When I was pregnant with Sally, I remember scouring all kinds of newborn essentials lists. I was (as always) trying to stick to a budget, and I was a bit dubious of what some people deemed “essential.” Did I really need a Diaper Genie and Sophie the Giraffe to survive motherhood??
The second time around, I don’t have to rely on anyone else’s lists since I’ve already tried and tested everything. Even though it’s baby #2, I still feel this innate need to be as prepared as humanly possible. So when we moved to New York City, I wanted to bring every single baby item we owned. But we couldn’t. Instead I had to ask myself, Is this really essential?
And so I wanted to share what I’ve found to be totally, completely essential with a newborn. I narrowed it down to my top 10, and these specific items really made a difference for me in transitioning to motherhood those first few weeks. For any moms-to-be out there, I hope these help. And I’d love to hear others’ essentials, too!
For the first three months, I don’t think I ever nursed without this pillow. The baby is just so tiny that having her propped up properly is a huge help to ensuring she latches on correctly and stays latched on. It also took a lot of the work out of it for me, which is a win-win for an exhausted new mom.
I was unsure whether I’d use a pump, but from the very beginning, I realized it was absolutely necessary. The hospital gave me the manual pump I have listed here, so your hospital might also. One of my sisters gave me her electric pump, and I ended up using both the manual and electric equally often for different situations. Insurance companies are now required to cover breast pumps, thanks to the Affordable Care Act, and this site can help you know what your insurance covers.
Why doesn’t anyone emphasize how much new parents will rely on swaddling those first few months? For four months straight, Sally didn’t sleep unless she was bundled up like a burrito. Someone gave me some Aden + Anais swaddle blankets the first time around, and they immediately became the favorite in our house. I even splurged on a new set for baby #2’s arrival. (I don’t think the brand matters so much as just that general style of swaddling blanket.)
As you well know, we’re all about saving money. The hospital gave us a pack of Pampers Swaddlers, but I was determined to try out cheaper brands as well. Welp, I soon found that no other diaper avoided newborn blowouts like Pampers Swaddlers. They were essential to saving our sanity (and our carpet). Once nursing babies start eating solids and stop having straight liquid everything in their diapers, other brands work just fine. But until that point, Swaddlers are the way to go. (Side note: I cut down on costs by using Amazon Prime + Amazon Mom + Subscribe & Save + buying in bulk.)
5. Baby Bjorn
For the first few months, we usually opted to carry our newborn on outings rather than use a stroller, so having a good carrier was a must. We could use this carrier from day one, and it grew with us as Sally grew. When she was ready to face the world instead of our chests, we didn’t have to buy a new carrier, which was a plus.
This is one of the most basic bouncers out there, but it does the trick just as well as any of the others. Johnny and I had no idea how much newborn babies would need to be bounced and moved to be soothed. We could put Sally in this bouncer and rock her with one foot, and she’d fall asleep within seconds. I never could have guessed how much we’d rely on such a simple item.
From day one, we found that Sally fell and stayed asleep more easily with white noise. For the first little while, we just used an app on our phones to avoid spending money. But when we moved her to her own room, we bought this white noise machine. It’s one of the least expensive options, and it’s worked great. Sally still uses it to this day as a nightlight and to drown out all the lovely sounds of NYC.
One aspect of parenthood that really threw Johnny and me for a loop was giving up control of our lives to our baby. It quickly became clear who dictated our time — and it wasn’t either of us. To restore some order, I realized it was essential to get Sally on a good feeding schedule from the start. With this app, I could time each feeding, remember which side to nurse on, and know how long it had been since Sally had last nursed. I’m planning to use it again with baby #2.
It’s no secret that we’re obsessed with Amazon reviews, which is how I stumbled upon this nursing bra. When you’re nursing, there’s no taking your bra off at night. You have to wear some sort of support 24/7. So it needs to be very comfortable and supportive. I wore this bra around the clock the first few months and continued wearing it at night until I quit nursing. I loved everything about it.
Without getting too detailed or descriptive, suffice it to say a new mom’s milk supply has a mind of its own the first few months. I tried a few different nursing pad brands, and I was hoping to use some that were washable in order to cut down on costs. But the washable ones just weren’t enough the first few months. They led to embarrassing, leaky situations. These pads, however, kept me looking like a normal, totally in control human who was not leaking milk for the whole world to witness. So until your milk supply gets ahold of itself, I can’t recommend this brand enough.
Whew! Apparently, I have a lot to say about life with a newborn. I hope this list is helpful for any new or expecting moms who are still trying to figure out their own essentials. It’s only been two years since Sally was born, but I feel so far removed from the world of babies! I’ve spent the last few weeks brushing up on all my newborn books. Fellow moms, what are your can’t-live-without-it newborn essentials? I’d really love to hear!