A comprehensive list of everything we relied on and used a lot during Orion’s first 3 months of life! I know I titled this post “essentials” but a lot of this can be more accurately categorized as “nice to have” or “to make life easier for the parents” or “things we used and why they worked for us and what didn’t work.” My main goal with this is to be thorough and not to say that you have to have all this stuff. A baby’s essentials are food, sleep, comfort, and love, and everything else beyond that is about preference, yours and baby’s- can’t be said enough that all moms and babies are different, and what worked for someone else may not work for you. As a first time mom I ended up trying a lot more things than I ended up needing so there’s a lot that I cover in this post. Thus, let this be a guide and not a rule book. Whether you’re prepping for your own soon to come little one or building your registry, these are the things that worked for us.
We largely tried these and the Pampers Pure Diapers so far and when going back and forth between the two I noticed leaks and accidents would occur more with the Pure. Might’ve been coincidence, but we’ve kept with just the Swaddlers now and they work great for us.
They don’t irritate baby’s skin, no complaints.
Ubbi Wipes Dispenser
I picked this over the OXO dispenser because it has a smaller footprint. Works well for one-handed dispensing and looks nice on the nursery dresser. The Water Wipes packs fit perfectly in here.
Boudreaux Diaper Cream
A friend recommended using this to prevent diaper rash saying it was the only one that worked for her babe. So far Orion hasn’t had any diaper rash, and whether it’s due to this cream I can’t say for sure, but I continue to apply it on him at maybe every other diaper change and so far so good. Having it in a squeezable tube is also really convenient.
Baby Bum Brush
This item felt silly until I started using it and then it made complete sense. Of course I don’t want to be cleaning off diaper cream from my fingers and nails all day long, this is genius! This paddle applies the cream more easily and better than my fingers ever could.
Keekaroo Changing Pad
The big perk about this is that it’s wipeable, which has turned out to be really convenient but during about the first month Orion hated how cold it felt on his back and would cry. Now that he’s older he can handle it, but for a while we were laying towels down over it which defeats the wipeable purpose of the pad. Still, he seemed comfortable on it overall and loved having tummy time on it before rolling over was a concern.
Bubula Diaper Pail
Very convenient that we can use regular trash bags in this and contains dirty diaper smells well.
Borrowed this from a friend and I liked the higher height and swiveling function so that I didn’t have to get out of bed in the middle of the night to check on Orion. Didn’t love the bulky large footprint, though necessary for its swiveling function. I’m really glad we didn’t splurge on a bassinet since Orion ended up moving into his crib in the nursery at 2 months. I think any simple bassinet would’ve worked out fine.
Rohm Portable Sound Machine
Used this every single day for naps and nighttime sleep in his bassinet, car seat, nursery, or wherever else we were. The portability is so useful! Eventually became a sleep cue for Orion and an integral tool in helping him sleep better.
Nanit Plus Monitor System
I LOVE this monitor. Wasn’t sure I’d want one that I’d have to use my phone for but quickly came to appreciate that there isn’t an extra monitor I have to carry around the house with me, plus both Oleg and I can view the monitor from our respective phones. I got the bundle with the multi-stand so that we could attach it via tripod to his bassinet in our room those first 2 months and so that we have the option to travel with it. Good video quality, easy interface, I didn’t use the breathing tracker or sleep analytics features but cool that the options are there. The swaddle it came with that’s necessary for using the breathing tracking however is annoying to put on and Orion could easily free his arms from the band.
Orion showed strong preference for these by sleeping noticeably better in them over the other swaddles we tried so we used these until he transitioned to a sleep sack. We got the original style but they now have luxe ones with zippers at the bottoms for easier middle of the night diaper changes.
aden+anais Swaddle Blankets
We used these for swaddling in a pinch but not that often. What they were more handy for was using as a blanket in the car seat, burp cloths to wipe his spit-ups with on walks, something to lay him down on top of like on the exam table at the pediatrician’s office or a surface at home that I wanted to protect from a potential blowout or spit up, a cover for the stroller or car seat if we forgot the multi-use cover… Useful and versatile in those kind of moments. This is a pack of 4 but 2 would’ve been enough.
This category could really be its own blog post, but 99% of my postpartum struggle and discomfort was due to establishing breastfeeding so it’s really an essential to newborn life if you end up breastfeeding.
It would not have been possible for me to get through the first 3 weeks of breastfeeding without these protecting my raw nipples. The hospital gave me one and a friend gave me a pair. Having three shields to rotate through between cleaning them was really helpful.
Medela Gel Pads
I found more relief with these than I did with nipple butter, then later just breastmilk itself was enough to relieve my sore nipples.
