Are you expecting for the first time and have no idea what kinds of baby items you will need? Do you have a loved one who is expecting and need a great gift idea? Check out these simple, budget-friendly, and non-toxic suggestions of favorite baby items from a momma of three (soon to be four).
A dear family member of mine is expecting for the first time and I’m so excited for her and her husband! Their pregnancy got me to thinking about the first time that I was pregnant and how I had no idea what I actually needed as far as baby supplies goes. Now that I’ve been around that block a couple of times (3 kids and working towards a fourth through adoption) I actually have a list of my favorite baby items to bring out when there’s a newborn in the house. I wish I could go back in time and show myself this list when I was pregnant with our firstborn, but since I can’t, I will share it here for other people who may be looking for gift ideas or registry ideas for the coming babies in their lives.
A couple of factors that drive my preferences:
- Storage. Space is a premium commodity in our tiny house and so I tend to go the simple/minimalist way when it comes to baby things.
- Toxins. I try to choose products that are non-toxic.
- Budget. I try to keep the items as friendly to the budget as possible. Babies do not have to be expensive. In fact, I would argue that 99% of the items sold at baby stores are not necessary, although many do make life a lot easier.
***I would also like to add that every single family is different and those differences should be celebrated not judged. This list is in no way what I think every mother NEEDS to have, it’s just what I have found works best for our family! Your family may have a completely different list of favorite baby items – and that’s ok!
My Favorite Baby Items
For the mother who plans to nurse, these are items I make sure to have ready to go for when baby gets here.
Nursing Pillow – I have a funny story about our nursing pillow. When I was in the hospital after the birth of my first born son, I asked my husband to go home and bring me the Boppy pillow. He went home and came back with the huge full-length body pillow. We still laugh about that today. I can just picture him walking the halls of the hospital with that gigantic pillow. So funny!
Anyways, I love having a nursing pillow for those first months of breastfeeding when the baby wants to nurse for hours, but needs a lot of support. You can wrap it around your body and use it to rest your arms and the baby’s body. As the baby grows, you can then transition the pillow to be support for the baby as he or she learns to sit.
Cloth Nursing Pads – Those first months can be quite … leaky. With my first baby I used the disposable pads, but they were itchy and, true story, one time one of them got stuck to the outside of my shirt while I was nursing and I walked around like that for a good 10 minutes before I discovered it. With my second child someone gifted me a pair of cloth pads and I used those through my next two babies. Buy them once and you won’t have to keep replacing them like the disposable ones, plus they are more comfortable!
Lactation Tea – I qualify this as a favorite baby item because I find it a necessity. I personally struggled with milk supply (probably thyroid related), and this tea was a life-saver. I could tell a big difference when I wasn’t drinking it consistently. Plus the extra vitamins and minerals from the tea help keep momma and baby nourished. Find the recipe here.
If the mom plans on giving the baby a bottle at any time, a hand pump is very effective. Someone who needs more than an occasional bottle, though, would probably want to invest in an electric pump. I had to get one with my third child to help keep my supply up. You can read about my struggle here. The good news is a lot of times insurance will pay for the electric pump if it is truly needed.
If you are an expectant mom reading this, then you will want to know that current research shows that it is better to wait at least 12 – 24 hours before giving baby their first bath. Here’s an article that explains some of the benefits of waiting.
Puj Baby Bath – This is, by far, one of my most favorite baby items. Most baby bath tubs are bulky and inconvenient, but this one fits inside the sink and is so easy to bathe baby. When you are done, you unfold it and it becomes flat and takes up barely any space. We installed a small hook on the back of our bathroom door and hang the bath there when it is not being used. We have used the same one for all three children and will use it for all future children as well. It is free of BPA/PVC.
Castille Baby Mild Soap – Our family avoids most of the body care products you can buy in stores because of toxins and endocrine-disruptors that are found in them. (Read why we avoid endocrine disruptors here) Even products for babies contain terrible ingredients. After my third baby I had a talk with the hospital department about the soap they sent home with me. It contained methylparaben which is a known endocrine disruptor and should not be in any products, much less baby soap. We do use this castille soap highly diluted when a bath is necessary.
We keep baby in our room with us for quite awhile after birth. Our newborns get swaddled and placed in the Rock ‘n Play right next to me in bed. The incline is great if your little one has any reflux issues, and whenever they squirm, it causes the sleeper to rock a little which is soothing to the baby. Ours is an older model without the vibration option. Personally I would opt out of using the vibrator. The sleeper is super easy to move around the house and folds up when not in use. We ultimately chose this over co-sleepers and other bedding options since it takes up less space, is portable, and contains the incline (if you think about it, babies were never laying flat in utero, so it may not be that comfortable for them to lay like that at first).
Swaddling a baby can help them not wake themselves up with their startle reflex. It is important to swaddle the baby in a way that does not interfere with their hip development. Mommypotamus explains it well in this article. This is a great option for a swaddling blanket.
Cloth Diapers – We have found cloth diapers to be a cost-effective way of diapering our children. Also, both of our sons potty trained before two years old and I really think it’s because of the cloth diapers. They don’t whisk away the moisture the way a disposable diaper does, so the kids are more aware of when they are wet/dirty. We diapered both boys from birth to potty-trained with the same 12 diapers. By the time baby number three came along we did need to replace a lot of our covers since the waterproof lining was starting to give out. But I would say we definitely got our money’s worth out of them. I like to keep things simple, and I quickly discovered I prefer diaper covers with inserts over all-in-ones or other types. I will probably post more about this in the future, but these are the diapers we use. (P.S. Take my word for it and go with the snaps, not velcro.)
Diaper pail liner – If you cloth diaper, you will need a pail liner to place your wet diapers in. I recommend getting two. One can line the pail while the other is in the washing machine and vice versa.
Diaper Sprayer – This is not a necessity, but it sure does make cloth diapering as easy as possible. It connects to your toilet and whenever you have a soiled diaper, you just use it to spray the diaper off into the toilet before placing the diaper in the diaper pail. No more dunking and scraping, etc. Easy, peasy!
I do want to make one mention of something that is not on this list – a baby monitor. Our house is small and the baby stays in our room for awhile, so a baby monitor is definitely not necessary. But even if our house was large and the baby was in a separate room, I would still skip the baby monitor due to the radiation they put out. Here is a great article to read if you want more information.