When I was pregnant with Finnley I probably saved 20 lists on Pinterest that were all telling me what I needed to buy. Every list was different, some were more relatable to me than others, but mostly it was just overwhelming! The reality is, what works for you is going to be at least a little different than what works for everyone else. I had 3 questions that became my bar for whether or not I’d give the advice and product a try:
1) What makes it worth it/better than the other options?
2) Does it fit my budget?
3) Does it fit my lifestyle and priorities?
Here’s the thoughts that run through my head when I read someone’s recommendation that, I have to buy this $200 baby gym because “its sooo chic and fits perfectly with a neutral aesthetic.”
1) That reason does not make it worth it to me. (If there were huge developmental or safety benefits that set this gym apart, that might change it’s worth to me.)
2) A $200 baby gym is not how I’m choosing to prioritize my budget.
3) I’m not too worried about my baby gym perfectly matching the color scheme of my home. If I’m that worried about it I will store it out of sight when it’s not in use and the reality is, in a matter of months it will be in storage for good.
Another mom reading the same recommendation may think – “that reason is good enough for me, I’m comfortable spending that amount, and owning a beautiful baby gym is something thats important to me.” And that’s great!
This is just a small example, but asking myself these 3 questions is what helped me sort through the hundreds of reviews and versions of every product out there. And still, now that I’ve put the products to use – I’d tell my past self to make a few different decisions. Sometimes you just have to figure out what works for you through trial and error. Even the best advice is mostly just someone else’s personal opinion of what worked for them. I wanted my baby to love the cute paci on everyone’s instagram and he just didn’t. It’s okay when what works best for you is different than what works best for other moms (or even different than your expectation!)
So at the risk of adding to the “buy for baby” list noise… here’s my take on the products we’ve used and why they work for us:
(I’m just going to warn you right now.. it’s long winded! But I want to share the personal details of why I do or don’t recommend things so that I can be most helpful. Its broken up by “genre” and item so feel free to scroll to what you’re looking for – I won’t be offended 😉 )
We got this rocker from Target and I wouldn’t change a thing! It was really important to me that the chair we got was super comfortable for all the late night time I’d be spending in it. Finnley started sleeping in his own room when he was a little over a month old and Jordan was back to work so I would feed Finn in his room for night feeds. In those sleepy moments I was SO thankful we made that investment (even though $299.99 is a pretty inexpensive option for a chair like it!) My criteria for the perfect comfy rocker = high backed, big arm rests, and soft. This chair meets all the criteria! We paired ours with this ottoman and I’ve been SO happy with it! *The top opens for storage!
[Left to Right: Iona Mid – Century Retro Modern Light Fabric Upholstered Button – Tufted Wingback Rocking Chair $473.27 *On sale right now! Baby Relax Brennan Wingback Convertible Rocker $254.99, West Line Rocker by Viv + Rae from Wayfair $299.99, Mari Rocker from Wayfair $289]
Everyone I know who purchases a “changing table” regrets it. Eventually the changing station becomes unnecessary and the whole piece becomes less useful. We don’t have a ton of storage so putting away a changing table until the next baby (if I still like the same one!) isn’t the best option. I also didn’t want to have to buy another dresser once we no longer wanted the changing table. So we chose to purchase a dresser and use a changing pad on top. This dresser that we picked from Ikea is super inexpensive and neutral so we’ll be able to transition it easily. I also really like this natural wood option depending on your decor! Because it’s such a generic piece, I plan to personalize our dresser by replacing the knobs (maybe with something fun from Worldmarket like these or these!)
This roller cart from Ikea has made the perfect caddy for our changing supplies and it comes in multiples colors. Highly recommend!
The last changing related item that has made ALL the difference for us is the Diaper Genie! From what I’ve seen, similar items just don’t work as well and at $23.49 this is SO worth it.
We used this Moses basket and this rocker stand as Finn’s bassinet in our room when he was first born and it worked great for us! It took up a small amount of space, was easy to move throughout the house, the basket can be used independently of the stand, and I love the look of it! We purchased both on Amazon after pricing out several different options. It seemed to be the best combo and the assembly was super easy.
