I always get so excited when there is a new product available that may make my life easier. When I had my first child, Monkey, I bought and received a lot of things that I never even used. The gifts were all well meant, if not entirely understood.
Stuffed animals are really thoughtful, and you can never have too many diapers or blankets. More onesies and sleepers than could possibly be used in a single child’s early days.
At my baby shower, we set up a table with onesies and markers so friends could express their excitement artistically.
Unfortunately, we had to toss the ones drawn by a sadistic child with supposed demonic possession, because the scary monsters and dead folk didn’t set quite the tone we were hoping for in our first experience as new parents.
Some gifts bordered on the obscure and left us scratching our heads.
Out of sensitivity, they will remain unnamed. Suffice it to say that I needed no containers in which I might keepsake my child’s… substance.
Baby Number Two
Once it was time for baby number two, Moppet, I had a much better idea of what I would use. Again and again. And again.
They say it takes a village.
Perhaps it is built into us to want to share. Whether out of sheer desire to be helpful or to stroke my own sense of feel-goods, I’ve decided to share my list of top baby items. In retrospect, these seem like no-brainers; without them, I may simply have gone insane.
Although not all of these items are necessary, I know that they were worth every penny we spent on them.
I did not have product sponsors. I purchased them merely because I knew they were useful for me, based on the stern education provided me by my first little one.
A gentle forewarning; this is not a complete list of all of the items you will need for a new baby. If you need a comprehensive list of everything you need for the first six months, I have that in a separate post. The products listed in this post are merely my very favorite products, things that I have found and used throughout the years.
This post includes affiliate links. You can read more about this on my disclosure page.
Best Baby Registry Items
First, no amount of praise can adequately describe my appreciation for the Owlet. If you have done any research on hot baby items, you have seen this little gem.
A charming anklet surrounds my little Moppet’s ankle every night without fail. It’s a mini pulse-oximeter that allows you to monitor your baby’s oxygenation and heart rate levels. Baby breathing? Check. Alive enough to have a pulse? Absolutely.
A sigh of relief. Any parent can attest to it. This is a huge deal.
This adorable and invaluable product pairs with a phone app so you can monitor your baby in real-time when you are away from them.
It sings a sweet lullaby on your smartphone when it can’t get a reading, sending you to check the device and embarrassing your partner at work when you forget to plug it in during breakfast.
It also screeches with a terrifying alarm if your baby’s heart rate or oxygenation level drops too low.
Worries Of A New Mom
I remember being a new mom. You have a hard time going to sleep at night because you are worried about your baby. So many scenarios played out in my head.
What if she somehow got her face against the bassinet and suffocated?
What if she just stopped breathing?
Hey honey, did you want one more piece of pizza before we open the door for the hundredth time to be sure she’s still breathing, only to wake her up and set her crying for the next three-point-five hours? Of course!
Hey, you can’t scream if you can’t breathe, right? Job well done, mom.
Now, I am not recommending you future-trip about what could happen, although I doubt there is a power less than God that could stop you. This product provided me with an extra layer of assurance.
We bought this the night Moppet was born, and I kicked myself for not buying it with Monkey.
Keep in mind, this product doesn’t necessarily lower the risk of SIDS (although it may), and it certainly is not fail-safe. This is one of those areas where there are precious few studies because we frown upon letting babies die in the name of consumerism.
Regardless, the pros of this product significantly continue to outweigh the cons for my family, but it’s understandable if you are unable to fork over the hefty chunk of change for one of these.
Our first baby survived, and you get used to the worries–it becomes something of a trust exercise with the universe.
You can purchase the Owlet here.
The Ollie Swaddle
Ah, swaddling. The only time it is ever acceptable to tie your child up like a captured spy. Swaddling is akin to a straight-jacket, but it is different in that it is very soft and will make your baby feel calm and secure. It is also very safe to use for baby (until they can roll).
They say it emulates the constricting nature of the womb that the newborn baby is used to.
There are many different types of swaddles out there, and trust me–we tried most of them.
The main problem we kept facing was our squirmy daughter’s impeccable skill at wriggling her arms free. All that work and energy to escape, only to begin screaming until we straight-jacketed her again.
The Ollie swaddle is designed to make sure that a daring midnight baby limb escape is nearly impossible.
