It’s here! Everything you didn’t know you wanted to know about baby stuff. (Or, if you don’t care about baby stuff, feel free to skip!) This is long but hopefully useful.
When I was pregnant, I was the recipient of some truly amazing/terrifying Google spreadsheets and it was both helpful and overwhelming. I spent a lot of time cross-referencing and researching things before I realized I was driving myself insane. In the end, we either took the recommendations of friends who had similar styles to us or just referred to The Nightlight. Since Lilly was born, we’ve acquired plenty of things but we’ve tried to keep it to items that feel truly useful (tough in babyland).
- It’s tempting to register for everything that you could possibly need but it’s better to start tight and buy as you figure out what you and your baby like.
- Register for the key functional items that you’re sure(ish) you’re going to want, like a stroller, car seat, changing pad, and diaper pail.
- As you discover things you need, use it as an excuse to take your newborn on errands to your local kids store (or to make the most of your Amazon Prime account).
- Include a small number of cute items like swaddles, bibs, and burp cloths. People love buying these types of things and you’ll likely get plenty.
- Stay away from clothing! Borrow from friends with older babies or register for a tiny number of key pieces. You don’t know what size your baby will be or how quickly he/she will grow, plus people can’t help gifting tiny adorable things (looking at you, Mom and Annie).
- Stroller: This was the thing we spent the most time agonizing over because it was/is really important to us to be mobile. We went with the Uppababy Cruz because it’s relatively low profile, easy to use, and can navigate bumpy Brooklyn streets. The company also has *incredible* customer service.
- Travel stroller: We bought the BabyZen YOYO after multiple friends told us it was the best baby purchase they made. It’s crazy light and can be carried on your shoulder, and we use it for both travel and strolls around the neighborhood. Seriously. We love it.
- Car seat: We got the matching Uppababy Mesa car seat for simplicity; if you can avoid having adaptors for your stroller and car seat, highly recommend it.
- Carrier: Rob and I both love being able to wear Lilly all over the city, and the carrier is also crucial for when she won’t nap (just tuck her in with a pacifier and bounce around until she sleeps). These can be really personal so I recommend going to a store and trying a few on to find what works for you; we have the Ergo Original carrier in a very Brooklyn chambray shade. I also really liked using a sling when she was really little; I would wear her around the house so I could get things done while she napped.
- Stroller sleeping bag: There are a bunch of different brands of these but we went with 7 A.M. Enfant because we liked the look and it can grow with her. Also! Get the matching stroller hand warmers for winter. You won’t regret it.
- Electric pump: I have a Medela Freestyle and a Spectra S1 that I got through insurance. Tip: Use Aeroflow, which handles all the insurance stuff for you—so easy.
- Manual pump: My friend Melissa turned me on to the Medela handpump, which is super simple and has minimal parts, unlike most electric ones. In the beginning I kept it by my bed for deflating my boobs during the night, and now I love it for car rides or if I’m running around the city.
- Breastfeeding pillow: Someone gave me one and I found it to be more annoying than anything else. We also bought a Boppy and only used it for a few days before realizing Lilly didn’t like it.
- Breast pads: You’ll leak. It’s funny until it’s not; I went through a ton of Lansinoh pads in the beginning. After awhile, I stopped using the sticky part and just tucked them into my bra because I found it more comfortable and could reuse them that way.
- Overnight bras: I bought these comfy bras from H&M to wear overnight.
- Bottles: We have an embarrassing amount of bottles, thanks to friend hand-me-downs and the ones I registered for and bought. Lilly isn’t very picky but many kids are so don’t stock up before you know what they’ll like. Dr. Brown’s were especially good at the beginning when she was first learning to use the bottle. They do have a lot of parts though, which is why we’ve switched to Medela now that she’s bigger. If you can, I highly suggest figuring out which pump you’ll be using first and make sure the bottles are compatible—it’ll save you some organizational anxiety later.
- Storage bags: Lansinoh seem to be the sturdiest, and are bigger than the Medela ones. Also, Hayley figured out that you can hook them directly onto the Spectra pump, saving the need to wash an extra set of bottles.
- Bottle drying rack and soap: The Boon Lawn is cute and keeps things as tidy as they can be. We use Babyganics bottle soap, which is great at getting rid of breast milk residue, and an OXO bottle brush (try to get the version that comes with a stand!).
- Diapers: Nine out of 10 people we know swear by Pampers Swaddlers so that’s what we’ve used, almost exclusively. They keep her dry through the night and minimize blowouts. I’ve also tried Honest and they seem to work fine, though don’t have as much coverage; if you want to go that route, just size up before you think you need to!
- Wipes: We love Water Wipes because they’re super gentle.
- Wipe holder: This OXO dispenser is one of the best things we’ve bought. It’s weighted so you can open the lid and take a wipe out without the whole container coming with you—very important when you’re holding a baby’s legs with the other hand!
- Diaper cream: We rarely use it because she doesn’t seem to have a problem with rashes, but when when we do I like Weleda Calendula.
- Hand sanitizer: The Babyganics version is pleasant and non-drying and comes in a travel size too.
- Diaper bag: So many thoughts. At first, I didn’t even want a diaper bag because I didn’t want to carry something in addition to my purse. Then I came around because I liked the idea of being organized. Once I started running around with Lilly, I pretty quickly switched to throwing the changing pad and other necessities into a regular tote bag. Here are the pro/cons:
- Diaper bags are helpful for keeping things neat (lots of pockets) and for making sure you are always stocked with essentials (extra set of clothes, pacifier etc.)
