So I’ve been a mom for 5 weeks now, but my little boy Tucker’s only been home for a week. If you’ve read my birth story, you know he was early and in the NICU for a little bit.
Now, although I’m a first time mom, I don’t consider myself a novice to this whole baby thing. I’ve nannied other babies forever. Like, really, since before I could legally nanny. I’m the oldest of 3 girls, and my littlest sister was born when I was 7. So I was her mini-mom. When I was 12, I started babysitting for the other neighborhood families when they would go on date night, and continued this through high school. In college, my job was nannying 2 little boys 2-3 days a week, and then when I quit my career in sales, I went back to the thing I knew best… nannying!
But taking care of a baby 24-7 required a little different set of tools. I felt pretty confident with my baby registry that I was registering for everything I needed (and a few things on this list were actually on my registry). However, from day 1 of Tucker being born, I quickly realized that there were a few things I had forgotten, and didn’t even realize were so essential.
I left off the standard car seat, stroller, crib, mattress, etc. Those things are a given and pretty obvious. Even the Jump-a-roo that I had registered for (that I know will be so essential once he’s a few months old) isn’t on this list.
I’m talking about the 5 must have essentials a new mom needs when she first brings her baby home. The other stuff you can get as you go and your baby gets older (except for a carseat, stroller, and a few other obvious things. You’ll need those ASAP, too. But they’re a no brainer, so I left them off this list). My list is of newborn must have items a mom needs immediately after her baby is born, but might not necessarily know she needs.
So below, I share a few items I can’t live without in Tucker’s first week at home. Hopefully, it will help those of you other first time mommies out there when getting ready to bring home baby. And maybe you’ll be just a little more prepared than you had imagined 😉
The Complete List of Newborn Must Haves
- Feeding Must Haves
- Respiratory Must Haves
- Sleepwear Must Haves
- Bedding Must Haves
- Laundry Must Haves
Newborn Must Haves for Feeding
I have nothing but great things to say about these bottles. They’re specially designed to mimic breastfeeding and reduce baby’s spit-up, colic, and gas from bottle feeding. And they work REALLY well.
The only thing is that they come with Level 1 nipples. What I didn’t realize (and you probably wouldn’t either, which is why I’m telling you) is that each nipple has a different “flow rate”. The flow rate is how fast the milk is suctioned out of the nipple and into your baby’s mouth.
The flow rate of these Level 1 nipples that the Dr. Browns bottles comes with is rather fast (even though the packaging says they’re good for infants starting at birth). So babies often have trouble sucking with these nipples right away, and can spill milk (or even choke on milk) because it comes out of the bottle too fast.
I found that the preemie nipples are better suited for newborns. Even if your baby is NOT a preemie (Tucker happens to be, but the NICU recommended this nipple for well beyond his preemie days).
Plus, if you’re using bottles to supplement breastfeeding, this nipple more mimics the natural flow of breastmilk from you. Hence, why your baby would feel more comfortable with a preemie nipple than the nipples these bottles come with. Great trick to try if you’re having issues with your baby taking a bottle after being breastfed!
This bottle/nipple combo is what eventually got Tucker out of the NICU. Before these, he wasn’t eating enough. When I brought these bottles in for him to try, the flow of the Level 1 nipples were too much for him. But with the preemie nipple – he was out in 1 week. No joke!
Now, he’s taking 3-4oz bottles every feeding, and sleeping like a champ (at 5 weeks)! These bottles have been a lifesaver for us.
Other Feeding Must-Haves:
When a baby is learning to feed, what you don’t realize is that their suck/swallow reflexes are not totally in sync. Your baby may hold milk in their cheeks for a bit before swallowing it, or take in too much at once. This can cause spillage and stains all over their cute clothes (and yours, too!).
Before each feeding, I tuck a burp cloth under Tucker’s head and around under his chin. This way, if he does spill (which he always does) the milk goes straight onto the rag, and saves me from changing his clothes 8 times a day.
I also put a rag over my shoulder in case there is any spit up when I burp him. Luckily, there usually isn’t. But you never know how your baby will react to burping – and this will save your clothes as well!
So at my baby shower, I was given Vitamin D and Gas Relief supplements from another new mommy. I thought nothing of them, and put them in the back of the cabinet thinking I may need them at some point.
