Things I Wish I Had With My First Baby

posted by Andrea | 02/9/2016
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things I wish I had

The other day, I looked around our house and said to Dave, “Can you believe how much less stuff we would have if we didn’t have kids?” He looked around, then he looked back at me and nodded with agreement.

As expected for a home with 3 young children, there are kid’s toys, games, books, craft supplies, clothing, and gear in almost every single room of our house. In fact, I think the only room without anything “kid” or “baby” in it is our bedroom… and even then, we still have pictures of them!

I feel like we have truly done a good job of not accumulating more than we need, making homes for the things we actually use, and regularly purging anything we don’t need, use, want, and love (including baby clothes that are too small). Even still… from the moment you walk in our house, it is very clear that we have little people living here — that is of course, assuming that you didn’t trip over a bike or scooter on your way to our front door! 🙂

The day after having that conversation with Dave, I was talking with a friend of mine who recently found out she is expecting her first baby. She’s going through all the fun of registering for everything she could ever want or need… and she asked me if there was anything I have now that I wished I would have had for Nora.

I answered her, and then thought my answers might just make a really good blog post!

After having 3 children with VERY different personalities, all in different seasons of the year, and experiencing both genders, here are a handful of items I wish I would have had from the very beginning.

favorite things

(Not pictured: a little more patience and lot more confidence!)

Noise Maker

I absolutely hated the idea of using a noise maker in my kid’s bedrooms because I didn’t want them to get “addicted” to having white noise and then not ever be able to fall asleep without it.

I resisted and resisted for many months until I finally broke down and put a small fan in Nora’s room when she was around 7 months old (mainly because it was summer and getting warmer in there).

Although it didn’t help her fall asleep any better (and I still had to sleep with her for most nights) it DID help keep her asleep a bit longer, and it made it much easier to sneak out of her room after she had fallen asleep.

So when Simon was born, we bought another one of our favorite noise makers (I got mine for $15 at Bed Bath and Beyond using a $5 off coupon).

We now have one of these noisemakers in every bedroom in our house… and we all use them every night.

I feel fairly confident we would be able to sleep without them, but it sure does make it easier to have multiple children sleeping in the same house — especially when James is fussy and crying loudly right after we put Nora and Simon to bed… or when Nora wakes up and tromps right past Simon’s bedroom door every morning.

These noisemakers are really small and portable, so they are easy to tote around on vacation or wherever else we might be going… and they even have a spot for batteries (think camping together!)

This is probably the #1 thing I wish I would have had when Nora was an infant — partially because it’s so inexpensive and because she was such a horrible sleeper. Maybe this would have helped… maybe!

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MAM Pacifiers and Bottles

As many of you know, Nora was a little stinker when it came to the whole eating thing… and although we tried and tried, we never found a brand or type of bottle or pacifier she would take. It also took an insanely long time to find a sippy cup she would drink small amounts of water from (I think she was 2 before we ever found anything that worked!)

Of course, when we finally came across the line of MAM products, it was super easy to get Nora to take a sippy cup (almost like magic!)

After that, we stuck with MAM products almost exclusively… and you better believe that I was fully stocked up on MAM pacifiers and bottles when Simon was born (I even took the newborn pacifier to the hospital with me!)

I honestly have no idea why the MAM products worked so well for all my kids… all I know is I’m sticking with them, and I really wish I would have known about them about 2 years earlier!

Also, it’s worth noting that one of MY personal favorite things about the MAM products is that they are almost all easily sanitized in the microwave. The pacifiers all come with a little sterilizing case and the bottles come with simple instructions on how to put the nipple inside the base of the bottle, fill it with a little water, and then sterilize it in the microwave.

This is SO handy if you’re out and about and don’t have a clean space to wash bottles… just pull over into a gas station and sterilize it in the microwave!

We now use the MAM pacifiers, bottles, sippy cups, teethers, etc. every day for all 3 kids and I’m thrilled that our local grocery store now carries their products too (much easier than ordering them online!)

