Being a parent is more than a full time job, it takes 24 hours 7 days a week. Your baby is not accustomed to the daily cycle and in general, she/he will spend most of her/his time between eating, pooping, sleeping, crying and playing during the first six months.
In the first 3 months, babies may need to be fed between 6 to 8 times in 24 hours. As you can imagine, you might spend a lot of time between cleaning, cooking, feeding, housework and taking care of the baby. However these cycles will reduce as your baby grows older.
Thanks to modern science and innovation, we now have many products that save us time and effort. However, choosing what’s right for the baby is a difficult task. My friends and I review baby products that have been used and recommended by parents and make life easier for you and your child.
Click on an image on the left sidebar to read about the top products in its category or scroll down to find the essential baby registry.
Essential items for you and your baby
When I first started to learn about what I needed in my home in order to prepare for my baby’s arrival, I was overwhelmed to say the least. The fact that I was working and did not have time to read all day, only made it harder.
Being a first time parent is tough. Choosing the right brands, finding the best product that met our budget and was safe for our baby was stressful. Most baby registries have hundreds of baby products listed and knowing which ones you truly need takes a lot of time and effort.
Thankfully, by the time I had my second baby I had years of insight into what we really needed and what we didn’t.
While there are hundreds of items that you could get your baby, below you will find the ‘must have’ items that you will need. This will be useful to parents who have a budget and would prefer to be minimalist.
Feeding essentials for your baby
Glass bottles are BPA free but they get extremely hot when sterilized or warmed and are prone to breaking if dropped. Plastic bottles are a good alternative, they are quite easy to clean. When buying plastic bottles make sure that you get it from a well known brand since they are usually of better quality, BPA free and safer for your baby. Babies go through 6 to 8 feeding cycles initially, having spare bottles make life easier. The Dr. Brown feeding set is BPA free, has both bottles in 4 ounce and 8 ounce sizes since your babies appetite will increase as it grows. You may also want to get more feeding bottles of the same size if you want to avoid having to clean the bottles often. Philips AVENT bottles are also a good alternative if you don’t want to go with Dr. Brown.
These are not really essential but they help reduce your trips to the kitchen during nighttime. There are several bottle warmers in the market. Before you buy a bottle warmer, make sure that it is compatible with the feeding bottle you plan to use. The ones I like are Tommee Tippee, this one is great when travelling and needs no electricity. The Philips AVENT Fast Bottle Warmer is also good, its only drawback being that it does not come with a timer to indicate that it’s done. On the positive side it does not have issues with mold that has been seen in the Dr. Brown warmers. The First Years Quick Serve Bottle Warmer is a cheaper alternative though it takes a little longer to heat up. The Do check to make sure that the bottle you use is compatible with the warmer before you purchase it.
You don’t really need a bottle sterilizer if your dishwasher comes with it. Many parents just clean the bottles, nipples etc with boiling water and soap, which is sufficient. However, if you prefer to use a separate bottle sterilizer, you have 2 options in general – microwave sterilizers and electric sterilizers. Remember – you cannot put metal in microwave and space might a constraint in most. However they are quick and sterilize in 90 to 120 seconds. The Philips AVENT Microwave Steam Sterilizer has the highest ratings in its category and is an excellent choice.
These take about 6 minutes to heat up but on the positive side, they work with metal utensils and have more space. Whatever you choose, ensure that the items you plan to sterilize can fit into the sterilizer. The Tommee Tippee Electric Steam Sterilizer is one of the best electric sterilizers and is rated highly by parents.
This is a must have item for any parent. Using a brush to clean the feeding bottle ensures that you are able to reach every groove in the feeding bottle and give it a good scrubbing. This is important to prevent any fungus or mold from developing in the bottle. Before you buy a brush ensure that it reaches all the way to the bottom of the bottle that you will be using (the brush should be taller than the bottle) and can clean the nipple on the bottle as well.
You will not always have the time or patience to hand wash all your baby utensils, sippy cups etc. At the same time it might not be safe to put small items into your dishwasher since they can slip through the racks. The dishwasher basket is used to hold small items from nipples and spoons to larger ones like bottles and cups.
