That first trimester of parenthood can be simultaneously joyous, nerve-wracking, depressing, exhausting and wondrous. Especially if you're a new parent, just dealing with the idea that you've created a living, breathing miracle is an event all its own. Thank goodness we've got plenty of things to help us with all the other stuff.
It's not uncommon for first timers to go overboard on baby supplies to help them get through this thing called parenthood. But it can become apparent quickly which are the essentials and which are really a waste of money. Here are my top 10 things I absolutely could not live without in my first three months as a parent:
Diapers, and plenty of them:
It's amazing how many diapers a baby goes through in a day. I quickly learned not to let my diaper supply get below 10 diapers. And when we first stocked the nursery, we bought diapers in a few different sizes so we always had at least a few on hand when the little guy moved to the next larger size.
Diaper wipes are good for so much more than wiping messy bottoms, I found myself using them for almost everything. Even with my older child, who is well beyond diapers, I use diaper wipes to do a quick hand-and-face cleanup. I've even been known to use a diaper wipe to clean smudges off the wall (not that I would recommend that).
The great thing about receiving blankets is they are versatile. In addition to wrapping your bundle of joy, you can use receiving blankets as a burping cloth, a clean surface to lay baby on and even to cover up wet spots in the crib before you have a chance to change the sheet. I've used receiving blankets to cover my little one's legs when it's chilly outside, but not chilly enough for the full-on bunting. And a few worn-out receiving blankets have since become great drying rags for washing the car.
A portable bouncy-style strap-in chair was indispensable for the times when I needed to get work done and couldn't hold on to my little one. It provided movement and the attached mobile provided something for him to focus on while he sat in the chair. Mine was also musical and featured automatic rocking capability, helping the little guy catch a few winks.
They may look strange and yes, some people make fun of them, but a baby carrier is worth its weight in gold. For starters, you don't have to lug the little one around in a heavy baby seat. Plus, Dad can carry baby, giving you (and your back) a break. And the closeness of your baby right against your chest is a wonderful, bonding feeling.
Diaper rash cream:
Diaper rash is a fact of life, and even the most attentive of parents will have a baby with diaper rash. Not all diaper rash creams are created equal, however, so it's a good idea to try a few brands before buying in bulk (which you probably will end up doing). Once you've found one that works, stick with it.
My little guy was never a thumb-sucker, and I know there are some who decry pacifiers as detrimental to speech development, but I never had second thoughts about using a pacifier. For him, they did what they were supposed to do: calm him when he was upset. I've always had a few on hand just in case; pacifiers have a nasty habit of getting lost at the most inopportune times.
Not a supply, per se, but necessary all the same. The day I came home from the hospital, we bundled up the little guy, popped him in his pram and took off for a walk. Our daily walks quickly became a routine, giving everyone a chance to get some much-needed fresh air, clear our minds and, in my case, walk off some of those pregnancy pounds.
I can't say enough about how my husband dived right in and took care of so many baby-related things in those first months. Some nights he was the only one who could get the little guy to sleep-he logged many miles walking up and down the hall doing what we called "the perp walk," quietly saying, "shush shush shush," and gently rocking the little guy back into slumber. He got so good at it that I dubbed him, "The Baby Whisperer."
I don't have too many baby pictures of my first child, who was born before smartphones. The second, however-well, let's just say I could fill a book (and I have). Whenever the little guy was in my lap, hanging with his dad or just being plain cute, I'd grab the smartphone and take a shot. I've been able to document how he's transformed from the alien being that is a newborn into the walking, talking, mess-making toddler he is today.
Do I wish I had other things to help me in those three months? Sure. More sleep would top that list. But I managed without and neither of us emerged any worse for wear. Looking back, I don't think I'd change my list one bit.