When my son was born nearly ten weeks early, I had next to nothing prepared for his arrival. This is mainly because he came the DAY before my baby shower and I didn’t want to buy stuff before then, but also because I am basically a professional procrastinator. Honestly, if it weren’t for the last minute, I wouldn’t get anything done.
For once, my procrastination ended up somewhat working out in my favor because, after spending six weeks with him in the NICU, I had a much better idea of what I needed for him when he finally got to come home.
These are essentials not only for NICU babies but for those whose babies are full term as well.
[Writer’s Note: This post is not sponsored in any way. I’m just writing a blog about stuff that I’ve liked and it’s a shame I even have to include this disclaimer but blogging for fun is not what it used to be!]
1. Bedside bassinet
Even when I was pregnant, I knew I didn’t want my son sleeping in his nursery right away and I also knew that sleeping in my bed with me wasn’t a safe bet either. The time he spent in the NICU solidified my decision to put something in our room for him to sleep in.
My pick: Halo Bassinest. I chose this because I wanted a bassinet that would be eye-level when I’m laying in bed. This one rotates making it easier to get in and out of bed but also to pull it close when I need to. The premiere version I have has several options on it: nursing timer, vibration, and light. I should warn you thought that the light on it is terrible, so I use a light ceiling projector instead to somewhat see him in the bassinest in the dark.
In the hospital, there is a LOT of talk about “safe sleep” and in my opinion nothing is scarier than SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome). Researchers have come up with ways to prevent SIDS and one of those suggestions is the A in the ABC of Safe Sleep: Alone. This means no stuffed animals, no pillows and no blankets. However, since most babies like to be swaddled, the sleepsack is the answer.
My pick: Halo Sleepsack Swaddle with velcro. At night, after I’ve changed his diaper and put him in a onesie, I slip the swaddler on him and it velcro it shut. So he is both swaddled for his comfort and safely sleeping for my comfort.
3. Preemie bottles
This one is for formula feeding, exclusively pumping, or fortifying mommas. The slower the nipple the better and preemie nipples are the slowest on the market.
My pick: Dr. Brown’s preemie bottles. There are tons of bottle options in stores, but very limited preemie options. I’ve only ever used Dr. Brown but I like that they’re supposed to protect against gas, colic and spit up. There are lots of parts, but I just rinse everything and stick it in the dishwasher. Plus, since I’m a first-time mom, I don’t really know the difference so I don’t mind all of the parts.
I love holding my baby, but after putting a butt dent in the couch for a couple of days (or weeks!) I wanted to stand up and move around – and still hold my son. Babywearing to the rescue!
My pick: Boba wrap. There are a ton of babywearing options, but I chose Boba for its price and flexibility and the fact that it fits my 7 pound baby safely. There is a bit of a learning curve when you’re putting the wrap on but it’s actually fairly easy. When I’m at home, I take off my shirt and his onesie and use it to do skin-to-skin with him.
5. Dry wipes
While my son was in the NICU, I decided to buy the basic items they used for the baby’s care. I got the same diapers and wipes (Huggies Natural Care), diaper rash cream (Aquaphor and Desitin), and formula: Similac Alimentum. One thing I hadn’t thought of before? DRY wipes. As long as you’re okay with disposables, they are useful for so many things: burp cloths, quick clean ups, wiping my hands, etc.
6. Baby Monitor
When my son was still in the NICU, I mentioned wanting to get monitors for him. The doctors told me that wasn’t necessary. They assured me they wouldn’t be sending him home if he still needed his heart rate, oxygen and breathing monitored. Fair enough. Still, after staring at monitors for hours on hours for more than 40 days, there was no way I was going home with nothing. Plus I figured, best case scenario: I waste my money. Worst case? Well, let’s not even go there.
My pick: Owlet. This thing is expensive, but easy-to-use and worth it (to me). I wrap it around his foot and it monitors his oxygen and heart rate. The first couple of nights, he was wearing the Owlet and I still didn’t sleep because I was terrified he would stop breathing. I am happy to report in three weeks, we have never had a single alarm (false or otherwise). The monitor does go off when it’s “out of range” but there are different colors and sounds for non-emergencies so, once I realized that, it doesn’t freak me out.
7. Delivery service
This list is in no particular order, but if it was, then I would’ve put this first. The pediatrician recommended we not traipse around the city with our preemie for the first month or two. Having things delivered to our house has been a lifesaver!
— Alissa (Uh-LEASE-Ah) (@AlissaHenryTV) December 22, 2016
My pick: Amazon Prime Now and Shipt. Amazon Prime Now is great for things like diapers, muslin blankets, and other baby necessities. Shipt (which delivers items from Meijer) is great for groceries and snacks. Both require a yearly membership, but in just three weeks, it has paid for itself in terms of convenience.
So those are my seven picks.
What I wish I had?
A bassinet stroller!
I bought my stroller on Amazon during Prime Day when I was still pregnant. After my son came home, I wished I had bought the kind that had a bassinet attachment. It’s important for baby’s to lay flat to sleep so they don’t have “chin-to-chest” and inadvertenly cut their airway off. Unfortunately nearly everything except our
bassinet, crib, and a dome has some sort of incline. The car seat that hooks into the stroller is the worst offender. He looks so tiny and scrunched up in it, I hate it. I wish I had a bassinet stroller for walking around the neighborhood during these early months. Who knew?
My pick: Evenflo Pivot. It has a car seat AND bassinet option and it’s just as affordable as my Graco Modes Jogger stroller.
There are other things that have proved to be must haves like preemie onesies, a diaper genie, hooded towels, hand/face wipes and disposable changing table covers (another item I purchased as a result of my son’s time in the NICU). The list is endless actually! Which items have you found super useful for your baby? Tell me in the comments or on social media! I’m @AlissaHenryTV on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.