“How do these little humans need that much stuff??”
I remember thinking that during my pregnancy as I was doing research and putting together a master Excel of everything that seemed necessary. I felt that there were endless brands, stores, and options for every single category and often contradictory opinions of what is a “must-have” and what is a “waste of money.” I was really overwhelmed at some point.
I also felt like when the baby is born and I don´t have something, then that train has gone. Meaning it seemed that then all the stores are going to be closed and if I don´t have it right away it will screw up everything.
Can any other expecting momma relate or was I the only weird one?:D
Now being a little over half a year into motherhood I can share what we actually have used and what has collected dust. As I mentioned before people have very different perspectives and preferences when it comes to baby products and that is perfectly fine. Some parents might look at these things that are on our list and think “How on earth was THAT thing helpful?” and also vica-versa. Someone´s “must-have” might be other´s dust-collected and the other way around. I am not a baby product expert and have done this only once, but I do like to review and research things quite a bit. So the following is our experience and I hope it will ease someone´s expectancy:)
Also what has helped me is just asking other moms about their experience. I have a handful of women, some of who I follow on social media, some who are close friends who have been of soooo much help. Liisi, Kertu, Lauren, Isabella, Karoliina, Kathleen, Dagmar- thank you for bearing my endless questions. Future (or current) momma, reading this- don´t be afraid to ASK and have some good women in your network that you can trust;)
With that being said, here are the things that have got the most usage during the first 6 months:
That is probably an item most parents agree on should be in the baby tool-kit:D I love moving and was walking a lot during my pregnancy and knew I will be doing that when the baby is here too. I had the first stroll exactly when Camilla was a week old and since then there haven´t been too many days that we haven´t strolled even just a little bit. She has loved napping in the stroller and I have loved getting out, breathing some fresh air, running errands and just refreshing the state of mind.
Our stroller is Emmaljunga NXT90 white leatherette and we have truly enjoyed it. I don´t think there is one perfect stroller and based on the needs / preferences it may vary, but here are a few things I´ve loved out it:
- The sturdiness. I knew that we will be strolling first in the winter months and the pram needs to be strong. This “little tank” has gone through snow, dirt, ice, sand, tree trunks, gobble stones, and all the other imaginable surfaces and has done a great job. The chassis is stable and strong and the carrycot nice and wide. Since I often go to the grocery store or pick up some packages with it I really like that the storage area under is big to accommodate bags. For some, the strong pram might seem like a con since it makes it heavier than many, but in my eyes, it was more of a plus.
- The amortization. No matter the surface the bounciness is soft for the baby.
- The look. This is a very personal preference, but I like the white and modern look.
Strolling with every weather
Extras with the stroller:
- Hand muff– Since this winter in Estonia had some pretty crispy days the hand muff came in extra handy. Ours is from Bozz.
- Rain cover– Since it also rained quite a bit the rain cover has definitely helpful too. I didn´t get the original Emmaljunga one, but a transparent, universal one from Prisma for 6 euros and we have surely got our money worth with it.
- Cup holder- I ordered a universal one and actually what ended up happening was that it wasn´t strong enough to hold a coffee mug, so eventually, I didn´t use it too much. A good takeaway here is to stick to one brand products within a category to make sure all the parts fit the best together. Or if you decided to go with various ones then to do enough research ahead of time that it ends up working as a unit.
2. Car seat + Isofix + wheels
Definitely, a must-have since it is for the baby´s security in the car. I don´t think they even let you go out of the hospital without this.
We got Quinny Zapp Flex Plus lightweight stroller mainly for the wheels for the car seat. We used the wheels for shorter little strolls for example from the car to a restaurant, in the store/mall, or a quick stroll in the park. The seat part came in very useful for us on our trip to Dubai.
Our car seat is Maxi Cosi Pebble Pro i-size and FamilyFix3 Isofix that goes with it.
3. Bouncing chair
Although there are multiple companies that do bouncing chairs, I feel that Babybjörn has pretty much become a synonym for it. We have really loved it and Camilla has liked bouncing in it from the early on.
