Everyone has seen those "Essential Baby Registry Items!" lists. I remember going through them as a first time parent thinking, "Do babies really need ALL of this stuff?" The professional answer is, "Definitely not." We've put together a list of products it's best to hold off adding to your registry, as well as some amazing out of the box alternatives.
What you don't need:
Bottles. There are hundreds of bottles on the market, and most of them are marketed to make lactation easier or better. Most of them fail to live up to the hype. Every baby is different in their bottle preferences, but some things are universal SLOW. FLOW. NIPPLES. Every baby who takes a bottle should have a slow flow nipple, no matter what their parent puts in that bottle. Currently, the Dr. Brown's bottles with premie nipples are the slowest flow on the market. Rather than spend a fortune on bottles, get just a few 5oz bottles, and invest in a handful of slow flow nipples instead.
Pacifiers. They're not evil, and honestly they can get a bad rap. We believe babies are smart, and nipple confusion isn't the worry here. Babies aren't confused, they know they like sucking! The tongue and the breast are soft and squishy, and shape your baby's palate to make room for beautiful rows of pearly whites later on. Rigid teats like pacifiers and bottle nipples can cause shaping that isn't ideal. Hold off on purchasing these until breastfeeding is well established, and if you have questions about when to introduce them, how, or what kinds cause fewer oral-motor and dental problems, just shoot us a message.
Nursing pillows. They seem like a great idea, but many brands are too soft, round, and squishy to support a floppy newborn at chest-height and keep their body in proper alignment. Sometimes in a consult, we see parents with latch pain, and the only cause is improper positioning due to a squishy pillow! Again, they're not awful, but you probably have some flat, firm pillows on your bed or couch that will do the trick for free.
Play mats and activity centers. Again, they seem like a great investment. But there are very real issues that can arise from baby "containers", and the BEST place for a baby to play is on their tummy. If you're going to get a play mat, invest in one with things to do on the mat itself, rather than only things that hang overhead.
Pumps. This one is not on the list because they're bad. It's on the list because A) they're not all created equal and B) the ACA mandates insurance companies should be the one to cough up the money for them. We have a list we give to our prenatal class students going over pumps, and we also discuss them in consults at length. We can help you find the right one for your anatomy, your situation, and your long term goals. The wrong pump can tank your whole feeding journey. It's really important to find the right one for you and not waste your "free" insurance pump on a dud.
Random lactation junk. This can include cookies, teas, herbal supplements, nipple shields, and fancy nipple creams. None of these products have been proven to increase milk supply, there are serious risks that come with using a nipple shield or the wrong nipple cream. We've seen babies go on nursing strikes because they taste a cream they don't like. Nipple shields only mask a feeding issue, they don't solve them. They should be used short term in conjunction with an IBCLC to address the root problem.
Restrictive sleep containers. While I won't name specific products, be very wary of a product that promises you a full night's rest with a newborn. Biology encourages night waking to protect against SIDS, regulate hormones, encourage a robust milk supply, and keep your period from returning. Anything that pins a baby down, shushes, and rocks them to keep them from waking up to feed should be avoided. If you have concerns about sleep, let us know! There are so many ways to support healthy sleep habits from the first day your baby comes home without any weird, expensive contraption.
What you ACTUALLY need:
If you have a registry, or are buying gifts for a pregnant friend, there are PLENTY of products that are amazing and support healthy babies and happy feeding. This is by no means a comprehensive list, but it's a good place to start! Full disclosure, clicking these pictures will take you to our Amazon Affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate we earn money from qualifying purchases. If you can find these at your local Small Business Baby Shop, please support them instead!
Baby feeding items. Whether you go with purees or Baby Led Weaning, these are some fantastic products that can grow with your baby and support them as they add complimentary feedings around 6 months. An added bonus, the Tiny Cup can be used to cup-feed a brand new baby if supplementation is needed!
Teethers and Toys. These toys are not only amazing for teething, they also encourage your baby to move their tongue, which can improve feeding! Babies don't need flashcards and toys that light up to make them smart. The best thing for their development is to be on their bellies exploring the world with their mouths.
Comfort and Self Care Items. We say it all the time - feeding your baby shouldn't be painful. Some tenderness at first is expected, but pain that makes your skin bleed and toes curl is not normal. Gel pads that can be used warm or cold, hydrogel pads for those first few days of sensitivity, a hand pump for catching milk or relieving a clog, gentle vibration to help with milk flow, a thermometer that talks to your phone. These are great items to have on hand before your baby arrives.
Hopefully this list gives you a better idea of what you do and don't need in those early days of learning how to feed your baby. Do you have a favorite item that didn't make the list? Let us know on Instagram! Follow @SkilledLactationSolutions and let us know!