Graphic: Shep McAllister

If you’re reading this, you probably found out recently that you or someone you know will be having a baby a soon. Congrats! If you’ve started doing all the preliminary research about all the things you need to buy before the little one arrives, I’ve been there and, and it can be overwhelming.

On top of all the marketing that companies do to convince us we really need their stuff, other factors that are out of our control (like my son refusing to breastfeed, forcing us to buy bottles on short notice) can make you spiral out and buy even more things.

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So, if you’re operating under a tight budget, are a minimalist, or really don’t have much space for a ton of stuff, these are the essentials you that you’ll really want to have at home (for obvious reasons I’m not going into legit necessities like diapers, coming home outfits, or cribs, that would be a much bigger blog!)


Crystal Baby Smile Portable Changing Pad

Public restrooms are full of germs, but the Crystal Baby Smile Portable Changing Pad gives you a clean(ish) place to change your baby wherever you might be. It also holds all of your essentials, like extra diapers, toys, and creams.
Graphic: Shep McAllister

You’ll need this for when you need to change the baby while you are out and about (germs are not great for little ones, and there are a lot of those in public bathrooms) but also, you can ditch the full on changing table and use this pad on couches and beds (always making sure baby can’t roll off of it!).

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We actually bought two of these, and keep one in the backpack and one at home so we never are unprepared when poop hits the fan (figuratively speaking, usually). You can store diapers, butt cream, toys, and whatever you need to get your baby cleaned in this changing pad. It also comes with a handle to carry around, which honestly I’ve never used, but it’s nice to have there just in case you need to carry the pad like a briefcase.

The Boppy Lounger

The Boppy Lounger gives parents a comfortable place to set their baby down when they need their arms free to attend to other things. But you’ll have to stop using it once your baby learns to roll over.
Graphic: Shep McAllister

I’m sure you’ve heard of the Boppy breastfeeding pillow, which to be honest I didn’t really use because breastfeeding was not easy in this household. However the lounger is the cooler cousin and we used it SO much. But before I rave about it I want to clarify that this is not safe for unattended sleep, so don’t even think about it!

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The Boppy Lounger allows parents to be able to put baby down in a safe, comfortable spot while doing other things (like pumping, looking for the remote, making a cup of coffee.) I used it a lot when I needed a break and would sit next to my son on the couch with him in and read books together without my arms getting tired from holding him. It should stop being used after your baby learns how to roll, because they could fall off of it.

The Frida Snot Sucker

Yes, it’s gross, but part of being a parent is sucking snot out of your kid’s nose. I’m sorry.

I see you making an ‘ew’ face, but trust me, you’ll be sucking a lot of snot out of your kid’s nose so you might as well and get this now before you have to run to the pharmacy in the middle of the night. Babies don’t know how to blow out or suck in snot, so it stays in their little cute noses making it hard to breathe, which in turn makes them cranky, and no one wants a cranky baby. I feel like every hospital should send you home with one of these as part of a parenting starter kit.

Marpac Dohm

The Marpac Dohm Classic is the most popular white noise machine out there, and can help your baby sleep through the night. You can’t put a price on that.
Photo: Amazon

Funny story, we got the Dohm by accident when Amazon sent us someone else’s registry package (still don’t know how that happened) but I am so thankful that it did, because we cannot love without it. We had the Snoo for the initial six months of our son’s life, but once he graduated to his crib, we needed a white noise machine to keep his sleep uninterrupted, and the Dohm is perfect for that. We love it so much that we have a travel one too. And yes, sure, you can also download a white noise app on your pone instead of buying this, but from experience the sound of the Dohm keeps our kiddo sleeping way longer than anything else we’ve tried. It even works on us!

The Sleepea Swaddle

You’re not going to want to arrange an elaborate DIY swaddle at 3:30 AM in a dark nursery. Just buy the Sleepea zip-up swaddle instead, and get back to sleep.
Photo: Amazon

Newborns need to be swaddled to be able to sleep. They’ve been used to sleeping in a cozy uterus, so once they’re out in the world, many develop a startle reflex which makes them jolt and wake up when they realize they can move their limbs freely.

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We tried the old school method of swaddling and it was such a pain. I hated it so much, especially because we had to do it in the middle of the night, in the dark, on zero sleep. It still gives me nightmares. The Sleepea solves all of that. It’s so easy to put your baby in it and it keeps them nice and snug. .

Trust me, all of these will make the survival months (aka the fourth trimester) much easier!