Top 10 New Mom Essentials

Okay, it’s been nearly a year since I had my 2nd baby, and I’m certainly not a “new mom” anymore, but I’ve been meaning to write this post forever!

Here are the 10 things I used the most after having a baby, both the first and second time around:

1. Entertainment (ex: iPhone and/or Netflix):

I know, I know! The iPhone makes every list I ever make. It’s safe to say it would be hard to live without it at this point. But, even if you don’t have an iPhone, what is important is having some form of entertainment that’s easy to take in with one hand.

Many of my friends have told me they end up watching an entire TV series on Netflix DVD those first couple months after having a baby. Whether you’re feeding your baby, or just holding them as they sleep, you’ll spend a lot of time sitting down. I found traditional books hard to read at this stage because OMG the paper pages are so loud when you turn them! but I loved reading from my Kindle app for my iPhone.

2. Sleep Bras:

I spent a good amount of money on some Medela brand sleep bras the first time around, but last time, I actually wound up loving these inexpensive sports bras by Hanes. I laugh that they call them “sports” bras, because I can’t imagine any sport that they would be suitable for supporting my breasts, but for sleeping and easy boob access? Yes. It’s not quite as easy to remove a breast from them as the Medela brand bras, but the price difference makes up for it, I think. Either way, you’ll need quite a few sleep bras from whatever brand, especially in the beginning.

3. Facial Cleansing Cloths:

Let me preface this by saying I am all kinds of mean to the earth right after I have a baby. I try to make up for it with the cloth diapers and recycling and all that jazz down the road, but when I have a 2 day old? I need me some disposable products.

Not only will these cloths (like these by Ponds, or any of the generic varieties at your local box store)help you clean the sweat off of your face right after you give birth, but you can even use them to give yourself a mini-sponge bath in the days (okay, weeks) after having a baby.

4. Luna Bars:

Or really just any quick way to take in some calories and protein, again, with one hand. In my experience, I’m STARVING the first few weeks after having a baby. Part of this is from all the calories it takes to produce breastmilk to feed the baby, and part of it is from not finding any time or energy to properly feed myself. I went through boxes and boxes of Luna bars after having Leyna.

5. Shape Wear:

At Blogher 2010, I had the joy of meeting the founder of Yummie Tummie shapewear Heather Thomson. A few weeks later, I received a Yummie Tummie nursing tank to try out. Like a fool, I took it with me to the hospital, only to wind up screaming at my husband to come save me from it after I got it over my head and past one boob, and then got stuck, like I was in the jaws of a boa constrictor. This is not good for a coming home outfit of any sort.

That said, I was able to get it on a few weeks later (though it was still very difficult to get it over my boobs at that point). Once it was in place, it made me feel like a million bucks, and I swear, it made me look at least a pants size smaller. It wasn’t an every day thing, and I’m not saying it was the most comfortable nursing tank I owned, but it was SO nice to feel like my gut wasn’t hanging over my pants, even if only for a few hours while I was out to dinner.

6. Easy Makeup Routine: 

On a similar note, while you won’t be wearing makeup the majority of the time right after having a baby, it’s nice to have a few key products you can swipe on quickly to make you feel more human when you go out in public. And it helps if they don’t break the bank since you are probably hemorrhaging money, purchasing anything that promises to make your baby stop crying.

I start with a good moisturizer, then I swipe on some pressed powder. I was given Pixi All Over Magic  at Blogher this year, and am loving it because it’s got a hint of shimmer and color. I focus most on my eyes and use Maybelline Colossal Volum’ Express Mascarra, along with a shimmery neutral (usually cheap) shadow. My splurge is Smashbox Brow Tech because I feel like as long as my eyebrows look good, maybe people won’t notice the bags under my eyes.

I usually just wear something like Burts Bees Tinted Lip Balm on my lips because nobody wants to worry about leaving sticky, lipstick marks all over their baby’s head.

7. Heat Pad:

After you have a baby, all those hormones that kept you so bendy and stretchy start to leave your body. Between that and the constant hunching over to feed and change and snuggle a baby, it’s quite literally a pain in your neck.. and shoulders.. and back. You also may experience some cramping as your uterus shrinks back down. Invest in a good heat pad!

