My wife Melissa and I just had a baby, and we thought we would compile this list of products that work and don’t work to save expectant parents some time.
None of these are must haves, and parents with different circumstances may find other product work better. We live in an apartment in Washington DC, so our needs for strollers and such will be different than a suburban family.
Below is a list of products we love:
This is an amazing baby monitor. I love that it has an optional zoom lens included so you don’t have to activate digital zoom every single time. The camera also moves by remote- very helpful for when your baby moves in the crib. You can also talk to your baby or partner, and listen to your baby’s noises. This is a sweet product.
You’ll need to mount it up high, so use the sticky nail below.
For hanging your camera.
Trust me, you’ll want a glider chair and somewhere to put your feet up. Mom’s feet swelled up bigger after giving birth and the ottoman was really helpful to raise her feet. The Dutailier is the cadillac, but it’s expensive. There is a vibrant second-hand market, so check Craigslist or Facebook.
[Edit: we loved the Dutailier until our son started crawling. Then all the exposed moving parts became a serious hazard for lost fingers. In retrospect, a better longer-term solution would be a glider chair that has all the parts contained away from curious fingers. We bought this one off Wayfair.]
If you live in the city and need a light, maneuverable stroller that converts to a car seat, the Doona is for you. The stroller collapses and you can easily put it in an Uber or Taxi for safety. Or it clips right into its base like a normal car seat. Use it either way. And the Doona is perfect for city streets because it’s so compact and maneuverable. We have to carry it up a flight of stairs, and it’s light enough for my wife to lift with the baby in it.
[Still the best baby product we’ve ever had.]
You can use a regular backpack, but this has all the right pockets and compartments. You will want a bag with a lot of pockets to organize all the things you are carrying. If everything falls to the bottom, you will be left trying to fish what you want from the bottom with one hand while the other one is holding a baby. This backpack is also unisex so both mom and dad will feel comfortable carrying it.
There are many choices in changing tables, but you probably want to get one of them. I tried changing the baby on a table and on a pd on the sofa and it just kills your back. You need something at the right height. We bought this one from Ikea. It has a lot of storage so you can keep diapers, wipes, swaddles, etc close so everything is at hand during changing. You can also give them a sponge bath on it if you buy the LA baby waterproof pad below.
This rack is awesome and absolutely necessary for getting bottles dry. It’s the ferrari of drying racks at pinto prices. Normal drying racks don’t allow enough air into the bottles to dry them.
This works well for lots of things, but not great for bottles. It didn’t give enough air to the inside of the bottles to get them dry.
Not strictly necessary, but we found it easier to give bottles a quick wash in the sink and then toss them in the steamer, rather than washing them in the dishwasher.
These bags are great for sterilizing of bottles, breastfeeding equipment, etc while on the go. You just need water and a microwave. Each bag can be used 20 times so put it your diaper bag for sterilizing when out and about.
Sleeping and Swaddling
A tip on swaddling- double swaddle. Put your baby in a sleep sack/pod/love to dream, and then wrap a swaddling cloth around that. It enables them to squirm inside the sack, but not squirm out of their swaddle, which poses a SIDS risk if the fabric gets in their face. The swaddles below are great.
This swaddle is awesome because babies love to have their hands near their mouth. If you swaddle using a cloth, they squirm out and the cloth unwraps and gets in their face. Using this, you can swaddle them securely under their armpits. The little hand compartments are tight enough to keep them from jerking themselves awake, but they can still suck and soothe. It also unzips both ways- handy for checking diapers.
These little pods are awesome also. They keep the arms inside and are a bit cheaper than the Love to Dream.
If your baby has biliruben problems and needs a biliruben blanket, you must buy this swaddle. The light pad fits in the back and this has enough fabric to keep the UV light from escaping and hurting their eyes. Our baby slept like a rock in this, even with the pad on his back.
Cold wipes freak them out and make them cry, Get a warmer. You’ll appreciate it.
Perhaps more expensive up front, but saves money down the road because you can use regular trash cans, not custom bags. And you can use it as a regular trash can after.
We’re not a fan of heavy pacifier use, but when they’re emotionally flooded — like when they’re tired, hungry, and you’re trying to change a very dirty diaper — this will calm them right down.
These are handy for use on the changing table, or just as a place for them to nap on the couch or floor.
