I remember when my firstborn son arrived. I was full of excitement and anticipation. I thought I was totally prepared. But I was wrong.
My mother-in-law had helped to outfit my waiting baby nursery with lots of borrowed and used items.
- Crib? Check!
- Change table? Check!
- Rocking chair? Check!
- Bedding for the crib? Check!
- Towels? Check!
- Sleepers? Check!
- Car seat? Check!
- Newborn diapers? Double check!
However, once my son arrived at a very healthy nine pounds (those newborn sized diapers were quickly replaced with size one diapers!), I realized that all those things weren’t that important. There were things I desperately needed but didn’t have!
Beyond The Crib
Being a new mom has a steep learning curve and if you don’t have an experienced and supportive partner, mother, or friend by your side, motherhood can be completely overwhelming.
This article will help you out. Although I can’t be there to make you supper and help you latch your frantic newborn going through another growth spurt, I can offer you a list of things that will help make your new-mom-life a little easier.
1. The Travel System
I already mentioned the car seat but it’s worth mentioning that a car seat stroller combination, aka. The Travel System, is money well spent! Especially in the early days where you don’t want to wake up baby to move him or her from the car seat to the stroller, it’s great to have a car seat that clicks securely into a set of wheels. Look for a stroller that collapses easily and is light enough for you to carry with one hand.
2. White Noise Machine
Many of us assume that babies need complete silence to sleep. However, a mother’s womb is a noisy place and the baby is exposed to a lot of sounds before they’re born. So sometimes you’ll find that babies sleep better when they’re in a noisier environment, especially if you didn’t spend your pregnancy in seclusion.
When you’re looking at white noise machines, two features to look for are:
- easy portability, because inevitably you will be spending a night away from home. And having the same white noise machine in the background when you’re away is comforting.
- and a night light that you can turn off manually or on a timer.
3. Breastfeeding Pillow
It goes without saying that you want a breastfeeding pillow that is comfortable and will make breastfeeding less stressful on your body. If you’re feeding your little one hunched over, you’ll end up with sore shoulders and a tight neck. What you might not think about when you shop for a pillow is to look for one that you can take with you. A lot of breastfeeding pillows are large and cumbersome. But an inflatable travel breastfeeding pillow will support you wherever you go while folding up flat when you don’t need it.
4. Baby Swing
One of the best baby items I borrowed as a new mom was a baby swing! There were times when my baby got cranky and I was exhausted, so putting him in the swing was often a lifesaver. Swings have evolved over the years. You can now buy swagged-out swings that support newborns properly. They often come with toy bars and mobiles, have different reclining positions, different speeds, and even different sounds and songs! I promise that a good swing is a purchase that you will not regret!
A good thermometer is another great thing to have on hand when you have a baby at home. Thermometers today now come in a variety of options.
- ear thermometers – most accurate for children over 1 year of age.
- forehead thermometers – a reliable reading which is suitable for children over 3 months of age.
- rectal thermometers – the most reliable temperature measure at any age.
- armpit thermometers – the least accurate option but still better than nothing.
Many of these thermometers come in any combination of these four. However, a rectal thermometer should only have one use. My recommendation is to buy a thermometer that has the quickest reading and that you are most comfortable using. If you don’t want to use a rectal thermometer, your best option is to go with a forehead thermometer.
6. Diaper cream
It’s rare that a baby escapes the diapering phase of his or her life without developing a diaper rash. It’s always good to have a high quality diaper rash cream on hand. Look for a cream that is zinc based. Zinc oxide forms an extremely effective barrier that protects baby’s sensitive skin from the inevitable wetness that collects in their diaper. Diaper creams range in the amount of zinc oxide they contain and unless your baby has extremely rash-prone skin, you can start off with a cream that is between 10 and 20% zinc oxide.
7. Diaper bag
If you haven’t bought a diaper bag already, something to keep in mind as you shop will be the fact that this bag will probably double as your purse for the next three or more years. Over the years, I went through several different diaper bags. My favourite diaper bag looked like a messenger bag that I could sling over my shoulder. My husband appreciated the fact that it was solid black so he wasn’t running around with a very feminine or babyish looking bag on him. One note: if the diaper bag you purchase doesn’t come with a change pad, get one!
8. Receiving Blankets
I admit, you’re probably not surprised to see receiving blankets on a list of 10 essential items for new moms, but I do have a suggestion to make. When you’re shopping for receiving blankets, look for blankets that are not only soft and durable but also multipurpose:
- you can use them as a burp cloth,
- you can use them as a breastfeeding cover,
- and they’re big enough to swaddle your baby in.
A receiving blanket that can cover all these jobs is a receiving blanket that you and your child will love forever!
9. High Protein Snacks
All right, Mama. This list isn’t just about your baby. I’ve also thought about you! I know you’re going to be up during the night and you’re probably going to get quite hungry, especially if you’re breastfeeding. Load up on high protein snacks, such as beef jerky, protein bars, and trail mix. In the fridge, keep yogurt and other quick foods on hand such as pre-washed and cut veggies and hummus. A tall glass of milk or chocolate milk can also fill you up when you don’t have time to prepare yourself a full meal. Whatever works for you, have plenty of quick snacks and meals in your cupboards and fridge before delivery day arrives.
10. A Bra
Whether or not you choose to breastfeed, you’ll need a good fitting bra after baby arrives. If you are breastfeeding, it’s best to go shopping for a nursing bra a few days after your milk has come in, about one week after baby arrives. Avoiding underwire is the safest way to go. If you do not nurse, avoid binding your breasts. Rather, wear the most comfortable bra you can and use ice and cold cabbage leaves to reduce the swelling.
A quick tip for moms out there who plan on breastfeeding. Get Lansinoh nipple cream before baby arrives. Even the best latching babies can leave you feeling red and raw within the first week. As your nipples adjust and you and your baby get better at latching and positioning, the discomfort will go away. In the meantime, take good care of your breasts by wearing a proper fitting bra and using nipple cream that is safe for baby.
I hope you got some useful ideas out of my list of 10 essential items for a new mom. Motherhood is exciting and scary but you’ll learn a lot and your life will never be the same.
Sophia Nguyen is the founder of “Healthy Baby Happy Earth” website. She is a blogger, and she loves writing about babies and helping the parents by providing only the most useful information. She has just published a new post on her site. Follow her on Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, and Instagram