She knows she needs diapers and cute baby clothes and probably a bassinet. But you’ve been there before. You’ve got tips and tricks and know exactly what will help out the new mom most. Step away from the registry and shop from this baby checklist of items that the new mom will be eternally grateful for… once she realizes how much she needs them.
The baby checklist: 10 essential items
1. The Happiest Baby on the Block
This book by Dr. Harvey Karp should be required reading during pregnancy. If the new mom hasn’t heard of it, tell her to read it NOW.
If not now, then definitely after that first bout of inconsolable newborn crying. The 5 S’s explained in this book are the keys to calming a newborn.
Note: it comes in a DVD, too, with full swaddling instructions!
2. The NoseFrida Snotsucker
So, the reaction you’ll probably get when the new mom opens this at her baby shower is, “Wow… thanks so much… I think.”
Not the most glamorous gift, but this somewhat nauseating tool is a lifesaver when babies are congested. Far more effective than a bulb syringe and surprisingly more sanitary, the NoseFrida gently and effectively clears all of the snot and mucous right up to the sinuses, I’m pretty sure!
Warn her that this might be a two person job. Babies aren’t thrilled about having items stuck up their nostrils.
I first learned about this magical device when my first baby was about six weeks old. Up until that point, he had only slept on my chest. For six entire weeks.
Nothing else worked– not the co-sleeper, not the pack ‘n play, not the baby swing.
We knew that he probably had acid reflux and that mysterious affliction dubbed colic. I’m sure that the upright position of him being kangarooed on my chest was a big part of the preference.
That’s what the rock ‘n play does best. I’ts slightly angled, allowing for gentle digestion, and it “hugs” the newborn in a hammock-like support. The first time I put my newborn in it, he slept for four hours. (Cue the angels singing!)
Not gonna lie, I cried when he outgrew it.
(Full disclosure: I got a second one when my second child was born– one for upstairs and one for downstairs!)
Note: I found that the plastic shell seemed pretty hard and I worried about baby flat head, so I placed a piece of memory foam from this adjustable toddler pillow in between the plastic shell and the rock ‘n play fabric cover.
4. A Postpartum care basket
Want to know my first field trip after my first child was born and we were home from the hospital? To CVS to pick up pads, witch hazel, and Epsom salts.
Even as an L&D nurse, I was unprepared for the discomforts of the postpartum period. Save the new mom a trip to the drugstore with a sweet basket carefully curated with some of these items:
- SOFT and absorbant pads
- Witch hazel pads (for a genius cost-cutting hack, show the new mom how to make your own with a bottle of witch hazel, cotton makeup rounds, and a resealable plastic container)
- Unfragranced Epsom salts
- An extra peri-care bottle
- Topical anesthetic spray
5. A breastfeeding care basket
Same as above. There are so many little things you can give the new mom that will make the newborn transition period go just a little more smoothly… especially if she’s breastfeeding.
Breastfeeding is HARD. It’s time-consuming and exhausting and sometimes painful. Put everything the new mama needs right at her fingertips with this thoughtful basket:
- Snacks and bottled water
- Lip balm
- A fun, trashy magazine
- Baby nail clippers (the best time to trim those little needles!)
- Breast pads (these are my favorites)
- Lanolin cream or organic coconut oil
- Nipple shield
- Hair elastics (also useful as a bracelet to remember what side she last fed baby on)
- Burp cloths
- Nursing tank (see next item)
Before my first baby, I picked up a couple of nursing bras, but didn’t really know what size I would need, so I foolishly decided to just wait until after the baby came to get more.
A friend of mine was in the hospital at the same time, and she was wearing this amazing product– a nursing tank. I immediately enlisted a family member to go to Target and pick some up for me.
Trust me on this– these are indispensable. I also have a confession. My youngest child is two years old, and I’m still wearing them, haha! (Sexy, I know.)
Why are they so great? Well, first of all, they are comfortable. Daytime, nighttime, you can practically live in these (and you will).
Secondly, they work SO WELL for breastfeeding anywhere. You can layer any top over them and still be relatively covered if nursing in public. No flashing your sexy, postpartum muffintop, if you know what I mean.
That also means that you don’t have to buy ANY OTHER nursing tops if you don’t want to. I didn’t own any others– just layered my normal clothes over the tanks. What a cost-saver!
If you know the new mama’s general size, pick her up a couple before the baby comes (with a gift receipt, of course). She’ll be so grateful!
7. Wet bags
This wet bag has been a permanent fixture in the diaper bag. I can’t tell you how often it has saved the day when accidents happen. They are also brilliant for water activity days at the splash pad or pool when you need to bring home wet clothes or swimsuits.
Best part? You just throw the bag into the washer along with the wet clothing. I only wish that I had more of them.
(Sneak peek– this is one of the tips in my post A Busy Nurse’s Best Hacks for Speedy Power Pumping. Check it out here!
8. Diaper Caddy
I’m telling you– I must have some really great friends because this is another item I received for my first baby shower that I had NO CLUE to put on my registry. Four years later, it still holds a prime location on the changing table.
In the course of your baby’s life, you’ll change an approximate 4,000 diapers.
A little organization goes a long way.
Pro tip– use this instead of a gift bag to hold the rest of your new mama baby shower gift!
9. The Mommy Hook
This mommy hook is genius. Especially for those crazy grocery store trips when you are trying to juggle a newborn, a toddler, a diaper bag, keys, phone, coffee, and about 15 bags.
Pure genius! (BRB– updating my Amazon cart now…)
10. A selection of baby bottles
ESPECIALLY if the new mama is planning to breastfeed.
True story– this is how my husband had to feed my baby the first weekend I went back to work.
We then proceeded to spend about $100 on baby bottles/nipples, desperately trying to find one that he wouldn’t refuse.
The new mama definitely doesn’t know that she needs 1,001 different types of bottles… but she might call you in tears of gratitude in a few weeks. Here’s a short list of some of the best “breastfeeding-friendly” bottles:
- MAM anti-colic newborn bottles
- Comotomo Natural Feel Baby Bottles
- mimijumi Breastfeeding Baby Bottles
- Kiinde Breast Milk Storage Gift Set (This is the system that I used for my second baby, and I LOVED it. Direct from pump to freezer to warmer to bottle– so easy and minimizes contamination!)
- Tommee Tippee Closer to Nature
And… even with the best intentions, babies will still make their own choices. My picky first child ended up settling on this bottle. Always the classic.
No baby checklist can cover EVERYTHING, but these are some of the items that SAVED me as a new mom… and I hope they save you some time and sleep, too!
Do you have a favorite baby shower gift for new moms? What are your “must-have” items? Comment below!