Toys, books, bedding, blankets, onesies, rockers, high chairs, cribs! If you're not too careful, baby furniture and accessories will easily overcome you and your home. With the arrival of a new baby comes the slow (and sometimes rapid) influx of miniature items - all purchased by loving and generous family and friends and some on your own accord per recommendations and desires.
We knew early on in our pregnancy we wanted to take an intentional approach to baby items. To start, it is worth mentioning that we live in a small-ish two-bedroom duplex, that while fairly generous in storage space, still could be easily overwhelmed and cluttered by an influx of large or small, colorful baby items. Guy and I have also moved A LOT in our first four years of marriage and it's taught us to be fairly ruthless in the items we allow to stay (or store) in our home. Having a baby was another opportunity for us as a couple to check our motives about material possessions and thoughtfully decide together what would be important for us to parent well and for Bray in her growth and development.
Three months into parenting and we are only beginning to scratch the surface on the complex issue of what truly is essential for babies or children. I hesitated to even share with you today what we have determined essential for our family as it can be so different for every family - everyone has a different lense through which they evaluate needs and values. For our family, we have found our essential items are items that we use daily, aid in the growth and development of our daughter, often emphasize quality or quantity, and out of personal preference remain gender neutral. For the most part, with the exception of a few key items, we look for longevity - items that can transition with growing children rather than one-time use items.
Essentials for the newborn days (0-3 Months):
CRIB + MATTRESS: We purchased the Sundvik IKEA Crib for two reasons: (1) It's timeless aesthetic and ability to transition to a toddler bed allows it to outlast trends and growing children and (2) it was significantly smaller in size than most traditional cribs and for our smaller home that was a high priority. Not to mention, the price was ideal for our budget.
DRESSER OR STORAGE MECHANISM: We opted for a combination of the two. Purchasing the Koppang 3-Drawer IKEA Dresser and the Mulig Shelving Unit with coordinating Kuggis Boxes with Lids. We utilize the dresser for the changing pad, cloth diapers, linens, and folded clothing and accessories. This dresser will easily transition with Bray as she grows and the changing pad is no longer necessary. In her closet are two hanging racks and one tall storage shelf lined with large bins. One bin is for toys, another for books, and a third for burp rags, towels, and bibs. These are basic white to transition seamlessly from nursery to primary years to teenager one day.
ROCKING CHAIR: I think we could get by without a rocking chair, but it is a well-used item in our nursery, particularly during late night feeds and as we prepare for naps and bedtime. Ours was gifted to us by my parents and we have been so grateful for a comfortable place to spend our late night and early morning feedings in.
ONESIES: The classic white Gerber or Carters onesies both long-sleeved and short-sleeved have been our staple clothing since Bray was born. They make for easy changing, clean-up well, and are very affordable. We've found H&M also has wonderful organic cotton onesies for reasonable prices.
PANTS: To be honest, Bray often wears a simple onesie (she's always hot), but for when we are leaving the house we like to have 3-4 pairs of leggings or sweatpants for her to stay warm out in the cold. Our favorite and most worn are the Hanna Anderson Wiggle Pants. We bought them during their semi-annual sale and it was well worth it - so comfy and soft for babe!
SLEEPERS: Bray liked to be swaddled for all of two weeks and made it VERY clear that she would prefer to move when she sleeps. We have been swaddle free ever since and she's slept wonderful with the exception of growth spurts. We initially tried the popular sleep sacks when we stopped the swaddle, but the sleeping bag style was still too confining for our girl. We finally landed on fleece footie pajamas (and have a few lighter ones for summer). We found most of these at our local TJ Maxx. Moral of the story, maybe have one of each and see what your baby prefers before you go all in on any one option.
BATHING: Our home doesn't have a bathtub and when it came time to decide what to purchase for bathing babies we decided upon the Stokke Flexi Bath with infant insert. We love how easily it collapses and stores, it's neutral color, and that as Bray grows she'll still experience bath time sans the real bathtub.
LINENS: We received the softest Burt's Bees linens for both the crib fitted sheet and the changing pad. Both came in a set of two which has been plenty for our needs. We also received the Aden + Anais Hooded Towels in a set of two. Burp Rags are in constant rotation around here and all of our favorites are the handmade rags similar to these. If you can find them we highly recommend.
BLANKETS: First, unless you have a special blanket in mind, do not purchase any blankets. It was by far the most gifted item as we welcomed Bray (second to clothing). While we received so many lovely blankets we really only use the same three on rotation. Bray's favorite blankets she cuddles with hourly are the Little Miracles Snuggle Me Sherpa (we were gifted two, which has worked well when needing to throw one in the wash). When it's warmer we will transition to utilizing the Aden + Anais Swaddle blankets. We have also adored and treasured the homemade blankets made by grandmas and dear friends. They are most often used for playtime on the floor and are sizeable to serve as a comforter in a future toddler bed.
