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Okay buckle up beeeaches, this is a long one! There’s tons of lists out there of baby must-haves or baby essentials for the first year. The problem is, they say things like “you need a swaddle” and when you go to get one, you realize there’s 20 different kinds to choose from and they all just look like a wad of fabric and you have no direction so you end up getting none or getting all 20. Or, maybe you’re in the wtf is a swaddle boat…either way!
When I was getting ready for baby, I think I asked every mom I knew for her specific recommendations because I was getting stuck in analysis paralysis, researching each different product and adding/removing things from online shopping carts for months on end (FYI, that’s a great way to drive yourself crazy). I remember how hard it was to even know what you need, then to sort through all the options, read all the the reviews, wonder if they’re legit…the struggle was real.
So since I now have my own list of favorite baby basics, that’s what’s compiled here, along with explanations. But the truth is, there’s basically no must-haves (especially for a newborn) besides a carseat, a sleeping place, a food source, and a boatload of some kind of diapers. As with most things, it’s also really dependent on you and on baby. Baby’s preferences and temperament…your style, both aesthetically and parenting-wise (which you may not know yet)… your budget…the layout and size of your house…all the things.
But here’s my list and my whys. These are all things I actually use/used and totally love! Whether you get these specific brands or not, hopefully this points you in the direction of some helpful items. Starred products are ones I’d try to have on hand before baby arrives. The others you can fill in and order as/if you need once you get to know this new tiny human and start to figure out what will work for you and the fam. Bonus, almost all of these are sold on Amazon so you can one-stop-shop-it and have them on your doorstep quickly and be like yasss I just crushed it today prepping for baby. I know I did some mad dash ordering towards the end of my first pregnancy. Okay, so let’s gooo!
*Uppababy Vista Stroller – It’s big, which may be a deterrent for some, but that’s one of the reasons I love it. I bring it everywhere, use it as my shopping cart, load up bags to bring to the park, it fits everything I need, I’ve never found it to be too heavy or hard to get in and out of the car. It’s a super smooth ride for baby on the streets/in stores, but I also wanted a stroller rugged enough and with big enough wheels so that I could take it on trails and move easily through grass/dirt roads, and this one has not failed me yet. One of the other major selling pieces for me was that it converts to be able to hold two kids (and actually three if one stands on a footboard in the back, sold separately). The bundle it comes with includes a toddler size seat as well as a bassinet. The bassinet was great to travel with when babe was smaller because we were able to use it as his sleeping place for naps and overnight. Get it on Amazon here.
It also pairs with a great travel bag (you can snag on Amazon here), which fits the stroller and bassinet or stroller and toddler seat. The bag has a great warranty and as long as you register your products, if your stroller gets damaged during flight and you’re using this bag, they’ll replace whatever is broken.
*Nuna Pipa Infant Car Seat (+ adapter, sold separately to attach to stroller) – Whether you go with the brands we did or not, I’d definitely recommend getting a “system” meaning you can pop the carseat in and out of the car, and right onto the stroller or into your house. Believe me when I tell you it is so much easier! Having to wake baby from a nap every time he had to get in and out of the car would have been a real buzz kill. Check out their site at nunababy.com.
*Petunia Picklebottom Diaper Bag – Love that this has more open space rather than a zillion pockets, so you can decide how you want to organize it. Super comfy on your shoulders, and fits everything we need and more. Because of the neutral colors and style, the hubs enjoys carrying it too. I’ll do another post soon to show what I keep in there and how I keep it organized. For first time parents especially, I’m team backpack – your hands will always be full and it’s just one less thing to worry about holding. Get it on Amazon here.
Sollybaby Wrap – This wrap is super soft so it’s comfortable for you to wear and comfortable for babe. Don’t be intimidated by how to actually tie it up! They have an easy tutorial and once I practiced it a few times it was easy peezy. It was so helpful to use when baby doesn’t want to be put down anywhere but you’re also trying to get some sh*t done. Also, babywearing is so dang good for babies and bonding and who doesn’t want a little smushy snuggled up sleeping on their chest?! Head to sollybaby.com or check out a similar one on Amazon here.
Ergobaby Omni 360 Carrier – I use this all the time now that he’s bigger and so that he can face outward and see what I’m doing. We do our walks, I’ll clean the house, garden (aka attempt to revive my dead plants), shop etc with him in it and he just chills. It’s adjustable so you get a lot of use of out as baby grows. Get it on Amazon here.
