I remember when I was doing my baby registry a year ago, I honestly wished I could have had a glass of wine while we strolled the aisles of Target. It was so overwhelming as a first time mom and I just stood there wondering what I would actually need and recalling the comments from other moms that weren’t entirely helpful. The whole, “Oh, half the stuff you’ll register for you don’t actually need” comment isn’t actually making this process any easier, so I figured I would round up the 10 things I couldn’t have survived the first year without and a few of the items I didn’t actually use or love! Let me preface this and say, I am not a motherhood expert, I only have one child who I’ve managed to keep alive for a year, and I realize that every mama and baby are totally different, so take what serves you here and let the rest go!
Items I Highly Recommend:
01. This White Noise Machine: We have multiple of these white noise machines peppered throughout our house and we actually now keep one in our room because we got so used to it when Conley slept in our room, but for $30, it’s hard not to want to buy a handful of them! These go almost everywhere with us (in the car, on the plane, to the restaurant) and are small enough to slide into a diaper bag and come in handy for naps on the go and traveling — they also help drown out the sound of barking dogs and stuff, so you don’t have to tiptoe through your home.
02. This Baby Monitor: Okay, I’ll be honest: we bought two different baby monitors and I’ll tell you why. I saw a ton of bloggers post about the Nanit and so I ordered one and then it was on back order for months and they wouldn’t refund us so we got this Project Nursery monitor and I love it more than our Nanit. Drew and I try to set decent boundaries with our phones and while the Nanit is awesome for when we’re out of town or on a date, I hate the idea of having my phone on me at all times to check in on my babe. The Project Nursery one is awesome because you can just carry the monitor with you, have it on your night stand, and it doesn’t require Wifi, an app, or your phone. It takes 2 minutes to set it up and it’s great for travel.
03. This Car Seat: I remember the day I started researching car seats… woof, I had 30 tabs open, too many safety rating charts, and an overwhelming sense that motherhood was going to be really intense if choosing a car seat was any indication of what was to come. We finally landed on this carseat after asking some of our friends what they used and if they loved it. We love our car seat, we bought an extra base for my car, and we chose it because it fits into our stroller as a whole travel system that works together. We also ended up getting this carseat that is like Hogwarts Magic for traveling because it transitions from a stroller to a carseat in like ten seconds flat. So if you live in a major city and take Ubers or cabs often, I’d get this one, but if you’re looking for a more substantial carseat (that has a great safety rating) then go with this one.
04. This Stroller: Getting a travel system that will stand the test of times was high priority. It was almost unanimous that if you were able to invest, this stroller was the one to invest in. Not only can it transition as your children and your family grows (like, it can accommodate 3 children at one time, what?!) but it also is stylish and wildly functional. We used the bassinet for the first few months, the car seat when we were on the go, and the rumble seat when she was big enough to support her head and we love that you can do front or rear facing, change the tilt, and it folds up quickly and easily. One quick tip if you plan to travel with this, buy the travel bag and register your stroller. If anything gets broken in transit, the company will replace it, free of charge (we had to do this when our stroller didn’t make it to Hawaii in one piece and we were so glad we had the added insurance thanks to the travel bag!)
05. This Carrier: I have a confession, we have like twenty carriers. So many amazing brands sent us baby carriers and so we’ve tested and used all kinds of them from ring slings to wraps. In the earliest days I would wrap her onto me anywhere we went and these wraps held up so well and come in really cute prints and colors. Once Conley got a bit heavier though, I found my neck and shoulders not loving the wraps as much, that’s where our favorite carrier comes in. We use this every single day from walks with the dogs to just freeing up our hands around the house. This one works for both Drew and I and is sturdy and supportive! I love that we both can use it and it’s easy to get her on and in.
06. This Breast Pump: This is absolutely not normal but I own three different breast pumps. One I bought from a friend, one was gifted to me from the brand, and the last one I bought for traveling, so I know a thing or two about breast pumps and while I didn’t hate any of them, I did love one of them and highly recommend it. This Spectra is a little bigger than a cell phone, it’s easy to pack and bring along, it’s powerful, it doesn’t have to be plugged into the wall to work, and you can walk around while using it and put it in your pocket. I went on a few trips with my big Spectra and it was a pain and took up most of my suitcase, not to mention, I was always trying to find an outlet which, in public restrooms, is hard. If you travel or need to be up and moving while pumping or you desire a pump that can fit in your purse, this is it, look no more.
07. This Bassinet: Let me first preface this and say that if you don’t want to or can not afford to drop $1,000 on a bassinet, just skip to the next one. I know it’s a huge investment and we were lucky to be able to afford this one (and yes, we paid every penny for it!) but the SNOO is something I recommend to everyone because it helped us so much. Conley slept in it from day one to seven months old and you’ve probably witnessed the bassinet that has white noise and moves the baby to mimic the womb, well this is it. We swear by it, they have an awesome guarantee, and these things hold their value so well! Going into motherhood, lack of sleep was my biggest fear, so this not only helped us get more sleep but it also gave baby Coco safe sleeping habits which eased my mind even more. For us, it was magic!
