Parent Product Guide: What You Really Need to Survive (The Only Guide You'll Ever Need)

This is one of the most popular topics that I receive questions about. I've worked tirelessly to do the research for you because I remember reaching a point where I just wanted someone who knew what they were talking about to tell me what to do and what to buy. Hopefully, this SHOULD provide everything you need to know in order to survive as a new mom or parent. From the things that are must-haves, to the things that I sort of used - find ALL you need below! I can remember when I was pregnant I researched every product! There's so much out there that it can seriously be overwhelming! Did I really need all of this?! What doI really need?! Will I have the baby and find out I needed this one product to get through the night but instead I have all this stuff I'll never use?! Your angst ends here. Use this as a tool for yourself and share it with your fellow parent friends, it's the guide to it all. Remember, you may be on a different budget than I was (maybe you have more money to spend, or less.... regardless, I've used a rating system that should help you make a decision on what a must-have is for you. The item may be a must-have but you can always purchase a more or less expensive brand/version.) Also, I'm pregnant with my second child now which will give me 2 children under the age of 2 years old so I have made a few notes along the way for certain products that you may want to consider purchasing up front with baby #1 if you think that baby #2 isn't too far in the future.

To get you started into mommyhood, this is my survival guide!

* I also recommend signing up for Amazon Prime and having most of this shipped to your house from Amazon or Target or Walmart (price shop). On Amazon you can save 20% if you have diapers and wipes shipped to your house monthly (which you'll need anyway) plus it saves you a trip to the store which you'll learn to appreciate.

** All of these opinions are my own and are simply explaining what I researched and chose for my family in hopes of helping others make the right decision for their family. Please read all instructions of each product and follow the safety guidelines of each item. I am not paid by any of these companies - so you know you're getting the whole truth!


the bottom line: Owlet Brand Heart rate and Oxygen Monitor for your baby while sleeping

my why: Like most moms, I spent the precious time I was supposed to be sleeping when my baby was sleeping looking at a screen making sure I could see if he was still breathing. I purchased Owlet when Auden (baby #1) was 2 months old and it allowed me to have so much peace of mind that I could go to sleep. It's simply a sock that you place on your baby during the nighttime routine and it connects to an app on your phone or an included base station and it sounds an alarm any time the oxygen or heart rate drops below healthy levels. So, you can safely go to sleep and know that it'll alarm you to wake up and check your baby if anything is wrong. Of course, Owlet suggests you still check on your child but it allowed me to peacefully go to sleep knowing that Owlet was watching my baby for me. To me, it's right up there with spending the money on the safest carseat - this is the carseat for the crib. It's safety and its the ability to sleep which in those moments can seem priceless. This is a must have, and no I'm not being paid to say this.

buy it here: OWLETCARE.COM

rate: 10 (I rated this a 10 because I don't know how I could've gotten any sleep during the first 10 months without it. Sleeplessness will make a person act crazy. Splurge here if at all possible.)


the bottom line: Dr. Brown & Medela (I explain this below in the breastfeeding section)

my why: For some reason, I had a literal anxiety attack about which bottles to choose when my baby was born. I had received tons of different brands and I didn't know which one to choose. Which was best for breastfeeding babies? Which was best for non-breast feeding babies? If I used a bottle would it cause him to not want to breastfeed? Oh. My. Gosh. I can feel the panic coming back just saying all of that. I purchased over $500 in BOTTLES. STOP. Don't be like me. Listen. Purchase the wide neck small bottles when they're breastfeeding because the nipple reflects the mothers breast form. When they're not breastfeeding, it's easier to tote around the Dr. Browns options bottle, similar nipple so that the baby doesn't have issues transitioning, it just also allows a vent system to prevent air going into their tummies causing spit up and helps with colic prone babies. * I used the Medela bottles that hook onto my breast pump for a limited time. While they do work, eventually I switched to pumping directly into the Medela bags and pouring what I needed into the Dr. Brown bottles. See more in the breastfeeding section.

buy it here:

- I used these with Auden for the first 6 months while breastfeeding: Dr. Browns Wide Neck Bottles 5 oz

- I used these with Auden from 6 months until 18 months after breastfeeding: Dr. Browns Options Bottle

- Don't forget to buy the new nipples for the stage they're in. You can keep the same bottle but there are different stages of nipples that release more milk as they're ready. I wasn't aware of this at first and he still had the newborn nipple at 6 months old until someone told me. You can find and purchase the different stages of nipples for your same Dr. Browns bottles by clicking here.