Again, another great product I received at Blogher (2010) was this Moji re-heatable neck and back pad. This thing has seen some serious use over the last couple years. I would have Scott heat it for me and slip it on my back and around my neck as I nursed Leyna those first couple of months.

8. Breastfeeding Support:

If you plan to breastfeed, if you even think you just want to give it a whirl and see how it goes, it is SO super important to have a real network of breastfeeding support. In person support is awesome if you are near women who can help you with your questions, concerns or struggles, but if you aren’t finding help from friends and family, please reach out to a certified (ILBC)  lactation consultant. Also, demand to see the LC before you leave the hospital if you can, even if just to check your technique and make sure your baby is latching correctly.

Breastfeeding is not intuitive for a lot of us. It’s okay to feel like you’re doing it wrong! It’s easy to get help and support if you know where to look. Some great online resources include:

Best For Babes and their Facebook Page and KellyMom and their Facebook Page

The Nursing Mother’s Companion is a great book to reference.

9. Pads (for your bra AND underwear):

Postpartum is a messy stage. You’re leaking bodily fluids every time you turn around, sit down, sneeze, or hear your baby cry.

If you have a hospital birth, you’re likely going to come home with some pretty impressive pads and mesh panties. Some people don’t like these, but I loved them. Either way, they’ll eventually run out and you’ll need another solution. I’ve had horrible reactions to disposable pads like Always after wearing them for several days. Next time (a LONG time from now), I think I’ll try the wearing Depends (yes, adult diapers) and then transition to cloth pads as things get lighter.

I’m quite the overproducer when it comes to breastmilk, so I can never make re-usable breast pads work for me for very long. I love me some Lasinoh disposable breast pads, though. Sorry, earth!

10. A Camera:

I cherish my Canon T2i, and I’m a rare specimen of mother in that I have 100x more pictures of my 2nd born than I do of my 1st born because of it. You don’t need a fancy camera, though. You just need a camera you’re going to USE. In fact, a DSLR will do you no good if you are too afraid to take pictures with it. And once you find that just-right camera, make sure you have an extra battery for it. It never fails, that one time your kid is doing the cutest thing, your battery dies as you press down on the shutter button.

Keep it with you, invest in a good carrying case for it, toss it in your diaper bag. Kids do funny and cute things outside of the house, too, right?

Of course, it’s so hard to narrow all this down to 10 things, and I’m sure I missed some key things that some of you couldn’t live without after having a baby. What would you add?

And check out my other Top 10 lists:

Top 10 Newborn Essentials
Top 10 Toddler Essentials 

50 Things to Do Before You Deliver: The First Time Moms Pregnancy Guide
Available now: Amazon | Barnes & Noble

  • 7


  1. A maid 😉 No really, that is a great list! All of it very true, the only thing I wish I had was a table closer to the rocking chair to put the remote, phone, laptop, water, snack, etc on.

  2. Definitely the iPhone – for the Kindle, Kobo and Twitter apps. The hours of nursing made manageable by the very portable entertainment.

    Nursing pillows never worked out for me…but the emotional support from hubby and midwives was priceless.

    Camera for sure – I had about a 1000 pics in the first couple of weeks (the iphone had 100’s )

    I somehow never found time/energy/interest for makeup. So I simply avoided the mirror 😉

    Mom made me a ton of ‘panjiri’ for my post partum nutrition. Its a tradition Indian snack/supplement for new moms, chockful of yummy ingredients.

    Heating pads were a life saver.

    The only other life saver was my Doula. She is a reg acupuncturist, so i got home visits from her post partum to help with all kinds of aches, pains, fatigue etc.

  3. Gillian & O’Malley nursing tanks from Target! I LOVE them! I have given up on regular nursing bras and nursing tops are just ridiculous- I look like a fool trying to get a boob out of those tiny holes! But the nursing tanks from Target are an every day thing for me. Now every single time I go to Target I pick up another one. I wear one all day under my regular clothes, then to bed at night and then I crawl out of bed the next morning and work out in it too. Obsessed? Yes.

