Are you wondering what to buy when you’re expecting your first baby? Are you looking for the best baby gear?
Whether you are currently pregnant or if you are a new parent, there are so many things to think about and research.
Marlowe, my first child, was born less than one year ago, and I am constantly researching questions about the best baby gear.
When I was pregnant, it felt like all I did was look up the top things a baby needs.
I remember looking up everything from what the best strollers were to what I could do financially to best prepare for a baby. There are so many companies to buy the best baby items from, and everyone has an opinion on what’s best.
Because I was so overwhelmed in the beginning, I decided to put together a blog post that outlines must-have baby items for first-time moms, plus the best baby gear whether it’s your first or 5th child!
My hope is that I can answer many of your questions, so you don’t have to spend nearly as much time researching things as I did.
And, I definitely think this will be helpful because I have been writing, researching, and gathering information for this article ever since I found out I was pregnant. I quickly realized that there wasn’t one easy-to-read guide for new parents, and that’s where this article comes in.
The areas we will talk about in this best baby gear guide include:
- Pregnancy, birthing, and new parent courses
- All about different baby registries
- How to get a free baby box
- Pregnancy and new mom gear
- Best baby gear
- Baby bath and diapering essentials
- Baby sleep essentials
- Breastfeeding gear
- Baby clothing
- What you need to financially prepare for a baby
- How to take maternity leave when self-employed
Now, you definitely do not need everything on this list.
Babies don’t really need much other than food, sleep, and some clothing items. So, no matter your budget, please remember that your baby will be happy and healthy! Also, for every expensive baby item, there are also great budget-friendly baby items as well!
Note: Remember, I am not a doctor or nurse or anything whatsoever remotely related to that. The below is simply what I personally used and liked. I am completely new to being pregnant and becoming a mom, so I am not an expert.
Best Baby Gear & New Parent Essentials
Pregnancy, birthing, and new parent courses
Before we can even get into the best baby gear, let’s start with your baby’s birth! I took birthing courses from Mommy Labor Nurse, and I highly recommend them. She has three courses: Natural, Epidural, and C-Section. I enjoyed these courses so much that I asked to be an affiliate for them afterwards.
Through my link, you can get 10% off using my coupon code CENTS10.
She also has a free birthing workshop that you can sign up for here.
Her courses are extremely helpful, and they go over everything that you could possibly need to know when it comes to having a baby. Her courses can help you:
- Create a birth plan
- Understand what your body does during birth
- Know when to head to the hospital
- Pain control tips
- What happens if you have to go natural (even if you planned on an epidural!)
- What the process is for a c-section
- How your partner can prepare and help you during the birthing process
- How to prep for postpartum
- Even new baby tips for after you have your little one
I also read Expecting Better by Emily Oster, which I found very helpful as well. This was a very non-judgmental pregnancy book, which I really liked. I felt like way too many of the pregnancy books seemed judge-y.
My friend Natalie Bacon also has a wonderful community called Grow You, which is specifically for moms. I was a part of this for the last several months, and I really enjoyed it. This membership comes with mindfulness workshops, tons of tools and resources, live group coaching, and more.
Signing up for baby registries
I only made two baby registries, but I only really used one of them – the Babylist registry (this will make more sense in the next section).
The reason I used and liked Babylist so much is that you easily create a registry that pulls the best-priced products from multiple websites. My friends and family could then shop from different stores but still find all of the best baby gear I registered for in one place and at the best price. I also like Babylist because it gave me a newborn checklist to make sure I had everything I needed for the first couple of months.
Here are different baby registries you can check out:
For many of these, you will receive a completion discount once your registry is filled out. This is a coupon code for a discount, such as 15% off your total purchase, that you can personally use to buy any items that you might not receive at your baby shower. This can save you a decent amount of money!
Get a free baby box
If you are newly pregnant, this is a fun and exciting way to get some of the best baby gear.
Baby boxes are typically sent out when you create a registry, and these boxes are often filled with free baby samples, such as newborn laundry detergent, baby bottles, toys, pacifiers, baby onesies, and more.
