There are, of course, a million intangibles that made my life more enjoyable, if not easier, over the first month of Audrey’s life. My family (my parents, BLESS them, my super supportive husband, etc.), friends, patience, sense of humor, breasts, arm muscles, etc. And I by no means mean to say that you have to have the following things to survive the first four weeks. But for me, these items really helped (and since I was obsessed with other parents’ posts during my pregnancy and registry-building times, I hope you enjoy this!).
*Note: there is an Amazon affiliate code on most of these links, which means I get a very small chunk of change from Amazon if you buy the product using one of them. If you would prefer not to, just remove the tag from the URL once you click through.
When I brought this to the hospital, my nurses and lactation consultants all told me the same thing: “we love those!” The nursing pillow clips around my waist (and is adjustable, which is great since my belly has done a whole lot of changing in the first month) and sits at the perfect height for balancing my baby during nursing sessions. It’s not totally hands-free, since I still have to support my baby (and look lovingly down while she eats) but it takes an enormous amount of weight off my arms.
Thank goodness for its washable cover, too, which I had to test in the first few days.
I hesitate to list this because I know each family figures out which brand works for each baby, but after trying three different brands, I swear by these Pampers Swaddlers diapers. They’re also the ones the hospital used, so I figured it was worth passing on.
We go through wipes like WHOA. These are unscented, nice and big and come in giant packs that fit perfectly in our wipes warmer (which we love, but I know ends up on the hated list for a lot of parents…mine was a $3 consignment sale score).
- Changing Pad with Extra Covers
Remember what I said about the washable cover for the My Brest Friend pillow? Yeah. We do a lot of laundry, and there are always one or two changing pad covers in the pile. I found a bagful at a consignment sale, and I think that having at least three in the rotation is key, especially in the early days when (ahem) it’s very challenging to change a diaper without getting peed or pooped or spit up on.
This was a recommendation from Kath at Baby Eats Real Food and it has been a lifesaver. I tracked every diaper change and feeding for the first two weeks, per the pediatrician’s recommendation, and I still track every nursing/bottle. This is easy to use, has some very cool reporting tools and even lets you set alarms for things like medicine (Vitamin D drops, which I would otherwise forget every day), feeding, etc.
I had heard great and terrible things about every diaper pail on the market, but since we change diapers upstairs and spend most of our time downstairs — oh, and have two dogs who like to get into the garbage — I chose this product because it closes tight, has built-in baking soda odor elimination AND the bags can be easily changed. And it does all of that and more. I LOVE this diaper pail, the refills are pretty inexpensive and each bag holds a week’s worth of smelly diapers.
LOVE. LOVE. LOVE. Audrey has a nursery with a crib, as well as lots of other places to sleep. But this allows me to have her right next to my bed (super easy for nursing), so I have the benefit of room sharing/co-sleepingWITHOUT actually having her in our bed. (I know this can be kind of a controversial subject, and while I know there are LOTS of ways to safely bed share, it wasn’t the right choice for our family.)
I plan on keeping her here for at least three months and maybe even six months, depending on how things go. She only sleeps in here at night.
If I had to choose one and only one item to call a must-have, it would be this. Audrey spends a lot of time in her Rock ‘n’ Play and absolutely loves it. It’s slightly elevated, which is great for preventing reflux or spit-ups, has a very gentle rocking motion, is deep enough to protect her from doggie kisses and has a soft insert that should help protect her from getting a flat head (we do a lot of tummy time as well). She could sleep in it overnight if need be, and it is a lifesaver for both long naps and when I need a safe spot to stow her while I go to the bathroom or make lunch.
I wish this had the ability to rock on its own, but I have mastered the art of rocking it with my foot while I read or watch TV.
More and more, this is becoming a fantastic complement to the Rock ‘n’ Play. Audrey LOVES this. At first, she’d only tolerate it for 10-15 minutes, but in the early days, that gave me time to pee (hallelujah), eat, pet my dogs… And now, she goes in every night after bath time, sort of as a bedtime prep space. This version is totally worth the extra money because it plugs in.
