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First, it’s essential to note that EVERY BABY IS DIFFERENT. And, every household is different. What worked for us might not work for you or the parents across the street or for me if we have a second kid.
Frankly, some of the things that didn’t make it on my list of practical baby necessities were touted by friends I really trust as absolute ‘must-haves.’
Second, deciding what your baby really needs is tough and mentally exhausting. Cut yourself some slack. The onesies and diaper pail you end up getting is not career-ending. If you feed them, change their diaper, and manage to not claw your own eyes out, you’re doing great!
Third, this list just covers what we learned and needed in the first month. I will share additional ‘must-haves’ as time develops.
Last, but definitely not least, YOU ARE DOING GREAT! You got this, even when it feels like you don’t. Even the happiest baby cries and wakes you up and is a pill at moments. Momma, YOU GOT THIS!
25 Things New Moms Need in the First Month
A book may not seem like a new mom necessity. It is. Because no matter how ‘okay’ you tell the world you are, the truth is every mom is a rage of sleep-deprived hormones that occasionally erupts in bouts of crying, massive chocolate consumption, and the desire to punch anyone (your partner *cough cough*) who sleeps through 2 AM feeding sessions.
Postpartum depression happens for most moms on some level. And because babies have a no-return policy, the best remedy for said hormones is laughter. And this book, The Sh!t No One Tells You, will deliver it in spades.
Childbirth is painful. Even if you get drugs during birth and avoid feeling the full extent of pushing a watermelon from your vagina, you’ll be dealing with the inevitable stretching and likely tearing after said drugs wear off. And that shit hurts.
Your doctor will likely prescribe some pain medication. Don’t try and be tough. If you need it, take it. Also, get yourself some perineal cold packs. Depending on how your birth goes, these babies will be like gold your first few days home.
3. Medicated Wipes & Numbing Spray
4. Heavy Duty Pads
While you’re at the hospital, they’ll have all kinds of pads and mesh underwear at the ready. When you get home, you don’t magically stop bleeding. In fact, you’ll bleed (and maybe pass clots) for the next six weeks. Have some pads on hand. I tried several options. The Poise Incontinence Pads, Maximum Absorbency, Long were my favorite.
Your doctor will likely prescribe stool softeners. Take them. Even with the added help, ‘going’ for a while can be downright painful. But not going at all is another issue you’d rather skip. Prunes help.
(Your doctor may also recommend additional aids like MiraLAX or Milk of Magnesia. If you’re having trouble going, ask for help sooner than later. I speak from personal experience.)
For most moms breastfeeding ranges from uncomfortable to downright painful. (If you find it soothing, congrats. Keep that to yourself or fellow moms might want to murder you.) To give your hardworking nipples some relief and reduce the cracking, stock up on nipple cream.
The cream linked here worked for me, but if you have ultra-sensitive nipples, you might try a few different brands. Lactation consultants can help you identify brands that might work best so that you don’t waste a bunch of money.
As the name would suggest — the DockATot’s a convenient place to store your baby. The couch. The kitchen counter. The bathroom floor.
Yes. You might put your baby on the bathroom floor. No. It won’t kill your baby. And yes, there will likely be times you can’t hold it and said exercise in germ danger isn’t given a second thought when compared to the desire to not wet your pants. This was one of the baby essentials I never would have bought, but now that I used it I would have paid double — it’s that helpful!
8. Extra DockATot Cover
If you love this thing as much as we do, you won’t ever want it out of commission. So get yourself an extra cover. Because waiting through the wash and dry cycle can be torture.
It might very well be that your baby will ‘outgrow’ swaddling, graduating to sleep sacks or heavy footie pajamas. This doesn’t mean you failed.
But while your baby is in the swaddle phase, do yourself a favor and get a Copper Pearl Swaddle Blanket. These things are swaddle magic. They contain squirming arms and legs even better than even the hospital ‘borrowed’ blankets. And that’s saying something.
10. Sleep Sack
Once your baby has learned to wiggle their way out of even the magic swaddle or becomes so indignant at being swaddled that they fly into a crazy fit — even from the dead of sleep — a sleepsack will become your best friend. These snug little contraptions are like baby straight jackets.
