Having a baby totally rocked my world. I hear people say sometimes how smooth and effortless their transition into mommyhood was — I’ve come to the conclusion that those people are either superhuman, inebriated, or just plain delusional.
My little guy hit 7 months this week, and I got to thinking about all the things I thought I would need versus the things I have actually needed. So I put together my own personal top ten list of must haves. These things have made my life a little easier in the midst of having my world turned upside-down.
- Humidifier. This was one of those items we didn’t register for but realized that we needed after the fact. When Benjamin’s first little cold hit him, it was great to have one of these to help loosen up the mess inside his nose so that he could sleep better. We ended up getting this Vicks cool moisture humidifier from Target, and we’ve been happy with it so far.
- Pack ‘n Play. We have used our pack-n-play SO MANY times. We registered for one of the simpler styles at Target, because I didn’t really see the need for all the bells and whistles, plus it was more affordable. We used the bassinet insert so that Benjamin could sleep in our room for his first month. It’s also been really nice to use for vacations or overnight trips. Personally, Matt and I were never comfortable with the idea of Ben sleeping in bed with us, so this has ensured that he has his own space whenever we’re not at home. Now that Benjamin has gone mobile, we’ve used it to block off our living room (along with our safety gate). And it’s super convenient to let him play in so I can go to the bathroom or whatever. Putting it up and breaking it down will test your wits the first time, but once you figure out the proper order of which buttons to press, it’s very simple.
- Safety Gate. This is still a relatively new purchase for us, but we already love it! We purchased this stand-alone gate at Babies ‘R’ Us — the cost was about $70, but thankfully we were able to round up some gift cards that we had been hoarding from baby showers. Each piece can be removed or joined together. The layout of our house has the kitchen, dining area, and living room as just one big open concept, so I wasn’t initially sure how we’d effectively be able to corral Ben while still giving him room to roam. This gate has been great for maximizing our space while still keeping Ben from shoving his fingers into outlets or disappearing down one of our air vents. I have to say, letting the gate serve as a standalone circle is kind of depressing because it’s really not that big of a space, so we have just used our couch and pack ‘n play to serve as “boundary walls” and make the space bigger.
- Baby Monitor. No lie, Matt and I say to each other at least once a week, “I am so glad we have this baby monitor!” We have the Motorola video monitor — it’s one of the more expensive options, but, in our opinion, well worth it. Making sure that Benjamin was able to sleep by himself in his own room was really important to us from the beginning, and having this monitor helped us make that transition more easily because I could just take a look at how he was doing whenever I wanted. It has a ton of great features, including video monitor, night vision, sound (you can hear the kiddo breathing for pete’s sake), temperature readings, zoom, music, a range of up to 600 feet, and a microphone (Matt has freaked me out more than once by talking to me while I’m with Ben in the nursery). And peace of mind is also thrown in free of charge.
- Baby Carrier (Boba Wrap). If I could only keep one of all the items on this list, the Boba wrap would probably be it. I use it all. The. Time. And seriously, Benjamin would be perfectly content staying in that thing all day. There is all kinds of information on why baby wearing is beneficial, and I can personally attest to the following: Benjamin is always happier, does not cry, and (in the early days) slept so easily when being carried. He was also much more open to unfamiliar faces approaching than when he was in a stroller because of the close proximity to his mommy. I also secretly love the wrap because it was an easy way to not let your new baby get passed around and touched by everyone. I don’t know if you realize this or not, but people really like to touch babies. Like, complete strangers. What the heck is that all about? I always felt like I was in much more control when wearing Ben, and it’s that much easier to say ‘no’ to a perfect stranger wanting to hold him, because people (usually) won’t be so awkward as to ask you to remove your baby from the wrap. I was initially a little intimidated when I pulled the seemingly endless piece of fabric out of the box, but after practicing a few times it was super easy. I know there are like 3,595 other ways to wear your baby and other kinds of wraps — all methods I can’t really speak about intelligently because I haven’t tried — but THIS particular method gets two thumbs up from me!
- Something Dangly, Shiny, and Noisy. This particular item comes in the form of a toy we affectionately call “Mr. Zebra.” I never knew how much I would love Mr. Zebra; he has been the answer to many of my woes when Ben has gotten upset. This plush little zebra has rings, mirrors, and rattles hanging from its legs that keep Ben occupied in the car, out and about…pretty much anywhere. It has lots of different textures for him to feel, grab, lick, and bite. Key takeaway: colorful, textured, and noisy toys that can be attached to a car seat or stroller or whatever are awesome.
- Baby Bouncer. Ben doesn’t use this anymore since he’s sitting up unassisted (and he more than once tried hurling himself out of it), but this thing was so nice to have for the first 5ish months. It allowed me some hands-free time without having to wear him, and the toy attachment would keep him entertained for good chunks of time. I would also attach Mr. Zebra (see #6) to mix things up. We got this model from Target — it’s both affordable and good quality, and also includes a vibration feature that assisted in soothing Ben.
- Car Mirror. It’s such a simple thing, but this mirror gives me some extra security when riding in the car. Being able to see Ben’s facial expressions helps me read him better — if he’s about to fall asleep, about to poop, or about to scream his head off. It’s also incredibly sweet when I can see him reacting to my voice. The whole rear-facing thing is so necessary but also pretty weird and awkward, so the mirror is an easy way to keep an eye on my little fella.
- Hydrocortisone Cream. Or “Ben’s Miracle Cream” as it’s called in our house. Ben struggled (and still does a little) with eczema in the early months — we tried all kinds of things, but in the end, hydrocortisone cream cleared things up for him almost instantly. As quickly as eczema can flare up, we always keep some on hand. It’s super effective and cheap. (But of course, always talk to your baby’s pediatrician before trying anything new!)
- Baby Mattress Cover. I stand corrected — as much as I love my Boba wrap, this mattress cover is probably the most important and the one item I would keep. A friend told me about these when we were still expecting Benjamin, and it has provided so much peace of mind. I included the link so you can do as much of your own reading as you want, but here’s the purpose of the mattress cover in a nutshell: Basically, most US mattresses contain at least one or several chemicals. Additionally, there is a normally harmless fungus that grows within mattresses. When these elements combine, the result is that an extremely harmful gas is generated and, when ingested, can lead to SIDS. The purpose of the mattress cover is to keep any generated gases from having access to the baby. A nationwide mattress-wrapping campaign was conducted in New Zealand in 1996, and since that time they have had ZERO instances of SIDS — a pretty significant finding, if you ask me. Anyway, of all these items, this is the one on which I would encourage any new (or veteran) mom to do the most research. We purchased ours for about $40, which, in our minds, was a small price to pay for the peace of mind we received in return.
What About You?
These are some of the things that have been super helpful to my husband and I as new parents, but everyone is different! What about you? Comment and share what items have proven invaluable for you as a mom!