Late one night, I’m sitting in my chair in the nursery feeding Weston and scrolling through Instagram (trying not to fall asleep…) when I open a message from a follower saying “You guys should do a ‘Top Ten New Mom Tips’ post!”, I replied right away, ” YES! Great idea!!”. Honestly…. what I would have done for one of these posts before I had Weston… Before I started my registry! To be fair, I KNOW there are blog posts about this out there, but I struggled so much with pregnancy, that I focused on learning everything there was to know about it, and knew only the basics about newborn gear when West actually arrived. Don’t worry, we were emotionally and physically “ready” for his arrival. Well, as emotionally ready as one can be, and physically ready in the sense that we had ALL of the things…. a car seat, bassinet, stroller, swing, pump, bottles, clothes, you name it…. but was what we had THE BEST? Were our proportions correct?! Not necessarily…. some research, conversing with other moms, and of course shopping later, and now we feel confident that have compiled the ULTIMATE list of must haves for new mom’s, plus some super useful mom hacks!! If you were that mom, some 9 months ago that messaged me about doing this post, I AM SORRY! Turns out these sweet little babes take up a lot of your time… who knew?! But Hopefully this post helps to free up some of your precious time!!
#1 A good stroller
Both of us use the Uppababy Vista stroller and love it!
Pros: It’s SOLID. This stroller handles unbelievably well, even on a snowy path! Its easy to maneuver and turn, easy to fold/unfold, comes with rumble seat (toddler seat) which can stay attached while being folded and unfolded, as well as sleep approved bassinet. Handle bars move up and down to adjust to different heights. Biggest selling point for many moms: it can become a double, without becoming double the width!!! It’s a great “all around stroller”. These strollers are also extremely durable, and hold their value to either last for several kids, or to sell once you’re done with it!
Cons: She’s spendy. With a 2018 model costing over $1200, and that doesn’t include a car seat. Truthfully this is the only con I can come up with. I love this stroller.
#2 A baby swing
We both use a Mamaroo and/or Rockaroo (also by 4Moms). Baby swings can help calm a fussy baby and offer mom a moment of reprieve or some hands free time should she want or need it without having to confine a newborn baby to his or her crib in a separate room.
Pros: many “swing” options with varying speeds, built in sound machine with newer models also having auxiliary cables. It’s also surprisingly light making it easy to move from one room to another. You can purchase an infant insert so baby can use it right away! You can also adjust the tilt so baby can be lying down or sitting upright. This came in particularly handy for our little guy who has reflux and needed to be kept upright for at least 15 mins post feed. I could feed him burp him and put him in the mamaroo for his upright time while I got ready or crossed 1/100 chores off my list!
Cons: moderately expensive compared to other swings, and some babies require more “swing” than the gentle motioned offered by the mamaroo. The mobile is also really bad (doesn’t move on its own haha!) which maybe isn’t a big deal to your babe, but mine was not impressed!
#3 A good sound machine
Did you know the womb is an insanely loud environment, so babies are actually comforted by loud white noise?! Not only does it comfort them but it helps them become good little sleepers by being able to drown out the extraneous noise that happens while they’re napping during the day (vacuum, dogs barking, doorbells ringing etc) or sleeping at night (husband snoring … or me). I highly suggest the Hatch Rest.
Pros:Hatch Rest, which doubles as a night light, can be operated by both by an app on your smart phone or on the device itself . It has 12 different sound options and you can literally pick any colour for the night light. It allows you to pair up favourites (that is, favourite track with favourite night light) and create a schedule (For example, turns on with bedtime routine and off with wake up). Have a baby sitter who doesn’t have the app? No problem… control the machine by using the buttons on the bottom of the machine to change the volume, and tap the top of the machine to change colour and songs.
Cons: I feel like I’m reaching for something bad to say about this, but the one draw back is that it’s not exactly portable, in the sense that it needs to be plugged in to use, and its not “small” (We do bring it on long vacations with us!). For a battery operated sound machine we like MyBaby On-the-Go SoundSpa. It has four different sound options, a great battery life and is VERY affordable. It clips onto car seat or stroller and can also stand up for use in a hotel room.
#4 A good change pad
Now, I’ve got a little boy, and those first couple of weeks he peed during about 50% of diaper changes. I was so glad I opted for a change pad that I could wipe down because I would have been changing a change pad cover too many times a day! I use the Hatch Baby Grow, and love it!