This changing pad fits well on a changing table, is concave so your baby won’t roll out, and is a great place for a sponge bath because of the waterproof cover. We didn’t buy a specialized cover for this and instead are using the Waterproof Quilted Pad Covers. I think it needs somesort of cover so baby is not directly on the cold pad but something that is easy to change and throw in the washer pretty regularly.
These work much better than emery board for filing baby nails because they have a much finer grain. You’ll need to file baby’s nails every few days or they’ll have scratches all over their face.
These are good diapers. They have a line that turns blue whenever he pees. But they were a bit too big for our baby and he kept peeing out of them. He’s long (20in) but slender (6.5 lbs now). So if you have a slender baby, Huggies Little Snugglers work better.
Feeding Baby and Mom
You need a boppy and it’s super handy for breastfeeding. Some women like the My Breast Friend, but we found the Boppy was easier to use and more versatile. Partners will use the Boppy to position the tyke for bottle feeding.
[Edit: the boppy is so useful for everything from feeding to naps. Our second best ever purchase.]
You’ll want some bags for storing your breastmilk, rather than freezing it in bottles.
These are great since they pace the flow to the baby so they don’t guzzle and spit up. Just keep in mind that there are regular inserts (pink and blue) and they use different collars than the Dr Brown’s Options inserts (green). You’ll probably want to standardize on one kind.
Dr Browns are great if you have the Madela Breast Pump because the Dr. Browns collars and nipples will fit the Madela, and the Dr Browns bottles can be used on the Madela.
[Edit: over time we phased these out. They may reduce tummy trouble, but they have lots of little holes that need careful cleaning.]
Mom will need a lot of liquid, especially when her milk comes in. You’ll need a large bottle and if she likes cool drinks, this will keep it cold for a day or more.
Big mugs are heavy and mom will be tired. Get her some straws. She’ll drink more water than she would through a spout.
This is a great water bottle complete with a straw and grippy sides. Handy for use when only one hand is available.
I found this tea at the Breastfeeding Center in our city and it tastes delish! Not sure how much this works but my milk supply has been ample since I started using it.
Great for naps!
Trust me, you don’t want to have to do rectal temperatures with a feverish baby. This takes their temp on their forehead in about 2 seconds.
These are so handy to organize all the baby items that you have. Great for sorting different sizes of hats, mittens, socks and other supplies.
Pregnancy and Baby Books
The basic guide for information during pregnancy. It is divided by month and from there broken down by by week. It was helpful to find out what changes were happening for baby and for mom. Additionally, the book has separate chapters for issues once the baby has arrived and things to consider during the pregnancy. We also used the book Your Pregnancy Week by Week. We liked that it broke the information down week by week, but we found the Mayo Clinic book more useful overall.
This book was given to us by a family friend who is a doula. My husband found it useful, if a bit overly detailed. I found that my husband was very calm, helpful and supportive all throughout labor, so it must have worked.
In the hospital they will give you a worksheet for tracking feedings, wet and dirty diapers. A family member suggested the Baby Tracker app, and it’s pretty awesome. It tracks nursing, pumped breast milk, formula, different types of dirty diapers, growth milestones and all sorts of other information. Very useful when we had three different people feeding the baby at different times and needed to coordinate schedules. It’s also great information for the pediatrician.
Also check out the app The Wonder Weeks, which introduces the concept of Leaps and explains your baby’s interesting behavior in the context of cognitive development.
Things we weren’t impressed with
These small bottles need to be pointed almost downward to fully empty, and the big bottles are too big for newborns. We threw them in the go-bag for use with single serving formula.
[Edit: after 6 months, we shifted almost wholly to these bottles. They are easier to clean than Dr Browns and more suited for an older infant.]
Single use, 2oz formula bottles are great, but don’t bother buying the disposable nipples. They are rubber, they degrade and should not be used more than a couple of times. Instead, just pour the formula into one of your reusable bottles.
We gave the side-sleeping crib a try and it was a bust. Yes, the top rail drops which theoretically makes it easy to reach in and comfort your baby, or pull it out for breastfeeding in bed. But realistically, the rail is so hard to drop, it’s not worth the effort. And when down, it’s a magnet for pillows and blankets. We never drop the rail at all.
Just get a regular crib
This is a good product, just not useful for us. We found ourselves washing bottles more often than we did dishes. So we went with a steam cleaner and hardly ever use this basket.