My neighbors are having a baby! Every day my preschooler asks if their dog is a big brother yet. I’m taking this as an opportunity to codify my opinions on baby gear, because two kids and a lot of Amazon Prime orders later, I’m basically an expert on baby gear. I can’t necessarily tell you what you need, but I can tell you on what basis I recommend making the decision, and on that basis, what I chose, what I regret, and what I would recommend instead.
If you’re not already a Prime member, I’m not sure how I parent without it. It’s a great registry item in itself!
Amazon also has great baby registry features, including completion discounts, where you can buy anything left on your registry with a decent discount in the month or so before your baby is due.
Each baby fits their diapers differently. Some babies have chunky thighs, some babies have skinny thighs. But no newborn has a butt. It’s an anatomical fact. Therefore, my strong recommendation is to get newborn and size 1 diapers in a style that has an elastic band across the back. Without an elastic, the poop has a direct line of egress up the back, and the diapers fall down more readily.
Most hospitals use Pampers Swaddlers, but they don’t have an elastic across the back. And they’re scented.
My pick is Huggies Little Snugglers. Scent-free, elastic across the back.
Costco Kirkland Signature diapers are made by the same manufacturer as Huggies, but their smallest size is a combo newborn/size 1 and doesn’t fit small babies as well. For bigger babies in size 1 and beyond, they’re great.
Most manufacturers have a premium line and an economy line. For example, Huggies has Little Snugglers or Little Movers (premium) vs Snug & Dry (economy). In Pampers that’s Swaddlers or Cruisers (premium) vs Baby Dry (economy). If the economy version works for you, great. Generally they’re not as soft or not as absorbent. There are also a bunch of different box sizes that all have confusing, uninformative names, like economy pack, giant pack, double plus jumbo pack, etc. Useless.
Amazon brand Mama Bear diapers are a great cost effective choice as well, if you get the 20% discount through Subscribe & Save. They have an elastic across the back. They don’t have the additional leg closure though. For older, crawling babies, Huggies Little Movers (not Little Snugglers) and Costco both have an additional sticky tab that helps keep the diaper snug around the legs.
Honest, Parasol, and all the super fancy diapers typically lack these features, and are 2-3x the cost. They’re cute though.
Diapers get more expensive per diaper as the size goes up, but if the baby is having blowouts or frequent leaks, it might be time to size up anyway.
Diaper pricing is a game I like to play. My best scores:
- size 1: 11-12 cents
- size 2: 14-15 cents
- size 3: 18 cents
- size 4: 19 cents
- size 5: 19-20 cents
It’s hard to know how long a baby will be in a certain diaper size. Target, Amazon and Costco are all good about returns, so if I stock up too generously, I’ll return an unopened box that’s been outgrown.
For older babies who resist lying down for diaper changes, both Huggies and Pampers have diaper pants. These have the full absorption of diapers (unlike pullups) with flexible sides. Huggies Little Movers Slip On Diaper Pants and Pampers Cruisers 360 fit. These are substantially more expensive than regular diapers.
Wipes and Bums
Newborns have thinner skin than older babies and kids. Their stool is full of irritating bile salts, and they poop frequently. Regular wipes, even the natural, alcohol-free kind, seem to burn their skin.
I also recommend using Aquaphor ointment after each change. The Aquaphor keeps the skin hydrated, creates a barrier of protection between the skin and the irritating bile salts, and makes it much easier to wipe the poop off, reducing the scrubbing-related friction. Meconium is especially sticky — lube that baby up down to the knees!
For older babies, it’s hard to beat the Costco Kirkland Signature wipes, especially when they go on sale. Each case has 9 soft packs of 100 wipes per pack, with a little flip top lid, so they don’t dry out and you don’t need any wipe containers to hold them. I stash a half-full pack in my backpack/diaper changing module.
For diaper rashes, I’m a huge fan of Triple Paste. Apply it thickly like frosting. It’s expensive — great registry item! — so I use it only on the rashy bits, and then Aquaphor everywhere else. Triple Paste doesn’t smell. It doesn’t have the highest zinc content. I don’t know why it works so well, but it does. Triple Paste is magic.
Babies need their own sleep space. This sleep space should be firm and bare, with just a fitted sheet. No angled sleepers. A crib, bassinet, or pack’n’play are ideal. You can hold them while they sleep, but only if you’re awake. Don’t sleep with baby on your chest. Don’t sleep with baby on the couch. Don’t sleep with baby in a recliner. If you think you might fall asleep, lay baby down on his back to sleep.
I’m a huge fan of swaddling, specifically the hands up swaddles. Babies love having their hands up. If you swaddle them with their hands down, they will probably get their hands up, and loosen the swaddle along the way. My all-time favorite swaddle is the Love to Dream Swaddle Up. I call it the ninja penguin suit. The hands are tucked up in the little wings so she can rub her hands on her face or suck on her hands without smacking herself in the face or scratching herself.
Swaddling suppresses arousal, which is why babies who are swaddled sleep longer. If your baby is still working on regaining weight or isn’t waking often enough to eat, and you want him to wake more easily, ease off the swaddling.
It’s well worth reading one or two sleep books before baby is even born, just to have a basic understanding of how baby’s sleep will evolve over the first weeks and months. Strict schedules aren’t appropriate in the first weeks, but as he gets older, it makes sense to introduce some structure and build his sleep skills.
These are my two favorites right now. They both work on the idea of recognizing early sleepy cues and building sleep skills. I encourage parents to practice helping baby fall asleep where you want him to sleep, and avoiding the transfer down.
Health and Beauty
Thermometer — have a digital thermometer (8-30 second read) that can do rectal, and a non-contact infrared temporal thermometer for general use. Fever in babies under 12 weeks is a big deal. Non-contact is fast and convenient, so it’s a good screening tool, but if you’re making the decision about whether to take your newborn to the emergency room, it’s best to have the most accurate information, and for newborns, that means a rectal temperature.
Nail clipper — I’ve used a lot of nail clippers and The First Years one with the magnifying glass is my favorite. I don’t use the magnifying class, but there’s something about the angle of the blade that means I’ve never cut anyone’s finger with it. I have cut lots of fingers with other clippers. I haven’t had any luck with nail files and only occasionally with nail scissors. YMMV.
Bath — check out techniques for swaddled bathing. It helps babies feel secure and enjoy bathing. For routine deliveries, consider skipping the bath in the hospital, or delaying beyond 48 hours.
Play mats are great. I like the ones with flexible arches, so baby can kick the arch and make the dangling toys move on his own. The fancy wood ones can’t do that. If the toys make sounds, make sure they’re not annoying sounds.
A bouncer or seat is nice, especially in the bathroom or kitchen. The Fisher Price infant-to-toddler rocker can hold up to 40 lbs so it’s useful well into toddlerhood.
I don’t think babies need loungers. The DockATot is sold as a lounger but everyone knows they’re intending baby to sleep in it, which is not safe. The Boppy Lounger too. Floor time is for moving around freely.