This guide highlights my favorite items that we used in the first few months (and beyond) with our newborn. If you’re searching for a gift for a new mama or for yourself – check out this list!
What do babies really need?
We all know that babies truly don’t need much. They need our love and care, food and sleep, clean diapers and sheets. Beyond that, I’m always surprised how “must haves” are often just lists of expensive items that you may or may not use. Babies have their preferences and so do you.
However, if something makes your life easier and more comfortable with your baby – I’d say it’s worth considering! With that in mind, I created a list my top 10 favorite items that you’ll likely enjoy as well. I want to highlight that some of the best items don’t have to be expensive, so the last 5 on the list are under $40!
Top 10 Gifts
1. Swaddle Blankets
If I had to pick just one item to gift, this would be it! Aden + anais makes the perfect swaddle blankets that are soft, comfortable, and most importantly – versatile. Aside from swaddling, they are great as spit-up cloths, nursing cover-ups, blankets to lay your baby down on, car seat covers, and so much more. I had 6 or 7 that were handed down to me, after use with 3 other babies, and they are still in great shape. Even though my baby is long out of swaddles, I still pack one of these blankets in the diaper bag just in case of a baby-style emergency.
2. Baby Carrier
My baby loved being held and this carrier from Nesting Days allowed for a simple, hands-free way to have her skin-to-skin with me. It is easy to put on and can be worn with or without the baby inside, making it a simple choice for daily use. It is sized, so order based on mama’s measurements. My husband used it a few times, so I know the sizing is flexible. These carriers are made to order in San Francisco and must be purchased in advance.
After the first few months, I opted for the Babybjorn carrier, as it is more adjustable and distributes baby’s weight better.
One of my favorite hand-me-downs was the Snuggle Me lounger. After the first few months (when we slept in whichever ways we could), my baby was most comfortable in this sleeper. It contoured to her body and gave me a sense of safety because she wouldn’t roll off anywhere. I used this in bed with me and even took it on camping trips! We used it for many months, until she was ready to sleep in the crib on her own.
4. Video Monitor
I realize that a decade ago most parents didn’t have a video monitor with infrared night vision. It’s likely that one isn’t necessary if you live in a smaller space or have a baby that sleeps relatively well. For me, this monitor from Infant Optics was crucial in helping me learn my baby’s sleeping patterns, understand her various communications, and generally provide peace of mind.
Pro tip: When you register your device with Infant Optics, they will send an additional camera for free! I have one mounted in my daughter’s room and one in the diaper bag ready for travel.
5. Soft Rattle
This toy has outlasted all others! A soft, colorful rattle such as this one from The First Years is perfect for hanging from an activity gym (see #10) or a car seat. My baby loved this toy so much, it was the ultimate motivator that she reached for when she first learned to roll over. Any similar toy would do, just look for fun colors, crinkle texture, pleasant rattle noise, and a size that is easy to grasp.
6. Bath Thermometer
I wasn’t confident initially about the water temperature that would be comfortable for my baby. This thermometer made by Ozeri is so easy to use, just toss it in the bath and wait for the color indicator to light up. Now I got this water temperature thing figured out, but we still use the turtle as a bath toy.
7. Plastic Links
These may seem trivial, but it wasn’t obvious to me how useful a set of links is. I used them for attaching toys to car seats and activity gyms, pacifiers to strollers, and even as clips and teething toys. There are many options, including animal shapes and silicone materials, just be sure to pick a set that is BPA-free.
8. Nail Scissors for Newborn
Why don’t hey tell you that babies are born with long nails that continue to grow at a rapid pace? Trimming their nails isn’t an easy task, at first, and I know there are many ways to go about it (filing or even biting them off). I received these Pigeon scissors as a gift and have been so happy with them, I still use them weekly.
Pro tip: Try trimming nails while your baby is nursing so they aren’t moving around as much.
9. White Noise Machine
I know some parents choose not to use a white noise machine and really have no need for it, but for us, it is absolutely critical for good sleep. I chose the Marpac Hushh white noise machine because it is portable so it can be clipped on to the car seat, taken camping, or just left in baby’s room. Prior to purchasing, you can try out some apps on your phone to see if white noise really does help your baby sleep.
10. Activity Gym
Don’t worry, these aren’t a way to get your baby doing early aerobics. These play mats are a great space for your baby (and dog) to explore and engage. I had a pretty old one given to me but the key features to look for are: soft arms, a variety of colors and textures, soft mirror, and washable fabric. This one from Infantino is a great option! While we were flipping baby’s wardrobe around every few months, this play mat endured, until my daughter started to prefer rolling her way across the room.
BONUS: This isn’t a gift per se, but an overall recommendation for all new parents. Get used clothing, accessories, furniture, and pretty much anything else. This will save tons of money and provide many options for you and your baby. I certainly would not have purchased everything I had, but when the right moment came up, I was happy to have a variety of tools to try out.
The first few months fly by so fast and your needs change accordingly. Family, friends, and coworkers will gladly pass along items that they are no longer using. You can also join a local “Buy Nothing” group or other parenting community to request any specifics. And as your baby grows out of things – pass along the favor to other families!
- You certainly don’t need much to welcome your baby into this world.
- Having some very select and specific items that help make your lives easier and more comfortable is well worth it.
- Check out my top 10 favorites and let me know what you love!