Clek Foonf Convertible Car Seat – Once the baby grew out of his infant car seat, we switched to this one. It’s one of (if not the) the safest on the market, super narrow on the outside so it doesn’t cramp into the other backseats, yet somehow more roomy than most on the inside so there’s lots of space to grow into. It has multiple recline options, can do rear-facing for an extended time, the fabric we got (Mammoth) is totally flame retardant free…I could go on, but just know this thing is beast mode and we love it. Get it on Amazon here (be sure to get it new and directly from Amazon – the listing will state “ships from and sold by Amazon.com”).
*DockATot – I know it seems expensive for what it is, and I thought the same thing. But lemme tell ya, we used this literally every day for months. It’s basically a safe docking station to put baby down in but it can also be used for naps (supervised recommended). It was soo helpful to have somewhere comfy like this that I could put him down so I could be hands free for a few minutes. He’d either just chill and watch us or would fall asleep. Small and light and easy to move around the house or take to other people’s houses. Cover is machine washable, so that’s always a plus! Get it on Amazon here.
Love Every Play Gym – This has been a staple since the very beginning. Developed by the pros, I knew what it included was going to be great. And, aesthetically, it fit right in – I love the more muted colors and patterns. It’s been so fun to watch as the baby uses it differently the older and more developed he gets. He loved it when he was just a newborn laying underneath it, and now he’s all over it, manhandling it around, exploring all the different learning areas etc. Get it on Amazon here.
Little Nomad Play Mat – This is what we have under the play gym. Great to make the area a little more cushioned for baby, more comfortable and cleaner for us to be sitting and laying down on, and somewhat contains the baby stuff to that area. It blends right in and is super easy to wipe down. Head to little-nomad.com or check out a similar one on Amazon here.
Skip Hop Explore & More Activity Center – This is recommended starting at 4 months, and we used it everyday starting then and for months! He loooved it. It’s adjustable as baby grows, and even converts to an activity table once baby no longer sits in it. This has been one of the best things to give me some hands free time to do other things. Get it on Amazon here.
Fisher Price Piano Gym – I wanted something small, moveable, and inexpensive to be able to bring with us when we go to a friend’s for the day, and to be able to move around the house to wherever I need baby to hang. I move this around all day and put it in kitchen if I’m cooking, outside the bathroom as I’m getting ready etc. It was great to encourage tummy time, and the piano moves position so now he can sit in front of it and play. Get it on Amazon here.
Baby Bjorn Bouncer – We decided not to use any electric rocker/swing type gadget, but this was a nice addition to the lineup…we could easily move it around, and when he was sick of laying down, this offers a nice safe recline spot. Get it on Amazon here. I added an activity bar to it which helped with keeping him entertained (you can grab that on Amazon here).
*Arm’s Reach Bassinet – Ohh the bassinet decision! I struggled with this one, setting up and trying probably 4 before coming back around to this one. In hindsight, I should have just stuck with it and saved a lot of time, energy, and returns! Your bassinet choice will depend a lot on how you’re planning to have baby sleep. We had baby in our room, right next to my side of the bed, but in his own bassinet. This bassinet served it’s purpose perfectly – it was easy to get him in and out to nurse overnight, it was light to move around if needed, didn’t take up a huge footprint in the room. Get it on Amazon here.
*Homedics Sound Machine – Ours isn’t a nursery specific one, but I liked it better than a couple I tried because the noises weren’t so abrasive to me. We literally only use the “white noise” setting, but it has lots of other options. We use it for all naps/nights, and the charge lasts around a week for us, so it’s nice knowing it won’t die on us in the middle of the night! Get it on Amazon here.
*Infant Optics Camera – I knew I didn’t want one that was an app on my phone because I like to have the camera up and visible all the time, rather than having to go into an app to see it (and feeling like I can’t be doing other stuff on my phone). I also didn’t want one that used wifi because I wasn’t sure how good our connection was going to be. I’m very happy with the sound and video quality, it keeps it’s charge for the entire day so I’m not tied to an outlet, has a nice zoom option so you can really check out what baby’s doing if you feel like it, and actually comes with multiple lenses. Get it on Amazon here.
*Bibs Pacifiers – These are baby’s favorite and definitely my favorite looking (dare I say, a trendy pacifier?!). You may have to trial and error a few because some babies are particular about the shape and feel of the pacifier nipple. Get them on Amazon here. We also have a few Wubanubs around, which he used and liked when he was younger, and now he mostly plays with them. They’re good because in the early days baby’s pacifier falls out and you have to replace it 900 times a day before he learns how, and sometimes you can prop this one juuust right so it stays in baby’s mouth. Get Wubanubs on Amazon here.
