20 Must-Have Mom and Baby Items For New Parents
As a Labour and Delivery, Postpartum and Pediatric Nurse I am constantly asked what are the top must-haves for any new parent.
The reality is that there are SO many mama and baby products out there that it’s hard to know what you actually need! Everyone you talk to has different advice, recommendations or preferences based on their experience (or media influence).
Over the last 7 years I have developed a list of what new families have shared with me, what I have seen used and what I know actually works! And trust me, you need way less stuff than you think you do!
Personally, part of my New Year's Resolution is to live a simpler life. However, once a baby comes around it can feel like the amount of stuff you acquire triples… It feels crazy how much one tiny human seems to bring in.
A big part of a simpler life involves having less “stuff” and avoiding buying things that don’t serve a purpose or that you don’t see getting used enough long term to justify buying. I think this outlook can easily be applied when shopping for new mama and bab
Save this list for the next time you are invited to a baby shower, are on the hunt for a gift for a new mama-to-be or are thinking of constructing your own baby registry.
These are my top recommendations both for baby and mama:
Note – there have been no incentives/partnerships for any of the recommendations listed.
A traditional rectal thermometer is what is recommended for children under 1-year-old. Digital forehead scanners or in-ear thermometers are not nearly as reliable. After a year old you can use this same thermometer under the armpit until children are old enough to tolerate it under the tongue – usually around age 4. Remember that a fever is anything over 38 Celsius or 100.4 Fahrenheit.
2. Nasal suction:
A must-have for cold and flu relief! Suction any runny or stuffy nose before feeds or sleeping. If there are dried boogers, instill some saline nasal drops first before suctioning. For cold and flu viral infections, antibiotics are not warranted. Instead, a focus on supportive care is recommended and this includes increasing fluid intake, and lots of suctioning!
3. Oogie bear 2 in 1 tool for cleaning ears and nose:
Another handy tool for cleaning ears and nostrils. Remember to never put a q-tip in your child’s ear however, keeping the ears clean and clear can prevent one of the most common causes of fever in infants and toddlers – ear infections. The Oogie bear’s rubber scoop and loop are gentle enough for sensitive noses and ears, while the bear head design ensures it never goes up too far.
4. Infant Tylenol and a baby-friendly Syringe for giving medication:
It is always handy to have Tylenol on hand in case of fever or illness in your little one. Remember that the dose should be 15mg per kg therefore you need to ensure you have an accurate weight on your baby. Tylenol comes in infant and child concentrations and can be given every 4-6 hours. This handy pacifier syringe makes giving medication a lot easier, especially for young ones who have never tasted anything other than milk, or for those who like to spit it out with their tongue!
5. Nail trimmer:
A lot of parents are shocked when their newborn comes out of the womb with long nails! You will need this on day 1 to prevent them from scratching their face. You can use either an electric nail file or traditional clippers.
6. Portable sound machine:
Another must-have item that simulates the sounds your baby used to hear in utero and can be quite soothing. A lot of models such as the yoga sleep Hushh model are portable and can be brought with you in the car or attached to a stroller. This will help your child nap even while on the go and block out any external noises. If you want to take this item one step further, brands such as the hatch baby include a night light that you can customize colour, brightness and sound/volume level. It can be programmed to turn on automatically or adjusted remotely with your cellphone. Finally, this is another item that grows with your child from providing soft light and white noise for midnight newborn feeding sessions to the comfort of a nightlight for a preschooler and a time-to-rise setting for your older child.
Skip the time wrapping and unwrapping your baby in a blanket for sleep or worrying about temperature control, by swaddling them in a zip-up swaddle. Zip-up swadles make them feel safe, secure and warm. The love to dream brand has various designs depending on the child’s age from newborn, to when they are ready to roll. They also include a temperature guide and a more natural arms-up position for sleep.
8. Snuggle me lounger:
This machine washable lounger gives your 0-9 month old baby a safe place to lay while you are getting things done around the house. You can also bring it along to a friend or family’s house to make the infant feel right at home for nap time. They are designed to hug the baby’s body and create a safe place to sleep and play as long as they are placed on a flat solid surface and always monitored by an adult. Once the baby is older, the lounger can also be used for tummy time, sitting up support and actively engaging in play.
9. Baby bath:
Bath time is the perfect part of a nighttime routine. I recommend finding a safe and supportive bath that grows with your baby. The angel care bath seat is simple and can be used in the sink and bathtub. While another popular option, the Moby Baby Smart Sling has 3 stages (0-3 months, 3-6 months and 6+ months). The mesh sling provides comfort and support and locks into two positions – upper position for newborn cradling and lower position for supporting infants learning to sit.
10. Love Every Play Kits:
These stage-based play kits are designed to support infants’ learning during important developmental windows with play essentials that are tailored to their exact stage. The toys are built to last and made of sustainable harvested wood, organic cotton, nontoxic paint and baby-safe plastics. The first play kit is designed for weeks 0-12, and there is a kit designed for every 2 months of development. The only toys you will truly need for the first 3 years!