  4. I second the maid. My MIL hired a cleaning service for me after I had #3, and it was just the best thing ever. Never having to worry about when the dustbunnies would be vacuumed up and if the tub would EVER get scrubbed just made my life so much less stressful. I also couldn’t have made it with out the combined efforts of my husband and my grandma with the laundry. I trashed my abdominal muscles and I couldn’t lift anything so hubby would load my Grandma’s car with our dirty laundry, and then the next day carry fluffy, sweet-smelling folded clothes back into the house for us.

  5. A nursing bra that works FOR YOU. People raved about this brand and that brand of nursing bras…I tried every single one recommended and hated them all; apparently my boobs are an enigma. Best bra I found? Gilligan & O’Malley lace nursing bras. Fan-friggin-tastic! They’re comfortable, my boobs look good in them and they’re kind of sexy.

    Lots of money for new clothes for you. None and I mean none of my pre-pregnancy clothes fit me anymore. My body has does this weird morphing thing where the weight is the same but in different spots now.

    • So true. With sleep bras, fit isn’t really an issue, but the ones you wear under your clothes during the day are so subjective to what body type you have after having a baby. And I weigh less now than I did before I got pregnant with my 1st, but there are some clothes that will just never fit me again.

  6. Pads, nursing wear, moby and ergo, good pillows, sweatpants and sweat shorts, maid or mom or mil, breastfeeding network

    • LOL! Maid, Mom, or MIL is definitely essential. My L.O. is 6 weeks now, my husband dumped out our suitcase on the living room floor and its contents have been there for 3 days. Mom, where did you go!?!? 🙂

  7. I borrowed the Fisher Price Rock N Play sleeper from a friend this time around and it was a lifesaver! Our MBR is small and this little guy fit perfect right by our bed and you can just drop your arm over the side and gently rock the baby after you nurse or whatever. It’s also really light and easy to move around the house or travel! I would buy this over a bassinet or cradle any day.

    I am also mean to the earth and stock up on paper plates and plastic utensils for our household in the weeks after baby. Doing dishes is annoying and LOUD!

    • I definitely loved our FP bouncer. That made my Newborn Top 10 list. Disposable dishes are also one of those things I hate that I love right after having a baby 🙂

    • We have the same sleeper that our 4 month old is still sleeping in. We bought it this summer on vacation because she hated the pack and play when she was so tiny but she loves the sleeper! It’s the only place I can put her where she will sleep through the night.

  8. Ahhh! I can’t believe how expensive that fancy, slimming nursing tank is! Part of me (the vain part) really wants one…but the practical part is screaming WTF?!

  9. Here are my essentials with a newborn that you didn’t mention:
    – coconut oil (put on sore nipples before pumping to reduce friction and helped clear up baby’s first diaper rash)
    – Depends – per your suggestion I used these once the mesh panties were gone from hospital and they were so much easier than dealing with huge pads that move around!
    – peri bottle from hospital to use warm water to cleanse down there when recovering from very large baby!
    – Prefold diapers – dozens of them – they are excellent burp cloths and just to clean up all the various messes with a newborn and new mom! Get lots so you always have clean ones!
    – Mom – my mom was here for a week after baby was born and she kept us fed, house clean, dogs walked, laundry done, held baby between feedings so I could shower/pee/nap. She also got up with baby a few nights (I was pumping so she was able to bottle feed breast milk)
    -Ergo/Moby – my needy baby wants to be held all the time so this helps me get some things done and is useful for having two free hands while walking dogs
    -White Noise iPhone app- sometimes this is the ONLY thing that will calm my baby and so this really should be my #1!!
    – Medela Nipple Shield- though I also despise the thing, it’s the only way I’ve been able to get my baby to latch and be able to nurse. It’s a lifesaver for that but i can’t wait for when baby can latch without it!!

  10. Amazon MF-ing Mom. Especially the subscribe and save. Never, EVER running out of diapers, wipes, milk bags is the best. Like, oh we’re low on diapers…hey, here’s a giant new box on my doorstep!

  11. This time around I loved the unfortunately named Brest Friend. The little pocket is great for holding nipple cream, a remote control, and a snack, and baby was well supported. Loved it.

  12. To add to your breastfeeding essentials – your local LLL! It’s a great FREE resource. Hint: sometimes the leaders are also IBCLCs for their *real* jobs. Either way – they have access to the best resources and advice around.

