Now that we’ve been at this for a little over 3 months, I feel that I should make a note of the things we found most useful that we will without a doubt suggest to new parents & will bring to any baby showers going forward. Also, if you are my friend and will have kids, you will get something off this list. New moms, register for these things. They are very helpful, all are things we use everyday (exception: #7) and are often overlooked.
1. Baby Legs or other leg warmers (babylegs.com )
When our friends gave us a pair of these, I thought “these are cute, but what on earth am I going to do with leggings?” Turns out, when you have a REALLY squirmy newborn, getting pants on and off are a challenge. These kept A’s legs warm, and were significantly easier to maneuver around while we were learning the fine art of diapering.
Now that she’s a little older, I put them under her pants, and use the bottom of the leggings to hold up her socks, which she inevitably would kick off otherwise and in the colder weather, a second layer is good.
2. Binky leashes (booginhead.com )
We found these in a bag of stuff given to use from a friend. Once we figured out what they were for, we thought it was freakin’ ingenious! One end loops around the handle of the pacifier. The other end clips to the shirt of the baby.
Here is how it works:
Baby spits out the pacifier, pacifier does NOT HIT THE GROUND. The pacifier does NOT get lost in a pile of blankets. The pacifier does not end up as a cat toy. The pacifier stays tethered to the baby! YAY!
3. Long Sleeve & Short Sleeve Onesies, solid colors.
There are lots of adorable prints, patterns, bunnies on outfits, and plaids. When you want to mix and match (or if baby pukes on the shirt, but the pants are still usable), it can be tough when everything is decorated with patterns. Having solid colors does make things easier when dressing. Also, in the climate we happen to live in, long sleeves and short sleeves are super-important as we are now discovering.
4. Clothes beyond 3 months that are seasonally appropriate.
We got a TON of summer stuff for Baby A. TONS! The awesome thing is that we got a lot of clothes that were up to 3 months of age. The downside of that is she only wore some of the clothes, most of it only once, and outgrew the 3 month clothing by 2 months of age. We have a freakishly long baby, but many of my friends with kids say they tend to outgrow the 3 month old clothes before 3 months regardless. It’s not just us.
So now we have a pile of clothes for up to 3 months, which we were grateful for, but that don’t fit her anymore. The significantly smaller pile of clothes for 6-9 months old are mostly summer stuff, which won’t really work in Boston’s December. So though the clothes are cute, Baby A can’t really get away with wearing a tye-dyed tank top set under the mistletoe. So we had to go out and get more clothes that were seasonally appropriate, even though we have a massive pile of clothing that technically still fits her.
The best advice I can give is this: ask for clothes that are of varying ages (the NB stuff won’t last more than 3-4 weeks, and the 3 month stuff will not last 3 months), and not just in the season that your baby shower happens. We had a summer shower, and most of the things we got were for summer.
5. Diapering Supplies (Diapers.com or local diapering facility)
Either way, if you are buying bum-stuff for a baby-to-be, the easiest thing to do is get a gift card to Diapers.com so the parents can get the things that they discover that they need, or replenish the things they need AND don’t have to go anywhere during the first few weeks.
If they are doing disposables, they might discover they need more cream, or diapers, or wipes – stat! If they are doing cloth diapers, having access to different cloth covers and inserts is incredibly helpful. Plus, they have other things for babies – not just diapers and diapering supplies, so you know your gift card will definitely be used!
6. Coffee. Bags and bags of ground coffee.
If you don’t have a French Press, get one. They are literally $20. They also happen to be the easiest, and one of the tastiest, ways to make several cups of coffee. You put the grinds in the French Press. You add boiling water from a kettle. You let it sit for 3 minutes, and plunge the grinds to the bottom of the container. Good tasty coffee in 3 minutes. If you forget, no worries. You can pour it into a cup and microwave it.
If you already have the coffee maker, have people get you bags of your favorite coffee, ground, of course!
7. Massage/Spa Day/Haircut
Two weeks after having Baby A, all I really wanted to do was feel like a human being. I was tired, still really sore from having a baby, but I was also starting to feel a bit stir-crazy. Any significant time out of the house was not possible yet. I wasn’t up to it, and the baby couldn’t handle it.
A haircut fixed all of that. My husband watched her on his own for an hour and a half. Someone else washed my head and gave me a stylish haircut that was easy to manage with a newborn, but most of all, socializing with other people while I was getting cleaned up a bit made me feel like a human being. AND my husband got a little bit of bonding with the baby. It was a break I needed, and a connection he wanted.
If you know where someone gets their haircut, and they are expecting, do them a favor, and get them a gift certificate to their salon of choice so they can go and experience a little break, and look good after!
8. Baby Straight Jackets /Swaddlers (Kiddopotomus via Amazon)
The Baby Straight Jackets were a lifesaver, and source of comedy. Babies have a startle reflex that will wake them up if they sleep on their backs and move their arms. The more they wake up in the course of the night, the more you wake up in the course of a night. By swaddling, you can prevent the startle reflex from waking up the baby. The baby will still wake up at night, but at least you know it will be from hunger or a soiled diaper.
The swaddle pods, blankets, or other swaddling devices make things idiot proof, and if fitted correctly, impossible for the baby to break out. They have light fabrics for summer, and fleece fabrics for winter. The velcro helps make things stay in place as the baby sleeps.
If you are purchasing for someone, get two sizes: Small and Medium. The small will get a baby up to about 12 pounds, but they still need to be swaddled until 4 months – long past the 12 pound mark for many babies. Baby A outgrew blankets by 2 weeks, the Swaddle Me size small at 2 1/2 months and is now in a medium Swaddle Me. We got a few different kinds – some that transition into a sleeping bag once they don’t need the swaddle anymore, but honestly having a couple of swaddles at each size is so helpful.
9. Babies R Us, Motherhood Maternity or Amazon Gift Card
You will get a lot of things from friends, work, and hand-me-downs. You will also realize 2 weeks into being a parent that there are things you don’t have, or need more of. This is where the gift cards come in. You will still be sore after having a baby, and if you can get things shipped to your home while you are sleep deprived and still adjusting to being a parent, life will be easier. Babies R Us has swaddles, nipple cream, nursing pads, and other “new mom” stuff. Motherhood Maternity (or another “for mom” store) has nursing tanks, and shirts to make nursing/pumping easier. Your shape will be different for a while after the baby is born, and you’ll need in-between clothes. That’s where the Amazon and Motherhood gift cards can come in handy.
10. Nursing Pads (Lansinoh.com)
Get the gel ones for the freezer for the first month ahead of time, and get the disposable ones for longer term use. You’ll find a brand you like, but get ahead of it. The gel nursing pads were a god send in the first month. Put them in the freezer or fridge, depending on the instructions for the brand you get, then stick them to your sore self while you get accustomed to nursing.
You won’t need the gel ones forever, which is something you need to know. However, when you need them, you don’t want to send your partner out for them – you’ll need them RIGHT NOW. The disposable pads are great to have in bulk, because you’ll go through a ton of them at the beginning, and will need them throughout your nursing days.