Bringing Home Baby From the Hospital: Must Have Essentials for the First Year

I’m a zealous over-preparer and planner. Before I gave birth when I asked friends what I needed to have the day I brought the baby home I was met with a myriad of recommendations. Some were the same, some were conflicting. I decided to put my research skills to good use. Consider it compulsive nesting that you can take advantage of. I researched every item diligently, tested multiple products (being a blogger, many companies sent me products when they heard via social media that I was expecting, major perk of blogging for nearly a decade).

For this article to be useful to you, it is probably important that you know what I was looking for. Inspired by Amy Poehler in Mean Girls, “I’m not a regular mom, I’m a cool mom.” I was on the hunt for not just the best of the best but I also wanted to be stylish. I’m very practical so if there was a gadget out there that made life easier, as a new parent I wanted to try it. Also, I was looking for style. If there was a way to keep our apartment looking like adults lived here too, I was all for it.

This is one article in a two-part series. In this article, I will cover the must have items for new moms that are for baby. The other article covers the must have items for mommy like nursing bras, nursing gear and pumping stuff.

Diapers and Wipes

Obviously, right? And I am of the school of thought that everything should be as organic as possible. So we went with Bambo diapers and Water Wipes. Even better, Subscribe and Save on Amazon and get an additional discount and free shipping. These score very low on EWG for toxins. They don’t have the wetness indicator stripes, which is kind of a bummer. Pampers have those and it is helpful for new parents. But they aren’t as pure so…

The Perfect Seat

The hype around the 4moms mamaRoo is real and it’s not just me who thinks it’s worth its higher price tag. The mamaRoo mimics soothing movements made by parents and is a true lifesaver for parents who need to calm their babies down–or just somewhere to strap them in so they can run to the bathroom. There are five different movements, five speeds and four built-in sounds you can choose from. You can also pair the mamaRoo with your phone to play custom music and so you can control it from wherever you’re sitting. The seat has a fully adjustable incline for maximum comfort (especially helpful for babies with reflux). In case of digestive emergency, the seat fabric (as well as infant insert) are removable and machine washable.

While it’s very fancy and looks beautiful, the Fisher Price Rock and Play is a fraction of the cost and works just as well to calm little ones. Lots of people sleep their babies in here though we do not condone that since it’s technically not on the back, which doctors recommend.

The Perfect Diaper Pail

Ubbiworld Diaper Pail totes itself as the can of steel and new parents may consider it to be just as powerful as Superman. Its powder-coated steel and rubber seals lock odor in. Its innovative sliding lid minimizes air disruption and keeps the odors sealed inside. The Ubbi Diaper Pail holds up to 50 newborn diapers and is perfect for days you can’t take out the trash. Plus, there are no special bags required, you can use any standard trash bag (or cloth liner) making it affordable and easy to use. It’s also sleek, slim and fits into tiny spaces. While some prefer a hands-free option, the superior odor blocking technology makes this our winner!

We do also love the Dékor hands-free diaper pail, which offers the convenience of step and drop diaper pail. It’s available in the plus (up to newborn 60 diapers), the classic (up to 45 newborn diapers) and the mini (up to 25 newborn diapers). We like this as a second option for a bedroom or other room you may find yourself changing diapers in. The pail is made of ABS plastic so it won’t absorb like most other plastics.

Infant Tub

The two biggest issues with infant bathing issues are that the second you place your infant in the tub, the water is dirty. The water also starts to cool off as soon as you turn the faucet off. The 4moms Infant Tub solves both of these problems. First, the design allows for clean, warm water to continuously flow in, while dirty water flows out. There are two side drains as well, which allow parents to set the proper depth for the perfect bath. There is also a clean water reservoir so you can easily rinse (there is even a perfectly-sized rinse cup included). This is a big upgrade from your typical infant tub, knowing that your baby has clean water for the entire duration of his or her soak is priceless. Second, the 4moms tub gives parents peace of mind that the baby’s bathwater temp is always just right. It has a color-coded digital temperature gauge to ensure your baby’s bath water is comfortable and safe the whole time. Fits both single and double sinks. We haven’t heard a peep out of our newborn since we have done baths in here. The baby nurse was shocked to see a newborn actually appear to enjoy bath time!

Super Safe Car Seat

We met with the Car Seat Lady to learn how to properly install our seat that we picked. No car seat is effective if you can’t install it properly. I highly recommend checking out her YouTube videos. Just FYI, I paid for my full meeting with her and it was worth every penny.

