When I was pregnant with Bean I was super excited…and super nervous. I wanted to be a good mother and I wanted to be able to provide the utmost comfort for my boy. I wanted him to be nurtured and pampered and I wanted to do it all while keeping my sanity. So, I went to my trusty resource, the internet, for how to best prep for this little creature. Here are 8 newborn must haves that I found to be essential for the first year after birth.
White Noise Machine
This. Is. Essential. My son used to sleep through anything as a newborn, but as he got a little older, say after 4 months on, he would wake from regular noises around the house. We tried a few different methods for making some noise: an air purifier, a fan, youtube rain sounds, a portable white noise machine, but the only thing that really worked well was the real deal. I ended up purchasing a white noise machine that plugs into the wall and stays on all night. Key words there. The portable machine was cute as it came stuffed into an animal he could sleep with, but after 45 minutes, it shut off and he would wake up. Now that he has a constant sound throughout the night, he sleeps longer and better. Ideal for if you have neighbors who gun their engines at late hours as they peel out down the street…or dogs who bark at the leaves falling off the trees in the backyard *sigh.*
Anyway, it’s good for noise cancelling and has become a good sleep association for my son. Now, he gets his bath, gets some snuggles, goes in for a brief rock and song with the noise machine on in the background, and he is out like a light. Sleeps like a baby. (Can I laugh at my own jokes?)
These light, soft, airy blankets are the absolute best because they are useful in a variety of situations. For example, they make wonderful swaddles in the middle of summer, when it’s 4 billion degrees outside. They are thin enough to keep your newborn wrapped up tight, but not too hot. They also make great covers for breastfeeding in public. We never bought any covers or fancy contraptions, and these blankets were large enough to cover me up entirely. My son hated having blankets over him as he often got very hot while feeding, so these were the perfect solution. We used these blankets far more often than the standard receiving blanket. In fact, I hardly touched the receiving blankets, in favor of these. They are a bit more costly than other types of blankets, but they were so worth the price. I will definitely be using them again for child number 2.
These bottles are my favorite bottles on the market. We tried a variety of different bottles as Bean really struggled with silent reflux and we tried everything we could think of to help reduce the amount of air he swallowed. While we found Dr. Brown’s to be effective, the Mam bottles were just as effective and were much more convenient than the Dr. Brown’s. As soon as my son started using them, we noticed a great reduction in the amount of “reflux episodes,” as we like to call them around here.
Additionally, the Mam bottles are much less obnoxious to put together and to clean. The bottle breaks into easy to clean and re-assemble pieces that are all dishwasher safe. If you don’t have time for the dishwasher, they can be hand washed quickly and thrown in the microwave for sterilizing.
I have heard about them being leaky from the bottom if you do not get them screwed together correctly, but I have yet to encounter this issue. Additionally, they don’t seem to leak more than a drop or two at most when laying on their side. Every other bottle I’ve tried seems to continuously dribble until it is placed upright. Any way you slice it, the Mam Bottles are the way to go.
This one is a heated debate between mom’s out there. Some will tell you not to use them at all while others will praise them as the best thing since sliced bread. I happen to be one of the latter. I admit, I worried about nipple confusion and all the horror stories about children struggling with latch after introducing a pacifier. So, I opted to go without, determined to make it to the 6 week mark before even considering the pacifier…and then it was 9 days later and I was dying for some sleep, my son was screaming and I had tried just about everything I could think of to soothe him, to no avail…and I crammed that little piece of rubber into his cry hole without a second thought….because I was so tired. At that moment, I ceased caring about nipple confusion and latch and everything that didn’t consist of silence. I’m glad I did, because the pacifier brought our little family some much needed peace and quiet and never caused any sort of “nipple confusion” or latch problems. He happily switched between breast, bottle, and pacifier from that day on. Definitely a recommend for your newborn must have list.
Dresser with Change Pad
This one is something I fully recommend and do not currently have. Originally, I looked around for some furniture to re-purpose for my son’s nursery so I could buy a change pad to leave on top. What I ended up with was an old armoire, once in our bedroom, which Lino repainted to include a custom giraffe picture (our nursery was giraffes with yellow/gray). While beautiful and functional, with plenty of storage, it did not serve as a change area. So, we decided to use the change table from the pack-n-play as that was permanently stationed in our bedroom as a bassinet. That worked, for maybe a minute, and then I ended up buying a waterproof cloth to just lay him on our bed to do diaper changes. This works out for us, and I try to be positive by telling myself the portability of the cloth is so much nicer than having a stationary change area…but the truth is that it isn’t that great. The bed is too low, as was the pack-n-play, requiring a slight bend at the waist when changing him. While this doesn’t seem like a bad thing, it really wears on your back, and I already have back issues. Additionally, I have a dedicated spot on my dresser with baby diapers/wipes/powder/etc that has no home because I change him on my bed. It’s messy looking and doesn’t really belong there, but that’s the only place for it as of now. I really wish I had gone with the dresser and change pad on top and I will insisting upon this for my next child. Don’t skip on this one.
