Tomorrow Penny will be 3 months old (!!), so I thought it might be a good time to finally publish the product recommendation post I’ve been talking about posting for the past, um, month? (Have I mentioned how much harder it is to complete a blog post these days? Lol.) If I’d had my game together maybe I would’ve had this posted in time for Black Friday / Cyber Monday so you guys could’ve taken advantage of the many, many sales going on over the weekend buuuuuut… sorry. Hopefully it’s helpful anyway!
I think you guys may have realized that I now own and have tried out a LOT of baby crap at this point. So these are some of the things that I recommend based on how the past three months with our little munchkin have gone! Probably doesn’t need to be said, but 1) as Penny is my first baby, I am clearly not an expert, and 2) every baby is different, of course, so what’s worked for Penny may not work for your little one, and vice versa.
But, that being said, I know that I myself found product recommendation posts super helpful when I was preggo and doing my due-diligence in researching and browsing and building my registry. I’m sure this’ll end up being quite a long list, so I’ll try to keep my commentary short & sweet… with “try” being the operative word, since y’all know how I do like to go on. Also, some of the links below are affiliate links — if you end up wanting buying something through them, I just get a little somethin’ from Amazon that I can put towards the next round of stuff I’ll inevitably be buying for my baby. 😉
All right, heeeeere we go!
- Diaper Bag: Ju-Ju-Be B.F.F
- You’re gonna need a diaper bag, that’s just a fact. If you’re anything like me, your diaper bag WILL be your purse, so it might as well be cute, right? Ju-Ju-Be bags are kind of pricey but I was gifted mine as a shower present from my wonderful friend Jackie, and I looooove it. It’s cute and super functional (can be worn as a shoulder/messenger bag or as a backpack, the entire thing is machine washable). The only thing is that I do wish it were a little bit bigger, but Ju-Ju-Be does make a larger backpack-style diaper bag called the B.R.B. as well (which my sister has.)
- Wet Bag: Planet Wise Diaper Small Wet Bag
- Even if you don’t plan on cloth diapering, having some wetbags around is crucial since tiny babies are known for causing all kinds of messes when it’s least convenient. I keep an extra outfit for Penny in one of these wet bags inside her diaper bag. If she has an accident or spits up too much and needs to be changed while we’re out on about, the new outfit goes on and the dirty clothes go right into the bag. Then you can toss everything in the wash when you get home — bag included!
- Burp Cloths: Aden + Anais Burpy Bibs and Cloth Diaper Prefolds
- You’re gonna need burp cloths and you’re gonna need a LOT of them. I LOVE the Aden + Anais Burpy Bibs because they are burp cloths that are perfectly shaped to go over your shoulder but also have a small snap so you can use them like a bib that goes all the way around your baby. I also highly recommend picking up some diaper prefolds even if you’re not planning on cloth diapering because they make amazing spit-up rags — so cheap and absorbent!
- Swaddle Blankets: Aden + Anais Silky Soft Swaddles
- Penny hated being swaddled the instant she turned about 13 days old, but I’m still glad we have 134920394 muslin swaddle blankets because they’re definitely multifunctional — I use them as blankets, of course, but also as burp cloths, nursing covers, to lay down on the floor for tummy time, etc. So it’s not a bad idea to have a little stockpile of muslin blankets, and despite Penny’s face in the photos above indicating otherwise, these Silky Soft Swaddles are our favorites. They’re SO soft but also have just the tiniest amount of stretch so if you are going to use them for swaddling, they let you wrap up that baby burrito nice and tight.
- Boppy Pillow
- If you’re planning on nursing, I highly, highly, highly recommend you get a Boppy pillow and a couple of covers. It makes nursing a floppy, can’t-control-any-part-of-its-body-newborn so much easier, and has functionality beyond nursing once your baby is stable enough to prop up. I use mine all day, every day, and even brought it with us to Texas.
- Pacifiers: Phillips Soothie and MAM pacifiers
- I’ve mentioned before that Penny would only take Soothies, which I didn’t like because I think they’re ugly, but who cares if it makes your baby happy, right? Only she still couldn’t really keep them in her mouth — even when using a Wubbanub, which is a Soothie with a stuffed animal attached to it that’s supposed to help with that. Well, I’m glad to say that Penny is now using MAM pacifiers really well and she can actually keep them in her mouth and even sort of pull it back in once it starts to fall out!