We have the Chicco Fit2, MESA and Nuna Pipa and she was fine with all of those brands. Look out for more detailed reviews of those coming soon.

The Perfect Overall Stroller

One of the biggest decisions new parents make are choosing the stroller. It’s one of the biggest investments so you’ll want to make sure you pick a good one because it will be around for a while. My top choice is the UPPABaby VistaDo remember, I am an ambassador for the brand but I am the one who sought them out, not the other way around. This stroller is perfect for parents who want a durable product, alot of storage and excellent maneuverability. Check out my full review of the UPPABaby VISTA stroller.

best stroller review

Easy Stroller for Travel

The BABYZEN YOYO+ stroller is my top pick because of its fold. It’s really great whether you’re just going out in your neighborhood or on a flight halfway around the world (it will fit in the overhead compartment on planes). It’s lightweight and has the easiest one-hand fold that we’ve ever seen. Just click a button and you can fold and unfold with JUST ONE HAND (this is a big deal). It features a 145-degree incline for several seat positions to keep baby happy even when she’s napping. Oh and I LOVE the spying window. The four-wheel suspension system offers a smooth ride. The canopy offers UPF 50 and there is decent storage space to accommodate baby’s stuff. Car seat adapter is sold separately but accommodates the Nuna Pipa, Cybex Aton, Cybex Aton 2, and the Maxi Cosi Mico’s infant car seats. For travel, to keep baby safe from the sun and other elements, I recommend purchasing the BABYZEN Mosquito Net and Parasol.

But since the Babyzen YOYO is only compatible with certain car seats, we recommend the Mountain Buggy Nano, which is a great umbrella stroller for about half the price of the BabyZen. Plus, it fits almost any car seat. It’s not quite as stylish or easy to fold (though it’s still pretty good). For the price though, it’s definitely a great option for those looking not to spend as much. We love that it’s compatible with almost any infant car seats making it ideal for travel. You don’t even need to buy an adapter, it comes with everything you need. Many other umbrella strollers aren’t compatible with any car seats or (like the Recaro) are only compatible with its own. There are straps under the nano that work just like a safety belt in a car. Also, you can pair this with the Cocoon and then use it right from newborn age as your main stroller if you want. The Mountain Buggy Nano is great for travel because it’s easy to lift and fits in small spaces. It has rear wheel suspension to keep your baby comfortable on their travel adventure, an easy to use color defined brake for extra safety and 5.5” EVA wheels for a smooth ride. Its maneuverability is really great, it moves with excellent ease. This makes up for its fold, which isn’t the easiest. Also, love its versatility and ability to last a long time. For travel, to keep baby safe from the sun and other elements, I recommend purchasing the Mosquito Net and Sun Shade. I do wish this stroller had a spying window but you can’t win em all.

Healthy Products

After consulting with the EWG’s website, I found California Baby, which is a healthy brand that I know I can trust when using it on my daughter. It doesn’t contain toxic chemicals and harsh ingredients. I also use alot of Honest Company products.

Bassinet

The Halo Luxe Plus Bassinest combines both a separate bassinet and the concept of co-sleeping. The swiveling stand rotates a full 360-degrees allowing you to bring the baby close to you in bed while also allowing you both to enjoy a safe sleep. The side wall provides a safe barrier between you and your baby but can be lowered for easy access. The base is extremely sturdy (and quite heavy) so you’ll never worry it will tip over. It has four solid (long) legs so you just have to get used to them and be aware so you don’t trip. You can easily twist the cradle though allowing you to get in and out of bed easily. The luxe model also has a nightlight, soothing sounds, vibration, lullabies, a floor light, nursing timer and a storage caddy (also auto shutoff). It also comes with fitted sheet, and mattress pad. They also sell an organic mattress and sheets for a non-toxic option with no flame retardant.

Humidifier

When it came to choosing a humidifier I had heard great things about the Crane Drop Cool Mist Humidifier. It seemed to be the standard that most people got. I liked that it had a modern design and was available in a variety of fun colors. It’s super affordable, at only $34.99. It has a capacity of one gallon, which can work for about 24 hours (even more if you’re in a tiny apartment like mine). It’s also really easy to clean and refill, which was my main concern. I like to clean the tank often since a baby is breathing in the air. It works great and isn’t too noisy.

Swaddle Blankets

Truth be told, we didn’t use swaddles that often but the standard swaddles that baby stores will recommend are the aden + anais swaddle blankets. Their generous size makes swaddling easy and aden + anais, the blankies get softer with every wash without fading. All the cute neon prints I picked stay the same every load. They’re 100% cotton muslin and they come in adorable patterns. We use these for everything from swaddling to receiving blankets. It takes a little while to get the technique down for swaddling in a blanket though. So be sure to take notes from your baby nurse or more experienced mommy friends.

