1. Co-sleeper– I knew from the moment Eva was born (and not a second before), that I wanted to co-sleep. But I had heard many horror stories and was afraid of rolling over in my sleep and crushing her. So my husband and I bought the Summer Infant By Your Side Sleeper. I really liked it, except for one thing- I thought the rails were a bit too high. If I wanted to reach into the co-sleeper and rest my hand on her chest, my arm would fall asleep. When Eva outgrew the co-sleeper I gave it to a friend of mine who was expecting her first child. This time around I’m going to try The First Years Close and Secure Sleeper, because the rails look lower and it looks more comfortable in general.
2. Summer Infant SwaddleMe– If I were to only purchase one thing relating to sleep, it would be these swaddles. If you don’t know why swaddling is good for your baby, I recommend reading The Happiest Baby on the Block. (It basically has to do with making an easier transition from the womb to the real world.) Eva slept swaddled for about the first six months of her life. You don’t need these to swaddle your baby, but it definitely makes things a lot easier. I consider myself a pretty good blanket swaddler, but no matter how tight and amazing I thought my swaddle was, Eva would always manage to wriggle her way out of it and wake herself up. These swaddles have velcro on them, making things a breeze. For my baby, swaddles were much more effective than sleep sacks (or just plain pajamas).
3. White Noise Machine– This is another thing I didn’t bother buying for Eva. I would often find different white noise apps on my iPhone to drown out distractions when Eva was having trouble falling asleep, but I never felt comfortable leaving my phone (with all its radiation and what-not) so close to my baby. Plus, sometimes I wanted to use my phone for other things. So this time around I think I’ll invest in one of these Cloud B Sleep Sheep On The Go Travel Sound Machines.
4. Rocking Chair or Glider– I really regret not having a proper rocking chair for Eva. We already had a big LazyBoy-style recliner in our living room, so we figured we’d save money and skip the rocking chair/glider. Another reason we did that is that I just couldn’t find a rocking chair or glider I liked. All the ones at Babies-R-Us are super comfortable, but they’re just not visually appealing to me, and I can’t see myself spending that much money on something that is ugly and would really only work in a nursery. The ones I’ve seen that I do like are in the $500+ price range (like this gorgeous one from Target), and I just can’t afford that. This time around, I’m really hoping for a LexMod Molded Plastic Armchair Rocker. They don’t look like the most comfortable chairs in the world, but they look like they can rock way better than my LazyBoy can. Plus, they’re ridiculously cute and would look fabulous in any room in the house.
5. Blankets– I remember getting about a million blankets at Eva’s baby shower and thinking, “Really? What am I going to do with all these?” I quickly learned that you can never have too many blankets (especially if you have a reflux baby like I did). It’s useful to have random baby blankets in different rooms throughout your house, whether its to throw on the floor for some playtime or to wipe some baby drool if you’re not around a burp cloth. It’s also a good idea to have different types of blankets as well- receiving blankets, thicker blankets, etc. The one I chose for the board you see above is a quilt that I adore from Etsy. I received a few packs of these receiving blankets from Target at Eva’s baby shower and used the hell out of them… I definitely plan on buying them again.
6. Babo Botanicals Calming Moisturizing Lotion– Okay, so maybe this isn’t essential, but I love the smell of lavender and I really believe it can help mama and baby feel more relaxed.
7. The Happiest Baby Guide to Great Sleep– I’m a huge fan of Dr. Harvey Karp and his techniques worked wonders for baby Eva. (I wrote more about that here.) If you’ve already read The Happiest Baby on the Block, you probably don’t need to read this book as well unless your child continues to have sleep problems. It only goes over a few extra techniques not covered in the first book.
8. Swing and/or Bouncer– Sometimes you just have to get things done around the house, and baby-wearing isn’t particularly safe or convenient (cleaning toilets, for example?). With Eva we used the Fisher Price Cradle n’ Swing and it was seriously amazing. It rocked quickly in different positions, had cool lights and non-annoying sounds. Eva would calm down or crash almost immediately after being put in it. My only complaint is that it took up too much room. We’ll likely be moving into a small townhouse or apartment in Virginia, and I really want something that is compact and easier to carry from room to room. We sold Eva’s swing here in Tanzania and are hoping to get a new one when we get to the states. My dream swing is the 4Moms MamaRoo Bouncer, but there is no way on earth I would ever spend $250 on a baby swing. Unless maybe the swing also changes the baby’s diapers, but even then I doubt it. Realistically, we’re looking at the Ingenuity Smart and Quiet Portable Swing. It may not be as fancy but I think (and hope) it will get the job done.
9. Stork Craft Monza II Fixed Side Convertible Crib– I’m going to be honest here- Eva has never spent a single night in her crib. She has taken naps in it and has fallen asleep in it when a nanny is watching her at night. But she has never spent a full night in it. Had I known that before would I have even bought a crib? Only if it was this crib in particular. It was very affordable, and it converts into a full-size bed (rather than just a toddler bed). Plus, I love the design and I had a lot of fun decorating her nursery. I’m going to keep it in Damian’s room for now (even if we do co-sleep again, it’s still convenient to use for naptime, etc.), and then I’ll put it back in Eva’s room as her childhood bed.
10. Crib Sheets– These are the crib sheets I’ve already ordered for Damian. Most baby guides recommend you have 2-3 sets of crib sheets, but I did okay with just 1 the first time around, probably because we didn’t use the crib much.
Other Things I didn’t Use and Probably Won’t Get this Time:
Playpen– We tried using a hand-me-down playpen (or “Pack ‘n Play” or whatever else they’re calling them these days) but Eva absolutely hated it. I’m so glad we didn’t spend money on them. Other mothers swear by them, though, so I guess it’s just another one of those things that depends on your baby.
Baby Monitor– Because we were semi-attachment parenters, Eva never really slept too far away from us. I had a monitor on my registry, but when nobody bought it for me I never bothered buying one myself. I doubt I’ll buy one this time around, either.
Things I used the Hell out of but aren’t Available Anymore:
Nap Nanny– The Nap Nanny was by far my favorite baby sleeping area (or device?). Eva had reflux and always slept so much better at an angle. Eva STILL uses her Nap Nanny on a daily basis, when she’s drinking her sippies or “reading” a book. The Nap Nannies were recalled because people were leaving them on the counters or in the cribs and their babies were rolling out of them and dying. (Another baby product bites the dust because of improper use/supervision.) Now I can’t even find a new cover for mine, which sucks because it’s pink and I’m planning on using it for Damian (if Eva will let him).