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Surviving the Newborn Stage: Top 5 Newborn Must-Have Items

I am just barely peeking my head out of the newborn suck. I’m slowly entering the magical land of 3-month-old-hood. Now that I can think somewhat clearly, I’ve thought back to what essential items got me through that first month of the newborn stage. 

Please note, this is my third child and each one of my children has been slightly different. My children will most definitely be different than your children. These items listed are simply what I have found to be a common source of thank-you-God-these-things-exist-in-my-life items during that first month for all 3 of my babies. 

1. Fisher Price Rock 'n Play Sleeper

Ok, so I received this Rock ‘n Play Sleeper second hand from a good friend after her baby had outgrown it. I didn’t have a Rock ‘n Play for my other two children. I didn’t know what an amazing world I was missing by not discovering this item sooner. This item was a life-saver for my newborn.

Pros:

  • Newborn Comfort: The cradle-like design keeps your baby feeling like he’s snuggled up and secure during those first few weeks outside of the womb. Unlike lying flat on his back in a swaddle, your newborn is basically wrapped in a warm, hammock-like hug. During the day, I would swaddle him and put him in this Rock ‘n Play.
  • Better Sleep: My baby would sleep so much better in the Rock ‘n Play. I would put him in the Rock ‘n Play during the daytime for naps, and he would sleep so soundly. He really did prefer this for sleep. At bedtime, I would put him in the bassinet because I wanted him to get used to sleeping on a flatter surface, but it was like a built-in swaddle for the first few weeks before he started moving more.   
  • Portability: This item is easily transportable from room to room. This means you can bring this into your bathroom while you take a shower. You can bring this into the kitchen while you cook dinner. You can bring this out to the dining room while you eat dinner. You can bring this out to the living room so you can watch TV. 
  • Incline: At 6 weeks old, my baby got RSV. He was super congested, and I did not want to lay him flat on his back. He slept in this Rock ‘n Play until his congestion cleared up.
  • Rocking Motion: The design of this item, just like the name implies, allows you to rock your baby at your own pace and comfort. It does not rock automatically, but my husband or I would sit on the couch/bed/floor and rock the baby with our foot while we’d surf on our iPhones get other work done. 

Summer Infant Swaddles

Halo Sleep Sack Swaddles

2. Swaddles with Velcro

When your baby is first born, those magical MBU nurses swaddle your baby into a perfect, snug-fit swaddle wrap. You attempt to do the same swaddle in the hospital, and you think you’ve done a good job. Then you get home, and after a few days, your previously dormant newborn begins to wiggle and move. The hospital swaddle you attempted to do with your own receiving blankets are quickly dismantled by your newborn, and then he begins to cry. Cue the miracle of the Velcro swaddle blanket. 

In the first few weeks, I used the Summer Infant Swaddles, but really anything with that amazing invention of Velcro will do the trick. Once my baby was a little older, I switched over to the Halo Sleep Sack Swaddle because it gave my baby more room to kick and move his legs.

Pros:

  • Security: The swaddle creates the snug and secure feeling the baby experienced in the womb. When your baby begins to wiggle and move, it creates a feeling of security. When your baby is still having the Moro reflex, he will wake himself up with a startling feeling. The swaddle allows them to stay tight and in place.
  • Velcro: The amazing invention of Velcro allows your baby to stay snug and secure once they begin to move around…like 5 days after you get home from the hospital. They will not be able to wiggle out of the Velcro easily until they are a few months older.
  • Warmth: The swaddle acts as a blanket for your baby at night. We all know that babies are not supposed to sleep with loose blankets in the crib due to the risk of SIDS, so a swaddle provides the perfect way to keep your baby covered at night.

3. Bassinet

I feel like the bassinet is one of the most underrated baby items out there. There is so much emphasis on the crib and the pack-n-play. In fact, with my first baby, I didn’t even consider buying a bassinet. My mother, in all her veteran wisdom, bought a second-hand bassinet for me on Craigslist the week before our baby was due. I told her I probably wouldn’t use it. I am so glad she insisted on bringing it over. The bassinet was a must-have item in our house. We found the Simmons Kids Deluxe Gliding Bassinet, but you can’t go wrong with any style bassinet.  