Pros: It wipes down for easy cleanups, AND has built in scale ( note: while ours has proven to be very accurate when compared with clinic or doctors office weights on the same day, I wouldn’t recommend skipping out on clinic weigh ins because you have a scale at home!!). To use the scale portion you do have to download the App, but the Hatch Baby app makes the list as one of my most used baby items. Not only does it allow you to read and track your baby’s weights, you can track feedings (times, lengths, amounts), diapers (wet, dirty and when they were changed) , pumping, sleep, and baby’s length. It can take all that info and give you stats about your baby and his or her growth patterns and schedule! It was so helpful in those first few days of delirium when it’s so important to keep track of feedings and diapers. Six months in and I still use it to keep track of feedings, and wake windows and love weighing West to track his growth!
Cons: Again, price. A basic change pad can be purchased for under $50 where the Hatch Baby is $160. But, think of the time saved for clean ups! A cheaper wipeable alternative is the Skip Hop change pad.
#5 A good monitor
There are about a million options for a monitor, from audio only, to video and two way audio, and even video and audio that can be viewed remotely! A good monitor gives you peace of mind that your little one is A-OK in there crib or bassinet for nap time or bed time. Whatever you choose, you definitely want something with good battery life and good range (some are spotty even within a house!). For this reason we like the Nest indoor security camera.
Pros: Nest camera is wifi or data based and run on an app on your smart phone, which means you can use it anywhere your phone has service. So the range is unbeatable! You’re out on a date and your babe is home with a babysitter? Or sitting around the fire in your backyard? You can take a peek at your sweet babe napping peacefully and continue enjoying your date! Another great feature is that you can go back and review your babies sleep patterns through the night! It’s also super compact (technically only one part, since your phone is the monitor!) which makes it easy for travel.
Cons: Noticing a trend?! It’s a bit pricey. But once you’re done using it as a baby monitor it can be re-purposed to a security cam . Another con is that a baby sitter would need to download the app to have access to the feed. It also isn’t “constant” in that you have to have the app open on your phone to see what is happening. It does however send you an alert when considerable movement is detected. A potential draw back of any video monitor? Some parents find that the my actually add to the anxiety, because they can’t stop watching the monitor!
Need a good monitor without breaking the bank?! Wyze Cams are security cameras similar to Nest that can be purchased through Amazon a starting point of only $40.00!! Motorola and Summer Infant also have great video monitors for use within your home!! We started with a summer infant and it’s a bit spotty when I’m in the far corners of my yard, but it’s great otherwise.
#6 A good diaper bag
AKA your purse for at least the next year (or in Richelle’s case- five years)! There are about a million options to chose from, from backpack to messenger style, from leather to polyester and literally every colour of the rainbow or pattern you can imagine. You’ll want to pick a style you love but also something practical and functional. Pick a bag with lots of pockets to store bottles, diapers, wipes, and stuff for you too! A bag that you can wipe down, comes with a change pad and clips to attach to the stroller are big pluses. What you definitely don’t want is a bag where everything is in one compartment, and you have to go digging for supplies. Some moms also try to find a diaper bag that’s not too girly that Dad wouldn’t want to use it when he’s on baby duty alone. The bag I picked to checks all these boxes is the Skip Hop Chelsea in black!
What you put in your bag is almost as important as the bag itself. Our diaper bag essentials include :
- diapers, of course. About ten. Just in case you forget to re-stock when you get home!
- Wipes. We both stock our diaper bags with Water Wipes. Honestly these wipes deserve their own spot on this list. They’re 99.99% water with a drop of fruit extract. They’re super gentle on babies skin, so we feel good about using them on runny noses, messy mouths, and hands that are bound to make their way into mouths. And bums of course. They’re also perfect for wiping spilled coffee off of your coat or car, mopping up spit up and make a great makeup remover wipe for you too. They are also very reasonably priced at both Walmart and Amazon. A minor drawback to these wipes is that they don’t “feed” so they’re not great for use in a wipe warmer. But seriously, these are one of our favourite baby items. These things are GOLD!!
- Hand sanitizer! You’re going to use a lot of this stuff, so find one you love! We like the spray hand sanitizer by Honest Company! Quick application and quick dry. Doesn’t take up much space either!
