If you’re receiving this email it’s because you’re having a baby or know someone having a baby and you need to know what to buy. This list is just a few of my favorite things. It’s in email format because not everything is on Amazon (although most are. My dream is to have a page on Amazon just to list all these things, not sure if that even exists). Anyway, things are generally divided into sections for ease of shopping/finding what you DMed me about.
This is v.1 of my ultimate baby list. As I remember things, I’ll add things to it (and will probably send this once a season).
FYI, my philosophy on baby stuff in general is, outside of a few key items to borrow stuff from friends (or buy used) as often as possible. In the early weeks/first three months, you cycle through things so quickly as they sprout. There’s not really a point in buying sparkly brand new version of everything unless you have tons of disposable income or are against used things. (But if you are the first in your family/friend group to have a baby, though, sorry! You are stuck buying new things and you’ll be the one people borrow from ☺)
Note: I am using affiliate links in this email for tracking. I don’t know how many of you will actually buy the recommendations, but I plan to donate to charity every month. The first charity will be United for Puerto Rico. Even if you don’t buy anything, please consider donating to help those in need in Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands.
OK! I think that’s everything. Oh, wait, one more thing: I am sending this email from an account that I basically never check. If you have requests or questions about anything, it's always best to comment on my Instagram posts (in feed, not Stories).
Happy shopping and congratulations on baby ☺
Breast-feeding and boob-related stuff
Lactation tea: Pink Stork. This is light years better than any other tea I’ve tried. Possibly TMI but I had one boob that produced more milk than the other… and after one cup of this tea, it caught up with the other boob. Okay, that was definitely TMI. Note that one bag can be brewed three times.
Breastmilk storage bag: Lansinoh by FAR. There’s a double ziplock system so there’s no leakage and the bags freeze flat, unlike Medela (only advantage to Medela is that you can pump right into them). Hack: to maximize freezer storage space, freeze the bags flat like bricks.
Pump: Spectra S1. I used to suggest renting a hospital grade pump but this one is just as good and has a rechargeable battery so it’s great for flights. You can pump straight into Philips Avent bottles (info on those bottles below). It also has a built-in light which is helpful for those bleary-eyed pumping sessions.
Bottles: Every baby is different but both my kids responded really well to the Philips Avent line. Tao pretty much went straight to the faster flow nipple. I like that the tops and bottles are interchangeable with their sippy cup line. Also, my main hack is to buy more nipples and bottles than you think you’ll need so you don’t ever have to frantically wash them while dealing with a squalling baby.
Bottle/parts cleanser: Medela quick-cleanse. Breast milk is super fatty/greasy! I soak bottles in this once a week and they come out looking brand-new.
Bottle cleanser on the go: Medela wipes. I would use these when I was traveling to wipe everything down. I once gave all my bottles to a hotel and they LOST them and omg now I use these when traveling instead of sending them out to be cleaned.
Bottle brush: Dr. Brown’s. They’re all kind of the same, TBH.
Drying rack: Boon. The white grass is the least offensive of the options out there.
Pacifier: Philips Avent Soothie in the size for younger babies. It’s less rigid and generally easier to suck. They give these out at the hospital but unlike the underwear and pads, it’s harder to escape the hospital with like thirty of them. If your kid likes pacis, buy at least 6. Because these suckers have a knack for disappearing just when you need them most.
Nursing bras: Very personal decision but I liked a lot of the European brands like Milker and Boob design. Yes, all nursing bras seem to have boob-related names, sigh. Bravado was also good!
Diapers and changing-related gear
Changing pad: Keekaroo. I’m not exactly sure why I like this pad so much but it’s squishy and peanut-shaped. I randomly liked it so much that I bought one in addition to one I got from my registry.
Wipes dispenser: OXO. At first, I scoffed “why do I need a dispenser for wipes? Why can’t I just use the original packaging?” Well, for some reason when you pull one wipe, like 30 come out. The weighted plate on this dispenser prevents that. A note on heated wipes dispensers: I never used these because I figured I couldn’t use them everywhere. And if your baby’s bottom is used to warm wipes and she gets really angry on, say, an airplane because the wipes aren’t heated… I just chose to not warm wipes, period, and both my kids seem normal enough.
Diaper rash cream: Triple Paste AF. Not sure what the AF stands for, but it always makes me chuckle. Best way to prevent diaper rash is to change poopy diapers ASAP, especially if the kids are on antibiotics. I think antibiotics kill all the good bacteria in poo and almost ALWAYS causes rashes for my kiddos. If your baby ever gets a really bad case of diaper rash, btw, ask your doctor about Vusion. It always has worked wonders for us.