Baby Monitor w/Camera
This one I hesitated to buy at first simply because of the cost. I really didn’t know if I would need to be able to see my child in addition to hearing him, and also worried about the potential for someone to hack into the camera feed. (Maybe I’m just paranoid, but I’m just not a super trusting person). This turned out to be a really good idea. The one we purchased has a night mode and a day mode, along with a rotating camera that is controllable with the receiving end. The camera is closed circuit, meaning that it does not operate on the internet, but connects directly to the receiving unit only.
My son is no longer a newborn, but we still use this monitor for naps and nighttime, along with when we step outside or need to use the shower/restroom, etc. The monitor stays on for a brief time before turning off, leaving the sound on, but that works out well for sleeping at night. It only takes the press of a button to “wake it back up.”
Not only does it have great reception, it has a long lasting battery AND tells me the temperature in his room. This was a nice feature for us because Bean’s room is often hotter than the rest of the house due to it’s location in the direct sunlight for a large part of the day. It helps me decide what type of blanket I will use and gives me a pretty good guess of how he will sleep at night (i.e. if he gets too hot or cold, he wakes more frequently). It’s a win in my book.
This one may not be for everyone, as not everyone prefers to breastfeed. However, if you are planning on breastfeeding, this is an excellent machine. Spectra has two different models of their pump, both excellent choices, but I ended up choosing the S1 as I wanted something more portable for my return to work. The S1 was able to operate on battery while the S2 had to be plugged in. This was instrumental in allowing me to continue breastfeeding while at work as I could use it virtually anywhere I could shut a door, without having to rely on being near an outlet. I could even use it while sitting in bed. SO convenient.
Additionally, and one of the biggest selling points for me, was that it is considered a hospital grade pump and includes a closed system. This means the accessories are the only things you need to keep sterilized as milk cannot flow back into the machine. It also means the pump is STRONG, but doesn’t come with the price tag of every other hospital grade pump. This machine made all the difference for me in terms of convenience and quality.
Another selling point was how quiet the machine is. I mean, I’ve been around breast pumps before and they can get super loud and obnoxious. This one is so quiet in comparison to other brands. It was quite surprising how effective it was for how quiet it was.
The only downside I had with this machine was that they did not sell flanges in the correct size for me. However, there are aftermarket brands that do sell them and I had no problems getting the machine to work with those items. So, ultimately this did not weigh heavily on my decision to purchase.
This one is also tricky as not everyone formula feeds. However, if you are considering formula feeding, or just need a good supplement, this was our go to in the formula department. Bean was primarily breastfed up until I returned to work where I continued to pump for a while, but ultimately could not keep up with his demands and my schedule. So, we ended up having to supplement with formula beginning around 7-8 months. Eventually, I ended up discontinuing the pumping at work as I just could not make it work with my schedule and I was finding myself to have trouble producing due to all the stress it was creating. So, by 9 months, Bean was exclusively on formula when he wasn’t eating real food. Since he has always been a fantastic eater (I fully believe this has much to do with our decision to both BLW and puree feed our boy, which you can read about here), I wasn’t too upset about letting it go. However, I wanted to make sure Bean only got the best formula I could find.
My husband and I started doing tons of research and found that soy is included in pretty much every formula on the market in the USA. We weren’t particularly interested in giving our son a lot of soy due to the presence of phytoestrogen. So, we looked for a formula that did not include soy. At the same time, we were looking for something that did not have maltodextrin or other high sugar ingredients like corn syrups. This led us to a German brand of formula: Lebenswert.
I should mention that my son fully refused to eat Enfamil and only barely tolerated Similac, but gobbled up Lebenswert like nobody’s business. Upon tasting the three, Lebenswert was seriously better in the taste department as the other two sort of had a chemical aftertaste. (Is it weird that we taste test pretty much everything before giving it to Bean?) Purchasing the product was the only downside as you must find an online retailer. As for the price, only about 5 bucks more than what we found in stores. If you can find a retailer who gives you free shipping, I’d say do it. It’s truly a great product.
Of course I have used a variety of other products, but these are a few I consider essential in the first year. What products did you use that you found absolutely necessary for your newborn? Let me know in the comments below as I am always looking for opportunities to try new things!