It´s a great helper for the mom when you need to have your hands free to cook or shower or do something else. One thing my attention was drawn to is that the older the baby gets the more important it is to close the strap (or get the Babybjörn toy to put in front.) We got into the habit of letting her lay there when she was small without being closed. As she grew though she figured out that she can create the bounce itself and it got pretty intense. Some moms wrote to me that their baby managed to bounce himself out of it, so a good rule is to just in case always close it. (not like in the below pictures:D)
4. Drawer + changing station
I´ve heard some mom say that a changing station is something they didn´t use, but in our case it´s the opposite. I haven´t changed one diaper at home anywhere else other than the changing mat, that is on the drawer. I like that everything is in its place in hands´ reach and stuff doesn´t get all over the place.
Our drawer is Troll Lukas and the changing mat Ceba Baby Pastel Pink.
I looove the material of the mat, because it´s so easy to clean it. Wouldn´t even imagine how it´s done with a cotton surface mat.
One of the greatest little hacks has been Ikea Skubb organizers, which have helped to keep the little clothes tidy and nice. Otherwise, they just get lost in the drawer since they are so small. Another little helper has been a toy hanging on top of the changing mat so that whenever we change clothes Camilla plays with a toy there.
5. Baby monitors
You can probably get by without these if you don´t have the baby sleeping outside or in a different room, but for us they´ve been very helpful and definitely use them every day. Since Camilla loved to nap in the stroller (especially at the beginning), but I didn´t want to walk with her 4 hours a day, then putting her to the balcony with the monitors gave me peace that whenever she is fussying I can check her before she fully wakes up.
She goes to night sleep between 7.15 and 7.30 every day, so during that time they are next to her as well.
Ours are Capidi Monitors. I like their look, their battery life, the low radiation rate and the fact that they work with minus degrees.
Our Capidi monitors
6. Baby bath
Camilla has liked water since birth and bath-time is a daily habit for us. We call it Camilla´s SPA and it opens its doors every day at 6.30 pm:) Nick puts some SPA music on and I bring her in:) It´s our little family time every evening before Camilla heads to bed and we love it.
Since I am very tall, then having to bend down every time to do a bath wasn´t something I could wrap my mind around. Ours is open all the time, but if needed you can take the bath part off and the legs go together and are very compact. It literally takes a few minutes to fill it up and drains by itself. If we didn´t have a separate changing station, then this would be perfect for that also.
Ours is Cam Cambio.
6. Playing mat
This is another product that some of my girlfriends said their kids grew really quickly out of and that didn´t get so much use. In our case, it has got much use, especially since Camilla is pretty calm (and not too motivated to crawl around yet:D), so she lays there quite nicely. Just a thicker blanket would do the job I guess as well, but the arches across the mat have made it worth while. We have changed the toys hanging there and that has kept her engaged.
Our playing mat with the arches is from Karloova.
7. Bouncing ball
I got the bouncing ball during the pregnancy and used it to do some hip exercises to help the baby move from breech position to head down. I wasn´t really even expecting that it will be so useful with the baby too.
Many people warned me about using the bouncing ball, that once you start using it, you´ll never get rid of it and always have to bounce. Specifically in the first months it was a tremendous helper with getting her to sleep. From 4 months we don´t use it every time so it didn´t get to an “addiction” level:) Now (at 7 months) we just use it piece of furniture and just sit on it:D
Ours is from Medpoint.
The first few months bouncing was the go-to calmer
7. Warm bag
This is one of the things, that when my mom saw it she said- “Wow, these days they have thought about everything.” Since me and my sister were both born in the winter she was telling me stories about how she was constantly checking the thermometer and stacking us with blankets.
This winter was pretty cold (up to -20C) so I couldn´t even imagine how it would have been possible to go on stroller rides without one.
We have Voksi Move and it has been perfect. In the late autumn, I used it with lighter clothes underneath and in the wintertime with thicker overalls on.
8. Merino onesie
Having a good onsie to go on top of home clothes (or bare skin) and then into the appropriate temperature warm bag in my mind is a good investment. We used ours for pretty much the whole 6 months and it came really handy. It was size 50-56, but Camilla fit into it even at 65 cm tall, not sure how… but she did:D
Ours is from Breden.
One of the most important topics related to newborns is their sleep and I bet most moms are willing to do whatever to help their little ones take good, quality naps and sleep well in the night. When I was pregnant I did a lot of sleep research and learned about swaddling. The point of swaddling is wrapping your baby’s arms so that when they move they don´t wake up because of their own hands.
I tried it at the beginning with a blanket, but Camilla wiggled out of it and still startled herself. I had also one swaddle bag, that wrapped around her body but she didn´t like it because the hands were tied to the sides.