Babies drool, spit and throw up more often than not. Bibs protect the clothes they are wearing from food stains and save you that extra bit of time that you would spend in changing and cleaning them. When buying a bib I prefer the practicality over fashion and tend to go with the ones that cover the largest area.
Did I mention that babies drool, spit and burp? Well, they sometime tend to do it when you are holding them. Burp cloths are great for saving your clothes when you are carrying your baby around on your shoulder or feeding them on your lap. You can also use them in the crib below your baby’s head to keep the area free of drool.
These are handy once your baby starts sitting upright and is ready for solid foods. Look for a high chair that has buckles to strap your baby in. This is necessary because your baby may try to get up and fall down if he/she is not strapped in. I would also recommend that the high chair have a tray, this will make it easier to serve the food. Check out our review of the 7 best high chair to find the one that right for you.
During the first few weeks your baby will need to be fed 6 to 8 times in 24 hours and that includes night times as well. Having a breast pump allows you to keep the milk ready for your baby earlier. That way your husband, your in-laws or anyone else can help you with the feeding. This will give you some rest, especially when the baby has to fed during the night, which can be a boon for the next day. I prefer the Madela electric pump that comes with a backpack since it works automatically, my arms don’t get tired. However, if you are on a budget or need to travel, get the Lansinoh Manual Breast Pump, it comes at a significantly lower price and gets the job done. If your arms are getting tired from holding the pumps, you might also want to look at a pumping bra.
Contrary to its name, these are not just meant for moms who breastfeed, they are also useful to those use formula. Using the pillow elevates your baby to the right position and prevents you from having to bend. This gives your baby and you a comfortable feeding experience and you will not have to endure pain in your neck, arms and back. I like the My Brest Friend Original Pillow, if you have twins the Twin Z Pillow is an excellent choice.
There have been times when I have been outside and I’ve gotten hungry. It happens with your baby too. I used to carry a nursing cover with me in case I needed to feed my son and couldn’t get the privacy. The Simplicity Breastfeeding Nursing Poncho Cover Up and Bebe Au Lait Nursing Cover are great choices, they are functional and budget friendly.
Sleeping essentials for your baby
When buying products for your nursery there are several things you need to consider – the space available in the room, will the product be useful once your baby grows, your budget and whether the product is portable in case you need to travel with your baby.
A crib is one of the best investments from a long term perspective. They provide a comfortable place for your baby to sleep and if you go for convertible cribs, they can be converted into full sized beds when your baby grows. Cribs are generally more expensive but they make up for it since they last you for years. Be aware that a crib will take up significant space in the room. Make sure that you buy a firm mattress with your crib (if it doesn’t ship with one). Make sure you check out the best baby cribs before you make a purchase.
Bassinets are great for parents who would like to have their baby close to them while it sleeps. They occupy significantly less space compared to a crib and they are usually more portable than a crib or a cradle. In general bassinets are smaller than cradles but this may vary with individual products. Since they are portable, you can move them around the house to have your baby near you while you work or sleep in the same room. Check out our review of the top 8 bassinets to find the right one for your baby. Do remember that due to their smaller size, your baby will out grown a bassinet in 3 to 5 months depending on your baby’s height and weight.
Cradles are usually made of wood and are typically larger than a bassinet but smaller than a crib. They usually have a mechanism that allows them to be rocked from side to side which comforts the baby and helps the baby fall asleep. Cradles also come with locking mechanism to stop the rocking motion, when not required. Most parents buy either a cradle or a bassinet depending on their preference and generally do not need both. Take a look at the best cradles available before you decide to buy one. Whether you go for a bassinet or a cradle, ensure that the mattress you buy fits in snugly.
Play yards traditionally started off as playpens, a safe place for your baby to play in but have transformed into products that do more. Most play yards these days are a combination of a bassinet and a playpen that allows your baby to sleep or play in it. We have reviewed the best play yards, some of them are also portable which is great for parents who travel.
