I know what you’re thinking—another baby gear list? Yeah, that’s exactly what the internet needs. I know, I know, but give me a chance! My mission here at Thriver Guide is to help find ways to make life easier, more beautiful, and more joyful for those of us with chronic or mental illness, so to that end, this list of baby essentials is something I made with spoonie parents in mind.
Without further ado, here’s this week’s Fab Friday roundup:
17 Baby Essentials that Helped Me Survive the First 6 Months as a New Mom with Chronic Illness. How’s that for a title??
So about nine months ago, I had a baby! Good golly, I heaved a seven-pound watermelon out of my uterus in under ten minutes! I’m unstoppable! Now what???
So much of my pregnancy preparation had been geared toward the moment of birth that it was hard to anticipate what to expect after that. ThriverDad and I blinked at each other with wary fear two days later as we emerged from the hospital into the sunlight to get into our car. That was it? They were just letting us go? How do they even know if we’re qualified to care for a baby? Don’t infant caretakers require, like, special certification and background checks and at least seventeen references? It all seemed a little reckless. (Like life, really.)
As the first foggy weeks began to clear, we started to get the hang of things. There were some things we thought would be necessities that turned out to be completely superfluous, and there were other things that we found ourselves scrambling to order or reorder on Amazon at 2:45 am during a late-night feeding because we couldn’t do without them (and because when else are you going to do your shopping?). So here’s my list of things we were super grateful to have—things you might be considering or on the fence about if you’re a pregnant-type person right now. I’m not talking about diapers or diaper pails or bottles or strollers or other obvious things. These were rookie-parent guesses that turned out to be hits and rookie-parent fails where we found we needed something we didn’t have. Also, these are things for the baby, not for mom/dad/siblings/Aunt Cathy/the dog. So here we go!
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Essential Baby Gear
Swing and/or rocker. We opted for this combo swing and rocker (Graco Cozy Duet) because small spaces call for multi-functional choices, but we don’t feel strongly about this particular brand or style or anything (this one is nice, though—it has two vibrate settings, classical music, ocean waves sounds, and four swinging speeds). What we do feel strongly about is having a place to set your baby down that is not the crib/bassinet. Swings can work wonders for some babies (see The Happiest Baby on the Block for more info). ThriverBabe was kind of hot and cold on our swing, but it was crucial to have a safe place where I could put him down while I got our things together to go out or while I put groceries away or ate lunch or whatever I needed to do. The floor/couch/dog/kitchen table are not good surfaces to place your baby on when your baby cannot sit up. A swing is! A rocker is. Some people swear by the rock’n’play. Let the spirit lead you on this one, but do get something.
A semi-structured carrier. Our 85th percentile height/weight little boy quickly outgrew the sweet jersey wrap-style carrier I bought for him and used when he was tiny. (If your baby is petite, you may love something less structured. I loved it while it lasted, but it just couldn’t support his weight after about two months). Luckily we’d also put this carrier (Infantino Flip 4-in-1 Convertible Carrier) on our registry so that my husband had a carrier he could use, and now we’ve both been using it. This one is sturdy, inexpensive, easy to use, and flexible-you can wear your baby four ways, which was important to me as I researched and compared. This was a really smart choice, and I don’t at all regret forgoing the more expensive options.
Doorway jumper! Best thing ever! This is one of those things we totally should have bought sooner as ThriverBabe was itching to practice standing starting at 2 months. For some reason I assumed you had to wait until they can sit up on their own-not true! Anyway, this doorway jumper was the only way I was able to take a shower for a two-month period. My son just decided to stop napping well one day, and it was a really fun time for us all. JUST KIDDING, IT WAS NOT. What is a fun time for us all is this jumper (Graco Bumper Jumper). ThriverBabe bounces and giggles away, Mama gets a shower, everyone’s happy.
Essential Baby Comfort
Muslin swaddles. We love swaddles. So soft, so breatheable (think hot Los Angeles summer in a non-air-conditioned home), so stretchy, so many cute designs. ThriverBabe slept infinitely better swaddled than not. We got many great six-hour stretches of sleep at night in the first few weeks thanks to some expert swaddling techniques on the part of ThriverDad. Our kid was late to the rolling-over party and still had the startle reflex up through seven months, so we swaddled him just until he hit eight months, which means that our swaddles got a ton of use. We have seven total. These metallic ones from Aiden & Anais are gorgeous and soft, but a little fussy since they have to be line-dried. We’ve absolutely loved using this set by Little Unicorn:
Easy care, happy prints, and just as soft as the A & A ones.
A bassinet. We live in a pretty small joint and didn’t want to sacrifice valuable floor space to a pack and play, so we opted for a Bilia Basket on a rocking stand that we could easily move from one room to another. It needed to be lightweight enough that I could maneuver it on my own as a recovering postpartum patient with severe inflammation from chronic illness. This basket fit the bill exactly. Kiddo slept in the bassinet for the first three and a half months, and then we transitioned him to a crib. Plus, these baskets are way better looking than any pack and play we found. We liked having it in our living room when people came to visit.
