Car seat (duh) and a stroller: Since we were lucky enough to be given a used stroller by some good friends we bought the same car seat they used (since they already had the converter bracket for that car seat). Also this car seat was the one all our friends used as well as the one I saw the most often at the lactation consultants so it must be good, right?
A Bassinet or a Pack n Play with bassinet: We purchased this Pack n’ Play with the sleeper addition, which we used for her first month. There are warnings not to let your baby sleep overnight in the sleeper, but we liked that the sleeper had an option to very slightly incline her to reduce reflux. But we took that risk since we had her swaddled and she couldn’t flip or turn her head yet and she was sleeping right next to me (and actually not sleeping for very long at a time at that). For a completely safe option use the bassinet set-up of the Pack n Play or the Snoo. And a note about the Snoo: according to my friend who used it with her second kid (but not the first), it’s absolutely worth it because you don’t have to stay up to rock your kid back to sleep. The Snoo does it for you! You can rent one like she did here.
Diaper changing pad with clip in straps: No need to buy a whole diaper changing table, but a diaper changing pad like this one is helpful. We secured it to an old Ikea expedit shelf we’ve had for almost 10 years and voila, a diaper changing station. Our pack n play also came with a diaper changing station that my mom now uses when babysitting. That is also a handy option but can only last until the baby is 15 pounds or starts rolling over. Oh and no need to get a fancy diaper cover, we just cover it with puppy pee pads since she takes a big dump (aka poop-splosions) once in awhile and they’ll get on the changing pad. This way it’s one less thing to wash.
Water Wipes: Our baby has pretty sensitive skin (like most babies) and suffered from baby acne and still stuffers from various rashes every once in awhile. But she’s had zero diaper rash and I think it’s due to these wipes. We were turned on to these wipes at the hospital and they’re the best for newborn butts.
A baby carrier/wrap: I use the k'tan wrap but my friends love the solly. My husband uses an ergobaby360 (with the cool air mesh which is key for those hot months) since it also distributes the weight to the waist instead of just the shoulders/back.
Dr. Brown baby bottles: I had planned to breastfeed but turns out I have very low supply so I needed to supplement with formula. Having a couple of the newborn size bottles on hand with some formula (ready-to-feed instead of powder is better for newborns) took the pressure off when my milk didn't come in. Also by registering at BuyBuyBaby and/or Amazon (I think it might be BuyBuyBaby but I'm not 100% sure), one of them sends your address to the formula companies and they send you samples as well as coupons of $5-$15 off (which saved me a lot of money).
A breast pump to increase supply: I didn't know I was going to get a free rental pump from Kaiser (the Medela Symphony, which I looove) so I went and bought the one my friends all recommended (the spectra s1—the s1 (the blue one) has a portable battery while the s2 (the pink one) needs to be plugged into the wall). Your health insurance should also provide you with a free breast pump but usually the quality of that one is not great. I also bought the Willow Pump because I was wanted something even more portable and discreet. There are definitely pros and cons with all of them which I’ll detail in a breast pump review I’m working on.
A swaddle: It's hard to tell which one your baby will like. We tried several (swaddleme, sleepea, and the halo sleepsack swaddle) and she only liked the halo sleepsack swaddle. But a swaddle really helps her sleep, since without it she'll wake herself up by hitting herself with her arms. Also we purchased the muslin sleepsacks since these swaddles keep the baby pretty toasty. If you live in a warm climate, make sure the swaddle is lightweight.
Pacifier: We bought several different kinds along with this accessory to keep the pacifier weighted down (and thus less likely to pop out of her mouth). The one that worked best was this one, though when at home I let her suck on a clean pinky (that worked best of all). Also don’t get this pacifier because water and other liquids can get trapped inside the nipple and it looks really unsanitary. Oh and nipple confusion is just a myth according to Cribsheets by Emily Oster (seriously such a good book with advice based on evaluating the quality of the research out there. This book itself should be on this essentials list). We gave her the bottle and pacifier early on and our baby doesn’t have nipple confusion (she can both latch well and take the bottle well).
Some kind of sound machine: We bought this one for on the go (I was influenced by the instagram takingcarababies—she’s all about teaching kids how to sleep better) but have found the best solution to be “rain sounds” on the Amazon echo. Some kind of noise machine will usually help the baby sleep better.
