I am by no means an expert, as I've only done the newborn through toddler thing once so far. But I was spending time a with a friend over the weekend who is 6 weeks in to being a mommy for the first time, and while she has the bulk of her current daily necessities at this point, I was thinking about a few other things she doesn't have and wouldn't think to have at this point, that I now highly recommend from my experiences. So thought I'd share here too, for anyone else in the same boat.
None of these do you need in order to be prepared to bring your newborn home (in fact some of these aren't relevant until several months in) but once you've settled in to this new crazy life you're living, these will be helpful.
1. A Diaper Clutch: You probably spent a lot of time look for the diaper bag that best suited your style and fit all the other requirements everyone told you would want. And you probably packed each of the 3 dozen pockets with all of the items you could possibly ever need while out of the house with your newborn. That's great. But give yourself 3 -4 trips out of the house with that cumbersome bag and you're going to be over it really quick. Yes, you will want to have all those diaper bag items in the car with you for your trips away from the house, but you don't want to lug the whole thing in with you when you're just running in to Target to get some toothpaste and deodorant.
When I was first gifted a diaper clutch I thought: what good is this? It only holds a diaper and pad? Well, that's exactly what is great about it. SO much easier to run in to the doctor's office, to the store, to dinner, without the giant diaper bag. With a baby still in a carrier, or a toddler running around, you have your hands full enough. You don't need the giant emergency bag everywhere you go.
2. Padded Seat Strap Covers: Many carseat carriers come with their own versions of this item, but I've found them to be stiff and not cover enough. The nylon shoulder straps of car seats can irritate your baby's neck skin, so you want something over those straps, and I recommend plush ones with the extra plush décor, like these ones. That's specific, I know, but the extra plush animal head is good for 2 purposes: when you're baby still has a weak neck, the bulk of the plush helps keep your baby's head steady. Then when they get a bit older add have more head control and are more alert and active, the plush head become a good, soothing, easy for them to access chew item. One they can't loose.
3. Plastic Bags: These can be any kind, but I like these biodegradable ones (if I'm going to be adding to landfills, it makes me feel better.) Why you need these: you will be out and your baby will have a blow-out. Being the prepared parent you are, you have a change of clothes, but then what do you do with the removed poopy clothes until you get home? Pull out a baggie, insert, tie closed. No mess, no stink. Good to use as well if you change a poopy diaper somewhere public and either don't have access to a trash can, or to one that is sealed. You'll just never be sorry you have plastic baggies on hand.
4. A Zipadee-zip: I know you're thinking what the heck? I laughed the first time I saw one of these to. But it is a brilliant invention that made all the difference in getting my son to sleep, both for naps and at bedtime. If you have a baby that is very responsive to swaddling, and needs that security to fall asleep, this will help you transition as they start to grow out of it but still need it. They're also great for when they fall asleep but you need to travel and latch them into their car seats: you can't properly strap a swaddled baby into a car seat, but the design of the Zipadee-zip allows the straps while still confining your baby's limbs (which is what is comforting about being swaddled.)
5. Gum Massager: These are not really needed until they start teething their molars, and are so great once that starts. Molars are some of the later teeth to come through, and most of the other teeth are easily soothed by standard teething rings. But the rings/teethers don't really work as well with the molars, because they are usually too wide/big to get to the back corners of your baby's mouth. These are designed specifically for that purpose, with a guard on the handle to keep your little one from sticking it too far back. My son is going through this phase right now, and when his teeth are bothering him, he is excited to see me pull out the 'chew stick', as we call it.
So there you have it: these 5 items I was so happy to have but were not on my initial baby registry when I started out. Hope you find something that helps you out.
What baby items couldn't you live without with your little one?