Graco Pack 'N Play with bassinet attachment in Kensly
Keeping Natalie in her Pack 'N Play next to my side of our bed has worked out perfectly so far. She wakes up 2-3 times per night for a diaper change and feeding, and having her at arms reach has made the process much easier. Last night I was able to soothe her back to sleep while just holding her hand. (This required me putting my pillow right next to the edge of her bassinet, but it still worked.)
While our Pack 'N Play doesn't have all the bells and whistles of the other Pack 'N Play products, frankly I can't imagine needing anything more than this device provides. I know the Pack 'N Play is criticized as being cumbersome for travel, but, having not yet carted it around an airport, I don't find it particularly heavy either.
Graco quilted Pack 'N Play sheets -- get 2!
I don't know if it truly matters or not, but Graco encourages consumers to use the sheets it manufactures for the Pack 'N Play sets. I am fairly certain this is mostly a marketing scheme, but I gave in and got two of these sheets. At first I had only one on hand, which was silly because it just meant more laundry.
Halo Sleep Sack Swaddles -- micro-fleece, newborn size, get 2!
This wearable blanket has been great for keeping Natalie warm and safe at night. The micro-fleece is wonderful for a winter baby, and the newborn size fits infants from 6-12 pounds, which is most likely when you'll want to swaddle your baby. We are swaddling Natalie with her arms out (rather than arms in as you'll see in the photo below) because, believe it or not, Natalie has already proven that she can roll onto her stomach so we don't want to take any chances with her having her arms encased in the swaddle and her face down on the mattress. One of our Halo swaddles came with Velcro closures, the other did not, even though I thought I was ordering the exact same product. The verdict? I prefer the Velcro kind -- easier to keep in place.
Infant gowns -- have 4-6 on hand
I mentioned these before, but these make changing diapers in the middle of the night so much easier. Just lift up the gown to see if it's time for a diaper change rather than deal with snaps or zippers at 3 a.m. Sizing doesn't matter much here. We have some gowns that are size 3 months, some that say 0-3 months, and one that says "one size fits all," and all of them fit Natalie.
Safety 1st Comfy Bath Cushion
I know a lot of people like to bathe their newborns in the kitchen sink, but I've been hesitant to try that out thanks to our granite countertops and wood floors in the kitchen. If the little lady bumped her head (or, let's get real, WE bumped her head) it wouldn't be too pleasant. Instead we've opted for bathing her in the hallway bathroom's bath tub. We put this cushion inside her baby bathtub...
Fisher-Price Precious Planet Whale of a Tub
...the frog sponge helps keep Natalie in place since she can't completely control her neck or sit up in the tub.
Circo Bath Time Kneeling Pad (from Target)
...and this pad is keeping my knees from giving way while I crouch over the bath tub.
Hooded towels and baby washcloths -- at least 3 hooded towels and 6 washcloths.
We had just 2 hooded towels on hand before Natalie's arrival, and since she was born we've received quite a few as gifts. This was great because we could use more and Natalie gets the luxury of a totally clean towel every time she's bathed (which is not a luxury I indulge myself in). Two good types of baby wash cloths are these terry velour ones by Swaddle Designs and the ever-popular Aden + Anais line with its so-soft muslin fabric.
Hats! -- well, I should say hat as you really only need one...
We have not bought Natalie a single hat, yet she owns at least a dozen. The cutest one that gets all the compliments is this adorable knit bunny ears hat from Baby Gap. It's size 0-6 months.
Zippered footed onesies -- get 4-8. We needed newborn size (despite having an 8-lb. baby)
These are by far the easiest items to dress your newborn in. We have about 4-5 footed onesies in newborn size with snaps and about 4-5 footed onesies in newborn size with zippers. We dress Natalie in both snaps and zippers equally, but I hear less noise emanating from the nursery (both from Natalie and from Matt) when Matt's doing a diaper change when Natalie's in a zippered onesie. Newborn outfits with pants are cute, and we like dressing Natalie in these as well, but they're much more impractical than the zippered footed onesie.
On the go
Graco SnugRidger Infant Car Seat Stroller Frame (aka Snap 'N Go)
Thanks to unusually high winter temperatures we've been taking Natalie on lots of walks. This stroller frame has held up perfectly. I know friends and relatives who live in more urban areas with rough pavement find jogging strollers are the way to go, but for us living in our suburban, ridiculously-clean-and-manicured paradise this really basic stroller frame does the job well.
Now, as far as car seats are concerned, I feel like I can't speak with much authority here, seeing as if I did it over again I probably would not choose our Graco SnugRide 35 Infant Car Seat because it is so big. We've had a chance to compare it to other people's infant car seats, and ours is definitely the big one. I can't tell you with authority which is the better car seat to choose, size-wise, so maybe some readers can reply with comments on what infant car seat they'd recommend. (Please do!)
Instead of getting any attachments for the infant car seat, such as the popular JJ Cole bunting, we've been bundling Natalie with a stroller blanket around two-thirds of her body when we take her for a car ride or a stroller walk. My sister-in-law bought us this beautiful Petunia Pickle Bottom stroller blanket and we take it everywhere.
