The website that was completely instrumental to every decision I made regarding our baby registry was Lucie’s List. All the research and honest opinions on baby products helped me sift through the millions of options to find what we wanted/could afford. There’s just too much stuff out there for babies. It’s as bad as the wedding industry.
Items we couldn’t live without:
-Pack N Play: Ours is the Graco Snuggle Suite LX, but really any model with the raised bassinet insert and the changing table would work. She hardly ever sleeps in it because she sleeps in bed with me while her daddy’s in LA for the week, but that changing table is amazing. You want her up closer to your level post c-section, since bending over to clean and change her was pretty much out of the question for the first few weeks. (She doesn’t like the vibrating bouncer that came with this one, but the cat adores it, so it was nice for him to get a new toy to sleep in when he was feeling insecure about the shift in our attention.)
UPDATE: Apparently Graco now has a Pack N Play (called the Everest) whose changing table FOLDS DOWN when not in use. I’m super sad we didn’t know about it when we bought ours, as the changing table always being up is getting in the way as she gets bigger. Also, baby now enjoys the bouncer with vibration setting a LOT. She hangs out in it all the time, and the cat has had to make do with his cat tower again.
-Car Seat/Stroller: Because obviously. We got the Graco Click Connect type because my work had already given me a Graco Click Connect stroller. They’re pretty and functional and on the more affordable end. I don’t anticipate needing a jogging stroller because I don’t like running anyway, and I’d really rather go lift weights if I’m going to be working out.
-Breast Pump: We haven’t used it much because she’s still young and we want to exclusively breastfeed for the first four weeks, but I really do love my Spectra S2 pump. The two different modes really accurately imitate the way she nurses, and the pump can be super gentle, which was absolutely necessary during my tough engorgement period when my milk first came in.
–Kiinde Breast Milk Storage System + Bottles + Milk Warmer: Even though we haven’t used them much yet, we love this. Forget having to wash/sanitize bottles! The nipples are easy to wash and the starter gift pack came with adapters that let me attach the milk storage bags right to my pump. So efficient.
–Little Giraffe Chenille Blanket: Great quality, super soft (even after repeated washings!), and so warm. Now that it is getting hotter we don’t swaddle her in it as much as the Aden + Anais blankets (which are also fabulous and everyone should get at least four of them), but this Little Giraffe blanket lives in the Rock N’ Play and keeps her cushioned and warm when she’s in there. She’s actually asleep in there right now as I write this.
-Diaper Bag: We got a nice $40 Eddie Bauer diaper bag from Target. Plenty of pockets, neutral enough design that Daddy doesn’t mind carrying it around. Forget spending over $100 on a designer purse-imitation diaper bag. We just need functional (and none of those fancy ones have all the pockets I wanted, plus insulated pockets for milk!).
Things we bought (+more of) after she was born:
-Hands-Free Nursing Bra: Oh gods, why would any woman want to sit around for twenty minutes holding the suction on one of those breast funnels? I had to do it in the hospital and once at home, and it hurt my back enough (and was frustrating to not have free hands) that we immediately got on Amazon and ordered one of these wonderful hands-free nursing bras. I was even able to lend it to my sister when she was here helping us the second week, because she’d forgotten to pack hers and was still pumping for our one year-old nephew.
-Backseat Car Mirror: I didn’t think I would need one of these because I’m a pretty zen mom. I don’t freak out about stuff, I don’t really get anxious. I’ll worry when the doctors tell me to worry, you know? But then I did a four-hour car ride down to LA with the little one in the back, rear-facing, and I didn’t like not being able to see that she was okay and hadn’t spit up all over herself. So hubby went to Target and got us one, and the drive back was so much better because I could see her.
-Breast Pads: We’ve ordered a THIRD pack of these Q T Bamboo ones, and I think that might be enough, but we might even buy another one with the next round of Amazon purchases. They are so much softer/more comfortable than the disposable ones we got at Target. They wash *great* in the washer and dryer, coming out soft and new (a big difference from the crusty, dried milk that’s on them after I’ve been wearing them). I’m pretty sure I’ve got overactive letdown AND oversupply, so I don’t know if other women would need as many of these as I do, but I go through them very quickly. It’s also nice to not have to put a wet one back on a nipple after a feeding—I can soak through them pretty quick depending on how full my breasts are. I’ve only soaked entirely through and onto my shirt once, though, wearing these.
-Burp Cloths: Even if you don’t have a super reflux-y baby, they will spit up. They’ll drink too much, not have enough room, have trapped air bubbles that agitate their system, whatever. We’re lucky that our little one doesn’t spit up all the time—usually burpings are mess-free. But every couple days she’ll basically projectile-vomit a little fountain stream of half-curdled milk, and then we have to change everyone’s outfits, wipe down all the furniture, and do a big load of laundry because she’s soaked through multiple burp cloths and towels. My favorite burp cloths are actually ones that my mother-in-law made for us by sewing squares of towel to some colorful fabrics (Adventure Time, Pokemon, and Star Wars themes). The towel is super absorbent and soft on baby’s face as she rests on a shoulder. I also use them under her head when she sleeps in bed with me, so that I don’t have to change my sheets all the time when she spits a little.
UPDATE: We also absolutely love the Aden + Anais Burpy Bibs. Pricey, but so absorbent! The shape is perfect for shoulder burping, and they’ll be great as bibs when she starts eating food. They’re the most absorbent of all the burp cloths we’ve tried (even the cloth diapers that we use for burp cloths!), and come in lots of cool styles.
