Updated: Aug 17, 2020
Congratulations on the upcoming arrival of your new little one! You have been learning all about pregnancy, what to expect, figuring out how you want to deliver, you are planning the nursery and researching daycares. Now onto making a registry for your baby shower!
When it came to figuring out what I really needed for a baby, I was completely lost. Even as a pediatric specialist, who treated babies everyday, I still had no idea what I really needed. I did the research, used the lists, and still ended up with things I never needed and did not have the things that I really needed. Here are a few of my favorite items as well as a few things that are not useful for baby:
1. Car seat:
Most of us use a car for some form of transportation, so will you need a car seat! There are 2 different categories of car seats. An infant car seat is a smaller car seat usually with a base that is installed. The car seat is able to be easily removed from the base and carried with baby still in the seat. The pros of this seat:
Baby is able to stay in the seat and be carried in/out which is beneficial when baby is sleeping and you do not want to wake them to run into a store
Can have one seat and just buy several bases for different cars
Many are able to be attached to stroller systems
The cons of this seat:
Babies out grow them usually within 10-12 months, so will have to spend more money on a second car seat
It is better to wear your baby or carry them then leave in the car seat for too long
A convertible car seat is one that while grow with the child most likely until they are done using a car seat. These are usually larger in size to accommodate growth. The pros of this seat are:
Cost effective as you only need to buy one seat to last 10+ years
Can use with different kids
Babies will be use to the seat and do not have to switch at 12 months
The cons of this seat:
Not mobile or able to attach to a stroller as an infant
More bulky and difficult to transport
While most claim to support little babies, a young preemie or very small newborn may not be as well supported
Once you decide on the type of car seat, research the different options. Know how easy or difficult it is to install, how it will fit in your car rear facing, how easy it is to clean, etc. Once you have the car seat, take it to a car seat specialist to learn how to properly install it!! Make sure grandparents and anyone else who will be driving your baby will know how to install! Here is a link to find a car seat specialist near you: https://portalskcms.cyzap.net/dzapps/dbzap.bin/apps/assess/webmembers/secure/manage?webid=SKCMS&pToolCode=CERT-SEARCH&pAdd=Yes
2. Pack 'n Play (Portable Playard):
Even if you have a crib for your baby, it is beneficial to have a pack 'n play (PNP) as well. They are versatile and great for several years of use. If you have a multiple story house, it is helpful to have one down stairs for baby to sleep or change during the day. When you have a newborn, they need changed 10-12 times a day and you will not want to be going up/down the stairs that many times. Using a PNP with a changing table and elevated sleeping area (not a bassinet) helpful for your back and body mechanics.
Uses for a pack 'n play:
Safe place for tummy time when baby is awake
Sleep safe environment for when baby is napping or sleeping at night
Great to have for traveling (may use 2+ years)
As baby is more mobile can be a safe play area while you cook dinner or work
3. Baby Carrier:
Babywearing is a wonderful way to bond with your baby. Newborns especially are comforted by hearing your heartbeat, feeling, and smelling you. This is also sometimes the only way you can get things done! By wearing baby rather then using a car seat or another device out in public, you allow baby time off the back of their heads and ability to work on neck strengthening. This is important for preventing plagiocephaly and for developing other motor skills. If you are not sure what carrier is best, look for a local babywearing group. Often times at these groups, they will have different carriers you can try to see what fits you and your lifestyle best. Benefits of babywearing:
It soothes baby
In public people will not touch your baby
Can nurse while still attending to other tasks
Improves baby's health, cognition, and social development
Strengthens the bond between baby and caregiver
4. Swaddle Blankets:
Swaddling can be a lifesaver depending on your baby. Newborns feel more comfortable and secure with swaddling. It helps to soothe them, resulting in less crying. Studies have shown that babies who are swaddled sleep longer, are quieter with sleeping, and have more stable heart rates. Swaddling can also make breastfeeding easier!
Even if your baby does not like to be swaddled, swaddling blankets can be used for so many other things including:
A mat on the floor for baby to have floor time
Rolled up under their arms for support with tummy time
Used as a roll for babies to work on sidelying on the floor
Throw in a diaper bag for accidents or spit up
Diaper changing pad when out in the car or public
5. Play mat:
These are useful for floor time play. Floor time is where your baby learns to move. When babies are awake and not eating, they should spend a large part of their time on the floor. Play mats are valuable for encouraging fun interaction for tummy time as well. By 3 months
old, baby should be spending about 60 minutes a day in tummy time. There are so many options for different play mats but you do not need anything super fancy. Anything with a couple toys to reach for overhead and some items to interact with on their tummies is all you need. My favorite is the Lovevery play gym*. As a parent this was one of the most used items in my house.