Pros:

  • Sleeping In: There was no way I was going to put my newborn baby in a giant crib on the other side of the house when he was only 3 days old. He wasn’t leaving my sight until he was off to college. The bassinet allowed him to sleep right next to my bed and was an arm’s reach away. Co-sleeping with a baby in the bed is a frowned upon due to SIDS, so the bassinet was a perfect way to stay close to my baby without the fear of him suffocating in the bed with us.
  • Smaller Mattress Size: The bassinet has a much smaller surface, so my newborn baby didn’t seem like a spec of dirt amidst the giant abyss of a baby crib (which is essentially a toddler mattress).
  • Similar Height as Bed: Some people opt not to get a bassinet and have their babies room in with them in a pack and play. We tried this for awhile with my first baby when he was a couple of months old. The con to the pack-n-play was the major height difference between my bed and the bottom of the pack-n- play. The bottom of the pack-n-play is basically at ground level. I found it uncomfortable to bend down and have to pick the baby up from that level or try to find a pacifier in the middle of the night over and over again when the baby would spit it out. The bassinet comes almost level to our bed, so it was easy to pick the baby up and feed him in the middle of the night. When the pacifier fell out, I could stay lying down and just reach my arm into his bassinet to find the pacifier for him.

We ended up getting a used bassinet this third time around.  I would recommend getting the bassinet second hand because as valuable as it is, it only has a shelf life of a few months before you have to switch to the real crib once the baby is pulling himself up. We found a great deal on a used one from the Facebook Marketplace. It came with all the bells and whistles such as a mobile, music, lights, and vibration. We could afford some of these extra features because we bought it used.

4. Boppy Pillow

The Boppy Pillow is one of the most popular baby items with expecting mothers for good reason. Whether you’re breastfeeding or bottle-feeding, the Boppy pillow offers comfort and support during any type of feeding.

Pros:

  • Support During Feeding: The pillow is designed to wrap around your midsection so that you can lay your baby on it to feed. If you are breastfeeding, the convenience and comfort of positioning your baby high up near your breast is worth its weight in gold. Sure, you could use a normal pillow to do the trick too, but the Boppy is a firm pillow that’s designed to allow for multiple positionings and a feeling of security during feedings. If you are bottle-feeding, the Boppy can also offer the same comfort to you and your baby. It provides a warm, snug lift for your baby so that s/he is close to you and comfortable. If you’ve had a C-section, the Boppy adds comfort around the top of your belly and allows you to avoid having to use abdominal muscles you didn’t even know existed to position and reposition the baby.
  • Grows with Baby: The Boppy is also great to use for tummy time and for propping the baby up in a seated position when the baby is first learning how to hold his head up. 
  • So Comfortable: The firm stuffing in the Boppy makes it feel like the favorite pillow you never had. I sometimes use it as my pillow when I am taking a nap on the couch. 

5. Sleepers with Zippers

I found with my first baby that sleepers are an amazing piece of attire. They’re sometimes sold as “sleep-and-plays” because they do just that. You put your baby to sleep in their sleeper and then you can keep them in it all day, especially if you have a fall or winter baby and the short sleeved onesies won’t cut it in the cooler temperatures we get in Florida. I also learned with my first baby, while at 3:00 am in the dark, that I will never buy a button-down sleeper ever again (Ok, I lie. I do have a few button-down sleepers only because the pattern on them was way too cute, but the baby NEVER sleeps in the ones with buttons). 

Pros:

  • Versatility: The baby sleeper goes from nightwear to daywear in an instant.  As long as the baby didn’t soil through or spit up, the sleeper can be used right into the daytime hours as well. I, of course, would put a fresh sleeper on the baby in the evening or after bathtime. My only regret is they don’t make a similar line of clothing for preschoolers and older children that I could dress them in at night and wake them up to being fully dressed for school the next morning. 
  • Zipper: It only takes one middle of the night diaper change to realize the value of the zipper on the sleeper. Ziiiiiiipppp down. Ziiiiipppp up. I remember waking my son up one morning after I changed his diaper while in a button sleeper. Let’s just say one entire foot/leg was exposed. The other side had multiple attempts at finding a matching snap. There is some kind of weird switcheroo snapping that happens at the crouch of the sleeper and only after having 3 kids have I been able to figure the matching snap game out in the daylight hours. 

The first month home with a newborn is a challenging experience. 

It mostly goes by in a blur, but I am so thankful I had these 5 items to get me through those days.

What are some of your must-have newborn items that got you through that first month?  Share in the comments.

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