- They’re perfect for when you’re going to be strolling for awhile because you can clip them onto the handles or for car rides. They are helpful if you have a nanny or babysitter so they have all your kid’s stuff in one place.
- They are also often extremely ugly and cumbersome (even ours, which I like, constantly slides off my shoulder).
- In short, you should make the decision for yourself. We have this Skip Hop tote and I like that it’s unisex, roomy, and clips onto our stroller. I know a lot of people who use simple Herschel or cotton totes, and my friend Allidah has a great backpack by Babymel.
- Changing pad
- Diaper pail: This Ubbi pail is the prettiest one out there and doesn’t require special bags. Big fan.
- Burp cloths: Milkbarn makes organic burp cloths that come in beautiful patterns—we probably overbought because we like them so much.
- High chair: We love the Stokke Tripp Trapp because it has a clean, modern look and can convert to a chair once Lilly is older.
- Bibs: Solids are very messy, as we’re just now finding out. These all-silicone bibs are key because you can wipe them off or throw them in the dishwasher.
- Spoons: Trust Hayley to find an MIT-designed baby spoon. We have a few different types but the Spuni ones work the best because Lilly can get the food off of them, and they’re also stylish—win win!
- Bassinet: It took me forever to understand what a bassinet was and why I needed one (short answer: it’s easiest to have the baby sleeping next to you for the first three months or so since you’re feeding so much during the middle of the night). Borrow or buy used since you only need it for a short amount of time; we borrowed the Halo Swivel.
- Crib: We invested in the Oeuf Sparrow Crib because we loved the design and it’ll last us through her toddler years. You can search Craigslist and parenting groups for used cribs and other big ticket items but we ran out of time/got lazy.
- Swaddles: Another thing I found absolutely baffling. There are actually two types of swaddles. First, the large pieces of thin cloth, often featuring adorable prints, that you fold and wrap around your baby. Then, the idiot-proof sack-type ones that have velcro or zippers or both to keep your baby securely burrito-ed. We have a bunch of the first type (love Aden + Anais and Lewis Home) and they’re fantastic for draping the stroller, using as a nursing cover, cleaning up stray spit up etc. But we never successfully swaddled Lilly in them—she always managed to get an arm or leg out within minutes. Of the second kind, my favorite was the Miracle Blanket, which is basically a little pocket you stick your baby in and keeps them snug without velcro or zippers. Once Lilly started sleeping with her arms out, we transitioned to the Halo Sleepsack, which is very versatile, and Kyte Sleepsacks, which are cozy and basically just keep her legs from thrashing around.
- White noise machine: Makes the room feel like an isolation chamber but it does really help her sleep soundly, especially if we’re making noise in other parts of the house. We have the Marpac Dohm Sound Machine, which is inexpensive and works well.
- Baby monitor: Rob did all the research here (and he’s a total nerd) and we ended up with the Infant Optics DXR-8, which sounds high tech but is pretty straightforward.
- Hooded towel: You don’t need one but they’re super cute and keep the baby cozy after a bath. I’m still waiting for someone to get me this Milkbarn one.
- Shampoo and soap: This name still annoys me but we love Earth Mama Angel Baby Sweet Orange shampoo and body wash. Get the larger size for keeping by the tub and the smaller one for travel. Once she got older we started using Mustela bath oil in the tub to keep her skin from drying out.
- Tub: The Skip Hop one looks like a whale, and has different configurations for different ages. Highly recommend.
- I know I said not to buy any clothes but when you do need stuff, I feel strongly about:
- H&M Conscious line: Cute and affordable—our go-to for basics.These kimono-style bodysuits are great for every stage.
- Burt’s Bees pajamas: My sister gave us a couple pairs of these and I’m still squeezing Lilly into them even though they’re too small. One word: Zippers. So much easier than snaps.
- Hanna Anderson socks: Someone gave us a pair of these (whoever you are, thank you!) and we were obsessed with them because they’re thick and actually stay on Lilly’s feet. We finally figured out the brand and now own a zillion pairs.
- Bandana bibs: My dad thinks these make Lilly look like a cowboy; I think she looks like an adorable bandit. Either way you’ll need cotton bibs starting around three months because the drool situation gets serious. These are made of a really soft material and come in cool patterns.
- Fisher-Price Rock n’ Play: My extremely stylish friend Susan gifted us one of these saying, “It’s horrendously ugly but you’ll love it and so will the baby.” She was right and we used it constantly for the first 3-4 months—Lilly would snooze it in while we were eating or cooking.
- Skip Hop Activity Gym: Also fits into the category of “good place to stick your baby.” I was on the fence about whether we needed this but it’s been a winner, though probably only useful for months 3-7 or so.
- Gathre Mats: We were gifted a couple of these and at first we were like, “Leather playmats?” Then we realized that they’re incredibly useful: lay them on the floor so your baby can roll around or put them underneath a high chair to catch food debris. They’re easy to clean and have chic, minimal designs.
- You’ll get gifted a million of these so don’t go out and buy a ton. Unsurprisingly, people who have young kids will give you the winners.
- A few that we use constantly: Sophie the Giraffe for entertainment and teething; NogginStik, which I was super skeptical of but that she loves; and any of the Skip Hop soft activity toys, which have the trifecta of crinkly paper, reflective surfaces, and teething shapes.
- We also received a bunch of Jellycat stuffed animals, and have been using this bunny as her sleep lovey and this crazy alien looking one for general entertainment.