Fast forward one month to Tucker being born. During his stay in the NICU, the nurses would put Vitamin D and Iron supplements into this first feeding of the day. And the doctor told me that I would be doing this, as well, when he came home.
The reason for this is that babies are not supposed to be exposed to direct sunlight for a bit of time, and need a healthy amount of Vitamin D and Iron to grow (an amount they’re used to getting from us in our tummies, but cannot get from our breastmilk or formula). Bet you didn’t know that, did ya?
And the gas relief… well, that’s pretty obvious. Newborns are just learning to feed, and often get a bit of air into their little tummies when they’re eating. The gas relief supplement just help ease their little tummies from straining, and makes mommy happy that they’re not in as much pain from the gas discomfort.
Your baby is going to go through a LOT of bottles, if you’re pumping or not exclusively breastfeeding. And most bottles have a lot of tiny little pieces that aren’t necessarily dishwasher safe. Plus, are you going to run your dishwasher everyday just to clean your bottles? Probably not.
A microwave sterilizer solves this problem, and saves you a TON of time. What I do is I just rinse out Tucker’s bottles with a quick soap/water rinse once he’s done. Then, at the end of each day, I put all the pieces into my sterilizer. It goes in my microwave for 4 minutes on high, sits closed for another 6, and then all his bottles are perfectly sterilized for the next day’s use!
10 minutes in the microwave (vs. however long it would take you to hand wash all the parts in steaming hot water) I’d say is well worth it. I use this thing seriously EVERYDAY!
In going with everything above, a high volume drying rack just helps keep all your baby’s feeding supplies together. Bottle components, pacifiers, toys… you name it. If you need to wash/sterilize it, you need a place for it to dry completely before using again.
I have this exact drying rack in the corner of my kitchen counter. It doesn’t take up too much room, and fits EVERYTHING from my sterilizer (and then some).
And when I’m ready to use my bottles again, I know just RIGHT where to find every piece. Makes it super easy, convenient, and quick to see what you need and grab it when you’re in a rush (ie: have a crying baby).
Newborn Must Haves for Breathing
Ok, so this thing is really gross upon first look. It’s essentially a tube you put up to your baby’s nostril, and suction out their snot by breathing in deeply to the other side of the tube. There’s a filter in place so nothing comes through to you, but still, gross.
I nannied for years, and as much as I loved the babies I watched, i absolutely refused to use this thing. And I swore it was too gross to use even on my own kids, EVER!
Fast forward to Tucker. Every time I was close to his face, I could notice a blockage in his nasal breathing (babies only breathe through their noses, FYI). The hospital would sporadically suction out his snot with a large bulb syringe (after spraying saline up his nostrils to moisten whatever gunk was up there), but I could still hear the blockage.
When I brought him home, I tried this myself, but noticed the suction of the bulb just wasn’t doing the trick. Don’t get me wrong, it was helping, but not enough. So I ran out and got the dreaded Nose Frida. Only this time, I wasn’t so grossed out by it. And BOY did it work like a charm!
I also have to say, that it wasn’t as gross as I initially imagined. The snot barely even make it past the tip of the tube, and not even close to where I was suctioning (phew)! And immediately after, my newborn boy slept for a 4 hour stretch (it would have been longer but I had to wake him up to feed). I had officially hit the jackpot!
So if you have a congested baby, GET THE NOSE FRIDA! You’ll thank me later.
Other Helpful Respiratory Must Haves:
Like I mentioned above, Tucker always seems to sound stuffed up. Even when I suck the crap out with the nose Frida a few times a day, he still sounds congested.
It could just be mucus from the milk in the back of his throat. I don’t know. The hard part about this is newborns can’t talk. If he is congested, I wouldn’t know because he’s not a particularly fussy baby.
But what I DO know is that humidifiers help to keep a baby’s airway moist (sorry for that word, it’s the only thing that made sense here). And helping to keep it moist means that any build up of mucus, flegm, boogers, or whatever gross things they’re harboring in their respiratory tract will be softened and broken down.
So whatever your baby doesn’t swallow down (I know, gross, but totally normal and ok) will be easy suctioned up through the nose Frida or suction bulb… making it easier for your baby to breathe and hence, easier for mom to sleep at night.