I’m lumping these together because they accomplish the same thing — helping my little Bug calm down and go to sleep. This helps with the Ssssshhhh “S” from The Happiest Baby on the Block and really makes a difference. I keep the Sheep upstairs and use the app downstairs.
Clothing (for Baby)
- Lots of Onesies
We sometimes go through three outfit changes a day, so having a lot of onesies is crucial. Audrey has been in newborn sizes for these first weeks but we do sometimes use the 0-3 month version overnight because it’s easier to deal with during diaper changes.
I have three. I wish I had 300. Audrey loves these and sleeps in one every night. We have swaddle blankets, but they’re tough to wrap and never stay on. These velcro bad boys have changed my life.
This is harder to use than the Summer version, but totally amazing — it really is like a baby straitjacket, but it cinches her arms in and helps her fall asleep.
- Aden + Anais Swaddles and Blankets
I use these every day, all day. They are burp cloths, they keep her warm in her Rock ‘n’ Play and swing, they are great for tummy time, etc. I keep one in every room. They are so soft and big enough to use for about everything that comes up.
I hate hate HATE changing Audrey when she is wearing pants, so these BabyLegs are awesome. They keep her warm, style her up and make diaper changes super easy.
Clothing (for Mom)
I bought a couple of these during pregnancy and wish I had bought more. I invested in the Bravado version and fell in love instantly.
- Nursing Tanks
Again, I have four and that’s not nearly enough. These get pretty gross in a day’s time, so I do a lot of laundry. My new favorite is the Undercover Mama, which can actually hook onto a nursing bra, so instead of having to unclip two items, you just have one to deal with.
This was highly recommended by friends and it’s great.
MAJOR purchase (thanks Mom and Dad!!!) but since I use it almost every day, it’s absolutely awesome. Audrey won’t be able to go into the bottom part of the stroller for a while, and it’s not a running stroller, but it’s super sturdy, very light, can collapse with one hand and stores easily. I did also buy the adapter so I could hook her car seat into it.
The CityMini doesn’t come with any accessories, so I bought this cheapie item and am so glad I did. It has two insulated cup holders and a basket that can protect my phone, keys, etc. There’s also a zippered inside pocket.
I estimate that I spend about 10-12 hours a day in this chair. I originally wanted a recliner, but a friend handed this down to me and it’s GREAT. I had no idea how much rocking made a difference when holding a baby until it was all I did all day.
- Burp Cloths
We ordered a ton of old-school cloth diapers to use as burp cloths, and I think we’ll order even more. They’re fantastic for absorbing spit-up and drool, are soft and easy to wash. We keep at least one in every room.
California Baby is expensive but great because of how gentle it is on baby.
I waited until breastfeeding was well established before giving Audrey a pacifier, but now that she takes one, I get a lot more mileage out of nap time. She cluster fed for the first few weeks but now is getting into a nursing routine. If she acts hungry before 3 hours, I offer her the paci. If she doesn’t take it, I know she’s really hungry. But she almost always takes it. The paci is also amazing for getting through car rides tantrum-free.
- Window Privacy Film
I know this is a weird one for a baby list, but we used the privacy film on our street-facing windows downstairs and the dog barking has dropped by 80%. No barks=sleeping baby=happy mom. Plus, it makes me more comfortable to walk around with my boobs hanging out now that the neighbors don’t get a free show.
I baby wear whenever possible. Not only do she and I both love it, it lets me use my hands for things like doing dishes, making phone calls, putting away laundry, etc. The Moby is harder to use but GREAT for letting her sleep or rock while I do emails. The Ergo is amazing for taking walks and other chores.
I pretty much bought out the baby section of the Amazon bookstore, but these two are dog-eared because I’ve read them so much. TWAOB has not only helped with breastfeeding, I have found that it has great advice for other motherhood challenges.
Another “this is for baby?” item. YUP. Mom and Dad gifted me with this during their stay and it has changed my life. I’m a bit of a neat freak, but don’t have time for full house cleaning anymore. This lets me vacuum the furniture and scoop up the pet fur in minutes — perfect for when visitors come over!
We started pumping and giving a daily bottle in Week 4, so I’ll review those items and more in the next installment!