People are always quick to chime in with lists of items you’ll need once baby arrives, but they often fail to mention key details. Sure, you need a stroller—but with so many (vastly different) options out there, how do you know what kind to get? When they say to get a teether, do they clue you in on the very specific brand of teether all babies seem to love? Here, we give you the inside scoop on the real mom must-haves.
Everyone will tell you: You need a car seat and a stroller
No one will tell you: Definitely get the travel system.
Of course you’ll need a stroller to move baby from point A to point B, but a travel system will get you a lot more mileage. Say you’re cruising around town with baby in the backseat, ready to embark on errand number three, and all of the sudden the little guy dozes off. Abort mission, right? Wrong. With a travel system, you’ll be able to slide baby’s car seat out of its base and stealthily snap it in place on your stroller in a matter of minutes. This one's even modular, so baby can face you or face the world, depending on your preference. Or it can pop into carriage mode, eliminating the need for an additional bassinet attachment.
Try this one: Evenflo Pivot, $300, BabiesRUs.com
Everyone will tell you: Get teething toys
No one will tell you: Get this very specific one called Sophie.
There will come a time when you’ll do just about anything to make baby's teething pain go away. Let us introduce you to the miraculous healing powers of Sophie, the giraffe teether. She's made of natural rubber and food paint, with no toxic gunk whatsoever, which moms love. And we defended her through the flack she caught in early 2017. But why does baby love her so much? The jury’s still out on that one. Maybe it’s because her chewable appendages stick out every which way, making her easy to chomp on; or that she squeaks when you squeeze her and seems to be the perfect size for baby’s kung-fu grip. Whatever the reason, one thing’s clear: Her miraculous ability to keep baby happy (and silent) makes her a definite must-have.
Moms love: Sophie, $23, Amazon.com
Everyone will tell you: You need a stroller
No one will tell you: You really should have two.
We know what you’re thinking: Two strollers? But hear us out. You won’t always want to push around a heavy stroller everywhere you go. Having a lightweight and easily collapsible option on hand will be a lifesaver (and a back saver) in the long run. At under 11 pounds, this one breaks records for its tiny fold.
Try this one: GB Pockit, $250, Amazon.com
Everyone will tell you: You need a swing
No one will tell you: It’s gotta be tricked out.
You’ll need a swing to put baby in and keep her occupied while you’re running around your house like a madwoman trying to get a load of laundry done, make a phone call or even just get something to eat. But no one will admit that flashing lights, hookups for MP3 players and self-rocking mechanisms will buy you extra time and may even lull a fussy baby to sleep. This one offers extra peace of mind: one's even used in 300 hospitals across the country to help soothe preemies and sick newborns.
Try this one: 4Moms mamaRoo, $220, Jet.com
Everyone will tell you: You need a diaper bag
No one will tell you: Get one you don’t mind calling your purse.
Consolidate your gear and baby’s by springing for a diaper bag that doubles as your own bag. That’s right — there is such a thing as a stylish, all-purpose diaper bag, sans the paisley flowers or hideous bright polka dots. (Who knew?) As long as it’s got tons of pocket space and a washable matte finish, and easily attaches to your stroller, you’ll be good to go. We found one that even has a front wipe pouch for super easy access.
Try this one: Vilah Bloom Harbor Side Tote, $130, Amazon.com
Everyone tells you: You need a baby carrier
No one will tell you: Try it on before you buy it.
Toting your tot around will become a much easier feat with a baby carrier that’s actually comfortable to wear. You’ll want to look for one that has easily adjustable straps on your shoulders and hips so you can evenly distribute the weight (and save your back some pain).
Try this one: BabyBjorn Miracle baby carrier, $142, Jet.com
Everyone will tell you: You need a breastfeeding pillow
No one will tell you: You need one for travel
Trust us, you don’t want to be lugging around a huge nursing pillow when you’re boarding a plane or adding to your already packed car trunk. But you’ll come to rely on this thing to keep you from straining your back while breastfeeding. Get a nursing pillow that’s compact and easy to carry around.