-Bulb Syringes: We’re probably using the NoseFrida wrong, but it just doesn’t work well for us. The bulb syringe we got at the hospital, however, has already saved my little one from some serious oxygen deprivation. She threw up and it came out her nose, and she was having trouble clearing it herself. The syringe was powerful enough to actually clear her nostrils in record time, so that she could breathe again. It was scary enough for me to watch her go purple in the face in those few seconds that we keep the bulb syringe in the car seat at all times, and have ordered more to place around the house in easy reach (plus one for her diaper bag).
UPDATE: The NoseFrida works okay now that her nostrils are bigger, but mostly needs to be used in conjunction with saline spray to loosen up the dried boogers before they can be sucked out. I think the combo NoseFrida/bulb syringe is the best for any snot-sucking situation you might find yourself in.
-Nursing Sleep Bras/Maternity Tanks: When we’re better at nursing, I’m sure I’ll be happy enough with those nursing bras that unhook and sort of fold down off your boob. Right now, though, especially when she’s going through a growth spurt and nursing every hour or less, I love wearing a stretchy bra that I can just pull down off a breast. Likewise, the maternity tank tops I got from Target are indispensable. I wish I’d gotten more than just two (and I did send hubby back to Target for two more of these sleep bras, and two more loose-fit, non-maternity tanks). There’s just too much bulky stuff hanging out under your boob if you have a normal nursing bra and a normal nursing tank, both of which fold down and bunch up in weird ways, potentially cutting off your milk supply. The whole point of not wearing underwire to avoid mastitis is to keep pressure off of that area.
-Nursing Pillow: In the hospital it was clear pretty quickly how many pillows and re-adjustments and such were needed to find a good position to nurse in. I’m dealing with muscle pain right now on one side that’s probably related to my nursing position—some sort of overcompensation on my left side because the muscles are weaker or something. It could also be due to the fact that I pretty much always hold her on my right side, because it feels way more natural. Regardless, I know I would be way worse off without this nursing pillow that my mother-in-law got for me. It has a handy extra attachment that props her up closer to the boob on whatever side she’s feeding on, and allows her to feed in a semi-reclined position, which is better for us when she’s choking on my overactive letdown. She’s already pretty much too big for the football hold to be at all comfortable. (As a side note to this, a comfortable nursing chair/seat/whatever is a must. I can’t make recommendations because we’ve had this big cushiony armchair for a very long time, and got it secondhand from a friend in college anyway. But I’ve set it up with the right pillow support for my back, with a hanging organizer on the arm to hold a kleenex box, burp cloths, a book, etc. The ottoman is great, too, because when she’s done nursing I can put my feet up and she dozes on the nursing pillow on my lap while I watch Netflix or whatever.)
–Baby K’tan Carrier: I’m only just starting to use mine, since I was worried about her feet being right at the level of my c-section incision, but I already really like it. We had to order one in a larger size for my husband, because he also enjoys wearing her. It’s a great way to bond, but it’s also just more calming for her, I think. She still isn’t super happy about being out in the world, so she likes to be close to people whenever possible.
Other things we’ve learned in the first few weeks:
-Periodic Breathing in Newborns. Look it up. Trust me, you will want to know about this before you notice it in your own baby.
-The Gerber clothes run slightly smaller than the Carter ones, so she outgrew the Gerber newborns first, and now has outgrown the Carter ones. Hand-me-downs are fantastic, as we haven’t had to buy a single article of clothing for her ourselves just yet. And people just keep buying her clothes, so I’m assuming we won’t have to buy her any clothes ourselves until after the first year or so.
-Huggies wipes tear pretty easily when pulling them out. The Costco Kirkland brand wipes are great, though. The Pampers ones work well, too. Amazon Elements wipes tear like the Huggies ones.
-Huggies diapers have elastic in the back, which helps protect against blowouts from that direction (but you still get some, because, babies). Pampers doesn’t have the elastic in the back, and we got way more blowouts when we were using those.
-The Amazon registry was a good idea, especially because old coworkers and family members sometimes got us Amazon gift cards instead of items from the registry. We ended up with a sizable gift balance, and have been using it to cover diapers and wipes, which with our Prime subscription are cheaper and get delivered straight to the door in two days.
-Colic is a ridiculous term that basically means “you have a fussy baby and we don’t know why.” We’ve found that she generally makes sense—when she cries or fusses it’s because she’s hungry, has a dirty diaper, is gassy, needs to poop and is having trouble doing so, or is too cold or too hot. You run through the list of possibilities, and after addressing all of them she usually calms down. That will get more complicated as she gets older and starts hitting overstimulation while her brain is developing in leaps and bounds, but for right now it’s a comfort to know that caring for my baby can be a pretty logical process.
-If you have to live apart, as parents, due to jobs, invest in some IP video cameras. We got a couple from Amazon, and I think it’s really nice for my husband to be able to check up on us when he is down in LA for the week. We also like to talk to him on the phone in the evenings (I put him on speaker so that she can hear his voice), and he gets to see us while we do this, and it makes us feel the distance a little less.
-I really love my sister’s approach to “advice.” She told us as soon as we announced the pregnancy that she would try not to offer advice, but that she’d be available if we ever had questions. That’s been great. She hasn’t stepped on my toes once, and I’ve got this willing and knowledgeable source of information who just had a baby a year ago. It’s been 26 years since any of our parents had a baby, so their information can be a little bit outdated. And they won’t know everything, since not everyone breastfed, or used disposable diapers, or had a c-section, etc.
Life really does change a lot when you have a baby, but so far we’ve been in love, even on the rough days. I completely understand and respect anyone who chooses not to have children—that probably would have been my path as well, if my husband hadn’t always wanted a kid so badly. But we’re happy with our decision, and now that she’s here I’m very much in love, and excited for all the new adventures life will throw at us. Mostly I’m excited to get to know her, and see who she is. Her growing awareness and expressiveness every day is amazing to witness.