STROLLER: Probably the most personal purchase you will make. My stellar sister gave us her words of wisdom (and a crazy amazing spreadsheet of research she had done herself) to aid us in our decision. She told us to look for strollers that easily attached carseats (without expensive add-ons), were easy to collapse and unfold, and were light enough to lift in and out of your vehicle. She also had us on the lookout for quality (air tires, strong frames, etc.). In the end we decided upon the Phil & Teds Vibe and we LOVE it. It's truly as simple as their videos make it seem. We also received the second seat as a gift and are prepared to transition this stroller to a double when the time arrives. While more expensive than some options we have a high value for the longevity of this piece. It's possible to transport up to three kiddos on this one piece with the addition of the second seat and the optional scooter board!
CARSEAT: In lieu of our stroller purchase, we also went with the Phil & Teds Alpha Carseat for ease of attachment to the stroller (it had wonderful safety reviews as well). Not a determining factor, but a bonus has been how incredibly light this seat is compared to competitors. I believe it weighs somewhere around 7Ibs. We also received a three-in-one convertible carseat that we will transition Bray to in a few months. We chose a three-in-one because it seamlessly transitions from infant seat, to forward facing, to booster seat (longterm use again was key for us).
ROCKER: This is totally a personal choice, but we initially registered for and received the 4Moms Bounceroo. Much to our dismay Bray was not a fan of the vibrating feature of the chair. She happily will sit briefly in the chair, but looking back, we would have waited on this purchase to discover what best suits Bray. Just a few weeks ago we finally purchased the Fischer Price Rock N' Play. It's been wonderful for naps, easily folds, and Bray loves to lounge in it while I cook or clean. I'd recommend holding off on purchasing any sort of bouncer/rocker chair until after baby arrives.
PACK N' PLAY / BASSINET: We travel often and so a travel crib is an essential, but may not be if you are homebodies. The 4Moms Breeze Playard has been exceptional. It easily collapses and folds up, includes a simple bassinet attachment and comes in a standard black pallette. While pricer than other options the ease of use made it a worthwhile investment for our constantly travelling family.
WEARABLE CARRIER: This has been exponentially worth it in our family. We were gifted the Boba Wrap, a Moby Wrap, a Sling Wrap, and the Ergo Carrier. We ended up enjoying the Boba Wrap and Ergo Carrier, but this is again a personal preference and baby preference. Wearable carriers are wonderful in the newborn days for lots of cuddles and comforting new babies, while giving mom free hands. We have loved that the Boba in particular can easily be packed into the diaper bag for quick trips.
DIAPERS + WIPES: We utilized disposable for those first newborn weeks and transitioned to Best Bottom Cloth Diapers (which we have loved and I'll share more about in another post). Most of the disposables we have used were gifted to us, but we realized quickly cheap diapers are no good. We found Pampers Swaddlers and Luvs to be the best for keeping blowouts at bay. We're less picky about wipes and my only recommendation is to keep a stockpile on hand. You will go through these quickly and running out would be a bummer. The Up & Up brand have been wonderful for our family.
SOAPS + LOTIONS: Some favorites for our sensitive skinned family have been Burt's Bees Baby Collection and Aveeno Baby products. You don't need much for infants as baths are once weekly and lotion isn't necessary for their newborn skin. We are still in search of a great diaper rash cream and would love recommendations particularly for cloth diapers.
ANGEL CARE MONITOR: A piece of mind technology that we are very fond of and another recommendation from my wonderful sister. Angel Care lays under the crib mattress and triggers an alarm if baby stops breathing. For our family this has allowed Bray to sleep soundly in her own room while giving mom and dad piece of mind while we sleep in our own room. My sister acquired one for our family at a Consignment Sale.
Okay, that's it for the first piece in the Essentials Series. Even as I write this list it occurs to me that these 'essentials' are still very much luxuries as a parent today. I feel abundantly blessed and want to acknowledge that so many men and women are wonderful fathers and mothers with so much less. It is a luxury to even have this conversation, for many of these items to have been gifted to us from generous family and friends. So just know, what's right for your family might not be this list above, and that is okay. I'm learning so much in these new days of motherhood and one of the more significant lessons has been to keep my eyes and my heart on the life right before me rather than look to my left or to my right at what every other family or mother is doing to raise their children. I'm slowly learning the delicate balance of welcoming and receiving helpful advice, while gauging when enough is enough and I need to walk forward trusting that I have been equipped to be Bray's mom.
Well, without turning this into an entirely new blog topic, I'll stop here. There will be more to come in the Essentials Series in regards to motherhood, homemaking, marriage, and the like. I hope you'll stick around.
But first, as I would love to continue to grow in thoughtfully purchasing items for our growing family, I'd love to hear from you, how have you taken an intentional approach to baby gear in your home?