The cool mist humidifier I linked to above can also double as a nightlight (with like 10 different glowing colors to choose from) which comes later on this list of must haves. So I got 2 for 1 with this puppy!
If the Nose Frida just absolutely freaks you out, then just get a suction bulb (with the saline, of course). This is what the nurses used in the NICU to suction the gunk out of Tucker’s nose on a daily basis.
It does a good enough job, and helps get those boogies your fingers are just too big to reach in your baby’s tiny little nose. Just don’t forget to use a few saline drops first, and wait 5 minutes, to let whatever is in there soften up before suctioning. It makes your task SO much easier, and keeps your baby from absolutely freaking out.
Is my baby warm enough? Is it too cold in my house? Does he need more clothes on. As a first time parent, I’m constantly thinking these things.
And one thing I did learn from the NICU, is that every time a nurse would change Tucker, they’d also take his temperature under his armpit (saves the hassle of a rectal temperature- sick!).
Now, that can get a little redundant at home, but once in the morning and again at night (or whenever else your mind is racing about their temperature) doesn’t hurt to give mom some peace of mind.
But when you’re doing it, you want it to be as quick as possible. I HIGHLY recommend the thermometer above. It was recommended to me by a NICU nurse, and takes your baby’s temperature in 8 seconds. Because again, the faster, the better. Because nobody likes to be fussed with longer than necessary – especially newborn babies!
Newborn Must Haves for Sleeping
THESE ARE THE BEST! I can’t stress it enough. Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE the muslin swaddles. So soft and cozy. But, nobody who is not a registered nurse can perfect the art of the swaddle (and if you think you can, more power to you).
I’d like to think I’m semi-good with this baby stuff, but 5 minutes after swaddling Tucker with normal swaddles and he’s punched right out of them. My husband tried – thinking he had some magic touch- but with the same result.
Fast forward to our first day home and trying our Velcro swaddles. BAM! They work like magic to keep the little guy contained, warm, and asleep (which is all you want, anyway). I bought the SwaddleMe brand and can’t sing their praises enough. Lifesavers!
PLUS, they’re basically fool proof. Anyone, even with the least amount of infant experience, can swaddle their baby up nice and tight. The easy Velcro closures also help during those 3a feedings, when your brain is still half asleep. I HIGHLY recommend these if you’re looking for your baby to sleep longer stretches both at night and during their naps.
Other Sleepwear Must Haves:
By now, these things are everywhere! But if for some chance you haven’t heard of these, just go get one. Seriously. I’ll give you a quick scenario:
Your driving to the doctor, with your baby in the backseat, and your baby falls asleep (per usual) JUST as you get to the doctor’s office. You want to keep him slumbering, and are afraid the bright sunshine outside of the car will wake him. Or the loud noises in the busy office building may startle him.
This is why a carseat canopy is so genius! You can keep your baby away from outside sights and sounds, and keep him slumbering for MUCH longer than he would have with just the canopy of the carseat.
PLUS, if you’re like me and are as freaked out about germs as I am, this is an amazing germ-stay-away device. Don’t want random strangers touching your baby in the grocery store? Just lower the carseat canopy! Want to go out to a restaurant with your spouse but are worried about your baby being exposed to goodness knows what in the crowd? Lower the carseat canopy!
It shields your baby, while also giving him a peaceful environment to snooze. Worth EVERY penny for both you and your baby!
These blankets are the softest things EVER! Like, absolutely perfect against your newborns baby skin. And they’re the largest swaddle blankets out there. They can serve a dual purpose of both wrapping your baby up tight for bedtime, and using as a carseat and/or nursing cover.
The only drawback of these swaddles is if you don’t know how to swaddle well (and I mean really well) and you have a strong baby, he/she will kick right out of it (as I mentioned above). Can you tell Tucker is super squirmy?!? Hence, my love for the Velcro swaddles!
BUT, I find that even for squirmy babies, they’re great for nap time. There are some times I don’t want Tucker to be so crazy bundled up. Why not let him feel his face when he’s conked out? So I swaddle him up, very well knowing his hands will break free 10 minutes after and it’ll only be a blanket for his lower half. This is perfect when he’s in his swing or napper, and I’m not counting on a 4 hour stretch of sleep.
