About this time three years ago, I blogged about my Nine Baby Essentials. Since every pregnancy, baby, and mothering experience is different, I thought I'd update that list now that I've gotten a "second opinion" with Claire.
Some items that were "essential" with Kate are completely not with Claire. The "Soothing Center" that worked so well with Kate doesn't do a thing for Claire. It's set up in the corner of our bedroom, but Claire has been in it a total of about four times. We try now and again (and she did fall asleep for maybe 20 minutes in it once) but despite all its awesome features designed to mimic mother's arms, scent, and sound, Claire will not be fooled. Nothing against the swing—it just goes to show how something can be a miracle product for one child and not another.
Other things from that original list are still must-haves:
I have used this site hundreds of times, and just get more thrilled with it all the time. They offer free shipping on orders over $49 (my usual order of a case of Pampers and a box of Huggies wipes refills is about $75) and the shipping is fast—always two days. That $49 can include things from their partner sites Soap.com (household items), YoYo.com (toys), Wag.com (pet supplies), etc., so you can get pretty much anything. I've returned things twice, and it is extremely easy and free, and I've contacted customer service a couple times and always been delighted. I'm not a paid spokesperson (though I'd love to be!) but you can use my referral code JKELLEY to get $10 off your first order.
Stickers and labels gross me out, so I love these rubbery bands that can go around bottles and sippy cups. I've been so mad that day cares have lost one of Kate's and one of Claire's, but I'm thinking I'll order another set (they come in sets of four) with just a generic "Kelley Family" and our phone number, or something, since we can always use extras! I like giving them as gifts too, since they're unique and (in my mind) so much preferable to sticker-labels.
Pampers and my Medela pump are also still baby essentials in my book, but there are some new additions as well.
I just plain don't like dealing with a big stroller. Umbrella strollers are the way to go, in my book, and so long as they have a 5-point harness, even little babies can ride in them. Kate still likes to ride when we go to the zoo or whatnot (though she's getting a little big for that—we may need to cut her off soon), so we got a double umbrella stroller when Claire was born. It fits through doorways and is so much lighter than a big stroller, especially a double big stroller, like a sit-and-stand. Once Claire can be trusted to sit without climbing out or falling over, we'll probably take the wagon, but for now, the stroller is great!
We had the Cloud b Sleep Sheep with Kate too, and I think we turned it on every night, but since Kate loved her paci so much, any other bedtime rituals were ancillary. Claire is a much lighter sleeper (at least when first going to sleep) and will suddenly be wide awake if anyone so much as stage-whispers while I'm nursing her to sleep. So, I turn on the Sleep Sheep immediately upon laying her down, if not right when I start nursing, to soothe her and block out any voices or sister-noises while she settles into a deep sleep. There is also an adorable giraffe, dolphin, and other animals in this line, plus the Twilight Turtle constellation nightlight that Kate now has and loves.
I'm a stickler for sleep safety—no bumpers or blankets here!—and the Swaddle Me wrap is a safe way to keep baby cozy at night, since it can't be kicked off and become a suffocation hazard like regular receiving blankets. (The Halo Sleep Sack is also a safe option, but it's loose around the legs, not binding like a swaddle.) As I said, Claire needs more bedtime comfort in the absence of a paci, and swaddling in the Swaddle Me really helped her for the first seven months or so, until she outgrew the large size. They come in organic cotton and all sorts of cute patterns now, too.
Not an "essential," I guess, but every baby needs toys, and these are my favorite. I got these for Kate when she was about 9 months old, and I've been loving them with Claire too. It was the Parents magazine-brand when I got them, but that brand seems to be sold as just "B" now. In any case, they are such classic toys (which I love) but rubbery so they are easy for tiny hands to hold and won't hurt if baby falls on them or bangs herself with them. Plus, they are designed very cute, each with a number, that number of symbols (stars, dots, etc.) on the opposite side and that number of animals going around it. (#1 is a snake, since that's the only animal that would stretch around all four sides!) Kate still plays with these too, as we build towers and put the numbers in order.
So those are a few of my faves.
What baby gear could you just not do without?