*Swaddles– Many babies like to be swaddled (wrapped up snuggly with arms in/down when sleeping) because it limits their movement and mimics the womb. I have a couple favorites, but again this may be a trial and error with a few to see what your baby likes. You can get all of the following on Amazon. As a newborn, our favorites were Ollie and Halo. He also liked the Sleepea and the Love to Dream. The Ollie has a nice stretchy material so it grows with baby, and was a cooler option I think. It has tight velco which was good for our babe because he was strong enough to flex and bust out of a couple other ones, but not this one. The Halo one we had in fleece for cooler nights and it worked well. The Sleepea is a zipper swaddle so that’s always a plus (the quieter you can get in and out, the better) and the Love to Dream is a hands-up option (some babies like their hands by their face more than down to their sides). Once baby started rolling over, we used a bunch, all found on Amazon: the Zipadee-Zip as a transitional swaddle (looser, more movement allowed, but not totally arms free), then the Carter’s Sleeveless Sleepbags, and then the Tillyou Wearable Blankets. Whooosh, let’s just say baby sleep is important!
*Aden and Anais Swaddle Blankets – loved these for so many reasons…we used daily as a nursing coverup, changing pad cover, blanket for warmth or just to lay out on the floor, and when he was a newborn as a swaddle for naps. Love that they’re super breathable muslin and obviously love their cute patterns. Get them on Amazon here.
Million Dollar Baby Crib – converts to toddler bed and daybed – all “standard size” cribs are the same, which makes it easier than getting a unique shape one because it’s hard to find sheets for weird shaped ones. We wanted a classic looking crib and this was a relatively inexpensive option as far as cribs go. Get it on Amazon here.
Newton Crib Mattress – The main selling point for me was that it’s breathable material that reduces suffocation risk. It’s also washable, hypoallergenic, non-toxic, and has a firm side for infants and softer side for toddlers. Get it on Amazon here.
Crib sheets – I’d recommend getting at least 3 so you have backups for pee/spit up marks. We have several different brands – a few from PB Kids which have held up well and are typically pretty inexpensive (check them out at pbkids.com) or grab these even cheaper, super soft Burts Bees organic cotton sheets on Amazon here.
Sureguard Crib Mattress Protectors – Get two so you have a backup when one is in the wash. I’m always surprised at how frequently stains sneak through the sheets! But thanks to these, knock on wood nothing’s ever seeped through to the mattress. Get them on Amazon here.
*Keekaroo Peanut Changer –you’ll be spending a lot of time with this! I love that this is easy to wipe down and clean. I throw one of the swaddle blankets on the top half so when he lays down it’s not too cold. Get it on Amazon here.
*Ubbi Diaper Pail – it serves it’s purpose and aesthetically was the nicest looking and least invasive one I found. Get it on Amazon here.
*Changing caddy – I love the sizing of the pockets and ease of getting things in and out of ours. Some people like to have two so you keep one in nursery and have one you can bring around the house or put in another common area where you hang a lot, but our place is small enough we just got the one. Get a similar one on Amazon here.
*Hello Bello Diapers/Wipes – Love that these are hypo-allergenic and eco-friendly, plus literally the cutest prints you’ll ever see! You never know exactly how big baby will be, so I wouldn’t stock up on hundreds of diapers until you deliver. I had a bunch of packs of newborn size on hand…expect to go through around 10-12 a day in the beginning (!) – they don’t last as long as you think they will. You can save with their bundle deals of diapers and wipes, plus they send freebies and have discounts on other baby products you might need.
*Vaseline or diaper cream of some sort – we’ve always done Vaseline every diaper change and our baby almost never had a diaper rash…not sure if it’s because of that, but I’m stickin’ to it! Get it on Amazon here.
*Bamboobies Nursing Coverup – I found this one to be the easiest to use. I got others that were probably a little cuter and fancier, but they were just harder to maneuver, half the time I’d be boob-exposed without realizing it, and when baby’s screaming for food, easy access is key. Get it on Amazon here.
*Hofish Nursing Bras – They aren’t the sexiest, but especially in the early days, granny looking was a lot more functional. The material adhered pretty well to nursing pads which was huge, because with other bras I tried the pads would go flying out onto the floor when I unclipped to nurse. Awkward. Get them on Amazon here.
Boppy Nursing Pillow – If you’re going to breastfeed, you’ll have to go by trial and error and see what works for you to get most comfortable while nursing. Often I just propped up random bed or couch pillows, but I do have the Boppy nursing pillow which I love for other things…we used it all the time to encourage tummy time, help with sitting up, nursing. Get it on Amazon here.
Breast Pump – Most insurance covers a breast pump, but if you don’t like the options they offer or if you want more than one (a handheld vs electric vs one that goes right under your shirt handsfree) here’s what worked for me…Spectra s1 for electric pump. It was 100% worth it to pay a little extra and have a battery charged one so I wasn’t tied to an outlet. Get it on Amazon here. I also used the Hakaa Pump, which is a handheld one you can put on one boob while the other is pumping or nursing (sometimes they feel left out and start squirting without warning so this catches all that liquid breastmilk gold. You’d be surprised how much it adds up to.)
