countdown to baby: gear guide

When I was pregnant with my first son in 2013, I was so overwhelmed by the registry process. I remember walking into a Buy Buy Baby store for the first time and almost feeling paralyzed. Strollers, car seats, bouncers, burp cloths — there were just so many options. Luckily, with this new baby on the way, I already have a collection of tried-and-tested gear that I know works for my family and our lifestyle, and I wanted to share a few of my must-have baby items for those early newborn baby days.

1. Car Seat
The most important item to have before going into labor is a car seat — you can't leave the hospital with baby without one. There is no one "best" car seat, though. The right seat really depends on the kind of car you drive, how often you'll be using it in taxis/ubers/rental cars, what kind of stroller you plan to use, and your budget. To help sort through the many, many options, I highly recommend this guide. We have a Chicco KeyFit 30 — it fits well in our smaller cars, it's compatible with a lot of strollers, and it's not crazy expensive.

2. Diapers, Wipes, and Diaper Cream
Eat, sleep, poop — that's basically what a newborn's day consists of. Let's talk about the poop side of the equation first. You will need diapers, either disposable or reusable cloth. If you go the cloth diaper route, bravo! I never had it in me to do that, though, and Graydon wore Pampers until he was potty trained. This time around, I want to be a bit more environmentally friendly, so I'm switching to Babyganics diapers. I am a big fan of Babyganics products (including their diaper cream), and the diapers are soft, have a wetness indicator (a necessity as far as I'm concerned), and are chlorine, latex, petroleum, and fragrance free. For cleaning up a messy baby, Costco's Kirkland brand wipes are the best I have used.

3. Footed Rompers
Tiny baby clothes are so irresistible, amirite? It is so tempting to buy all the mini sweaters, jeans, tutus, and dresses, but all you really need for the first several months are footed one-piece jumpsuits/rompers. Seriously, the fewer pieces you have to put on a newborn, the better. As a stylist, I resisted this at first, but trust me — keep it simple and pick up a bunch of these babies. I love the global-inspired prints at Tea Collection, but there are also great options at Target, Old Navy, Carters, BabyGap, and basically anywhere else you can buy baby clothes.

4. Stroller
Just like the carseat, the kind of stroller you need depends on several factors, including lifestyle, how many kids you plan to have (and how close together you plan to have them), and budget. Strollers can be very expensive, with some higher end models starting at more than $1,000, but there are plenty of budget-friendly options that offer lots of features. We have a now-discontinued Baby Jogger City Versa and love it, but if I was buying a stroller now I would get the City Select Lux. It converts from a single to a double stroller, so it's ideal for a growing family. However, I am seriously considering getting a jogging stroller this time around — I have my eye on the Baby Jogger Summit X3 or Bumbleride Speed.

5. Swing/Bouncer
Not all babies like swings/bouncers — my first kid couldn't stand any of the ones we bought/borrowed for him — but I have heard amazing things about the 4Moms mamaRoo and I'm excited to try it with this new babe. It's a high-tech infant seat, used in more than 350 maternity wards, NICUs, and pediatric units across the U.S. to soothe newborns, so it must be good. The price is a little steep, but I got mine used through a local mom-to-mom group at a fraction of the retail price.

6. Bottles
Remember that eat, sleep, poop equation from earlier? When it comes to the eating part, I honestly believe that FED IS BEST. There is so much pressure on moms to breastfeed, which is awesome if it works out! I was super lucky that breastfeeding went well for me* the first time around, but I wanted to go back to work, so that meant giving bottles. It took some serious trial and error to find one that my kid would actually take, so when we found the Comotomo baby bottle it felt like a miracle. This bottle is seriously great, though — the shape of the nipple mimics an actual breast, it doesn't have a million weird parts so it's easy to clean, and the design is on point. 
*Even though breastfeeding went well, pumping was always a challenge for me, so I had to supplement with formula. I beat myself up about it, needlessly — my kid was fine. Just remember, fed is best!

7. Bassinet/Crib/Bedding
Now for the final piece of the equation - sleep! Your baby will need somewhere to sleep, whether it's a crib in the nursery or a bassinet in your bedroom. I love the styling of the Babyletto Lolly crib, and unlike pricier cribs, it actually comes with everything needed to convert it to a toddler bed. (These sheets would be so darling with this crib — I adore a well-designed monochromatic nursery!) If you want to go the bassinet route, I love the clean, modern lines and breathable mesh sides of the Baby Bjorn cradle, but you also can't go wrong with a Pack 'n' Play or Rock 'n' Play.

8. Swaddle Blankets
There is nothing sweeter than a swaddled newborn — especially if that swaddle helps said newborn sleep! Muslin swaddle blankets also make fantastic car seat covers, nursing covers, play blankets, scarves, blanket forts, and more, so you really can't have too many of these babies. I adore the gorgeous prints from Little Unicorn and Clementine Kids, and you can find so many great swaddles at the Spearmint Love shop.

9. Baby Carrier/Wrap
Last but not least, having some sort of wrap/baby carrier is key. Even if you don't plan on getting dressed or leaving the house, having your hands free to do things like eat, let the dog out, go pee, wrangle your toddler, etc. without having to put your baby down is so helpful. I prefer a wrap for wearing a tiny newborn and a soft structured carrier for an older baby. Solly Baby makes gorgeous wraps, and it's a super-cool, woman-owned company, which is always a bonus! I also had an Ergobaby original carrier the first time around, but I recently sold it (thanks, local mom-to-mom group!) and upgraded to the new Ergobaby Omni 360 carrier. It has four carry positions and can be used with babies as little as 7 lbs. without an additional infant insert. I can't wait to try it with this new baby!

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