My Brest Friend Nursing Pillow
I now only use our bed pillows for support during breastfeeding, but in the beginning when all this breastfeeding stuff was so new and awkward I found it most helpful to have the My Brest Friend. It gives much more support and makes a lot more sense than the Boppy nursing pillow, which didn’t work out for me at all for nursing. Orion would sink into the space between the Boppy and my tummy no matter what and it was so uncomfortable because it would cause me to hunch over and make my back hurt. Never had that issue with the My Brest Friend.
Spectra S1 Breast Pump
The massage and expression modes worked well for me and the night light is useful. I was ultimately sold on it being portable and repeatedly reading in reviews that it’s very quiet. Was able to get it through my insurance.
At first I didn’t see the value of the Haakaa because the pump overall does a much better job of expressing milk from my breasts. Only later when breast engorgement was waking me up in the middle of the night did I start using the Haakaa for taking off the edge of engorgement vs the cumbersome task of using my pump and cleaning all the parts- especially annoying in the middle of the night!! Worth it just for how easy it is to pop this on my boob here and there to relieve the pain from engorgement. This one has a suctioned base and comes with a cap to prevent the heartbreak from knocking it over.
Bamboobies Nursing Pads
Wore these to keep me dry from small breastmilk leaks, and I wore the overnight pads to prevent me from waking up from my shirt being soaked, though that still happened sometimes.
Lansinoh Milk Bags
Stored and froze pumped milk in these, had no issues.
First bottle we tried with Orion and he took to it immediately. Very easy to clean, top rack dishwasher safe, cute.
OXO Tot Drying Rack
Easy to clean, top rack dishwasher safe. Mostly used it for drying breast pump parts and feeding tools we were using while trying to establish breastfeeding, but we’ve been using it for some of our regular smaller dishes and cups too and like it a lot.
Humble Bebe Burp Cloths
#1 most used item, can’t live without them, they’re all over our house, need a million of them. These are actually cloth diaper inserts but because they’re so absorbent they work great as burp cloths too, plus they’re pretty. We put these under his head anywhere he’s laying down or doing tummy time to catch spit ups.
green sprouts Burp Cloths– Oleg and I both loved the absorbent muslin material of these the most, but the shape is very specific to over-the-shoulder burping which wasn’t our go-to burping technique so we found these to be less versatile. We still use them to put under Orion’s head to catch spit-ups but only when we’ve run out of the burp cloths I previously mentioned, which isn’t often.
green sprouts Muslin Bibs
Same brand and material as the burp cloths previously mentioned. These are our favorite for how absorbent and soft they are. They catch his spit ups and therefore reduce the number of his outfit changes in a day. Makes it easy to quickly dab off any drool on his face and they don’t ride up over his mouth like the triangular bandana style ones do, though we still use those since we have a bunch of them already (linking them here in case you want to check them out, they’re also pretty absorbent and soft.)
OXO Tot Tub
I really like this tub because it saves on water (uses less water than filling the bath tub even to a shallow level) and if he pees or poos it’s very easy and quick to drain and fill again with clean water.
honorable mention: Angelcare Tub
It was unnecessary for us to get this in addition to the OXO tot, but the few times we used it were helpful. What happened was Orion would get really upset during baths and out of panic I thought maybe he didn’t like the OXO tub because it wasn’t giving enough support for his tiny slippery body so we got the Angelcare and while it did support him better, we learned that Orion simply hated baths in his early weeks no matter what. In the end the Angelcare was more for easing our concern that he was held more securely, but as he got bigger and could hold himself better he expressed more enjoyment in the OXO tub. I gather it’s from how it keeps him more submerged and he experiences more of that floating underwater feeling.
Mustela Bathtime Essentials
Plant-based and smells so clean and fresh. The cleansing water was especially useful for wiping him clean when he wasn’t cleared to take baths yet. We use the cleansing gel for his hair and body and we apply the lotion all over his body for post-bath massages.
Natemia Wash Cloths
I like that these are thin and soft for cleaning his face. We also kept these near his changing pad to wipe up spit ups .
We use the sponge side for getting the soap foamy for his hair (very effective) and the brush side to work the soap into his hair and help lift off some of the flakes from when he had very mild cradle cap.
We also have another very cute bear towel but what I didn’t consider ahead of time was the size of it. Being that it’s on the smaller side, Orion has already outgrown it, so we continue to use this one from Parachute and this bear ears one that’s the same soft fabric and brand as the wash cloths we like. Regular towels certainly work fine, but I liked having the hood to better keep Orion’s head warm and dry it off faster.
Getting Orion in a deep seated position with this wrap worked like magic for putting him to sleep. It was guaranteed that he would nap for at least an hour in this thing and it saved me when I really needed the break. Oleg would wear Orion in this while doing chores like vacuuming and it not only soothed him but was very adorable.