To stand out, I liked the Bebe Au Lait swaddle blankets too.

Easy Swaddlers

If you’re a new parent you may be relieved to know that there are about a million products that allow you to easily swaddle your little one with less brainpower.  These are great because they can’t unravel and pose a suffocation risk—think of these products as swaddling for dummies. It almost feels like cheating.

My favorite was the Swaddle Up is a little different than other brands because it allows your baby to sleep in a position with his or her arms up, which some consider to be more natural since it allows for self-soothing. Medical research shows that babies sleep better when they are swaddled and are able to self-soothe (remember seeing your baby in the ultrasound with his or her hands by her face?). The Swaddle Up has patented “wings” that allow your baby to sleep in a position with their arms up allowing their hands access for self-soothing. It’s also supposed to help to calm baby’s startle reflex. Plus, the arms up position reduces the risk of accidental rolling from back to front. The Swaddle Up has a twin zipper that allows for easy diaper changes (trust me this is key). The Swaddle Up is available in Stage 1 in three sizes: S,M and L, and in three different fabrics to take you into the different seasons: winter warm, original organic and summer lite. There is also Stage 2 for the transition. The 50/50 is designed to gently help babies transition from a swaddle to independence.

A Mesmerizing Mobile

Once your baby can see clearly, you’ll want them to see something adorable and soothing in their crib when you’re not around. I am obsessed with the Skip Hop brand. Everything they make is so classy looking and blends with even sophisticated décor. I love Skip Hop’s Moonlight & Melodies Projection Mobile which comes in the cutest cloud, moon and star variety we have ever seen. It has a neutral color palette that will match any nursery, plays eight lullabies and nature sounds and also projects stars on the ceiling to slowly soothe your little one into a peaceful sleep. And its remote control can restart the mobile after 20 minutes even outside the nursery if your baby needs an encore!

Baby Monitors

There are so many options out there. We tested out many of the top-rated brands to figure out which worked the best and for what application exactly. Since there are so many different scenarios where you’ll find yourself wanting to stalk your baby.

Watch When You’re Away: Nest

While the Nest camera isn’t exclusively a baby monitor, we love it for precisely this use. It requires Wi-Fi and pairs with a personal device like a phone or tablet so you can monitor when you’re away from home. The Nest is super easy to set up, all you have to do is download the app and pair it with the device. It offers a very large field of view (which is adjustable from the app on your device), night vision and 24/7 streaming (you can also choose to pay an additional fee to record activity if you want to go back and review at a later time). The Nest camera has excellent visual quality, clocking in at 1080 pixels, which gives super clear resolution—even the night vision. While you can set up notifications for movement, you can’t use this as a monitor to alert you when your baby cries, etc. since that’s not what it’s meant for. I love it to be able to check into the nursery when I’m not home so I can see what’s going on. And I don’t know much about hacking (despite my love of Mr. Robot) but from what I have read, this device is very unlikely to be able to be broken into by outsiders. In the 15 months that I have had it, it has never disconnected.

Watch in Your Home without a Phone

Levana’s Baby Monitor is more of your typical baby monitor. It has a camera with a 300-degree pan and 100-degree tilt. It also offers night vision. The tilt and zoom is very quiet and is unlikely to wake a little one from his or her slumber. The camera has great resolution, which you can view from the included wireless touch-screen monitor from up to 500 feet away from the camera. This device features a push-to-talk component that I love–you can talk to a fussy baby from the other room to help soothe her. The monitor has a 12-hour battery life (in power save mode) and a private digital signal that doesn’t require Wi-Fi. It also recharges very quickly from any micro-USB port, which is very convenient. The device also offers temperature sensors and customizable notifications. Its best quality though is that it never disconnects from the camera, which I have found to be an issue with several other cameras.

Smart-Baby Wearables

These devices collect data on your baby and try and organize it into useful insights that can help you. They aim at helping you rest easy—not an easy task for new parents. While many people may criticize the opportunity to stalk your little one, to me I felt that the peace of mind they gave me really helped. SIDS is a real issue and while none of these devices are proven to help combat this problem, having something that will alert you to problematic behavior couldn’t hurt. People warned me that I would drive myself crazy with these devices but I found the exact opposite to be true. I found that I was able to sit in the other room and relax for a few minutes without constantly asking myself whether or not the baby was ok. This just gave that extra bit of reassurance.

