Baby on board! There’s actually a lot of prep that goes into getting ready for a baby – enough to make your head spin. I’m rounding up my essentials here, in case it helps any mamas/papas to be. Get ready: this is a long, in-the-weeds post but may just be helpful for some of y’all out there.
The day I hit 27 weeks.
Entered the 3rd trimester
Watched the Dawgs beat Vandy 62-0
What works for one family won’t necessarily work for another. This list is based on my personal experience getting ready to welcome a baby as a 36-year-old, active person living in New York City with no family nearby. Those details are important! It means my access to parks may be different than yours or I’m dealing with storage woes of apartment living. All those things factor into bambino prep.
Overall, I have to admit I haven’t done much. When it came to planning the nursery, I didn’t want to stew over things so I picked out a few items and didn’t look back. Same with gear. I sourced some trusted opinions and then just pulled the trigger. I didn’t read books or slog through websites. I didn’t want to hear horror stories and I generally take Scarlett O’Hara’s “fiddle dee dee I’ll think about that tomorrow” approach. (Seriously. I actually have that tattooed on my body.) I figure women have been doing this for centuries so it’ll all just…work out. When it comes to actual birth, I’m just assuming the team of very well trained doctors and nurses will tell me what to do. From what I hear, birth rarely goes as planned anyway so why bother thinking about it too hard beforehand? Perhaps this is naive…ask me again in January.
- I read exactly one book: Bringing Up Bébé. It’s actually not even a pregnancy book and more about French-style parenting. As a Francophile, this book felt like a must. I thought there were some great takeaways, especially when it comes to sleep training and instilling certain habits in children.
- I did download some apps and found [some of] the articles nice/helpful.
- Ovia: Great daily details on daily baby development and some fun options for baby size comparisons. The deep dives each time you enter a new week of pregnancy gave me a really good sense of what was going on with my body.
- The Bump: The articles on this app read like a mini parenting magazine. They’re less clinical but still cover things you might be thinking about (baby names, what to look for in a pediatrician, what does a baby nurse do, going to the dentist while pregnant, etc.). It’s nice to have in conjunction with Ovia (above).
- What To Expect: I liked some of the funkier “your baby is this size” comparisons. Otherwise, I got absolutely nothing out of this app.
- Everyday Pursuits (Ashley Torres) has been great about taking us along on her journey. While she might be a fashion influencer, she’s leaned into this part of her life and expanded her brand to include a separate Instagram handle (@everydaypursuitsfam – great for following menus and toy recos) and a super helpful Facebook Group (EDP Mamas – an incredible support system that already answered some tough stroller questions for me).
- My beau actually read way more books than me, including one by an NFL star. When I asked his favorite, though, he highlighted Be Prepared: A Practical Handbook for New Dads as the best.
- I truly haven’t been on Facebook in years and the icon just gathers dust on my iPhone screen; however, after several people suggested I join a local mommy group, I relented. Turns out these moms are a FORCE. They have been an invaluable resource when it comes to things like finding childcare. I was also able to get a very expensive car seat in great condition for a fraction of the price, thanks to the UES mommy crew.
- Prenatals: I wasn’t just influenced by Instagram. I decided on Ritual after seeing them promoted all over the app and discussing with my specialist who agreed that since they’re made with folate (instead of just folic acid) they were an ideal choice. They’ve got all the other necessities in there, are easy to swallow, have a pleasant lemon scent (you’ll thank me when you burp), and arrive on my doorstep on auto-refill so I don’t have to think about it.
- Products: I think things like stretch marks are pretty genetic so I didn’t really invest in many products. A friend did send me the belly balm from Summer Fridays and I figure it couldn’t hurt! My beau also surprised me with Bump Box, which came with some fun products to try out.
- Diet: No alcohol, caffeine, raw fish/meat, or deli meat. I know some people have some of these things when they’re high quality and in moderation, but I just found it easier to go cold turkey…which, incidentally, I’m not eating.
- Exercise: My doctors have all recommended staying active throughout pregnancy as a way to prepare for the most trying workout of your life: labor. I was concerned about pushing myself too hard but they said if I was doing it before, it’s totally safe to keep doing it. That goes for Peloton and running. I simply listen to my body and ease up when I need to. For example, I’m running at an average 10:00 pace instead of an 8:35 pre-preg pace. The no-no exercises are inverted yoga positions (pshh I’ve never done a day of yoga) and anything where I could fall, like skiing.