Ok, so I’ve never actually used this myself. And it’s actually not for newborns, so this is cheating a bit. But if you’re looking for some go-to things to put on your baby registry, add it!
I’ve heard from more than one of my fellow mom friends that this thing is a LIFESAVER when transitioning your baby from his/her bassinet to his/her crib, and are no longer using swaddles.
It helps by giving babies the feeling of being swaddled (a bit of pressure and full-body warmth), while still freeing their arms. The hands free sleepsacks are still a great go-to for naps. But if you’re looking for something that will help your baby sleep long stretches overnight during the swaddle/crib transition, this one is it!
Newborn Must Haves for Bedding
These save my life! Seriously. Especially the Graco Pack n Play with Infant napper/changer. Before Tucker was born, I was all set to go for Tucker with a traditional bassinet upstairs in our bedroom so he could sleep with Travis and me his first few months home.
At the last minute, I decided I needed the Pack n Play for downstairs naps/diaper changes (just to make things easier on myself). What I DIDN’T realize is that the little napper on that thing would be Tucker’s FAVORITE place to sleep.
Babies are so tiny (and used to being in such a confined space in mom’s belly) and when they come home, it’s a big world. Even the small bassinet I had bought for him make him look like he was swimming in it.
However, the napper on the Pack n Play is curved up a tiny bit on the sides (so it fits an infant perfectly) and a bit angled down (so it helps settle Tucker’s tummy if we put him in there after a meal). He sleeps like a rock in there, and now I’m contemplating buying one for upstairs to replace the bassinet (he just sleeps SO much better in the napper).
As for the swing, well, it’s great for short term entertainment when Tucker’s wide awake (which doesn’t really happen often as a newborn). But when it does, it’s nice to be bale to put him down and not have him fuss. The gentle rocking motion soothes him, the bear mobile entertains him, and the music it plays calms him. I get a good solid hour of peacefulness out of him while he’s in there. It’s great, especially if your baby needs constant motion!
I highly recommend the Graco Duet Connect swing, as well, because it doubles as a bouncer. You can take the seat portion off of the swing and use it as a vibrating bouncer for the baby other places in your home. This especially comes in handy when you need to take a shower 😉 Just place you baby in the bouncer in the bathroom floor and take your shower. Baby will be happy and you won’t miss a beat!
Other Sleeping Must Haves:
At first, I thought this thing was such a gimmick. Don’t get me wrong, it’s adorable and I totally put it on my registry, but a gimmick nonetheless.
Flash forward to Tucker’s first night at home. He was still a little fussy after his 2am feeding and I was trying to settle him back into his bassinet. I happened to have put his WubbaNub in the bassinet, and stuck it in his mouth.
To my surprise, it stayed there (in his mouth) until he fell asleep, despite the fact that he was all swaddled up and couldn’t hold his hands near his face to keep the pacifier in place.
If you don’t know newborn habits, they sleep on their backs, with their heads turned to one side or another. So by placing the animal down on the bassinet, the pacifier was at the perfect level to fit in Tucker’s mouth – and stay!
Every other time he had used a pacifier while swaddled (even not being swaddled), it would fall out. But this one stays put, because the animal on the end is too big for newborns little mouths to move. Animal stays in place = pacifier stays in place. It’s amazing, and gives mom and dad a bit of extra sleep time. Invaluable!
Whether you’re planning to co-sleep with your newborn, or put them in their own room right away, you’ll need a night light so you can see their precious face in the dark.
I realized this night 1 with Tucker at home. I had everything set up for him to sleep at the side of my bed in his bassinet. But when I would look over to check on him, I couldn’t see a darn thing! That night, I ended up leaving the flashlight on my iPhone all night, just so I could actually see Tucker when I wanted to check on him.
The following evening, I took the nightlight above from my office and put it into my room, on the dim setting all night. It was perfect.
Flash forward to the next evening… I had an even better idea! I moved the humidifier that was in Tucker’s room into our room (you know, the one I told you above that glows at night). It functioned as our nightlight AND to help keep Tucker’s nose unclogged. It was brilliant!
