If you ‘like’ us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter, you’ve seen my New Mom Tool of the Week posts over the past 6 months. These are items that I have loved having around since welcoming baby #2 back in July. It’s funny how, as a brand new mom welcoming baby #1, we have a long list of must have items that we see online or in magazines. I think with each subsequent child, however, we learn that less is more and we tend to gravitate towards the absolute ‘must haves’. There are many items I thought I needed when my first child was born that I am doing just fine without the second time around.
Those ‘must haves’ will vary from mom to mom because, let’s face it, we all have different lifestyles and preferences. We could probably sit around and chat for hours about our favorite baby items and why we just can’t live without them. I’ve asked several moms of multiple young children and these are the items we simply can’t live without. I’ve noted the approximate cost of these items along with some money saving tips as well as the time frame you are likely to use the item. So much of your baby gear is used temporarily (like 2-6 months) so it’s helpful to know how long your invest is going to last.
This list is, of course, in addition to general items such as clothing, various linens, a crib, bottles (if bottle feeding), etc. If you have our book, these special items would fall under the “Would Be Nice To” haves or the “Everyone In Hollywood” haves that I write about in Chapter 7.
Thank you to Facebook friend Bethany for the wonderful reminder that above all else, grace and wisdom are the two most important tools for any new mom. And you can’t find them at Babies R Us or your local consignment sale. Those tools come only from your relationship with God so remember to pray first and foremost as you go throughout your day with baby!
1. Graco Snap & Go Stroller – Twitter friend @mommyzabs seconds my vote that this is the way to go for an infant stroller. The Snap & Go is a frame that carries your infant seat so you simply pop the seat out of the car and into the frame without moving or disturbing baby. I found this much easier than a separate stroller and very compact. Several companies make these frames so find one that is compatible with your preferred infant seat. For baby #2 I purchased the double Snap & Go stroller and we love it! There is a place for my preschooler to sit and once baby is out of the carrier, there is a full seat for him up front.
Approximate Cost: $50-$75 (for the single) depending on where you buy and what brand you land on. These are pretty easy to find at consignment sales or wait for a sale or coupon at Babies R Us.
When You Will Use It: 0-9 months, possibly longer if baby is small.
2. Baby Monitor/Video Monitor - Facebook friends Carrie and Shawn love their baby monitors. Shawn shared that although the video monitor is more of an investment, it’s worth it to be able to see baby while they are sleeping. Either way, the peace of mind that comes with hearing (or seeing) your baby while they are sleeping is worth the investment.
Approximate Cost: $35-$200 depending on brand (video monitors are between $100-$200). This is a good item to look for on Craigslist but make sure it works well before purchasing. I would not recommend buying an item like this at a consignment sale because there is no way to ensure it works before purchasing. Sign up for Amazon Mom and watch for weekly deals on high dollar items like this.
When You Will Use It: We still use a monitor for our 3 1/2 year old. It’s just helpful to hear her, especially when she is sick.
3. Swaddle Blankets – Our mommies love their swaddle blankets and it’s pretty unanimous that Aden + Anais are the blanket of choice. Facebook friends Claire and Colleen shared how much they love their Aden + Anais blankets. I couldn’t agree more. I don’t know what I did with baby #1 before they were around. These muslin blankets are soft, lightweight and worth the price. Target sells a few exclusive packs or you can purchase directly off of their website (more choices). Perfect for summer babies since they are light and breathable! They are a great, larger size so you can use them as baby grows.
Approximate Cost: $35-$50 (pack of 4)
When You Will Use Them: As long as possible!
4. Boppy - If you think the Boppy is only for breastfeeding, you are missing out! Facebook friend Brandi shared how she uses her Boppy for everything. Once again, I couldn’t agree more. Brandi used her Boppy as a neck pillow in the hospital (brilliant) as well as for nursing, sitting support and tummy time support for her little one.
Approximate Cost: $35-$50 for new pillow and cover but this is a great item to pick up at a consignment sale.
When You Will Use It: 0-10 months
5. Hylands Teething Tablets - This is one of my picks for mommies. Hylands went away between my two little ones but are back and better than ever with a new formula (perfect timing for me). These homeopathic tablets really do sooth teething babies.
Approximate Cost: $6-$10
When You Will Use Them: Approx 3-4m until baby stops teething
6. Sheet Savers – This is one of those items that some new moms don’t know about. I want to shout it from the rooftops and I think Facebook friends Angela and Carrie would join me. No one wants to change a crib sheet in the middle of the night (believe me it’s hard). Sheet savers are truly life savers! You can use the small size or the ones that cover the entire surface (I write about these in the book). Either way, they will save you the trouble of changing a hard-to-remove crib sheet at 2am enough times to warrant their price!
Approximate Cost: $8-$20 depending on size
When You Will Use Them: 0-12 months at least
7. Infant Carrier/Wrap – With my first baby, I didn’t use an infant carrier. She simply did not like it. With my second the need for two hands to care for my 3 year old outweighed his resistance to it. Many moms swear by the convenience and comfort of infant carriers and would recommend using them from the get go. Like anything, the more you use it, the more baby will become comfortable with it. There are many types of carriers on the market including wraps and slings. Facebook friends Mindy and AnnRose love the Moby Wrap (this is the one I used for my baby boy) while friends Adina, Kemmely and Grace @ourarmswideopen love the Ergo Baby carrier. You will need to do your research and find what works best for you. But we definitely recommend taking the time and making the investment in this helpful tool. . .especially for baby #2 and beyond!
