MiniMagpie Newborn Musts: The First Few Weeks.

By: Jen Shoop

A belated debt of gratitude for all of your sweet notes and comments on my #minimagpie posts (especially the comments on this one, which I troll all the time when I need a little boost of energy).  You guys are THE BEST.  I am so privileged to be connected to such a smart and generous community of women.

One of you (an expecting mom!) wrote to ask me which products have proven most useful in these early weeks with mini, and I thought it was a lovely prompt to share my must-haves, as well as some of the items I wish I hadn’t bought–or had waited to buy.  Interesting to compare this list to my registry and nursery–all-in, I think I did a pretty good job of covering all my bases.  I’ll note which items I wish I’d stocked up on more of, too!

Newborn Must-Have No. 1: The Boppy Lounger.

Probably the best $30 I’ve spent in years.  This has been our best friend and most loyal companion (besides minimagpie and the aches and pains of a c-section recovery) over the past 2.5 weeks.  I love it because I can position her in it right next to me on the bed or couch when she’s alert and read to her (I try to read her one short book a day; a friend gave us this book and it makes me well up every time, but I have read it to her multiple times already…not that she has any clue what’s happening! — and P.S., more great baby books here), show her art cards (I have the safari set — definitely going after a theme, I guess; these are great because babies don’t have great eyesight when born but can recognize the contrast of black and white; plus, I tell her little stories or details about the animals and feel like I’m actually talking to her vs. just telling her how freaking cute she is all the time), or just stare at her while she dozes, and–and this is key–I don’t need to bend over to put her into it.  So many of the other “newborn baby containers” (haha) like swings, bouncers, etc., require that you bend over to the ground to get them in and out which is not so fun after a c-section.  You can get yours for $30 here.  It comes in other prints and patterns, too, but — hello, the elephant print is precious.

The Fashion Magpie Boppy Lounger

P.S. — a lot of moms flip over the similarly-designed Dock-a-Tot ($165).  Not sure what makes the Dock-a-Tot worth $135 more than the Boppy Lounger, except that it comes in some super cool prints (so whimsical!)

P.P.S. — my only gripe with the Boppy Lounger is that you can’t remove the cover to wash it; I’m a freak about keeping things clean and laundered, and this kills me.  I anticipate I’ll be buying a second one at some point for this reason.

Newborn Must-Have No. 2: Aden + Anais Swaddles.

Mr. Magpie learned how to swaddle like a pro from the extremely kind and solicitous nurses at Prentice Women’s Hospital while I was recovering there, and, as a result we’ve never had a need for any of the velcro sleepsacks so many rave about.  Instead, we use Aden + Anais swaddle cloths ($50 for 4), which come in the CUTEST prints and are made of the softest, most breathable fabric.  We started out with one set of four and I quickly learned that we’d go through 1-2 a day thanks to…baby messes, so, to prevent myself from doing a load of laundry every day to have enough swaddles on hand, we ordered two additional sets, including this precious woodland pals set, which Mr. Magpie picked out.  (Related: I’m so glad I stocked up on infant detergent.  We use Dreft.  My mom said you don’t REALLY need it because the baby’s already snuggling next to you and your clothes, which are washed with normal detergent, so…she’s exposed to it regardless.  But, I’d already purchased Dreft before she made this useful observation.  If you do go the infant detergent route, make sure you buy a lot, because even with extra swaddles on hand, I’m doing a load every two days or so.)

The Fashion Magpie Aden Anais Swaddles


Newborn Must-Have No. 3: The Gathre Changing Mat.

I am in love with our Gathre micro changing mat ($20).  We keep it upstairs in our bedroom–even though mini’s nursery is just down the hall, I tend to just lay it out on the foot of our bed right before feeding her in the middle of the night, which feels so much easier when I’m bleary-eyed and zombie-like at 3 am(#lazy).  I keep a big canvas tote (I got hers in the lavender trim with yellow monogram) at the foot of my bed and keep essentials in it: diapers, diaper rash cream, wipes, a change of clothes, burp cloth, bib, and her changing mat.  The Gathre mat is super-high-quality, liquid-resistant, and easy to clean.  It’s also just the right size and highly portable (folding up into a little square).  Finally, the colors are chic.  I loved it so much I ordered a second in a larger size to use as a changing mat / playmat downstairs.

