There are literally thousands of baby products on the market that claim to solve whatever problems the parents of a newborn face. Some are great, some are a waste of time and some just do what they say they’ll do. How does a new parent sort through what they do, in fact, need and not need? I’d say that the best advice for this comes from parents themselves.
During the year that I did “The Adventures of Dad” blog here on Plug In, I did a couple of reader input features that went over very well with the community. While I no longer dad blog on a regular basis, I thought it was time to revisit the community concept with the following question:
What is a Newborn Must Have?
I opened the question up to moms (and dads!) around the nation and gathered some of the answers up to share and throw in my two cents.
A little bit more noise
Heather of White Rock, BC says: A sound machine for bedtime. You need to play around with the different sounds to find one that calms them.
My take: My wife and I originally started out parent life without a sound machine and it was going pretty well. Unfortunately, summer came along with kids running and screaming through the park two doors down. We ended up purchasing a white noise machine (leaving it on the default white noise setting) and things changed for the better. My daughter was able to sleep nights through all the noise at the park.
One of the reasons a white noise machine can be so helpful to a baby resisting sleep is the fact that they had previously spent so much time in the womb in consistent noise. Whenever my daughter was resisting sleep in the first couple months, all I had to do was put on the first few guitar riffs of any rock band (except for my beloved AC/DC) and she’d be sound asleep.
That doesn’t mean the baby is going to sleep through everything. It does mean that the consistent noise is likelier to help block out those noisy neighbours next door/upstairs or kids in the park and help them sleep deeper. Most new families are starting family life in apartments or condos meaning you’re sharing thin walls with lots of people around you. Newborns have very frequent sleep cycles in their infancy as well meaning that they will enter light sleep every 45 minutes. Doing what you can to help them transition from cycle to cycle effectively is crucial.
You may find actual White Noise doesn’t work. It may be the lullabies or sea sounds. Get a machine that has multiple options and see what works for you.
Ariane of Mississauga, ON says: When it comes to dressing your newborn, ours was in one piece sleepers most of the time, even when we went out. They’re easy to put on a squishy newborn, they can stay in them all day and night (so long as they don’t get dirty), diaper changing is a breeze with only have to take the leg-part off, and the baby is comfortable.
Matt’s take: Your newborn doesn’t need to create a fashion statement and when they’re sleeping 2/3rds of the day, practicality is paramount. I agree with Ariane here. Put the track suits and fancy outfits away and embrace the sleeper. You don’t need to worry about matching outfits, socks or shoes (the latter of which I think is completely useless apparel for the first few months anyway) and your baby can rest, feed and sleep in comfort.
The three most common types of sleepers: Middle Snap, Zippered and Side Snap
Taking this one step further, I’m a bigger fan of zippered sleepers than anything else. The photo above was from my daughter’s sleeper pile when she was 3 weeks old. All of the sleepers we have now are 100% zippers.
Lots of sleeping options
Tara of Saskatoon, SK says: Different sleeping (sleepwear?) options. I couldn’t swaddle my son when he was younger and we had to live off Halo sleepsacks because he wouldn’t sleep with blankets when he was old enough to.
My take: This one describes my life to a tee. In fact, we still haven’t introduced my daughter to blankets yet because she runs marathons in her sleep. She broke out of every swaddle from day 1 like she was the Incredible Hulk trying to be restrained by the National Guard. She kicked off every blanket in her sleep and would wake up cold and crying. Still, we had to try everything we could and we also settled on Halo sleepsacks. I’d actually recommend that when first time parents pack their overnight bag for the hospital, they take a swaddle, a sleeper and a sleepsack (or sleep bag depending on whom you buy from.) We went through all of these in those first few days and nearly two years later, still have a rotation of sleepsacks because that’s still our best shot at keeping warm all night.
As a throwback to the Adventures of Dad, I dedicated half of an entire blog to sleepwear and the sleepwear debate that you may want to read. In fact, it was the first reader input piece I did.
Laura of Burnaby, BC (Ok, my wife) says: A baby carrier. Don’t you remember how much we got done while Charlotte nestled in comfort?
My take: Why yes. Yes I do. When my daughter decided she wanted nothing more than to live a life of eating, sleeping, occasionally sitting in her chair and cuddling, the latter called for a baby carrier. My daughter would chill out, nap and see the world from the comfort of this carrier, and it allowed us to tend to household chores, go shopping and more while tending to this needy baby. When I was category editor for video games here at Plug In a couple years ago, I was able to multitask and review during baby carrier nap time. Mario Kart 8 will always have a special place in my heart because of the countless hours of it I played with my daughter asleep and drooling into my shirt.
