Hey there, friends! Recently I published a post called Baby Essentials: The Only Items Baby Really Needs. This post is part two of three, so stay tuned for yet another! Since I posted about the essentials before, I wanted to tell you about some ideas that baby might not HAVE to have, but they are very nice to have. Some people might actually consider these essentials, actually. I’ve made a list and broken it down for you to explain why you don’t need them, but why you’ll want them! Also, they make great shower gifts! You ready?
*This post is not sponsored. However, it does contain affiliate links where, if clicked (and you make a purchase), I will make a very tiny commission to keep this site up and running. See more details below.*
1. Baby Carrier
I can’t tell you how much I love babywearing. You can carry baby for extended periods of time without killing your arms (or back), baby can nap in it while you carry them, you can breastfeed easily in it, you can get more stuff done around the house since you’ll have free hands, need I say more? There are slings, wraps, traditional carriers, front and back carriers, etc. So many to choose from. Wraps are great because they grow with you and are versatile with different holds. Dads often like carriers because they don’t have to wrap themselves up in it. A front-to-back carrier offers multiple options. Personally, I love the Moby Wrap Original 100% Cotton Baby Carrier. This will fit any person of any size. There’s also no set weight limit for baby. It folds into a tiny bag which is great for travel. It’s super comfortable and less bulky than traditional carriers. It’s also perfect for skin-to-skin contact in the early days. Click here to read about how to use it!
You could spend an eternity rocking a baby before he calms down to nap or sleep, but a swing helps him drift off to la la land while giving you a much-needed break. Most swings play music/sounds and have different speed settings. One major difference in swings is that some plug in, and some are battery operated. If you want flexibility to move it wherever you want, then battery-operated is good, although you will have to change out batteries often (and this gets expensive). Most plug-in swings have a battery option as well, so that’s a win. The Graco Glider Lite LX Gliding Swing is my favorite. I had a battery-operated swing for our first little one. She’d fall asleep and the battery would die mid-nap, and trying to change batteries above her head made her wake up every time. NOT cool. I loved this one because it plugged in, also has battery capabilities, has several speed settings and music, and it’s low to the ground and doesn’t take up as much space as other large swings. For the price, it’s a really great product.
Sometimes babies actually do NOT want to be held all the time, contrary to popular belief. They want to sit up and see things and play, even when they can’t sit up on their own yet. A bouncer or seat with support can help them gain confidence and give them a little taste of independence, which they’ll probably like.
There are so many options here. Bouncers that vibrate, some that only rock if the baby learns to rock himself, some are for younger babies. It depends on what you want it to do. If it’s solely for the purpose of having a supported product for baby to sit up, then you can buy something very basic, without all the “bells and whistles” that play music, etc. I liked the Bumbo Floor Seat. While it’s not a bounce, it’s a small seat and it has zero hard edges anywhere because it’s made of a sturdy foam material (that can’t break). I also love this Bumbo Play Tray. It attaches right to the front of the seat so that baby can play on it or even have snacks!
4. Sound machine
New babies are used to hearing lots of white noise from being inside the womb. Sometimes babies will sleep better if other distracting noises (or even when it’s TOO quiet) are in the way. The sound machine gives them more sounds that they are used to (swishing water, mom’s heartbeat) but they usually play different lullabies also. Most of these do the very same thing – provide noise. But you may find a multi-functional one that you like more. The myBaby Soundspa Lullaby Sound Machine and Projector is not only a sound machine, but it also has a projector with 3 different rotating slides to keep baby amused. This has come in SO handy at times where I was too exhausted to function and baby would not go back to sleep, but didn’t want to nurse and only wanted to play. I just laid him in the co-sleeper next to me, turned on the projector and he’d stare at it for so long that he’d usually go back to sleep! This one also has a timer on it so you can set it to shut down in different time increments.
5. Diaper Pail
Why you’ll wish you had one: Convenience is a big reason. If you are using a changing table or designated changing area, you can sit a pail right next to it and throw it away. Another reason? It contains the smell SO much better. If you keep using the garbage can in your house or garage, then it will smell like pee or poo city REAL fast. These pails are all pretty much the same so I’d say see what kind of deal you can find. Some come with a built-in baking soda dispenser which is great because it really does keep the odor away, to my amazement. Just don’t forget that you will need to buy refill bags for these. That’s an added expense, but they hold more than you think they do. I have two of the Diaper Genie Essentials Diaper Disposal System (Set of 2), one in the baby’s room and one on the first floor for convenience.
6. Sleep Sacks
Some people prefer to use blankets or swaddlers, but I was concerned about the risks of suffocation involved with regular blankets (and SIDS risks), so sleep sacks are the alternative to keeping baby warm (and they can’t squirm out of them). Some have sleeves and some do not (like a vest), and some are heavier and warmer, so you’ll have to decide if you need something lighter or heavier depending on the time of year and what pajamas the baby is wearing, etc. I have some of each and more than three, but I think three is a good number to have (one to wear, one to wash, and one back-up in the drawer). I personally love the HALO SleepSack 100% Cotton Wearable Blanket. This is a vest style with no arms and it’s more lightweight. You can dress baby in short sleeves if it’s warm and they still have a light covering, or you can dress them warmly with long-sleeved fleece pajamas and this still goes over those great, too.