08. This Docking Station: I literally had to google how you would describe this item because it’s a little obscure but we loved our DockaTot. Conley slept in it when we traveled for the first 6-8 months of her life. We would literally pack it into our full size suitcase and it was a spot where we could just set her to keep her close without having to hold her. (Oh, how I miss those days where she would just stay put when we laid her down!) There are also Snuggle Me Organic docks (which we also have and love) so you have options here, but this was something we used all of the time in our early days whether we took a family nap, needed a spot for her to sleep when we were traveling, or wanted a safe spot for her to hang out with us. We also bought the sunshade and the toy mobile for our Dockatot and would bring it to the beach with us in Hawaii — it just came with us everywhere, essentially!
09. This Sleep Course: I have actually bought and gifted this to friends because it is that good. I was pretty skeptical but I also had heard a lot of people I know rave about this program and since sleep was one of my top concerns in becoming a new parent, I was ready to learn from the experts. Here’s the thing: I teach about shortcutting your learning curves through investing in programs and paying to learn from the experts, so why would sleep training be any different? Cara has a newborn course and also a course called the ABC’s of Sleep for 5-24 month olds. You can even book a phone consult with an expert if you need extra help but we learned so much and were able to create good sleep habits from day one and also just approach parenthood with more knowledge on babies needs and cues! I couldn’t recommend this more.
10. This Walker: This was one of my better Amazon finds and while it isn’t the highest of qualities, you get what you pay for and to me, this was worth every penny! Coco hit a point where she just wanted to be upright all the time and so this was a great solution and has grown with her as she’s grown. At first, it served to just keep her upright and busy but now she cruises around with it. We’ve also used it for casual snack times, put ice cubes on it to entertain her, and let her explore! I am sure there are different or better versions that exist out there, this was just the one we bought and have used and love!
11. This Fast High Chair: We first bought this because I honestly couldn’t decide on a high chair that I liked (which sounds silly, right?) because I know it’ll be a staple in our house for a few years and I wanted something that was easy to clean, not an eye-sore, and that could transition as Conley grows. I’m still on the hunt for the perfect stand-alone high chair and debating how much I want to invest in one, so while we wait, I ordered this chair on Amazon and we like it so much, we ordered a second for the Lake House. I love the cream color, it takes a minute to set up or take down, she gets to eat at the island and watch us make her food, and it’s easy to travel with. I love it!
Items I thought I needed but didn’t love:
01. A Moses Basket: I’ll be honest, I mostly wanted this for aesthetic purposes and so if that was all it was for, then it lived up to it’s purpose but now that she’s a bit bigger, it just sits in the closet and holds old clothes that don’t fit any longer. I think they are beautiful and so, so fun as photo props but we only used ours a handful of times. If you do opt to get one of these, get the lower profile one so that you can use it as a changing station and get more use out it. The good news is, you can always use it as a bed tray or something after baby out grows it.
02. A Boppy Pillow: The mom squad might revolt on me for this one, but for some reason, I just didn’t love the boppy. I ended up feeding Coco in bed a ton and just leveraged different pillows we had instead of the Boppy and my only guess as to why it didn’t work great for me is that when I started my nursing journey with her, I used the “football hold” a lot and the Boppy doesn’t totally work great for that and so maybe I never gave it a fair chance, but it’s one of those items I see sitting in our hamper, barely used.
03. Bouncy Chair: Another item that I had on my “must-have” list that didn’t get a ton of use is our Bloom chair that is arguably beautiful, but we just didn’t love as much as I thought we would. We used our DockaTot way more than the chair and I felt like the window where she could use and enjoy it was so small that we didn’t get a ton of use out of it for the price we paid. I do know people who own, use, and love theirs, so I could be the odd one out, but for a significant investment, it wasn’t worth every penny.
04. Pack and Play: Hear me out before you think I totally lost it, we use a version of a Pack and Play weekly but I wish we had just opted to purchase a travel crib instead of getting a full blown pack and play because we’re constantly on the go! We bought a really nice Pack and Play and set it up in our house and like it enough but in hindsight, I wish I had just spent my money buying a travel crib and the also using it as a Pack and Play while we were home, too, instead of buying two separate items. If you plan to travel a ton, this travel crib is a godsend.
05. The Bumbo: I think the mom squad is going to come at me for this but we barely used it… like maybe a total of 5 times. Truth be told, Coco takes after me and has thick little thighs and so she was a little hard to fit in there but she also just didn’t totally love it! It now sits in our pantry on the floor as just another product everyone swore by but didn’t fit our needs in parenting — so hey, to each their own, right?
Well, there you have it! A list of what I actually used and loved and a few items that weren’t quite the right fit for our family or our needs! I hope this is helpful, because there’s nothing worse than mama’s implying that you’re registering for the wrong things or for things you won’t need without actually sharing the details. If I’ve learned anything about motherhood it’s that we’re all doing the very best we can and every baby is different, so trust in your mama intuition and lean on that when deciphering what the best decisions, products, and methods are for you! You’re doing a killer job, I promise!