other babies at Elena’s day care has one and she loves it, so that’s why we bought it.  :-)

Once baby is around 3 months old, and starts gripping things, it’s time for toys! Elena loves this ring:

We bought this playmat and we’ve used it with her for months now. She loves it. They have a bunch of different colorways on this too. We bought a second one for her during the day at daycare.  And it has a little pillow that is good for propping them up for tummy time.

A friend recommended this nasal aspirator to me – it worked really well to suction snot out of her nose during her first cold. She doesn’t know how to blow her nose yet, so it’s the only way to get the stuff out. Also note you’ll want to buy the filters – one comes with it, but you’ll want a pack of them.

This is the white noise machine we bought – it only does white noise, but it seems effective.

I wish I had bought this sooner – Elena loves to play with my necklaces and this one she can put in her mouth and not worry about yanking on too hard.

I also highly recommend a stroller bag clip. You can hook shopping bags to it and it’s totally useful.  I got this one (don’t remember where I bought it from, didn’t see it on Amazon), but Amazon has a ton of different kinds.

One more thing we bought when I was pregnant that we use a ton now – the Leka playmat from IKEA. It keeps her off the floor and there is lots of room for her to kick it out and now that she is a little more observant she likes playing with the animals on it. We keep it out pretty much all the time now in the family room.

Keep in mind that if you spend a certain amount on your Amazon registry, you get a discount on whatever else is left on it after your due date.  So add tons of stuff to your registry so it’ll count. Also, be sure to check at the top, because they also will give you other discounts. I got 100 bucks towards diapers and wipes.

5+ months:

Here are some things we bought a bit later on.

Once we put Elena in her crib, and she was more mobile, we started having problems with her and the crib slats. This breathable mesh liner that goes around the bottle of the slats was recommended to us and it has solved our issues and made us feel she won’t get a leg stuck or something, nor can she grab things.

Board books are great for babies and Elena loves being read to – but storing them so we can see what we have has been tough. We bought this – we have it in our family room, but it can eventually go in her room. It was easy to put together and lightweight.

Books! Here are the ones Elena likes best.
1) Goodnight Moon – a classic.
2) If Animals Kissed Goodnight – the rhymes in this are great and she loves hearing it. And the illustrations are super cute.
3) Never Touch a Monster/Dragon/Dinosaur – these books have rubbed textures that she *loves* and cute rhymes.

Once baby is ready to start learning to use sippy cups, these transitional ones are good. She won’t spill when she plays with it.

Here’s a rec for when baby starts sitting up and using high chairs. We bought this after a friend recommended it and we tried theirs out. It has its own tray which means they are far enough from the table that they can’t grab anything (hot plates/silverwear) and it is light, easy to clean (you an just dump it outside), and it fits nicely in the trunk even with the stroller there. Worth every penny. Makes restaurants easy, we keep ours in the car and use it all the time!

ciao! Baby Portable High Chair, Black,

We lucked out and got one of these jumparoos, that looked brand new, from a garage sale, for 10 bucks. If you can find one used, it’s worth while. We have used it pretty much every night from around 4 or 5 months (after she could support her head unassisted) until around 9 months. We’ve been using it less lately mostly because she doesn’t need something to tire her out as much now that she can crawl. But the jumparoo was great because it entertained her, let us rest a bit while we watched her, and got that last burst of energy out right before bed. We would put her in it after we got her in her PJs, but before we read her stories and gave her her bottle. It let her expend her last energy. Once she started fussing and acting tired, we’d take her out and proceed with bedtime. I think she is outgrowing it now, which makes me a little sad because she had a fun time playing with it.