Baby items: What you really need in the first weeks

There are lots of baby items out there, and if you read any of my posts around the time when we set up our baby registry, you know how overwhelmed I felt about all the choices.

Now that Corban has been with us a whopping FOUR weeks (!) I can say with confidence that most of the stuff on your typical baby registry isn’t necessary from the start, and there are definitely some items you might not even think about that you want to have on hand from the day your baby comes home. Aside from the obvious (car seat, diapers, wipes) here’s a list of what I’ve found to be newborn and new mom essentials.

Newborn essentials:

Pack ‘N Play: No, you don’t need a play yard for your newborn. What you do need is a bassinet and a changing table, and our Pack ‘N’ Play provides both those things. For the first few days, we would keep it in the family room during the day for easy diaper changes and move it into our bedroom at night. Now we just leave it in our bedroom. Since the nursery (and big changing table) is on the opposite side of the house, it is so nice to have it all right next to our bed for nighttime feedings and diaper changes. The one we ended up purchasing is similar to this (floor model for a discount – score!) but I can’t find the exact model online.

Sleep Sack: Our hospital sent us home with a Halo sleep sack, and my grandma gave us one as a shower gift. Baby should be warm and swaddled at night, and these things make that super easy.

Bottles: I registered for bottles, but if we hadn’t been given them I don’t think I would have felt the urge to buy them before baby’s arrival. I was planning to breastfeed, after all, so why would we need bottles in the beginning? Well, when C got jaundice at only a few days old, the doctor instructed us to supplement him with formula for a day, to get his digestive tract moving and grooving and expelling bilirubin. I’m glad we had the glass bottles I picked out on hand.

Medela micro-steam bags: This is another registry item I didn’t think we’d use in the beginning, but I’m so glad my cousin (a new-ish mom herself) got them for us. They allow you to sanitize bottles, breast pump parts and other things in the microwave. Way easier than boiling!

“Feminine hygiene products:” Um, yeah, pads. Go buy some of those right now if you’re pregnant. The hospital will probably send you home with some that are bigger than your baby’s diapers, but after a couple days you’ll be fine with thin ones. But buy a lot, because you’ll most likely be wearing them for a few weeks, and this is probably not an item your husband will want to go out and buy for you.

Cradle or baby lounger: Our Pack ‘N’ Play also came with a cradle attachment that was so nice in the first few weeks. While you want to hold baby as much as possible, you simply can’t hold him every minute, so it provides a cozy place for him to lie. We recently bought the Boppy newborn lounger (Peter calls it the “Bopper”) for a smaller and more portable option, and it’s really nice too.

Baby Connect phone app: I swear by this app! It keeps track of and charts absolutely everything for you – feeding times/intervals/sides, pumping, diaper changes/poop colors, sleep, weight, activities and much more. It was so handy when the pediatrician asked how often and long he was eating and how many diaper changes he was needing (they ask at every appointment) to be able to open the app and know the exact answer. At $4.99 it is pricy for an app, but a total steal considering how useful it is. It will remain helpful beyond his infant months too.

Diaper rash cream: We didn’t start using this until it was too late and C was crying every time he pooped from the pain of a chapped butt. Now we use it at every diaper change – either Burt’s Bees or Carter’s brand depending on if we change him on the Pack ‘N’ Play or in the nursery.

New nursing mom essentials:

Breast pump: The hospital sent me home with a brand new set of tubing and accessories, so even though I had done nothing with the hand-me-down breast pump my friend gave me, it was good to go when Corban’s pediatrician recommended I pump for a feeding to see if my milk had really come in. There are actually quite a few scenarios when you would want to try pumping in the early days, so it’s probably good to have one from the start if you’re planning on buying one at all. And, side note, after using a breast pump, I realize there is nothing to fear about using one second hand. The pump itself doesn’t touch the milk – even the tubes don’t. Only the bottles and the suction things you attach to the breast come into contact with the milk, and you can probably get those new for free from your hospital.

Lanolin: If you’re pregnant, go buy some now just to be sure you have it from the moment you start breastfeeding. Lanolin is a soothing Vaseline-like gel that helps heal and prevent nipple irritation. Use it after every feeding and for sure before pumping. Lansinoh brand is great and you can buy it in the nursing/feeding aisle at Target. I’ve also heard it works great for chapped lips.

Bra pads: This is definitely one of those things I didn’t really give much thought to. I put them on our registry, certain that no one would buy them, just because they were recommended along with the other breastfeeding supplies. But as soon as your milk comes in (3 to 5 days after birth, I think) you will need them or you’ll be going through a lot of bras and shirts! My friend Litzy coincidentally did purchase them off our registry and gave them to me (along with a disclaimer that it was the weirdest thing she’s ever bought someone) when Corban was four days old. Perfect timing! I should also mention that if you’re using lanolin, the pads function to protect your shirt or bra from getting stained.

Camis or nursing bras: I have to be honest, I wore nursing bras for a few days, then realized they were kind of just getting in the way because you have to wear a nursing friendly top anyway. Now my nursing mom uniform is a cami with built-in bra and a cardigan. My favorites are my Gap maternity camis. They are long, fitted and supportive (if you’re not huge-chested).

Breastfeeding pillow: You can definitely just use a regular pillow on your lap, but I love the (unfortunately-named) My Brest Friend pillow. It is the perfect height for a newborn to rest on while feeding and it has a pouch to store your lanolin or whatever else. It also buckles around you, so it stays securely in place. I still haven’t figured out how to make the Boppy helpful for feedings – it’s kind of bulky and awkward at this point – but some people love it.

Unless I’m forgetting something, that’s pretty much all we needed for the first couple weeks. Really, not much. Baby just eats, sleeps and poops (hopefully) for the most part. I’ll do another post soon on the other items we’ve started using now that C is a few weeks old. And the next installment of Corban’s birth story will be up soon too!

4 thoughts on “Baby items: What you really need in the first weeks

  1. Ashley says:

    Font! I’ve never commented before on your lovely blog, but I just had to now b/c you must be psychic! I was going to sit down today and write down the bare essentials we need to make sure we get in the next month or so, or ask for when (and if) I do have a baby shower. This was super helpful and made me think of things I hadn’t considered. Thanks!



  2. Jane Weinstock says:

    I’m years removed from having a newborn in the house (sniff, sniff) but ironically our niece had a baby boy a mere 10 days after you Alison (her first also) and her first moment of “I don’t know what to do!” came courtesy of baby having bouts of gas….totally reminded me about GAS DROPS!! They are a must have, even if they get lost in the bottom of the diaper bag (which they will) and you end up w/5 bottles when the kid is 3 years old (which you will :), they totally work and are very gentle on the tummy…. 🙂


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