If you’re wanting a more basic option, This bassinet is one that I’ve seen a lot of people use and like. The swivel feature and ability to lower sides for easier access to your baby from your bed would be convenient. Especially if you have a C-Section and aren’t as mobile for a while, I think this would be very convenient. Target also carries this one and this one that are both simpler versions of the same product.
At first we just used a swaddle blanket with Finnley for sleeping. I love muslin swaddles, especially for warmer months, but we found stretchy cotton ones to stay in place best. When it comes to muslin though, bigger is better! The Cloud Island brand carried at Target are the perfect size and really well priced! The Aden + Anais swaddles are also a great size, but less of a deal. (Target carries a smaller selection for more reasonable prices.) We still use our swaddles for a million things, but not sleep as much.
Finn was basically over being swaddled before he was a month old, BUT he would jerk himself awake constantly which wasn’t working for us. We went through a phase for a couple weeks where he would spend tons of time awake just trying to wiggle free from his swaddle and then he’d cry as soon as he’d done it. So frustrating! I ended up buying Swaddle Me swaddles in the middle of the night on Amazon and they changed my life! Really though. 🙂 I’ve also seen them in Target and Walmart and you actually do need them! They’re the best.
Now Finn can finally sleep without his arms waking him up and he rolls around a lot in the night so the swaddles are no more! This Halo Sleep sack is perfect for the transition until he’s able to sleep with a blanket at night. We’re big fans!
We could not live without a sound machine. They drown out household noises so baby can sleep without being startled and we take ours everywhere. We first tried the Shusher and liked it – it was portable and convenient, but operated on a timer without any option of leaving it on constantly. Finnley started to wake up when it timed off and that was not working for us. We found this sound machine after reading tons of reviews and LOVE it. It stays on all night (but also has the option for a timer if that’s what works for you. There are 6 different noise options, but the white noise is our favorite. Some of the best $25 we ever spent!
For the first few months a baby gym is one of the only toys Finn actually used. When we’re shopping for baby number two and don’t have to buy EVERYTHING, I Think we will invest in something different, but for Finnley we purchased this gym at Ikea and I believe it was actually $20 at that time (which is the main reason we chose it!) Finn loved it and the spinners on the sides are actually perfect for a tiny baby who can’t reach any of the hanging toys. What we don’t love is that he basically outgrew it at 4 months.
Even though I shared in my example that I didn’t choose our baby gym based on it’s looks, I wouldn’t mind a more simple looking one (maybe for baby #2 😉 ). There are lots of cute, natural wood options on Etsy! They’re definitely a little more spendy, but I like the function of being able to change out toys and get creative. Something you can’t really do with the Ikea gym.
I’d love to try a baby gym like this one because they’re a little more dynamic. There’s also soft versions like this one! that can be found in most stores with baby sections. The versatility based on the age/developmental stage of your baby would allow you to get more use out of it. Then again, by four months Finn could roll over well and was more interested in trying to scoot around and crawl so I don’t think he’d be that interested even if he had a bigger play gym. There’s pro’s and con’s to all of them so it’s really one that you’ll have to weigh for yourself and your baby.
Lovey Stuffed Animal
You’ll probably receive a lot of stuffed animals if you’re expecting a baby and even want to buy toys yourself for your new babe, but really they won’t be interested in them for quite a while. It’ll save you a little money now to wait on the toys for the most part while you’re having to purchase all the necessities. One “toy” that is totally worth your money is a “lovey,” “stuffy,” people call them different things, but basically its a small stuffed animal with a tiny blanket for a body. For whatever reason, Finn became attached to his fox when he was like a month old and I swear it’s my biggest competition for his love. I can’t find the exact one he has, but it’s very similar to this cute bunny on Amazon. I’m not exactly sure why, but he definitely prefers it to one thats a true small blanket like most of the ones they carry at target.
Mostly, Finn’s favorite “toy” is just one of his swaddles or a burp rag (he loves chewing on them.) I think it was the easiest thing for him to control and chew early on and so he grew attached. Thats why a lovey/teether blanket is so perfect! We got ours from Mint Finch Designs, a small shop maker who sells her stuff at a local store in Salem, Oregon called Mint. They’re made with the funnest, softest fabrics and have a detachable teething ring that is ultra hand sanded organic maple that’s treated with coconut oil and beeswax (so basically it’s the best!) Because the lovey has a snap, you can attach any teether you wish and easily detach to wash. We LOVE ours!