- If you’re a mom-to-be I would recommend you do what I did and pick up at least one of every type of popular pacifier (Soothie, MAM, Nuk, Tommee Tippee) so you can see what your baby might take to — and do the same with bottles.
- Bottles: Phillips Avent Natural Bottles and Comotomo Baby Bottle
- Speaking of bottles, we primarily use the Avent Naturals with Penny, but also really like the Comotomo. However, the latter is a lot more expensive, so we only own one and decided it was more economical to invest in the Avents. Like with pacifiers, we tried a lot of different ones to see what worked best for Penny (you can get a free bottle in baby registry welcome kits a lot of the time.)
LET’S TALK ABOUT POOP:
So, babies poop. A lot. For the first six weeks of her life, Penny pooped every time she ate, which meant we were changing like 8 – 10 poopy diapers a day. You’re gonna wanna make changing those diapers as easy on yourself as possible, which, for us, means we have three separate changing areas set up around the house.
Upstairs we have a pack ‘n’ play with a changing table attachment in our bedroom plus a station set up on our dining table (which we don’t use very much), and a station in the nursery downstairs. Here are all the various poop-related accoutrements you’re gonna want to look into:
- Wipes: Bloom Baby Jumbo Wipes, Amazon Elements Baby Wipes
- I LOVE Bloom Wipes — they are huge and soft and have just the right amount of moisture. Big fan, but the cost per wipe is almost twice as much as Amazon Elements Baby Wipes, which are also great. I definitely would say opt for wipes packs that come with the little plastic flip top on each package, unless perhaps you enjoy the challenge of trying to shove the 5 extra wipes you accidentally pulled out back into the pack.
- Diapers: Honest Company
- Okay, okay, you caught me: obviously what I really love most about Honest Co diapers are the prints! But I also really like that the diapers are pretty chemical-free as far as diapers go, and are environmentally greener. Penny has also never had any issues with diaper rash using these, and we’ve only ever had one blowout in an Honest diaper (I bet I just totally jinxed it by saying that in writing though, lol.) You can get a diaper subscription through Honest or buy packs individually at Target, Buy Buy Baby, CVS, etc.
- My thoughts on some other brands: I do like Huggies a lot – they feel soft and cushy, Pampers are fine but not my fave (feels like they run small?), and I really don’t love Luvs (ironically?), as I think they feel really thin and cheap (I mean, they are a very economical choice tho!). All three brans are also scented, which is a little more irritating to Penny’s sensitive little baby bottom. I’ve also tried Parasol brand diapers and like them a lot (they also have super cute prints, and are much softer than Honest), but they swell up a lot when they’re wet just like Luvs do, and for the price I still think I prefer Honest.
- Organizers: Munchkin Diaper Duty Organizer (in the nursery) and the Eddie Bauer Nursery Caddy (for upstairs — it’s a portable caddy for easy toting around.)
- Hatch Baby Grow Scale + Changing Table
- The Hatch Baby Grow has been an awesome, if admittedly somewhat unnecessary, addition to our household. On its own, it’s a very nice, wipeable foam changing pad, but what really makes it great is that it’s also a baby scale that syncs with the Hatch Baby app. Through the (free) app, I can also keep track of Penny’s feedings, sleeps, diapers, etc.
- It is expensive, but there are changing pads out there like the Keekaroo Peanut that cost the same amount and don’t have any of the smart functionality, so I figure it’s worth it. Plus, Hatch’s customer service is AWESOME.
- Diaper pail: Dekor Plus Hands-Free Diaper Pail
- I like that the Dekor Plus lets you use regular garbage bags if you want (or a wet bag, if you’re cloth diapering), instead of (or in addition to) its own bag refill system. It contains the smell well and is a good size (and is half the price of diaper pails like the Ubbi!)
Breastfeeding is a commitment, and you might think that you’re saving tons of money by not having to buy formula, but you still need some stuff to make it all go smoothly. I’ve had a much easier time breastfeeding than a lot of other women, and I still think it’s tough. I highly, highly recommend having the following before you even head to the hospital:
- Reusable breast pads: EcoNursing Pads
- I like these ones better than Bamboobies brand because the outer layer is kind of waterproof so you’re less likely to leak through even if you were to fill the pad.
- Lansinoh Soothies Gel Pads
- They’re totally overpriced because you only get two per item, but they are soooo necessary in the first couple of weeks. Stick ’em in the fridge before applying.
- MotherLove Nipple Cream
- I got both this and lanolin cream, and vastly preferred this nipple butter as the lanolin was so thick it kind of hurt to apply.
