Do they need all that stuff? No, probably not all of it, but I will gladly purchase something that will help soothe, comfort, and protect my little one. If it takes a bit of stress away from mom and dad, too, then even better.
Over the years, I've written about plenty of baby products, and I've even written rather comprehensive lists of the gear a family needs to care for an infant in the first year. But today, I'm focusing on a few days that can be the most magical but also the most harrowing time in a family's life: the transition from hospital to the home. Whether you are having a first child or a fifth, the process of leaving the hospital can be a bit scary. Once you get home, you're on your own with that little one!
Here, we'll cover a wide range of products, some of which you'll start using in the first few days after your child's birth and will continue to use for months or even years — some of which you will use for only a few days after birth. I'm also leaving off some items that are obvious enough that you'll already have them on hand (like onesies and pajamas) or that the hospital will provide (like a receiving blanket). So, what do you need when you bring a baby home from the hospital? Mostly, you need sleep. But the items on this list are important, too.
To get your newborn home from the hospital, you'll probably need a car seat, stroller, or carrier. Depending on where you live and how you commute, you might even need all three. Make life easy on yourself and choose an infant car seat and stroller that work in tandem.
When it comes to a child's car seat, safety is always the primary concern. Our son's car seat was in the very top echelon of safety ratings, and that's why we chose it. It also turned out to be surprisingly heavy, which was not ideal for my wife in the postpartum recovery phase or for anyone as the kid grew. As the birth of our daughter draws near, we've selected a new car seat, one that is in the top tier in terms of safety ratings but also blissfully lightweight.
The Nuna Pipa Lite LX Infant Car Seat weighs less than 5-and-a-half pounds yet is rated to hold babies from 4 to 32 pounds. It has head-and-neck-support padding, an easy-to-use five-point harness, and washable, flame-retardant fabric. Also, the base installs in a car in about five seconds using the LATCH system, making it the least-frustrating car-seat-installation process I've yet to encounter. The seat is reinforced with aircraft-grade aluminum and shock-absorbing foam, so in the unfortunate event of an accident, I'm confident our kid will be safe — and that's what really counts here.
But hey, convenience is nice, too, right? And the fact that the PIPA Lite LX seat can pop off its base and click right into our Nuna DEMI Grow Stroller is certainly convenient. This is one of the lightest-weight full-size strollers I have used (and I have owned three full-size strollers, not to mention two umbrella strollers, and used my fair share more), and it handles deftly on varied terrain even when laden with a child, groceries, toys, and the other accouterments of life.
While the stroller is large enough for two kids to use simultaneously in an over-under arrangement, it also folds down small enough to fit in the trunk of just about any car. Used in tandem with the car seat or with its infant seat, the DEMI Grow can safely accommodate infants. But its frame can also support a kid weighing as much as 50 pounds, so this stroller genuinely will "grow" with your family. Yes, it's pricey, but it will last for many years longer than you'll need it, so plan ahead to hand it down.
We'll bring our daughter home in the PIPA Lite XL car seat and will then switch largely to walking for many outings. On some of those walks, she will be tucked into a baby carrier. We have two of these, but the carrier I'll primarily use is the Infantino Go Forward Evolved Ergonomic Carrier. You really don't need two baby carriers, but say you already have one and get another as a gift, I recommend you keep both. Then you can have one adjusted to each parent's body and at the ready. And here's an insider tip: In the early newborn days, you won't use the carrier for days out, you'll use it to strap a fussy baby to your chest so you can shuffle around the house at 3 a.m. desperately trying to soothe them to sleep.
I'm a fan of the Infantino Go Forward carrier because it's designed to hold your infant in much the same position as you would with your arms. Whether facing in against your chest or turned out to see the world, the carrier gently but securely holds a child in positions that are comfortable enough for long periods of time and naps. It's also rated to hold a child weighing up to 40 pounds, which is great, even though most 4-year-olds probably won't want to go in a carrier anymore.
It's up to you to choose which onesies, pj's, and tees your baby wears for cuteness and style, but when it comes to keeping a child warm, you should choose based on performance, not aesthetics. Don't worry, though, I found you a cute cap and blanket.
As a general rule of thumb, a baby needs one more layer than an adult for proper warmth. So if you're wearing a T-shirt and jeans, put your baby in a onesie, a sweater, pants, and socks. If you add a sweatshirt, wrap your baby in a blanket. And hats ... newborns should always be wearing soft, cozy hats unless the ambient temperature is warm enough that you yourself would be comfortable sitting around in the nude. The L'ovedbaby Organic Infant Caps are 100% cotton, super soft, and come in a variety of colors and patterns, all of which are subtle enough to blend in with the rest of a baby's outfit. While hats with ears, bows, or animal faces are cute, go with a hat you can trust in terms of materials and design.