Here's an easy bottle nipple guide: (buy wide neck levels for wide neck bottles, and regular levels for regular/options sized bottles)

Preemie Flow: (Only purchase if you're baby is a preemie)

Level 1: 0 Months +

Level 2: 3 Months +

Level 3: 6 Months +

Level 4: 9 Months + (Click here to purchase level 4, Target doesn't carry these)

rate: 10 (Must Haves)


the bottom line: Pampers Swaddlers THEN Honest Nighttime

my why: We used Pampers Swaddlers Daytime and Nighttime diapers from size N (Newborn) up to size 6 for Auden and loved them. However, when Auden reached size 6 diapers at 26 lbs these diapers began to leak and we switched to Honest Nighttime diapers size 6. Now, at 22 months and 26 lbs he uses Pampers Swaddlers size 6 Daytime and Honest Nighttime size 6. *I've been trying out Honest during the daytime now just because I do feel like they're more absorbent for an older child.

buy it here:

Pampers Swaddler Daytime Diapers

Pampers Swaddler Nighttime Diapers

Honest Nighttime Diapers

rate: 10 (I rated this a 10 because you have to have diapers.... unless your doing cloth and if so, I can't help you there.)


the bottom line: Baby Jogger Stroller and Maxi Cosi Carseat System

my why: The angst! I researched this forever when trying so heres the scoop for your peace of mind. If your budget allows it, splurge here. I wrote a whole blog about this one topic when I first had Auden, Click Here To Read It. The Baby Jogger City Mini GT Stroller is the perfect mix between the lightest, easiest to fold up and lift with one hand, steering/turning system is on point, the wheels are actual tires so you can go literally anywhere, the shock system is great, the rain hood comes down extended more than most so the baby doesn't get wet while in the rain, its just the best stroller and I've had it for 22 months now and still would buy this stroller. The only reason why I would buy a different stroller is if you feel like you may have baby #2 within a timeframe of baby #1 still needing to be in a stroller. In this case, I could recommend purchasing the Baby Jogger City Select stroller which comes as a 1 seater but allows for you to purchase a second additional seat if needed. This will be the stroller I'll now be using since I will have a newborn baby along with a 2 year old.

Here's what I did:

When Auden was first born, I had the stroller, the Maxi Cosi infant carseat and the baby jogger/maxi cost adapter to create the perfect carseat/stroller system where I could leave Auden in the carseat and take the carseat out of the car and click it into the stroller.

When Auden was too big for his infant carseat, I purchased the next size up Maxi Cosi Carseat which remains in the car, then I took off the adapter from the stroller and re-inserted the included rain hood as well as the snack tray (all listed below). This system transformed into a stroller for an older baby perfectly without having to buy multiple strollers. one stroller. two car seats. a couple of extra stroller accessories that I found made life easier. All listed below.

buy it here:

You must have these 3 items to create the infant carseat stroller system:

The Baby Jogger City Mini GT Stroller (For a single child)

The Maxi Cosi Infant Carseat

The Baby Jogger/Maxi Cosi Adapter for Baby Jogger City Mini Stroller

The Baby Jogger City Select Stroller (A stroller to add baby #2 in the future.)

When your baby is ready for a bigger carseat:

The Maxi Cosi Pria Carseat is the option we purchased for my car (a more expensive option). We also have the Safety 1st version as a cheaper option for grandparents which I feel is almost identical to the expensive version. - For Baby Jogger City Mini Stroller

The Baby Jogger Snack Tray for Baby Jogger City Mini Stroller

The Baby Jogger Parent Console System

The Mama Hook (Disclaimer: The stroller warns against hanging things on the handle. I do clip bags on this "Mama Hook" while shopping and have never had a problem, you have to do what you feel is safe for your child. I personally find that it makes life much easier.)

rate: 10 (I rated this a 10 because I can't imagine doing the daily runs without these items but I'm sure there are cheaper options, this is simply what I've used and what I recommend splurging on if possible.)


