Preparing for a new baby can be quite overwhelming ... and just registering for all the baby gear alone can be really daunting! We had the great benefit of a very well informed source (our Doula) who gave us a priceless shorcut list. Based on that, and my own experience, here are the essentials that proved to be the true must-haves for our family when my daughter arrived on the scene. (Note: for this list, I'm leaving off car seats and strollers since they are sort of lists of their own and so dependent on occasion, vehicle, etc.)
Every new parent we met told us this was an absolute must-have, and they were right. I had a baby who was not into napping AT ALL, and she may literally not have slept during her entire first year if not for this swing. It's so portable to move around and store too - GREAT for tucking away for those evenings you may actually be entertaining and would like your home not to look like a Baby's R Us showroom = )
If you have a Doula, much of this (and much more) wlll come from her. Either way though, while the video itself can be rather hokey, the principles are wonderfully useful. Caveat... never take ANY parenting advice without customizing it for your own child, beliefs, and lifestyle. There really is no blanket answer for anything it takes to raise an infant (for example, swaddling doesn't work for everyone, necessarily - though it is a miracle worker for many) -- but these are some excellent starting points. My favorite part is the notion of the first 3 mos being equal to a 4th trimester. It really was enlightening to contrast how helpless humans are when first born (compared to many other animals who can walk on their own immediately after birth!). That is really precious time and deserves as much devoted focus and attention as humanly possible.
These have just become standard operating procedure for every mom I know. I find it interesting how ubiquitous they are, sold everywhere from Target and CVS, to Whole Foods, considering they're homeopathic. Everyone i know uses them, whether they lead toward natural remedy's or not.. why? Because they work! = ) Great review of them here: http://lunch.com/t/abb
This was WONDERFUL. I will say that without hands-on tutorial from my doula, I'd probably not have figured it out as well, nor understood all the varied and versatile positions you can configure. Among the fitted vs not fitted varieties of slings, this really worked for me. A lot of that has to do with body type - slings are entirely different on long vs short waisted people, and height and weight obviously factor in too. In any event, I LOVED slinging baby - particularly around the house and yard. It was like someone freed me of shackles, to be able to cook, clean, do bills, water flowers, get the mail, whatever -- all with baby nestled in, and most importantly HAPPY b/c she loved the comfort, security and assurance of sling-wearing.
Sort of goes without saying here... a no-touch mechanism to stash yucky diapers into a smell-proof sealed container? Genius. Speaking of genies.. I actually have the Diaper Genie, but after seeing the Champ in friends homes and at our daughters school, I'd go for that one if I had to do it again. Less touching of the actual dirty diaper required : )
This is really handy, especially if it's your first time nursing. Once you're established, it's not quite as crucial - most any pillow or armrest to prop up your arm is fine (actually, as you baby gets older and you're more adept, you don't really need any props at all). But in the early days, when baby is teensy tiny and needs to be propped up while you're getting the hang of things, it's great. It's sort of a security totem for mom too - part of a little ritual that you set up (usually along with a certain chair, your bottle of water, special music, etc) in order to give yourself the confidence, comfort and security to become a nursing pro. I did find you often require another pillow or two in addition to the boppy for those early days of getting the hang of things.
With all the BPA issues, there seems to be a shift back to glass preferences. We actually had the BPA-free plastic version of these, but if I were shopping today I'd go for the glass model based on fellow momma's feedback.
These are freaking brilliant, I must say. You do a TON of sterilizing that first year, and you can pop in all the parts of the bottle (they all come w/ various valve contraptions now), as well as pacifiers, etc. Just a few minutes in the nuker and you're done! No big piece of equipment on your counter either. Easy to store and to foolproof to use.
This is a FANTASTIC camera, especially for new parents. Incredibly small and portable, and absolutely mind blowing quality. A fellow Luncher did a brilliant review (and comparison to the Flip) here: http://lunch.com/t/gca
Incredibly space-saving with a really small footprint, this high chair looks more like a sculptural art piece than baby equipment. It comes in a wide variety of wood stains, goes really well with nearly any decor, and yet is still fantastically functional.
Convenient and practical. Sometimes you just gotta pee, and it's handy to have somewhere to put the little sucker ; ) Kidding. Sort of. Ok, not. Really though, this is very useful for the first months, until they can sit up on their own. There are a million versions, some much more aesthetically pleasing and well designed (also WAY pricier - and you really only use it for a handful of months), but any of them will do.
I probably should just write a review re: co-sleeping and that would get to most of the reasons I liked this product. Meantime, I'll just note that it's quite useful for the first couple of months or so when baby is exceptionally small and there is reasonable risk of rolling over her ... mind you, not likely for mom since you're not sleeping at all, and even when you can you don't b/c you're staring at this amazing new babe. More for dad, who gloriously seems to achieve deep sleep even amidst the newborn fray. We weren't very informed about co-sleeping before having our baby, and it took a while to get used to the idea - and to determine if it worked for us, our baby, and our parenting style. During that window of time, this really helped to ease us into things and to balance our remaining concerns. (ps - wound up that we co-slept for her first year, as it happened - and HIGHLY recommend. but like I said, another review).
See the full review, "Nice peace of mind product for newborns".
This is just fascinating. I wouldn't say it's a cure-all, or even that 100% reliable. But it was a great activity for our family in those first weeks when we were sitting around the house trying to get to know this new little person. Identifying with recognizable sounds that your baby makes feels really reassuring during a time when you otherwise have no clue what they're trying to communicate. It's kind of cool, and a nice bonding activity for mom and dad as they navigate relating to a newborn. We were able to make out nearly every sound (or "word") that was cited, and there are tons of examples from a really wide variety of babies. Kind of empowering for a new parent!
There are a million sleep sound soothing machines out there - they all work. Babies dig the ambient noise b/c being in the womb is REALLY loud, and they've become used to that background hum of your body and of the world outside. Fans, hairdryers, and vacuuming all soothed our girl from day one as well. This is just nifty b/c it's soft and cuddly (as opposed to a techy looking product), and it attaches right to baby's crib quite nicely (we kept ours on the outside, as I was successfully scared into believing the current convention that baby is to have NOTHING in the crib, in order to prevent SIDS).