I almost didn’t create a registry at all. We are extraordinarily fortunate and can afford to buy everything ourselves and very quickly went ahead and crossed off the big ticket items. And if I’m not having a shower, it seemed weird to register for things. BUT I did like the idea of corralling everything into one place. It was like my own little to-do list. Even if nobody was buying things for us, it was nice having my own shopping list organized. I used Babylist because it allows you to pull items from anyyyy website. You don’t have to build a registry at Crate & Kids + another at Pottery Barn + another at Buy Buy Baby, etc. They also had some great guides that helped me curate my list when I had no idea what I was doing. That said if you’re looking for a “what I registered for” list, the “Little Things” section here is a pretty good representation.
- Big Things
- Crib – While this technically falls under nursery, I approached the crib decision like it was a piece of gear because I wanted a 4-in-one crib. That means it goes from crib to lower crib to toddler bed to full size bed. It will live with this kid til he goes to college. I got the Babyletto Eero through Pottery Barn. ($499 + $250 for the conversion kit)
- Closet – We have a good amount of storage in our apartment but weren’t using it efficiently. I went to Container Store to have a system designed that will help us maximize the space. ($1,350 for the Elfa Design level with a coupon, inclusive of materials, tax, and installation)
- Stroller – There are lots of debates over this one! We went with the super popular Uppababy Vista V2 for a few reasons. 1) All the pieces pop in/out and fold up very easily. 2) You can turn it into a stacked (not wide) double stroller, which will be important because if we have a second kid they’ll likely be close in age and in strollers at the same time. 3) It includes the bassinet so that’s one less thing to buy. ($970 for stroller with bassinet). I also picked out a stroller fan and a sack thingy so we can take him out for walks when it’s cold – he’s a winter baby in NYC, after all!
- Infant Carseat – While the Uppababy Mesa carseat ($300) is super easy to click in/out, it comes with a base. Since we don’t actually own a car (city life), anytime we’re using one it’ll be an Uber/cab/Zipcar where we have to take all parts with us before the car drives away. It’s much harder to install and remove a base each time…and then you have to lug around that very heavy base. There are a few select carseats that can be used sans-base and the Nuna Pipa series easily attaches to the Uppababy Vista V2 with an adapter ($365-$490, including adapter). The other option is the Doona ($550), which is a stroller that magically converts to a base-free carseat. If you’re not a big city dweller and own a car where you can stow a base, this is not such a huge concern. For us, it’s something major we need to think about. Also, both the Doona and Nuna carseat make travel MUCH easier if you’re planning any trips. In the end, we went with the Nuna because I was able to find one that was just a year old (note: car seats have expiration dates) and in great condition for $150 through a Facebook mom group.
- High Chair – The Lalo is simple and looks pretty dang chic. I like that it’s not this massive thing taking up space in our apartment. ($175)
- Bassinet – There’s quite the price range for bassinets, but I’d say $300 is average. And then there’s the Snoo, which people swear by, but I can’t justify spending $1,500 on something the baby uses for 3 months. Instead, we bought a slightly more expensive stroller that included a bassinet. That means we can use it on walks in those early months and pop it onto a stand so it can live bedside in the beginning. We spent less money overall and it takes up less space. (Included in $970 stroller cost; $150 for stand)
- Baby Carrier – I’m holding off on this for now because I truly don’t know if I’ll use it…why wouldn’t I just use the stroller? It seems most useful if you live by a beach or mountains – places you’d take your baby on walks but can’t push a stroller. That doesn’t apply to us. If, once he’s here, we realize we would actually use it, I’ll likely get the Ergobaby Omni 360 because it came the most recommended by friends.
- DocATot/Boppy/Swing – People love the DocATot, but I couldn’t stomach the price (~$200). I’m hoping the bassinet will just serve this purpose and allow me to shower, but I may get a rocker/bouncer situation if I need one. I’m considering this one by Munchkin because it’s not toooo expensive and is bluetooth enabled. The Boppy doesn’t replace a DocATot (they can still roll off), but I hear it’s great and my sister-in-law had an extra one that she passed along to me.
