One of the most overwhelming parts about being a new parent is all. the. stuff.
You don’t know what you don’t know.
You don’t know what you need.
And even if you have somehow curated a decent idea from blogs or family and friends, there are so many choices for everything.
For what it’s worth, it’s all subjective.
It depends on your child (whom you have not yet met). It’s also affected by your personality — whether you are type A and want it all, just in case; or you are a minimalist and plan on buying things as you need them; or you fall somewhere in between. And it varies based on where you live, the size of your living spaces, and who will be part of your child-raising village.
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I can’t say that I have all the answers. But after three littles who are currently ages seven, five and 10 months, I do want to share what I bought over seven years ago that I still use to this day.
1. UppaBaby Travel System
For new parents, travel system refers to a combination of car seat and stroller. Because of the safety implications and how much this item is used, we were willing to invest and did a lot of research.
There are probably many more choices today, but at the time, we chose the UPPAbaby Vista stroller. The first thing we liked about it was that it came with a toddler seat and a bassinet, instantly providing value for all the stages of one kiddo. You can separately purchase a bassinet stand if you want to use it for your room.
The second thing we liked was that it allowed for further configurations if we had more than one child. You can easily set it up for a toddler and infant by adding the PiggyBack attachment, so an older child can hop a “lift” when he or she is tired of walking.
Add in the fact that it is easy to fold, and it has plenty of storage on the bottom for diaper bag and other things.
We also chose the corresponding UPPAbaby Mesa infant car seat. Besides directly attaching to the stroller, we liked the versatility of using it without the base, if needed.
Until you have a baby, you don’t realize that you can’t just put a baby down anywhere, at least not safely. And bassinets aren’t the easiest to move around the house.
Enter the baby lounger concept.
It is essentially a carefully designed pillow or pad for your baby to lay in (not sleep in) when you’re hanging out and not holding him or her. It’s where your baby can safely lay when you need your hands free for peek-a-boo, pumping, or quick bio-break.
3. Halo Bassinet
Speaking of bassinets, we purchased the Halo Bassinet over seven years ago, and it still works great. This was our choice at the time because I had a C-section and needed something right next to my bed for easy access for nursing and frequent peace-of-mind checks (to see if baby is still breathing).
4. Baby Carrier
A common theme you will find with baby items is how to keep your baby safe and close while you are hands-free. This is where baby carriers come in — and there are so many! For this category, my husband uses the Ergobaby 360 carrier, and I love the BabyBjörn Baby Carrier Mini.
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A bit of unsolicited advice in this space: Be honest with yourself on your capabilities and comfort level. Try before buying. I have spent way too much money trying different carriers, slings, rings, and shirts with pouches that allow you to keep your baby close like a kangaroo. The user videos make them all seem so easy, but the only one I could confidently use by myself was the BabyBjörn Baby Carrier Mini.
5. Aden + Anais Cotton Muslin Swaddles
The number of swaddles out there is overwhelming. But the reason I love the cotton muslin swaddles from Aden + Anais is because of the versatility and quality.
First, their size makes them very versatile. I use them as swaddles; light blankets for spring, summer, and fall; burp cloths; and nursing covers. In a pinch, I use them as a diaper-changing surface or lounging surface. My 10-month-old baby girl uses them to soothe herself Linus-like as a lovey.
Second, the quality is amazing. Mine have lasted through three babies and have gotten softer with each wash.
Think of this list of MVPs as less of an advertisement to buy these exact items for your registry and more of a public service announcement to consider longevity. Some items are worth the investment, if you are able, because you can use them for years to come.