I also appreciated how easy it was to wash. Instead of reusing the same swaddle, we purchased a brand new Ollie swaddle for Moppet. When she was four days old, Moppet proudly emitted black diarrhea (meconium, if you want to get all “technical”) all over it.
Regardless of the scientific distinction, it was disgusting. I was pretty sure it was going to be a lost cause, so I stomped online and ordered a new one so we wouldn’t be without. It ended up washing out thoroughly, so I sold the extra on eBay at a discount.
One babe’s poop is another babe’s providence, I guess.
As far as the negatives of this item, I will say that the velcro is kind of obnoxious, however convenient it might make fastening the garment.
The swaddle connects to itself with velcro, and so undoing it will always yield the loud ripping sound of velcro, particularly disruptive when aforementioned ninja skills are vital to a timely night-night.
I will always be a loyal Ollie swaddle mama–the cons are forgivable.
(Bonus) The Zipadee-Zip
Once Moppet grew out of the swaddle, I transitioned her to a Zipadee-Zip.
We don’t use blankets with our babies, as a baby can potentially pull it over their head and suffocate. These little wearable blankets are very safe and will keep your littles warm all night.
They come in different materials to compensate for different climates and feature super adorable designs.
These soft little wearable blankets fully enclose both hands and feet, which I especially appreciated since Moppet had an inclination to try and take her own eyes out.
If you can’t afford the Zipadee-Zip, A HALO SleepSack is a good alternative.
People love them.
My most significant qualm with these products is that there are no sleeves. I like to be totally snuggled in a blanket, and so I would assume my baby wants that too.
Video Baby Monitor
With Monkey, we purchased an audio baby monitor which worked pretty well. I had always wanted a video monitor, but we could not justify spending over a hundred dollars on a baby monitor after the 2,000 dollars I had already spent on our baby.
If you are far enough away from your baby that you won’t hear them or wake up if they cry, a monitor is necessary for your home.It doesn’t have to be a video monitor, although I can say you will not regret purchasing one if you choose to.
For Moppet, we decided to splurge, and we purchased a video baby monitor.
This monitor came with two cameras, which was particularly convenient because we could keep an eye on our toddler and the baby at the same time just by toggling cameras.
Having a visual on your baby is so much better than just audio.
The persistent worry in the back of your head remains: a quiet baby may not be a breathing baby, and so having a visual reduces that fear.
Plus, watching a sleeping baby will probably invoke a feeling of peace within you.
My favorite part about having a video baby monitor is using it when your baby grows a little. When we put our toddler Monkey to bed, we usually spend a few minutes watching her on the camera.
It’s so cute to watch her tuck in her little stuffed animals or make shadow puppets in the soft glow of her nightlight.
This camera, in particular, is nothing fancy. It has black and white night vision, easy toggle between screens, good battery life, and an option to speak to your child through the camera.
I have done this a few times during the day while Monkey is playing in her room, mostly just to tease her a little.
The all-seeing eye of mother is upon. You cannot escape the sound of her voice.
Sauron never had it so good.
I’d like to say first that some people start their babies out in a playpen.
Others use a bassinet or a crib. Still, some others cosleep.
Regardless of what you do, you will still need a safe sleep space for the baby for naps (at least).
We purchased a new bassinet for each of our babies.
We could have reused the first bassinet; however, it became a cat bed shortly after Monkey grew out of it. Entirely removing cat hair from a surface is impossible, and we didn’t want Moppet to wake up choking on a hairball.
We received our first bassinet from a family member. It was adorable, but it was expensive and took up a lot of room.
Keep this in mind, mom: you can’t use the bassinet longer than a few months, so you don’t need to buy the most expensive option on the market. You may be better off purchasing a crib or playpen since it will last longer in your kiddo’s development.
I loved the Rock N Play bassinet for Moppet.
When I was shopping for our second bassinet, I was looking for one that was simple and comfortable. Something decently priced and compact.
**Keep in mind this product is NOT the same as the regular Rock N Play, as the regular Rock N Play is at an incline and is not considered a safe sleep space.
I loved this bassinet because it was all of these things. We travel a lot to visit family, and so it was necessary for us to have a folding bassinet option. It is super easy to wash and is well made.
We were only able to use it for four months, but time in a bassinet is usually six months or less anyway.
I wanted to give a quick disclaimer about safe sleep. Current research states that the only safe sleep space for your baby is a bare, flat, and firm surface.