- Sleeping nursing bra: Fiery Youth Nursing Bra Five-Pack
- These bras are not exactly super supportive, but they are very comfortable and a great price for getting so many. I still wear a bra or a nursing tank top to bed each night so I can use breast pads (and also because it’s just more comfortable.
- Daytime nursing bra: Bravado! Designs Nursing Bra
- You’ll want a more supportive bra for daytime use. They do sell underwire nursing bras, and I’ve also heard you can take any bra to Nordstrom and they’ll alter it to turn it into a nursing bra, but I find underwire incredibly painful and uncomfortable these days. This bra is pretty supportive even for being wireless, and it’s well-made and comfy.
Also, get use to planning your outfits around how easy it is to access your boobs. This usually means I’m dressed one or two ways these days — either I’m wearing an actual nursing top or dress, OR I’m using the two-shirt method with a nursing tank underneath a regular shirt or sweater. Here are my recommendations either way:
- Nursing tanks: Caramel Cantina 3-Pack
- I originally got the black, white, and grey set, then went back and purchased the other set of three later, so I have six in total. I throw these on under any shirt, sweater, or button up and am good to go.
- Nursing tops & dresses: LaClef Cold Shoulder Double-Layered Nursing Top and Hello MIZ Cold Shoulder Scoop Neck Dress
- I’m a big fan of this style of nursingwear because A) cold shoulder stuff is tres chic, and B) they basically offer the two-shirt method without you having to wear, well, two shirts. Lol. The dress in particular is very flattering and you can’t really tell it’s anything but a regular dress.
- Breastpump: Spectra S2
- My health insurance paid for my breastpump, and I got the Spectra S2 after seeing so many raves about it. Though i don’t really have anything to compare it to, I love this pump and it works really, really well for me. The flanges are wide-necked, which means they work directly with the Avent bottles, but you’ll need an adapter to pump into Medela storage bottles (I received a few of those from my insurance as well, so I got the adapter online for like $6.) I also ordered a smaller flange size to maximize my output, and I also got longer tubes so that I’d be able to sit further back from the base while pumping.
- I will say, I kind of wish I’d paid extra to upgrade the S1, which is exactly the same pump only it has a battery pack instead of needing to be plugged in. If you’ll be taking your pump back and forth to the office or anything like that, you might want to consider the S1 as an option instead.
- Silicone Pump / Milk Catcher
- I’d never heard of a silicone pump before joining some new mom Facebook groups, but this thing is a total game changer if you just want to keep a small stash of milk in the fridge or freezer without committing to regular pumping. It’s this little pump that you just suction to your other breast while nursing your baby, and it catches your let-down and allows you to rack up a nice little store of milk with no extra effort. For me, it “catches” 1 – 2 ounces each time I use it.
O BLESSED SLEEP:
I feel like I should be inserting a bunch of jokes about not really remembering what sleep is like, but we’re actually starting to get into a pretty good groove with sleep these days so I can’t say that anymore! She’s not sleeping straight through the night or anything, but she is getting to be predictable and have nice long stretches of 6 hours to start the night, then usually a 4 to 4.5 hour one after that, and then sometimes another 1 – 2 hours after that, so I really am not complaining.
That said, as you guys probably remember, this modicum of predictability in her sleep routine did not come quickly nor easily, and I definitely tried basically every single baby sleep product that exists in order to find out what works for us. And so!
- Sound machine: Hatch Baby Rest Night Light and Sound Machine and Cloud b Sleep Sheep / Peaceful Panda
- A sound machine has been a total necessity for Penny to sleep longer and more deeply. In addition to the scale, Hatch Baby also makes a cool nightlight/sound machine that is app controlled to be fully customizable, from the color and intensity of the light, to the type and volume of sound, how long it stays on, etc. It even has an “okay to wake” feature that you can use for when you have an older child that tries to get out of bed too early. I really love this because you can leave it going all night if you want, whereas most other baby sound machines all timeout after a certain amount of time.
- We also have the Cloud b Peaceful Panda (full-size) and Sleep Sheep On the Go (travel-size). These are great because they can attach to her crib, bassinet, swing, carseat, or wherever she’s sleeping, although they suffer from the time-limit issue mentioned above. White noise for everyone!
