16 Absolute Must-Haves For New Moms (Besides the Obvious)

Putting together a list of things to buy for your first baby can be nerve-wracking. As a new mother, I felt completely overwhelmed and lost with all the baby gear available. There were thousands of options and opinions online, and it seemed like every day I discovered something new that I “needed” for my baby. But I didn’t want too much clutter in my home, so I focused on what I would actually use on a day-to-day basis, rather than what looked useful but would only be used occasionally.

Unfortunately, sometimes the only way to figure out what works is through trial and error. I ended up spending a lot of money on things I didn’t end up using, but now I know FOR SURE what is useful and what is not. In this post, I want to share with you the 16 essential things that I used every single day during my first year postpartum. My hope is that this list will be useful to you, or at least give you a starting point. Even if you’re just here looking for the perfect gift for new mamas, then this list is great place to start. Let’s get started!

Note: I excluded some of the obvious things such as diapers, diaper bag, blankets, towels, and onesies because these felt interchangeable. Other items like nipple cream, baby lounger or baby bouncer, burp cloths and breast pads were excluded because I did not find much use for them myself.

#1 Baby carrier

The baby carrier sits at the top of my must-have list for a reason: I used it religiously every single day. If you plan to get anything done, then a baby carrier is an absolute must-have for every new mom. Not only does it let you be hands-free so that you can do chores around the house and run errands, but it also lets you bond with your sweet new baby. For the first few months postpartum, babies deeply crave and need the constant touch and comfort of their mother, and a carrier is perfect for that. Carried babies cry less and have better sleep patterns because they feel safe and secure being close to their mother. Skin-to-skin contact has also been shown to improve emotional development.

Using a carrier not only simplifies things, but it also eliminates the need for a stroller! I didn’t even touch a stroller until my son was three months old because a carrier was much simpler and easier to use. As my son started to get heavier, I began using a stroller once in a while to relieve my back from the constant weight. But trust me, once you start using a carrier, you won’t know how you ever lived without it!

There are SO many different types of carriers. I can’t even count how many carriers I bought that first year postpartum. Ultimately, I used the three below the most.

Boba wrap

I loved how soft and comfy this boba wrap was – it felt like a cozy blanket hugging me! I’ve tried wraps that were more expensive (eg. Solly baby wrap), but this one was hands down my favorite.

Link to buy: https://amzn.to/49FTtSI

Must-haves for new moms: Boba wrap

Infantino carrier

I fell for many deceptive Instagram ads and ended up buying much more expensive carriers than this one by Infantino. But, in the end, this carrier won me over. It was so easy to slip on and it felt like I wasn’t even wearing anything because the material was lightweight and breathable. This was especially helpful during long walks in the Texas summers. Plus, it is machine washable so I threw the carrier in the wash every couple of weeks and it looked as good as new. This carrier served me 100 times better than the carriers I bought for 10 times the price.

Link to buy: https://amzn.to/49JqJIN

Must-haves for new moms: Infantino baby carrier

Lillebaby carrier

My lactation consultant recommended this Lillebaby carrier to me. As my son grew heavier (6 months+), I found myself using it more often because it provided better back support than the Infantino carrier I had previously used. Although it was less convenient to slip on and more bulky to carry around, I would choose this carrier when I knew I was going for longer walks and needed the extra support.

Link to buyhttps://amzn.to/3TBsyCd

#2 Hospital-grade breast pump and parts

As a new mom struggling with low milk supply, I knew I had to pump frequently to increase my milk production. I tried over $1,000 worth of different off-the-shelf pumps, but was disappointed with the little milk they produced. That’s when my lactation consultant recommended hospital-grade pumps, and I immediately ordered a Medela Symphony for my home. Let me tell you, it’s a game-changer! Not only did I get more milk from pumping, but it also saved me a ton of time. Instead of spending 20-25 minutes per pumping session with a commercial pump, I spent only 10-12 minutes per session with my hospital-grade pump. It’s made a huge difference for me.

Of course, not everyone can afford to buy a hospital-grade pump. But don’t worry, there are still options available. Check with your insurance company to see if they cover the cost. If not, I highly recommend renting one. Even if the model is slightly older and used, it’s still better than off-the-shelf pumps. That’s what I did, and it worked out great.

