There are a bunch of essential items that don't fit neatly into a specific category...
If you ever plan on leaving the house for a longish period of time, you'll need a diaper bag. Technically, it doesn't have to be an official "diaper bag", any large tote will do.
If you're looking for a bag that daddy won't be embarrassed to share, go for the Diaper Dude. I actually stole this from DH (ugh - I can't believe I just said "DH" - I'm such a forum whore) for several months because it was such a great bag and hey - I'm kind of a tomboy like that anyway.
What to carry in your diaper bag? The essentials include a changing pad (usually comes with the bag), a few diapers, a small box or baggie of wipes, a spare onesie (in case of a blowout), a sweater or jacket for baby, a couple of toys perhaps and a paci.
I will begin with a disclaimer: Lucie never took a pacifier, but it wasn't for lack of (me) trying. She was just completely disinterested. For the rest of the world, this is usually not the case. So:
Pacis (passies? passys? passii?) are very much a matter of personal taste. Get several different binks and let your baby choose his favorite. Then buy lots of those.
The overwhelming favorite in our group is the Soothie by Philips. It makes baby's mouth look like a suckerfish on the side of an aquarium - very entertaining!
You're going to be up in the middle of the night. A lot. At least in the first couple of months.
You have to strike a balance between running into walls in the dark (which you'll do anyway) and overstimulating baby with bright, blaring light. I highly recommend the OXO Zoom. You can recharge it on the base during the day so it's ready to serve you at night. You will thank me later -- it's the best.
Baby's Medicine Chest
When it comes to baby first aid and grooming, here's what you want on hand:
Did I mention the razor sharp baby claws already? Yes, I think so. For whatever reason, babys' fingernails grow fast and are incredibly jagged. Please arm yourself with some baby nail clippers and be not afraid to use them.
Yes, someone always chimes in about now and says "you know you can just bite them off?" That's great - you go right ahead. I suggest everyone else grow a pair and clip your baby's nails like a normal person (reeer, huh?). It's really not that hard. Just hold her hand steady and carefully clip away. You'll be fine.
Maybe not today and maybe not tomorrow, but soon enough you will need some acetaminophen for teething pain or post-vaccination pain or even a sore throat. This stuff works WONDERS. Follow the dosing instructions on the package.
3. Anti-gas medicine
You may find that about 90% of your baby's woes are related to gas pain. Baby's immature digestive systems are prone to gas problems. If you've ever had bad gas pain, you understand the discomfort it causes. Welcome to "colic".
Look for the active ingredient called "simethicone", which is the same active ingredient in Gas-X, etc. Simethicone weakens the surface tension of gas bubbles, thereby allowing them to break up (i.e. burping or farting). I recommend Mylicon or Little Tummys.
You may also look into "gripe water", whose active ingredients are natural fennel and ginger. Many moms swear by this too.
Note that this stuff takes a little time to get through their system, about 5 minutes. After this time, hopefully the offending bubble has.... passed and baby is happy again.
Whether or not this stuff actually works is still a mystery to doctors. There isn't conclusive evidence either way. Anecdotally, I like to think that is does work -- and so do the vast majority of mommies in my group.
4. Snot Remover
Lesson #1 of motherhood: make sure your baby can breathe. You will probably be sent home from the hospital with an old-fashioned bulb syringe (a bulb aspirator) and strict instructions about how to suck mucus out of your baby's nose. This is critical because newborns ONLY breathe through their nose and if it's blocked....it's bad news.
I recommend taking it a step further and getting the Nose Frida Snotsucker. Yes, that is really the name. Reading the reviews, this may be the single highest-rated product in the history of babydom. Ever. You can also buy this at Whole Foods Market.
Essential for when your baby gets his first cold. Poor baby...
5. A Thermometer
There is something I need to clear up right away.... you know those great little digital ear thermometers? Well guess what, those do NOT work on babies for.... a long, long time. The reason is because their ears are too damn small to get an accurate reading (unless you are a trained professional and know exactly how to do it right every time).
About 80% of the reviewers say something along the lines of "this damn thing is off by +/- 3 degrees in either direction." Um, yeah, that's a lot of variation. Don't want.
I'm afraid you'll have to suck it up and get a rectal thermometer. It's the most accurate way of taking a baby's temperature. Alternatively, you can use a regular digital thermometer placed under the armpit, although this method is a little less accurate than the (ahem) anal method.
Here's a good article from BC about how to take baby's temperature.
Abba-Dee-Abba-Dee Abba-Dee... that's all folks!!
Good luck mommy!
If you want to know about the postpartum experience, click here. Be not afraid.
Comments/questions, please write me at meg (at) lucieslist.com.