I got both the free Amazon baby box and the free Babylist baby box, and they were great! I simply created a registry through both sites, and I received the free baby box once someone purchased something off my baby registry. The Amazon baby box is sent out to Prime users who create a registry and have $10+ of purchases completed from the registry. I simply bought one item I knew I wanted, and then I was sent the baby box for free.
Walmart and BuyBuyBaby also give you the option to get a free baby box for signing up for a free baby registry as well.
Pregnancy and new mom essentials
Here are the pregnancy and new mom essentials that I have used:
- Prenatal vitamins – I took the Nature Made Prenatal with Folic Acid + DHA throughout my pregnancy and while I am still breastfeeding.
- Pregnancy body pillow – There are all different kinds of shapes and sizes, so it really depends on what you are looking for. I really enjoyed having a pregnancy pillow in the first trimester when I was really nauseous and would toss and turn all night. But, I stopped using it in the second trimester and just used a normal pillow.
- A nicer pillow – Instead of a pregnancy pillow, I got a better pillow overall. This really helped improve my sleep. I got the Zoey Curve Pillow. Pricey, but it is very comfortable and it has a curved design. Also, this is a pillow meant for those who sleep on just one side, which if you are pregnant, you are probably doing a lot of.
- Maternity bras and clothing – Kindred Bravely (I highly, highly recommend their maternity yoga pants!) and David and Adley are the brands that I wear.
- Compression socks for travel – I did a 35-hour road trip when I was 32 weeks pregnant. The compression socks saved my legs! I recommend having your own pair if you have a long trip planned.
- Baby shower and maternity photoshoot dresses – If you are looking for dresses for a maternity shoot or your baby shower, I recommend these websites to look at for ideas: Pink Blush Maternity, Baltic Born, and Amazon.
Best baby gear
Are you wondering what do new moms really need for baby? The items on the list below are my essentials. This is the best baby gear that we’ve used from day one.
- Pacifier – Wubbanub pacifier, hands down, is Marlowe’s favorite. She also likes the BIBS and FRIGG pacifiers.
- Doona stroller and car seat – There are many, many different options for strollers and car seats, and they can all be great! The main difference is that they all have different situations in which they work best. For us, since we travel full-time, the Doona made the most sense because it is made for traveling. It converts from a car seat to a stroller in just a few easy clicks. The downside of the Doona is that it has a short usage life, as it will only fit your baby until they are around 1 to 1.5 years old. There are travel systems, infant car seats, double strollers, convertible car seats, and more. It’s a doozy, and once Marlowe outgrows her Doona, I will be back in the research phase. Other popular strollers include the UPPAbaby, Chicco, Nuna, Mockingbird, Graco, and the Babyzen YOYO.
- Swing/rocker – 4moms mamaRoo 4 Multi-Motion Baby Swing. Marlowe absolutely loves this swing! This is good from baby’s birth until your child reaches 25 pounds or can sit up unassisted, whichever comes first. The seat has five different motions such as car ride, wave, and rock-a-bye, as well as white noise sounds.
- Play gym – We have The Play Gym by Lovevery. She plays with it every day, and we also subscribe to the subscription boxes as well. Their toys are great, and they’re also beautiful!
- Baby life jacket – Salus Bijoux Baby Vest. If you plan on having your baby in or around the water often, then this is the most popular life jacket. It is pricey, but there is a reason: Babies can stay in this life jacket for a long time and be comfortable. Marlowe wears hers all the time, and she hasn’t had one complaint yet.
- Baby carriers – There are so many different baby carriers out there, and it’s more about personal choice and cost. Having one has been a huge help traveling and bringing Marlowe along throughout our day. Some of the most popular options are Solly Baby, Baby Tula, Boba Wrap, Ergobaby, Artipoppe, Graco, and more. A really affordable one is the Infantino.
- Baby essentials that are beautiful – Mushie. From dinner plates, to silicone bibs, swaddles, toys, sheets, and more, Mushie makes baby gear in beautiful colors.
