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Mama “Must-Haves”

Our favorite baby gear items.

Most of us can remember (quite fondly, even) our first pregnancy. Everything seems so easy and wonderful... until you realize you have no idea what you really need for a baby!  

Never fear, the Mom Squad can help!  We’ve listed all our favorite items here for you - feel free to add your “must-haves” in the comments!

Rachael:

Diaper Champ -  Not a diaper Genie, but a Diaper Champ for two reasons: 1) no need for custom liners - Diaper Champ uses your run of the mill 10 gallon garbage bag.  2) Less smell - okay let’s be honest, the sucker will still smell, but I’d been told prior to having my daughter that the Diaper Champ contained the odor better than the Diaper Genie and, although I’ve never had a Diaper Genie, I have no complaints about the Diaper Champ.

Baby Swing and Bouncer - In my opinion, both of these items come in very handy, but for different reasons;  The swing was great for comforting the baby and giving your arms some time to get the feeling back in them as well as for facilitating sleep. But, it’s fairly laborious and cumbersome to move from room to room with you. This is where the bouncer comes in; you can feed your baby in the bouncer and you can move it into the bathroom with you so you can actually shower (this may sound like no big deal now, but once you have a baby - well, you’ll see)! So, I guess I would say that both have their advantages, and if (when) I have to do it over again, I’d still get them both.

Pack ‘N’ Play -  If you have family within driving distance that you tend to visit fairly often, or if you like to vacation or heck, if you just need a little extra “room” for your baby - the Pack ‘N’ Play has it all sewn up. I purchased the Graco Bassinet Playard, personally and LOVED it. As a new mother, I was extremely paranoid about my baby (as I’m sure you all are), so I wanted her as close to me as possible at all times. I was too scared to co-sleep, so the next best thing was a bassinet. Since babies can only really use a bassinet for the first six months it seemed a little silly to buy one. And this is why the Bassinet Playard is awesome; the baby can sleep in the bassinet part for the first six months in your room, and you can then transfer them to their own crib while still using the playard for other things. I found the playard particularly useful as a place for baby to play safely as well as being a makeshift toddler crib when we were out of town in a hotel.

Swaddling Cloths -  I am ever so thankful to the person who introduced me to swaddling (Dr. Karp, this is for you!). The. Best. Thing. Ever. I actually made a few of my own swaddling blankets, but the ones from Aden and Anais are fabulous! They are expensive, but they are also large, good quality and they wrap nice and snug. So, if $45 for sleeping blankets is a little rich for your blood, just do what I did - buy second hand; they’re just as good, and will leave a little cash lining your pocketbook.

Bottle Tethers - This is probably one of the best ideas since pacifiers. Thanks to the No-Throw Bottle Tethers, you will never have to worry about where your kid’s bottle, sippy, etc. is because even if they throw it, it’s still attached! I first discovered these about two years ago when Sabine was initially going through the throwing phase. It even works with teething toys and pacifiers! Just tie it on to the desired item, attach it to your stroller, and adjust the length. This is totally one of those things that prompt you to ask yourself, “Why didn’t I think of that?!”

Nicole:

Diaper Backpack - When I was pregnant with my first child, I registered for the fancy diaper bag. It was so cute and for the first few months, super practical. But then as time went on it became less and less practical. I needed more space, more pockets, and more organization. I went to Target and found a Kelty backpack on sale for $30 and it hasn’t left my side since. There is space for everything, there is a pocket for everything (including what I call my “purse pocket” where I put my keys, phone, wallet, etc). It has also come in very handy after having two children because I don’t always have a hand to adjust a messenger bag or purse. This way it’s just strapped on to me. And it works with my Ergo carrier, which is my next favorite thing!

Ergo Carrier - When I had my first child, I didn’t really need a carrier much because I used the stroller or my arms and that was fine. But come my second child the Ergo became a necessity. I use it every day. It is the most comfortable, the straps fit under my backpack, and my baby loves it! It’s worth the cost in my opinion and you can definitely get it used on Craigslist.

The Potette - After two of my friends used this (one being Bethany) I couldn’t have gone through (and continue to go through) potty training without it! This potty seat folds up and can fit right in your diaper backpack (at least it fits in mine!). Not only does it turn into its own potty with a bag but you can use it as a toilet seat on top of any toilet. It comes in super handy in places with no bathrooms or bathrooms that might be few and far between. It also is so helpful on road trips and is super inexpensive!

Waterproof blanket - So this isn’t really a baby item but I find it to be totally necessary with children. I use our blanket constantly and am actually looking to get another one because we use it so much it gets dirty so fast! We keep it in our car all the time and we use it at the beach, at the park, anywhere! It’s very handy when the ground is wet and you want to sit down. You can have a picnic anywhere or let little ones crawl around.

