When I was pregnant with Olivia I felt really overwhelmed by all the baby products out there. I remember going to Babies”R”Us with my husband and only completing half of our registry before having to leave from the overwhelming anxiety I felt. The baby product industry is a billion-dollar business, and the sheer amount of options and brands you can find for one single item (and there is a product for everything) is mind boggling.
I will say I went a little over the top with everything for Olivia’s nursery and her impending arrival. I mean, I bought her a rocking bear from Pottery Barn Kids that she has yet to use. I probably could’ve held off on that until her first birthday or maybe Christmas. I think as a first-time mom (at least for me) you want to be extra prepared because you have no idea what to expect once your baby arrives. Some of this could also come from my love of home decor and wanting to have a perfect nursery waiting for my baby though.
While we were all stocked up, and the room was beautiful, we actually didn’t spend much time in her nursery for the first few months of her life. I always had my Graco Pack ‘n Play, which included a changing table and a bassinet, set up in our living room. At night she slept in a bassinet next to our bed, which made feedings easier. I found over time there were a lot of items we bought or received as gifts that we rarely used, if ever.
While every baby is different, and you never really know what works for your baby until you try different products, I made a list of a few thing we LOVED. There are also a few things we could’ve done without!
- HALO SleepSack (or any sleep sack) – surprisingly this is something I didn’t register for, but we ended up using one almost every night for nine months. While swaddling is great, and my husband was an actual pro, a sleep sack is a heck of a lot easier to use. Bonus that it’s so cuddly! Olivia was born in the winter, and I loved how soft and warm these were, especially since newborns can’t sleep with blankets. We used these until she grew out of the largest size, and they were so well-loved that were unsellable for potential future babies.
- A Large Swaddle – I registered for several swaddle blankets because I had no idea how many one baby would need. Well, I’ve discovered you need two! I found these swaddles from a small business in the UK called Little Blue Nest, and I originally picked them based off their adorable prints (side note: Olivia’s nursery is woodland themed). When I received them, I was surprised to find they were bigger than all our other swaddles, but they ended up being perfect. I can’t say enough good things about them – they’re lightweight and super durable, and not only have I have used them as swaddles, but as a baby blanket, a car seat cover, changing pad, and so on. We still use them at 17 months, and they hold up really well – they’ve been washed countless times. They also make the perfect baby shower gift!
- Zip-up Onesies – I wish someone would have told me to skip all the cute snap up onesies and just get as many zip up onesies as possible! When you’re essentially changing your newborn’s diapers 12 or more times a day, the last thing you want to do is mess around with a dozen or so snaps each time. I have never appreciated zippers so much in my life! While most stores have zipper onesie options, most of my favorites have come Gap and Old Navy.
- Baby Socks – if your baby is wearing a onesie you obviously won’t need socks, but for every other outfit they are a necessity. Like I said, Olivia was born in winter, and since newborn shoes were a joke (they never fit great because her feet weren’t big enough, and they only stayed on for a max of five minutes) she usually only wore socks. I mean, newborns aren’t walking around so it isn’t that big of a deal. I will also say you can never have too many pairs. Just like adult socks, it’s quite a challenge to keep them safe from the sock fairy. They’re so small, and I still can’t figure out where more than half of them ended up.
- Wubbanub and Advent pacifiers – before we had Olivia I thought I was going to be a parent who didn’t let their child have pacifiers. I didn’t want pacifiers to interfere with breastfeeding, and I didn’t want her to be dependent on them. Well, 16 months later we have spent a small fortune on pacifiers. It’s amazing how easy they are to lose even when they are on a pacifier clip. We have always used the Advent pacifiers, mainly because Olivia didn’t like the other shape options out there. At night we use a Wubbanub (that pacifier with an animal attached to the end, which every baby seems to have) because they are so much easier to find and put back in her mouth without turning on any lights.
- Vick’s Cool Air Humidifier – I love this one because it also puts stars on the ceiling and changes colors. While I’m not 100% sure of the correlation, Olivia didn’t have a runny nose or any type of congestion until she was 14 months old. My husband was really disappointed we didn’t have to use our Nose Frida at all the first year of her life. I also like the star projection because it provided some light when we had to get up with her in the middle of the night.
- Carters Bear Suit – this might seem like a weird one to list, but I loved the bear suit. We live in Colorado, and since Olivia was born in November the bear suit came in handy when we had to take her to chilly places. It fit really loose and went over any clothing she already had on. It’s warm, but she was never sweating in it. I just wish they came in sizes bigger than 9-12 months.
- Baby thermometer – really the only reason I put this on here is because I was a worried mom who constantly took my daughter’s temperature the second something seemed off. I promised myself I wasn’t going to be “that mom”, but when she was born it naturally happened. You should definitely have one on hand, just in case, but if you’re anything like me you’ll use it a bunch!
- Rock n Play – a friend of mine suggested we get one of these because it helped their baby sleep through the night. Of course I immediately purchased it in hopes of gaining any extra sleep we could. As soon as it arrived we put Olivia in it right away, let me tell you those were the best 7 months of sleep we got!!!
A quick list of things I could’ve done without:
– newborn shoes: like I said earlier, they never seemed to fit right and never stayed on very long.
– bottle or wipe warmer: I have never had any problems with Olivia drinking cold breast milk that I had pumped. Someone also told me if you’ve never used a warm wipe on a baby they won’t know what they are missing (makes sense), so we just use them straight out of the package.
– extra swaddles: we actually have a ton of swaddles that we never used. I loved the ones from Little Blue Nest that we just washed over and over again.
– baby food storage containers: before Olivia was eating solid food, I thought these were great because I could prepare her food and store it in the freezer. I soon found out my daughter was going to eat as much or little food as she wanted to in the moment, so now I just pour what I make into one large container. This has saved me time cleaning and transferring food that wasn’t eaten into other tiny containers. Save yourself some time and money, and just skip these.
– baby blankets: while I love baby blankets, I sure did receive a lot of them as gifts. We honestly have at least five, and that’s after I gave one to my mom to keep at her house. They are so soft and cute but in reality I’ve only ever used them as a playmat when Olivia was little.
Pros and Cons of our Pack ‘n Play:
We bought a Graco Pack ‘n Play with all the bells and whistles. Shockingly it was the bells and whistles that we used most. For several months our Pack ‘n Play was set up in our living room fully stocked with diapers, wipes and creams, and during the day we constantly used the changing table it came with. It also had a little bassinet at the top, which is where she took most of her naps. Of course, we had all of these items in her nursery, but I didn’t want to have to keep going up and down the stairs all day (tripping on my tiny dogs that follow me everywhere). As she outgrew the bassinet of the Pack ‘n Play we no longer used it much. She didn’t like sitting in it and never wanted you to leave her alone inside of it, so at that point we just used it a few times at my parents’ house for overnights. I’m glad we bought it because of the convenience it provided early on, but in all honesty, we didn’t use it for its main purpose.
Though all babies are different and some of the things that worked for our baby won’t work for yours, these were just a few of the things we couldn’t live without and some we didn’t really use much. You’ll have to find what works best for you and your baby through trial and error.
Also, if you find yourself with a lot of surplus clothing or a baby item you didn’t end up using, consider donating them to a women’s shelter or other moms in need in your area.