One families list of “must haves” can wind up being another families “waste of money and space.” That being said, I’ve spent hundreds of hours with new parents and their babies - and it’s easy to see which items are worth their weight in gold, and which ones were better left off the baby registry altogether.
Here are 10 of the must-have items I see that make life with a new baby significantly easier, safer, memorable and more peaceful.
10 Items that Make Life Better After Baby
1. Baby Monitor
While babies may not spend much time sleeping when you want to sleep, they do sleep quite a bit (Read, Developing Healthy Newborn Sleep Habits, for more on that topic…). The difference is that “baby sleep” takes place in shorter bursts throughout the day and night.
During the Babymoon - you’ll spend all of your time together. Then, when real life commences, you’ll want baby monitors that allow you to get back to business (or to take a nap yourself), but that alert you when baby needs food, comfort or a change.
2. Changing Station
Speaking of changing - a well-equipped changing station saves your back, keeps baby safe and ensures you have everything you need within an arm’s (or less) reach - changing pads to protect the surface, diapers, wipes, trash can, towels, extra clothes, lotion, rash cream, toys to entertain them, etc.
It’s also handy to have micro-changing stations in the locations around the house where you spend the most time (next to your bed and under a coffee or end table in the TV room). Any fashionable basket can be transformed into a mini-version of its larger nursery counterpart.
3. Maternity and/or newborn photos
The cost for a professional maternity or newborn photo session may be out of your price range, particularly if this is Baby #2 or #3. However, that just makes the session an even more special gift for a group of friends or family to go in on together.
Most newborn photographers offer Gift Certificate options, making it easy to give the gift of the session(s) as well as sets of professionally developed photos, canvases or other table top adornments. Gift certificates can also be purchased individually to comfortably meet the givers’ budgets.
You won’t really know which sleeping arrangement will suit you, baby and the household best until you bring the baby home and learn more about his/her rhythms and personality. Even so, a crib is a definite must-have. Sure, it might spend its first few months virtually unused - but once baby is on a more routine sleep cycle - the self-contained crib is essential.
Remember that safety is the top priority; never purchase a used crib as so many of them have features that have been recalled or are no longer considered “safe.” It’s best to purchase a brand new crib that complies with current infant/toddler safety standards.
5. A beautiful, soft, cozy robe
As a new mama, you’ll find a whole new appreciation for bathrobes, which not only provide easy-access to your eagerly breastfeeding baby, but also provide a soft and cozy surface for the baby to snuggle into. They also help to quickly cover up your less-covered maternity leave form when someone comes unexpectedly to the door.
Take advantage of the Baby List’s top recommendations for maternity and nursing robes, and then find the one best suited for yours or a new mother’s tastes.
Baby swings used to be the ticket, but baby bouncers have taken their place. Most importantly, bouncers take up less space. There are styles and sizes galore, so do your research and find the one that makes the most sense for where you’d use it. Portability is also a bonus if you’ll be bringing it to parent groups, book clubs, friends’ home or grandma and grandpa’s house.
NOTE: Read the BBB’s newest update on baby bouncers. Bouncers should only be used on a floor - never on elevated surfaces or a table/countertop - and should be donated or moved on when your baby can sit up on his/her own and/or weighs 20+ lbs.
7. Baby-Centric White Noise Machine
While a loud dog bark, a slamming door or a siren will wake baby up - too much silence isn’t necessarily comforting either. As you learned from the maternity sonograms, the womb is a pretty noisy place. Babies are conceived and grown in a surround sound environment that includes amplified heartbeats, the swooshing of circulating blood, your voice and the muffled sounds of the outside world.
Implementing a baby-specific white noise machine in baby’s bedroom can replicate that same degree of blended sound, while also muffling any acute sounds that would interfere with blessed sleep. Choosing one with multiple noise options is a good idea; you’ll quickly learn which one your infant-baby-and -then-toddler prefers.
8. Blackout Shades
Did you know the womb lets in light? As a result, babies are already accustomed to a normal, sunlight-based circadian rhythm. If you live in a city, or in a neighborhood or building, with bright lights nearby, blackout shades will keep your home in alignment with sunrise and sunset. Maintaining this healthy rhythm between Mother Nature’s light/dark cycle is essential to baby learning to sleep during the night and be awake during the day.
9. Glider Rocker & Ottoman
Between feeding, comforting and putting baby to bed - a glider rocker is a welcome addition to any nursery. And, as you get your little darling on a regular sleep pattern, some “glider time” while he/she learns to fall asleep without you holding/nursing/feeding him/her comes in handy as well. Whatever you do, make sure you invest in an ottoman to go with it - your comfort (and ability to catch a few Zs) is imperative.
10. Co-Sleeping Bassinet
Traditionally, bassinets were like elevated baskets for babies – smaller than a crib and more accessible for the nursing/feeding parent from the side of the bed. These days, most parents prefer co-sleeping bassinet models that are designed to fit right alongside the mattress, but with enough space to keep baby safe. This helps everyone get more sleep at night – parents included.
Interested in honoring this most important milestone moment - be it pregnancy, newborn or infant-hood? Contact me here at Lemonshoots and we’ll find the best way to make that happen via artistic and vibrant images of you and your baby.