Baby health, bath, and diapering essentials
There are many different diapering and bath brands. This is definitely not a full list. This is simply what I use and what has worked for me:
- Diapers and wipes – Pampers. There are many different kinds of diapers and wipes, but we have been using Pampers Swaddlers for the most part, and we haven’t had any issues.
- We use Aquaphor diaper cream ointment. We have tried others but they didn’t seem to work for her.
- Frida – From postpartum recovery items to new baby items (such as the Nose Frida), Frida has quality items that I recommend.
- Baby sunscreen – ThinkBaby is what we use, and it has great reviews from dermatologists.
- Baby shampoo and soap – Tubby Todd is what we use and I recommend it. It smells great and is gentle on baby skin, and I also recommend the all-over ointment lotion. These are the best baby products for the skin.
Baby sleep gear
Oh, baby sleep – what every new parent hopes for!.
Like many babies, Marlowe’s sleep was very rough in the beginning, but thankfully she quickly got the hang of it. She has been sleeping through the night for several months now.
Here are my recommendations for the best baby gear for getting your baby to sleep:
- Bassinet – Snoo by Happiest Baby – This is the bassinet that we use, and it is very popular. Yes, it is expensive, but you can also rent one. We actually decided to rent one because we don’t have the space to store it if we decide to have another baby. Marlowe has been sleeping through the night for months now, and I definitely think that the Snoo has helped. We kept it on the weaning function the whole time as well, so we didn’t have to worry about her preferring it over a crib too much.
- Sleepsack – I LOVE the Dreamland Baby Sleepsack/swaddle. Marlowe has been sleeping through the night ever since she started wearing this. She sleeps a solid 10-12 hours without waking up, and it is wonderful for all of us.
- Travel crib – Guava Lotus Travel Crib. This is the travel crib we have. It fits into a backpack and can be used on a boat, in an RV, while traveling via hotels and Airbnbs, at airports, and more.
- Baby monitor – The two baby monitors that I looked into are the Owlet and the Vava. What I like about the Vava is that you don’t need wifi in order for it to work.
Breastfeeding can be a struggle for many new parents.
Remember, every parent has to do what works for them, and the main goal is to keep your baby fed and healthy. No judgment here on how you decide to feed your baby!
Because I am able to breastfeed, here is some of the gear I’m using:
- Spectra – S1 Plus Electric Breast Milk Pump – This is the electric breast pump that everyone seems to have, including me. It is also portable and rechargeable, which is great because I don’t have to be near an outlet in order to pump.
- Willow wearable breast pump – In addition to the breast pump above, I also recommend a wearable breast pump if you plan on pumping often. I only had the Spectra breast pump during the first two months, and then I quickly got tired of being stuck in one place multiple times a day. The Willow completely changed this for me. I can now work while I pump, make dinner, eat, take care of Marlowe, and more. If you’re looking for a more affordable wearable breast pump, I have heard good things about the Momcozy.
- Breastfeeding pillow – I have the My Breast Friend nursing pillow, and I have no complaints about it. It’s comfy for both me and the baby.
- Baby bottles – Dr. Brown’s Natural Flow Anti-Colic Baby Bottles – These are the baby bottles that we use.
- Formula – I have not used formula (other than the first day at the hospital while waiting for my milk to come in), but there are plenty of great formula brands out there. Here is a really helpful article on the Best Baby Formulas.
- Other items you may want include nipple cream and breast pads.
A quick note about breast pumps: If you have insurance, you may be able to get a free or discounted pump through your insurance. I definitely recommend asking as it can save you a large amount of money.
There are many, many different stores to buy baby clothing from. Below are some that I recommend:
- Old Navy
- Kyte Baby
- Once Upon a Child – this is a secondhand store where you can find many great deals on baby clothing and gear
- Caden Lane
- Copper Pearl
- Little Sleepies
- Posh Peanut
- Free Birdees
- Little Poppy Co – they have the most adorable bows
When should I start shopping for baby?
This is entirely up to you!
Some people will run out and buy a couple of things right away, while others will immediately start buying the best baby gear.
One of the first things we bought were tiny swimsuits for Marlowe because we were in the Bahamas and couldn’t wait for our little beach baby, haha! However, once I filled out our registry, we waited to see which items were purchased before buying anything else. Fortunately, we got pretty much everything on our registry.