Teethers. Be prepared! Our kid has six teeth already at nine months, and two more are on the way. He got three teeth in one week back in January. HILARIOUS. SO MUCH FUN. We cycle between these three teethers (one, two, three), and it seems to work pretty well. He also likes chewing on his burp cloths (specifically the terrycloth-backed ones).
Essential Health and Hygiene
Gripe water. We actually first bought this because our little guy was getting really bad gas that made him cry a lot, so we did some research and gave this a try. It didn’t work for gas, but we found it did wonders for hiccups. Poor babe gets hiccups like crazy and for long stretches of time. He used to get hiccups in the womb multiple times a day (and like clockwork at 9:00 pm), and that didn’t change when he was born. Gripe water, we found, could stop them almost instantly. The key was getting him to relax back in our arms, ensuring that his neck muscles were completely relaxed, and then squirting the suggested amount slowly into his cheek. It worked for him at one month old, and it continues to work at nine months old, nine times out of ten. I have no idea what part of this ritual specifically accomplishes the magic, but I’m not going to question it. We keep a bottle by his crib and one in the diaper bag, and it’s saved naptime and our sanity countless times.
Baby bath, specifically this one. I researched a ton of options, and this one has worked great for us, exactly as I hoped. We started using this at two months and are still going strong at nine months. Our kid loves sitting and splashing in it, and it has never made me nervous to have him in there. The bump in the bottom helps to keep the baby upright, and there’s nothing to get soggy, moldy, or mildewy. I can also lift and carry it with water in it without any problems, which is a definite spoonie-mom win.
Boogie wipes and/or saline drops. If your baby gets a cold (saddest thing ever!!!) boogie wipes and saline drops are super handy. Our son hates both of them, but they definitely help with his congestion and runny nose.
Burp cloths—very absorbent ones. We put a few muslin ones on our registry because aesthetic, and those worked fine for the first two weeks when his spit-ups were cute and dainty. Babies’ stomachs grow, y’all. They can fit a lot of chunky, curdled breast milk in there, is what I’m saying. Do yourselves a favor and learn from our mistake. Get some good terrycloth-backed burp cloths, and get more than you think you need. Same for bibs when your kid starts eating solids.
Disposable diaper bags. This one comes with a dispenser you can hook on to your diaper bag. Good for containing stinky diapers until you can properly dispose of them; excellent for housing poop-saturated clothes after a blow-out. You don’t want to be without them.
This diaper rash ointment has worked great for our son. He hasn’t really had much diaper rash, but if his skin even begins to inch toward pink, we swipe this balm on and it takes care of it. Plus it smells nice (like lavender). And there’s no butt paste or butt spatula required.
Nail clippers. We love the ones from the kit pictured above. The first few months I opted to bite the babe’s fingernails to blunt them, but now that his fingers are less microscopic, I favor the clippers. These are easy to grip and use, even for someone who has joint pain and damage. Baby fingernails are like razors strapped to kitten claws: protect yourself.
Nightlight Bluetooth speaker. I got this originally because it’s a wireless touch-light with several white light brightness settings, and I thought it’d be good for nighttime diaper changes and for playing white noise. It is good for that, but it also has a slow color-changing light feature that our son loved to stare at and fall asleep watching for the first several months of his life, which was a happy accident. Not going to lie, I also steal it and use it to play music in the kitchen when I’m cooking and cleaning. It’s a great little device—no regrets.
A musical giraffe! Not something I would have pegged as a huge hit, but it is! I added it to our registry last minute because it was sweet and I remembered having wind-up plushes as a kid. Why a giraffe? Have you noticed how many giraffe baby toys are out there (like the famous Sophie?)? It’s because giraffes have long necks for babies to easily grasp. Our son squeezes this one, bites its nose, wields it like a sword, and generally delights in it any time we wind it up and hand it to him. We can hand it to him while he’s in his swing or high chair and put the groceries away or do whatever we need to do and it keeps him perfectly entertained for a few minutes.
My son also adores this toy, which we call (creatively) Pirate Boy. (I literally just learned that his name is supposed to be Horace. How you ever know this if you bought it in store and not online, I have no idea. Pirate Boy forever.) This was a gift from my sister-in-law the week we found out we were having a boy. I probably never would have picked something like this myself because it’s not my aesthetic, but that just shows what I know. He’s grown on me in part because he’s been such a huge hit, but also he kind of gives me vaguely Le Petit Prince vibes now, which I can totally get behind. Pirate Boy travels with us in the diaper bag wherever we go. Basically every part of him is good for chewing or squeezing or shaking. He’s got crunchy feet and jacket lapels, a rattle in his chest, lots of fun textures and colors, and his arms and legs are easy to grasp. It looks like Lamaze makes some good options for girls too, like Marina the Mermaid.
That about covers it! I’d classify everything in the list above as “six months and under” essentials, so be on the lookout for a “six months and up” edition of this post in a few months. I hope these recommendations help!
Is there anything I missed? Something that helped you big time, spoonie mamas and dads? Share it in the comments!
You might also like:
- Life with Limits: Spoon Theory and Family Life
- 6 Reasons Why You Need a Breast Pump
- Fab Friday: Sick Day Self-Care