Owlet

The Owlet is simply revolutionary in my opinion and more than worth its $249 cost. It uses pulse oximetry to monitor your baby’s heart rate and can tell you if she stops breathing. The technology is essentially the same as the clip that goes on your finger at the hospital but it’s now fit for babies at home. Owlet cleverly created a sock that can stay on your baby’s foot to do the same job. The sock then pairs with your smart device and an alarm that you place next to your bed, which will alert you if anything goes wrong. You can check out my full review of the Owlet Smart Sock and learn more about the new version here.

There are plenty of skeptics out there who may question whether babies will kick this off or be uncomfortable but I can vow that is not the case. It fits comfortably on (and comes with 3 sizes) and can fit easily inside a onesie with feet that will help keep the sock from going anywhere.

Being able to monitor our baby’s heart rate and oxygen levels is invaluable. Of course there are the naysayers that say it’s crazy but for those of us who gain peace of mind from more information rather than less, I think this gadget is priceless. It saves parents from having to get up every two minutes to check and see if your child is breathing (you know who you are) and lets you get a few extra minutes of sleep knowing that Owlet is watching over your little one and that you will be notified (via an alarm you place next to your own bed) if anything goes awry. Of course the product isn’t perfect and you do run the risk of the sock coming off or being notified for a false positive but it is absolutely worth it to me. And we have only had one instance of a false alarm, which was most likely our own fault.

Unintentional suffocation is a leading cause of death for children under the age of one in the United States so of course parents are experiencing restless nights. With the Owlet monitor, parents can rest easier knowing they will be alerted if their baby is in distress. My friend who was a pediatric nurse said she knew too many things that could go wrong, and I felt the same way.

Baby Carrier

The ErgoBaby Adapt is a 3-position carrier that adapts to your growing baby (from newborn to toddler (7-45 lbs). The best part is it can be used right from birth without having to buy an infant insert. I had heard great things about Ergobaby, which consistently wins awards for having the most ergonomic carriers. It’s easy to figure out how to get on (which trust me isn’t always the case, I found myself knotted in a tangled web of baby carriers on more than one occasion). Figure out your favorite position: front inward carry, hip carry or back carry. Oh, and it’s machine washable.

Pack and Play

The 4moms Breeze is the easiest playard to maneuver on the market. It opens/closes in one simple step: you push it open and pull it closed. It comes with an infant bassinet and convenient travel bag, which keeps it clean. The material is very durable and easy to clean. The only downside is that it is quite heavy, however, for it to be safe and sturdy, it has to be. It also makes for a great travel crib. Sheets for the playard and basinet are sold separately. We absolutely love this.

Activity Gym

As I said, I love Skip Hop because it has a certain sophisticated look. It also has a soft color palette to complement any home décor while not overpowering the room.  Silver Lining Activity Gym by Skip Hop is an extremely engaging activity gym offering music, lights, squeaks, rattles and a baby-safe mirror. The oversized mat provides plush comfort and multiple textures and patterns for sensory development. It also comes with a tummy time pillow. The Gym is also BPA-free, PVC-free and Pthalate-free. This gym provides hours of entertainment.

Diaper Changing Pad

The Hatch Smart Changing Pad is for tech lovers—it’s a changing pad that measures and tracks data about your baby’s feeding and diaper schedule. It then sends the data to your mobile device. It can also be hooked up now to Alexa.

The Hatch is part diaper changing table/part lifesaving tool that takes your baby’s weight while you’re stuck with the dirty job of diaper change. Perhaps my favorite part though is that you can weigh your baby before and after a feeding so you can actually measure—to the ounce, how much your baby is actually ingesting. You can also log the duration of your feedings as well as your baby’s diaper business. It’s easy to set up and a snap to log, it just takes a couple taps on the touch screen. Everything is sent to your mobile device wirelessly and automatically where you can then compare with percentile rankings of other babies your child’s age so you can monitor progress and ensure you’re on the right track. This data is invaluable and very helpful for your healthcare provider as well. This device really saves a lot of headaches and tracking. It makes it easy for anyone watching your child to seamlessly keep track of what’s going on. You can also use the app separately to keep track of feedings or manually log any diaper changes that you may have forgotten.

On-the-Go Diaper Changing Pad

Skip Hop Signature Diaper Changing Station is one of those items that everyone names as a must-have. You probably see twenty of them pass you on the street in NYC any given afternoon. It’s a portable kit that you can throw into your bag that you stuff with all your diapering essentials. It’s essentially a clutch that unfolds to feature an extra-wide changing pad (that easily wipes clean). There is also a small pillow to keep baby’s head comfortable (and mommy’s at ease).  There is a front zipper pocket for any personal items and on the inside a place for wipes, diapers, ointments and any other diapering essentials.

