1. WubbaNub - We picked up the giraffe WubbaNub on a trip last fall because a friend's baby had one and loved it. It turns out that Essley loves it too - so much that it rarely leaves her side. It's an easy, effective way to soothe, and the attached stuffed animals makes it much harder to lose than regular pacifiers.
2. Boppy - This nursing pillow is like the breastfeeding mother's sidekick. Seriously. It makes every position easier, it's easy to carry from place to place, and it's comfortable for both mommy and baby. It's especially helpful to me for those middle of the night feedings when I'm so exhausted and bleary eyed that I can't think. I like the organic cotton peapod cover the best - it's soft and the design is simple and sweet.
3. Aden + Anais Swaddle Blankets - These muslin blankets are quite possibly the most versatile blankets in existence. We use ours to swaddle, to keep Essley warm without overheating her, as a car seat cover for indoors when we're running errands, and even as oversized burp cloths.
4. ERGObaby Carrier - I didn't use a carrier at all for the first few weeks, but now that she's a little bigger, I'm realizing how invaluable our Ergo is. It's a great way to be able to work and to get things done around the house but still have baby close. Some people also swear by slings and wraps, and we also have a Moby Wrap for Essley. But the Ergo is my go-to carrier. There is also an infant insert you can get for the inside for a perfect fit for newborns.
5. Arm's Reach Mini Arc Co-Sleeper - This bassinet attaches to the parents' bed so that you're able to safely sleep right next to your newborn. Being able to have Essley so close to me at night (perfect for night nursing and easy cuddle access) but still in her own space has been invaluable. It's definitely not the most attractive piece of baby furniture ever, but purpose and practicality won out over visual design for me with this product.
6. NoseFrida - When I was pregnant, I read somewhere that this crazy contraption from Sweden was the absolute best way to keep babies' noses booger-free. And it's true. Combined with saline mist, this thing is a lifesaver. It puts the bulb style nasal aspirator that the hospital gave us to shame.
7. Boudreaux's Butt Paste - This diaper rash paste works wonders and isn't full of icky chemicals. It also smells really, really good.
8. Cloth Diapers as Burp Rags - If you have a puker (we do!), I recommend having lots of burp rags on hand. We got handed down some really cute, extra soft ones, but cloth diapers are cheap and work just as well. A friend recommended I grab a pack before Essley was born, and it might just have been the best $9 I've ever spent.
9. Zippered Sleep and Plays - Truth be told, there isn't much I love more than dressing Essley up in pretty outfits for outings or pictures, but when we're home, she lives in these. They're cute and they're easy. I like the snapped ones too, but after lots of daily outfit changes (newborns are messy), your fingers will thank you for the zippers. These are also great because you don't have to pull anything over baby's head.
10. Dr. Brown's Bottles - Although I am breastfeeding (and exclusively feeding Essley breast milk), I did starting pumping bottles a few times a week a few weeks ago so that others can feed her as well. Dr. Brown's bottles are designed with a vent that provides vacuum-free feeding (most similar to breastfeeding), and also reduces air bubble oxidation of the milk to help preserve vitamins and lipids. We actually tried another type of bottle one day and she kept scrunching up her face and unlatching from the nipple. She loves her Dr. Brown's!
I hope this little guide proves useful for those of you who are pregnant or with new babies. For those of you with kids (or nieces/nephews, or friends with kids, or grandbabies!), what are your favorite must-haves for newborns?