She has always slept with her hands up and then we found the Love to Dream swaddle (kudos, Lauren!) It´s probably my absolute favorite baby product because it has given me so many more hours of sleep. It´s so easy to use- you just zip her in and she can sleep with her hands up, but when she moves she feels secure and safe and keeps on sleeping. It has a zipper underneath as well, so if you need to change you don´t have to take off the whole thing (like you have to do with a blanket or another sleeping bag).
Also it serves as a blanket and keeps the baby warm.
One of my absolute favourite baby products- Love to Dream swaddles
Well, this is pretty obvious one, but I remember preparing for the baby´s arrival and being soooo confused of what I need to get and what size and how much. I read that many moms said not to buy size 50 clothes, because they will grow out of them so quickly.
In our case although Camilla was 53 cm tall when she was born she still wore size 50 at least the first 1,5 months. So I actually got some additional ones as she was born. Most of the 56 size at the beginning was huge for her (and I prefer them to be fitted more than loose). At 6 months old she wore size 62, so we have got pretty good use out of the first sizes.
For the beginning, I definitely suggest the wrap bodies, not the ones that go over the head. A lot of newborns (Camilla included) don´t like the process of changing clothes, so the wrap ones ease it a bit. I have pretty basic things for her- wrap bodies, pants, socks, pajamas.
The main places where I´ve got clothes are Next, Lindex, Newbie, HM.
I think that baby blankets are useful in so many different places. Of course for sleep, but also to lay them under wherever you need to put the baby on.
We have different material blankets (merino, Minky, cotton, muslin) for various occasions. Since it´s been mainly cold weather during Camilla´s first 6 months, merino blanket has been the most useful since it is just the warmest. Some of those we also got as presents from friends/family, so even if you have one warmer and a few lighter ones it will be plenty.
12. Whitenoise machines
This is another sleep hack that in our case has worked really well. In the beginning, I thought the “shhhh”-ing is just something that people do to babies, but comes out it really calms them down. I know a lot of people use youtube, but I like the idea of having a separate white noise machine so that you can have access to your phone while the baby sleeps.
We have used Zazu one in the stroller and Ewan the Sleepsheep in bed. I prefer the Zazu most simple one without a toy. Camilla also likes to look at the Zazu night-light one which projects stars to the ceiling.
13. Diaper bin
I have used disposable diapers and really admire the moms who have chosen the route of cloth ones. For various reason I haven´t gone that route and often feel guilty about it, but it is what it is. That´s why the diaper bin has come in very handy. The bin has a smell lock and also makes sorting and taking out garbage much easier. When the baby is just on breastmilk the closed lid and the smell lock don´t make that big of a difference even, but when they start getting some additional food…. oh, boy:D Then it´s extra useful:)
We have We too Diaper Keeper.
14. Diaper bag
This doesn´t necessarily have to be especially a “diaper” bag, but just allocate one bag to carrying around baby stuff. Since wherever I went with the baby I had to take diapers, wet wipes, some clothes, change of clothes etc, then a bag is pretty much always needed. The benefit of a special diaper bag is that they usually have various little pockets to store all the baby nicnacks.
We have Ally Scandic backpack, which was a great hand-luggage and helper during our trip. One of my friends got us the striped one, that has “The Connors” on it. That has been my go-to baby-bag. Emmaljunga white leatherette one I attached to the stroller and used for longer trips. One will do the job for sure too.
15. Baby carrier
Camilla has loved being on my chest since the beginning. If she could, she´d take all her naps there and hung out in between those as well. At the very beginning, I used the wrap and that was fine too, but when we got the carrier it was a bit easier to use and that took the wrap´s place. The carrier was especially beneficial during our month-long trip to Dubai where we walked a lot. But I´ve used it also at home for various home tasks and cooking. I´m sure as the weather turns warmer now, it´ll be used more outside too.
Our is Love & Carry ONE+.
16. Nursing pillow
This product was something we didn´t have until we went to a fysiotherapist, who used it and suggested us to get it too. I didn´t use it for nursing, but since Camilla totally hated tummy-time the first few months (and still is not a big fan), then with that pillow it was a little more doable. Many suggest a rolled up towel or blanket and that works perfectly fine too for most, Camilla just didn´t like that version either. She was just totally against tummy time.
