When I started creating my baby registry, I asked my most trustworthy mom friends for their suggestions. The response was overwhelming. A handful of friends even responded with professional-level Excel spreadsheets outlining everything they considered, what they bought, and their rating of the product (yes, multiple friends made these spreadsheets).
It seemed a little overboard to me at the time, but now I have a 1-year-old, and yes, I too have made a spreadsheet of baby products to pass along to interested friends.
Looking back, the first year of motherhood can be described as a continuous game of trial and error, especially when it comes to products. Some of the items I purchased and registered for were always used while other items were never even taken out of the box. Oops.
Every baby and situation is unique, so while it’s impossible to tell someone, “you need this product” or “you can skip that product,” it’s still helpful to provide advice (when asked!). The multiple spreadsheets that I sifted through contained a lot of gems that made my first year of motherhood relatively smooth.
These are the items I will absolutely save for (hopefully) a future baby and would recommend to other expectant moms. There are also those that I could’ve skipped (and need to sell/donate!).
Here are the five products I loved and the five I could have done without.
5 Items I Loved
I struggled to decide what baby monitor to get—there are so many options, all with their own unique features. There are the basic baby monitors and then there are the advanced ones that offer clearer images and more in-depth data. Having never had to watch a tiny baby sleep before, I had no idea where to begin.
After realizing early on that I was pretty nervous about safe sleep, I can confidently say that a smart baby monitor like the Owlet Monitor Duo is the way to go. This particular baby monitor comes with the Owlet Cam and the Owlet Smart Sock that tracks baby’s oxygen level and heart rate while they sleep. It also reports on sleep trends and will notify you if the readings leave a preset zone.
In the early days, I found myself continuously placing my hand on my baby’s chest to ensure she was breathing. Eventually, with the help of the Owlet Monitor Duo, I was able relax. Parenting is stressful for a hundred different reasons, but this product truly alleviated some of that stress.
This smart baby monitor tracks helpful data while giving parents peace of mind as baby sleeps.
Get a FREE accessory sock set of your choice from Owlet's Sock Shop, including their NEW Summer Sock Collection patterns, when you purchase the Owlet Monitor Duo or Smart Sock!
2. A Safe Place to Put Baby: Babybjorn Bouncer Bliss
Like most new moms, I loved holding my squishy newborn as much as possible. But sometimes, I had to put her down. The Babybjorn Bouncer Bliss was my go-to safe spot whenever I needed a baby-holding break. The product description says it’s safe for babies up until 2 years of age, and while my daughter still fits in it, she’s way too energetic to sit still. Even though we stopped using it at around 10 months, it was still a worthwhile purchase.
3. A High-Quality Stroller: UPPAbaby Vista
I had mixed feelings about the need for an expensive stroller. Is it excessive to register for a nearly $1,000 stroller? My husband would say yes, and I fully realize a stroller at this price point is not accessible to everyone. We were generously gifted the UPPAbaby Vista by a family member, and when I think about it in terms of our cost-per-use, I feel better about the price.
My baby and I have walked hundreds of miles together. She’s comfortable in the stroller (she took many stroller naps in the early months), and it’s a smooth push for me as well. I love the Vista because it comes with a bassinet attachment, which we used for a solid six months, and it has a different seat for when the baby is a bit older. If you get the UPPAbaby Mesa Infant Car Seat it attaches right in, and the stroller can easily be adjusted to make room for a second baby.
4. A Comfortable and Supportive Carrier: Ergobaby 360
Over the last year, we have acquired quite a collection of carriers. I like each one for different reasons, but the top of the list goes to the Ergobaby 360. It provides the most support, is the most comfortable, can be used until your baby is 45 pounds, and my husband and I are both able to wear it with very quick and easy adjustments when we trade off.
5. An-Easy-to-Use Swaddle: The Easy Swaddle
Every baby and parent has their swaddle of choice, and our editors love aden + anais’ easy swaddle. No matter how much you practice swaddling on a doll or stuffed animal, trying to swaddle an upset baby in the middle of the night is something you can’t prepare for. Thanks to the simple design and closures, the easy swaddle is made for a secure fit and is super easy to use (hence the name!). Even though you only swaddle babies for a few months, it’s worth finding one you love and can use frustration-free.
5 Items I Didn’t Need
1. A Bottle Warmer
Confession: This product is still in its original box. I ended up breastfeeding most of the time, so that’s partially why this product wasn’t super necessary. When we did prepare bottles, placing the bottle of milk in a cup of hot water warmed it up just enough. I can understand why a bottle warmer might be helpful if your baby is mostly bottle-fed, but if you plan to breastfeed, you can probably skip this item.
2. Nursing Covers
I’ve never been the type to walk around a gym locker room naked or with a towel just around my waist, so I assumed that when I’m breastfeeding in public, I’d want to be as covered as possible. And yes, I did want to be covered, but I found that dressing for breastfeeding was sufficient. With flowy shirts or a big scarf, I could easily keep myself covered without the extra accessory of a nursing cover.
3. A Breastfeeding Pillow
I was pretty surprised at how much I didn’t need this product after so many women raved about it as being a must-own. It is challenging to get in the proper positioning when you’re new to breastfeeding, but I found these pillows to be uncomfortable (and I tried a few different brands and styles). I had some stomach discomfort during the couple of weeks after giving birth, and these pillows made it worse. The fit never really worked for me. I actually found that using a standard pillow from our bed or a throw pillow from the couch worked better than a breastfeeding pillow most of the time.
4. A Closet Full of Adorable Newborn Clothes
I spent a lot of time scrolling sites for the cutest and tiniest outfits available. I limited how much I bought, but even that ended up being more than necessary. The amount of blowouts we encountered in the first few months were overwhelming and my baby spit up all day every day, so whatever adorable newborn outfits I put her in were destroyed in a matter of minutes. Of course, you should put your little one in a few sweet outfits, but there’s no reason to spend a ton of money on this. You’re also likely to get newborn clothes as gifts, so save your money for more essential items. I was also happy to dress my daughter in hand-me-downs, especially because I didn’t care as much when she stained yet another outfit.
5. Excessive Amounts of Baby Toys
I’m not trying to deprive my child of fun and interactive toys, but you don’t need to go overboard here. There was one specific stroller toy my daughter loved, and every time she saw it, it was like she was seeing it for the first time, so it was pretty unnecessary to have tons of newborn toys—a handful is just enough. We received a ton of hand-me-down toys too, and I felt like I needed to keep them all, not knowing which my daughter would love. Now that there are toys everywhere in the house (many barely touched), I realize that it’s quality over quantity for toys. Plus, if we’re being totally honest, my daughter seems happiest when playing in the recycling bin.
This post was in partnership with Owlet but all of the opinions within are those of The Everymom editorial board. We only recommend products we genuinely love.