the bottom line: Medela

my why: First, go to this website (click here) and get your insurance to either send you a free breast pump or put money towards the nicest one and pay the rest. I personally had the nicest one almost completely paid for by my insurance and ended up only paying about $30 extra dollars. (These can be up to $400+ so be sure to visit that website first to save big bucks!) The great thing is that if you stick with Medela brand, all of the parts and extras fit perfectly. As I mentioned earlier in the bottles section, I did start out pumping directly into the medela bottles but at the time I had an extremely busy work life mixed with motherhood and I found it was easier to pump directly into a Medela storage bag where I could pour into a bottle or put it in the fridge or freezer for later and in my case I was traveling and flying with bags of frozen milk (see below for TSA guidelines, don't let them take your liquid gold!) Some moms are against breastpumps and choose to only directly feed from the breast, but I found the I had to pump because Auden wasn't getting as much from me as he would drink from a bottle which wasn't filling him up (we had a hard time with him drinking anything for the first 4 weeks) and I was also a working/traveling mom and sometimes was away from him where I had to pump. If you are away from your baby, PUMP otherwise you can develop Mastitis which I have had before and it is the worst pain (worse than having a baby in my case) so do yourself a favor and pump to get the milk out of your ducts. Also, a fun tip: you CAN fly with any milk you save! I was away from my baby for a week and saved all of the milk I pumped, froze it, and put it in a freezer bag. TSA simply checks it and allows it on the plane as your carry on, your baby needs all that liquid gold! Here's the proof:

buy it here:

Medela Breastpump (Remember to click the link above to get money towards your pump!)

Pump and Save Bags (Pump directly into these bags if you choose not to use the Medela bottles, An adapter comes with the bags.)

Quick Cleaning Wipes (I used these if I pumped in public, my car, somewhere not at home. Always be sure to sterilize when you get home.)

Quick Clean Micro Steam Bags (These are the best things ever! I was washing SO much before I purchased these. You can reuse each bag 20 times, you just throw the parts in with water and stick it in the microwave to sanitize.)

Cooler Set (You will need an icepack cooler if you plan to pump and save for later, outside the home to avoid your milk going bad. You don't have to use this exact one but this is what I used.)

Spare Parts Set (If you're a stay-at-home mom, you may not need this but I was working a lot and found that sometimes it was easier to put my dirty parts ((haha)) in a bag and then use my spare parts set for the days when I needed to to pump twice at work. When I was at home, sometimes it was nice to have the extra set so I didn't feel like I was cleaning something all day. When you're washing breast pump parts, bottles, babies, yourself, the house... sometimes anything that makes life a little easier is worth it.)

Nursing Pads (If you're nursing, you will need these to prevent leaks on your shirt. Simply place them inside your bra and change them out when necessary. I changed mine if they had been used or at least once a day. I thought I wouldn't need this product and found out the hard way that I did indeed need it.)

rate: 10 (I rated this a 10 because if you plan to breastfeed, these are must haves. Insurance can cover a lot if not all of these items. If you're not breastfeeding then forget all of this.)


the bottom line: Summer Infant

my why: If you can afford a super wonderful baby monitor system then by all means go splurge. To me, I found the Summer Infant to be the best in my budget as I specifically did not want a system that was wi-fi with all the creepy news out there about people tapping into baby monitor systems which that limits the quality as most all great systems are wi-fi. You have to choose what's best for you, but this is what I selected. I also like it because I can have multiple cameras that are easy to travel with. The major problem with this system that will cause me to look into buying another one is that it only works for one baby in my opinion as it doesn't automatically toggle back and forth between two cameras at the same time which will mean I won't be able to watch Auden and baby #2 at the same time. Once I figure out which one I'm buying whenever baby #2 comes along, I'll update this post! Until then, this one should fit most budgets and do the job for most people. Again - not the best, not the worst.

buy it here:

Summer Infant Baby Monitor System

rate: 10 (I don't give this specific product a 10 but I do give the fact that you need a monitor system a 10. You DO need a baby monitor system, although I encourage you to shop for what suits your needs here best. This will vary between moms who care about wi-fi connection and moms who have more than one child to watch over.)