Anyway, the nursing pillow helped a bit with that. In addition to the playing mat and bouncing chair it became a place for her to hang out. Sometimes when we are chilling on the couch, then she leaned into it and chilled along:)
So this is pretty specific to our case, but figured I´d bring it out either way.
Tummy time and chilling time
The main things we have used in the “baby pharmacy” are:
- Calendula tincture (saialille tinktuur) for cleaning the belly button at the beginning.
- D-vitamin for all of its benefits.
- NaCl water for cleaning eyes, belly button.
- Sudocream for occasional redness of the booty.
- Bepanthen cream for some smaller rashes.
- Rhinomer to empty the nose. Recently we got the Nosiboo Pro for the same purpose, but haven´t used it enough to share full feedback.
- Hairbrush to comb the little hairs.
As I shared the things that have got a lot of use, I´ll also write what have been some products for us that haven´t so far.
Before having a baby I swore that I won´t be the mom whose baby sleeps in their bed. But I am. And truth be told….I love it!
We have the crib for her, where she does some of her daily naps. Since I have strolled with her most days though (or put to the balcony), then the longer day-nap she has done in the stroller. That has been an intentional choice because most days I have wanted to get out myself.
We also have the next to me crib and that has got a partial benefit. Camilla falls asleep in there, but pretty much always in the night, I am too tired to take the time to put her back there. Although it´s literally connected to our bed:D
During pregnancy, I read how co-sleeping is dangerous and affects the parent´s sleep and I was sure that I won´t do that to us. What has surprised me though is that I sleep better when she is in our bed and it has also saved me a lot of sleep hours. Camilla has been a good sleeper since the beginning and I can´t (and also choose not to) complain about sleep deprivation. There have been rarely nights where I have had to actually stand up from the bed. Most of the time she eats and falls right back to sleep. So that also has kept me letting her sleep in our bed.
This will obviously change and soon we´ll have to make that transition, but for now I have made peace with it myself and allowed myself to snuggle with her. So although the bed is in the second category in this blog it will surely get more and more use soon.
What I´ve understood is that when it comes to sleep there is no “one size fits all” solution. I have friends whose babies sleep separately and I have friends whose babies sleep with them for multiple years and both are absolutely fine in my mind. Whatever works for that family is the best.
Our next to me crib is KinderKraft Uno and bed Troll Romantica.
2. Breast bump + bottles
This item is definitely on the “must-have” list for many moms, but in our case, I have used it only probably 4-5 times or so. I have been able to operate around her eating times and haven´t had to be away from her longer than those blocks. She has eaten pumped breast milk from the bottle 2 times- once we were on a date–night with Nick and once when I went bowling with friends. I don´t know if that´s good or bad, but that´s the case.
My breastfeeding experience (other than the first week of pain) has been very positive. I knew all along that if possible I´ll do all I can to breastfeed. I have absolutely loved it and I am very grateful I have been able to do that. I think it´s an amazing connecting time for the mom and baby and to me, it´s still astonishing how the women´s body is able to create a mixture of everything necessary for the baby.
Yet at the same time, I emphasize that fed a baby is the goal! If for some reason breastfeeding has not or will not be your experience, then that´s up to you. Situations, choices are different.
The few times I did pump were more towards the beginning of the milk production and some evenings my breasts were just so heavy, that I needed some relief.
The bump itself was great though. I used Medela Swing. Fortunately, this was something that I didn´t invest in myself because a friend of mine whose daughter is already older gave me to use. I had it before labor and if I had bought it, then in our case it would not have been worth the investment. So with breast bump, I´d suggest waiting to see if you actually need it before you buy it.
The bottles are also from Medela with Calma end.
3. Baby nest
As I wrote before that the bed hasn´t got that much use until now. I know that the bed WILL get a lot more use moving forwards, but unfortunately the baby nest won´t, since it will be too small. It was helpful here and there but could have got along without it too.
Ours is from Wellweti.
4. Baby cream / baby powder
I don´t know if it´s a picture from the movies that was instilled in my mind or from somewhere else, but for some reason I thought that the baby booty needs to be powdered all the time. The reality is that we haven´t done it once. Same with body lotions. As I wrote before I have just used a bit of Sudocream and Bepanthen (and moisturiser on our trip), but not anything else.
So here are our most used and not so much used products in the first 6 months of our daughter´s life. I truly hope that this will ease someone´s process of putting together a list of things for their little one(s).