Adam and Freddie are in Florida for the next four days, leaving me with an empty house and oceans of time to accomplish some of the remaining tasks before little brother arrives. It’s funny, this time last pregnancy I had EVERYTHING done. The room was set up and photo-ready, the carseat was installed, the hospital bag packed … this time? Not really. Not quite. Not at all.
I decided to tackle the hospital bag first, because it seemed the easiest and also the least likely to send me collapsing onto my couch in exhaustion (as most tasks do these days). And that’s when I noticed another difference between baby #1 and baby #2 … the list of stuff you need for baby #2 is about half what you thought you needed for #1. My hospital bag feels downright empty compared to last time, but that’s because a) I know that there’s approximately zero chance I’m going to cram myself into that prison-like shower stall in my hospital room to attempt some kind of postpartum spa treatment and b) babies really don’t need that much stuff.
I know that the weekly emails from Baby Center and the notifications from your What to Expect app and all those Facebook targeted ads will tell you differently, but really, you don’t need that much stuff.
That being said, here’s the things that were absolutely essential with baby #1 that I’m putting front-and-center with baby #2.
Nesting Days Carrier
Baby carriers and wraps are the thing these days, and for good reason. Studies show the close contact with a parent is excellent for baby’s development, the baby-parent bond, and for infant sleep. But also it’s just really nice to have your hands free so you can, you know, feed yourself or access the remote when Netflix asks you if you’re still watching (YES NETFLIX DON’T JUDGE ME). I loved my Solly Wrap, but not in the early days. In the early days, when I was exhausted and recovering from birth and panicked about keeping the brand new human alive, I did not have the bandwidth to do full body origami. Which is where Nesting Days comes in. It’s basically a tank top that you slip on, tuck the baby in, and then tie one little sassy hip knot. And voila, baby is secured to you! And because the whole thing is a tank top, you can wear it by itself, allowing for maximum skin-to-skin and easy breastfeeding access without showing the whole world your business. You can only use them for the first three months of the kid’s life, but I promise, it’s worth it. I used this thing daily, and it’s way easier to get on in the parking lot of the grocery store than the wrap or the ergo. Give your new baby brain a break and get a Nesting Days carrier.
Some kind of swing/bouncer/robot chair situation
My advice? See if you can borrow a bunch of options from friends, so that your picky little new one can try them out. What one baby loves, another baby thinks is a torture device from the pits of hell. My kid loved his 4moms mamaRoo. We called it the robot chair, and he took basically all his naps in it. We also had a rock ‘n play, but he wouldn’t sleep in it. That was just a resting spot for the baby so that I could pee or shower. There’s Nuna and Baby Bjorn and Graco and Fisher Price and all manner of bouncers and swings. Try not to commit until your kid does, or you’ll find yourself midnight Amazon-priming one of everything in an effort to PLEASE LET ME PUT THIS CHILD DOWN!
Gerber Flat Fold Cloth Diapers
No, we’re not going to talk about disposable vs. cloth or eco friendly vs budget conscious (because really, you can’t have both, sorry). This is about one thing, and one thing only: SPIT UP. Most babies spit up. If you hear a mother crowing about how her little angel never spit up ever, walk away quickly before you feel the urge to hit her. My kid spit up OCEANS. It was unreal. I was surprised he had anything left inside him. And while you may be tempted to buy stacks of adorable (expensive) burp cloths, trust me on this: what you need is a stack of 20-30 Gerber flat fold cloth diapers. They’re white cotton and cheap. You can shove the end in your back pocket like you’re a barkeep, and when one gets soiled, you toss it in the laundry and move on to the next in your stack. They’re not fancy, but it doesn’t matter. You won’t care, as you mop spit up off your lap and your couch and the dog … oh yeah, and the baby. Buy a bunch (and then you’ll probably buy more once the kid gets here).
I know, you’re not going to use a pacifier. You heard about nipple confusion and oral/speech development issues and little Haven/Horatio/Hortense next door just never liked a pacifier so no, you don’t need one of those. And maybe your kid won’t take one. Or won’t like one. But trust me, having one — just one — around to try when it’s the middle of the night and the crying won’t stop and you just want to sleep oh god the sleep! Yeah, you’ll thank me if you have at least one to just try. I recommend the Phillips Avent Soothie. These are the ones that hospitals use, even if they give you a dirty look and act like you shouldn’t. My hospital was so-called “baby friendly,” but when my kid had to spend his first night in the NICU, you better believe they had these on hand. When he came back to me, he had a new accessory, and if it’s good enough for NICU nurses, it’s good enough for me. The soothies are designed to be a baby-friendly pacifier, so if you’re breastfeeding, this is probably the one you’ll want to try.
Seriously, that’s it. Baby bath tub? Um, you have a sink, don’t you? A carseat? Ok, I didn’t include that because they literally won’t let you leave the hospital without one, and so I figured you had that covered. Yeah, you need clothes and diapers, but you knew that too (and the clothes were probably covered by all the people who ignored your practical and well-researched baby registry and instead bought you that hilarious/adorable onesie they saw. What you really need is an easy carrier, a place to put the baby down, a pacifier, and enough cheap burp cloths to fashion a small tent.
Next time I’ll tell you about new mama essentials, and that’s a whole different (and pretty gross) kettle of fish. Postpartum healing, man. It’s not pretty.
What was your invaluable newborn item? Lemme know in the comments!