One of my most requested posts is actually a post I would've loved to read myself when I was pregnant - what baby products we actually use and love now that Nell has arrived. As you all know, I prefer to be pretty minimalistic in all aspects of live but especially in our home. I am a very typical military kid and cannot stand clutter/things being out of order! The idea of baby apparatuses everywhere was really overwhelming to me. So just a preliminary caution that most of my recommendations are to only get what you will really need! Babies do require an increase in stuff but they do NOT "need" as many things as we have all grown to expect. Still, the list below is somehow super long ;)
Now that Nell is here, the most critical thing we've learned is that every. baby. is SO different. Many of the products that were recommended to us, etc., Nell just didn't care for - and some things people recommend against, she loved! C and I both agree that if we were to register again, we would ask for the items below and then as many Amazon gift cards as possible. We ended up Priming SO many things once she was here to find the things that worked best for her.
My other unsolicited advice is to borrow as much as possible! Nell is 3 months old and we've already put three major apparatuses downstairs in storage. We have a friend expecting now and I am so glad we can lend her a lot of our bigger things - they literally were used a handful of times. If we are lucky enough to have another, her baby will have outgrown them and we'll use them again.
Anyway, without further ado, here are my top picks! I tried hard to only list items that don't seem to be "baby preference" driven but I will note when certain things may just be Nell's faves.
Primo Tub - This thing is huge but we love it. I like that it keeps water in the tub unlike the others that have mesh/holes because Nell stays warm. It's easy to drain and will work for her until she's a toddler. It also has a nice hole in the back so you can hang it on a hook.
Copper Pearl Wash Cloths - These are much softer than regular wash clothes and I felt a lot better using them on her especially when she was a newborn.
Baby Bjorn - This is the one "apparatus" that seems to work for every baby. It gives them a place to chill while you make dinner when they are super little and now that she's older she loves sitting in there and playing with this toy.
Rock 'n Play - These seems to be a pretty universal sleeping solutions for Newborns. Nell slept in this for the first month or so but was SUCH a loud sleeper we quickly transitioned her into her own room where she sleeps in her crib. This is one of those things that is cheap, functional, and you won't feel bad that you only use it for a few weeks/months. DEFINITELY get this one that plugs in and rocks on it's own! Lifesaver.
Pack 'n Play w/ Changing Station + Bassinet - If you live in a two-story house this is a lifesaver. You learn quickly that you don't want to run up to the nursery every time she needs a diaper change (i.e. every 10 minutes haha). It's critical to get this version with the removable changing station, etc. Once your babe is bigger it can be used as an actual pack 'n play that they can sleep in, etc.!
Play Mat - It seemed like overnight Nell grew up, was "bored," and needed some sort of stimulation. There are millions of mats out there so I don't have a specific one to link to (we got ours at a local toy store) but I wish we had registered for one. The thing is hideous but Nell LOVES it!
There are a million other things that we use but I won't recommend them all here because I really think they depend on what your baby prefers.
UppaBaby Vista - no surprise here, this is a popular stroller, but for good reason. It's super easy to unfold, fits great in the car, we really like it. I will say that I find the Mesa carseat to be really heavy and Nell seems "squished." It's fine, but definitely do your research and don't be scared to get a different brand and use the converter clips.
Copper Pearl Car Seat Cover - Multi-use, but this was so key in the early days when we had to bring Nell to the pediatrician, etc. It also fits on the UppaBaby Bassinet and can be used as a grocery cart seat cover, nursing cover, etc. This is a great gift!
Muslin Car Seat Cover - The only thing about the Copper Pearl cover is it stretches over the carseat and you peep in from above. Now that it's getting warmer and we're taking Nell out to eat, etc, we needed one that would flip up and was more breathable. Also I am SO suprised how many complete strangers walk right up to us and ask to see/touch Nell!! The covers are kidn of a nice way to say "stay away please" especially if your babe was born during flu season like Nell :-D There's a million options but I love that this one zips wide open!
Boba Wrap - There are a million different wraps (Solly, etc) and they all kind of look the same to me! We have this one in navy and it is a lifesaver for me getting things done around the house. Nell HATED it as a newborn but I tried again around 2 mo. and she will nap etc. in it now! This is one of those things some babies will love and others won't, but it's relatively inexpensive and worth a shot.
Wildbird Sling - (This is in the photo above) I will use this more now that Nell is bigger (I mostly used the wrap up until now) but this is smaller, easier to carry with me, etc. It's also linen so it will be cooler for the summer months.
Keekaroo Changing Pad - I cannot even imagine having a changing pad with a cover now! Especially in those early days when you're changing outfits every 2 hours at night and they pee all over the place, it is so great to just wipe it off!