- Hand lotion and lip chap
- Snacks for mom and baby (if eating solids)
- Extra clothes for baby ( and a shirt for you too if you have a big spitter upper, and a big enough bag!)
- Burp cloth and/or swaddle
- Nursing cover (or swaddle)
- Wet bag– totally optional but I’ve found mine super useful since I have a little guy who spits up A TON. A wet bag holds wet clothes or dirty diapers and keeps them separate from everything else in your bag. A disposable option is doggy bags, or good old ziploc or grocery bags!
- A couple of toys and a pacifier if your baby uses one. Aleva pacifier and toy wipes are also a great thing to stock in your bag for when a favourite toy or soother hits the deck and needs a clean on the go!
#7 A nice pair of PJ’s and a good nursing bra
Get yourself a nice pair of pyjamas and a few good nursing bras. Even if you’re not breastfeeding you’re going to be spending a considerable amount of time in PJ’s for the first few weeks, and then at least every night thereafter, and if you are you’ll be wearing that nursing bra for as long as you’re nursing! We both love PJ tops with buttons that make for super easy breastfeeding at night (and during the day….). Victoria’s Secret always has a good selection of button down PJ’s, and so does Joe Fresh for a more budget friendly version! A good nursing bra is ideally one that looks like a normal bra, but is comfortable enough for day or night wear, all while being super supportive. I love these from H&M! Totally affordable, and they wear like a regular bra, so they look good under t-shirts and camisoles- not just bulky sweaters! They’re underwire free, so they are very comfortable, and even though they have normal straps, they’re very supportive. It’s a good idea to have a nursing bra on hand before your little one arrives, so you can use it right away, but it’s best to wait until your milk comes in (usually a few days after baby is born) before you go crazy and buy several, as this determines your size. I got two of these from Walmart before Weston was born. They were super cheap, and are very comfortable! I still use them during the night.
#8 A good carrier
Let’s be real here, new born babies are tough to put down, but sometimes you need your hands free for dishes, laundry, a dog leash or a book or glass of wine (No judgement here!). There are a ton of different options for carriers, from soft tie up slings, to slings with rings, and more structured carries. We both used Baby K’tan for around the house baby wearing.
Pros: It’s a tie sling, without the tying! It’s super easy to use, and very supportive.
Con: Unlike the traditional wraps that are one size fits all, you have to know you’re size.
For more structured carries (dog walks and longer treks outside the house), we both love Ergo Baby! So comfortable and supportive, and you can wear baby on your back, front or hip! You’ve seen us hiking with all our babes in our Ergos, they are super durable and can stand the test of time!
#9 Angel Care bath tub support
Pros: Bath time has become everyone’s favourite time of bedtime routine, honestly probably everyone’s favourite part of the day! But, those first few weeks before we got our Angel Care Bath Support, bath time was stressful. Little babes are so slippery and unstable. We felt we really had to focus on the task at hand and didn’t get to enjoy it! Angel Care bath support fully supports baby in a semi-upright poistion, while allowing your baby to still be surrounded by water. It is extremely light weight and pretty compact for easy storage. It’s also very easy to wipe clean and dry! Makes bath time so much easier and enjoyable for everyone! Pair with Essentials By Nature Sweet Baby Bath Bubbles and Lotion.
Cons: This is a bit of a reach, but some babies might not love the semi-sitting position when they are able to sit by themselves, at which point you’ll want to switch to a non-slip bath mat. But you should be able to get at least 5-6 months out of your Angel Care bath support before this becomes a problem!
#10 Skip the first aid kit and buy essentials separately
Yes, you do need first aid items but you don’t need a kit. Most of the stuff in a kit won’t get used, and the stuff you will use isn’t good quality. Must have first aid items include a good nasal aspirator (not the bulb kind, they’re garbage! We like the one by Munchkin, but the Frieda comes highly rated too), nail clippers (Frida Baby’s have a window so you can see what you’re clipping!), and a thermometer (Braun No Touch + Forehead Digital Thermometer is non-invasive and quick read!). It’s also a good idea to have a medicine dropper, nasal spray, Baby Tylenol and Advil, and Oval or gripe water on hand.
Honorable mentions :
Prince Lionheart wipe warmer: Especially for middle of the night diaper changes when cold wipes can be stimulating. Don’t worry they don’t dry your wipes out!