Link to buy (pump): https://amzn.to/3wHVoaR

Link to buy (pump kit): https://amzn.to/3IySxn6

Link to renthttps://www.mybreastpumprental.com

#3 Baby Swing

When my son was three weeks old, I met up with a friend and told her how challenging it was to get anything done because he never wanted to be put down. Even when he was sleeping, he wanted to be held constantly! My friend asked if we had tried putting him down for naps in an infant swing, but we hadn’t. I was skeptical at first, but decided to order a Fisher Price swing and place it in our bedroom. To my surprise, my son didn’t cry when we put him in the swing. Although he didn’t like being in it for too long, he was okay for 10-15 minutes at a time. This was a huge relief because it finally gave me some time to shower and take care of myself.

A few weeks later, I decided to order a new swing for the kitchen. This would allow me to do things hands-free while still keeping an eye on my little one. After some research, I chose the Graco swing. To my delight, he absolutely loved it! He started napping in it for hours each day, which was truly a miracle. The Graco swing was cozier and more comfortable than the Fisher Price one, so he must have enjoyed being snug in it. I highly recommend it!

Link to buyhttps://amzn.to/48Nv4cy

#4 Jogger stroller

Everyone who knows me is aware of my love for going on multiple walks a day. Since I have two big dogs, I often take them to trails and grassy areas where they can run free. However, I needed a stroller that could handle all kinds of terrains – grass, mud, dirt, bumpy sidewalks, and more. After conducting thorough research, I found the perfect stroller that met all my needs – the Uppababy Ridge. This stroller has the biggest wheels I have ever seen, allowing it to move through any terrain without any issues. I have used it extensively, and I’m surprised it is still going strong. I highly recommend it!

Link to buyhttps://amzn.to/3V51kow

Must-haves for new moms: Uppababy jogger stroller

#5 Dr. Brown baby bottles

I tried so many different brands of baby bottles before finally finding the best one. The problem is that many brands claim to be “breast-like,” but it often turns out to be false advertising. For example, brands with a wide base like ComoTomo and TommeTippe claim that their wide mound design mimics breastfeeding, but that’s simply not true. Interestingly, these nipple shapes can actually promote “straw” sucking, where the baby’s mouth closes around the tip of the nipple and doesn’t promote a deep latch.

Deep latch vs. Shallow latch

The ideal nipple shape is found in bottles like Dr. Brown’s, which mimic the shape created when a baby has a deep latch. Personally, I love that Dr. Brown’s offers glass baby bottles, as I prefer using glass over plastic whenever possible. However, since the glass bottles only come in the 5oz size, I switched to the 8oz plastic bottles once my baby started drinking larger quantities less frequently. Overall, I highly recommend these fantastic, durable bottles and consider them an essential item for new babies.

Link to buy: https://amzn.to/3Iu6lzk (glass)

Link to buy: https://amzn.to/3P7yksA (plastic)

#6 Velcro swaddle

I had no idea what a swaddle was until my son was born, but let me tell you, I used them all the time. A swaddle is a thin blanket that you wrap around your baby like a cocoon to keep them snug and secure.

Swaddling helps babies feel safe and comfortable, just like they did in their mother’s womb. The biggest benefit of swaddling is that it prevents babies from waking up due to the startle reflex. This reflex causes babies to suddenly flail their arms and legs, which can startle them awake during sleep. Swaddling prevents this reflex by holding their arms closely to their body with the swaddle.

Swaddling your baby with a muslin blanket is an option, but let’s be real, a Velcro swaddle saves you so much time and effort. It snaps on quickly, and you don’t have to worry about manually wrapping the baby or the wrap getting undone. The HALO swaddle is hands down the best Velcro swaddle on the market. I’ve probably bought 10 of these because they’re just that good. They also allow you to gradually transition your baby from a swaddle by keeping one arm out, and eventually both arms out. Do yourself a favor and consider getting one!

