Hello from the other side … of maternity leave! After 3 exhausting and exhilarating months off with my adorable AF little girl, I have a much better idea of what I probably should have registered for more of, and kept off my list altogether.
A word before going forward: this is simply a list of what worked for me to give other first time mamas an idea of what those first weeks are like. All babies are different, and all moms prefer things their own way. You and your little one will find what works best for your unique lifestyle. Don’t let anyone try to convince you that their way is better, or guilt you into making changes because things were different when they had babies. Remember to take it all in stride, and tell yourself you can do it. Because you can, and you are.
1. Enough diapers for at least 2 weeks, because you’ll be changing him anywhere from 12-15 times per day.
After trying a few different brands (Pampers and Honest Co. included), we found that Huggies were the way to go. They have a cut out in the front to keep from rubbing against the umbilical cord stub. There’s also a lining along the back that keeps the poop from leaking out, which happens more often than you’d think. Count on a blowout at least every couple days–even if you fancy yourself an expert at diapering.
Get a pack of 88 (about a week’s worth) here for $24.27.
2. Simple cloth diapers for burping, because holy spit-up, Batman.
Don’t waste your time or money on fancy-schmancy burp cloths. Our parents and grandparents trusted regular ‘ol cloth diapers to the amazing amounts of spit-up you’ll encounter for a reason: they’re super absorbent and decently sized; handy when you’re folding endless amounts of laundry every couple days.
Get a pack of 10 here for $12.34
3. A wipe warmer for more comfortable diaper changes, because sleep is nice.
A wipe warmer may seem like you’re pampering your baby a little too much. But trust me when I say that during those first few weeks of dark and quiet midnight changes, warm wipes won’t startle baby awake as much as cold ones will.
Get it here for $12.50
4. Blankets, because they have a never ending list of uses.
No, really. You’ll have blankets for swaddling, for tummy time, for feedings (they make great covers!), for the diaper bag, the car seat and stroller … blankets everywhere! Though on the pricey side, Aden + Anais muslin receiving blankets are worth it. They are super stretchy and make it easy to get a good, snug swaddle. Plus they breath so baby isn’t getting overheated.
Get a pack of 3 here for $19.99
5. Mittens, because your baby’s nails are like eagle’s talons.
There’s a period of time where the startle reflex will be the bane of your existence. Babies fling their arms around and accidentally scratch at their faces, especially if distressed. We liked these because they’re antimicrobial, so when baby is sticking his hand in his mouth he won’t be transferring bacteria to and from his face. Plus, these velcro ones stay on better than the flimsy elastic kind.
Get a set of 2 here for $16.95
6. A Boppy Lounger pillow, because your arms are going to get tired.
You probably have all these fantasies about holding and cooing to your baby all snuggled up in your arms. But even the swollest moms and dads gotta put the baby down at some point. We use our Boppy for clothing changes, face cleaning, booger removal, and any time we gotta just set her down so we can eat a meal.
Get it here for $29.84
7. Night lights, because I can’t reiterate enough how nice it is to get back to sleep.
I’m sure you’re scratching your head at this one, but hear me out. For the first couple weeks, babies eat ’round the clock. Meaning you’re going to be up at midnight, 2, 4, and 6 am when it’s dark in the house and you don’t want to strain your and your infant’s eyes. There’s a light at the end of the tunnel though: within a month or so, baby’s tummy is much larger, allowing him to sleep longer stretches at night without a feeding. Until then, keep the house dim so you can both get back to sleep faster.
Get a pack of 6 here for $12.99
8. A hand pump, because you’re gonna wanna express a little milk when you’re engorged.
I learned the hard way that your baby can’t latch if your breasts are rock hard and swollen. When you’re engorged your nipple totally flattens, giving him nothing to suck on. A hand pump let’s you quickly express a 1-2 ounces to soften up your super swollen breasts, and get him eating faster. Plus, you can store those hard earned ounces for bottle feedings later, when breastfeeding is well established between the two of you, and you wanna little “me time” at the nail salon. Definitely get yourself an electric pump for longer sessions, but this hand pump was great for some quick relief.
Get it here for $33.59
9. Sleep nursing bras, because you want easy access at night.
Love your breasts during those first agonizing months of breastfeeding by literally supporting them, day and night. Unless I’m in the shower, I’m wearing a bra. I love these soft, breathable, and feminine ones (because lace is pretty, and we deserve to feel nice). And forget the snap, you can easily just pop your boob out to feed your little one in the middle of night. Less fuss = a less fussy baby.
Get it here for $16.99
10. Leak pads. because engorgement sneaks up on you.
On day 3 in the hospital a girlfriend who was visiting stopped mid-sentence and calmly said, “Um, I think you’re leaking.” Sure enough, I looked down and a huge spot had blossomed on my robe. Engorgement typically comes outta nowhere, and you won’t even realize you’ve soaked your shirt and bra until it’s too late. For easy access, stash some pads in your night table, in the nursery, and in the diaper bag (I also leaked in a changing room trying on bras, OY!).
Get it here for $7.99
11. Nipple cream, because cracked areolas suck.
Those first few months spent learning to breastfeed are trying on your sensitive nipples. In fact, it’s one of the biggest reasons mamas give up breastfeeding altogether–It HURTS! And if you’re willing to push through the pain and take it easy on yourself, you and your boobies will eventually toughen up. When my gals got sore I preferred calendula cream over the standard lanolin. It’s smoother and more soothing, plus it’s got a sweeter taste for baby when she’s nursing, and it doesn’t stain your clothes as bad.
Get it here for $11.99
12. A nursing pillow, because your arms, back, and shoulders can only take so much.
One of my favorite features of My Brest Friend (LOL) is that there are little pillows built into the cushion for baby to prop her head on while feeding, bringing her up towards the nipple for more direct and comfortable access to your breast. Plus the side strap can be gradually tightened around your ever-changing midsection so there’s no gap between you and baby. I also stored a burp cloth in the pocket so one was always ready when she was done eating.
Get it here for $34.99
13. An extra nursing pillow cover, because spit ups happen.
If you don’t want to be slave to your washing machine, a back up slip cover for your breastfeeding pillow is a lifesaver. Milk dribbles and spit-up will accumulate in no time.
Get it here for $17.25
14. The Baby 411 guide to infant care, because you’re going to freak out about some weird stuff, and it’s normal to.
This book was recommended by our OBGYN after several “So I read this thing on the internet…” conversations at our prenatal appointments. And let me tell you that I’m pretty sure I returned to this guide several times a day for the first few weeks. Why is my baby sneezing so much? How much is too much spit-up? Her hair is falling out and it’s all scaly up there, HELP! It’s real advice from pediatricians who know their sh*t, and make those WTF questions a little less scary.
Get it here for $11.30
Your first few weeks home are going to be a little scary, but YOU CAN DO IT! Everyone will tell you how wonderful it is, and how exhausted you’ll be. But it’s the best kind of tired. Plus, those burping sessions that turn into snuggles will make every “How in the hell am I going to do this?” moment seem like a distant memory.
Moms, what’s missing from this list that you found most helpful with your newborn? Share in the comments!