Bumbo Seat -  We LOVED our Bumbo! We used it with both our kids and it was so so helpful! We used it to feed both our kids before they could fit in the high chair and the loved to sit and play with their toys. My younger son loved to watch his big sister play around the room while he sat in it. It gave him a better viewpoint. It was nice to be able to have them sit up before they could do it on their own. They both were able to sit up on their own pretty early so we stopped using it by the time they were four or five months, but the couple months we were able to use it were great! Also something you could definitely get on Craigslist or Ebay!

Bethany:

My kids are so different from each other (in almost every way), so it’s difficult for me to put together a “must have list” for baby gear. Claire (my first-born) loved the baby swing, bouncer seat, play gym/mat, and anything musical. While Joey didn’t care for most of these things. He preferred to either be in our Ergo carrier or (once he became mobile) roaming free to explore around the house. That said, here is my list of “must have” items:

Ergo Carrier - Nicole was spot on with this one! I had a cheaper version with the first kid and used it only once and then it broke. Also, she was (and still is) on the smaller side, so it didn’t fit her at all. The Ergo is the perfect size and fit for every kid. Thanks for the tip on this one, Nicole! Man, I wish I had found this thing sooner...

Baby Book - Okay, this one is totally for me more than them. But, it is so important to keep a journal of sorts of the time when they are so small. They change so very fast and you may think that you can remember it all, but it will mean so much to you, and maybe even them some day, that you have it all in writing and pictures. You can make your own journal/ scrapbook or buy one where all you have to do is fill in the blanks. (This is the one I have for Claire, and here is the one I have for Joey.)

Dresser that can double as a changing table - In my opinion, it is silly to buy extra furniture that will be outgrown so quickly. The dressers that we bought for our kids’ rooms are low enough that we just simply put a diaper changing pad on top of the dressers. Our son’s dresser is long enough that we also have a basket of diapers, wipes, etc next to the changing pad. Our daughter’s dresser is a bit smaller, so we just put her diapers and wipes in the top drawer. (Along this same theme of furniture that “grows” with your child: We also bought each kid a crib that turns into a toddler bed, and then into a full size bed.) - (To give you an idea, here is Joey's dresser and here is his crib.)

Baby Gates - We have two kids and a dog, so these are used for many things around our house! I use them to keep the dog out of their rooms during nap time (when the door isn’t shut all the way). That way he won’t go in and wake them. During the day, we use them to block our little crawler out of the kitchen. And, at night I use one in our daughter’s bedroom door to keep her in. I know this one sounds weird, but it saves us from having a very tired and confused toddler roaming the house at night looking for Mommy. (Yes, it happened several times before we started doing this.) - (These are the gates that we have. We love them!)

Well, as you can see we all have our own version of “must haves” as will some of you. Kids are so different and so are our needs (and personal tastes). Hopefully we have given you some things to think about when the time comes to make a new purchase. We’d also love to hear from all of you on what you think is a “must have” item (or even a “skip it” item.)

Don't forget to check out Campbell Patch - Mom Squad on Facebook! We answer your questions, take your suggestions, and offer up support to our fellow Moms.

Mayra Flores de Marcotte February 28, 2012 at 03:25 AM
Loved this! Here are my three contributions: a baby bouncer, pacifier tether and baby gates for sure. The bouncer was a bouncer/rocker and came in handy because our son didn't like the swing very much. It was also portable so (like Rachael!) when I needed to be in another room or heaven forbid shower, I could bring the little man with me so as to keep an eye on him. The tether was just a lifesaver. Those pacifiers are small and little hands get excited and throw (not to mention in the beginning when they smile and down goes the chupis!). This is a problem when you're out and you need the handy tool to calm the beast. The tether made sure that no matter how hard baby threw it was always at arm's reach. Baby gates came in handy from the get go. We had two cats at the time and it kept them out of the baby's room when we weren't there. When he was more mobile, it kept him out of the areas of the house we weren't currently in and when he got a little older, it kept him in his room at night (again, echoing Bethany's note about mid-night waking and wandering the house looking for mommy). Thanks for the list, ladies. I’m sure other mommies-to-be, or new mommies will get a lot out of this. ;)
Bethany Curran February 28, 2012 at 06:16 AM
Thanks for sharing Mayra! We'd love to hear from all the other parents out there too. What were your "must haves" and what could you have done without? If you're a new or expecting parent, what is on your wish list?
Jessica February 29, 2012 at 06:43 PM
FYI that the Bumbo seat apparently causes a lot of injuries, even after a recall: http://abclocal.go.com/kgo/story?section=news/7_on_your_side&id=8538195
Bethany Curran March 01, 2012 at 01:33 AM
Thanks for the heads up Jessica :)
keke April 24, 2012 at 04:53 AM
Thanks for your article and this help us <a href=http://www.buyergobabycarrier.org/>ergo baby carrier</a> a lot. Good post! I will always visit your blog.
Bethany Curran April 28, 2012 at 05:53 AM
Thanks so much for reading Keke! We love to hear that our articles help other parents :) Be sure to check our our Facebook page here for more from the Campbell Patch Mom Squad: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Campbell-Patch-Mom-Squad/264361260272684

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