We’ve been using the humidifier to serve this dual purpose ever since (all 4 nights- ha!) It gives off just enough light so I can see what Tucker’s cues are in his bassinet, and if he’s ready to feed or just giving off weird newborn sounds (they all do it).
So after perfectly designing Tucker’s nursery, I quickly noticed a small flaw once I brought him home.
When feeding babies, there’s a certain amount of time they should be feeding (10-15 minutes on each boob, or 30 minutes total when bottle feeding). If more than that, they’re exerting too much energy and could be burning more calories than they’re taking in.
However, I didn’t have ANY clock in his room. I figured it wasn’t a big deal and I would just use my phone to track his feedings. But that hope was quickly shut down. When I was trying to juggle a baby in one hand (with a burp rag) and a bottle in the other, it’s virtually impossible to keep pressing my iPhone to check the time.
Yelling downstairs at Travis every few minutes to check the time only worked for so long. I VERY quickly learned that I needed an easy and quick way to tell the time while feeding. It not only helped me keep track of how long Tucker was feeding for, but when I started/stopped so I knew when he would be due for his next feeding.
I’m telling you guys, just get a clock for the room you’re feeding in. It makes things SO much easier on you.
Newborn Must Haves for Laundry
To state the obvious, a newborn baby’s skin is VERY delicate and sensitive. You’re not supposed to even use lotions on babies for the first few months of their lives.
So then WHY on EARTH would you put clothes on them that have been washed in harsh chemical detergent?
I, too, thought baby detergent was bogus at first and refused to use it. However, immediately after Tucker was born (like seriously, the next day laying in my hospital bed) I went on Amazon and purchased Dreft baby detergent. Why did my mind change so quickly?
Well, once Tucker arrived, I realized just how much I wanted to do to protect this little, fragile thing. And if the doctors were telling me that normal detergents weren’t the best for his skin, well then I wanted to make sure I wasn’t exposing him willingly to anything that could possibly cause him a rash or something even more harmful. Dreft is a brand that has been proven safe and un-harmful for babies for decades, and it doesn’t hurt that it smells absolutely delicious.
And the stain remover, well, that’s for all the milk, formula, spit up, poop, pee, you name it stains that you’re sure to encounter in your baby’s first few months (and let’s face it, years) of life. I keep one stain remover in his nursery, and another in our laundry room to spot treat his clothes and linens and make sure all the yuck washes out.
Other Laundry Must Haves:
In going along with the baby detergent, I wanted to make sure I had a fabric softener that would be gentle enough for Tucker’s clothes, as well. After all, I didn’t want to sacrifice the softness I usually got with my normal laundry.
Hence, free and gentle fabric softener. Free of dyes and perfumes, and gentle on clothes for baby’s skin. It works great for both Tucker’s clothes and ours!
This is the exact hamper I have in Tucker’s room. Not only is it ADORABLE, but it serves an invaluable purpose. Do I normally have a hamper in every room? No. However, with the amount of burp cloths I use while feeding Tucker, combined with the amount of clothes he goes through, it’s only fitting to have a small laundry hamper in his room.
I have it positioned right next to his changing table (and next to his glider chair). This makes it easy for me to just toss in dirty clothes/rags when I’m changing him or finished feeding him. Then, every few days, I just take the hamper down to our laundry room for washing. It even has pop out handles that make it easy for me to carry up/down the stairs and around the house. <3
This eliminates my need to run to our laundry room after every changing or feeding. Consider a baby hamper like the diaper genie of clothes. You wouldn’t run to your kitchen to throw away each dirty diaper. So why would you run to the laundry room each time you have a dirty onesie? These hampers just make life a little easier. And let’s be honest, anything that will make your life easier as a new mom is a HUGE win!
Must Haves for New Moms You Didn’t Know You Needed
In sum, there are a LOT more than the items on this list that you’ll need to take care of your newborn. However, I thought this list would be helpful to give you insight as to the things you don’t usually think of, but make your life (and your newborn’s first days) a heck of a lot easier!
In case you need a recap, here are the links (again) to everything I mentioned in this post. Every link I post about on here, I own and use on a daily basis with my little guy!
- Feeding Must Haves
- Respiratory Must Haves
- Sleepwear Must Haves
- Bedding Must Haves
- Laundry Must Haves