Medela Easy Expression Bustier
This is the hands-free breast pump bra. Without it you're subjecting yourself to 10-20 minutes of holding your arms up while you milk yourself. With it you buy yourself 10-20 minutes to send emails, make phone calls, or write your blog (just kidding on that last one). You will be shocked to know how many of your female friends look like the woman below when they are communicating with you electronically. Ahhh, modern women.
UPDATE: Realize I left these two important items off initially: nursing camis and nursing brasA Pea in the Pod nursing tank
Awesome and universally flattering. I have a nursing cami from Target, and based on its inability to enhance my shape (or I would argue most women's shapes) I was happy to spend twice as much money for these way better camis from A Pea in the Pod.
A Pea in the Pod seamless clip-down nursing bra
So comfortable it's kind of like a sports bra, but way more flattering.
Lansinoh Breast Milk Storage Bags
If you are trying to stockpile your breastmilk in the freezer like I am so you can, you know, get a hair cut, go to the doctor's office, or have a few hours to spend with your girlfriends, these bags are a must-have.
Lansinoh Disposable Nursing Pads
These are particularly useful to wear at night, I've found, even though they're primarily intended to keep you from experiencing the wet T-shirt contest look while out in public.
Lansinoh HPA Lanolin
I had this nipple cresm on hand in case I needed it, and I used it several times in the very beginning. I can't say that for me this product is a true MVP because I've been so lucky with breastfeeding, but I know it's a godsend to lots of breastfeeding moms.
Boppy pillow with slipcover -- I recommend two Boppys (if you live in a multi-story house) and a couple extra slipcovers.
I did not use the Boppy at first, mostly because I was feeding Natalie in the NICU and I was still dealing with a healing c-section incision. Now that Natalie is slightly heavier and my c-section incision is fully (or at least almost fully) healed, I'm finding the Boppy is helping to keep me from arching my back too much. Now I want a second Boppy so I don't have to carry it and the baby up and down the stairs several times a day.
Aden + Anais Burpy Bibs -- buy at least 6.
These burp cloths are like Burp Cloths 2.0 because they double as bibs when your babe is a little older, they come in adorable designs, and the classic Aden + Anais muslin cloth is so soft. We always have four burp cloths in rotation at once -- one next to the Pack 'N Play, one in the nursery, one in the living room, and one in my purse (I haven't yet started using my diaper bag because we've only taken Natalie out for short trips to the doctor and a couple restaurants [where she slept like a champ!]).
Dr. Brown's BPA Free Natural Flow Bottles -- buy 3 of the 4-ounce bottles for getting started.
Natalie needs to be burped often, so we opted for these bottles that (at least claim to) reduce colic, spit up, burping and gas. Others have critiqued these bottles as being too difficult to clean because they involve multiple parts, but I have not seen this as a problem. We pop them in the dishwasher using the....
Oxo Tot Dishwasher Basket
...to corral all the bottle parts and accessories.
Boon Grass Countertop Drying Rack
Some of the bottles and accessories come out of the dishwasher needing some extra time to air out, so this little drying rack is both cute and functional.
Philips Avent Soothie Pacifier -- 0-3 months, pack of 2
I mentioned this in yesterday's NICU post, but even though these were items we did not have on hand at first they have been helpful in calming Natalie when all else fails.
changing pad covers
Although one of my trying-not-to-go-insane tasks I completed while waiting for Natalie to arrive was the creation of a diaper caddy, we've found we prefer to change Natalie in her nursery on her changing pad. Seeing as the first night home from the hospital she soiled one changing pad cover, we were happy to have another one on hand. Additionally, we've learned to take plain burp cloths (not the Aden + Anais kind) and place them underneath Natalie when changing her for added protection.
Covered trash can for the nursery
I did not want a Diaper Genie in the nursery because I hate how they look and the fact that they only serve one function. Instead I picked up a small metal trash can at Home Goods for diaper and wipe disposal (we'll have a different system in place when we transition to cloth diapers). It has a detachable pail that makes trash day easy to handle, and the seal on the trash can is strong enough that it's kept offensive odors out of the nursery.
UPDATE: I also realize I initially left off this important item: infant swing!Fisher Price Nature's Touch Cradle Swing
The exact swing we own, because it's a hand-me-down, doesn't appear to be sold anymore, but all the Fisher Price infant swings are roughly the same. I know the Fisher Price My Little Lamb swing is quite popular right now and essentially identical to the swing we own. This swing is perfect for putting Natalie in for a day-time nap. Half of her day-time naps seem to take place in my arms (or Matt's arms), and the other half happen in this swing in our living room.
What I left off...
I have not included diapers or wipes because, while those are clearly needed, you can wait and use up your hospital-issued supply before you go out to buy more. With diapers in particular you may want to wait until you know how big your baby is before you get extras because an over-8-lb. baby will need to be in size 1 diapers (Pampers Swaddlers, at least) whereas an under-8-lb. baby will need to be in size newborn diapers.
I also did not include a bulb syringe nasal aspirator because hopefully you'll be given one at the hospital, but if not this is definitely something to have on hand.