the fashion magpie gathre play mat boxed

The Fashion Magpie Mini Magpie Gathre Leather Changing Mat The Fashion Magpie Mini Magpie Gathre Leather Changing Mat

{Mini on her Gathre Mat giving me major side-eye. Those little legs!  P.S. – she’s wearing this bodysuit and these leggings, both of which conveniently came in an “under 7 lb” size!  Mini swims in size 0-3M right now.}

This actually brings up a larger point: I learned the hard way, after lugging a huge tote bag around the house with me for days and days/begging Mr. Magpie to run up and get [insert one of a trillion newborn items] 25 times a day, that I need to have a little minimagpie station on each floor of our house stocked with essentials to prevent myself from running up and down the stairs 24 times per hour (especially in the early days of recovery, when I was not supposed to go up and down stairs too often).  I try to contain the chaos by stowing everything in oversized canvas totes (love these ones because of the pockets in the interior to store different items).  Then you can always throw the tote in a closet or whatever when guests drop by.

Newborn Must-Have No. 4: The Philips Avent Infant Bottle.

I’m really really glad I bought a few different bottles before mini arrived.  Even though I had planned to breastfeed exclusively, I knew there would be some occasion where I’d need to pump and leave a bottle for mini, or formula-feed her, in the future — but I had no idea how soon that would be!  Because I am supplementing breastmilk with formula already, I was so relieved to have a handful of bottles on hand when I got home from the hospital.  We had a few of these attractive LifeFactory ones ($39 for 2), but mini takes these Philips Avent bottles the most easily ($16 for 2).  They’re designed to mimic the nipple.  I also love it because it has a wide mouth, meaning it’s super easy to mix formula in the bottle–our powder formula comes with this little scoop thing that’s just a little too wide for the LifeFactory bottle so I always end up spilling a little bit of it everywhere.  Not so with the Philips Avent.  (Although, one pro for the LifeFactory style is that it can screw right into most breast pumps if you’re pumping to store.)  At any rate, these little Avent babies have been perfect for our needs.  We’ve already bought a few extra sets so we’re not constantly washing bottles.  (But man, are we washing a lot of bottles by hand.  Our hands are so cracked and dry!)

The Fashion Magpie Philips Avent Bottle

Newborn Must-Have No. 5: The Bottle Drying Rack.

So funny to think back on this, but Mr. Magpie and I actually debated for some time whether a bottle drying rack was necessary before mini arrived.  We kept asking: “But why can’t we just leave ’em out on a towel like we do with some of our stuff when we’re letting it air dry?”  We gave in rather quickly to a Boon bottle drying “grass” rack ($24).  It keeps the clutter contained and expedites the drying process by a meaningful amount of time.

The Fashion Magpie Boon Bottle Drying Rack

Newborn Must-Have No. 6: The Bib.  (Lots of Them.)

This is a no-brainer, but my point here is underscoring the volume of these items I need.  We had a two (!?!) of these Aden + Anais “burpy bibs” ($22 for 2) and almost immediately ordered like 10 more.  We go through these lickity-split.  The cutest prints, the most thoughtful design (resting around the nook of your neck!), and the most absorbent fabric.  I also run through a lot of these plain white cloth diapers ($11 for 10), which I use to sort of mop up any messes / supplement the burpy bib.  My sister also sweetly sent us some super-absorbent burp cloths monogrammed with mini’s name on them that she found on Etsy that are heavy in rotation as of a few days ago!

The Fashion Magpie Aden and Anais Burpy Bibs

Finally, we started putting these bibs ($3 for 20) on mini when we feed her formula from a bottle as yet another line of defense — I found I was constantly changing her after feedings because she’d let formula drip down on her shirt and I didn’t want her to lay there in a wet onesie.

The Fashion Magpie Aden and Anais Snap Bibs

Newborn Must-Have No. 8: Apple TV / Roku.

Did I mention that Mr. Magpie and I cut the cable cord a few months ago?  We realized we so rarely turned on the TV to “just channel surf” and were almost exclusively tuning into shows on Netflix/Hulu or movies we’d purchase from iTunes.  I was initially ambivalent about the decision but Mr. Magpie convinced me that the cost savings was significant enough (we’re saving like $150 a month!) and that I wouldn’t even notice.

