The results were confusing, to say the least, because all of the e-mails I received contradicted each other. Everyone had different opinions, different favorite brands, and different ideas about what was necessary for a baby.
So, I write this post with that experience in mind, and this disclaimer: when you have your first baby, you have to find what works for you. It's a mystery that requires trial and error. Take all of the lists and the advice (mine included) with a grain of salt, and know that just because a baby item works for one family doesn't mean it will work for yours. Baby products are just like any other parenting decision or sleep training method: an exercise in personal choice.
Having said that, I realize that most first time moms are clueless about baby gear (I sure was!), and I get a lot of e-mails from blog readers asking what to register for. In an effort to help and provide a tiny bit of guidance, here are my top favorite baby items from the first year, plus some extra stuff we love:
1. Video Monitor: I honestly don't know how we would have survived the first year without a video monitor. Being able to check on Everett throughout the day/night when he's sleeping in his crib gave us total peace of mind (and you cannot put a price tag on peace of mind).
2. Puj Tub: I'm not sure who loved this more, us or Everett. This little tub folds into the tiniest of sinks and makes a perfect mini bath for newborns (we used it from birth-3 months). The puj tub has a drain so you can keep the water running over the baby the whole time you're using it, which Everett personally loved. He would stare at the water and put his hands under the faucet, and it had a real calming effect on him. I loved this tub because it allowed us to give Everett baths in his bathroom sink, which otherwise would have been impossible due to its small size.
3. The Origami Stroller: Everett and I walk about 1.5 miles every day around our neighborhood with this bad boy. It opens and closes by itself with the touch of a button, which makes loading and unloading from the car quick and efficient when we go to the park or run errands. It charges my iPhone while I walk (my favorite feature!) and has an LCD screen that tracks temperature, mileage, and speed. Plus, there is a ton of storage and two cup holders, which is great for when Brett and I take Everett for walks together (or, for when I need a place to store both a bottle of water and a go girl energy drink). Anytime I'm out in public with the origami, I get stopped and asked about it. I imagine this is what it feels like to drive a super nice car, with all the staring and drooling it elicits. In its simplest form, this is the stroller that every other stroller wishes it could be. If you're somehow still not convinced, watch the video!
4. Swaddleme: Everett was a tiny escape artist from day one, and would never stay wrapped in a swaddle blanket for longer than an hour. He would wiggle his arms out of the top and then hit himself in the face and start crying. Fail. And then we heard about the Swaddleme sleepers, immediately ordered three, and our sleep improved THAT night. No joke. They are lifesavers, and at $9 a pop, you can surely afford to pick up a few! I highly, highly recommend, especially if your baby is an escape artist like Everett.
5. Medela Pump in Style Breast Pump: Even if you plan to be a stay at home mom and think you will nurse your baby around the clock and not have much need for a pump, let me assure you---at some point you will need one. If you're breastfeeding, there can be lots of reasons to pump: 1) you need/want to leave your baby for a few hours, 2) you need/want to increase your milk supply, 3) your baby gets sick and congested and can't nurse because their nose is too stuffed, etc. I have used mine for all three of those reasons, and the second two were unexpected. There are a lot of different kinds of pumps out there, and while the Medela is a little on the pricier side, I would argue that when purchasing a device whose main purpose is to milk you like a cow, it's worth splurging for the best. (I feel the same way about plastic vs. cardboard tampons, tmi?)
6. Petunia Picklebottom Diaper Bag: I remember when I first got pregnant I was like, "I am totally going to be one of those moms who carries a diaper bag that doesn't look like a diaper bag." I found a bunch on Etsy (made in Paris) that looked like stylish tote bags. And then I talked to my mom friends and realized that what I really needed was something practical. I love this bag because it can be worn as a backpack, which is how I wear it 90% of the time. I haven't gotten a mom haircut or stooped to mom jeans, so I think I'll survive carrying a legit diaper bag....for now. But for the record: I still love all of these.