the bottom line: Pampers

my why: Any wipes will do. You don't need the most expensive wipes because you'll be using them like crazy. If you prefer a sensitive style, you can still get the Pampers sensitive. Don't waist money on wipes, simply buy some because you'll need lots of them for changing diapers, wiping faces, wiping hands, wiping everything. I got sucked into buying face wipes, hand wipes, boogie wipes, diaper wipes, etc. Waist of money. Just get some pampers sensitive and maybe some "wet ones" for carts/buggies, public tables, etc.

buy it here:

Pampers Sensitive

Wet Ones

rate: 10 (I rated this a 10 because you have to have wipes.)


the bottom line: The crib will depend on your style and budget. We selected a Restoration Hardware crib, a Sealy crib mattress, Sealy waterproof mattress pad, crib sheet, Mesh bumper pad we used from 8 months to 18 months, Potterybarn crib bumper pad (which we did not use until he was 15 months old)

my why:

buy it here:

Restoration Hardware Crib

Sealy Crib Mattress

Sealy Waterproof Mattress Pad

Mesh Crib Bumper Pad (We did not use a bumper pad until he turned 8 months old we added this mesh bumper pad to keep his arms and legs from getting stuck through the crib slats, then at 15 months we added a padded bumper pad because he was walking around the crib and falling into the slats.)

Potterybarn Crib Bumper Pad (See bumper pad usage above.)

Crib Sheet (This one is super soft, we place over the mattress pad and especially nice in the winter.)

Crib Sheet Option 2 (These are good to have some regular backups in case of accidents or warmer weather.)

Crib Skirt (Totally optional depending on your style and budget.)

rate: 10 (Crib, mattress, and sheet are only MUST haves on this list, even though of course it doesn't have to be these brands.)


the bottom line: A cheap one

my why: If you can borrow this from a friend, do. We only used ours for 5 weeks. We personally read the Baby Wise book and followed their advice on sleep training. This allowed us to put Auden in his crib at 5 weeks old and he's been sleeping great in his own crib in his own room ever since. It was nice to have him in a bassinet right next to me during the first 5 weeks for the feeding, changing, sleeping routine every 2 hours but that season will end faster than it seems (if you sleep train) so I don't recommend spending a lot of money on a bassinet. I do recommend sleep training, but also keep in mind that we had the Owlet heart rate/oxygen monitor on Auden at 5 weeks as well so that allowed me to put him in his own crib with peace of mind. Personally, you could also get away with using a pack n' play and we'll be purchasing a Dock A Tot for our baby #2.

buy it here:

Here's a cheap one

rate: 5 (I rated this a 5 because I think we could've done without it. I think we could've used a pack n' play or a Moses basket or something else during those 5 weeks and I also hate to spend the money on something you won't need for very long.)


the bottom line: Get a comfortable rocking/reclining chair. Think comfort, not cute. Trust me.

my why: For the first year of Auden's life I had a cute rocking chair. At 2 AM with a sick baby, you want something comfortable. When Auden turned 12 months old, I went and bought a La-Z-Boy rocking chair for his room and another for the living room. You can customize them to match your style. For the living room, I had a linen fabric put on the chair to match my Restoration Hardware Belgian Linen furniture and it blends right in. For Auden's room. I had them put a gray linen on the chair to match his room. When you're pregnant or just home from the hospital you need a comfortable place to relax, when you have a sick baby or a sleepless baby you need a good sleeping rocking/recliner (not that I recommend co-sleeping which I have never done but I have been up through the night with my sick baby in the recliner).

buy it here:

This is something you want to splurge on if possible.

La-Z-Boy Reclining Rocker (Click this link and select a color that suits your style)

rate: 10 (I rated this a 10 because you simply can't get through the nights without having some sort of comfortable place to sit. Life does get hard and you don't need a cute uncomfortable chair in the tough moments.)


the bottom line: Fisher-Price Auto Rock N' Play

my why: I was extremely blessed to be given numerous baby rocker/baby bouncer/baby swingers by various brands and while they were all very nice, the number 1 option that worked every single time was one of the cheapest: the Fisher-Price Auto Rock N' Play. If you can only buy one or if you only want to buy one baby rocker/bouncer this is the one to buy. This worked for us from newborn status all the way to when he just flat out was too big to put in there which was nearly a year old. I am not a believer in creating sleep crippling habit, but this was one product that would work every time if I couldn't get him to nap or if I simply needed a safe pace to put him so that I could walk around. Always buckle them in! This option has a rocking speed option as well as a sound machine attached but Auden has never preferred a sound machine since we never introduced it. You can simply not use the sound machine if you're opting out of sleep crippling habits as well.