We wanted a more tried and true, durable carrier and were gifted the Ergo 360 which has been amazing. Jordan actually fights me for who gets to wear Finn in it! It’s comfortable and magically puts babies to sleep every time. 😉 It’s also a really versatile product. It comes with an insert for new babies that you can remove as they grow. Baby can be worn in front at first, face inward or outward as they get bigger, and later on your back – all with the same carrier! For that reason I think this particular carrier is SO worth the investment and I’ve managed to get it on and get Finn in and out by myself which is important to me and not true of every carrier!
For a baby wearing, soft carrier (which are really trendy right now) we got the Happy Wrap. I LOVE this style of wrap because it’s the most comfy for your baby and feels less bulky to wear. Our Happy Wrap was good to us, but to be totally honest – For my next baby, I’m planning to try a different option for baby wearing. The thing that makes this one less practical in my opinion is that its one veryyy long piece of fabric that has to be wrapped around you multiple times and in just the right way and then tied before you can slip baby in. So every time I’m out and about I end up taking forever trying to situate myself while Finn sits in his carseat (usually crying) and I’m trying not to let the ends drag on the ground, but they always do. I didn’t use the wrap as much as I’d like because it was kind of a hassle. The wrap was great once it was tied and Finn was snug inside. So if you’re out with help or going to tie it on and wear baby for one long outing (like say, when you go to a Mariners game when your baby is a few weeks old 😉 ) love it! Just not so much for the quick/ solo outings.
The wrap I’m really interested in trying, which I think will be the perfect combination of what I love in the two styles, is the Wild Bird Ring Sling. I’ve heard great things and watched enough tutorials/reviews to believe that it’s easier to put on and use solo. Even though I haven’t personally used it – this would be my soft baby carrying recommendation!
I looked at SO many strollers and I love the one we ended up with, but it’s not quiteee perfect. I’m not sure the perfect one is out there (it probably doesn’t help that I’m unwilling to pay $1,000!), but ours is pretty close! AND it’s under $500 which is something that was important to me. If you’re in the stroller market, I highly recommend a travel system. The option to grab the carseat from your car and just click it into the stroller base is so helpful and has allowed us to continue many car naps! Thank you Jesus! The one we chose is the Evenflo Pro Series Pivot Travel System from Target. The bassinet transitions to a toddler seat and all seating options can be forward or pusher facing. It’s SO versatile and an added bonus to not have to worry about also buying a carseat because it comes with the system! Here are the cons: the wheels do stick a little. In a perfect stroller I think all 4 wheels would move like a 360 piece of luggage and some strollers have that, but not most. The wheels are also not super convenient on a rougher terrain, but thats true with most street strollers. I’ve found that a separate jogger stroller is pretty necessary and the best one I’ve come across is the BOB jogging stroller. There’s also a travel system! Another feature that I thought I’d love, but isn’t actually that practical for us is the bassinet. These are so popular right now and they’re so cute! But when Finn was a tiny baby that slept all the time, it worked better to just snap his carseat in the stroller instead of having to transition him. Now that he’s older and doesn’t like the carseat as much, he doesn’t want to be laying down in the bassinet so we hardly ever got to use it. Again, we’ve been really happy with our stroller for the most part. I’d totally get it again – just some things to consider when you think about what’s going to be necessary for your lifestyle!
This is a product I wouldn’t say is overly necessary, but can be nice. A lot of people really like the Bumbo. After reading some reviews, I actually went with the Ingenuity Baby Base 2-in-1 Seat. We haven’t got to use it much yet because there isn’t much support. Baby can’t really sit in it until they can hold up their own head well. Even then, if they can’t sit up on their own, I haven’t found it to be overly comfortable/enjoyable for Finn. Maybe we would’ve felt differently about the Bumbo – I’m just not sure. The thing I think it will be really nice for is to use as a travel high chair as he gets a little bit older! So it’s usefulness is TBD!
The chair we actually LOVED was given to us! It’s the Fisher-Price Sit-Me-Up Floor Seat. It’s not something I would’ve picked out for myself because I don’t think its overly “cute,” but this is one of the best items we’ve had for Finn during the transition from newborn to older baby. It actually supports the head and body enough for a wobbly baby to sit in, it has toys attached for play, and it collapses for easy storage and travel! When a young baby is so limited with what they’re able to do, but they’re interested in being up and playing – this is such a winner!
