Having worked for a baby/family magazine in the past, I was no stranger to the world of baby and nursery items. I was probably more well-versed than the average person, when it came to stroller, crib, clothing, and toy brands. That being said, when I became pregnant last fall, I still found myself wandering Babies R Us and Buy Buy Baby in a state of overwhelmed anxiety, confused as to why there was so much stuff for such a little person. I knew that I didn’t really need all the things the books said I did, and many of my friends told me their must-haves that I needed to pick up or register for. While many things were bought before my son was born, there were others that I picked up after he was born, due to either trial-and-error as to what worked for him, or his preferences for certain brands or items.
Living in an apartment with my son, I don’t have a ton of room – so I didn’t want to clutter our space with unnecessary items. Here’s what I’ve found to be some must-haves for the nursery.
I have at least 12 of these, in lightweight muslin. I used them for swaddling the first few days, but then switched to the SwaddleMe swaddle, which was much easier, since it was Velcro. However, the swaddle blankets can be used for so much more – a lightweight stroller blanket, a stroller cover, nursing cover, changing table cover, or to wipe up spit ups. My favorites are aden and anais, and their less expensive line, aden by aden and anais. The blankets are large, and because they’re breathable, can be used throughout the year, no matter what the weather’s like.
Baby spit up is a part of parenthood – a big part of it – so you’re going to need plenty of burp cloths to ensure that you have some on hand at all times while others are in the wash. My favorites are the Burpy Bibs, by aden and anais. These are generously-sized muslin burp cloths that also have a button on it, and can transition to bibs when the child is a little older. The Burpy Bibs come in a ton of fun designs and are super soft – my son loves them so much, he uses them as security blankets to hold onto for the time being.
If you’re using a pacifier, many babies use a Soothie, the big rubber pacifier. Once they start to get teeth, it’s recommended to switch to an orthodontic pacifier, which have a different shape and allow for more natural positioning of the teeth. I love the Wubbanubs, which are Soothie pacifiers with a small stuffed animal attached to it. This makes it easier for the baby to hold onto it, since they like to grab the animal and hug it, thus keeping the pacifier in their mouths. I have two – one at home, one in the diaper bag.
While this one is a no-brainer, it always helps to have diapers of various sizes (newborn and 1) and different brands on hand, until you find which one works best for you. I started off with Pampers Swaddlers, and now alternate between Babyganics and The Honest Company.
I absolutely LOVE these, in all kinds of weather. Lightweight cotton, terry cloth, or fleece – they’re good for all seasons, and not just for sleeping. They’re an easy outfit choice on those days when you need to do laundry, or just need a quick outfit. Stock up on these in a variety of sizes, since you’ll likely go through at least 1-2 a day. For ease and convenience, I like the zip-up ones, but the button ones are fine, too. At night, though, I’d suggest only the zipper ones – late-night fumbling with buttons is not fun, especially when you’re sleep deprived and your infant is screaming!
Rock n’ Play
My son would not sleep anywhere but on my chest, on his stomach. No matter what I did, he wasn’t having any of it. So I posted on Facebook about it, asking my mom friends if they had any advice. Out of more than 40 comments, I’d say more than half mentioned the Fisher Price Rock n’ Play. There are two versions: one that rocks itself, and one that doesn’t. I got the one that needs to be rocked manually, but still has the vibrating seat. I placed my son in it, and it was magic. The deep seat is at an angle, which is perfect for those with reflux. I don’t know what it is, but this thing calms babies like no other. Since it’s not a flat surface, you shouldn’t leave your little one unattended when he’s in it.
I didn’t start out with a Diaper Genie, but was gifted one, and it’s been a wonderful addition to our nursery. I also use the Munchkin Arm & Hammer diaper bags with the portable dispenser, if I’m at a family member’s house or in another part of my apartment. These stop any smell and keep the mess in one place.
Nursing is demanding, and when you’re on the couch or in the bed for long stretches of time with a hungry or fussy infant, you want to be comfortable. A nursing pillow is key, and there are plenty of brands from which to choose. I have a Boppy, and love it. Friends of mine have the My Brest Friend, which they love because it has a cup holder and pocket on it (great for when you get super thirsty!). I would suggest also buying the waterproof liner, and several slipcovers – spit-up and nursing leaks happen, so it’s nice to have a cover on hand at all times.
What are some of your must-have nursery items?