buy it here:

Fisher-Price Auto Rock N' Play

rate: 7 (I rated this a 7 because I think it is a life saver at times but it's not an absolute must have if your budget doesn't allow for it.)


the bottom line: Baby Einstein Activity Jumper

my why: This was a lifesaver once Auden was able to hold his head up and push up on his legs. It really helped him develop muscles in his legs and go from pushing up to standing up and to jumping. This product isn't really used until after 4 months old but can be used as a safe place for baby to play until about 14 months+. Many mornings, I would put Auden in the activity jumper so that I could get ready for work.

buy it here:

Baby Einstein Activity Jumper

rate: 7 (I rated this a 7 because I think it is a life saver at times but it's not an absolute must have if your budget doesn't allow for it.)


the bottom line: Graco High Chair

my why: I chose this high chair because it has a pop off top tray for easy cleaning and a reclining seat which has been great for quick naps if Auden fell asleep watching a tv show. (It's not recommend to let them sleep in the high chair however we were of course always right there with him and never let him sleep too long in the chair.) We chose the color scheme "Pierce" and its been a sleek design fitting in with our style.

buy it here:

Graco High Chair

rate: 8 (I rated this an 8 because you do need a high chair and this is a great one. The reason this doesn't get a 10 is because there are cheaper options and I don't like the padded seat for a messy eater.)


the bottom line: Puj infant bathtub, Summer Infant bathtub

my why: The Puj infant bathtub fits in most sinks and creates the perfect environment for a newborn bath. We used this until Auden was almost 3 months old. Then, we switched to the Summer Infant bathtub which allowed for him to lay back on the insert and then when he was old enough he took a bath in the outer shell of the tub before he was big enough to sit in the actual bathtub. I wrote more about the Puj bathtub on this blog, click here.

buy it here:

Puj infant bathtub

Summer Infant Bathtub

rate: 10 (The Summer Infant is a must have that grows with you, while the Puj is a nice addition for the first several months.)


the bottom line: Little Remedies, Zarbees, Mommy's Bliss Nighttime Gripe Water

my why: I chose to give organic medicine only when necessary and in the Little Remedies brand or Zarbees brand you can find medication for almost every ailment. Be sure that whatever you choose is age appropriate as some of their medication begins at age 2. We were given some Mommy's bliss Nighttime Gripe Water at our baby shower and one night when I couldn't figure out what was wrong with my gassy baby, I frantically looked for something in the baby medicine cabinet people had given us to see what could help us. This herbal blend promises to help fussy/gassy babies calm down so I gave it a try and it worked wonders! I will say that I've always given slightly less than the recommended dosage just because I like to be careful. **Never give you baby aspirin and properly research about infant Tylenol and infant Benadryl, always consult your doctor for medication and dosage for babies.

buy it here:

Little Remedies


Mommy's Bliss Nighttime

rate: 10 (I rate this a 10 because I recommend that you go ahead and have certain medications in the house just in case something occurs one night or one day when you need something quickly.)


the bottom line: Tide Free & Gentle

my why: Don't get sucked into buying the expensive Dreft unless you find that you HAVE to. I purchased dreft for a little while and would only wash Auden's clothes and blankets in it until I realized that he was touching our clothes (washed in Tide) all the time and wasn't having any reaction. I switched to Tide Free & Gentle and began washing his clothes with ours. He's been fine ever since. Try it out and see what works best for your family.

buy it here:

Tide Free & Gentle

rate: 7 (I rated this a 7 because you have to wash your clothes but it doesn't have to be with the most expensive detergent.)


the bottom line: Prince Lionheart Wipe Warmer

my why: I was against this at first because my life was so on-the-go that I didn't want him to only get used to warm wipes and then fuss with cold ones. However, someone got it for me and it made changing him easier. Although, this is not a must have item it does seem more enjoyable for him. Now, that I'm a stay-at-home mom, it makes it easy for the both of us.

buy it here:

