When you’re pregnant, everyone and their mother (literally) will tell you what you absolutely, positively can’t live without when your little bundle of joy arrives.
Helpful registry attendants will hand you pages worth of lists along with that little scanner gun. Friends will happily reminisce about the products they loved. Random strangers will offer unsolicited advice while you’re paying for a salad. And a lot of those suggestions will actually be helpful (unlike some other advice), because you will need those products.
But chances are, most of these people will forget to mention a few other little things that will make your life as a mom exponentially easier—eight little things, to be exact. These are the eight overlooked baby essentials that I wish I had known about from the start.
Everyone Says You Need: A Nasal Aspirator
That’s the fancy name for Thing You Stick Up Your Baby’s Nose to Suction Out Booger, and yes, it’s a must-have, especially during cold and flu season.
But You Also Really Need: Boogie Wipes
The best invention EVER. But, you say, can’t you just use a tissue or a regular wipe? No. Tissues, no matter how soft and coated with aloe, are too rough for baby’s delicate skin. And wipes can leave residue on baby’s face and sting a raw nose. But Boogie Wipes are a godsend: Their saline softens up crusty snot (lovely, I know, but that’s our reality), and they’re uber-gentle. Stock up on these—seriously, never have less than three packs in your possession at all times—because you never know when the stores will run out or when a cold will strike.
Everyone Says You Need: Nail Clippers
Great in a few months, horrifying when you bring your perfect, squirmy new baby home from the hospital. The thought of attempting to clip baby’s soft, bendy, practically transparent nails—and the possibility of accidentally clipping that delicate skin—makes me want to vomit. And nail files just don’t do the trick.
But You Also Really Need: Baby Mittens
Until those oddly soft yet sharp nails firm up, you’ll want to play defense and keep them away from baby’s precious face when he fusses and fidgets. Why mittens don’t come with every infant onesie, like those little hats, is beyond me. And oddly, they’re not that easy to find. My favorite were from Giggle, which my husband discovered after our week-old son ended up with itty-bitty, very red scratches all over his face after a nap.
Everyone Says You Need: Wipes
Yes, this one’s a no-brainer. You need your favorite wipes to clean tushes, faces, hands, stroller straps, tables and so on.
But You Also Really Need: A Wipes Travel Case
Throwing the whole pack with the adhesive pull-back sticker into your bag is a mistake. It’s heavy and bulky, and all of your wipes can easily dry out if the package isn’t sealed exactly right. A fabric-covered plastic holder, with your choice of cute design, lets you decrease the quantity you have to carry and keeps things sealed and moist.
Everyone Says You Need: The Sleep Sheep
Or any of the assorted turtles, giraffes and ladybugs that are supposed to soothe your little love into a peaceful slumber with either the ocean, rain or what sounds like a vacuum cleaner.
But You Also Really Need: A Sound Machine
The aforementioned noisy animals are cute, but they only do their thing for a short period of time, not all night, and they don’t take the place of some heavy-duty white noise. Yes, you can get away with a fan for a while, but as soon as the seasons change and the temperatures drop, you’ll be in trouble. Sound machines don’t have to be expensive—the one we have (pictured below and recommended by another friend with a newborn) is just $45—but they’re worth their weight in gold if they help baby sleep through the night.
Everyone Says You Need: Pacifiers
If your kid worships at the altar of the binky, you’ll swear by them…until you drop one on the dirty, germy supermarket floor and can’t find your backup.
But You Also Really Need: Pacifier Holders
Such a simple concept, you’ll be annoyed that someone thought of it before you did and probably made a gazillion dollars: One end loops around the pacifier ring, while the other clips to your baby’s shirt. Voila! No more dropped—or thrown—pacifiers. Until your kid figures out how to unclip the clip, which is probably a little way’s down the road. (I think we made it to 18 months.)
Everyone Says You Need: Good Stroller Storage
That built-in basket beneath baby is priceless real estate when you’re on the go.
But You Also Really Need: The Mommy Hook
At just $6.99, it is the best bang-for-your-buck item you will ever get. Some books will advise against hooks like this, saying that they can easily tip a stroller. And yes, you have to make sure your stroller is sturdy enough to handle it (umbrella strollers are too flimsy) and that you always take your bags off before taking baby out. I used it with the Graco Snap N Go and the City Mini, which had one solid, balanced handle, and it worked perfectly for toting my filled-to-the-brim diaper bag and groceries all around New York City. Trust me—your back will thank you.
Everyone Says You Need: Baby Utensils
Colorful rubber spoons, dollhouse-size forks, plastic plates, sippy cups, containers filled with Cheerios and so on. Your diaper bag had better be roomy because you can’t travel light when you have a newly eating infant and you’re heading to a restaurant.
But You Also Really Need: Travel Place Mats
OK, fine, your kid isn’t eating off the bathroom floor (hopefully), but who knows who’s touched/drooled on/licked the table your dear one just smeared his food all over and then popped in his mouth? I loved these disposable Sesame Street mats, with their adhesive strips. Granted, your baby will eventually be less entertained by Elmo and more entertained by the cool sound the adhesive makes when the mat is ripped from the table and crumpled into a ball, but even if you get in a few good months, that will translate into a lot less germs.
Everyone Says You Need: What to Expect the First Year
It’s the sequel baby bible of parenting, What to Expect When You’re Expecting, and it is indeed great. I pored over it for the entire first year of my baby’s life and learned a lot. But it left out some surprisingly essential information.
But You Also Really Need: 107 Things I Wish I Had Known with My First Baby: Essential Tips for the First 3 Months
It wasn’t until I had my second baby that I realized that new motherhood didn’t have to be quite so hard. Don’t get me wrong: It was chaotic with two kids, but since I already knew the best practical-parenting tips, the day-to-day of caring for a newborn was so much easier. When my daughter was just a few weeks old, I wrote down some of those tips—about diapering, burping, breastfeeding and more—in a post called 15 Things I Wish I Had Known with My First Baby. But shortly after I hit publish, I realized I’d forgotten a few things…and ended up with 107 tips and a brand-new book! It’s filled with 107 bits of important information that all of the baby books and all of your friends somehow forgot to mention. These overlooked baby essentials are things that may seem little, but they end up being huge in terms of making your life easier so that you can relax a little and get to the business of enjoying your gorgeous new baby.
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