No tilt, no cush, no bumpers and no bodies.
Any product not labeled as a crib or bassinet is considered a potentially unsafe sleep space. These are products called things like “sleepers” or “rockers.”
I’d love to give you more about this, so take some time to read more about safe sleep here.
Monkey loved this thing.
She would sit and laugh at the faces she was making at herself in the dome mirror on the underside of the frame, or fall asleep peacefully while I was working at my desk.
We used this swing more with Monkey, but mostly because Moppet prefers to be on the floor.
Don’t get me wrong, Moppet used it quite a bit the first few weeks. Once she started being a little more in control of her movements, she didn’t seem to like it. She is akin to a potato bug rolling around, and she doesn’t appreciate restraint.
I still find it incredibly useful at times, mainly because I have pets. Mom, you are going to need a place to set the baby down so you can pee every once in a while.
This swing gets your baby off the floor, so she’s not accidentally trampled by a dog or trod upon by another human.
(Bonus) The Mamaroo
If you have the money to splurge, my recommendation is to purchase the Mamaroo.
My babysitter bought one and I spent some time drooling over it. She bought it used, and so this is a more affordable option for some.
The different motions and added features of this swing make it far superior to a regular swing. Seriously, you don’t understand how neat this product is until you see it in action. If I had seen this product in person when I was pregnant, I would have purchased it.
If I could find one that I could fit in, myself, I would purchase that. It has some neat techy stuff as well, such as Bluetooth and mp3 compatibility.
Again, this is a splurge item, and it’s okay to go with a regular old swing. You won’t know what you’re missing if you have never tried something better.
Ok, I’ll be honest. We didn’t get a white noise machine with our first kiddo.
Instead, we muddled our way through using cheap apps on the Android market. It helped–unless we wanted to use our phones, leave the room, or have our alarms work correctly.
I used an app called Relaxio which is free in the Android market. It’s a good option if you want to be money conscious.
For our second baby, we bought a white noise machine.
This one is cheap, comes with a variety of noises, and plugs into the wall. It has been a lifesaver for Moppet, and I recommend it if you can spare the twenty bucks. I’m honestly not sure how I ever slept without one myself.
Fall asleep to the nostalgic sound of crickets, the patter of rain, the ocean or thunder. Babies never slept this good. Except, well, my baby.
Because of this.
(Bonus) Hatch Baby Night Light
If you want to splurge on more features, I can recommend the Hatch baby night light, which is a night light/sound machine combo.
I wanted to buy this, but couldn’t justify spending sixty bucks when we already had a night light, and just needed a noise machine. You can control this machine from your phone, which helps eliminate the risk of waking baby if you want to shut it off.
A baby carrier is vital if you ever want to get anything done or have more than one kid.
With my baby carrier, I can do the dishes, play with hot wheels, or brush the dog. You also get to snuggle with your baby no matter what you are doing, which is lovely.
I did lots of research on baby carriers and found the information available slightly overwhelming, as there are so many different products on the market. I don’t think you should stress this one too much, as you will do well with most brands once you hit a certain price point.
Be aware that you will get what you pay for with this kind of product. In the end, I decided to go with a Lille All Season’s baby carrier. It seemed to be one of the most versatile. It can be used in hot or cold weather and has six different carrying positions.
Hey, I like options. I think most people do, given the chance.
Also, it is ergonomically sound. Having a carrier that will not kill your back is probably the most crucial aspect of a carrier, and this one did it for me.
I genuinely believe that these products will make your life easier as a new mom, and I am excited to hear how they worked out for you.
With a few exceptions, these are generally optional and will only serve to free your hands, ease your mind, and enable you to focus on loving your baby and keeping the world tied down around you. If you don’t mind tied hands, burdened brains, and hanging by a thread, save a few pennies.
But remember, therapy is expensive, too.
Also, keep in mind, different products work for different people.
You will find your rhythm; it just takes a while to get there. Everyone has an opinion, but no one child is the same, and no two situations are identical. You are the only one who sees the full spectrum of burden and efforts that compose your beautiful life, mom.
Deep down, you know what’s best for you–embrace it.
Hang in there, mom.
What about you? What do you think is the most important product for a baby? Did you feel that some of these items were not very important? I would love to hear your thoughts in the comments below!