We tried two swings. A friend shared their 4moms mamaRoo with us, but Finn didn’t end up loving it. I was happy we didn’t spend the money on it, but I have heard so many moms swear by it, so I think it just depends on your baby. It also may be a factor that ours was an older model that swung front to back. The newest model with an option for the oscillating motion does seem to be popular with babies and would be worth it to me to try!
The other swing we used was the Ingenuity ConvertMe Swing-2-Seat and we liked it. It’s pretty generic generic as far as swings go, but we liked the vibrating feature and it folds up for convenient storage and travel which is nice. It is also battery powered versus needing a cord which makes it easily portable. Finnley didn’t love this swing either, but I think I’m chalking that up to him just not being a swing baby.
The high chair we chose is the Ingenuity SmartClean Trio Elite 3-in-1 High Chair. (Wow who names all these baby items?!) I didn’t even realize all the features of this chair when we bought it, but I’m so glad we did! The high chair seat just clicks out of the base easily like a carseat/stroller travel system. This way you can attach it to a chair if that works better for you. It also allows you to use the base as a booster seat! So cool! The high chair seat reclines which is helpful to use with a younger baby who’s not fully sitting up on their own yet. The extra cool bonus is that there is a clear topper on the high chair tray that you just click off after meal time to wash and click back on. It makes life so easy! I’ve found the whole chair to be really easy to clean. It’s lightweight, easy to assemble, and super affordable! The only drawback I’ve been able to notice with this high chair is how wide the base is. It ends up taking up quite a bit of space – but this is really its only con and something that could matter if you have a small space. Overall, highly recommend!
We used the Comotomo Silocone bottles and started bottle feeding once a day when Finn was several weeks old. We picked these because a bunch of research suggested they were the easiest for breast fed babies to use without nipple confusion. They worked great! Finn had no issues at all. We transitioned to these larger ones when he got a bit older and he loved them.
Once when we were away, I ended up forgetting bottles and Jordan had to run to the store (that was after he’d come back from running to the store because I forgot formula! wow) and they were out of the Comotomo so we got the Philips Avent 3pk Anti-colic Baby Bottle AirFree Vent. It turned out that we loved these. Finn was a pretty gassy new baby and I think these could’ve been helpful for us to have tried earlier so we’ll definitely keep that in mind for future babies. Finn’s face was also really sensative to skin irritations, especially around his mouth, and these bottles don’t rub on the skin as much as the Comotomo bottles do which actually helped his skin clear up!
The Boppy is definitely the most popular nursing pillow, but I used the My Breast Friend Delux on recommendation from a friend and I was SO happy with it. It has a lot more structure than a poppy and offers more support which I like. It clips around your waist and stays in place so well that you can literally walk around and use it as a personal table (not that we tried that 😉 ) I unexpectedly had a c-section and this made the My Breast Friend less convenient. Because my stomach was so sensitive it was unable to clip it around my waist which was a bummer. I still appreciated the extra support, but wasn’t able to fully enjoy it. If you’re having a planned c-section, I might stick with the Boppy, but 100% recommend the My Breast Friend for moms who give birth naturally.
We have the Blooming Bath Lotus – Baby Bath and it is so wonderful! One thing to note is that it isn’t great for brand new babies. Especially since at first they only get sponge baths and not that regularly. For brand new babies I’d just recommend an extra large washcloth to cover their body with during bath time to keep them warm. At first I thought the Blooming Bath was a waste of money, but now I’d totally recommend it! It wasn’t until Finnley was 4 months old (when he was able to start supporting himself a bit more) that he really started to love the Blooming Bath. For the in between time, I’ve heard really good things about this simple bath that can be used in a tub. For a smaller sink bath, this type of foam bath option is pretty popular. This Comfy Bath Sponge is another sink alternative that’s a lot cheaper.
The blooming bath fills in a larger kitchen sink and keeps baby cozy, helps him to stay put instead of slipping around, and it keeps him warm! Finn thinks baths are really fun these days and I think using the Blooming Bath is a huge part of it!