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Jumperoo and/or Exersaucer

I resisted buying or registering for a Jumperoo or an Exersaucer because they were so big and bulky and took up way too much space. Instead, I found one of those flimsy jumping things that hangs from the doorway at a garage sale. It was $3 and probably 20 years old… none of my kids every liked it.

I eventually broke down and bought a Jumperoo from a friend when Simon was born (all he wanted to do was JUMP) and it was a life-saver for me at the time, especially since he didn’t walk until he was a full year old.

Then my sister found an awesome Exersaucer at a local thrift store for $3 and we cleaned it up good as new! Now, poor James practically lives in the Jumperoo and Exersaucer!

Video Monitor

I hesitated to put this one on my list… because video monitors can be expensive and they really are NOT necessary at all. HOWEVER, if I’m really honest with myself, having a video monitor for both Simon and James has been fabulous. And I think if we would have had one for Nora it would have most likely been a huge “game changer” for us.

There were so many times (especially after she was getting older) when it would have been so nice to be able to SEE what she was doing and why she was crying without going into her room and letting her see us. If she saw us (or even heard the door swing open) all was lost and we were back to square one getting her to bed or down for her nap.

When I was registering for baby gifts when I was pregnant with Nora, I honestly felt like only super over-protective parents would even considering shelling out money for a video monitor — but since then, the prices have gone down and they are much more readily available. I’m so glad we got one with Simon and could also use it with James.

And honestly, even once our kids get older, I could see using it in the playroom so I can see what they are doing — or even just using the walkie-talkie feature to talk to them when they are upstairs 🙂

We use the Angelcare Video monitor (mainly because my babies all sleep on their tummies and I like having the sensor pad) — but I’m certain all the other brands are equally as nice.

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Angelcare Bath Support

Since we never had a full-size bathtub, I didn’t worry about buying or registering for any type of infant bath seat. Instead, I borrowed a baby tub from a friend for the first few months, and then, after Nora could sit up, we switched to the famous blowup bathtub that we used for the next 3 years!

However, when Simon was a baby, I found the Angelcare Infant Bath Support and not only did it fit right inside our blowup bathtub, it also fit inside our sink!

Of course, now James uses it right inside our new bathtub… and it’s just the simplest, easy-to-use baby thing that would have made bath-time so much better when Nora was a baby.

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I love that it is made of silicone so it’s super easy to clean, it dries quickly, it doesn’t get moldy, and it’s really comfy for the babies to lay in.

The ONLY thing I don’t love about it is that it doesn’t fold up for easy storage (or for travel purposes).

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Baby Car Mirror

Now that kids need to be rear facing practically forever (note my annoyed sarcasm), it has been very helpful to have one of those baby car mirrors so I can see what they are crying about, if they are sleeping, or what they are doing.

We didn’t have this with Nora, and she frequently liked to make loud gasping sounds while I was driving — and I was always afraid she was choking on something.

This is another relatively inexpensive, easy-to-find item that we really like having now and wish we would have had right from the beginning.

In case you’re wondering, we have the Dino mirror — from Buy Buy Baby.

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Baby Carrier

Before I had kids, I was 100% against the idea of “wearing my kids”… and then I had Nora, the baby who needed to be held and/or touching me every moment of every day!

I think I lasted about 2 months on my anti-baby-wearing kick before I finally borrowed a baby carrier from a friend at church!

I ended up buying a Moby Wrap from a garage sale for $5. That got me through life with Nora, but neither she nor I really ever loved it. It was too stretchy and always felt like it was either falling off or needing to be re-tied constantly.

Thankfully, I found the Boba Carrier right before Simon was born, and he LOVED it. He spent many hours of his infancy in this carrier — shopping, sleeping, snuggling, etc.

And James seems to love it equally as much as Simon did (maybe even more since he’s in it more). If James is being fussy and not going down for a nap, I’ll just put him in the Boba and within minutes, he’s usually fast asleep!