Approximate Cost: $40-$200 depending on carrier (wraps are less expensive options). These are great items to pick up at a consignment sale. I got my Moby Wrap for 1/2 the price used. Just make sure with more involved carriers that all pieces are in proper working order.
When You Will Use It: 0m-2years depending on carrier choice and baby’s size. Wraps can typically be used sooner however the Ergo Baby has an optional infant insert.
8. Breast Pump - If you are planning to breastfeed your baby then a breast pump in a must (unless you plan on never leaving their side during the first year). They are expensive but worth the investment. If you have trouble with your milk supply, a pump can also aide to keep you flowing until your supply picks up. Since I knew I would have trouble with my supply due to a surgery I had years ago, I used a breast pump for a month after baby was born to get as much milk as I could for my babies. I chose to rent a pump from our hospital medical supply since I knew I wouldn’t be using it long term. Breastfeeding moms would tell you to invest in an electric (non manual) pump if you can. And a double pump is much more efficient than a single. Believe me, you’ll appreciate getting it done in one shot when you are juggling a million things as a new mom. Twitter friend Grace @ourarmswideopen loves her Lansinoh pump and @SarahCaitS chose Medela. Once again, do your research and find the pump that you think would work well for you and is in your budget.
Approximate Cost: $200-$400 for double, electric breast pump, $60-$150 for single electric. $40-$50 for single or double manual pump.
When You Will Use It: 0-12m or as long as you breastfeed
9. Nursing Cover – Facebook friends Claire and Colleen could not live without their nursing cover. If you want to be discreet while feeding in public, a nursing cover is a must!
Approximate Cost: $30-$50
When You Will Use It: 0-12m or as long as you are breastfeeding
10. “Baby Stations” – A swing, a bouncy seat, a playmat and/or an exersaucer. . . I like to call these items “baby stations”. Because baby’s attention span in only a few minutes, you will find yourself moving throughout these stations with baby as you go through your day. If you have room in your budget, I recommend purchasing a few of these items to offer baby variety and you as much time hands free as possible. But these tools are not only about passing off baby for a few, sacred, hands-free moments. These toys help baby explore color, shapes, sounds and the world around them. Twitter friend @SarahCaitS chose her swing as a favorite. Facebook friend Bethany loves her bouncy seat while Kristy recommends a playmat and Crista swears by an exersaucer. These items vary in cost and appropriate age of use so think about your budget and what you will need throughout baby’s first year when deciding what to purchase.
Approximate Cost: Swing $75-$200 depending on size, Bouncy Seat $30-$70, Playmat $25-$75, Exersaucer $50-$120. These are all good items to pick up at a consignment sale or to borrow from a friend who is not currently using them.
When You Will Use Them: Swing 0-9m, Bouncy Seat 0-6m, Playmat 0-12m, Exersaucer 3-12m
11. Soothing Sounds – One of the most important tools you can have in your tool box for baby is anything that promotes peace in your home. Babies can sense stress and tension so the more peaceful you make your environment, the more peaceful they can be. As I write this, my 6 month old is watching a Praise Baby DVD. Twitter friend @mommyzabs and Facebook friend Crista both shared that they love worship music for their baby. Kemmely shared that her baby loved their womb sound machine. Whether going throughout your day with worship music as your soundtrack or putting baby down for a nap and nighttime with a sound machine or lullabies, soothing sounds are a must for every mom. One of my personal favorites is the Rock A Bye Baby Collection. Sweet and soothing renditions of YOUR favorite music mom, including Coldplay, U2 and others!
Approximate Cost: Sound Machine $20-$50, CD/DVDs $10-$15
When You Will Use It: At least the first 3 years!
12. Baby Schedule Tracker – While in the hospital after having my second baby, the nurse instructed me to write down when baby ate, slept and pooped. She told me to do this for about a week. Then she jokingly said, “If you do it any longer than that, you need to get a life.” Facebook friend Shawn and I would definitely disagree with that statement. With the horrible effect that having a baby has on the brain, new moms cannot be expected to remember anything. . .even the last time they fed their little one. I found a schedule tracker so valuable for at least the first 3-6 months. Once baby was sleeping more consistently and eating regular meals, I was able to transition out of this practice. But before then, I simply had to write everything down. My personal favorite schedule tracker is The Essential Baby Organizer while Shawn loved her electronic Itzbeen Baby Timer.
Approximate Cost: $15-$25
When You Will Use It: 0-6m or possibly longer
Some other items suggested by our moms for baby’s body. . .Facebook friend Jessice loves California Baby Calendula Cream for babies with Eczema and Carrie loves Aquaphor for everyday use. I personally have really enjoyed Johnson’s Natural line this time around for baby wash, shampoo and lotion.
We’d love to hear from other moms on essential items that did not make this list. What other tools do you believe new moms (especially moms with 2+) need in their toolbox?