Unless you live in the tropics, when not in your arms, your newborn should be wrapped in a nice warm blanket most of the time. But don't use any old blanket you have in the house, as a loose blanket can quickly become a safety hazard around a baby who can't even get a hand in their mouth, let alone clear a swatch of fabric from off of his face. The BundleBee Baby Wrap Blanket creates the perfect snug cocoon shape for keeping a baby warm while also keeping their face clear. It's not a true swaddle, which wraps tightly enough to keep a baby's arms secure to their body, but is intended only to add warmth. You can wrap this blanket around a swaddled child during sleep time, or the baby can be wrapped up in this cotton-lined, polyester-stuffed blanket while in a stroller's bassinet, a crib, or lying on your lap.
You can start your baby sleeping in a full-size crib any time you want, but with a bassinet or pack and play, it's easy to keep a newborn close to your own bed, minimizing the interference of frequent feeding and changing sessions.
Bassinets definitely fall into the category of products you will only use for a few months at most, but the ease of grabbing a crying baby without getting out of your own bed and the added hours of rest everyone in the family gets when the baby is sleeping well are worth the investment. At $280, the Halo Bassinet Swivel Sleeper is definitely an investment, but it's also one of the best bassinets out there. It will keep your baby safe thanks to its sturdy design and its mesh walls, which prevent suffocation danger. It also features optional vibrations and gentle music or soothing sounds. As its height can be adjusted to rest level with your bed and the wall of the bassinet can be lowered for easy retrieval of your child, the Halo makes it easy to pick up a baby in need of nursing, changing, or snuggles.
A pack and play isn't as convenient as a bassinet, but you can use one for a number of years instead of months, and they are designed to pack away for easy travel and storage. The Joovy Room Playard and Nursery Center comes with a bassinet insert that's safe to use until your child weighs 15 pounds, while the main Playard can be used by kids well into their toddler years, whether for napping or play. This pack and play also comes with a changing table, storage areas on both sides, and a travel bag. If you travel frequently, a pack and play is a must for creating a safe spot for your kid. And in those first few days after you leave the hospital, a pack and play bassinet is a great way to establish a safe, snuggly spot right at home.
Newborns aren't great about keeping themselves clean, so you'll have to be. Here are a few fine products that will help you out.
It's important not to submerge a newborn's body in water until well after their umbilical cord has detached and the site has healed. Baby's first baths are given with warm, wet washcloths, but you can start using a bath chair well before the actual baths commence. The Angelcare Bath Support bath chair was designed for use in a tub, but it can also be placed on a countertop (put a towel underneath it to minimize the cleanup later). Then you can gently dab away at your newborn with their head and neck properly supported.
As for which washcloths and soap to use, there are dozens if not hundreds of decent options out there, but I'll tell you what we chose quite carefully. Okay, my wife chose quite carefully. We're a Burt's Bees Baby Organic Cotton Washcloth family, and we started using Honest Company Shampoo and Body Wash from our son's very first baths, and we still use it now that he's almost 4 1/2. It's hypoallergenic, tear-free, and it smells great, too.
In the early days after birth, nursing will likely all take place at home, so worry about privacy nursing covers and pumps for collecting milk later. Right now, it's all about comfort for baby and mother.
You don't need a dedicated nursing pillow to breastfeed your baby, but you probably won't want to live without one once you've used it. The Infantino Elevate Adjustable Nursing Pillow is a great choice because it allows you to nurse your baby in a variety of positions by flipping the soft padded layers from one side to the other. You can keep your baby flat for a cradle nursing position or elevate their head during a football hold, for example. And unlike most nursing pillows, there's no cover to be zipped off for washing; you just throw the whole contraption into the washing machine.
Our son spit up all of three times that I can remember during the course of his year of breastfeeding, but other babies spit up three times in the course of a single feeding. So while our burp cloths went largely unused during round one of nursing, we'll see how it goes with round two. Either way, the Moon and Back Organic Cotton Burp Cloths are here at the ready, and if you trust a host of rave, 5-star reviews about these things from other parents, they're a great get. And I can vouch that they sure make fine impromptu bibs and napkins.
It might take a while to find the right brand of diapers, as they really do have different fits, and you might want to try a few kinds of wipes out, too, as they have different textures and scents. But save the experimenting for later. In those first few days, just be ready.
Most infants go through an average of 10 diapers a day, so you will have ample opportunity to test out various brands. I recommend starting out with Huggies Little Snugglers Baby Diapers because they're soft against the skin and cushioned for comfort, highly absorbent, and because they have that all-important cutout where your child's umbilical cord stump will be.
Speaking of umbilical cords, while in the past parents were advised to clean around the base of the stump with rubbing alcohol, that's no longer an American Academy of Pediatrics recommendation. The best practice is usually to leave the umbilical cord stump largely alone and dress your child in loose clothing when possible. If you want to speed the drying out and detachment of the cord, you can sprinkle a dusting of goldenseal root powder over it. Pure Mountain Botanicals Organic Goldenseal Root is a fine choice for that.
As for wipes, we started out with Honest Company baby wipes and later moved to Seventh Generation wipes. But given how many wipes you'll go through in the early days, I recommend you start out with Amazon Elements Baby Wipes. Why? Well, partially because they're unscented; dye-, alcohol-, and paraben-free; and durable enough for vigorous wiping. But more because you'll get nine packs of 80 wipes for $17.99.
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