Changing your babies diapers
Not all parents have a changing table and not everyone needs it. A changing table occupies space and which may be a constraint. Changing tables are more expensive than changing pads but due to their height you avoid bending down to change your baby and this prevents back strain. I prefer a drawer dresser changing table, they are rated highly by other parents as well, as you can see from the list of top 8 changing tables. These have storage space below them which allows you to keep your baby products like diapers, toys, towels, blankets etc within reach. The drawer dressers are better since your child may start pulling items from the open cabinets once she/he grows. Some parents buy both changing tables and changing pads since it just makes life easier.
The best thing about changing pads is that you can take them with you anywhere since they are small and portable and can be used anywhere at home as well. You can bring them to the baby if you have a situation where you do not want to move the baby. They are quite cheap compared to changing tables are a great option for those who are constrained by space. The PooPoose Wiggle Free Diaper Changing Pad and LA Baby Countour Changing Pad are highly rated.
These are a must have for any parent (unless you plan to use cloth diapers). It’s a good idea to get a pack of 200 diapers since most newborns need between 8 to 10 diapers a day which is approximately 70 diapers in a week. You will need lesser amount as the months go by. On an average babies use about 6000 diapers before they are potty trained. Keep in mind that the size of the diaper will increase as your baby grows. Usually this means that your baby’s diaper size will increase after a month but this can vary based on your child’s growth rate. I have tried a host of diapers with my kids but Pampers and Huggies are reliable brands.
Cloth diapers are a great option if you are on a budget or are concerned about environment and the growing size of landfills. The overall cost of cloth diapering has been shown to be about half that of disposable diapers. I tried my hand at cloth diapering but unfortunately I was not strong enough and went back to the disposable ones. Alva Baby and LBB diapers are good brands for cloth diapers, make sure you get a set of diapers instead of the singles that are also available.
If you are on a budget, you can skip this one and use a normal trash can with a lid and seal the diaper in a zip lock cover. Diaper Pails are good for getting rid of the dirty diapers and keeping the stink from spreading through the room. Diaper Genie Essentials Diaper Disposal Pail and Safety 1st Easy Saver Diaper Pail are great budget friendly diaper pails, if you are looking for something more advanced you can go for the Ubbi Diaper Pail though I think the basic pails will do the same job.
Just like diapers, you have a choice of cloth wipes and disposable wipes. You need wipes to clean your baby’s bottom and prevent skin allergies or infections. Most babies do not like cold wipes initially but they get used to it in a couple of weeks. You can get by just fine without wipe warmers by heating the wet wipe between your palms or using warm water. Wipe warmers are not a must have and are generally considered extravagant but they do give your baby a warm and comfortable wiping experience. Parents who have used wipe warmers rave about how their babies did not cry when using a warm wipe. The Prince Lionheart Warmies is a good choice if you plan on buying a wipe warmer.
Bathing essentials for your baby
Baby bath tubs are great for being able to give your baby a bath in a safe and comfortable environment. When you infant is small, the regular bath tub is too big for them and unsafe. Baby bath tubs come with a lot of bells and whistles these days. If you are on a budget, the First Years Infant To Toddler Tub and Primo EuroBath are great choices. The Primo EuroBath tub does not fit into a sink, while the First Years Infant To Toddler Tub can fit into sinks. Some tubs like the Primo EuroBath can be used till your baby is 2 years of age. Being able to use the sink for bathing saves you from getting back aches from bending over in your bath tub, however you will not be able to bathe your baby under a sink for long. Those with a higher budget can try the 4Moms Infant Tub or the aptly named Summer Infant Lil’ Luxuries Whirlpool Bubbling Spa and Shower Tub. Irrespective of the tub you buy, it’s important to be careful when bathing your baby since they are slippery and the chances of your baby hurting himself/herself is high.
Your baby’s skin is soft and sensitive unlike a grown adult. It is important to ensure that the soap and shampoo you use is not harsh on them. I have tried both Aveeno and Burt’s Bees baby wash and shampoo and both are quite good. Both can be used for washing your baby’s body and hair.
