The first three months of Mavis’ life were a total whirlwind for me. From those first few days in hospital and the next few weeks staying up all night on the couch with the lights dimmed low, right up to her three month birthday was all totally new and a very steep learning curve.
It’s hard to know what you will need for those first few months with a baby, and it’s also hard to tell what baby will like or dislike. We collected quite a haul of stuff before she arrived and much of it Mavis doesn’t have any interest in yet (like her crib, baby swing, pack n play, or baby box, or anything else that leaves her too far away from me.) There were some items that we definitely used every day though, and this is the list of goodies I recommend to anyone about to have a baby and wondering just what to collect now and what can wait.
1. Breast Pump – This was an area of major confusion for me before Mave’s birth. Electric pumps, though they look cool, are super expensive and I didn’t understand why I would even need one. I was reluctant to shell out $400 for a double electric and in the end I’m glad I didn’t because I didn’t need it. The Medela Harmony manual pump with extra bottles worked like a charm, and as my milk supply settled I found I didn’t need to pump at all (I’m home with Mavis all the time anyway).
2. Bottles – When you are pumping milk you also need bottles. I love these lifefactory ones because they are glass, and also because they have nice colours on the silicone sleeves and come in two sizes. They are compatible with the Medela Harmony pump and bottles, which means all the caps, nipples and the pump itself fit the threading. Super convenient. The picture shows a pink lifefactory bottle with a yellow Medela cap. These bottles were tricky to find in Canada and also a bit pricey, so we also got some Nuk bottles with an orthopaedic nipple that Mave really likes. The Nuk bottles are a different size than the Medela and lifefactory bottles but have cute designs on them and are pretty inexpensive. We also found that the Enfamil nipples we were given at the hospital (that fit onto the 50ml ready-feed formula bottles) also fit the Medela and lifefactory bottles. To clean all these baby things it’s nice to have a separate tub in the kitchen to keep them away from the greasier food dishes, and it’s also nice to have a little dishwasher cage.
3. Mother’s Milk Tea – My mom friends and I have been drinking so much of this Traditional Medicinals Mother’s Milk herbal tea that the grocery store is constantly sold out haha. It tastes good and really boosts milk supply.
4. Baby wipes – Gotta wipe that baby bum like 20 times a day! Wipes are essential. I started with these Seventh Generation wipes which are pretty good but I found them a bit linty. I then started using Aleva Bamboo Baby Wipes which are just as good but have the added bonus of being biodegradable. Both brands are made with plant derived ingredients and the Aleva ones are certified vegan.
5. Change pad – Before Mave was born I made two change pads with memory foam and a fabric cover that I was really happy with. I discovered really quickly that fabric is way hard to clean and gets covered in poo a lot during changes. We also had an issue with our cat peeing on it constantly for some reason we couldn’t figure out. They were ruined pretty quickly and I realized a waterproof and contoured change pad is a way smarter idea. This kidilove pad was cheap at Walmart, is easy to clean, and comes with a strap.
6. Baby Carrier – I have tried quite a few different carriers as baby wearing has been the easiest way to try to get stuff done with Mavis, and I’ve settled on two favourites. Firstly, we picked up an Ergo Adapt carrier during a 50% off holiday sale that I really love and find super comfortable. This model is meant to not need the infant insert but Mave was so small that she just disappeared inside without it so I used it anyways, and after about 2 months we could carry her without the insert at all. The Adapt has three different size settings from newborn to 45 pounds. This carrier is front inward facing only though, and she really wants to start facing out. That’s where the Lillebaby Original comes in. This one also carries up to 45 pounds, but once baby can hold up her own head she can be carried front outward facing. This is also an excellent carrier that I really enjoy wearing and I alternate between it and the Ergo.
7. Nursing Pillow – This Jolly Jumper nursing pillow was fabulous for those first few weeks of sitting while Mavis ate and slept, ate and slept. It fits around your belly like a donut and supports baby in your lap. It also works as a place for baby to sit with their head elevated, and they can even practice their tummy time on it. We’ve used it every day since Mave was born.
8. Rocking Chair – My Mom gifted us this wonderful IKEA Poang rocking chair to use with Mavis as my sister and I both loved being rocked as babies and she insisted we needed one. She was right, of course, and it has gotten a ton of use. I sat in this rocking chair with the nursing pillow on my lap 24/7 supporting Mavis for the first 2 weeks of her life. Definitely recommend.
9. Pacifier – Some babies like these and some don’t. We picked up a Hevea natural rubber pacifier early on to give it a try and she took to it right away. Now we have like 5 of them floating around in various sizes because she won’t use any other kind.
10. Baby Bed – A few weeks into pregnancy I discovered this free baby box program and got a cardboard box bed. I loved the idea of a small portable bed but Mave hated being put in there to sleep, and I didn’t like that I couldn’t see her through the side of the box when I slept beside her. I then discovered this portable bed by Summer Infant and found it much easier to get Mave to hang out in it because she could see us through the mesh sides. We put it right on the dining table while we eat and it makes a huge difference during meal times!
11. Baby Gym – We love this IKEA baby gym and so does Mavis. The wood pieces make noise that she likes and the pieces are easy for her to grab. The design is also pretty nice so we don’t mind having it in the living room. It’s simple but really entertaining.
12. Car Seat – Ah, the car seat. The hospital won’t let you leave with your baby if you don’t have one, so this is a must! We also learned that car seats have an expiry date on them so second hand is not always the way to go with this purchase. We got a Chicco KeyFit 30 infant car seat and Bravo stroller combo. The carrier is nicely designed and came with an infant insert and hard base that installs in your car. It then clicks into a stroller which we really like, and also has larger seat for when she is outgrows the infant seat, so it will last a while. There is a handle on the front that allows you to collapse the stroller one handed and lift it into your car trunk or if you are boarding a bus which is pretty amazing.
These are most of the items we used a lot of in the first 3 months. We also used disposable diapers and supplemented breast milk with formula, but those are kind of a given. I know that Amazon is the devil, but I also discovered item subscriptions and found it suuuuper helpful to just subscribe to a monthly delivery of a large box of diapers (222 for $29 is a much better deal than 40 for $17.99 which is our only option here on the island), wipes, mother’s milk tea, tissues, and formula. The more items you subscribe to the bigger the discount, and it automatically ships to your house every month and you don’t have to think about it. Just my style! And perfect for island life as our options here for baby items are very limited (we can’t even get formula here and the diaper selection is terrible.)
What items did you use during the first months that you couldn’t live without??