My SIL, Kallee, is having a baby in August, and I couldn't be more excited. When my other SIL, Amy, was expecting, I was too, and though we compared notes often I was pretty clueless about baby things until I actually had Emma. Now that I've been a mom for 17 months now, I can actually offer some wisdom. Here, in my opinion, are my top 10 baby items:
1. Swaddle Me Microfleece Blanket
I LOVE this blanket! I bought it because I doubted my abilities to swaddle with a regular blanket, plus I worried that Emma would be cold at night. This is so easy to wrap (velcro keeps it in place) and the fleece kept her warm. Emma started sleeping through the night by 3 months and I attribute it all to the Swaddle Me.
2. A Maclaren Stroller
I started out with one of those large travel systems, which I was opposed to from the beginning but thought it was a better deal to buy the car seat and stroller together. And it worked great when Emma was little. But it was so darn BIG. I bought a Maclaren Quest when she was about 6 months old and I absolutely love it. It turns on a dime and can fit through crowded racks at clothing stores in the mall. And it's lightweight--I have no trouble hauling it up and down subway stairs.
3. Boppy Pillow
I admit it, I was skeptical at first. Why did I need a $20 pillow when I had plenty of regular ones at home? But they really are better for hoisting the baby up for feeding, whether for nursing or bottles. I recommend the Bare Naked Boppy with a slipcover for easy cleaning.
4. Bebe Au Lait Nursing Covers
These are a must if you decide to nurse! Again, I was skeptical about my own abilities to keep myself covered with a blanket while feeding in public. These are lightweight (so poor baby doesn't get too hot under there) and there's a rigid neckline that allows just enough space for you to peer down at your baby without anyone else seeing what they shouldn't.
5. Baby Swing
Mine was a gift from Mumma, and I loved to have a place to put her down when I needed to get something else done. An added bonus--it also sometimes put her to sleep! If space is an issue, a bouncer serves a similar purpose.
6. Infantino Play Gym
I received this as a shower gift and it ended up being our favorite toy for at least six months! It was another place to put her down when I needed a break. An added bonus was that it was easy to travel with it to grandparents' houses, etc. I still remember the night we got back from making a two-week round to the grandparents at Christmas--we were exhausted and had collapsed on the couch and put Emma on her gym, when all of a sudded she reached up and hit the rattle! We were so proud. But I digress. There are lots of different brands of play gyms--I just like this one because it has a nice price.
7. Eucerin Aquaphor
At first glance, this may seem like a pricey version of Vaseline. But it's so worth it! Great for soothing chapped cheeks, whether on the face or the bum. I've also borrowed some to use on my own chapped lips or dried hands.
8. Games to Play with Babies
I do not feel like I am a natural parent, and I especially did not feel like one with a newborn. I could feed her, diaper her, etc, but I didn't know what to DO with her. This book gave me some great ideas for ways to interact with Emma and just enjoy her.
9. Baby Bjorn
I did not use mine as much as some of my friends in the city, but I still found it immensely helpful. I put Emma in this when I'd shop for groceries (try fitting a car seat AND food in a cart), make dinner, just walk around with her when she was particularly fussy. And it was perfect for traveling--you could have her on your lap and still be hands-free on the plane!
10. Janie and Jack Clothes
Many of my friends already know of my fondness for Janie and Jack. Classic, well-made, adorable baby clothes. Admittedly, they're pricey. BUT. They also have excellent sales! I buy a lot of Emma's clothes out of season, so this Spring/Summer I'll be buying size 2T, for next year. Perhaps my favorite deal: an $80 red velvet dress with smocked details I scored for $20. It was perfect for Christmas and is waiting for a younger sister or cousin, perhaps.