Savannah Walsh shares 10 not-so-obvious baby items every new mom needs so you can add them to your baby registry.
MyRegistry contributing writer Savannah Walsh is a Canadian mommy blogger, a mother of five, and the face behind That Caffeinated Mom, where she talks pregnancy, birth, everyday mom life, and baby items every mom needs in her own relatable and very candid storytelling style.
When I was pregnant with my first baby, I was overwhelmed by the number of baby products on the market. There is a this, a that, and a this-that for everything you could possibly imagine in the baby world. When it came to the big-ticket items, everyone had an opinion of what was best, and they were itching to tell me what car seat to buy, which stroller was best, or what swing went fast enough to rock a baby to sleep. While that was wonderful, I found that no one was telling me about the little random products that made their lives so much easier on a day-to-day basis.
Over the last eight years, throughout my journey of motherhood, I have tried and tested quite a few baby products. Maybe more than a few. Okay, fine... I have tried and tested a lot of baby products. From the big to small, I have tried them all! Which is why I’m here to let you in on a little secret: Those “insignificant” products are the ones I rely on the most.
So, allow me to save you some time (and even more pocket change) while I tell you the ten not-so-obvious things every new mom needs!
White Noise Machine
I discovered the importance of a good white noise machine right from the beginning with baby number one. Like most anxious first-time moms, I was absolutely horrified by the idea of my baby being woken up. The fear around sleep was so real that I was 100 percent that person who ran around shushing, tiptoeing, and not flushing the toilet after I peed because I was so afraid of waking her up... Until one day when I needed to vacuum. I put Skylar in her bed while I quickly got it done. When I was finished, I returned to her crib only to discover that the sound of the vacuum had put her straight to sleep! From that day on we’ve used white noise machines with all our babies and toddlers.
White noise is incredibly soothing to newborns, as it reminds them of the womb, their first home. In the womb, babies can hear muffled sounds from the outside, the sound of your heart beating, and the continuous sound of the blood moving through the umbilical cord. In addition to the comfort it can bring, it also helps block out regular household noises that could potentially wake them. As I’m sure you can imagine, our house as a family of seven can get pretty noisy, so we have a white noise machine in every bedroom to help ensure that no one gets woken up from their naps.
Okay, confession... I never wanted to swaddle my babies. I didn’t understand how to swaddle properly, I didn’t understand the point, and if I’m being truly honest, I didn’t think it looked as cute (I mean, is there anything cuter than a baby sprawled out and stretching in their sleep?!). It wasn’t until my first night with an inconsolable baby that my mind changed. It was 3:30am, and Skylar (my eldest) was 5 days old and absolutely inconsolable. Of course, it was the first day her dad was back at work on a graveyard shift, and I was all alone with this tiny little human… I had NO idea what to do. I was on the phone with my poor midwife, hysterically crying as we went through a long list of things I could try to soothe the baby, when she suggested tightly swaddling her. I quickly looked up on YouTube how to swaddle a baby (I’m not kidding), swaddled her, picked her up, and boom—she stopped crying. Now I’m nicknamed “The Swaddle Queen” by all my mom friends because I swear by swaddling.
Swaddling reminds your newborn of being all snug as a bug in the womb, and it helps with their “startle reflex.” When newborns are startled (by hearing a loud noise, or feeling a sudden movement) they sometimes quickly extend their arms and their legs, causing some babies to wake frequently. Swaddling can help control the startle reflex (usually until about 3 months of age), which can help them sleep a lot better.
Nowadays, there are many different kinds of swaddles that are helpful for all different stages of swaddling.
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My first two babies consumed their weight and more in gripe water. Okay, maybe not quite, but it was a lifesaver for them. Gripe water is an over-the-counter liquid solution of blended herbs that is supposed to help soothe gas pains and stomach discomforts. There is debate on whether it works or not, as not everyone favors homeopathic remedies, but we felt it really helped some of our babies. The more babies we had, the more tricks we learned to help with gas and stomach pains, so the gripe water became less frequently used, but it’s something I always have on hand just in case we have a night with a gassy baby that just won’t quit.
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Nail File and Clippers
Important message for new moms: Babies’ nails come out long and sharp! This may sound totally crazy, but I didn’t clip a newborn’s nails until my fifth baby. I was so afraid of cutting their tiny little fingers that I dodged the task until they were older and had bigger fingers so I could see better—that is, until we had our newest baby, Cullen. That boy cut up his poor face so so badly his first few days that I had to cut his nails. Thankfully, I found these amazing clippers from FridaBaby that have a peekaboo hole at the top to help you see exactly what you’re cutting.