You zip your child in. Wrap them up. And suddenly they’re snug as a bug, whether they like it or not. Luckily, most times they like it. This is especially true if you wait to wrap them when they’re asleep or nearly asleep.
I grew up with cloth diapers. But when I did the math and considered the extra work, disposable diapers ended up being the best decision for us. And if you’re using disposable diapers, you definitely need a diaper pail.
Don’t just buy any old garbage bin. You want something that seals well to keep the odor contained. So go ahead and buy yourself a dedicated diaper pail. They are designed for that.
There are several on the market. If you talk to most parents, they’ll swear theirs is the best. I’m not sure if ours is the best or not. But the UBBI Steel Odor Locking, No Special Bag Required Money Saving, Awards-Winning, Modern Design Registry Must-Have Diaper Pail has worked really well for us so far.
We choose ours because:
- It’s rated well for keeping odors contained (which it’s proven to do so far)
- It doesn’t require special (read expensive) bags
- It was attractive
NOTE: If you aren’t using special garbage bags for your diaper pail, I’d still opt for ones that are odor and leak-resistant. And if they have some stretch to them, that’s really good too. It will help keep the bag from ripping when you take it out.
I hate to break it to any expecting mom who hasn’t figured it out yet, but your baby’s gonna need their diaper changed — A LOT. Your changing station will act as command central. And, you want that command central to be as easy to clean as possible because it will inevitably be covered by pee, poop, breastmilk, explosive throwup, salty tears, and the deep-seated desire that fairy godmothers do exist. That’s where a waterproof changing pad comes into play.
13. Changing Pad Covers
While the waterproof changing pad is a necessity, it’s like most waterproof items. It’s plasticy. Which means it’s either cold when your baby is cold or hot when your baby is hot. You’ll want to put a changing pad cover on to make things more comfortable for your baby and reduce the crying.
Despite your best intentions, poop will get everywhere. And changing the changing pad cover isn’t as easy as slipping it off and a new one on. Most changing pads come with a harness. In theory, the harness is to hold your squirming baby in place. In reality, it just gets in the way of replacing the cover.
Luckily, a changing pad liner will help catch a fair amount of baby excrement before it gets to the cover, reducing the frequency with which you need to change said cover.
15. Diaper Rash Cream
You’ll want this. Trust.
If you’re breastfeeding your baby, these manual ‘pumps’ are a necessity. There will inevitably be times that one or both of your breasts will need some relief. The Haakkaa is a simple way to give your tattas the relief they need without your chest turning into a huge mess. It also saves you from over pumping and throwing your milk production into overdrive. And, it allows you to save excess liquid gold which can be frozen for a later date.
FREEZE every drop you can. You’ll thank me. I promise.
17. Baby Wrap/Baby Carrier
For any new parent who plans to carry their baby exclusively by hand, I applaud you. For all those who would like to carry their baby and also hold a coffee cup or make a phone call — get a wrap or a baby carrier. Or both.
I’ve found that they each have their advantages and I like to have options.
TIP: Careful using the wrap for skin-to-skin time. It’s easy for you and baby to get really warm, which can lead to sweating and all kinds of grossness.
Practically every mom and review site swore by the BABYBJÖRN Bouncer before Penellope arrived. And I have to say, they didn’t lie. This simple little chair is gold. She’s pretty happy being in it, especially for short periods of time. It’s super lightweight, so it can easily be moved throughout the house. And, it folds flat for easy storage.
19. A LONG Cell Phone Charging Cable (or multiple)
I bought one of these for my hospital bag. And while it was great for that time when you have a team of medical professionals there to care to your needs, it’s been invaluable for those moments when you get home and it’s just you. Move to the middle of the couch? No problem. The chord reaches. Wind up sprawled in the middle of the bed nursing? The chord reaches. Trying to stay awake during tummy time in the middle of your living room floor? The chord reaches.
20. Onesies & PJs with Long Arms & Zippers
Your baby will have long, sharp fingernails. And, you won’t want to cut them. (Cutting them is scary, especially when your kid is still the size of a watermelon!)
While you can buy little mittens, those things are worse than socks. They never stay on and are constantly getting lost. Your best bet is onesies and PJs with long arms. Even better are ones with hand covers, as there’s no chance those babies will disappear in the washing machine, under the dog’s bed or between the couch cushions.
