this is for david and jennifer! they are having their first baby (everyone get ready to welcome anna!) and asked for suggestions here a while back. hope this helps and feel free to put me on speed dial for middle of the night questions!
this has changed greatly for me since the first baby. you might say i’ve learned a thing or two. there are necessities and luxuries. and i’m learning that much much less actually falls into the necessity category than you would think. but most people are not quite as overboard about this as i am so i’ll include and review the others as well.
starting with your pack for the hospital bag:
the reality is the hospital is going to supply just about everything you need. other than the carseat. everything else is icing. and having your first child you’ll want some of that icing!
i always carried a paci to the hospital. (they usually put one in their bassinet) it’s your preference and then eventually theirs. my first started with nuks and never wavered. my 2nd wouldn’t take anything as much as i begged him. my 3rd started with mams (i liked that they didn’t have to get them in the right way – they were always upright) but then she took any kind. still does. absolutely does not matter. my 4th only takes mams. it never affected my nursing from the first day forward. i’m sure there are some that it has – it just didn’t mine.
onesies – just go on and buy a million of them. the actual onesie brands stretch pretty badly, but the child of mine (called body suits) retain their shape pretty well. (they wrap them in little hospital shirts that you can take home) take with you a special outfit that you want to take them home in. it needs to be much smaller than you think. even big babies are tinier than you can imagine the first time.
diapers – (the hospital supplies you with a whole pack that you get to take home) my favs for newborns are pampers swaddlers. so soft. stretchy tabs. soft tabs that don’t “rub” their belly. even in our brokest these were my first choice. after about 2 or 3 months i moved to the cheapest i could get.
bath wash – i have my favorite – off-brand yellow bottle head-to-toe - but that’s entirely up to you. i do like the pump bottles because you only need one hand to get the soap out and you can keep one hand on the baby. i loved the soapy cloths when they were first born but definitely a luxury.
lotion – luxury. but one i still indulge in. i like the off-brand pink kind. again, just my preference.
nasal bulb – the best you can find come from the hospital. they just work better than any on the market. keep it and wash it. you’ll use it for a long time to come.
gas drops (mylicon) - have them in your bag from day one. if it’s not colic and it really is gas – then these are a miracle and you can safely use them from day one. get the equate. same stuff, much cheaper.
infant tylenol (not ibuprofen) – also put in your bag from the very beginning. they’ll tell you to give them to them when they have their first shots. again, buy equate.
wet wipes – (there are some at the hospital – they’ll let you take them home) my favs for newborns are the newborn kind. they really are softer. and it really does matter early on. then i moved to the cheapest. my favorites are still the “pop-up” kind and you can now get the off-brand kind at target in bulk. my oldest had such sensitive skin that any kind made his rash worse and for a while i made my own out of bounty papertowels and either plain water or water mixed with a little of his baby wash.
wet wipe containers – didn’t really use the warmer we got. it dried them out and was just more trouble than it was worth. and, really, a little cold to the bottom isn’t killing anybody. carry containers – i never could keep up with them and they dried out my wipes in the summer time. i always use gallon sized ziplocks. throw in a whole refill pack and you’re good to go for quite a while.
diaper rash creams – as i said before my oldest had such sensitive skin that he would end up bleeding with a rash in no time. all the time. we used prescription. until i found lantiseptic. miracle. and one tub will last for ever. i bought one with my first and i’m still using it 4 babies later. i only use it when the rash is severe. or on its way to severe. the other stuff i just didn’t find effective. and i liked the lanolin base of lantiseptic.
a hat – they’ll give you one, but you can bring a matching one if you like.
shoes aren’t really necessary until they walk. my youngest is 8 months old and i just started putting the one pair we have on him. for looks. as they get bigger they’ll just kick off socks and shoes and you’ll find yourself increasingly frustrated. just opt for footed jammies. if it’s really cold put socks on under the jammies. i will say, i have heard that bobux (that you can now find at target) are great. i’ve asked for some for christmas and i’ll review them when we start using them.
you don’t really need a changing table – but if you’re going for the whole nursery thing at least get a good mat (we loved our curved changing table mat) for the top of a dresser. we just use the bed most of the time. but when we had one baby and an adorable nursery we used ours always. it is great for the back when your fresh from the hospital.
diaper genie – we had one with our first. and we had the newer version this time. they’re pretty great at first when the poopie stink isn’t so strong. but they get expensive. they’re a pain to clean. and eventually you want that stink to not be there. every mom i know that’s been around the block says skip on this one, but it’s up to you. if you think you really want one – borrow or buy from a garage sale – you won’t be out much if you discard it later.
