14 New-Mom Must-Haves No One Tells You About

Forget what you’ve read—we go beyond the basics and get right to the good stuff: the must-have baby items for first-time moms.
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August 6, 2020
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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.

Image: Courtesy Evenflo

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 your little one 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 Modular Travel System, $280,

Image: Courtesy 4moms

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 them 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: It’s used in hundreds of hospitals across the country to help soothe preemies and sick newborns.

Try this one: 4Moms mamaRoo, $220,

Image: Courtesy Mountain Buggy

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. This travel-friendly compact stroller weighs just 13 pounds and folds small enough to fit into overhead carry-on luggage compartments.

Try this one: Mountain Buggy Nano Travel Stroller, $200,

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Image: Courtesy Ergobaby

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—and you won’t know what fits your frame best until you give it a whirl. 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). Plus, having an adjustable carrier means your partner or other family members can use it just as easily, helping to share the load.

Try this one: Ergobaby Omni 360 Cool Air Mesh Baby Carrier, $180,

Image: Courtesy Skip Hop

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. This one even comes with a removeable changing pad.

Try this one: Skip Hop Greenwich Simply Chic Diaper Tote, $100,

Image: Courtesy Maxi Cosi

Everyone tells you: You need a high chair

No one tells you: Make sure it wipes clean.

Mealtimes with baby are going to be messy. Avocado will be smeared across the seat surface, pureed squash will coat the tray and Cheerio crumbs will invade every crevice. High chairs with plush fabrics look super-comfy, but double check that they can be wiped down with a wet cloth—you don’t want to be stuck doing laundry after every feeding. It’s also handy to be able to pop the high chair tray into your dishwasher for easy cleaning. This one from Maxi Cosi checks all the boxes.

Try this one: Maxi Cosi 6-in-1 Minla Adjustable High Chair, $220,

Image: Courtesy The Ollie World

Everyone will tell you: Get swaddles

No one will tell you: Some are easier than others to get a proper wrap.

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 your little one self-soothe, but it’ll also ease them off to sleep faster, since being swaddled will remind them of their days back in the womb. But when it’s 3 a.m. and you’re trying (bleary-eyed) to get baby changed, swaddled and back to skeep, the last thing you want is to spend an hour trying to get a nice tight wrap, only to have it kicked off in a matter of seconds. Many parents prefer using swaddles with Velcro closures, so you can quickly get baby snug—and trust they’ll stay that way.

Try this one: The Ollie Swaddle, $65,

Image: Courtesy Sophie la Girafe

Everyone will tell you: Get teething toys

No one will tell you: Get this very specific one called Sophie la Girafe.

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. 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 la Girafe, $25,


Image: Courtesy Medela

Everyone tells you: You need a breast pump

No one will tell you: Get a portable one.

We won’t beat around the bush: Pumping breast milk isn’t the most pleasant of tasks. So if you plan on nursing and are going to take the time to express milk for your little one, make sure you pick a pump that’s powerful, efficient and portable. That way, you can wander around checking things off your to-do list while your breasts prep baby’s next bottle. Multitasking is every mama’s secret weapon.

Try this one: Medela Freestyle Flex Portable Double Electric Breast Pump, $325,

Image: Courtesy Random House Books

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,

Image: Courtesy Graco

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 check if your selected car seat has recently been recalled—and brush up on any newly issued safety standards too.

Try this one: Graco 4Ever Extend2Fit Platinum 4-in-1 Convertible Car Seat, $360,

Image: Courtesy Baby Buddy

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 their hands (in fact, most of the time it seems like their 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,

Image: Courtesy Frida

Everyone tells you: Stock up on postpartum essentials

No one will tell you: Get items designed specifically for new moms.

Your body is working hard to bring baby into this world, and it’s going to need some time and TLC to recover postpartum. For ages, moms have been hitting the pharmacy aisles to stock up on things like ice packs, witch hazel pads and peri rinse bottles. They’re all super-useful post-birth—but the thing is, most of these supplies were never made with new moms’ postpartum needs in mind. Frida Mom solved that, so now you can line your pad with a single witch hazel pad instead of a million, slippery rounds, and squirt your peri bottle with your hand above the stream of dirty water instead of below. (Thank you.) The brand offers everything you’ll need all in one handy kit.

Try this one: Frida Mom Postpartum Recovery Essentials Kit, $50,

Image: Courtesy LaVie

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,

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Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links, some of which may be sponsored by paying vendors.

Plus, more from The Bump:

Your Ultimate Baby Registry Checklist

Top 10 Items to Add to Your Baby Registry

The Top Items Pediatricians DON’T Want on Your Registry

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