6. My Breast Friend:
This is for the moms that are going to breast feed. This was a true life saver for me. Another mom had gifted this to me and for the first 3 months was the only thing I used when breastfeeding. The only down side to this is I did not use it very long and it does not have any other uses. But if you get home and are having trouble positioning for breastfeeding, give this a try!
7. High Chair
This is one you can wait on a little bit if you do not receive it as a gift before baby comes. Once baby starts solids, a highchair allows them to be properly supported while eating. Starting at around 4-5 months, this can also be used for them to sit and play in a little bit. If they are properly supported, you can use this for short periods of time (10-15 minutes) for them to play in while you make dinner or eat!
The simpler the better when it comes to toys! Basic rings are easy to throw in a diaper bag and are beneficial for baby to start reaching and grabbing onto. Toys that have different textures, make sounds, offer contrasting colors, and are easy to manipulate are great early toys for baby. The Oball is one of the best toys that baby will play with from 3 months on up. As baby gets older, Lovevery is one of my favorite subscription boxes*. The toys they are offer are durable, baby-safe, and valuable for development. Here are a couple of my favorites for babies under 6 months:
Manhattan Toy Winkel Rattle
Bright Starts Lots of Links
Lamaze Firefly or Moose
Lamaze Peek a Boo Forest Baby Book
The First Years Stacking Sups
B. Toys Educational Baby Blocks
Baby Einstein Black White and Bright Floor Mirror
Any board books
9. Foam Play Mat
It is important that when babies are awake that they spend a lot of time on the floor. Since you spend time throughout your day in different rooms, make sure that your baby has a place to play on the floor in each room. If you have tile, marble, or even wood floors, a foam play mat is excellent to keep baby safe and comfortable on the floor. These can even be used in smaller pieces throughout the house or one large area to play. As your baby grows, these can grow with them to work on puzzles, learn about letters (if an ABC mat), and continue to provide a floor play area for years.
10. Baby gates and/or baby play yard
As your baby becomes mobile, you may need a place where they can safely play on the floor. Instead of limiting their movements in a jumper or exersaucer, try to have what you need to create an enriching environment on the floor to play. Using a play yard or baby gates are one way to keep your baby from getting into items that may not be safe while allowing areas that are still safe to explore and play!
There are some other things that you will obviously need for day to day life with baby such as diapers, wipes, sheets, clothes, bottles, and bibs. You will need something for baby to safely sleep in. I used a bassinet in my room for 3 months then a crib. You do not need both and can always just use a pack 'n play. If baby wearing is not for you, a stroller may be needed depending on your lifestyle. Go try different strollers out before buying to see how they work and how heavy they are.
Then there are the swings, bouncy chairs, jumpers, exersaucers, baby seats (bumbo, sit-me-ups), and walkers. These have become known as baby containers. A container is an item that limits baby's movements. Some containers are used for safety (like a car seat) but others are used to help entertain baby or keep baby safely contained. These are expensive, bulky, only used for a very short period of time, and can lead to delays in baby's motor skills or development of a flat head. The companies behind these make billions every year in trying to make it seem like they help babies. Babies learn skills best on the floor with free unrestricted movement. Walkers do not help babies learn to walk and chairs do not help babies learn to sit. Depending on your lifestyle and needs, one of these may be beneficial especially a swing or bouncy chair when baby is little. As a new mom, I realized within a month that I needed a small bouncy seat to give myself a break in order to eat or shower. With my second, we had an expensive swing as I was terrified of being home alone and outnumbered. It was a huge waste of money as he spent very little time in it!
As a pediatric physical therapist, I say try to stay away from jumpers, exersaucers, walkers, or anything that puts baby standing before they are ready to stand. Instead try play mats or toys on the floor to keep them entertained!
These are only suggestions from what I have experienced as a mom and what I find works with other families I work with as well. Every family has their own needs and every baby will have their own personality. As a parent, you will find some of these items helpful but may not use all of them the same way. For more information on what to expect with your new little one follow along on Instagram @sandytoespt for floor time ideas, tummy time tips, developmental milestones, and more!
*I am an affiliate for Lovevery and do get a commission for sales from this page. I would not affiliate with them if I did not believe in their business practices and products.