Lansinoh Breastmilk Storage Bags – If you plan to pump and freeze milk, you’ll need something to put it in. These were easy to use and sturdy so I never worried about them tearing (or falling over when you’re filling up – that’d be tragic.) Get them on Amazon here.
*Burp clothes – Both on Amazon, we use these thin white Muslin cloths and these thick colorful ones . I like the combo – the thick ones absorb a lot more liquid and the thin ones are good for scoopin up the chunky stuff. Sorry, but get used to it.
Avent Bottles – someone gave us a few of these new so we just went with it and the baby was happy with them. It can be very baby dependent so you may need to try a few different brands to find one they’ll take. Get these on Amazon here.
Boon Grass Drying Rack – good for bottles, pumping parts, pacifiers, etc – It has a small footprint on the counter but you can actually stack a lot up on it, especially if you pair it with Boon Twig Accessory. Head to Amazon to get the drying rack and the accessory holder.
Stokke Tripp Trapp High Chair – simple, aesthetically pleasing, easy to clean, baby’s comfy in it. It converts to fit basically infant to adult sizes so we’ll get a ton of use out of it. We did get the white tray, which some people say is crazy, but we haven’t had any issues with staining and the babe eats everything on it. Get it on Amazon here.
Olababy Spoons – we did babyled weaning (also called infant self-feeding, just one option for how to introduce solid foods into baby’s diet) and these were great. He picked up spoon feeding pretty quickly, and also loved to play around (mostly accidental food-flinging) with them a little, and chew on them especially when teething. Get them on Amazon here.
ezpz Cup – also recommended for babyled weaning. We only offer water in it, and though he’s learning to use this himself as it’s intended, we help him hold it and he also likes to just play around with it (aka throw it off his tray 40x on purpose because it’s fun). Get it on Amazon here.
*Dreft detergent – I love that is has a little scent, makes me feel like they’re really getting cleaned of all the day’s messes. And snuggling up next to baby smelling him and those warm clothes fresh out of the dryer is just a little slice of heaven. Side note, we washed everything before using with baby (clothes, sheets, blankets, everything). Get it on Amazon here.
FridaBaby Rectal Thermometer – do what you feel comfortable with regarding thermometer. I use this rectal because I found it to be more accurate than other types, and it’s so quick and easy to use. But if you’re not comfortable with it, there are others (armpit, oral, forehead). Get it on Amazon here.
Primo Eurobath – I went through several tubs because they each have very mixed reviews and there would be minor things I didn’t like about the others I purchased and returned. This one is pretty basic but that’s exactly what I was looking for. When baby’s smaller he can lay back on one side reclined, and as he’s bigger and able to sit, he has the whole other side to splash around in. Get it on Amazon here.
NoseFrida Snot Sucker Baby Nasal Aspirator – Okay, the fact I’m totally comfortable literally sucking boogers out of the baby’s nose with my mouth is a sure sign of how cool this thing is. No, the boogers don’t go in (or even near) your mouth. But this thing works…it’s amazing how much of a difference declogging up a baby’s nose can help if he’s fussy and you can’t find any other reason for it. Get it on Amazon here.
ZoLi Buzz B Electric Nail trimmer – This is easy to use especially in the early days when you’re terrified to catch baby’s skin with real nail clippers. (spoiler alert, I did that the first time I clipped his nails…I felt terrible but it wasn’t the end of the world). These are super gentle, have multiple filers as baby grows up. Get it on Amazon here. Now I use these clippers, but still give a little file down afterwards to get any sharp edges.
Products/supplements to have on hand – (If you’re into using them, and talk to pediatrician first!) – Ones we used from time to time were Little Remedies gripe water, gas drops, saline spray; Gerber Soothe probiotic drops; infant tylenol; gauze pads for cleaning ears/eyes/baby skin folds etc; Mustela foam shampoo for cradle cap. All on Amazon, yay!
Woop woop, you made it through!
I’ll do another post with favorite clothing/toys/books/other fun recs, but I’d say this is enough to start with, dontyathink? Remember, there’s really not much you must have especially in the beginning, so don’t get overwhelmed. But do go put your feet up, pour your favorite bevvy, and click on any of the linked products above to learn more or head over to the Favorites page to see additional items you might be interested in. Happy shopping!
Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. If you happen to purchase after clicking through one of the links above, I may make a small commission. This is at no additional cost to you (obviously!). I always appreciate your support.