Link to buyhttps://amzn.to/49Flgmd

HALO swaddle

PS: Please note that you should not swaddle babies beyond a certain age (e.g., 3-6 months) because we want them to integrate that reflex into their bodies. Swaddling them beyond this age could potentially disrupt their development and growth.

#7 Gripe water

If you’ve ever dealt with a colicky baby, you know it can be a total nightmare. They cry inconsolably while you feel helpless trying to ease their pain. That’s why I was thrilled when a friend recommended gripe water to soothe my son’s fussiness caused by colic and gas. Gripe water is a natural remedy that’s been used for centuries to ease colicky babies. It contains a combination of herbs and natural ingredients that help relieve gas, bloating, and stomach discomfort in infants. Whenever my son was uncomfortable, I gave him a dropper of gripe water and it immediately soothed him. I honestly don’t know how any parent gets by without gripe water! In my opinion, it’s an absolute must-have.

Link to buyhttps://amzn.to/49ZqM2S

#8 Sound machine

I never realized how much a sound machine could help my baby fall asleep and stay asleep until I tried it myself. Unlike some babies who can sleep through noises like vacuum cleaners, blenders, and conversation, my son was very sensitive to any sound and would wake up immediately. My lactation consultant suggested a sound machine might help, so I ordered one immediately.

A sound machine produces white noise, which is a type of noise that has equal intensity across different frequencies. This creates a soothing background sound that masks other noises in the room. I put our sound machine on our nightstand and noticed a difference from the first use. Even small and sudden sounds in the room were blocked out by the sound machine, allowing him to stay asleep.

There are many different choices for a white noise machine on the market, but my personal favorite is the Hatch. I can control the sound and light from my phone, and they even have a portable one for when you’re on the go!

Link to buy: https://amzn.to/3V955ZW (regular)

Link to buy: https://amzn.to/3uRiYS8 (portable)

#9 Pumping bra

When my friend visited me postpartum, we got to talking about pumping and how tedious it can be. She asked if I had a “pumping bra,” and I had no idea what she was talking about. She explained it to me, and I immediately ordered a few. When they arrived, I was shocked that I had spent the first month pumping without one! Before, I had to hold the pump to my breasts, leaving no hands free. With a pumping bra, I could secure the pump and have a hands-free session.

I tried many different brands of pumping bras over the next few months, and the ones made by Kindred Braverly were the best. They were soft, cotton, and breathable. Plus, you can wear them as a regular bra, so I could easily pop on the pump anytime I had a few minutes to spare without having to change clothes. If you are looking for a comfortable bra to wear daily and pumping bra all-in-one, then I highly recommend this one!

Link to buyhttps://amzn.to/3TcfG3E

#10 Baby monitor

My brother got us a baby monitor, and at first, I didn’t think we needed it. After all, we were co-sleeping, and our baby was always next to us. But as he grew older and started taking naps in our room alone, I found the baby monitor incredibly useful. There were times when I wanted to squeeze in a quick workout or finish a chore around the house while he was napping, and the monitor came in handy.

The one I have is made by Motorola and works amazingly because it uses WiFi, which means I can monitor the baby even from miles away! If I’m not home but curious about what my son is up to, I just open the app and see his sweet little face. This monitor has all the fancy features, like night vision, excellent sound detection, temperature gauge, and more. I’ve included the link to buy the one I have below. Of course, there are tons of other options, but if you want to buy one without doing too much research (my brother is a tech gadget connoisseur and did all the research for me), you can’t go wrong with this one.

Link to buyhttps://amzn.to/3Ir3RSx

#11 Infantino Tummy Time Pillow

As a parent, you’ll hear every pediatrician talk about the importance of tummy time for your baby’s physical development. Tummy time is where you lay your baby on their tummy, which helps to strengthen their neck, shoulder, and arm muscles. It also teaches them how to roll over and crawl, while giving them a chance to explore their surroundings and see the world around them (instead of just staring at the ceiling).

Tummy time is also crucial for preventing flat head syndrome, which can occur if babies lay on their backs for too long.

However, not all babies enjoy tummy time. My son was one of them and would cry every time we put him in that position. I searched high and low for ways to make tummy time more enjoyable and eventually discovered a magical pillow that worked wonders. With this pillow, he loved being on his tummy.

