Aside from the basics like a car seat (we had the baby-in-a-bucket infant seat, although we might choose otherwise today), clothes (we were fortunate to receive a lot of baby-sized hand-me-downs), diapers (we used a combination of cloth and disposable), and food (we went with the boob method) babies need very little.
Still, there were a lot of "nice to have” items we found to be useful. Some of which I never would have suspected would come in so handy.
Following are 7 baby items that were truly worth having. Rest assured there will be a post of Completely Unnecessary Baby Items in the near future.1. Thin receiving blankets. These are awesome because you can use them for everything: wrapping baby, laying down for diaper changes, cleaning spit up, covering up during latch-on (if you’re so inclined), impromptu games of peek-a-boo. They come 5 or 6 in a pack, are inexpensive, easy to wash, and about a thousand times more useful than pretty, fluffy blankets and quilts.
2. Baby papasan chair. Confession: When I opened this at my baby shower for Agent E, I was like, WTH is this thing? (It's where Agent A is chilling in the above picture . . . basically a baby futon that plays music.) I honestly did not imagine using this. At all. Until we discovered our babies were pukers. Oh, they didn’t have reflux or anything, but every. single. time. they got a cold . . . blah! Spitting up all over the place each time they tried to lie down. I cannot even count how many nights the infant Agents spent sleeping semi-upright in this little contraption. Usually with me lying on the floor next to them, with one hand on them all night. Infinitely better than trying to hold them in the rocking chair while attempting to stay coherent enough to not drop them.
3. Swing. I know, I know. Some folks really don’t like the idea of baby swings. But you know what? Babies love them . . . and only for a short while. Agent A refused to nap anywhere else (even on me) for a spell between one-ish and four-ish months old. I had it set up in the kitchen so I could keep him with me while I cooked, cleaned up, or prepared snacks for the Senior Agents. We had one that plugged in (some run just on batteries), which was very helpful.
4. Backpack. Here’s the thing: When you leave the house for more than 30 seconds with a baby, you will need something. You will also need use of your hands/arms. Carrying a shoulder bag is just extra work. And, contrary to what I had been led to believe, an ordinary backpack will work. The “diaper bag backpacks” they sell at the baby stores are not magical in any way. The extra compartments just mean more work to find things, and that silly “changing pad” it comes with works for about five minutes before it’s too small.
5. High chair. You think you are just going to use this for meal times, and not until baby is on solid foods, but that wasn’t true for us. We used it from the very beginning. We found one that could recline such that you could even put a newborn in it and sit them at the table with you. If dinnertime happened to coincide with his/her awake and alert period, baby joined us at the table to observe, babble, or just stare at us in quiet contemplation. (Or, loud contemplation, depending on the day.) Of course, sometimes baby ate along with us . . . Momma became very adept at not having use of one arm. Later it becomes a great place not only for messy food exploration (like our baby-led weaning escapades) but also play time. I could slide little brother up to the table while we did our homeschooling and allow him to “join in” with his own play/coloring.
6. Breast pump. My original thought with this was that even though I would be staying home with the Agents I should have the option of pumping for a bottle feeding “just in case” I needed to. Well, that turned into pumping around the clock for newborn Agent E (she didn’t latch on “for real” until she was about three weeks old). I pumped to help engorgement and plugged ducts. I pumped to have milk to freeze for “baby slushies” to practice spoon-feeding. I pumped for newborn Agent J when I went back into the hospital for hemorrhaging when she was just two weeks old. I pumped for newborn Agent A when he didn’t have a good (i.e., non-painful) latch for nearly six weeks. This was definitely well worth the cost.
7. Pack-n-play. I think we originally envisioned this being a place for baby to nap downstairs, or to bring with us when traveling. However, none of our babies ended up sleeping here. They all napped on a little bed on the floor, and they just slept in our bed when we traveled. We did end up using the “play” option, though . . . just for those times when I could not have a sitting/quasi-mobile baby “free” on the floor. Like trying to take a shower when baby was awake and no other adult was around. Or when I needed to attend to something in the kitchen for more than four seconds. Later on, this became the place where the younger sibling sat and played while the older sibling(s) took a bath. We tried to use it sparingly and rotate a few toys so it remained an interesting place.