Needless to say, I am no longer “anti-baby-wearing” 🙂

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A bed in the nursery

I realize this is a really weird thing to put on my list — but if I would have had a bed in the nursery when Nora was a baby, I might have actually gotten some sleep!

I spent SO many nights on the floor in her nursery, holding her on the couch, or trying to sleep in a chair with her in my arms… and I was exhausted. In fact, we ended up just moving her right into a twin mattress on the floor when she was only 10 months old (I slept there with her most  nights).

So when it came time to set the room up for Simon, I insisted that we squeeze a twin bed in the room.

Of course, Simon was an amazing sleeper right from the beginning so I only used the bed a few times. However, we kept the bed in there for James, and I have used it often.

Sometimes I just sleep on the bed so I don’t wake Dave up when I have to get up with James so often during the night. Other times I sleep with James in the bed so he actually sleeps — and we can both get some rest that way. It has been a very welcome addition to our nursery and I feel like it could have really helped me get more sleep those first few months.

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I realize these products won’t work for everyone — but if you are making a registry (or if you’re trying to find something to give a new mom) I would personally suggest any of the products in this post.

Are there any baby things you wish you had with your first baby?

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30 comments

  1. Lizanne

    02/15/2016

    Thanks so much for this post, Andrea! I meant to reply when I first read it last week…I am expecting my first baby in August, and had just been thinking of contacting you for a ‘master list’ of your favorite baby gear/products. I started looking back at some of your old posts, but this one is very helpful, and so timely. Thank you!

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    Thanks LIzanne — and congrats!
    I’ll actually be sharing a follow-up post later this week, so you’ll want to look for that one too!

    [Reply]

  2. Kristen

    02/10/2016

    I have a bath seat, I think it’s called Summer Infant Baby Bather, which is similar to the AngelCare one but can also fold in half, which is nice! It’s made of mesh over a plastic frame.

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    That sounds really cool! I love that it folds up! That’s probably the ONE thing I don’t like about the AngelCare seat is that it doesn’t fold. However, it does have a nice hook for hanging it on the shower wall after we’re done with the bath.

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  3. Natalia

    02/09/2016

    I’m SO grateful for this post, Andrea! I meant to ask you a while ago if you have a list with “must have’s” somewhere on your site… We are in the process of becoming foster parents and I really needed this. Not knowing what age to prepare for (let alone gender), it’s very helpful to have such a list. I don’t want to spend more money than I need to, nor to inundate our small house with unnecessary items, but I do want to have the things that are needed most and are very, very helpful.
    And it feels awesome to be able to just trust you! Thank you for making my life so much easier!!!

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    yay! Glad you saw this post and that it was helpful! Also, exciting about the foster baby! Hope all goes well!

    [Reply]

  4. Kathleen

    02/09/2016

    Curious what kind of diaper bag you use? I just had my third baby and I’m having a hard time deciding what to get. Thanks! Always appreciate your insight.

    [Reply]

    Kristen Reply:

    I so happen to have bookmarked this post from when Nora was a baby! Although Andrea may have posted an update since then 😉
    https://andreadekker.com/how-i-organize-our-diaper-bag/

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    Thanks Kristen! I actually do use a different bag now — but I still love that 31 bag. My only 2 “dislikes” are that it doesn’t have a zipper and all the pockets are on the outside versus the inside.

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    Hi Kathleen,
    Oh the diaper bag! I have used several over the years and they all have pros and cons. I started with the Thirty-One brand Utility Tote — which was great. However, all the pockets were on the outside and there were no zippers so Nora would get into EVERYTHING once she got a little bit older.

    When Simon came along, I did a review and giveaway of the PacaPod bag — which I totally LOVE because it’s so neat and organized. There were pockets for everything! Plus, it looked really nice — like just a normal bag.