- Monitor – There are toooo many options here. I was very overwhelmed. A lot of people go gaga for wearable tech like the Owlet and Nanit, which is not only a monitor but will deliver stats like heart rate, oxygen, level, and sleep trends. For a lot of parents, this offers peace of mind…for me, it was anxiety-producing information overload. (And they’re $$$.) I went with a standard monitor, but there are still so many choices. I stopped after reading two tech review roundups and settled on this monitor, which has both a traditional monitor (1000 ft. range) and an app so I can stream to my phone if I’m connected to wifi. ($180)
- Breast Pump – I took the advice of a friend and did NOT get a breast pump in advance because they’re very expensive (especially the most recommended ones like the Elvie and Willow) and can’t be returned. I hope to breast feed but you never know if it’ll work out so I’m waiting to see how things go before investing.
- Little Things
- Bathtime – I got this tub, some hooded towels, and baby bath wash.
- Clothes – I made sure to have some multipacks of onesies ready to go. I picked out pretty simple ones because it’s more my style but also so I could mix and match. H&M, Old Navy, and Amazon were my go-to sources. Naturally, I picked out a few UGA onesies so he’ll be ready for football season. I also got some baby laundry detergent since I guess little ones are too sensitive for Tide pods? It was suggested by the registry people so I just went with it. You need to wash all the baby clothes before the kid actually arrives so I made sure to have this here early.
- Diaper Time – I’ve got a pack of newborns and a pack of the size 1s on hand. I also got this changing pad ($70). Sure, the ones with the covers are cute and soft, but these can easily wipe clean. I also got wipes and some diaper rash cream, just in case. I picked out the Ubbi diaper pail ($80) because it had a lot of good reviews.
- Sound Machine – Apparently sound machines are vital to getting your baby to sleep and everyone recommended this from Hatch.
- Multi-surface Cleaner – Again, the registry people suggested this. I suppose it’s best to keep them away from as many chemicals as possible so I got this for wiping down the high-touch baby surfaces, like the high chair.
- Sophie la Girafe – I don’t know what it is about this teether toy but it seems to be magic. It makes no sense. It’s not the primary colors babies tend to gravitate towards, nor is it squishy soft…and yet. Every baby I’ve ever seen is obsessed. This (and books) was the one thing I said I wanted for this baby. Plus, it’s a must if you’re a francophile like moi!
- Pacifiers + Pacifier Clip – I got these ($8 x2) and this ($15).
- Feeding Time – I went with silicone bibs ($13 x2) because I knew I could quickly and easily clean them (I hear you do laundry alllll the time and I wanted to cut down on that). I took a guess and picked these silicone bottles ($23 for 2) that supposedly best mimics breastfeeding so it’s easier for the baby to switch between the two. I also picked out this bottle warmer ($50 – fits those bottles), bottle cleaner ($9), and drying rack ($26). I picked out one silicone style place setting ($26) as well as a bamboo one with a silicone base ($56) to avoid slippage. Finally, I made sure to have some fabric bibs/burp cloths on hand for the early stages.
- Sleeping Time – I didn’t know what type of swaddle I’d like best and it all looks kinda…complicated. Registry people to the rescue. I got their sampler box ($80) and will order more of my fave. I also picked out three crib sheets ($29 each from Crate & Barrell) and this mattress ($170).
- Baby Health Stuff – I got the Frida Baby Basics kit ($35) because it seemed like a one-stop shop. I also picked out the oogiebear ear/nose cleaner ($13) because just the thought of a snot sucker made me want to vom. Also got 2 thermometers (a rectal one ($14) for super accuracy and a quick-read ($10) for when he’s a bit older and we’re more comfortable).
- Diaper Bag – I liked the backpack style because it’s easier on the shoulders and is something both me and my hubs could use. I want to be the cool mom who puts inserts into a designer tote, but it’s just not realistic. I liked this one from Dagne Dover ($185).
- Toys – I didn’t want to have a ton of toys because I feel like I’ve already got a ton of clutter. I picked out a simple wooden play gym ($60) + inexpensive mat ($25) and requested subscriptions for KiwiCo, Bookroo, and Lovevery, which are all curated.