Why zippers? One midnight diaper change when you’re trying to re-snap a onesie (or worse rebutton), you won’t question why zippers. You’ll consider investing in them.
Inevitably, covering your baby’s hands all the time isn’t realistic. Rather than dive into the deep end of nail cutting, get yourself a glass nail file. It offers a relatively low abrasive way to keep their claws under control.
22. Daddy Baby Gear
If your partner is a manly male who’s unlikely to be overjoyed with carrying a polka dot diaper bag or pink baby wrap, consider getting them some daddy baby gear. This is a great way to help them feel excited about helping while out in public.
We looked at two different brands: Tactical Baby Gear and Mission Critical. Ultimately we went with Mission Critical because my husband felt like it was ‘better built.’ We got both the baby carrier and day pack. And before our first public outing, he made a special request that his gear be out and ready for use. (Success!)
23. Comfortable Nursing Bras that Fit Well
Your bobs will be sore. Putting them in a bra that’s too small or not supportive enough is just setting you up for a lot of pain. I tried several different options and the CAKYE Maternity Nursing Bra for Sleep Cotton Breastfeeding Bras were by far my favorite.
In public I went for a more substantial option from Target, the Women’s Nursing Wirefree Bra – Auden™. It had WAY less leaking issues. It offered a smooth finish under clothes, unlike the lumpy pads I used with my all-cotton sleeping bras. And, it gave my very-large-to-me boobs a bit of a perky appearance, which helped make me feel better about my postpartum body.
24. Reusable Nursing Pads
If you’re breastfeeding, you’re leaking. That’s the reality. While there are disposable nursing pads, this can cost you a small fortune. Reusable nursing pads, like these Organic Bamboo Nursing Breast Pads, can easily be washed and offer a soft, moisture-wicking option for your boobs.
NOTE: Moisture-wicking is VERY important. Letting your boobs sit in a milk-soaked fabric is like letting your skin set in any wet environment. It’ll give you a skin rash and potentially an infection.
25. Leak-Proof Water Bottle with Straw
If you’re breastfeeding, they generally tell you to drink 4 liters of water a day. (Yes, you read that right!) And even if you’re not breastfeeding, getting your water intake game on lock can be essential to recovering from birth and staying healthy when you’re sleep-deprived.
A leak-proof water bottle with a straw has proved essential for me. I take my 32-ounce Hydro Flask with me everywhere. The couch. The bed. Trips to target. 2-minute drives to the Post Office. It’s like an extension of me.
Additional Ways to Save Money as a New Mom
1. Accept Hand-Me-Downs
Now, you might be scrunching up your nose at this. And if the thought of hand-me-downs or buying used (see next section) gives you substantial angst — then don’t feel guilty about buying everything new.
That being said, babies are expensive! All the stuff. All the time off work. All the extra ice cream needed to combat 3 AM feeding blues. It adds up.
Hand-me-downs are gold. And, you might end up with a few things you didn’t even know you needed — like a DockATot. (Thanks Ryan and Jenni!!)
2. Don’t Be Afraid to Buy Used!
People will want to buy you stuff. Grandparents. Friends of your parents. Aunts and uncles. Friends. Relatives you didn’t even know who live in Arizona. So be sure to register and say thank you.
But, buying new isn’t your only choice. (Except for a car seat. Buy a new car seat.) But beyond that, you can buy used and your kid will never know any better. Cribs, bassinets, and baby bouncers can all be bought used and easily sanitized. Books and baby clothes can also be bought used and sanitized. Baby wraps can be bought used. So too can reusable nursing pads and, if you’re really lucky, nursing bras.
3. Pay it Forward
This might seem like a no-brainer. But you’ll be surprised how easily this one slips you by when you’re sleep-deprived. Pay it forward whenever you can. You’ll get it back in spades. Because the mom tribe is real. It knows no bounds. Strangers. Friends. The Instagram influencer you haven’t yet met, but LOVE to follow. You’ll be shocked at the number of people who will help you and you can help.
Because the truth is your baby is going to grow fast! Which means some (or all) of these essentials will quickly be outdated for you, but still fabulous for another new mom.