For new babies the #1 clothing item that I suggest and basically the only thing Finnley wore for the first bit of his life are sleepers! As cute as buttons are, I think zippers are way more practical and easy. Especially when you’re sleep deprived! The kind that zip from the foot instead of from the top are a life saver because you can change diapers without fully undressing your babe which is really convenient. Target has a great selection of sleepers that zip from the feet! Their Cloud Island line is pretty tough to beat at $12.99 for a 3pk.
As miraculous as it is, I’ve still hardly spent any money on clothes for Finnley. Partially because people were so generous to us with clothes for his first months of life and partially because – budget! 😉 I’m always on the hunt for where I can get the cutest things for the best deals and these are my favorite stores for finding baby gems at great prices: [Target is great, but very mainstream] for more unique items that not everyone has – Marshalls, TJmaxx, Ross Dress For Less, and H & M (clearance!) Those stores are probably where 90% of Finn’s clothes are from.
When it comes to online shopping, there are a few sites I love for their really fun clothes and great deals!!
I also love checking Groupon regularly or when there’s something specific I’m needing because you never know when they’ll be running a deal!
And of course we buy EVERYTHING else on Amazon. Does that even need to be said? 🙂
It turns out bibs are a must that I didn’t even know about. We were gifted a set of bandana bibs from Copper Pearl and they are one of my favorite. baby things. ever. They’re really high quality and so so cute. They come in sets of 4 and there’s so many options to choose from. Also, a great deal (especially considering that Finn wears one almost every day.) Not only are they great for teething drool, if you have a baby that spits up a lot (lucky you!) they extend an outfit just a little longer and keep you from having to do even more laundry.
Copper Pear also has some of the most dreamy matching swaddle + hat or bow sets out there. Perfect for those newborn pictures and the type of items you’ll want to hang onto for the next baby!
If you register at Target, which most people do, you’ll probably naturally scan the Soothie pacifiers. They’re really popular, but here’s my take on them: they’re heavy! It might work for some babies, but Finn couldn’t keep them in at all. I will say that the Wubbanub pacifiers that are connected to a small stuffed animal are amazing. It’s so helpful for keeping the pacifier in baby’s mouth when they’re little an unable to do it themselves.
Really all round pacifiers, as cute as they are, were hard for Finnley to use. They’re so trendy, but they’re huge on a new baby’s face and irritated Finn’s nose. We used the Natursutten and Finn liked it better than the Soothie (much lighter), but again, it would leave marks on his nose when he’d suck on it.
When I finally found a Paci that Finn really seemed to like, he was kind of over them and he just isn’t too interested anymore. However, the winner for us was the Chico natural fit clear silicone pacifiers. The combo of weight and shape just seemed to be the easiest for him to keep in his mouth and the price was great too! This leads me to believe that he would’ve probably like this version of the Natursutten, had we tried it so if the natural rubber is important to you, I’d give those a shot.
The pacifier I’m really interested in trying that we never did is the PATpat pacifier. They are SO cute and, even though they are the round shape, I’ve heard great reviews about how well brand new babies take to them. I’ll definitely give these a try with the next!
There are so many really cute pacifier clips out there and great shops that sell them. Thankfully, it’s mostly about the look because it’s pretty hard to go wrong with a pacifier clip, but here’s my experience with the ones we have!
One of my favorite pacifier clips is from Wolf + Cub. They have fun combinations of wood and silicone along with other cute things at their shop! Most places that sell similar Paci clips charge twice the price so I appreciate how affordable they are!
If you like the wood look, this deal on Amazon is amazing and I’ll definitely be taking advantage of it down the road!!
For Finn, I’ve loved the silicone clips because of how much he likes to chew on them! Our favorites come from ItyBity. These clips come in a pack of two for a really great price and I highly recommend them!
I’ll probably end up thinking of something I forgot to include, but these are the things that have helped us to survive (and thrive! 😉 ) through this new world of parenting and I hope it helps another new mom or two to navigate the baby aisles!
NOTHING you can buy for that new baby IS AS GOOD AS YOU! They’re already blessed you’ll be their mom and everything else is just bonus (& could just make your life a littleee easier!) Happy Shopping!
Have any questions I didn’t cover? Send them my way!!