- You guys know from my previous post that I’m a 100% drinker of the DockATot Kool-Aid. This overpriced dog bed has just worked out really well for us, haha. Once Penny stopped letting us swaddle her, we couldn’t get her to sleep in her bassinet no matter what we tried, and I was super paranoid about just letting her sleep loose in bed with us. The DockATot solved both issues by helping her sleep better in her bassinet if we put it in there and allowing us to cosleep with her more confidently.
- The DockATot is what initially got us from 1.5 – 2 hour stretches of sleep, to 3 – 4 hours, which made a HUGE difference in my ability to, like, I dunno, function? And even though she doesn’t sleep in it every night anymore, it’s still awesome for naps and was super convenient when we traveled to Texas last week. All that being said, if there’s only ONE recommendation you take away from this entire far-too-long list, it’s not actually the DAT but what comes next…
- Baby Merlin’s Magic Sleepsuit
- Baby Merlin, I love you. This ridiculous marshmallow suit is without a doubt the BEST THING I HAVE PURCHASED. By transforming Penny into the Michelin Man each night, it has enabled her to graduate to the aforementioned 6+ hours stretch of sleep each night… in her CRIB… in her ROOM. I KNOWWWW!! A quick nursing session in the middle of the night and she’s back to sleep. Does it have actual magical powers? Perhaps! All I know is this ridiculous baby snowsuit has been my literal saving grace.
- Notes: it comes in both a microfleece and a cotton version. I got the cotton version because I was worried about her overheating, and it works really well where I can still put her in a onesie or a light sleeper underneath. Alas, this cannot be used for newborns, as I believe the minimum weight requirement is 12 lbs, and the maximum weight (of the next size up) is 21 lbs.
Much though your baby may protest, you are just not going to be able to hold him or her 100% of the time. Yeah, yeah, I know we have to cherish the snuggles and this time because it’s fleeting and before long they won’t want to be held, the laundry can wait, blah blah. This is true. But it’s also true that the laundry can only wait so long when every item of clothing I own is covered in spit-up, drool, sweat, breastmilk, or spilled food (from trying to eat while holding the baby.) And so, yes, sadly but truly, you gotta be able to put your baby down.
- Boppy Newborn Lounger
- Penny l-o-v-e-d the newborn lounger for the first month of her life. As she’s gotten bigger, she likes it less as I think she is less comfy and cozy in it (and also she prefers sitting up so she can see stuff), but it’s still nice to have a place to set her down next to me on the couch. I got an additional cover for it on Etsy as Boppy doesn’t actually make covers for this product (though you can put the whole thing in the washing machine.)
- Activity Gym/Playmat: Skip Hop Silver Linings Activity Gym
- This activity gym makes for a super plush place for Penny to get her play on a few times a day. It comes with a bunch of toys, a tummy time pillow, and has a great aesthetic that I really vibe with, lol. It’s such a plush, comfy playmat that Penny often falls asleep on it.
- Swing: Fisher-Price Cradle ‘n’ Swing
- You may already have read about how I was very resistant to getting a swing because our place isn’t very big, and swings take up a lot of room. Buuuut then I actually came home with my baby and realized that physically rocking her and bouncing her and swinging her all the time wasn’t really all that enjoyable when you had to do it for an hour straight. So we shoved our dining room table to the side and made room for the Cradle ‘n’ Swing, which I’d had the opportunity to try out at my sister’s house and Penny tooootally loved. Penny can easily take a 2-3 hour nap in this thing, it’s awesome.
- Floor Seat: Fisher-Price Sit-Me-Up Floor Seat
- Like I said above, Penny is at a stage where she absolutely loves sitting up and being able to see and interact with things, but, of course, is still too little to sit up on her own. A friend gave me her Bumbo floor seat, but alas, it didn’t work too well because A) the back doesn’t come up that far so Penny’s head kept falling all the way back, and B) her meaty thighs were already getting stuck in the leg holes, hahahahaha. Enter the Sit-Me-Up. Penny loves it! I still try not to have her in there for more than 10 – 15 minutes at a time as I want her to develop her own sitting up muscles, but it’s a really great way to entertain and exhaust her — the equivalent of holding her in a sitting position on my lap.
- Baby Carrier: Baby K’Tan & LilleBaby All-Seasons Complete
- So what happens when your baby just won’t tolerate being put down, even in one of the aforementioned boss-ass baby containers? I mean, hey, I get it — they spent nearly 10 months INSIDE US, can you blame them for wanting to remain close? Well, thankfully, there’s babywearing. Strap that baby into a carrier or wrap her up in a sling, and go about your business! I have both a wrap-style carrier and a traditional soft carrier, and like both of them.