we’ve always loved our pack-n-play. enough so that when ours broke after 3 children just before the last one was born we went and bought a brand new one. i used the changing table bassinet combo for all of them. and then still used the playpen for almost 2 years with each. we got the eddie bauer this time and a really cheapie graco the first time. both served their purpose. but the cheaper was harder to pack up. so my advice on this one – if you’re going to use it like we do – everyday for 2 years – go large. buy expensive – you won’t regret it later.
highchair or booster seat. you’ll need this as they near 6 months. i’ve used a million different versions and they all were fine. i’m just not picky on this one. my favorite was the least changeable. i loved my wooden old fashioned high-chair. didn’t recline, didn’t change positions didn’t do anything other than hold baby at the table. but it sure did look cool. and when baby furniture becomes part of your decor – your going to want it to blend or be able to get out of the way easily. and the those big monster ones just didn’t do either.
ergo – absolutely. can’t say this enough. i don’t care how much money you don’t have – beg, borrow, steal. i wish i’d had it from the first child. and i had baby bjorn. not the same. must get the real deal. today. do not delay. i even put my 4 year old in it the other day at the zoo just for kicks and to see if you really could carry what they say you can carry in it. indeed, you can. i laughed hysterically, but it is possible. have more than gotten my money out of it. and still don’t go anywhere without it.
just a couple infant toys. they won’t care until they’re close to 6 months. the rattlers are too hard when they don’t have hand control and they’ll just bonk themselves. a couple of mine teethed so early that they couldn’t hold their own teethers so they were useless. i just gave them my fingers. i did always like those soft mirrors made for babies. i haven’t seen a baby yet that hasn’t loved it.
blankets. my favs were from the hospital. just the right thickness. big enough to actually swaddle them. and my friend swears by this swaddler blanket. if i’d known about it in time, i’d definitely have tried it.
a large waterproof mat. you’ll use it into the toddler years. and you’ll wish every surface of your home was covered in this.
strollers – you don’t really need the big combo thing. use the ergo and you’ll love life so much more. when they can sit up i love my umbrella stroller. i got one like this for 5 bucks at a garage sale. love it. love how it covers them. has a basket. folds. is easy to push and fits through small spaces, like when you go mall shopping.
a medicine dropper.
a thermometer – i’ve tried most out there. don’t go glass – the small chance it could break and it’s just plain hard to read in the middle of the night. tried an ear one. wasn’t nearly as reliable or easy as the plain old battery ones. get one with a lighted screen for those middle of the night checks.
the play mats are good, but luxuries. i wanted a bumbo this time around, but didn’t get one, so obviously a luxury, but one i wanted nonetheless! the one item i didn’t have this time that i regret and would recommend time and again is the exersaucer. indispensible. you can use them from about 4 months to about nine months. i used mine with the first 3 for longer than that. much longer. and even when they could walk they loved to play with it from the outside. gives you the break you’ll need when you have to run the trash out, do dishes, get a shower, cook, and on and on.
a baby bath - go as big or as cheap as you like. i had one that was given to me while i was pregnant with my first and used it all the way through. when they weren’t big enough to control their movement i put a folded towel in it to soften and mold to their bodies. but now they have things made just for that. it’s up to you.
get q-tips and alcohol for that belly-button cord.
get lansinoh lanolin and lansinoh nursing pads – if you plan to nurse (which you should unless you medically can’t! ;) ) these were my favs. (the hospital will give you lanolin usually.) get a pump. a hand-held one if you don’t plan to work – get this if you do. i had one because i had major issues with my second and was determined to nurse through them. get some good bottles – i have nothing to offer on this. i never used them. anyone? anyone? you are going to want the hand-held pump even if you don’t pump to bottle feed. you will get engorged. you will want comfort. anyone on the brand? anyone? also, call your hospital ahead of time and ask if they have hydra-gels. if they don’t, go to little rock to expressly for you at baptist and get some. go to the this part of the site and scroll down to ameda comfort gel pads. the hospital used them for burn patients and discovered that they ease the pain of early nursing greatly and if you happen to have open sores from early difficulty with nursing they heal them in half the time. get them. track them down. you’ll love them. also, get a nursing sleep bra like the fancee free one at the store site. expressly for you has them. i loved the cotton ones. buy at least 2 and take them with you to the hospital. you’ll never want to go back to real bras!
i’m sure i’ll remember more later. and i’ll follow up with a post about when i did what with what product. i love to answer questions of just how we do it. so please ask. and i love even more, getting good tips from those who’ve been there. so please offer up!
so to recap: you need lots of love, a little soap, mega amounts of patience (or at least the desire for it), some sort of diapers, each other, a car seat, a little bit of mercy on yourself and well-meaning others, a lot for grace for one another, a way to feed her, and a mentor you can rely on.