Diapers: I typically used Honest Company diapers or Earth’s Best. Earth’s Best are literally exactly the same as Pampers Swaddlers except they are not crazy-scented and they don’t have the pee stripe. But you don’t really need the pee stripe because you can feel from how expanded the diaper is whether it’s full of pee. Note: don’t buy too many size N, I usually suggest skipping right to size 1.
Wipes: Huggie’s fragrance-free. I don’t like using overly scented products and these wipes are basic (in a good way).
Diaper pail: Ubbi. Seal in that stink!! Although baby poop doesn’t really smell until they start solids, IMHO. Note: no need to spend extra money on garbage bags for these, just use regular bags. And if you live in NYC btw I don’t know if you really need a diaper pail… I would just send Tom out to toss them on the street corner!
Swaddle: The Ollie World. This was the ONLY swaddle that worked for Tao and I really think the creator deserves a genius grant. If you use the code EvaChen212 when you check out, you save shipping and they donate money to charity (we’ve done Houston Diaper Bank and next up is Puerto Rico rebuilding).
Sound machine: Project Nursery. What you DON’T want is a sound machine that turns off after twenty minutes. This Project Nursery one stays on and has a projection thing so that when your baby wakes up at 545 AM you can turn it on and buy twenty more minutes of dozing while they stare at the projection.
Dockatot: Yes!!! I didn’t get why people were obsessed with these pillows until I got one as a gift. Something about the way it sags is comforting for babies, I think. We upgraded to the larger size when Tao was about 5 months because he is so darn tall! I would suggest getting an extra cover for it in case of spit-up (or other bodily substances).
Leahco Podster: We got one as a gift and in the early days, before the baby could move, it was great for parking the kiddo and daytime naps. As with the Dockatot, it has a sort of cocoon effect that babies seem to find soothing. Note: Tao only used this for about 4 weeks though because he was so long.
Bassinet: for techies and people who are, like, fans of Tesla, you will love the Snoo. It is sleek. It is gorgeous. It is very effective for most of the parents I talked to. When you call customer service, Dr Harvey Karp sometimes will be on the phone (!!!. He is like the Oprah of pediatricians, fyi). The classic version of the bassinet is the Fisher Price Rock and Play.
Crib: Kalon Studios. This was our big splurge for Ren and, man, it is a beautiful crib and I love looking at it every day. FYI babies don’t generally sleep in the crib until they’re a little bigger, so don’t rush on buying one!
Compact Crib: Bloom. Tao was in our bedroom for a while and we needed a non-full-sized crib. The Alma Papa from Bloom is great bc it’s just the right size and also folds down for storage/transport.
Learning to crawl/walk/move
Best toy: Skip Hop Bee: This toy basically taught Tao how to crawl!
Floor tiles: Little Nomad: definitely the least offensive/most stylish foam mats. Because do you really need the alphabet in primary colors in your living room? No, no you do not. Use the code EvaChen212 when you check out and they’ll donate $10 to charity.
Scooter: Joovy Spoon. Both of our kids were insanely active and wanted to walk before they could even crawl. Once they were about 7 months, I tried out this scooter and they loved it! They would follow me around everywhere. We’d also stick a bunch of toys on it and use it as an activity center. I like that it folds down too.
Toy to stick on Joovy: Sassy Wonder Wheel. “Sassy Wonder Wheel”. The name says it all, lol. Basically this is a happy rattly ferris wheel.
Stroller & stuff
Stroller pouch: Skip Hop. Some of them are inexplicably massive. You don’t need something massive because you’ll have space under the stroller. This is big enough for the essentials and has a little zip pocket in front for cash/cards.
Strollers are very personal and there are as many varieties as cars.
For one kid/NYC, I’d recommend the BabyZen Yoyo. You can fold it up and carry it on because it’s so compact. The only con is that there isn’t much space under the stroller for storage. They also make a version nowadays with a bassinet.
For our double stroller, we have the Uppababy Vista with the second Rumbleseat. This is the stroller I push when I have a ton of errands to run because you can basically fit an entire grocery run under it! Pushing the two kids around is like 75 lbs! Well, it counts as a workout. Make sure you get the adaptors and to check the year/model of your Vista for the Rumbleseat.
