Hi Friends! Long (long) time no blog. To catch you up since my last blog post in 2020, in which I worked out consistently for 30 days, I’m sad to say, I’ve lost my abs. I did gain a son, however, so kind of worth it? Spencer Dylan Lederman was born in January of 2023 and those first few months were rough with a capital R you fucking kidding me?!. Just being honest. The combination of sleep deprivation, consistent pelvic pain from Spencer’s grand entrance into this world, and a breastfeeding fiasco that led to surgery were enough to make me vow to never have children again. Eventually, that all, including the vow, went away, and now I could not be more obsessed with my chunky, smiley, sleeps-like-an-angel boy.
In those early days, I remember just how overwhelming it was trying to figure out what baby gear to buy. I didn’t know what half the stuff did and I was constantly losing my mind with how complicated everything seemed (one particular public meltdown, when I couldn’t figure out my stroller, comes to mind). Looking back, I’ve realized a lot of the baby gear is just unnecessary. On the other hand, there are those items that truly are must-haves if you want to make this whole experience easier on yourself. Here are the top 10 baby must-haves I’ve found in my 8 months as a parent. I don’t want to say I’m an expert but… he’s still here, isn’t he?
I’m going to start out with this controversial one as there have been warnings that the product is unsafe. Obviously, I would never use anything that I thought could harm Spencer and I think these warnings need to be taken with context in mind. You should not have your baby sleep in this unsupervised. However, when those little aliens first arrive, it’s super helpful to have a place where you can (gently) plop them down and for that, the DockATot is great. We spent our early days eating meals while Spencer lay in his DockATot on our kitchen table. It was also great to have him there on the couch when I needed a bit of personal space (or had to pee).
Giving your baby a bath starts off sporadically in the beginning — you don’t need to for the first few weeks (and trust me, you won’t want to) — but once you’re in the routine of nightly bathtime this tub is great. Mainly, because it’s idiot-proof. No setup is required and the material it’s made of doesn’t require any intensive cleaning. It says it is for up to 6 months but Spencer is currently 8 months and bathtime in there is still working on our end!
I’m no sleep expert, but I have a fabulous sleeper, so if you want some advice, I’d recommend (if possible) getting your baby out of your room and into their own as soon as possible. Then, get this baby monitor and you’ll feel secure that you won’t miss a thing. I love that I can view the monitor from anywhere — perfect for moms’ night outs when dad is on duty — and the built-in sound machine is also useful; it allows you to skip getting the Hatch, which I personally don’t like. There is also a breathing band (we never used it) for those info-nerds to track your baby’s breathing (personally that sounds like anxiety central to me but to each their own).
We messed around with too many swaddles before we landed on this literal dream of a product. It’s pricier than other ones on the market but it will save you from several mental breakdowns as it is easy as can be. It has a two-way zipper which makes for simple diaper changes and more importantly, the company claims it is designed to help babies “feel calm, fall asleep faster, and stay asleep longer,” and I can vouch that it’s true. Spencer has been sleeping through the night since he was 3 months old. We continued to stay with this line and got him both the transitional swaddle and the sleep sack.
You know you need burp clothes but most likely, you don’t give it much thought. I certainly didn’t. But it turns out, these are by far the best. Their curved shape helps them stay over your shoulder and they absorb spit up, of which there’s tons, the best. They have a button so that they can actually be worn as a bib — which you’ll want to use to catch those delayed spit-ups. Whenever I go to Spencer’s “burp cloth drawer” I always cherry-pick these ones.
When you’re looking for somewhere to put your little one down and entertain them at the same time, this is the perfect item. It grows with your baby so they can start by kicking the piano keys with their feet and then progress to sitting up and playing it by hand. It’s got some surprisingly catchy tunes that will surely get stuck in your head, but it one hundred percent beats the sound of your baby crying.
Introducing Spencer to solids has been quite the messy adventure and initially, very anxiety-provoking. I’ve found you need little in terms of dishes, bowls, etc. as they all just get flung on the floor. What we do need and use are these baby spoons which Spencer can easily grip. The two spoons work with different consistencies of food and help to get at least some of it into his mouth. They also seem to be helping him with teething, as he’ll often flip them over and gnaw on the back.
This one’s for the formula mommas — you’ll be surprised by how much you’ll love this simple device. When I stopped breastfeeding my biggest fear was not having food for Spencer; I always make sure to have this dispenser full and in my diaper bag whenever I leave the house. It makes preparing a bottle simple; the spout prevents me from dropping the formula all over the place when pouring it into the bottle.
This is basically a Keurig for milk and it is a total game changer. In those early days when I was just mixing the formula by hand (like a fool), I did wonder if this device was really worth the money. Now that I have one, the answer is “Yes!” It will warm your milk to any temperature you desire and you can set it for whatever brand of formula you use (we love HIPP). Spencer is an impatient little guy and this gets the bottle in his hand ASAP!
This was another item I questioned if I really needed; I decided to ask for it as a birthday present (this is what my life has come to). Again, the answer was yes! While it’s not going to be your everyday stroller (although, I guess it could be), you will find many uses for it. If you still want to get out of the house and have a social life once you have a baby, this helps. The number one reason to get the Doona is if you plan to travel — it’s a car seat and stroller in one so you don’t need to worry about bringing both. It is so simple to attach in any car — we’ve used it in Ubers while on vacation — there is no base needed. It’s also great for going to restaurants where you don’t want to take up too much space. I keep it in my foyer and use it when I’m just going on a walk around the neighborhood, instead of having to go into my car and take out my car seat and stroller. There is no storage space like there is with larger strollers but we have this bag which helps with that problem!