Whether you decide to start buying the best baby gear now or later is up to you. But, you can save money if you see what’s purchased from your registry. Also, borrowing baby gear from friends and family can be a great way to save money.
Everything you need to financially prepare
If you are looking for a financial guide for new parents, then I recommend the New Mama Money Plan. I have read this from beginning to end already. Some of the topics discussed include:
- How to create a budget for your baby’s first year (this includes what you will need, common medical expenses and estimating birth costs, and more)
- Maternity leave
- Planning your baby registry
- Understanding your insurance
- Life insurance
- Estate planning
This is a great resource for anyone who is about to be a new parent.
There are worksheets included to help you create a budget for your baby and answers to baby-related money questions (such as what baby things do you actually need? What hand-me-downs are safe? How do you plan and afford childcare? How much will the birth cost?). That’s just a bit of what the worksheets include. It was really helpful and nice to have everything in one easy-to-find guide.
You can click here to learn more about the New Mama Money Plan.
How to take maternity leave when self-employed
Are you self-employed and pregnant? Are you wondering how to handle maternity leave when self-employed?
Here are some tips for planning how to take a maternity leave:
- Set something up with your clients. If you have clients, then I have heard of many business owners working ahead as much as possible to have all the work they’d do during their maternity leave completed in advance. This can be a great way to guarantee income. While it will require more work upfront from you to make up for missed income months, it can be a way to not miss out on any income.
- Create a savings fund. Many self-employed parents create a savings fund that is specifically money set aside for the months they are not working during maternity and paternity leave. This can take some of the stress off of you, as you know how much time off you can afford to take.
- Find ways to make passive income. If you have the time, finding passive income ideas can help you make money while on parental leave without having to dedicate as much time towards it. There are many options, and you can learn about them in 12 Passive Income Ideas That Will Let You Enjoy Life More.
- More money talks with your partner. Because self-employed maternity leave will affect your partner too, it’s important to have some serious conversations about how you can work together. Maybe that’s creating a stricter budget, paying down high-interest rate debt, or them helping you work ahead.
- Short-term disability policies. Because pregnancy counts as a pre-existing condition, you may be able to take advantage of a short-term disability policy. They won’t work for everyone, so do your research. It will also take some long-term planning because you will probably have to pay into a plan several months in advance before you can use it for your maternity leave.
- Have a plan for going back to work. Your life will be very different once your baby is born, and figuring out how to go back to work is just as important as how to take maternity leave. Think about things like childcare, which clients and tasks will take priority when you get back, and so on.
- Hire someone to manage your business. Some business owners may decide to hire someone like a virtual assistant to answer emails and keep day-to-day things running smoothly while they’re away. Or, maybe you hire another freelancer to take over your work for you.
- Be easy on yourself. I’m already learning that having a child means I need to be easier on myself. There will be times when you get it right, but there will also be times when you feel like you’re doing everything wrong. That’s a lot to handle when you’re worried about your baby and your business.
You can read more at How To Take Maternity Leave When Self-Employed – What You Need To Know.
What is the best baby gear?
I hope you enjoyed my list of the best baby gear that I have used and enjoyed.
This obviously isn’t a complete list because all babies and parents are different! So, what may have worked for me may not work for you. There are so many great options out there, and this list could go on and on.
Also, I know how easy it can be to get overwhelmed as a new parent. I have been looking over this list, and it seems so long!
You can easily accumulate a lot of stuff for your baby, and there are a ton of baby items that I have that I haven’t even included in this list (such as a baby bathtub, diaper bag, crib mattress, crib sheets, changing pad, and more!).
What else would you add to this list for new parents? What’s on the top of your best baby gear list?
Newborn babies are almost always a joy for new parents to receive. 🙂
Michelle Schroeder-Gardner says
Marlowe is definitely a joy 🙂
NZ Muse says
Wow I totally missed this news
Congrats you guys!!!
What have you been doing that you’re so busy nowadays?
Michelle Schroeder-Gardner says
Thank you so much!