Try this one: My Brest Friend Inflatable Travel Pillow, $24, Amazon.com
Everyone tells you: You need a breast pump
No one will tell you: Splurge on the top-notch one.
We won’t beat around the bush: Attaching two suction cups to your boobs won’t ever feel normal, but if you plan on nursing, then chances are you’ll want a reliable pump. And if you’re heading back to work or find yourself always on-the-go, you’ll want to invest in a sturdy, daily-use pump that can stand the test of time. Things to look for: portability and durability.
Try this one: Medela Pump in Style advanced breast pump, $270, Target.com
Everyone tells you: You need a high chair
No one tells you: Get a travel chair.
You won’t be able to drag your high chair with you out to a restaurant. It’s no secret that babies and restaurants don’t always mix. But at least there’s one invention that will cut down on the chaos when dining out with your little one: the travel chair. Fixing itself easily onto the side of any dining table, you can store a travel chair in the back of your car. While it’s perfect for restaurants, it’s great for those trips to Grandma’s too.
Try this one: phil&teds Lobster high chair, $90, Jet.com
Everyone will tell you: Get receiving blankets
No one will tell you: Some are easier than others for swaddling baby.
Ah, the swaddle blanket, comforting babies (and saving the sanity of moms) everywhere for centuries. By wrapping up baby snugly, you’ll not only help her self-soothe, but also ease her off to sleep faster, since being swaddled will remind her of her days back in the womb. But you’ll need a swaddle blanket that you can easily wrap baby in. You don’t want to spend an hour (or more) trying to get a good wrap, only to have it kicked off in a matter of seconds. Look for lightweight, large swaddle blankets or the kind with Velcro to keep them closed.
Try this one: Aden + Anais swaddle blanket, $32 for 2, AdenandAnais.com
Everyone will tell you: Get a safe car seat
No one will tell you: Watch the recall list.
It pretty much goes without saying why you’d need a first-rate car seat, so we’ll skip the overview. In fact, you’ll probably put more research time into baby’s car seat than you did with your college thesis — and with good reason, since baby’s safety and comfort are your number-one priorities these days. Here’s a tip: Don’t just look at popular car seats; be sure to read up on all recently recalled products and newly issued safety standards too.
Try this one: Chicco Fit2, $280, BabiesRUs.com
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Everyone Will Tell You: Baby Toys are a Good Distraction
No one will tell you: You’ll want to secure them to whatever baby is sitting in.
Teethers, rattles, clutching toys and other fun playthings are a great way to stimulate baby’s senses and boost healthy development—not to mention keep little ones entertained when you’re busy tending to other important matters, like making your second (or third) pot of coffee. But just because you hand baby a toy doesn’t mean it’ll stay in her hands (in fact, most of the time it seems like her cue to drop it again). If you’re not exactly in the mood to play fetch all day, pick up a few toy straps to attach items to your child’s stroller, car seat and high chair.
Try this one: Baby Buddy Secure-A-Toy, $6 for four, Amazon.com
Everyone Will Tell You: Stock Up on Children’s Books
No one will tell you: Go for board books.
You may think storytime is all about reading, but for baby, it’s really about grabbing at the pages—and regular children’s books get easily ripped. Sturdy board books, however, are pretty much baby-proof. Not only can they stand up to your little one’s wandering fingers, many of them include textured elements that encourage tactile exploration.
Try this one: Open the Barn Door, $3, Amazon.com
Everyone Will Tell You: Invest in Nursing Gear
No one will tell you: Throw in a lactation massager.
Clogged milk ducts are definitely not fun, but they’re unfortunately not that uncommon among nursing moms. When things get backed up, head straight for the LaVie Lactation Massager, the first-ever milk expression aid. It uses gentle vibrations to loosen plugged ducts and get your milk flowing again.
Moms love: LaVie Lactation Massager, $35, LactationMassager.com