A few good friends of ours are newly pregnant (yay!!) so I'm starting to think of baby goodies we've felt have been essential to manage Elsa, so I can pass along some tips. It's laughable how much stuff you "need" to take care of mini people, but seriously it makes it so much easier having all of this stuff. Here's my list that I've been thinking about recently, but I'm sure there is more...
Our Aden + Anais swaddle blankets. These are big, super soft, light but warm when you fold them up, easy to do the swaddle with (although E only got swaddled for a week before being fitted with her hip harness), and she's wrapped up in them constantly. I line her bassinet with one, and cover her with a second one folded to keep her bare harnessed legs warm. Sometimes I steal them to snuggle with at night for me too.
Elsa was 7 lbs and 9 ounces when she was born, and then dropped down to 6 and change the week after, so her teeny little butt didn't fit into her puffy BumGenius diapers or G diapers. She was also flying through about 12 diapers a day when she was a newborn, so we had her in 7th generation newborn disposable diapers for the first month. They're made without chlorine and other nasty chemicals and she hasn't had even the slightest tinge of a diaper rash in them. They're a very stylish unbleached coffee filter brown, but they're eco friendly and they do the job. We still use these for overnight, because they're so absorbent and she won't wake up if she wets herself in them, unlike with the cloth diapers. They seriously weigh like 3 lbs when we take them off in the morning. She destroys them.
While her disposables are pretty sweet, we are super happy we went the cloth diaper route. Who knows how much money we've already saved with them. Everyone was skeptical about us hanging with the cloth diapering system, but it's really been no big deal. We do laundry every other day (easy) and changing them outside of the house is no problem. We use Baggu large zipper bags as wet bags and just dump them in the wash when we get home. We use their other bags as quick diaper bags when we're just going out for a quick errand and need a mini bag of supplies. The alpaca one is my favorite:
I love the G Diapers system that we went with (using cloth inserts, not the biodegradable inserts) and the colors really jazz up her outfits. This was especially important to me when she was in her harness and unable to wear leggings. At least her panties were pretty! She's still easily fitting into the small size that we got her, and probably will for at least another month so they've been well worth the initial expense (even though we got a bunch as gifts!). We won't get her any more, and will retire the G's when she grows out of the smalls because her all-in-one BumGenius diapers are rad, and we have enough of those. She almost never leaks out of them, and they're pretty absorbent. Also cute, and the snaps make putting them on and taking them off a breeze. We also picked up a few GroVia's because I'm sort of obsessed with cloth diapers. They're really great too, although I think I may prefer the Bums. You can read all about my cloth diapering choices here.
Mark and Karen gave us Henry's bouncer, which was a DwellStudio for Target bouncer. He hated it but Elsa adores it. It vibrates and plays an MP3 player but we stopped using those functions after the batteries ran out. It's practically in every picture I take of her because she's sitting in it often. When we're not holding her, she's either in this thing or her swing. She watches us make meals sitting in it on the kitchen island, chats with me in it in the mornings while I put on makeup and get dressed, and falls asleep in it in the evenings while we're in the living room hanging out or watching TV. It's very useful.
Her swing is another favorite. She chills and rocks, chatting with me and herself, as I work at my desk.
She also likes to grab Miyim organic cotton lovies and shove them into her mouth while hanging in her bouncer or swing. We usually have one of these close by to "kiss" away her never-ending flow of drool, and they're handy for quick cleanups when she spits up all over my face, neck and chest.
I can't imagine what life would be like without our Ergo carrier. I carry her in this sometimes, but it's mostly Jeff's thing. He walks literally like 6-9 miles every day with her in it. He'll take her in the morning while I get another hour of sleep, he'll take her to Disneyland in it, and anytime she's melting down and hysterical, the carrier will ALWAYS calm her down. It's amazing. Don't forget to buy the newborn insert for it though! We didn't realize this even existed until she was 6 weeks old. It props her up a lot higher so she can look at what's happening around her when she's not sleeping, and so we don't have to constantly look down paranoid that she's smothering herself.
A key component of calming the baby down while being walked in the carrier is her having a Nuk pacifier in her mouth. I wanted her to only have the cute natural rubber pacifiers but these ones are her favorites. We have like 13 of them, and I've sewn little fabric leashes that clip them to her shirt so one is always handy.
I love my Brest Friend. I use it every time I nurse her, and I keep her nail clippers in the little pocket so I can give her manicures and pedicures while she eats. The back support is really great, and not something you can get with the Boppy which is why I love it more. It also clips on to you so you can get up and walk around with the baby propped up on it. Super helpful when you sit down and start nursing and realize the TV remote is across the room.
In the beginning we were naive and cleaned everything the old school way by boiling water on the stove top. Then we realized Quick clean steam bags existed. They make sterilizing all the breast pump pieces and bottles and pacifiers etc so easy. Plus you can use them 20 times per bag (and you only need 2 ounces of water in them) so they're not very wasteful.
When I went back to work, Jeff started feeding Elsa my pumped milk in bottles. I read good things about these Breastflow bottles, which are supposed to mimic nursing at the breast so the baby doesn't become a fiend for the bottles and shuns the breast. We had a very easy time transitioning between bottle and breast and she takes both like a champ, and I think these bottles had a little something to do with that.
Karen gave me her awesome double pump-in-style which I use everyday, but I also recently bought this hand pump for convenience sake. It's kind of a pain to plug in the electric pump and get everything all hooked up, so it's nice to have this small manual pump for pumping in bed, at my desk, on the couch, and whenever the mood strikes (or the milk flows). A bonus is that I have incredibly strong hands now. I can snap a lobster in half no problem!
These are a big must when breastfeeding: Organic cotton nursing pads. You wear them constantly so disposables become expensive and super wasteful. Plus these ones are nice and soft and don't make that crinkly diaper sound like a lot of the disposables do. I have 6 pairs which seems to be just right, considering how often we do laundry these days.
The Majamas nursing bras are the best. Love love love them. Super comfy, easy access, inexpensive, and not horribly unattractive.
We have a little stockpile of milk in the freezer for when I'm not around, and I use Lanisoh freezer bags now that I discovered they're great and way cheaper than the Medela ones.