Per usual, he was right.

Except for the occasional “I wanna watch The Bachelor NOW!” — and P.S., some feminist musings on The Bach here — I barely notice it’s gone.  (And also, Mr. Magpie sneakily figured out how to get us access to all of those shows on cable by logging into his dad’s cable accounts on our devices.  Heh.)

But MAN am I glad we have Apple TV set up in both our basement (Mr. Magpie’s man cave) and bedroom, and a Roku streaming stick ($49) set up in our breakfast nook.  Because when I wake up for that brutal 3 a.m. feeding, I genuinely look forward to a little 30-minute window to tune into either an episode of Parks + Rec (one of my current favs — already seen every episode, but re-watching), Mindy Project (I’m behind), or Downton Abbey (I’m re-watching also).  While I’m working hard to live in the present and keep my phone away while nursing mini, for those middle-of-the-night feedings, TV is a necessity, or I swear I’d nod off.  (And I’m already doing this weird thing where every time I wake up, I panic and think I’ve fallen asleep with mini in my arms.  Every.single.time.)

Newborn Must-Have No. 9: Weleda Calendula Cream.

My mom turned me onto this stuff ($11), which I use for everything — the random chin rash mini developed, probably because of all of the wiping-of-the-chin during her feedings; the stray scratch from a fingernail on her cheek; the diaper rash; a patch of dry skin.  It works like magic.  Literally, her chin rash disappeared within hours!  (I’ve even used it on myself.)

The Fashion Magpie Weleda Calendula Cream

Newborn Must-Have No. 10: Family.

Oh mama.  This one should probably (DEFINITELY) have been listed first.

How could I have possibly survived the first two weeks without my angel mom, my doting husband, and my generous father at the hospital and then at home, taking care of everything for me when it seemed impossible that I would ever be able to do anything on my own again?

Or, just a week and a half after mini was born, my sweet sister flying out from Boston to cook us enchiladas; hold mini for hours and hours on end, staring at her with the most heart-wrenching look of aunt-ly awe and love; watch Moana, delighted, alongside us; and reassure me when I burst into tears one afternoon while we sat side by side chatting about her future?  (Sorry for stealing your limelight, Ella — that conversation was meant to be about you.  You are wise beyond your years and I will always cherish those mornings and afternoons sitting by your side, caring for mini together.)

Or, the dozens of calls, FaceTimes, and texts from my other sisters and sister-in-law?  They text me daily to see how I’m feeling, how mini is doing, whether I’ve gotten any sleep.  Could they be any more supportive?  Impossible.

Or, the Facetime with my brother where I burst into tears at the mere sight of him?  (Do you sense a theme?  I am just overwhelmed by the love.)  And then his kind text telling me “I was a natural at being a mom.”

Or, the solicitous emails and calls from my parents-in-law “just checking in” multiple times a day, wanting to hear every little detail.

Or, the multiple daily calls, FaceTimes, and texts with my mom “just checking in” now that she’s left.  (I wish she could have stayed with me for an additional year or two.)

Finally, Mr. Magpie.  Holy.moly.  This whole experience has taken things to a whole other level with him.  He has proven himself to be the most self-less man on earth, taking care of absolutely everything with such incredible calm and patience.  If he hates washing bottles 34 times a day, you’d never know it.  If he’s exhausted from waking up every 3 hours (he often wakes up alongside me even though it’s not necessary), he’s doing a great job of concealing it.

As my Dad often says: “Alla familia!”  (An Italian toast to the family.)  Thank you to my loving and beloved family.

Other Newborn Must-Haves Other Moms Swear By.

I should book-end this by saying that every babe (and ever mom!) is different; these are just the items that I’ve found most useful.  Many, many other moms swear by other lifesavers.  Specifically, I heard many mothers promise they couldn’t have lived without the Rock N Play ($48), this sound machine ($45), and this sleepsack ($20).

Also, I didn’t include it in our list, but I have loved our Monte Ninna bassinet ($395).  It looks beautiful, it’s surprisingly lightweight (though very sturdy!) so I can easily move it over to be right by my bedside at night, and it rocks, which mini loves.  But many moms are obsessed with the Halo bassinest ($200), which can swivel over your bed for easy nighttime feedings, and has a mesh siding so you can see baby at all times.  The deluxe version ($300) even vibrates and plays music/sounds.  The auto-vibrate situation sounds delightful since mini loves to be rocked and patted to sleep and my arm is always exhausted from the effort by the time she nods off.