- Baby Book – I want to be sure to document the first year and love how easy The Short Years ($138) makes it to create something beautiful and personal.
- Theme – There’s a loose lunar theme to the nursery. I didn’t want to go hard on the theme because I don’t want it to feel cheesy, where our kid is itching to change it as he gets older. We went with moon stuff because of a quote from one of Albert’s favorite movies, It’s A Wonderful Life: “What do you want? You want the moon? Just say the word and I’ll throw a lasso around it and pull it down.” It also represents Le Petit Prince aka my love of all things French.
- The Vibe – The idea was to still feel like an adult room that fit with the rest of our home. We repurposed most of the items (rug, floor lamp, bookcases, mirror stand) from when it served as our guest room and kept the midcentury modern tone we already had going.
- Color Scheme – We repainted the room my favorite color, green, by pulling from the existing rug. The color is Drive-thru Safari from Backdrop. The furniture is white and walnut and metal accents are brushed brass.
- Crib – Babyletto Eero (see above: Gear)
- Dresser/Changing Table – I opted not to get a changing table because I prefer the look and longevity of simply using a dresser and plopping a changing pad on top. We went with the Arlen Extra Wide Dresser from Pottery Barn Kids. ($899)
- Rocking Chair – Space is at a premium in NYC so I really didn’t want a glider. True, they’re ultra comfy, but they feel bulky and even the chicest ones still seem to give off nursery vibes to me and I’m dead set on this room growing with our child. That’s why I wanted a true rocking chair, which would be more minimalist in style but still offer comfort for late night feedings. We went with the Bakersfield Rocking Chair from Crate & Barrel because it had some cushioning built in and we liked the masculine look of the leather accents. ($600)
- Valet Stand – This is a full length mirror with a bar for an outfit or two and some trinket trays. We already had this when using this as a guest room and I purchased it years ago from Ikea for about $65.
- Lamp – Sputnik style floor lamp (already owned from Wayfair, no longer available but looks like this)
- Extra Lighting
- This star cut out lamp is totally unnecessary but it was inexpensive and worked with the theme. (Target, $20)
- The moon light felt like a must and is a breeze to hang (Target, $30)
- Rug – This rug in my favorite color served as the base for the color palette (already owned from Wayfair, no longer available but looks like this)
- Hamper – Dirty clothes gotta go somewhere and this one didn’t clash with the white and wood furniture. (Target, $35)
- Mobile – I wanted something that fit the moon/sky theme without being babyish or cheesy. (Etsy, $50)
- Decals are the easiest way to jazz up a space. We covered one wall with constellations in the same metallic color as the lighting/accents. (Project Nursery, $46)
- This urchin-y trio was part of our pre-baby decor, but I liked that it still looked celestial so they stayed. (Amazon, $47)
- Custom banner from Oxford Pennant
- Evil Eye – Hanging an evil eye on the crib is Sephardic tradition…I may be Ashkenazic, but I’ll take all the protection I can get. (Etsy, $24)
Childcare & Other Planning
Spoiler alert: at the time of this posting, we actually haven’t figured all this stuff out…but I know this is the stuff we need to finalize ASAP (and honestly, we’re behind since I started calling people and they’re already booked).
- Pediatrician – I wrongfully assumed you used the hospital/your OB for the first bit after the baby is born. NOPE. Apparently the baby goes to the doc like the first week of his life so you have to have the pediatrician lined up before you deliver.
- Mohel – In the US it’s commonplace for boys to get circumcised in the hospital at birth, but it’s traditional in the Jewish faith to do this at home on the 8th day. It’s a pretty major thing so we want to get a great personal recommendation. Not the time to work of Yelp reviews, ya know?
- Nanny/Nanny Share/Daycare – This decision that’s going to be different for everyone. Honestly, a full time nanny doesn’t make sense for us if we’re still working from home. That would be too many people in a tiny apartment at one time.
- Night Nurse – I killed a succulent three months ago; I should not be entrusted with full care of a child straight out the gate. I’d rather spend the money here than on the Snoo. It’ll be nice to have someone show us the ropes and serve as an extra set of hands.
- Estate Planning – Now that a kid is in the pic, we need to have a will. Morbid but necessary.