Uppababy VISTA V2
Oleg felt strongly about getting this stroller for a few reasons, one of them being that it came with a bassinet, and while I thought we wouldn’t use it much we ended up using it a lot. The pandemic played a role in this and how going for walks around the neighborhood was really our only outdoor activity that we were doing all the time already, so we used the bassinet to take Orion on walks which would knock him out for naps and when we came back home we’d bring the bassinet inside and let him continue sleeping in there (Uppababy confirms their bassinet is safe for sleep). It’s a smooth ride, folds up nicely, and we appreciate the larger under carriage basket for storing all our stuff like for a spontaneous grocery run we did on a walk.
Uppababy MESA Car Seat
We mostly got this car seat because it’s part of the Uppababy system and wouldn’t require an adapter for the stroller. It’s simple to install the car seat base and the one button release is convenient, but I still wonder about having gotten the Nuna Pipa Lite instead because that one is much lighter. When I was carrying Orion to and from appointments in his car seat it was hard to ignore how heavy it was, more so now that he’s heavier. Still, I’m happy with how seamlessly it operates with our stroller.
I liked having this to get a view of Orion in his car seat when I was driving him to appointments on my own.
Copper Pearl Multi-Use Cover
Much more effective than draping a blanket over the car seat. It stretches over the car seat or bassinet and stays in place vs draping a blanket that can blow off in the wind during stroller walks. We use this to create a darker environment when he needs to nap in his car seat/stroller and the little opening on the other end allows us to easily peer in and check on him. This cover surprised me most for being a lot more useful than expected.
Cradle ‘n Swing
We got this closer to 3 months and I wish we had this since day one, or at least since week 3 which was my first week alone with Orion while I was in the thick of trying to establish breastfeeding. I can’t know for sure if he would have liked this thing then, but he’s loved it since we got it and it has never failed to soothe him, plus it does an amazing job of getting him drowsy for naps. I imagine this swing might have acted as an extra pair of soothing arms that would’ve afforded me a break while I had to relentlessly pump to keep my supply up (Orion had a tongue-tie and establishing breastfeeding was a hard and long journey. Maybe I’ll share that story later). At that time we were borrowing a Mamaroo from a friend and it was very hit or miss, at best Orion seemed indifferent to it. We suspected he’d like a swing over a bouncer (Mamaroo is more of a bouncer) because we discovered that swinging him in his car seat would calm him. In conclusion, Orion loves this swing and we still love using it today.
Stokke Tripp Trapp High Chair with Newborn Seat
A high chair is not essential for the first 3 months but in our case, because we used the newborn seat attachment the most as our safe spot to put him down in when we needed to do things like eat, it’s a part of our daily lives and one of my favorite baby items of all. The option for the newborn seat made it possible for Orion to hang out at the dining table with us, and little moments like this that made us feel more together as a family are so big. Orion also seemed to be fascinated by watching us eat, if not play with a toy that we hung from the hook that the newborn seat came with. I’m a big fan of the chair design and feel good about how it will grow with Orion for years, and already it’s been more than worth it for us.
Honorable mention: SnuggleMe
When Orion would fall asleep on me and my arms got tired I’d quickly put him down in here for monitored sleep. The thing is he’s always not been a fan of being flat on his back, so he often didn’t last long in here if he was hanging out in it awake. By 2 months when he wanted to be a lot more active and play on the floor he had basically outgrown it. Overall we didn’t end up using this as much as I thought we would, but so many moms have great success with it as a reliable spot that baby likes hanging out in, so I thought I’d mention it. If nothing else it certainly made for some cute photos.
Honorable mention: Charlie Crane Rocker
Of these three spots to safely put baby down in, Orion enjoyed this rocker the most. I got asked a lot about it and if I thought it was worth it over something like the Baby Bjorn bouncer. We didn’t try the Baby Bjorn, but I know Orion prefers rocking and swinging over bouncing. At the end of the day, the joy I felt over this thing was from how beautiful it looked in our home and how cute Orion looked in it. He luckily liked hanging out in it especially when I’d put his Plan Toys play gym over it, and he liked being rocked in it though the manual effort that takes wasn’t sustainable.
We tried a bunch of these “safe places to put baby down in” to figure out what Orion likes and this is where we ended up getting more than we needed. I liked them each for different reasons but if I had to only go with one, I’d pick the swing since we saw the most success with it.
Unpopular opinion: I like snaps more than zippers. Snaps look nicer and they make it easier to check for a dirty diaper, but I agree zippers are overall easier, quicker, and superior at night. So the overall simplest option is to stick with zippered onesies, footies specifically to eliminate the need for socks, but if you’re into some variety I think snaps are worth having as well. Our favorites by brand:
Overall favorite- Kyte zippered footies and snap rompers
Made from the softest bamboo cotton in a wide variety of colors (I adore Oat and Clay but looks like Clay is discontinued), we love Kyte clothing the most. We learned that we particularly like the stretchiness of the fabric since that makes outfit changes easier. A down side is that they pill unless they’re line dried, so you have to keep track of not throwing them in the dryer. Worth taking advantage of their end of season sales.
