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The Internet - namely Pinterest - is flooded with "must-haves" for baby, but babies don't actually don't NEED a whole lot to get through the newborn phase - diapers, milk, and mama and they're pretty much good to go. For that very reason, I won't call these items "essentials," but they have definitely made life easier. Now that we've survived the early days and have the benefit of hindsight, these are a few things that would definitely be on my personal must-have list if we ever decide to embark on this parenting adventure for a second time (many, MANY years from now).
We recently discovered this miracle of a diaper cream here in Germany, and it is THE BEST. Having tried Desitin, Aveeno, and a few others we had samples of, I can definitely say that this one does the best job at keeping baby's bottom rash free. Technically, the translation is "wound creme," and you can supposedly use it for eczema, blemishes, etc., too! We've even used it to help clear up a mean drool rash on baby G's chin. Though it can't be found in U.S. stores, you can get it on Amazon. Bonus points that the easy open tin is way simpler to maneuver one-handed than the tubes most diaper cremes come in.
We literally use these for EVERYTHING (except diapering, of course, because WHO HAS THE TIME AND ENERGY FOR REUSABLE DIAPERS. Seriously though, you mamas who've committed to cloth diapering, I applaud you. We'll be keeping Pampers in business for the next couple of years, thankyouverymuch.) These magical little squares work as burp cloths, clean up messes, can be tucked under the chin to catch dribbles while feeding, and even for play (I swear - all the toys and this kid LOVES playing with a cheap piece of cloth). We have two packs of them, and I can just throw them all in the wash in hot water to get nice and clean.
Whoever invented these is a true genius. No one tells you when you buy the cute changing cover from Land of Nod that it's only going to be on said changing pad for approximately two diaperings (if you're lucky) before you have to wash it again. Babies have a tendency to pee (and poop) at the exact moment when the diaper is off - not to mention the oh so fun up-the-backers that result in an immediately soiled changing pad cover as soon as you lay the kid down. Poopsplosions are real, people. These liners save the day and (usually) keep the cute cover from getting dirty!
I have to admit, this is a bit of a splurge for a glorified piece of foam, but boy do I love it! Being able to put baby in the sink has saved my back, and I'm a huge fan of not having a baby tub take up precious space when not in use. Just get a suction hook for your shower and voila! - out of the way. Also note: if you think the Puj isn't fitting your sink properly, try only folding one side of it - most of our sinks are too shallow to fold both sides, but it fits like a dream with just one side. We just moved Miles to an inflatable in the real bath tub at 6.5 months, and boy, do I miss the days of the Puj.
Since we saved a whole bunch of money by opting for a security camera and iPhone app instead of the traditional baby monitor, we felt pretty good about splurging on this breathing monitor, and I honestly believe I would not have slept those first three months without it. With all of Miles's grunts and noises and random breathing patterns in those early weeks, I thought I might lose my new mama mind. We've only had a handful of false alarms (mostly due to a loose diaper), and personally, I'd rather be woken up by a false alarm than living with the very real anxiety of ohmygodismynewborngoingtojustrandomlydecidenottobreatheinthemiddleofthenight. Is it entirely necessary for a new baby? No. But it sure did give me the peace of mind to get some much needed rest.
So I realize this isn't a product, but it is a basic skill that truly kept me from going crazy a few times. Miles was an incredibly gassy baby, and up until about 4 or 5 months when he figured out how to get rid of it himself, he would get so fussy with gas pains. Having little luck with the other tricks, I learned about the "I love you" stomach massage through a desperate Google search. I would start it, and he would almost immediately pass gas and be so much happier! We tried so many things, including diet changes, gas drops, bicycle legs, and football holds, but this one was definitely the winner.
If you're expecting or just embarking on the crazy ride of parenting a newborn, maybe you'll find some of these things to be your favorites, too. If you've already been there and done that, what are your essentials?