In July, I happily became a first-time parent. I quickly had to learn what to buy (and why) to keep myself, mommy, and baby in good spirits. Thus, I’d like to share my insights with other first time parents, coming from the perspective of someone who lives in the Bay Area (think: more moderate weather, mainly using a car, more fortunate in terms of financial means).
Everything below is something our family has actually purchased and used, referred from family friends, Amazon.com reviews, or Wirecutter. I’m focusing just on the stuff we used for our baby’s first six weeks.
If you wife has a natural birth, you absolutely need to get the two items above to help with physical recovery. One of the things I learned is that the delivery uses the same muscles as going #2 (poopie). So think of the mother having the biggest poopie of her life (6-8 pounds!), and pushing for hours at a time. That’s not normal – think of the muscle soreness she will face. My wife cried from the pain post-birth until we bought these.
This was definitely one of the high ticket items we wondered about spending on because the hospital gave us an electric pump. Once we got the Spectra, we realized rechargeable battery = portable = going places with infant for more than a few hours will actually be pleasant.
Lets the mother breast pump with her hands free – she can now use a phone, eat, etc. My wife didn’t think she needed it at first, but I doubt I could take this away from her now without causing big problems.
As the mother breastfeeds on one side, use this manual pump to collect milk from the other side – often, the other side may start leaking milk on its own. Don’t waste liquid gold!
There are lots of brands like Philips, Medela, Dr. Browns, etc., for baby bottles They all want you in their ecosystem, thus pick one brand and assume you’ll stay with it across all your bottle-related items. These brands are mostly incompatible with each other, a huge pain in the butt, and something I understood too late. If you buy the items I list here, you’ll be fine but I’d buy from one brand if I did it over.
Really useful and aesthetically pleasing drying rack that we use exclusively for baby stuff.
General Health Around the Baby
Clean your hands, without sacrificing softness!
Small babies are not exactly easy to handle normally, let alone when wet. This helps when it’s bath time.
Use this on your baby’s butt during diaper changes to prevent diaper rash. Also useful for the neck folds area.
Use as an occasional lotion for your baby and to prevent stretch marks for the mother.
We currently use these and like them over the Huggies ones as they are less wet. \
Babies get boogers and someone (me) has to clean them.
Babies are well known for their razor-like claws (fingernails)
We don’t have a dedicated changing table (we are in a small apartment and space is a premium), so we place this on the floor or sofa (I prefer floor). We also bought a cover for the pad, but our son kept peeing all over it and we quickly realized the cover didn’t add any benefits other than aesthetics. The cover is hard to wash, but you can easily rinse or wipe down this changing pad.
You can’t leave the hospital without a car seat, these aren’t the days of beige Opals, optional seat-belts, and holding a baby in your arms in the car. This seat is well regarded and scored fantastically on crash tests.
When I put this together, I realized, “this is what quality and attention to detail look like”.
Helps you carry more stuff on the stroller. YOU WILL HAVE MORE STUFF.
This came free with the stroller organizer – check for an offer on the Amazon page for a code to get the hook.
Necessary for your infant’s first couple of months when he’s inside the Baby Jogger stroller. The Chicco KeyFit has its own infant support included.
See all the parents who walk with their babies with a kangroo pouch-like thing on them? This is it.
When we mentioned we bought the Rock ‘n Play to our doctor, she said “Babies LOVE the Rock ‘n Play.” So true. More sleep for the baby means more sleep for you.
I use this white noise machine for myself right now but I hear it can be helpful for babies too, in terms of drowning out random noise to help him sleep. Oddly, our baby sleeps through anything right now – I can vacuum a few feet away from him. When he becomes more sensitive, we’ll have to put this next to him.
If you want your infant to sleep in bed with you, this keeps him protected.
These two items are for the mother – after pregnancy, she may leak fluids for some time, and these prevent problems from leaks.
Swaddling is highly recommended by well, everyone, for the early months. Our son will wildly swing his arms while lying down, so I think swaddling helps calm him down.
Thinking about the SleepSack makes me want to sleep myself.
We haven’t purchased a baby humidifier, baby monitor, or bottle warmer. I still don’t feel the monitor is necessary because we live in a small one bedroom (typical Bay Area!). Bottle warmer reviews said warmers are not much (if at all) better than just warming up bottles in a pot. We use a tea kettle to quickly heat up water and then put the bottle with that hot water in a mug for warm milk in 5 minutes. As for a humidifier, maybe that’s in our child’s future. The Bay Area is definitely drier compared to the East Coast or many parts of Asia.
Other things not covered here but you will want to buy:
- Formula – even if you want to focus on breastfeeding, have formula as a backup. You can make it very quickly and it will start at room temperature in times where there may not be enough milk. I suggest Costco’s Kirkland brand.
- Diapers – Wirecutter likes the Target and Walmart house brand diapers. We have not tried them, but I am not averse to doing so. Either way, buy diapers from Costco. You can also buy from Target or Amazon, depending on different promotions that you prefer. Make sure the diaper you get has a visual indicator on the front of wetness – very useful. We use Huggies and Pampers and have also tried Babyganics.
- Diaper bag – we were lucky enough to have loving relatives who got us a great diaper bag. Inside the diaper bag, place travel-size bottles of hand sanitizer and baby powder along with the typical diapers, small changing pad, etc.
- Clothes – buy generic stuff at Walmart / Target. You’ll probably be gifted them too.
For the Grandparents
I’d long wanted to get my parents a photo frame that could automatically update with new photos from Google Photos. This frame had been well reviewed in the past, but only literally in the last month did Nixplay get connected with Google Photos via API.
This means that after setup (very easy), the photo frame automatically checks a designated shared folder for new photos to show in the frame. You simply add new photos to that folder from your phone – this convenience to keeping baby and grandparents connected is great and my dad loves it.
That’s all for now!