    There is even a 1-800 hotline you can call. If you don’t get a response right away, just keep calling back. These are busy volunteer moms, so sometimes they have a lot on their plate. 🙂

  13. love the list!
    usually “essential” lists for after a baby have so much CRAP on them! like chairs, rockers, this that or the other brand name gaget. just wanted to say this is the best ive seen by far! thanks and kudos!!

  14. As a mom who used bottles exclusively, I couldn’t have survived without Playtex drop-ins and a stash of extra nipples (I think I had 8 bottles and 20 nipples) the first couple months.

  15. My Boppy has to be the thing I have used most with all 3 of my boys. My youngest is three weeks today and I am using it every 3 hours.

    I could use a recommendation for a great nursing bra. I have tried medela, Bravado and Motherhood and hate them all. Any suggestions?

  16. Excellent list.

    I thought about Depends but I ended up getting the Always Infiniti pads & they were amazeballs. They don’t have the stay-dry chemicals that the regular Always pads have.

    Also, might have just been me but I got a crazy rash all up my legs & arms for like 2 weeks pp & I would have stabbed someone if it wasn’t for calamine lotion. I’m going to be sure to have some on hand for baby #2 just in case.

    I second everyone who is praising the Moby Wrap. That thing is a gift from the heavens but if you’re a first time mom, I highly recommend practicing putting it on before your baby is born. I learned the hard way that you half forget how to read when your little one is wailing.

    I’m also planning on investing in a second BumGenius diaper sprayer for our master bathroom before we have baby #2 because I hated reaching for my peri-bottle only to realize I had forgotten to refill it. I have yet to use the diaper sprayer in our hall bath for actual diapers because my son is still EBF but it was awesome for keeping my battered lady bits tidy postpartum & for freshening up on days when there isn’t time for a shower.

    Lastly, one more thing that I hope needs no explanation: Tucks pads in the fridge. Amen.

    • I had the crazy rash, too! That was in addition to the contact dermatitis. No fun! The Moby wrap definitely made my Top 10 Newborn Essentials list. Love that thing! So glad I didn’t *need* the Tucks pads… for that.

  17. 20 months later and i LIVE in shapewear – i bought several different kinds from JC Penney and while they’re not nursing tanks, they are cut so that it’s easy for me to pop out a boob when i need to nurse Myles – also, i think you’re supposed to step into it, not pull it on over your head! 😉

    • LMAO. Okay, that’s probably true. I wish you could have seen me, all trapped in my tank. And yeah, I will definitely wear the tank even beyond breastfeeding. It’s awesome.

  18. I think all of these are awesome items, but I think that the most important thing for a new mom is to know that visitors shouldn’t be WORK for you. Visitors should be coming to HELP. No new mother (no matter how many previous children!) should be expected to entertain visitors. People wanting to stop by should do so to hold the baby so mom can take a shower, bring a meal, offer to clean up, bring mom a magazine, a movie, etc.

  19. For my second born – I could not have lived without my baby k’tan carrier. It’s the only way he napped as he was a terrible sleeper unless he was ON me. Not too good when you have a crazy toddler running around. I know wraps can be intimidating for new moms. Hell, I had to watch the online tutorial for like a month before it was second nature to me. But it is WORTH it.

    Since I worked full-time while EBF, I would say that my pumpease hands-free bra was a MUST. Love that thing. I was able to drive and pump at the same time. Awesome!

    White noise machine. Still a must for my kids. Even for Landon three years later! I guess I can thank the Bump for both finding you and the white noise recommendation 🙂

    I would say some type of mom forum where you can have easy access to other moms and can COMPLAIN as much as you want without people telling you not to. Join twitter, new moms. It’s an amazing place for fast info!

  20. I totally did the Depends to pads to cloth…actually I wore my Depends walking around in labor after my water broke, too. And the cloth pads (once things slowed down) are way better and easier than you would think,

    I have some reusable nursing pads I found from a WAHM mom on ebay. I leak a ton so I am constantly switching them out, but I have saved a ton of money this way.

  21. Yoga ball. I can’t tell you how many hours I spent bouncing baby in to submission during those first few months. It also helps that terrifying, flat new mom ass to become.. well.. a less terrifying flat new mom ass.

Leave A Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.