7. Marpac Sound Machine: Like any first-time mom, I added the Sleep Sheep to my registry because (duh) it was on every "what to register for" list I came across on the internet. And let's be real: it's super cute and in theory, a great idea. It's also battery operated and shuts off after 45 minutes, which is great if a) you want your baby to wake up after 45 minutes, or b) you're paranoid that your baby will become addicted to white noise. I happened to be neither of those things, and three weeks into using the sleep sheep, decided it was totally useless. For a while we were using our phones and iPad to run white noise during naps and nighttime, until my mom bought us this sound machine, which I like to refer to as The Miracle Worker. Unlike some of the other white noise machines, this one doesn't play a variety of annoying sounds like whale calls and creepy heartbeats, it only plays straight up white noise, like a cross between a vacuum cleaner and a loud fan. You turn it on, and voila! Feel free to have a party at your house during naptime, your baby will never hear it. (Also worth mentioning: after Everett was born, I myself became addicted to white noise and now sleep with a white noise app on my phone, plus a mini fan on my nightstand. Weird.)
8. Hooter Hiders Nursing Cover: If you plan to breastfeed, and also plan to leave the house, you will have to learn how to breastfeed everywhere. I'm talking restaurants, churches, bathrooms, airplanes, weddings, malls, parks, beaches, cars, etc. Sometimes you can whip the girls out without anyone noticing, and other times you can't. For those times you can't, I recommend getting a hooter hider (I got the "nest" color and received lots of compliments on it!).
9. Tea Collection onesies: We received lots and lots of baby clothes before Everett was born, but the Tea onesies and rompers were our favorites. They held up through multiple washes the best, and lasted the longest. Plus, I just really love the Tea Story and what they stand for, so I'm happy to purchase their products.
10. The Bumbo: We used the bumbo a TON. As soon as Everett could hold his head up (and not do much else), into the bumbo he went. He loved it. I would let him sit in there while I cooked in the kitchen, got ready in the bathroom, etc. He was super content just sitting there, looking around and observing the world. (FYI: There was a safety recall on these a while back and now they come with safety belts. I never ordered the safety belt, but also never used the bumbo out of sight. As soon as Everett figured out how to slowly wiggle his way out of it, we stopped using it, around 7 months.)
11. The Ergo: When Ev was smaller, I used the Ergo more often than I used a stroller. It was quick and easy to put on, and allowed us to run errands faster. Plus, you can walk through security at the airport with your baby in the Ergo, which is (in my opinion) the best way to travel. I also had the Moby wrap, which I used a ton, but my biggest complaint about that was a) it was hard to put on by myself quickly, and b) the fabric was always dragging on the ground during transition. I loved wearing Everett in a wrap, but will probably look for a different one for baby #2.
Favorite Baby Registry Website
BabyList (love love LOVED using this, you can add items from any online store!)
Things I loved as a new mom:
Belly binder (99% sure this helped my tummy shrink back to normal, I wore it for 6-8 weeks)
My favorite nursing bra (this doesn't have the best reviews, but I loved it!)
New mom jewelry (I have the gold initial ring with an "E" and wear it every day)
Boppy (still use this for breastfeeding and bottle feeding)
Things I wish I had known about sooner:
The mamaRoo baby swing (I will definitely be getting one of these for baby #2!)
Iviebaby custom crib bedding (so, so cute!)
Reusable baby food pouches (genius)
Sakura Bloom baby slings (based on what I've read/heard, I would recommend this over the moby wrap)
Favorite Baby Brands/Shops:
Melissa & Doug (toys)
Baby Earth (organic essentials)
Children Inspire Design (art)
Buy Buy Baby (we bought our crib and rocker here....if you're in Sacramento, the Elk Grove store has amazing customer service, ask for Joel!)
Favorite "I'm-a-new-parent-and-clueless" books:
The Happiest Baby on the Block (must-read!)
Everett's Favorite Things at One Year:
Stacking Cups (he is obsessed with these)
Elmo's World (wrong, he is obsessed with this)
As I mentioned above, this list is simply meant to share our personal experience. Trial and error is the best way to figure out what works and doesn't work for your baby and your family.
Mommas, what are your top three favorite baby items? I'm always curious to see what other people love!