From friend's and family recommendations to the government regulations and of course every blog I read I was overwhelmed on what to get for Valentina.
I am someone that has worked with kids of all ages for over ten years so in certain terms I felt “prepared” as I had dealt not with 1-2 babies but sometimes with 5 babies at a time all on my own. But in the end, of course, I had never had to shop for these items and had to pick the best option of them all, there are so so many options! As every mom out there I wanted the best and safest option for my baby as well as the best options for the environment. I took what I had learned in working at a day care with 3-9 months old babies plus the recommendations and got to work. In the end some worked, some have been left collecting dust.
Here is my list of must haves and a few mentions of what simply didn't work for our family:
1. Cozy soft pajamas! When you give birth, no matter how you choose to do it (or not to choose) you feel like you have been run over by a train for a few weeks (or months!) Truly everything in your body hurts and the soreness is real. No cuts, bruises or broken bones prepared me for the feeling I had. I prepared myself with a few pajamas and some that I assumed where comfortable, so many sat unused for months and some where life saviors! I recommend for comfort and breastfeeding mamas:
Everly grey (pictured above): I am currently typing this wearing them. Valentina is now 16 months old and I still have them as my favorite pair. They have the adorable matching one for babies which is perfect for hospital pictures but above all they are super soft, stretchy and easy to pop the boob out! Also they are fresh for the summer. I wish Valentina's own still fitted so we could continue matchy matching!
Next is Undercover mama (pictured below). I basically lived in these my last month of pregnancy as nothing else would fit and coming home from the hospital I couldn't handle anything touching my stomach after the c-section so I actually bought an extra house dress and just rotate them daily! I cannot begin to explain how important it is to have the right pajamas after giving birth, be prepared! Of course both these pajamas are super breastfeeding friendly.
2. Car seat: Car seats are mandatory by federal law in the US, and the hospital won’t let you take baby home without one. We picked the Chicco KeyFit® 30 Infant Car Seat. I found thousands of positive reviews and liked how “dumb proof” it is to use, because trust me, most baby items are simply not designed by moms who already have their hands full! Chicco not only has the highest safety measures for baby and fits even compact cars. It is also the preferred car seat by NICU nurses so that just gives extra points. To shop the travel system HERE that I really recommend getting as it makes life so much easier to just take sleeping baby in the car seat directly to the stroller with one hand.To purchase just the car seat alone click HERE
Their stroller is a really one-hand easy easy fold!
3. Diaper bag (or bags in my case!): Diaper bags have waterproof/microfiber surfaces and should offer plenty of pockets for storage. There are slung cross-body or have backpack straps, and they are all functional for different reasons, many moms to be decided just a big bag will suffice, trust me, get a diaper bag! In my case I found myself obsessing over designs. I am usually not a bag or shoe person but I found loving some of the functionality of diaper bags and their million pockets and ingenious designs. I ended up with one cross body, perfect for travel that also matches my carry on and another one that is backpack style, which makes it perfect for our family hikes adventures we love to do and that even dad can carry around. Here are all of my options:
Papago Backpack: Perfect for trips, hikes and neutral fashionable that works for dads too!
Stork Sak Shoulder Bag and Cabin Carry on I truly love that this one has a matching suitcase that has an amazing internal organizer which was the perfect size and comfort for my hospital bag and now as well I use it all the time for our weekend getaways.
4. Nursing Pillow: Even before leaving the hospital this was already extremely useful. For breastfeeding (or even holding up the bottle eventually) this soft pillow helps protect your belly and gives you the much needed extra support. There are some fancy ones in Buy Buy Baby but even Ikea has a nice functional one.
5. Breast pump: Even if you plan on strictly breast feeding a breast pump can really help establish milk supply and alleviate engorgement (I've used it for some engorged nights more often than I expected and we are 17 months strong and the suction and quality is still as good as day 1. There are many pumps on the market, but regardless be sure to check as many are covered by insurance. I personally recommend and have happily used the Lansinoh Electric pump. It is easy to use clean and store and now having traveled to 3 continents with it now, I am sure I made the right choice! And and added bonus mine came with a super cute useful diaper bag! Which is my 3rd bag but it just works perfectly for evenings outs, dinners and any event as it dresses up my mom game ;)
6. Crib Romina Furniture no doubt when selecting furniture for her we wanted Eco-friendly, durable and of course beautiful safe designs. Their furniture doesn’t only have gorgeous super useful designs but they also grows with baby! This crib will grow with Valentina and turn into her bed one day. They are really an investment for the long run.