    However, with 3 kids (and 2 in diapers full time) I was finding it almost impossible to fit everything into my PacaPod bag. James is a pooper and frequently needs 1 or even 2 changes of clothing (depending on how long we’ll be gone) and Nora always wants to bring some sort of coloring book or writing book along with crayons and pencils. Plus, the sippy cups, snack cups, changing pad, etc. And I like to put MY wallet and water bottle in the bag too — there was no way I could fit everything in the PacaPod anymore.

    Just recently (like probably a month ago) I gave in and purchased a SkipHop Duo Double Hold-it-all bag from Buy Buy Baby. It was on sale, I had a 20% off coupon, and I had a $50 gift card (so it was free to me).
    It IS big, but honestly, it’s the right size for all the gear and stuff I need to take for all 3 kids. If my kids weren’t all so close together in age, I could probably get by with a smaller bag, but Nora still likes to have a sippy cup, we still need the snacks, and 2 sets of diapers!

    Anyway, I’m really liking the bigger bag, but like I said above, I’ve only had it for about a month (which is one of the reasons I haven’t said anything about it on the blog). I want to make sure I really really like it and use it for several months before I give my opinion!

    Good luck with 3 — you can do it!

    [Reply]

    Kathleen Reply:

    Yes! Oh, the diaper bag! I really wanted a back pack type this time but I can’t find one I like and the one I got is not big enough. I’ll check out the one you have. Thanks for the response!!

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    yes, we also have a backpack style one (we got it for a vacation last year and liked it a lot) but again, it’s totally not big enough for every-day use with 3 kids! sigh…

    [Reply]

  5. Karen

    02/09/2016

    I am amazed at how fast new things come out these days. My girls were born in 1984, 1993, and 2008. (ha ~not my plan at all 😉 There are only 3 things that stand out for me that I wished I had with all three. Battery-operated swing, video monitor and sleep sacks.

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    sleep sacks were the best! James is now grown out of his, but I loved using them for my tiny babies!

    [Reply]

  6. Kaitlin @ The Mom on Purpose

    02/09/2016

    I was the same way about baby carriers with my first (who is just a few months older than Nora). Then I realized how ridiculous it was to try to hold a baby on your hip constantly! With Ben, I have a Tula and I’m constantly telling my husband that it was the best baby purchase we have EVER made. My husband works 2nd shift, so I’m with both kids solo for dinner, baths, and bedtime routine. If it weren’t for that Tula we would be eating takeout so much more! I think it’s definitely paid for itself and then some!

    I loved this list! It’s so funny how our tastes and opinions can change over time.

    Thanks for sharing!

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    WOW — I realize we’re all used to what we’re used to… but I don’t think I could do dinner, baths, and bedtime alone every night. That always seems to be the most stressful time of the day for me! I can definitely see why you would need the baby carrier!

    [Reply]

  7. Alicia

    02/09/2016

    We also swear by the sound machines! Our second child, now 4, was a HORRENDOUS sleeper, and that’s when we began religiously using them. Currently, we’re using fans in our boys’ rooms, but it accomplishes the exact same thing as the sound machine.

    I’ve heard such great things about the Boba carriers! I wish I’d gone with one of those instead of the brand we currently have. While I do like it, and Noah (the baby) does use it, it seems to me the Boba carriers might work a little better once a baby gets a little older. I don’t know.

    [Reply]

  8. Olga

    02/09/2016

    Nice list. I liked Avent line for baby products, though, only MAM for sippy cups. With my both oldest we loved using playpen, for the youngest–we are barely surviving without it, especially my library; she is everywhere at once, lol.
    P.S. Andrea, thanks for sharing information about Blurb, and your photo books. This is biggest thing I need to learn how to organize, and I am really, REALLY bad with all things technology. What program you are using for organizing your pictures monthly /yearly? I don’t like to store my pictures online. I used to have Picasa with my old computer, but when I installed it for the new one, program itself felt more “invasive “, doing things I didn’t want it to get into, so had to delete it.