West Elm Graham Rocker - We did sooo much research on gliders/rockers and are so glad we landed with this one. We have it in the Eco-weave in Oyster and it cleans easily (Nell's a spitter). My insta-friend Jenna gave me some great advice to get a glider that has a back tall enough to rest your head. Absolutely brilliant since you are so exhausted in the middle of the night. This one also has arm rests that are the perfect height for my elbows when I am feeding Nell her bottle. This is the one item we splurged on for the nursery (everything else is Target/Homegoods/etc. or a gift)
Dock a Tot - This is highly controversial as it is NOT an approved sleep device in the US but our pediatrician said it was fine. We love this because it got her out of the rock-n-play and into her own crib within her first month (story for another day)... and wherever we bring this, she sleeps the same as she does at home. Yes we will have to transition her out of it eventually but she's already in her crib and I'm not worried about it.
Comotomo Bottles - Every baby is different BUT I am vouching for these because every single mom I know has had to try a bunch of different brands to find one their baby prefers, especially when transitioning from breast feeding. These are the only brand we've ever bought and Nell took to them immediately with no issues at all.
Elephant Wubbanub - This is Nell's best friend. It's also your best friend if your baby takes a paci because the weight of the stuffed animal keeps the pacifier in their mouth at LEAST 70% longer. I was dead set on a natural-rubber paci but Nell was having none of that and sleep was more important to me, HA.
Wee Supply Co Burp Cloths - This is the most random recommendation - I ended up HATING all of the burp cloths we'd been gifted because the spit up literally just rolled off (and on to me). Late one night I typed in "burp cloths" on Amazon and ordered these in a daze and they are amazing!!!! So absorbent, great size, packable. So glad I found them and I plan to gift them to friends!
Little Unicorn Bibs - Nell is an epic spitter so I've become a bit of a professional spit-up cleaner-upper haha. My friend Corie gifted these to me as they were her favorite for "saving outfits" when her daughter started teething/drooling and I now use them every single day! They wash well, absorb well, and have fit her since she was a newborn but will also grow with her.
Zutano Booties - Absolutely the only thing that will stay on their feet!! Now Nell also wears Freshly Picked mocs but not around the house. Zutano booties are actually a miracle.
Kimono-style onesies - There is nothing worse than pulling onesies over a brand new, soft, itty bitty baby head. I have no idea why those Gerber onesies are so popular!! I ordered these on Amazon and she's lived in them.
Hanna Andersson Pajamas - These are. the best. The fit is great, they seem to fit her FOREVER and they are so soft. They are also zippered. Snaps are my absolutely worst enemy at 2 am. She's still wearing the same ones she wore when she got home from the hospital! The magical growing pajamas apparently. They are pricey but we have two pairs and I do my best to always have a pair clean because nothing else compares!
Bows - We've tried a bunch but my favorite are Lali Kids for bows on bands (they seem to be the only ones that barely leave a little line on her soft head. We've ordered a bunch of Wunderkin and they are great too but I'll feel better about them when she's older as they definitely leave a line). I've only ordered them through Sarah at Mac 'n Mia but I can't seem to get my link to work - I will update this when it's working! We also like Baby Bling for the "turban bows" she wears... I love these because they leave NO line and really make an outfit!
Blankets and Swaddles
SwaddleMe Velcro Swaddles - Game changer. I personally like swaddling with blankets too but these are a MUST have if you plan to swaddle. My friend Julia told me about these and we are still using them now even as we transition her to just a sleep sack! We haven't used the Halo sleep sack long enough for me to know if I'd recommend it but I've heard great things.
Copper Pearl Swaddles - It actually blows my mind that everyone recommends muslin swaddles... they are the hardest material to actually tightly swaddle with IMO! I consider myself a solid swaddler and I get so annoyed with them! These swaddles are the BEST because they are super stretchy and sooo easy to burrito up your baby :) C felt like he could actually swaddle well with these too which was great. We loved these so much I Amazon Primed more from our hospital room. Once she's done being swaddled they will make great car seat blankets, etc.
Pehr Designs Swaddles - That said, I love the muslin ones as multi-use blankets for the carseat, in the bassinet on walks, etc. Pehr has such cute patterns!
Monica + Andy "Always" Blanket - We have one of these embroidered with Nell's name and we love having a double-layer, thick, larger blanket to use when we need something a little warmer. This is the striped blanket that I get the most questions on! They also gift wrap all orders beautifully, I highly recommend all of their stuff for great gifts.
I am sure I've forgotten things but these are the items that are top of mind. If you have any overall baby "must-haves," I'd love to hear them! Please leave them in the comments - I'm a very new first time mom and I appreciate the recommendations!