P.S. — I’ve also learned a lot of moms (especially celeb moms!) love this baby shusher, which sounds ridiculous on the surface of it, but, I do spend a lot of time shushing.  So.  There’s that.

What I Wish I’d Waited to Buy.

+Per the above note, we learned to swaddle using swaddle cloths, so the two “pre-fabbed swaddles” I’d bought (this one and this one) that came strongly recommended have been collecting dust.  (Damn it, they’re so cute.)  I wish I hadn’t washed both of them so I could return…

+This carseat cover.  I’ve seen lots of moms (including a dear friend!) use this, but we just do what the nurses called “a faux swaddle” where we tuck a blanket around mini after she’s strapped into her seat safely, and I always have her in a cozy cashmere hat and mittens if we’re outside (which is never for long).  By the time I’m able to take a longer walk (probably another week or two away), I’m hoping it will be more spring-like anyway?

+I don’t know if I’m just an idiot, but I can’t quite figure out how to optimize use of the boppy nursing pillow.  I wrote a few days ago that I liked it, and was just starting to use it since I was feeling like I could tolerate more around the incision, but I now feel like it’s not high enough in some ways and too high for me in others, and tend to just use a bunch of bed pillows to prop up my arms instead.  Maybe I’ll get the hang of it…?  Also, I feel like this is just one of those things you would never be able to know until you have a baby and give it a try.  But, it’s not been a “must have” for me so far.

+I wish I’d waited to buy a few of my nursing camis (specifically this expensive one) because I haven’t loved the compression-style tanks, and I bought several, and I don’t even know how long I’ll be nursing.  (See ya $55.)  I would say have one on hand and then wait to see what you want after.  I think this Gap one is my favorite.

+We have stroller blankets out to ying.  (Is that the expression?)  They are so cute and such a popular gift from friends, but we literally have 5 in our closet we’ve not yet used, and many of them are personalized.  The only one I’ve been using a lot is this SUPER soft one from Little Giraffe, which I tuck over mini when she’s in her carseat or stroller, or when I think she looks cold while in her lounger.


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11 thoughts on “MiniMagpie Newborn Musts: The First Few Weeks.

  1. Definitely just added lots to my registry, thank you for all your advice and honest glimpse into this grand adventure!

  2. I never liked the Bobby nursing pillow. It always fell. I use My Breast Friend pillow. It straps around you and you can put it above your incision. I use it multiple times a day. Only thing I would add is that you should buy the waterproof cover to go on it since its foam and then put another fun fabric cover over it.

    1. Sarah! Hi! You know, I had TWO people email me about this after my post, too. I’m definitely looking into it. Very intrigued. Thanks so much for sending, an for the tip on the waterproof cover! Hope you and the boys are doing well. xoxo

      1. Jenn! Point taken, though — I’ll keep those two swaddles for when we have a baby-sitter / sibling / friend around who has a little more trouble with the swaddles. Also, my sister pointed out that babies get stronger and stronger and more houdini-like and may be able to get out of a cloth swaddle more easily than one of those velcro badboys. SO, I am biting my tongue 🙂

  3. Just throw one of your swaddle blankets over the boppy and call it a day:) or they do make covers for them. There’s some pretty cute ones on Etsy

  4. Congrats on your little one! She is adorable! And this is so helpful – I’m expecting our first (also a girl) in a couple of weeks… and through regular stalking of your blog and a couple of others, I’ve found that these after-baby posts have been the most helpful in figuring out what to buy. Something that did come highly recommended by a friend is the Leachco Podster instead of the Boppy lounger because the cover IS removable and washable (though not as many cute patterns to choose from). Really enjoy reading your posts and hope you’re getting enough sleep!

    1. Thank you, Jennifer! Congrats in advance on the arrival of your sweet daughter. I agree, these “after the birth” posts on what people ACTUALLY use are the most telling. My sister-in-law swears by the Leachco podster and you made me realize why — just now putting 2 and 2 together, ha! If I were to do it over, I might go with that one in a solid color…

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