Fashionable Floor Tiles

If you can’t bear the idea of those rainbow-colored foam tiles ruining the décor of your apartment, then I highly recommend Skip Hop’s Playspot Geo Foam Floor Tiles. The tiles are easy to connect and you can arrange them in a variety of patterns. I don’t know why I just really didn’t want those rainbow tiles in my home. You can purchase them in Grey/White or Grey/Peach, which I personally love. These keep your little one’s play space classy—because you know, that’s important for mom’s sanity.

Bibs

I’m obsessed with Stay-Dry Infant Bibs with Organic Cotton by Green Sprouts – the ultimate protection from spit up. These were an amazing recommendation from our childbirth class teacher. They have a soft, absorbent terry outer layer and a waterproof inner layer to make sure nothing leaks through. They’ve got adjustable Velcro for easy on and off, which trust me is a huge advantage over the snaps. Green sprout also has Muslin face cloths that are perfect for gently wiping away sniffles, drips and drools. They come pre-washed and are machine washable. They’re also made from organic cotton, formaldehyde free and use AZO-free dyes so you can rest easy with these near your little one’s face.

Towels

It’s all about the hooded towel. Your little one can get extremely cold, extremely fast so keeping her head covered is key. I loved the Aden and Anais hooded towel.

Bottles

Glass Doctor Brown bottles all the way! Trust me, you don’t want to deal with a gassy baby. Dr. Brown’s Bottles have alot of parts but they’re worth it. You can also buy the dishwasher caddy, which I highly recommend.

I recommend getting the glass bottles to reduce the exposure of plastic. But I would have some plastic on hand for travel, etc. If you’re wondering why people love them, it’s because their internal vent system helps reduce colic, spit-up, burping and gas by eliminating negative pressure and air bubbles, helps preserve vitamins C, A, & E by minimizing oxidation of breastmilk and formula, and provides vacuum-free feeding similar to breastfeeding. Dr. Brown’s bottles are BPA-free and contain no PVC, lead or phthalates.

Start with the 5 oz. bottles and then move up to the 9 oz. bottles later.

Nail Care

I was terrified to cut my baby’s nails so I highly recommend the Buzz B Zoli Nail File. It’s electric and works well without hurting your little one.

Warm-Weather Essentials

Every cool parent in NYC knows that you have to have stroller gloves. And the chicest company that does these little muffs is 7AM Enfant. The Polar WarMMuffs are absolutely adorable and a must for winter mommies who will be spending a lot of time outdoors with their little one. These mittens attach right to the handle of your stroller. They keep your fingers toasty while you are able to easily come in and out to take care of your little one. I’m also obsessed with the Polar Igloo by 7am Enfant, which is like a sleeping bag and stroller muff all in one designed for comfort and warmth of your little one. This company keeps my walks cozy and stylish.

Pacifiers

We loved the Wubba Nub pacifier. Wubba Nubs are silicone, BPA-free pacifiers that are attached to a teeny, cute stuffed animal. They make them a little easier for babies to grasp and keep nearby without mommy’s help. The only thing I will mention is that these cannot be sterilized like regular pacifiers and require you to run them through the washing machine (on the delicate cycle in a lingerie bag). But they’re totally worth the extra effort.

Sterilizer

I didn’t have any idea before the baby that bottles had to be sterilized. Baby Brezza One Step Sterilizer Dryer

Sterilize and dry your baby’s bottles quickly and easily with the One Step Sterilizer Dryer! This 4-in-1 machine uses natural steam to kill 99.9% of the germs in your baby’s bottles, in just 8 minutes. The bottles then remain sterile for up to 24 hours, or until the lid is open. The unique drying feature then completely dries your bottles, with a choice of 30, 45 or 60 minute drying cycle. The easy-to-use control panel allows you to sterilize only, sterilize and dry, or dry only. The One Step Sterilizer Dryer holds up to 6 bottles plus accessories, and works with all bottle sizes. The bottle rack can be removed and used as a storage rack.

Breastfeeding Pillow Recommended by lactation consultant

Breastfeeding Pillows

I recommend the My Brest Friend. You can read my entire review here.

Well, that’s all folks!

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Be sure to check out my must-have picks for when your baby is 4 months and 6 months.

Also, have a read of my Breastfeeding Tips as well as my top pick for a breast pump.

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