Prince Lionheart Wipe Warmer

rate: 5 (nice to have but not a must have)


the bottom line: Earths Best

my why: Once you're finished breastfeeding, transition to Earths Best brand formula for babies. We used this to supplement when my milk was low and then finally switched completely over to it when Auden was 6 months old. When Auden turned 1 year old, we switched to Earths Best Toddler Formula. He still had a morning bottle and a nighttime bottle at 18 months old. Some mothers don't give a bottle that long but we moved states and had a lot going on between his 12 months and 18 months so I didn't feel right about taking one of his comfort measures away yet plus the new formula is for toddlers. Auden has never taken a pacifier so his bottle is his pacifier. You have to do whats best for your family. When we introduced baby food, we used Earths Best food jars and then later introduced the Earths Best food pouches.

buy it here:

Earths Best Infant Formula

Earths Best Toddler Formula

Earths Best Food Jars (Order from Amazon to save money, also select which level your child is on by age)

Earths Best Food Packets (Order from Amazon to save money, also select which level your child is on by age)

rate: 10


the bottom line: Baby Bjorn (infant) and Ergo Baby

my why: I have had both and I used my Baby Bjorn from a Newborn until about 6 months. At 6 months, Auden just seemed uncomfortable and I switched to the Ergo Baby which I still used at 18 months (only in airports when I had to, my back!!) The truth is, I preferred the Baby Bjorn when he was smaller because it was smaller and it didn't seem to swallow him but if I had to pick only one it would have to be the Ergo Baby because I've used it more and longer. If you can only pick one, go with Ergo Baby and buy the newborn insert.

buy it here:

Baby Bjorn

Ergo Baby

rate: 7 (I rated these a 7 because you don't absolutely HAVE to have this but it has been very nice with as much as we travel. If you travel often or have a baby that wants to be held more than usual, I recommend this. Also, if you want to go to the grocery store, target, or anywhere with buggies/carts without putting your infant carseat in the cart, use this.)


the bottom line: Dream Baby (Pricey) and Summer Infant (only $12!)

my why: The Dream Baby gates are the best gates for stairs with spindles or odd corners with the adapter options they offer; however, they can get pricey with their extensions and end adapters. The Summer Infant wooden gate will do the trick for most spaces and comes in at only $12.

buy it here:

Dream Baby Gate

Dream Baby Gate Extensions and Adapters

Summer Infant Wooden Gate

rate: 5 (I rated this a 5 because it's really a personal preference. If you baby proof your house and don't have stairs then you may not need a gate at all. You won't need this right away, not until they can crawl.)


the bottom line: Graco Pack N' Play

my why: It's fairly easy to set up and break down by myself. We travel a lot and it's easy to pack up in its bag and toss in the car. If you choose not to buy a bassinet, simply get a pack n' play that will work for you - it's essentially the same thing. This later becomes a great safe space for the baby to play and explore while confined.

buy here:

Graco Pack N' Play

rate: 8 (I rated this an 8 because although it has made my life easier I do believe I could've done without if I absolutely had to since most hotels carry free pack n' plays now. I mostly use mine to travel with. Also, decide what your budget will allow.... if you are on a strict budget then you may not need a pack n' play and a bassinet. Pick one. I've known some people who didn't buy a bassinet or a crib and used the Pack N' Play for all 3 purposes. If you do have it in the budget though, it's definitely nice to have when they get old enough to want to play on their own in a safe space.)


the bottom line: Buy one with a cell phone insert

my why: I used this mostly when he was first learning to sit up so that he had a soft place to sit while I shopped early on. As he gets older, I only use it when he's having an "off" day and I take it as a back up so that in the event he can't make it through the store I will put my phone in the insert and play something educational to keep his attention so that I can finish up my grocery list. I AM NOT one of those parents who offers their children an iPhone or tv often. I am actually quite strict on screen time; however, once you've had your child "not be able to make it through the store" once or twice you do occasionally get to a point of offering them some educational screen time in order to not have to abandon your cart in the middle of the store (Don't even judge unless you've been there and done that. You don't know until you're in that situation.)

buy here: Shopping Cart Cover

rate: 3 (This is totally not a must have, but on the occasion it's nice to have the option.)


the bottom line: Halo Sleepsack

my why: Swaddling blankets are cute but the Halo Sleepsack is easier and safer. Trust me, after the individual blanket comes undone in the middle of the night several times, you'll be buying one. Those first several weeks, anything that helps a little helps a lot.

buy here: Halo Sleepsack

rate: 10