7. Dresser with changing table - Romina Furniture. I really recommend having the changing table ready to go with a little basket of the basic necessities next to it. My basket from pottery barn had the following: Diapers, rash cream, baby lavender oil, frida nose sucker, a small toy to distract them. (PS here is a picture of the dresser pre-baby and before the changing table was placed on top but it is an easy add when purchasing the dresser) We choose the Pandora collection for Valentina's room.
8. Bassinet/safe sleep - When preparing for Valentina's arrival I wanted to make sure we would both get as much sleep as possible so I researched left, right, and asked every mom I knew about her sleeping ideas. I ended up getting a bassinet to put next to our bed and a arms reach option. I was determined to sleep in the same space without co-sleeping. Unfortunately, none really worked, she would be up almost immediately, and even when snugged well as a burrito she just needed the comfort. I ended up getting a Dock a tot (now called sleepyhead) and carefully and reluctantly placed it between my husband and I, and my head was so close I could actually hear her breathing. Tried it a few hours while she napped and I sat next to it, it was life changing! I loved that is made of breathable and hypoallergenic materials, I never left her sleeping in a crib or without me near in it, as I knew it technically isn't recommended for sleeping... It was the only thing that worked for us. It’s is also easy to take The Dock from room to room during the day so baby can nap securely and within arm’s reach! Also once she adapted slowly to the world outside the womb it was quite easy around 5 months to transition her straight to her crib.
9. On the sleep note... Ollie swaddle! How can a simple burrito making baby be the life changing solution? Well the Ollie was for us! Working for years at a daycare, before the Ollie was ever invented, some babies would sleep well in the blanket swaddles we would do, some would be little escape artists and once they would un-swaddle themselves, that was the end of the comfy nap. Valentina was fine the first month of swaddling with anything but she slowly figured out the ways out and that was the end of it. We discovered the Ollie thanks to Taking Cara Babies (best sleep class EVER) and tried it out, again, another perfect life saving item that is a total must have!
10. Stroller (s) Here I must confess I have one too many strollers. When my husband looks at them he always asks me if I have extra kids hiding somewhere. But seriously some are just easier for different things. I have to say overall my daily go-to is the bugaboo. I just simply love the bassinet to "big kid" easy upgrade and how safe and well designed it is. There is no doubt they are rated one of the safest strollers and have won multiple awards. We have the bugaboo fox. For travel however, we got the umbrella stroller by Maclaren that is perfect for air travel and you don't have to wait forever for them to deliver it to the airplane door or have to break it down before entering the plane. Lastly when we got our car seat the Chicco 360 included a stroller that is a fantastic "loaner" stroller. I wouldn't want to leave the bugaboo at grandparents or with the babysitter but the 360 is absolutely perfect. Affordable and especially when alone with the baby and have only one hand to fold and unfold it. Easy to travel daily with it around in the trunk and to explain to anyone how to use it.
11. Diapers! Everyone tells you to buy buy diapers and be prepared. But nobody warned me how easy is to just forget, what a hassle is to run with a baby to the store and how easily new baby skin gets irritated! I tried about 5-6 brands of diapers her first month of life and when I settled for Andy Pandy I will never look back. I am now in Italy where they don't deliver them (yet) and it is probably one of the things I miss the most about being back in the US. They are made of the softest bamboo fibers, they are of course Eco-friendly, biodegradable, hypoallergenic and antibacterial, they are also: 100% Chlorine Free! No Alcohol or Preservatives. You can also get 10% off using the code ARIANNE10 and they will deliver right to your door! Which when you are living the pajamas newborn life, it is a must!
12. Last but not least, a community. A tribe. You might think you have friends, family and hopefully it is all great, however for me there was nothing like finding Modern Milk. Moving back to Arizona after so many years abroad has been such a different experience and now with a little one the whole world seems to be new. Modern Milk helped me find my place as a new mom and given me a wonderful community of awesome moms and like minded people! From their prenatal classes, fitness classes, daddy boot camp and above all Happy Mom School I couldn't be happier to have found them and I recommend if you don't like in Arizona try and find a similar system in your town. It was life changing and I will forever be grateful for my mom tribe!