Aidan and Anais Velcro swaddles: Cotton muslin swaddles are adorable an they’re great for strollers and car seats but they’re actually a potential safety risk for sleeping. Instead opt for a Velcro swaddle that baby can’t kick his or her way out of. Bonus for you, they’re a lot easier to use, and when the time comes you can transition from swaddle to sleep sack by swaddling one arm only, then both arms out.
A Transition Swaddle: While we’re on the topic of swaddle transitions…. When a baby is able to roll over, it is no longer safe for them to be swaddled.There are a few ways you can transition without the help of a transitional swaddle, such as going cold turkey, or trying one arm out and then the other. Weston’s startle reflex was very much intact when we had to transition, so didn’t have much success with either of those methods to be honest! We used a Zipadee Zip first, and then transitioned from that into a Nested Bean Zen Sack. The Zipadee Zip sort of looks like a flying squirrel suit. It completely covers their arms and hands, but allows them enough movement to roll over and push up if they have to. It suppresses their startle reflex by essentially giving them something to touch when they startle. Once his startle reflex was no longer in tact, we switched to the Zen Sack which has a very lightly weighted “egg” (like a bean bag!) on the front/back of the sleep sack. It mimics Mom or dad’s comforting touch!
Good chair for the nursery: I have to admit, I messed up here! I picked something small and cute that would fit our space but ended up sacrificing comfort. It was fine when Weston was little but it it got pretty tight for feedings as the months went on! My In Laws bought us a glider for Christmas and its a game changer!! Breastfeeding or bottle feeding, your going to be spending a lot of time in that chair, and it’s really special time so treat yourself!
Boon Grass: So. Many. Dishes. This handy little drying rack is perfect to dry bottles, pump parts, toys, soothers and baby’s utensils! Opt for the larger size, ours is smaller and always full!!
A good breast pump: If you plan to pump, treat yourself to a good pump. A quality pump (we both like Medela!) will save you time, frustration and…. your boobs.
A breast feeding pillow: The first few weeks of breast feeding can be pretty tough. A breastfeeding pillow helps get baby into position, and makes it a whole lot less stressful of an experience for you! We both used My Brest Friend.…this thing really will be your best friend.
Ember Mug: Not a necessity by any means but a really great luxury item for any mom. Ember Mug keeps your coffee nice and hot so you don’t have to keep microwaving it throughout the morning! I got this as a birthday gift from my brother and sister-in-law. I use it everyday, it’s my FAVOURITE! Such a thoughtful gift for a new mom!
Chewelry: Save your hair and buy yourself a teething necklace. Chewelry and Babe makes these super cute necklaces that West absolutely loves to play with while nursing!! They also have the cutest teethers and soother/teether clips that Weston absolutely loves. As a mom, I LOVE things that “kill two birds with one stone”, and Chewelry is one of those things. You get to wear a cute BABY PROOF necklace (and keep your hair!) and your little gets a toy! WIN WIN! Use our code RIVERCITY20 to get 20% off your order!!
Apps and books:
“What to expect In the First Year”- written by the same great people who brought us “What to Expect When Your Expecting! (Heidi Murkoff and Sharon Mazel) This book is amazing. It literally walks you through preparing for the arrival of your little one (from what to buy to birth itself!) to their first birthday. It gives you overview of all things parenting from breastfeeding or bottle feeding, to sleep, introducing solids, to finding the best day care solution for you! It walks you through the developmental changes that will occur with baby each month and how you can best deal with them. Its a really great resource to have on hand!!
The Wonder Weeks: I don’t have the book (though I hear it’s great) but I did purchase the app, and I’m very happy that I did! The Wonder Weeks walks parents through the developmental “leaps” that a baby goes through in their first couple of years. It explains why our babes go through periods of fussiness and how we can best manage them! My mom friends and I have spoken in several occasions about how incredibly accurate we find the descriptions to be.
Mom hacks: not products but a few helpful hints….
Padsicles: google them. You’ll want to have these on hand for post-delivery recovery!
Be prepared, but not too prepared: Buy a box or two of new born diapers, but not ten. Some babies wear NB diapers and clothes for upwards of a month but others only for a few weeks (and some not at all ). Grab a pack of NB white onsies, a couple pairs of pants, a sweater or two, a couple pairs of socks and mitts, one hat and about 4-5 pairs of PJs. You can however buy the jumbo box of wipes because you will need those (we suggest a gentle wipe like Water Wipes or any “sensitive” variety of your brand of choice. Better to err on the side of sensitive!).
