New Mom’s Survival Kit, version 2.0
[UPDATE, January 2013: This post has been updated with reader input and is now available as a free download! Click here.]
A few years ago I put together a survival kit gift-basket for a friend about to have her first baby. It’s my personal take on those must-haves for a first-time mom. Since then I had another baby of my own and some friends and I started compiling a larger list. Here’s the updated version.
- Soothies Gel Pads I list these first for a reason. These are the bomb. Seriously – there was no greater pain for me than my first child’s bad latch. It hurt worse than my c-section, only about 12 times a day. These made life livable; I wore them every moment I wasn’t nursing. Expensive, yes, and they last about a week. But well worth it. Really. Just try them. You’ll see.
- Nursing tank tops. Way more comfy and flattering than any nursing bra I tried – and a great value for the price. They are great alone, or as a layering piece. Bring a couple for your hospital stay.
- Newborn gowns. This is kind of like a pillowcase, but for babies…they stay all wadded up at one end and you have to root around in there just to find their feet. Newborns poop constantly and you can easily change diapers five or six times in one night. Who wants to snap on and snap off those durn little onesies at 2am (or 3am, or 3.30am, or 4am)?
- Individually wrapped sanitary napkins. They give you these enormous ones at the hospital, but I found normal (or as my friend Heather put it: civilized) Kotex worked just fine. Keep one in your purse at all times!
- A good tube of lip balm and some hand cream. You are perpetually thirsty when breastfeeding and lips get chapped!
- Smelly, relaxing stuff. Someone gave me a gift set of Bath and Body Works Relaxation Aromatherapy Eucaplyus Spearmint and I’ve been addicted ever since.
- A tube or jar of Aquaphor. This is the do-it-all miracle baby product! Babies chap easily. Chapped lips from nursing, chapped cheeks from blankie-nuzzling, chapped bums from diaper rash. It works wonders for eczema (also super common in babies) and a million other uses. A little goes a long way – one jar will last you about five years…
And then a discussion with my girlfriends created the following list – the must-haves baby will need. Ok, maybe not MUST-haves. Want-to-haves. Babies can get by with a lot less but the things on this list will make your life easier. This is a good place to start when registering for your baby shower, too.
- Crib (While antiques are charming, they usually don’t meet with current safety standards. Buy carefully!)
- Crib mattress
- Waterproof mattress pads (2)
- Crib sheets (4)
- A place to change diapers. When they are small, you can use half the crib. A dresser with a changing pad (with safety belt and raised sides) works great. Or, a traditional changing table.
- Diaper pail (debatable – never used one myself. Stinkies get bagged and go straight to outside garbage!)
- Wipes warmer (Try putting a cold, wet paper towel on your backside at 3am and see if you don’t scream.)
- Diaper organizer/baskets for easy access
- Diapers (We preferred Pampers Swaddlers over any other brand! You can get the best prices at Diapers.com and two-day shipping is free. Also a great place to get wipes, baby shampoo and other toiletries.)
- Wipes (Fragrance free and hypoallergenic! Pampers wipes, IMHO, are the easiest to dispense, and a free dispenser comes with every case pack. You’ll end up with three or four around the house. A good thing.)
- California Baby Diaper Area Cream (Best one I found for keeping diaper rash at bay. Although naked baby butt is the best cure for diaper rash. Lay baby across a heavy towel on your lap for a snooze in the shade on a warm day…)
- Thermometer (Several options out there but we liked a temporal artery thermometer – quickly scans forehead – more expensive but way easier than rectal or armpit!)
- Bulb syringe (you can take the one they use for your baby in the hospital)
- Nail clippers or nail file (You can also gently bite them off without hurting the fingers! Sounds weird but cutting their nails is REALLY hard to do. They grow crazy fast and newborns will scratch themselves awful if you don’t trim them weekly.)
- Bathtub (One that comes with a mesh sling is nice to support the baby in the water, or a harness)
- Baby wash (Johnson & Johnson Bedtime Bath was our favorite)
- Baby towels with hoods and several washcloths
- Crib toy that plays music (hangs on the side of the crib)
- Bassinette or Co-Sleeper (if you choose to use one)
- Pak N Play (Can double as bassinette, play pen, and some models come with an extra changing table that can be on the other side of the house. Nice to have.)
- Infant car seat (rear facing)
- Stroller (I loved our BabyTrend Snap N Go. We used it and the infant car seat – same set lasted nicely through both kids.)
- Sun shades for side and back car windows
- 15-20 burp cloths (Pre-folded cloth diapers are great for this.)
- Waterproof lap pads (at least four – you’ll want to put one underneath them in the car seat and a million other uses.)
- Breast pump (usually can be rented from hospital)
- Pumping bra
- Breast milk freezer bags or bottles
- Nursing PJs and nursing bras (a sleeping bra that criss-crosses in the front is great to have)
- Nursing cover (for when you are out in public. Hooter Hiders available at Target – they are open at the top so you – and baby – can see but no one else can.)
- Lanolin cream (must have while breastfeeding)
- Bottles/Nipples (Avent Newborn set comes with a much needed bottle cleaning brush)
- Bottle drying rack
- Microwave bottle sterilizer
- Diaper bag (I had this irrational fear of running out of diapers with my first baby. I kept a dozen in the car at all times, and another dozen in the diaper bag in case of WW3. I got smarter the second time. Two is good – four if you’re going to be away from home for more than a couple of hours. In the end, I had no diaper bag at all, i just had a big purse with the changing pad wrapped around a spare diaper and a travel pack of wipes.)
- Changing pad for diaper bag (Here’s a gorgeous one by Patemm.)
- Pacifiers (Not all kids will take them. Mine never did.)
- Baby swing (We liked the cradle swing that could swing front to back as ell as side to side. Only place Scrappy would sleep soundly for the first three months!)
- Sound machine (ocean waves, heartbeat, rain, etc for sleeping time next to their crib)
- Play mat/gym
- Baby sling, or something for baby-wearing and to free up your arms.
- Bibs (I had spitty-uppy babies – we kept about 20 on hand. Easily can go through 5-10 a day)
- Swaddling blankets (You will get tons of blankets as gifts but only a few will be really good for swaddling. We liked the blankets made by Carter’s the best. Thick, but not too thick, nice size, and just enough stretch to make a perfect burrito of your baby.)
- Clothing. I almost didn’t put this down because I’ve yet to attend a baby shower where the mother-to-be didn’t receive enough onesies to clothe a dozen babies.
- Fragrance/dye free/hypoallergenic laundry detergent (You’ll want to wash all the newborn clothes, bibs, burpies and blankies BEFORE baby arrives!)
Anything to add to the list?
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