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Bits of wisdom for new parents bundled up in a blog!

My Favorite Things: Basic Baby Supplies

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Raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens
Bright copper kettles and warm woolen mittens
Brown paper packages tied up with strings
These are a few of my favorite things
— "My Favorite Things", Sound of Music - Julie Andrews

What should we get for our new baby?

This is the question I get asked all the time by new parents or parents-to-be. I like to tell them about MY favorite things, but leave the door open for them to choose for themselves.

As a postpartum doula, you might be surprised at how short my “favorite things” list is when it comes to baby supplies. You might also be surprised at how few things are really necessary to care for your baby at all. In this blog, we’ll focus on some of the most basic tools for baby care: feeding supplies, swaddling and dressing.

Sanitizing/Cleaning the Feeding Supplies

If you have chosen to veer from exclusively breastfeeding and are adding pumping and bottle feeding, these tools will make life so much easier. It really doesn’t take much to keep all the baby bottles, nipples and pump parts clean. If you’re really old school, you can boil it all in a big pan of water (costs nothing) and follow the latest CDC recommendations (found here) for sterilizing these items.

Here are my top three favorite, inexpensive tools for cleaning:

The OXO Tot Bottle Brush is by far my favorite. First and foremost, it doesn’t have a sponge at the top. Researchers have found sponges to be laden with bacteria and, if used, should be replaced weekly (read more here). This bottle brush will not need replaced unless it wears out. You can use it throughout the toddler years to clean those sippy cups, too.

The Munchkin Microwave Sterilizer is everything! I can’t even tell you how many new parents I’ve introduced this simple contraption to. Bottles, pump parts, pacifiers, and some teething toys can be washed with hot soapy water (with the OXO brush!) and then dumped in. All you have to do is add water and microwave according to the directions. Word of caution: check your breast pump manufacturer’s (Willow, Medela, etc) notes to make sure you are able to utilize the microwave for sterilizing.

The Boon Lawn allows all the bottle and pump parts that you have just sterilized to air dry and stay sterile/clean. Most households find they need two of these lawns to hold all the bits and pieces that are needed if you are not exclusively breastfeeding.

Swaddling Supplies

The blanket you come home from the hospital or birth center with is pretty small. It works fine as a swaddler for awhile, but not long enough. Swaddling is an essential tool for soothing your baby and assisting them in sleeping until they begin rolling over. So as your baby gets longer and stronger, you may find yourself needing a better tool for swaddling. Babies may hate getting swaddled, but once there, if done right and in a way that works for them, it can be the ultimate game changer in helping baby sleep. Your postpartum doula can help you determine the perfect swaddle for YOUR baby. Here are my favorites:

The muslin swaddle is lightweight, large (usually 47x47) and a great all season swaddle. Add a Sleep and Play (shown below) or a onesie (also shown below) and you may have the perfect combo to create a cozy “sleeper” for your baby. The muslin swaddle can be used as a play surface later, when your baby starts doing tummy or play time.

The flannel swaddle is my “old school” favorite. Sometimes these are still called “receiving blankets”. These are the original swaddles. These are used the same as the muslin swaddle, but add a layer of warmth if your house is drafty, or if your baby likes a snugglier swaddle. These flannel swaddles make the best over the shoulder burp cloths. Fold one in half, lay it over your shoulder and about 50% of your body (maybe a small exaggeration) is covered and protected from any spit up. This fabric is absorbent, can be folded in a variety of ways and is simple to wash. If you sew, or have a serger like I do, these are simple to make.

The Miracle Swaddle blanket was introduced to me by a former client. She got all excited as I walked into the house and had to demo it right away. Baby was fussy, baby fussed being wrapped in the Miracle Swaddle, baby quit crying, let out a big sigh and fell asleep. Right before my eyes. Sold! I like a lot of the pre-made swaddlers. They are easy and babies don’t bust out of them easily. The velcro ones are so NOISY. YES, bold, shouty caps noisy. When we are trying to keep a baby settled when they have awaken at night, we don’t want to make ANY loud noises. The Miracle Swaddle has no velcro and has these special flaps that help make the whole swaddle experience so much easier. It has been criticized for being too restrictive when the arms are down to the baby’s side, but it can be used with baby’s arms folded across the chest, too. It’s easily washed just like all the other swaddling tools above.

Baby “Clothes”

Who doesn’t love all the cute clothes that are available for your sweet new baby? The jeans, flannel shirts, fussy dresses, jackets, and shoes. Those miniature versions of adult clothes are so tempting, even I, the postpartum doula who knows better, have a tough time stepping away from the cuteness. So here are the three essentials for “dressing” your baby:

Footed Sleep & Plays can be found EVERYWHERE! They are a surefire way to make dressing your baby easy…..and cute. As a doula, I prefer the zip up sleep & plays just because they are easiest to change when you have a squirming baby. I often recommend to adoptive or intended parents, who may need to fly with their baby, to put baby in two of these. Once to their destination, they can strip the outer Sleep & Play off, leaving baby in clean jammies. That extra layer can also help with the cool air blowing on baby while flying.

Onesies are my favorite. They double as one piece t-shirts in the summer, they make for great layers for baby’s comfort and don’t ride up when picking up that wiggly, squishy baby. They stay put. They have a nifty built in feature for “difficult” changes. Those little flaps on the shoulder allow you to pull the onesie down and off instead of trying to get it over a screaming, pooping baby’s head. Brilliant.

For “dressing” a baby, I like the footed pants because NO SOCKS NEEDED! We all know that baby socks fall off, get lost and generally don’t fit right. Footed pants are the answer….and ridiculously cute and comfy. The elastic waist is comfortable on a squishy baby. I always like to think about what I’m the most comfy in and apply it to babies. These pants are easily changed if a diaper explodes and are super washable. In the summer, when baby’s feet can be exposed to help cool them off, the non-footed versions of these are just as fantastic!

We know there is a myriad of baby supplies on the market. These examples are just a few. By no means is this a conclusive list and each baby and parent has their favorites. These are just a few of my personal favorite things.

~Sheryl Cooksley


Sheryl Cooksley is a Certified Postpartum Doula and owner of Family Tree Doula Services. She provides nurturing, compassionate, and comprehensive day and overnight postpartum support throughout Portland, Oregon and the surrounding area. You can contact Family Tree Doula Services here.