We rotated through two carriers. Early carrying and naps were done with the help of the Ergobaby and its infant insert. Once my daughter’s head and neck strength were strong enough to front face, we had her in the Original Babybjorn until she was able to walk. Carriers come in all shapes and sizes. I have a friend who swears by slings and wraps but they weren’t for us.
For a newborn, be sure to do some research into whether the carrier you’re buying is safe for their weight and size. Ergobaby and its infant insert, for example, specially position the baby for healthy hip development and can used on a child as small as 7lb.
Countless parents also suggested nursing pillows to help bring stability to feeding time. I realize there are different holding and cradling methods out there that have worked for many of you but it seems to me like it would make matters much easier just to rest baby on something while saving your arms for cuddles and rocking to sleep. As one West Coast mother put it – “I thought my arms were going to fall off until my mom bought one for me. 100% the first thing I recommend to any new mom!”
I have to add that I feel a good bottle sterilizer is a must. While my daughter was breastfed for a long time, we had to transition her to bottles in time for my paternity leave to begin. That meant nightly bottle sterilization, most of which we did at night after baby went to sleep. However, you tend to be tired yourself and the old method of sterilization (a boiling pot of water) isn’t really the safest thing in the world. There are countless protein fires annually that are inadvertently started by parents who leave their pots to boil and fall asleep, waking up to their smoke detector going off. A misstep can cost thousands of dollars. For less than $100, you can get a really good bottle sterilizer that can do the job with about a half cup of water (instead of litres) and more importantly, automatically shuts itself off when it’s done.
I’d like to thank everybody that participated and just to summarize, here is the final checklist courtesy of parents nationwide.
- Sound/White Noise Machines
- Practical Clothing
- Sleepsacks and/or Swaddle Blankets
- Baby Carriers
- Nursing Pillows
- Bottle Sterilizer
Do you have anything to add to our list? Please comment below.
Find a wide range of apparel, health and wellbeing products for baby at Best Buy
If you’re breastfeeding, you can pass on the bottle sterilizers, even if you’re pumping. Sterilize the bottle the first time you use it (boil for five minutes) and then dish soap is fine. Hasn’t given us any problems yet. If you’re using formula, that’s a different story. Sterilize away.
White noise is awesome. I use an old BlackBerry and a bluetooth speaker with the Dreamsounds app. A potentially cheaper option than a dedicated white noise machine, and is more versatile because I can load whatever music or sounds that I want on to it. You’re not limited by the settings of a dedicated white noise machine.
I’m so glad baby carriers are a big thing again. They are much easier to use than a stroller and don’t take up the space. It makes shopping more convenient because you can push a shopping cart without having to worry about the safety issues of putting a bucket seat on the cart (super unsafe and not recommended, BTW) and you can leave the stroller at home. In terms of being out with our daughter, I can probably count on my hands the number of times we’ve NEEDED a stroller.
In terms of nursing pillows, skip all the others and go with My Brest Friend. Seriously. It’s more expensive than the competition, but there is absolutely a reason for it. It’s a stiff foam pad that essentially acts as a shelf. In addition, it has a strap that clips on so you really don’t have to support the pillow at all. All you really need to do is adjust it to the height you want it so your baby is level and then have a light grip on the baby to prevent them from rolling off. My wife went without for the first few weeks, and then I went out tog et her a pillow and came back with that, and she still tells me that it is probably the single most useful thing she has received in terms of taking care of our daughter when she was a newborn. Seriuosly, skip the rest, go with My Brest Friend.
My daughter was swaddled for the longest time. Not traditionally swaddled (I can’t use a swaddling blanket to save my life), but we used swaddle pods. They are basically the same concept as the Halo Sleepsack Swaddle that is listed in the article. My daughter slept in those for a long time, even after she was able to flip herself over, because for a while when she would flip over, she would wake up. The swaddle pods helped keep her on her back and asleep. Once she outgrew them, we started using other things, and now she just sleeps in her pajamas.
Speaking of sleepwear, avoid the snaps. Snaps might seem cute, but at 3Am when you have to get your child out of it because they had a **bleep**-splosion, you’re not going to want to have to contend with 30 snaps on your way there. That also falls into the realm of practical clothing. Your kid doesn’t care what they wear, why should you? Just make sure they are warm and comfortable.
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