- The Baby K’Tan is like a wrap/sling for cheaters, which makes it perfect for me. It consists of two loops that you can wear like an infinity scarf when not using the carrier, and then you just loop your arms through and pop your baby in when you need to. I used it when flying with Penny by myself and it was sooooo helpful. I also typically use this when I’m wearing her inside the house.
- I honestly haven’t used my LilleBaby a ton, just a for taking Penny out on a few walks around the neighborhood, but I do really like it. It has six different positions (I think I’ll love it even more once I can start wearing Penny facing out in it), it’s sturdy without being stiff, is highly adjustable and easily accommodates my post-baby belly (this brand came up a lot in my research as being good for plus-sizes), and it comes in the best prints — mine has donuts on it! 😀
CLEAN & HEALTHY:
All right, we’re down to the last category here — things you’ll want to help keep your precious, delicate babe clean and healthy and perfect as can be.
- NoseFrida: The SnotSucker
- This thing is FAR superior to the aspirator bulb you’ll get from the hospital at helping babies when they have congestion and a runny nose. Don’t worry, the snot doesn’t end up anywhere near your mouth.
- I actually got the FridaMom Bitty Bundle of Joy kit which comes with the NoseFrida, extra filters, the MomWasher (awesome for your postpartum down-there care), Nail Clippers, Windi (for gas relief — I gave them to my sister as Alex was a bit gassy / colicky and she said they worked pretty well). I recommend all their products TBH.
- Baby Bathtub: Schnuggle Bath
- There are a lot of baby bathtubs out there, and the most common one you’re likely to come across is a long blue tub that goes in your bathtub and a lot of people love. I wasn’t really looking for a reason to be crouching or kneeling next to a bathtub any sooner than I’ll have to, so I opted for the Schnuggle Bath, a bucket-style tub instead that fits in our kitchen sink. This way, I can stand and give her a bath right there, or I can fill it and move it to wherever is convenient to get her squeaky clean.
- We use Aveeno Baby shampoo, wash, and lotions which have worked out great as well.
- Little Remedies Gripe Water
- Sometimes if Penny is just a little extra fussy or upset, a squirt of gripe water is just what she needs to help calm her gas pains or settle her stomach. I’ve tried both the Mama’s Bliss and the Little Remedies brands of gripe water, and prefer the latter just because I like the applicator that comes with it better, but both have worked well for us.
Okay! So there you go, a really ridiculously long list of products that have been officially Penny-tested and Gretchen-approved. But wait, there’s more!
BONUS: FAVE BRANDS IF YOU LOVE LARGE CREDIT CARD BILLS AND EXASPERATED HUSBANDS:
Because sometimes it’s not just about the functionality, it’s about the adorableness?
- Monica + Andy: Super soft organic baby clothing, blankets, and more with the best prints – unicorns and rainbows and coffee cups and donuts and foxes and I gotta say, I think this is starting to become a bit of an addiction… ::gulp::
- Cuddle + Kind: Adorable hand-knit dolls with a great cause attached — for every doll sold, 10 meals are given to children in need. They just released a unicorn doll WEARING A RAINBOW SWEATER, so obviously I am now a fan for life.
- Freshly Picked: Super trendy baby and kid moccasins that are soft, adorable, and really do stay on those squirmy baby feet!
- L’ovedbaby: Also very soft, organic cotton baby clothing that fits really well.
AAAAAND okay NOW I’m done, I promise. Although I’m pretty sure I’ve still forgotten several items I wanted to mention… Oh well. I’ve been trying to finish this post for like a week, so if there’s a particular item you’re wondering about, just ask! And obviously if you have a die-hard fave item that I didn’t talk about, please please leave a comment letting me know what it is!
For additional product recommendations/help building a baby registry, I’d also highly recommend checking out Lucie’s List. It’s a great starting point for sorting through the insane amount of baby products there are out there, especially for the big stuff — cribs and mattresses, strollers, carseats, etc. I didn’t go into recommendations on these products since so you’ll probably want to do a lot more research on what’ll be a good fit for you functionally, stylistically, and price-wise, but just in case you’re interested, we went with the Chicco Bravo Travel System (comes with the Bravo stroller and the Chicco Keyfit30 carseat + base), the DaVinci Lila 3-in-1 Convertible Crib, and the Colgate Eco Classica III crib mattress.