Wash Cloth and Towels
Wash cloths are not absolute must have’s, however they are good to have around. Wash cloths dry quickly and are good not just for bath time but anytime the baby is wet and needs to be cleaned. Some parents also use it as an alternative to cloth baby wipes. The Clevamama Splash and Wrap Baby Bath Towel is like a cross between a towel and an apron and I loved using it with my babies. Its soft absorbent material is thick, fluffy and its apron feature saves you from being drenched during bath time.
For the budget conscious, both of these items can be replaced with a folded towel. These are great if you are bathing your baby in a bath tub, your knees and elbows will thank you for it. The Skip Hop Moby Bathtub Elbow Rest works as a cushion for your elbows and the OXO Tot Foldable Tub Kneeling Mat works as one for your knees.
Essential baby gear when going outdoors
This is a must have and is needed by law if you are planning to take your baby by car from the hospital to your home or if you are travelling with your baby in a car. You will need an infant car seat for the first year of your baby. Infant car seats are rear facing, lighter than the other types of car seats. They snap easily into the car seat base and easily detach from it. They usually come with a handle, are easy to carry around and fit into a stroller as well. Be sure to go though our list of top rated infant car seats before you decide. Experts suggest that you use the rear facing infant car seats for as long as possible up to the maximum height or weight limit specified by the manufacturer. They are the best way to keep your infant safe. You can move to forward facing car seats when your baby outgrows rear facing infant seat. The Chicco Keyfit 30 and Peg Perego convertible premium among the best in this category.
The second type of car seats is convertible car seat. These can serve as both – a rear facing infant seat and also as a forward facing car seat for children. However these tend to be heavier, difficult to detach and hence they are not portable and generally cannot be used as an infant carrier. Experts suggest that while newborns can fit into a convertible car seat, babies under 20 pounds are better off in smaller infant car seats and should use them until they are 6 to 7 months old. Convertible car seats typically come with a 5 point harness, one for each shoulder and thigh and one between your baby’s legs. This distributes the weight of any impact evenly. Most also come with LATCH system which attaches your seat to the car directly which is safer compared to securing it with a seat belt. Some seats also function as a booster seat. Our review of the convertible car seat ranks the best ones available currently. The Peg Perego Convertible Premium is the best in its category.
Booster car seats are the third type of car seats and are forward facing. These use your car’s seat belt in order to secure your toddler. Since normal seat belts provide less protection compared to the 5 point harness, these should be used only after your child outgrows the convertible or forward facing car seat. Some booster seats also come with a 5 point harness. Booster car seats are usually designed for children from 30 pounds onwards from 3 years of age, however this can vary depending on the size of your child and the specific car seats features. Our review of the best booster car seat will help you in choosing the right one for your child. My personal favorite is the Britax Pinnacle 90.
The benefit of going with a Travel System stroller is that they are two products in one. A Travel System essentially includes a full sized stroller along with a compatible car seat. This ensures that you do not face the hassle of the car seat not fitting the stroller. The Britax B-Agile 3 and B-Safe 35 is one of the best travel systems available. If you only looking for a stroller, you cannot go wrong with the BOB Revolution SE Single stroller which is also great for joggers. For those with twins or two babies, you can check out the Bob Revolution SE Duallie Stroller. Check out of review of travel systems / stroller and double strollers to find the best ones in your budget.
Baby carriers are great for walking around with your baby. They were handy when my son started to get restless from lying around in the stroller while shopping for essentials. Babies on carrier/sling are documented to cry 50% less than non-carried babies and it beats trying to navigate your way in every nook and cranny when using a stroller. Your baby loves to be with you while you go about your chores and a carrier also meets their biological need for contact and motion. We reviewed the best baby carriers and my favorite was the Osprey Packs Poco which makes hikes just as enjoyable as a walk downtown. If you prefer a wrap, the Boba Baby Wrap is a great option with front hold. It allows you to walk around hands free and is easy to use once your follow the instructions.