Friday, March 15, 2013

Several friends are having their first babies this year, and several more are having their 2nd, 3rd or 4th babies. This has got me thinking about what baby items I have found especially useful so far with our own four babies. It is hard to remember all of the countless little things I use every day and take for granted, there is a lot of stuff to get for first time moms. (Though you can get by just fine without a lot of the fancy knick knacks.) Hopefully this list can be helpful for soon-to-be-parents, but also (for my purposes) it can be a great idea list for what to bring to baby showers. 

In no particular order:

Baby Bjorn Bibs
Sturdy, easy to clean, catches all the crumbs, and works great as a feeding trough for camping trips. What more could you ask for in a bib?

Moses Basket
A rocking bassinet for next to the bed. But the best part is that the basket is portable so you can carry the baby around the house, take it out in the backyard with you, or bring it along to visit friends. After two babies our basket is showing a little wear and tear, but I think it still has a lot of life left. 

Nursing Cover
I can't vouch for this particular brand, but a good quality nursing cover is worth its weight in gold (in my humble opinion). My favorite cover is one I received before Margaret was born. I'm not even sure if it is handmade or not. I love the thick fabric that stays in place despite a wiggling infant, and the wire lip at the top so you can see your baby.

Bumbo Chair
Helps babies (3 months +) to sit up and engage with their surroundings better. Gets them involved while you are cooking in the kitchen, or playing with their siblings on the floor, and can also double as a portable high chair. Some people have complained that those babies with overly squeezable thighs have trouble fitting in the leg slots. I can see that that would be a problem, but so far none of my babies have had that issue.

 Sun Hat
I *think* this is my favorite sun hat. I can't quite be sure because I lost the one we had. However, this one appears to fit the bill (no pun intended)... it's big and floppy (it's called the Flap Happy), but not too floppy, it has long strings to tie it on, and it is still cute.

And, just because she is such a cute model,  here is what the hat looks/ed like on my daughter:

 Baby Wrap or Carrier
There are plenty of resources available for looking up the wide variety of baby wraps and carriers out there. I have only tried a couple that I have happened to see friends using or that have been loaned to me. The first one I tried was the peanut shell , which I love for brand newborns, but once they get heavier it can be killer on the shoulder. 

With Amelia on Town Neck Beach, Cape Cod, Massachusetts.

 The next one I tried was a moby wrap. It is probably the most comfortable one I have tried, but it is also about 30 feet long before you put it on. When I wear it somewhere I put it on before I go and wear it like an extra shirt. That saves the hassle of trying to put it on in the grocery store parking lot while trying to not let it touch the ground. 

Hiking at Busiek State Park, Missouri. With a noxious weed.

Currently I am using a Snugli carrier. Nothing fancy but it is pretty comfy, and it gets me through family hikes, Sunday afternoons at church and long shopping trips.

Baby Backpack
A necessity for hiking trips in the backwoods, or just around the farm. This was a gift to us from my parents when we were vacationing on the oceanside. It got a lot of use during that first week, and it has gotten even more since.

The backpack comes in handy around the farm.

Our Kelty backpack was an upgrade for us from the one we found next to the dumpster in the UI family housing area. It may have been a freebie throw-away, but it gave us years of good service as we hiked with Margaret all over the northwest.

Hiking at Palouse Falls in Idaho.

Yeah, she was a hipster babe.

Kamiak Butte, Idaho

Okay, one more. We had a lot of good times with this backpack. 

At Monkey Face in Smith Rock State Park (in Oregon) after hiking Misery Ridge Trail (aptly named) in 100 degree weather.

 Jogging Stroller
One of our big gifts that we got for our first baby was a jogging stroller. We got a good deal on a Baby Jogger ATS (that is All Terrain Swivel, for those who don't know the lingo) and we love it. I've heard good things about BOBs too. We have several strollers and they all serve different purposes. Umbrella strollers for traveling when there isn't much room. A double stroller for walks down the road or trips to the zoo. But my absolute favorite is our jogging stroller. It is a work horse. Not that I ever go jogging, but it has survived many long trail hikes across fields and mountains and runs smoothly over *almost* all terrain.

 Between our jogging stroller and our backpack we were never hindered in our outdoor adventures by bringing a child along. Now, bringing multiple children along takes a bit more imaginative work. And tough children. They did survive a three mile steep hike in the smoky mountains last summer, in sandals, no less, because I couldn't locate their hiking shoes in the mass chaos disaster zone which was our van on vacation. (I know, I got a lot of horrified looks from older parents along the trail...but we did survive and have fun, with no blisters or injuries.)

Our jogging stroller even survived the hike to Marymere Falls in the Olympic National Forest when we *should've* taken the backpack but we didn't realize there would be 6 inches of muddy slush on the trail.

An invaluable toy for a few months during the first year. However, due to the large size and exorbitant price, it might be a good option to borrow one of these. Or buy one used.

I borrowed one for Margaret and she loved it so much I bought a used one for the other children. The picture below shows the first time Margaret got in her exersaucer (at six months old). Just look at that face, it is sheer joy.

Play Gym
Another helpful toy for those early months. Definitely an "extra" item but it is one of those great toys that I have gotten so many hours of use out of that it is ridiculous. My babies have loved this gym.
 Speaking of toys, remember my post on chocolate chip wrappers? Sometimes the best toys are the free ones. Plastic cups, pots and pans, dishes of water.... 

Econobum Cloth Diaper Covers
If you are using cloth diapers. These are my favorite covers out of the various brands I have tried. There's no velcro to get fuzzy in the dryer and they are super adjustable to fit all sizes. And while we are on the topic of cloth diapers, if you are archaic like me and still use diaper pins, try sticking them in a bar of soap in between uses. It keeps them clean and sharp so you don't have to shove them through the cloth and risk stabbing your baby.  You're welcome.

Aden & Anais Swaddling Blankets.
Some friends brought one of these along with a meal for Susannah (our 4th baby). I wish I had these for our first three. They are big and stretchy and make swaddling a breeze.

And for the mom who seems to have everything she needs? Try a pampering package. A sweet friend of mine gave this to me this winter and I loved it - both the gifts and the thought. I even got to share some of it with Margaret and it gave us a fun mother-daughter time together.

This list doesn't even cover a lot of the basics. Like diaper, clothing and bathing necessities, change tables, cribs, car seats, pack & plays, et cetera, et cetera. These are just some of the items I find myself loving every time I use them.

And as an add-on at the end, in case you are looking for a good pregnancy/birth book, my sister loaned me this one and it is my new current favorite:

What am I forgetting? What are your favorite baby items? What am I missing out on?


  1. Such a great list! So many of those items have been lifesavers for me too.
    I'd just add one more: dust buster. It is amazing for quickly vacuuming crumbs out of a high chair or car seat, or for scooping up cheerios before they get smushed into the carpet. Not a typical baby shower gift, I know, but it's ideal for all the messes young kids make!

    1. That is an excellent thought! I guess that is what we use our corgi for =P but a dust buster would be much more hygienic... Plus people might appreciate getting a dust buster at a baby shower, instead of a corgi puppy.