7. Video Monitor
You may prefer a sound-only monitor because they are cheaper. But it’s so nice to be able to see what baby is doing at all times. In the middle of the night, it will give you peace of mind (without waking them up on accident to go in and check on them) and you can see if baby flips over, etc. There are SO many of these on the market now. It’s hard to choose, but read product reviews before you buy the cheapest. Some have a larger monitor with better pixels, some have a longer range that will allow you to walk further (like to the mailbox), and some have multiple functions to where you can talk back through the monitor to the baby if you want them to hear your voice. The Summer Infant In View Digital Color Video Baby Monitor has been good to me for both of my kids. This one is the updated version of the one that I have (because mine is old but still works wonderfully!) It’s not the best resolution that’s out there on the market, but it works great and the built-in night vision means that I can see baby easily no matter what time it is. I can also zoom in and out and move the camera back and forth from the monitor. And if you have more than one child that you want to keep an eye on, you can purchase an additional camera to set up in another room and the monitor will allow you to flip back and forth one one device to see them both. And for the price, you simply can’t beat it compared to other fancier models.
While regular pillows can work just fine, nursing pillows such as the My Brest Friend Original Nursing Pillow actually buckles around you, so no slipping or moving around. Also, its very firm which is helpful especially in the early days with getting baby properly aligned to latch well. The cover comes off also and is machine washable, so if baby spits up, just toss it in the washer. You won’t want that all over your pretty toss pillows. Boppy Nursing Pillow and Positioner is nice too, but it’s not as firm and it wears down over time. However, that one is nice to use for baby when he starts sitting up because you can put it around him for support. I actually own both.
9. Baby Bathtub
It’s true, you can bathe baby anywhere. But it’s hard holding that slippery little one up when they are wet! Especially in the earliest days when you have to support their head, too. Personally, I used the Fisher-Price Precious Planet Whale of a Tub with both of my kids because it has a shelf support when they are smaller so that they can lay back at an angle, and you can remove it when they are big enough to sit on their own. You can also sit it on a tabletop if you don’t feel like bending over! They do make contraptions that fit into the sink for easy baths that way, but as they grow quickly, you likely won’t be bathing them in the sink for long.
Okay, so this is kind of an essential if you are going pretty much anywhere. I like the Graco LiteRider Click Connect Stroller mostly because our Graco car seat clicked into the top of it! This is amazing when they are new because they are still too small to fit into the stroller in a regular harness position. This just makes life much easier.
While it’s true that baby does not need a ton of toys, a few on hand are SUPER handy. When they start to see better and be able to grab things, then a few sensory toys at least are a great idea. Both of my kids loved the Taggies Little Taggies Blanket because it’s soft, very colorful, has different textures and the little tags keep them entertained for a long time! You can also pop it in the washer as often as you need to. I love a toy that’s easy to clean.
Sure, you can clean bottles and nipples without a bottle brush. But man, those suckers are hard to clean! A bottle brush makes it so much easier. I personally love the Munchkin Deluxe Bottle Brush because it’s a 2-in-1 item. It is a regular brush but the handle open up to reveal a smaller detail brush for nipples and bottle caps. Just remember that you if purchase a bottle brush with a sponge or a sponge tip that they will need to be replaced often as they can harbor bacteria.
13. Bottle Warmer
Some people will tell you that you don’t need this. It’s true. There are many ways to heat a bottle, however, none I feel that are as convenient. Microwaves are not ideal because it creates hot spots and can burn baby. A bottle warmer avoids that. And you can find one for around $10-$15 dollars, so it’s well worth it for the convenience. If you don’t think you’ll use it, you can always heat up a bottle by letting it sit in a bowl of super hot water for a few minutes as an alternative.
Teethers are not a necessity, but they are super nice to have when baby gets fussy. They also make great toys in general for baby, so they are great to have on hand. If your baby really likes it, then I’d say get three of them – one to play with, one to keep in the freezer (ready for sore gums), and one in the diaper bag.
If you live in a place that gets super dry air, then a humidifier is money well spent. Not only is it nice to have if baby gets sick, but some of them come with a built-in night light like the Ultrasonic Cool Mist Humidifier, so it is dual purpose. Filterless ones are also really nice because you don’t have to worry about changing them all the time – and the added expense, of course. (Please note that I have not tried this humidifer listed, but it’s very similar to the one I purchased which is now no longer available on Amazon).
So there you have it! My top 15 items for baby to make your life easier! I wanna hear what items made your lives easier, mommas – comment below! Also, stay tuned for part 3 of my baby essentials series – items that baby doesn’t need – coming soon!
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