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    Thanks Olga!

    Here is the post I wrote about how I organize all our photos using Flickr(https://andreadekker.com/flickr-helps-organize-photos/)
    I also keep them all on our computer (they go right from my iPhone to my Mac and are organized automatically by month and year)

    Hope this helps!

    [Reply]

  9. Kristen @ Joyfully Thriving

    02/09/2016

    I second the baby wraps…and the extra bed in the nursery! I remember falling asleep there nursing and waking up just in time to nurse again. We also resisted a sound machine but it’s been so nice…especially when we travel!

    [Reply]

  10. Amy

    02/09/2016

    Our youngest is 10 months old and we are not having any more children. I am looking forward to reclaiming our basement storage areas from the large baby item storage and purging the bulky jumper toys when we are done with them. Although we’ll still have “kid stuff” around, the inside stuff can be better contained and the big stuff seems to be outside toys or downstairs playroom toys.

    I completely agree with your baby wearing sentiments. Our youngest child ended up having a medical condition that went undiagnosed for almost 6 months. If it was not for the Maya Wrap I purchased at a consignment sale, I’m pretty sure I would have dropped him at some point during his many hours of being held. Great list!

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    Enjoy all that extra space!

    [Reply]

  11. Emily

    02/09/2016

    Love your list and I totally agree!! Loved your note about more patience and confidence. God gives us so much grace as we try to understand how to parent our children. 🙂 I may need to check out that bath tub. I share your feelings about baby tubs so Jonathan gets bathed in the regular tub and it’s so awkward (he’s almost 5 months, not ready to sit up yet). What age would you say the baby tub works best for?

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    We used the bath seat from birth until they could sit up really well with one of those suction cup rings that suctions to the bottom of the tub (usually around 7-9 months)

    [Reply]

  12. Sandra

    02/09/2016

    Andrea,

    Thank you for this pertinent post. All of us baby havers are very greatful for it.

    Sandra,

    [Reply]

  13. Sarah

    02/09/2016

    Your stories from Nora and Simon about having a bed in the nursery convinced me to do the same. I completely agree, it has been the best decision I think I’ve made. As I was reading this I was nursing one of my twins on it lying down! All the other items are great too, we don’t nessarily have the same brands, but they would also be on my must-haves list!

    [Reply]

  14. Kellie

    02/09/2016

    I had my first baby 6 months ago and I agree with all the things on this list – especially the sound machine and baby carrier! I, too, am fairly minimalistic and hated the idea of more and more stuff infiltrating my house. But I found these things to be so essential for us!

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    congrats on your first baby! and yes, even those of us who don’t want to let baby gear creep in eventually come to our senses and realize that the gear makes life a WHOLE lot easier!

    [Reply]

  15. Edie

    02/09/2016

    What a timely post! I’m a little over 3 months away from having my 3rd baby, and am just starting to think about what gear we’ll need when she arrives. My youngest just turned 6, so it’s been a while since I’ve looked at baby stuff! We only saved the crib and bassinet from our first two babies. I nodded in agreement with pretty much everything on your list! I’m with you 100% on the noise machine, and I definitely plan on getting a video monitor this time around. That bath seat looks perfect as I never was fond of the baby bathtubs. Plus we are moving into our newly built home this week, and it has a huge kitchen sink that will be perfect for baths! For my own list, I would add getting a couple different types of swaddlers, as both of my other children needed to be swaddled. I used blankets and a Halo swaddler with the others, but Im going to get a Woombie to have on hand for this baby. I never did much baby wearing with my son and daughter, but I think it will likely be a necessity this time around since we’re on the go so much more with our older children. Thank you for the ideas and tips on products!

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    this might sound crazy, but I’m super claustrophobic so I’ve never been able to swaddle my babies (I know, Dave says I’m crazy too!). Nora hated being swaddled, and I just couldn’t do it with Simon or James, so I never had any of those fun swaddlers.

    [Reply]