10 Must-Haves to Help You Survive the Fourth Trimester

One mom’s picks for your first few months as a new parent—and beyond.
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profile picture of Diana Kelly Levey
Contributing Writer
July 6, 2022
mom holding baby
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Becoming a new mom (twice) during the pandemic, I’ve learned a thing or two about what’s helpful to have on hand during those early days at home. While a baby registry is amazing for getting many of the essentials from generous family and friends, there are some items you won’t think to (or want to) add to your registry—pain killers and pads, anyone? That said, here’s my list of must-haves (all of which you can get at Target) to help you be prepared from the day you get home from the hospital.

1. Muslin swaddle blankets

You might not believe it in those early days, but you’ll be a baby burrito–swaddling pro in no time. I like big, lightweight blankets like the Muslin Swaddle Blankets From Cloud Island because they stretch nicely and don’t tend to overheat a baby who’s already wearing a onesie or full-body pajamas. Bonus: They also make a great stroller cover, sun shade and emergency burp cloth. You’ll want to stash one in your diaper bag, several in the nursery and one in the car, and a few will probably be in the laundry at any given time.

Buy it: Cloud Island Muslin Swaddle Blanket Boutique 3pk, $20,

2. Comfortable pajamas in dark colors

After giving birth, soft fabrics will be all that you’ll want against your skin while you heal. I was gifted some pajamas, but I recently bought myself this soft short-sleeved collared top and shorts pajama set that would be perfect for new moms. They have a button-down shirt that’s also easy to lift if you’re breastfeeding. They’re lightweight and cool, perfect if you’re dealing with hormonal night sweats after birth—or if you’re just a hot sleeper. I’d recommend dark colors since you’ll still be bleeding for a few weeks and don’t want to have to worry about stains.

Buy it: Stars Above Women’s Beautifully Soft Short-Sleeve Notch Collar Top and Shorts Pajama Set, $22,

3. An extra-large water bottle with a straw

Drinking a lot of water can help you keep your supply up while breastfeeding and help you have more energy throughout the day, something every new mom could use. Staying hydrated also helps your body release fluids you’re retaining after delivery. I find that I tend to drink more—and spill less—when using a water bottle with a straw. That’s why I love this 24-ounce version from Contigo with a flip-top lid. It doesn’t leak when it gets knocked over at night or turned upside down in my diaper bag.

Buy it: Contigo 24 oz. Ashland 2.0 Tritan Water Bottle With AutoSpout Lid, $18,

4. A baby bouncer

I registered for a pricey bouncer chair after seeing a friend use it and liked that it had different seating positions, was easy to place a newborn in and allowed you to rock them with your foot while you’re doing other things—like eating, folding laundry or reading on your phone. This Fisher-Price Baby Bouncer also has music and sound features—for a fraction of the price.

Buy it: Fisher-Price Baby Bouncer, $60,

5. An electric teakettle

Any new parent who’s fixing baby bottles around the clock could benefit from an electric tea kettle that’s easy to fill up and pour—one-handed, while holding baby. Sure, you could go the bottle-warmer route, but I like fewer appliances on my kitchen counter and it’s just as easy to place a bottle in a cup of hot water to quickly bring it up to temp. Bonus: I found that drinking hot decaf tea was comforting during those long first few days home.

Buy it: Hamilton Beach 1L Electric Kettle, $25,

6. A baby carrier

A friend actually passed down her Ergobaby Carrier before my oldest son was born. But if I were to register again, I’d go with the Ergobaby Omni 360 All Carry Positions Baby Carrier. It offers four carry positions and grows with baby from newborn to toddler (seven to 45 pounds). I needed babywearing to keep my firstborn calm while I did chores, cooked dinner and wrote at my standing desk—and I still rely on it for my second when I’m pulling double duty at the store or the playground.

Buy it: Ergobaby Omni 360 All Carry Positions Baby Carrier Newborn to Toddler With Lumbar Support, $180,

7. A sound machine and night-light

I’m a big fan of noise machines, and was happy I discovered the Hatch Rest Sound Machine Night Light, which I can control from an app on my phone and use as an audio monitor. The Hatch allows you to personalize favorite sounds, volumes and colors, and I like that you can use it without a cord for naps away from home or in another room.

Buy it: Hatch Rest Plus Sound Machine Night Light Time to Rise Audio Monitor, $90,

8. A hands-free breast pump

I sprung for the Elvie Double Electric breast pump my second time around and was grateful that I was able to pump hands-free while cooking dinner, folding laundry and eating meals. I like that the Elvie pumps are lightweight and discreet and you can monitor milk production with a Bluetooth connection to the app. I’d imagine that the Elvie Stride hospital grade version has a stronger suction and might be even more efficient. That’s the one I’d recommend to friends next!

Buy it: Elvie Stride Plus Hands-Free, Hospital-Grade Electric Breast Pump, $350,

9. A trusted car seat system

This is on every new parent’s registry item list, and for good reason—car safety is paramount and you’ll need it to leave the hospital. After doing some research, I registered for an infant car seat that would work with my stroller system. But a wise friend told me to add another car seat to my registry that my child could grow into. They were right—it was so nice to have this Graco car seat on hand when my firstborn outgrew the infant car seat by seven months. I liked that this one can also turn into a booster seat my kids can use until they weigh 100 pounds. (Plus, if you want to skip the infant seat altogether, this one can work from birth, too.)

Buy it: Graco Slim Fit 3-in-1 Convertible Car Seat, $220,

10. Over-the-counter pain relievers

It’s no secret that you’ll have some aches and pains after giving birth. You won’t be sorry you stocked up on some relief like Tylenol Extra Strength Pain Reliever for that first day home from the hospital (as long as your medical provider gives you the green light!).

Buy it: Tylenol Extra Strength Pain Reliever and Fever Reducer Caplets, $5,

Target’s Year of Benefits registry program offers exclusive deals throughout baby’s first year, plus free returns and exchanges on anything from your registry. All deals are connected through your Target Circle membership, which means you can earn points while saving money. Learn more at Target.

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