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Everyone tells you that you need a little baby bath, but no one tells you how much of a challenge it becomes at the 4- to 5-month-old mark, when your baby is first learning to sit up. At that point, they tend to not be so keen on lying in those little baby baths that were oh-so-convenient when they were newborns. They aren’t yet at all secure enough in their sitting skills to sit in the bathtub unassisted, but they start to fuss at the idea of laying down. I remember battling my first in the bath for a good month or so, desperately trying to get her quickly bathed while she was attempting to sit up in the baby bath. I finally discovered bath seats, and it was a game changer!
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As a first-time mom, I was naturally petrified of germs and spent a whole lot of time sterilizing pacifiers, breast pump pieces, and bottles. Believe me, filling a pot of water, waiting for it to boil, putting everything in it, waiting 5–10 minutes, emptying the contents out of the water (while attempting to not touch each piece to ensure it stayed sanitized), then waiting for it all to cool down, gets pretty tiring after a few times, especially if you’re bottle feeding! Microwavable sterilizers save tons of time and make the whole process much more convenient. And let’s face it, as a mom, every single minute of our energy is crucial.
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Car Seat Mirror
I am honestly laughing at myself here because this is one of those things I used with my first baby and then never thought of again until my fifth baby. I don’t mean to say they aren’t great, I truthfully just forgot there was this simple solution to the age-old problem of “I can’t see my baby while I’m in the car.” Even as a fifth-time mom, I still panic in the car when I can’t see my baby.
“Is his hat on his eyes??”
“Is he still sleeping??”
“Does he still have his pacifier??”
I feel ridiculously silly thinking back to my last three babies and how many times I’ve forced myself to turn in a way only a mother could possibly manage, while breaking my back and my one arm attempting to shove a pacifier in my baby’s ear or nose from the front seat of my car. Car seat mirrors make driving much easier when you can simply look in your rearview mirror and check on your baby.
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This is a brand-new (and life-changing) discovery in our house! Our toddlers are frequently found searching high and low through our house looking for the box of wipes or a diaper for the newest baby, while I am with a baby on a change table yelling, “Did you check under the couch?!” If things don’t have a designated place in our house, they are constantly missing. I decided to get a diaper caddy this time around to help us keep our wipes and diaper cream in an easy-to-reach-for spot. It also made our changing stations look much cleaner and more organized, which for me is a huge win.
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There’s only one thing that will stink up your house worse than the smell of fresh newborn poop, and that’s rancid baby bottles. Breastmilkthathasbeensittingoutforanylengthoftime in a bottle has a kind of smell I can’t even describe to you guys. Maybe the only thing worse than that smell is… leftover formula bottles. Ideally, you should wash your bottles right after they’re used, but who has time for that?! Cleaning bottles is the last thing you want to do after finally getting your baby back to sleep, so they frequently get left until the next day, or the day after that. The smell can be so hard to get out that I have had to throw out bottles over it! I tried so many different concoctions and soaps to get the smell out of my bottles with no luck, until I found Dapple Bottle Soap. I personally find the lavender scent helps the most, however even the unscented one does an impressive job.
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Sun Shielding Dome
I won’t lie to you, I am not a playpen person. I’ve never really had the need for one and never desired one, so I was pleasantly surprised when I realized how helpful these little outside domes are. Having quite a few summer babies myself, we’ve spent countless days at the beach or the park with a newborn, and it's always a bit of a challenge. The baby needs to sleep while we’re there, but the car seat isn't the best option for a nap. You can lay them on your blanket on the ground, but then the sun is in their eyes, or you could wear them in the baby carrier, but then you both boil while sitting there. These little domes are an amazing way to have hands-free fun outside with your baby, providing them with a place to play or nap with sun and bug protection.
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Even as a well-seasoned mom to five, I am continually discovering new products and tricks that are game changers for us with a new baby. Every baby requires something a little bit different from another, but that’s part of the fun!
I hope these suggestions can help make your life more convenient and get you a little bit more sleep. There is no hood like motherhood, my friends—enjoy the ride!
About the Writer
Canadian blogger Savannah Walsh is the mom of five little ones and the face behind That Caffeinated Mom, where she talks pregnancy, birth, postpartum struggles, and everyday mom life in her own relatable and very candid storytelling style. Savannah has created a space for moms from all walks of life to connect over motherhood by telling the real-life story of a regular mom, including the tough parts of motherhood we sometimes shy away from. When Savannah had her first baby, she knew very little about the mom world and quickly felt overwhelmed by the number of options available to her, from baby brands to parenting advice. Over the years, she’s tried just about every baby and kid product there is, along with developing her own parenting style and devising ways to stay sane while balancing a busy household. Savannah joins us every month on MyRegistry to share her stories, mom tips, and favorite baby products.
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