Good value- H&M wrapover bodysuits and jumpsuits with zipper
The kimono style bodysuits are my favorite because they’re the easiest for diaper changes with just the three snaps at the bottom and allow for minimal wrestling with baby’s kicking legs. Though they’re legless they were fine to use at home where it’s warm, and with the weather warming up we’ll be using them even more. The jumpsuits are lightweight and wash well, and H&M in general has so many cute colors, patterns, and styles. H&M is also my go-to for special outfits that aren’t necessarily practical for everyday but very cute for photos.
Angel Dear- Footies
Another bamboo cotton baby clothing brand we love that we discovered through being gifted one of their onesies. I generally prefer the solid colors from Kyte, but the patterns from Angel Dear are very cute, plus they go on sale at good discounts.
Honorable mention: Magnetic Me
The fastest and easiest of all the clothing options since it fastens via magnets, but I wish they had more solid colors like Kyte. Ultimately I think they’re pricey, but we got a couple on clearance and found them worth trying.
Puracy Stain Remover
I can’t talk about baby clothes without also talking about this stain remover. Something about that nuclear yellow baby poop makes it stain terribly, so I always treat right away with this stuff for at least 15 minutes if it’s a fresh stain before throwing in the wash. Works so well and love that it’s made with plant-based ingredients and is free and clear.
The most sound advice I received about clothing was to buy as we go to avoid getting too much of one size that he’ll quickly outgrow and I’m really satisfied with how that’s going so far. I recall the most number of outfit changes we made in a day was 7, so 7 onesies is a ballpark minimum I’d start out with, focusing on 0-3 month and keeping newborn sizes to a minimum. Of course sizing needs can change once baby arrives, but quickly ordering some smaller simple onesies at Target if needed is an easy backup- I ended up doing this after we came home from the hospital.
Lovevery Play Gym
This was very sufficiently the only “toy” Orion needed, if at all. It’s a work horse. He spent the majority of his tummy time sessions here and engaged with the toys and black and white flash cards it came with. It also came with a guide book full of suggestions on how to play with baby based on age and expected developmental milestones. He hasn’t interacted much with the different “zones” of the mat yet but I anticipate that’s soon to come. We’ve already seen in the short 3 months how this has grown with him and how it will continue to- excited to use the cover it came with to turn it into a tent for play! I only wish it had the option of folding up. It does not move between rooms well, but we were still able to do that when needed.
Lots of Links
Around 2 months when Orion started grasping at things he LOVED these links. We put them everywhere: hanging from the Lovevery play gym, the Plann Toys gym, his car seat, the highchair newborn seat, he just loved hanging onto them with his hands. Later he’d chew on them when teething started. We’d also use them to hang other toys from- very functional!
Wood Activity Gym Toys
Orion loved grasping at these wood toys too starting in that 2-3 month age, and soon would love putting them in his mouth. We hung them from the links we attached to the Lovevery play gym and he’d hang out there grabbing and batting at these.
Jane Foster’s Black and White
Any book is great to read, but this was his favorite visually. It’s simply black and white patterned drawings of animals (and one of flowers which feels really out of place and I wonder why the author did that) on different colored backgrounds. It held Orion’s attention longer than anything else and it’s the one I’ve “read” to him most.
Electric nail file
This is one thing I will tell every expecting mom is a must have. I even wish I had brought it to the hospital with us since Orion cut up his face pretty good with his nails the first night we were there. This makes it easy to keep his nails short without any fear of hurting him, plus he seems to enjoy feeling the vibrations of it. Eliminates the need for baby mittens too.
Fridababy 3-in-1 Nose, nail, and ear picker
We used this a lot more than the NoseFrida. The NoseFrida, though effective, felt like overkill, though I can see it being useful later when he gets sick. A simple picker like this one to remove boogers that we could see in his nose has been more handy.
These were the first ones we tried and they worked. He started rejecting them completely around 2 months and now doesn’t use one, but for the time that he did use them they were very effective with helping him sleep.
We use this to track diapers, feeds, sleep, and record Orion’s growth stats from pediatrician visits. It’s AWESOME. Favorite features are setting reminders at timed intervals for feeds and the SweetSpot which predicts optimal nap times- so helpful sometimes to confirm that we were reading Orion’s sleepy cues correctly.
This app provides great info on developmental leaps and understanding the skills and signs baby will show when going through them, plus predicting when the leaps will happen based on baby’s due date. It was reassuring to check this app and make sense of when it felt like Orion was going through growing pains. Both learned a lot and received peace of mind through this app.
What to Expect
I mentioned this app in my pregnancy essentials post and it still continues to provide helpful articles about baby’s development and postpartum care. The daily article suggestions are frequently spot on in timing with answers to questions that come up for me as Orion grows.