by Stephanie Seabrooke
When I discovered I was pregnant with my first child, the complexity of emotions that washed over me was overwhelming. While I was overjoyed to watch the life inside my body grow, change, and become stronger, I found myself feeling anxious about my son’s arrival and whether I would be able to rise to the challenges of parenthood. To quell my apprehension, I dove headfirst into preparations. I attended classes on birthing and breastfeeding. I pored over baby books at night long after my husband fell asleep beside me. And I spent weeks carefully researching and buying supplies, confident that all my painstaking analysis into each and every product would result in a stockpile of provisions to make those early weeks with a newborn as stress free as possible.
Then my son was born, and reality hit me like a bolt of lightning. Amid the euphoria of finally meeting the little person who had been blooming inside of me for nine months and loving him more fiercely than I ever thought possible, there were hurdles I hadn’t anticipated. The birthing process had transformed my body into something I no longer recognized. Breastfeeding was painful and exhausting. And my baby books proved fruitless in helping to lull my wailing son to sleep at night. As for my meticulously crafted supply list, I quickly learned that a few products were virtual lifesavers while many more ended up collecting dust in a corner of the nursery. And now that our routine has become a little more manageable since we’ve passed the bleary eyed newborn phase, I find myself wishing I had my newfound mom knowledge before I purchased baby items I didn’t need.
To help other soon to be parents who are wondering what they do (and don’t) need for their baby, I’ve compiled a list of a few items I use regularly in caring for my son as well as products I wish I’d skipped over.
What To Get:
Car Seat: While a quality car seat is obviously a must (most hospitals won’t discharge your baby after birth without one), there are a lot of options on the market and it’s worth the time and effort to do some research and decide which one is right for you. Do you a prefer a seat that’s easy to install, or is a long lasting convertible option more important to you?
Breastfeeding Pillow: For those who choose to breastfeed, a quality nursing posture pillow can be much more comfortable than a standard bed pillow that doesn’t offer much support for a hungry newborn. My initial breastfeeding challenges with my son improved a lot after I started using a nursing pillow that eased the strain on my neck and back and allowed me to focus on proper latch techniques.
Swaddle Sleep Sack: While standard muslin receiving blankets work great to keep baby warm during the day, many newborns (including my little escape artist) can break out of them when swaddled to sleep at night. That’s why a specialty swaddle blanket that zips up the front and uses Velcro to secure your baby’s hands can make all the difference between a sleepless night and a more rested family.
Baby Wrap Carrier: My son is a certified snuggle monster who is happiest when he’s being held close. And while watching him snooze on my chest melts my heart, it also makes it hard to get anything done around the house. Enter the wearable baby carrier – a sturdy, flexible fabric wrap that allows you to “wear” your baby against your body in a variety of positions so you can enjoy increased mobility.
What To Skip:
Wipe Warmer: This just took up too much space on my changing table, and my son didn’t even seem to notice when I stopped using it after a few weeks.
Diaper Bag: The truth about diaper bags is that they’re often overpriced and bulky. I ended up switching out my designer diaper bag for a good old fashioned canvas backpack that fits more products and is easier to maneuver when I’m out and about.
Plastic Baby Bathtub: While a specialty baby bathtub seemed like a good idea when my son was in utero, trying to wrangle a squirmy newborn inside of it while you’re bent over in the shower is a recipe for disaster. The sink is just as effective and a lot less stressful.
Please remember that this list is based on my own personal experience, and the products that are effective for you and your baby may vary widely. If there’s one thing I’ve learned since being plunged into motherhood, it’s that parenting isn’t a one size fits all endeavor, so remember to trust your instincts, have confidence in what works for you, and enjoy these precious early days with your baby.