Stroller hooks: These are great because they rotate but don’t put, like, a sixty lb bag of groceries on it because it’s plastic and it will break! (Throw that bag of groceries under your stroller, duh)
Changing bag: Skiphop. A lot of people ask me what I use for a diaper bag and the reality is that I just used my regular bags but threw this Skiphop thing in there.
Oatmeal: Happy Baby. Tao cannot get enough of this! He’ll dive towards me to get more! I usually mix in some applesauce, sweet potato, or other purees. I like that it contains probiotics for, urhm, regularity.
Beaba: I got a Beaba as a gift for Ren and it made making baby food super easy! It’s a blender and steamer thingy in one. Sure, you could steam separately and then use a Ninja (or whatever it’s called) but this made making food for Ren idiot-proof. There’s also a new service called Raised Real that basically sends you a Beaba-esque machine AND pre-assembled, gourmet frozen food packs. Now, THAT is idiotproof!!
Spoons: Beaba. These are super rubber and less hard, so if a baby lunges toward you (Tao was particularly lunge-y) it’s less risk of hurting them!
Feeding Bibs: Baby Bjorn. You can pop these into the dishwasher and they were harder for Tao to rip off.
Mesh food pouch thing: Munchkin. Great for when they’re teething. I put a slice of apple in there and Tao can gnaw away at it without fear of choking.
Daily Bibs: Mati Mati or Copper Pearl. Style-wise, I like these bibs that aren’t like “hey, I drool! Look at me!” and they also seem to absorb more because of the fleece, so you don’t end up with a sodden onesie.
High chair: Stokke Steps. We like this one because you can start with the baby in the bouncer attachment, then graduate to the regular high chair, and now Ren is in the toddler version of the seat. It’s easy on the eyes too.
Corners: You don’t really need these until they’re mobile to be honest!
Baby carrier: Everyone has a personal preference, like strollers, but Tao liked/slept best in the Artipoppe sling when he was little (plus the fabrics are beautiful) and generally we use the Mia Mily which sort of has a ledge for baby to sit on which I feel like is more comfortable.
Best teether(s): Plural because you’ll need more than one because your baby will be flinging these to the ground like it’s his/her job.
Elephant: Tao’s favorite! http://amzn.to/2yqI7mD
Banana toothbrush: Tao’s second favorite! http://amzn.to/2zd8qtT
Sophie the Giraffe: You will probably get at least two of these as gifts though! http://amzn.to/2zqoV6Q
Nail scissors: Frida. Uniquely shaped so they won’t nick skin as easily. Although I still am scared every time I clip Ren and Tao’s nails!! They are just so teeny tiny ☺
Gas drops: Little Remedies. For both Ren and Tao, we used these drops after feeds if we suspected they swallowed a lot of gas (like if they drank too quickly). These work by consolidating all the little burps or farts into one GIANT burp/fart. Yas! Gas, btw, is one of those things you will become very excited about as a mom.
Colic drops: Colic-calm. I pray that you don’t end up with a colicky kid but Tao had a bout of it and this stuff was recommended to me by a few IG followers and it really helped. Warning: it stains things black (because of the charcoal).
Probiotics: Mommy’s Bliss plus D. Probiotics really helped with Tao’s colic too. Probiotics are just good, period. And you have to supplement with vitamin D in the early months anyway, so this kills two birds with one stone. I prefer these to the Gerber Soothe drops.
Snot sucker: Nose Frida. Sigh. Just get it. You’ll need it. And it’s not as gross as it sounds. After you’ve given birth, you will not think it’s that bad.
Bouncer: Summer Infant portable bouncer. I bought this used on a mom’s group and it was such a great surprise. It folds down so if, say, you were to have a dinner party (lol we haven’t entertained since having Ren like 3 years ago) you could fold it up and stick it in your closet.
Walker: V-Tech. Fact: the brighter/more garish the item, the more your child will like it. Just give into the Garish. This walker blinks, there is a song about a Learning Zoo, and it’s generally annoying. But the kids love it.
Swing: Fisher Price. This literally took up half our apartment but was so helpful in the early, early months. Ren really responded to the swinging motion, Tao not as much. I have a theory that kids are either bouncers (Tao) or swingers (Ren) in terms of the motion they respond to. Figure out which one they like and then roll with it. On that note, if you don’t have an exercise ball, that is helpful for the bounce-friendly babies.
Alright! That's it for now. More to come!
Thanks for reading and hope this is helpful!