Baby nail file: because their fingernails come out long and grow fast, and they’ll scratch themselves and you. Bring this one to the hospital with you if you want to prevent scratches (though even if they scratch themselves, their skin heals so fast!). This nail file is super gentle and doesn’t hurt the baby at all.
A receiving blanket/swaddle: I would just get one set and make sure it’s big enough for when your baby is larger than a newborn (we bought the newborn size and she grew out of that quick). These kinds of blankets are good for swaddling (if you rather not splurge on a easy to use swaddle like the ones above) and as a burp cloth in a pinch. Also for every doctor’s visit since they want the baby undressed (and sometime you don’t know how long you have to wait with a naked baby) so these make for a good cover-up. And you can use these to cover the car seat (instead of buying a dedicated carseat cover). You could probably also use these for a breastfeeding cover since they’re so large (just fold them in half and drape).
The NoseFrida: Our baby got a stuffy nose pretty early on so we’re happy we had this on hand. A safe and sterile way to clear your baby’s nasal passages.
A digital rectal/oral thermometer: Also good to have on hand so you can check if your baby’s sick.
The Boppy: This breastfeeding pillow really worked for me though it doesn’t work for everyone. It’s great for those long feeds when your arm gets tired from holding your baby up. I also used it early on like a dock-a-tot (a note on this below) where I would put her down right after a feed (it’s great because this also keeps her upright to help with any reflux issues). But I would make sure to always watch her when I would sit her up in the boppy this way (because I wanted to make sure her head didn’t tilt forward and close off her airway). I got mine at Burlington for $18 so that also made it very worth it!
An expensive glider/rocking chair: We got this one since several friends recommended getting a high quality one that could later be used as a “story time chair.” But the baby’s room is small to begin with and this chair takes up a lot of space. I use it to rock her to sleep but she just cries everytime my husband tries to use it. I rather have invested in renting the Snoo to get her to sleep and just purchased or repurposed another chair to feed her in. Also an exercise ball like this one is great to bounce on while carrying your child to “rock” them to sleep.
Lactation cookies, teas, supplements: I tried fenugreek, lactation cookies, and this lactation tea along with the supplements from Legendairy. Nothing was the silver bullet that miraculously led to higher milk production. It just took time and consistent pumping (and power pumping). I’m still not where I need to be with milk production but I’m not sweating it anymore. Though I will say I think the sunflower lecithin from Legendairy works well. It’s meant to prevent milk duct clogs and I haven’t had one yet! I originally purchased it to help increase the fattier hindmilk release since I was making more of the foremilk, which I think was making the baby fussier. And the nice side effect is that I haven’t had to deal with any clogs.
Baby bottle sterilizer: We bought this one and used it only once since it was so complicated. Just boil some water and sterilize it that way. And then put it in the dishwasher every time after that.
Infant Car Cover Seat: I never needed one. And if I really wanted to cover her carseat, I would just use a receiving blanket. Then again we don’t take her out in the carseat all that often (we use the bassinet version of the stroller more).
Dock-a-tot: I originally purchase one thinking I would need it but when I didn’t use it for the first month I returned it (and saved myself $175). Babies shouldn’t sleep in the dock-a-tot unattended and if you really do want a place to put your baby down on the bed while you’re watching, one of these cheaper Amazon ones should do the trick. If anything it’s a nice to have but not a need to have.
A fancy video baby monitor: We bought the Nest camera for this purpose but I have yet to use it in any essential manner. I have looked at it time to time but only for fun. Maybe this will become more essential as she gets older but for me it’s been pretty useless. We also have a cheap sound baby monitor that we use to hear her cries from the other room. This is way more useful but in the beginning you don’t need it if she’s sleeping right next to you or if you have a small house.
And also just a note on getting discounts on things you’ll buy for your baby: if you register at Amazon, everything on that registry that remains unpurchased up to 6 months after your baby's due date is 15% off and the same goes for BuyBuyBaby, except they have 20% off all remaining items (but their prices are generally higher than Amazon's to begin with). So I registered for high ticket items like a crib, crib mattress, and high chair even though I wouldn’t need those right away. Actually I just threw stuff on there even after the baby was born since the 15% off can add up. But you can only purchase things off of your amazon list in 2 (big) orders to get 15% off ( BuyBuyBaby is a one time 20% off).
So other mama’s out there, what were some of your fourth trimester essentials?
P.S. Here’s one of my favorite mommy blogger’s list if you want another opinion on what’s “essential” :)