Must-haves for new moms: Infantino tummy time pillow

Once I got my baby used to tummy time on the pillow, transitioning to tummy time without it was a breeze. This pillow helped strengthen his neck, shoulders, and arms. I even recommended it to my mom friends who also had babies that didn’t like tummy time, and they all loved it! You can find the link to the pillow below.

Link to buyhttps://amzn.to/3IsG4Bu

#12 Diaper pail

If you have a sensitive sense of smell like my husband and me, then you absolutely need a diaper pail. You might be able to get away without one before your baby starts eating solids, but once they do, the smell of their poop is unbearable. Don’t suffer through it – get yourself a diaper pail!

I recommend getting one with odor control, like the one I linked below. There are plenty of options out there, but we found this one to be affordable and it worked great for us.

Link to buyhttps://amzn.to/3VdugdZ

#13 Bath tub

In India, we don’t have special tubs for babies. Instead, most women hold their babies in their hands or lay them flat on their legs to give them a bath. It’s a hands-on experience that helps us bond with our little ones.

[ADD IMAGE OF “Indian woman washing baby”]

I didn’t even include a tub on my baby registry. It wasn’t until my mother-in-law insisted we get one after he was born that we finally got one. Although I honestly think the old school Indian method is way cooler, the tub definitely saved us a lot of time and mess 😉

I bought four different tubs, but I didn’t like how they positioned the baby. Finally, I found one that I liked, which I’ve linked below. This tub worked best with a little cushion under the baby’s back, which you can easily find on Amazon. The size was perfect because it grew with him from newborn to one year, which is when we stopped using it and graduated to the regular tub. You can find it linked below!

Link to buyhttps://amzn.to/3TrNA67

#14 Bath Toys

My mother-in-law bought these 8 little farm animal bath toys, and I have to admit, I wasn’t too excited about them at first. But now, my 20-month-old son plays with them every single day. Even though I’ve bought him other toys, he always comes back to these cute and fun farm animals. As he grows, I’ve started using them as teaching moments during bath time, and he loves it!

Link to buyhttps://amzn.to/3v7NY00

#15 Extra large insulated water bottle

During the postpartum recovery period, it’s crucial to stay hydrated. Your body is recovering from giving birth and if you’re breastfeeding, you need to keep up your fluid intake. Plus, breastfeeding can make you really thirsty, so having an insulated water bottle on hand can be a lifesaver.

I recommend getting an extra-large insulated water bottle that can hold at least 64 ounces of water. This way, you won’t have to refill it constantly throughout the day. 

There are many options available on the market, but I highly recommend the 64oz Stanley water tumbler. I especially that it comes with a wide straw, making it super easy to gulp down water when you’re really thirsty. It truly is a life-saver in the middle of the night when you need a replenishing gulp of water. I have three of them – one on my nightstand, one on the couch, and one in the kitchen. No matter where I am, I always have water handy 🙂

Link to buyhttps://amzn.to/3Is6uDu

#16 Baby wipes

You’ll be wiping your baby’s cute little bum a lot, which unfortunately can lead to painful diaper rashes. But don’t worry, I rarely had to deal with diaper rashes thanks to the wipes I used from Baby Cozy. These wipes are made with coconut oil, which not only cleans but also moisturizes their bum. Win-win. I noticed that every time I ran out and used different wipes for diaper changes, my baby would get rashes. In fact, I only use diaper rash cream when I’m not using these wipes! Trust me, they are that good.

Link to buyhttps://amzn.to/3V5Iuxz

Conclusion

I hope this list helps other new moms out there navigate the world of baby gear and find what works best for them and their little ones. Looking back, I can honestly say that some of these items were lifesavers. They made my life as a first-time mom so much easier. Remember, every baby is different, so what worked for me may not work for you. However, I do believe that some of these items are universal must-haves that will make your life as a new mom just a little bit easier. Whether its your first child, second child or even your fourth baby, I promise these baby essentials will go a long way in those early days  🙂

If you have any questions or need further assistance, please leave a comment. I’m always here to help! If you know any pregnant women, first time moms, or someone looking for great gift ideas, please share this post with them! 

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