When it comes to bottles, it’s best to PLAN for a colicky baby and opt for the “anti-colic” bottles. YES, they are unfortunately a little more expensive, but they are worth it! They reduce the amount of air that enters the babies mouth and therefor, stomach. I knew nothing about bottle feeding, and we bought regular old 9oz Phillips Avent bottles. Well, turns out 9oz bottles are a tad big for a baby who eats about 2-4 oz per feeding for the first couple of months, have a higher flow nipple than is necessary for a new born, AND we ended up having a refluxy baby and needed the anti-colic bottles anyways. We went back to BuyBuy Baby (AGAIN) and bought 4oz and 9oz Phillips anti-colic bottles. If you don’t want to break the bank, try the regular 4oz bottles first, and see how baby does, then buy the 9oz bottles when you need them.
If you plan to read about baby and parenting, start before baby comes. Seems pretty obvious, doesn’t it?! I was so focused on pregnancy, that I felt like I knew everything there was to know about it (literally reading what to expect when your expecting the night before I went into labour) but had a pretty basic knowledge about newborns. I found myself frantically googling “baby grunting and squeaking”, “baby’s eyes moving” and a million other things in my first couple of days home. Yes, a lot of parenting is common sense, but those first few days can be a bit of an adjustment and it’s nice to feel like you’re ready!
Consider taking a sleep course: After the first few days of newborn sleepiness wore off, Weston was up all night, and asleep all day. We would have visitors come over and remark at how good of a sleeper he was, and tell us how lucky we were! We knew we were lucky, we had the SWEETEST baby boy. But we were silently suffering from sleep deprivation. I spent a couple of nights on the couch with Weston in his bassinet beside me, so my husband could get even a few hours of sleep before working the next day. We took turns walking around the house, tried putting him in the Mamaroo and his car seat, and sang every single calming song we could think of. We were all exhausted. A friend mentioned Taking Cara Babies, and we decided to purchase her “New Born” and “Navigating months 3 and 4” classes. They were LIFE SAVERS. We are all sleeping MUCH better within just a few nights. We were all well rested, and much happier, and I finally felt like I could be the mom I always wanted to be!! Because of this course we successfully avoided a massive 3/4 month sleep regression, and have a pretty good little sleeper. We did end up purchasing her ABC’s of sleep class, mostly just to have the tools in case we ever needed them, and to help wean our dream feed. You are NOT selfish if you take a sleep course. Sleep is so important for babies and their parents!!!
Keep your diaper boxes: You’ll quickly notice that diaper boxes are actually pretty amazing. They’re nice and sturdy and a good size. They come in really handy for storing babies clothes as they out grow them , and your maternity clothes as you find your way back to ore pregnancy clothes. When the next baby comes you can grab the NB diaper box that’s full of all of your NB clothes and accessories!
If you plan to breastfeed…. full disclosure those first couple of weeks of breastfeeding are usually pretty tough. Watch videos on youtube, read about it, talk to friends and family and get their tips and tricks! And get a good breastfeeding pillow!
Cut yourself some slack. Oh the mom guilt…. you will never feel more damned if you or damned if you don’t. If you get your household chores done does that mean you didn’t spend enough time with Baby? But if you don’t get your household chores done, does that mean you can’t handle both? Is it even your responsibility to handle both!? If you wash your hair and put on make up and change into jeans does that mean you’re selfish and not focused enough on Baby? If you stay in your pajamas and refresh last nights top knot does that mean you’ve “let yourself go”? Getting out too often? Not enough?! And of course the old breastfeeding versus formula feeding versus combination feeding. Don’t even get me started on that one. If you spend time with your baby, feed your baby, and love your baby, you are doing a good job!! Now of course, if you’re staying in pajamas all day and refreshing last nights top knot, BUT you really wish you could put on make up and wash her hair, OR. you can’t seem to get to household chores BUT you really wish you could, ask for help! Asking for help does not mean you are failing, or that you are a bad mom! This is a very hard job! Very rewarding, but very hard! There are tons of resources available for new moms, including online message boards, and new mom groups available through your community health clinic.
Photography by : Madison Jack Photography
We hope you’ll find this post helpful while you plan and shop for your little one, or a friend who is expecting!! We love to chat about all things baby, so please feel free to email us at email@example.com or DM us on our instragram @rivercitysisters!