1. Nursing bras + Reusable nursing pads:
No matter how hard you try, breastfeeding with a regular bra on is near impossible. A nursing bra provides support while allowing you to comfortably bare one or both breasts at a time to feed your baby. Many have clip-down cups with a clasp that unhooks for quick and easy access. Others have a crisscross front with soft cups that you push aside when it's time to breastfeed or pump. This particular bra is raved about…its soft as silk stretchy fabric molds to your changing body, is comfortable and supportive (the 2 key ingredients to a great nursing bra) and has a wide band that won’t dig into your sides. You can choose to add or remove the foam cups that give better shape and support. Pair your bra of choice with reusable nursing pads – organic bamboo nursing pads provide the softest touch and allow your baby to latch immediately after removal. They come in different sizes and enough for a week’s supply – while being environmentally friendly and avoiding you having to buy boxes and boxes of disposable pads!
2. Sitz baths:
We just love the Earth Mama brand as you will see in a lot of our mama favs. Sitz baths are a perfect way to leave you feeling fresh with the combination of postpartum bleeding, aid in healing hemorrhoids, promote relaxation which helps with cramping and constipation and relaxes sore pelvic muscles. This herbal sitz bath can be added to a shallow bowl or in a toilet sitz bath. The increased blood circulation will help soothe irritated skin and keep the area around a tear or episiotomy clean and prevent infection.
3. Peri spray bottle:
Since you cannot necessarily see all that is going on down below in the early postpartum stage, a handy peri bottle such as this one helps to keep things clean every time you use the bathroom. Simply spray yourself with the long nozzle to keep things clean and prevent infection and dab to dry. It will also help prevent burning from the acidity of urine if you use it at the same time you are voiding with its continuous stream of relief in the right spot.
Also, useful post c-section with limited mobility without putting pressure on the soreness of the incision by bending over to clean.
4. Nipple butter:
This magic formulation is lanolin, preservative and petroleum-free and non-sticky. It moisturizes dry skin and brings nipples back to life! And since it could end up in your baby’s mouth it's non-GMO verified, so no need to worry about washing it off before nursing. Apply it after each feed or as needed. You can even use it on the pumping flanges for a more comfortable pumping experience. It can also be used on lips, elbows, cheeks or any other dry areas!
5. Cooling Pads:
These Frida Mom instant Ice Maxi pads combine instant cold therapy with an absorbent pad. The crack and cool first aid type ice pack is built into the maxi pad to deliver the recommended 20-minute therapy window without needing a freezer. You can try these fancy ones or use this herbal perineal spray that provides some quick touch free peri care that can either be placed in the fridge for extra cooling relief of a sore perineum or sprayed onto a maxi pad and put in the freezer to create a padsicle!
6. Disposable underwear:
Believe me when I say comfort and convenience are top of the list for postpartum underwear. You want a pair that will keep pads and all other recovery layers in place while being breathable, soft and latex free. Whether you’ve had a c-section or a vaginal delivery, you will bleed vaginally for about 4-6 weeks. Laundry likely won’t be at the top of your priority list so these make it easy. Frida Mom even has special ones with more support post c-section.
7. Haaka Manual Silicone Breast Pump:
This simple pump uses natural suction to pull breast milk from the breast you are not feeding or actively pumping from. It is a simple way to collect extra milk, without extra effort. Simply squeeze and attach to your breast while nursing on the other side and that’s it! It is great for home, on the go, travelling, work or outdoor activities. You will be amazed at how much milk you collect.
This advanced baby camera lets parents see everything that is happening in and around the crib in real-time. The app turns everything it captures into personalized insights and sleep coaching tips, helping parents understand their baby’s sleep routine. Parents who use the Nanit report 71% less anxiety. The portable option allows you to move the camera from room to room or take it on the go and get a 130-degree view in seconds. Added features such as the alert zone allow you to detect if the baby has entered an off-limits area, triggering an alert to your device or analyzing breathing motions for ages 0-3 months.
9. Backpack diaper bag:
Your hands will already be full, so I recommend a backpack type diaper bag. There are tons of options in this area but here are a few of our top picks – prioritizing waterproof and best organization. Try adding a clip-on pacifier holder to keep that pacifier clean and easily accessible.
10. Breastfeeding pillow:
Finally, for most people, there is a big learning curve when it comes to breastfeeding. A nursing pillow helps get your baby into an optimal position next to your breast providing a stable and comfortable surface to position the baby. They also reduce neck, arm and back strain for you. Even if you aren’t planning to breastfeed, a breastfeeding pillow such as the Boppy is extremely versatile and can be used to help cushion babies who are working on sitting, cradle a lounging baby or as a tummy time prop – something that will get used every single day. A second option is the Breast Friend pillow that is primarily used for breastfeeding and includes an arm and elbow rest for mama and is adjustable to ensure there is no gap between you and your baby.
Bonus item – for both mama and baby:
Newborns crave the sensation of being in the womb more than at any other age. They love to be held close and tight and find comfort in constant motion. Wearing your newborn can help soothe them and calm fussiness and give you the (much welcome) opportunity to have your hands free for other things.
Many parents say it’s their favourite baby product, no matter the type or brand. It gives your arms a break and can easily sub in for a stroller, especially if your newborn gets upset when they can’t see you or you need to navigate crowded spaces like airports and stadiums. It’s also great to use if you like hiking and want to bring your little one along.
A study published in the Journal of Pediatrics found that babywearing for three hours a day reduced infant crying significantly—43 percent overall and 51 percent at night. Babywearing is a simple and low-risk intervention that can reduce the instance and severity of postpartum depression by improving the maternal sense of bonding,