There are a few non-essential, but totally essential, baby items that are so useful I would definitely buy them third-time around.
Some of these are items I never bought for my kids, but have seen other mamas using them and wish I had them too. Others are ones I bought late, but wish I had from day one with my first child.
We all know that when it comes to babies, you can go totally minimalist. All they really need is clothes, somewhere warm to sleep, a safe seat for riding in the car and access to milk. Easy!
But the thing is, motherhood is tricky! It’s exhausting and full-on and wherever possible, us mothers need to use whatever powers we can muster to make it a little easier on ourselves.
So these are the non-essential baby items that you don’t really need, but once you use them you’ll realise you cannot live without them!
For first-time mamas, you may also want to check out my baby registry post which is a full list of every item you really need for a baby plus tips on choosing the right products for you.
This post contains affiliate links.
1. Nappy bin
When you’re pregnant, you think nappy changing is going to be a challenge. Actually it’s one of the easiest bits of being a parent, unless there’s been a huge nappy explosion of course!
The real issue with nappies is what to do with them once you’ve taken a dirty one off of your baby. You could just chuck them in a plastic bag, tie it up and then take it outside when you have time later.
But, the smell will linger in your home. Especially once you start weaning your baby and their poo becomes stinkier.
A nappy bin is specially designed to take the dirty nappies and prevent the smell from filling your home. Genius!
Seeing as your child will probably be in nappies for the first two to three years, it’s an investment worth making to protect your home from the foul smells of your baby’s nappies.
2. Play mat
These are an additional expense many people may see as unnecessary (why not just put a blanket on the ground and let the baby roll around on that??). However they are amazing ways to keep your baby happy, plus if you buy the right one they will last them for the entire first year.
Look for a baby play mat with arches that dangle toys for your baby to reach for and rattle.
For most play mats, these will be detachable, so that when your baby is sitting up they can just crawl around the mat without the arches getting in the way.
Look for a mat with lots of fun pictures, textures and mirrors on so that your baby won’t get bored.
The play mat is the perfect place to pop your baby down while you get on with your own thing, such as having breakfast or getting some work done.
3. Baby carrier
Although the buggy is probably where you will be putting your baby for most of their outings, a baby carrier has so many situations where it may prove useful.
For indoors, you can pop your baby into a carrier if they are refusing to be put down, but you need to have your hands free to work or do some chores around the house.
When going outdoors, the carrier is handy for travelling on public transport and getting around shops without a buggy to navigate up stairs and narrow aisles.
If you live in a city, you will find the baby carrier much easier for getting out and about compared to a buggy.
4. Side sleeper
If I could go back I would definitely buy a side sleeper instead of a Moses basket.
There are some which also have a transparent panel to them, so if you don’t want to attach the crib directly to the side of your bed, you can still see your baby while laying down.
Side sleepers are fantastic for enabling you to breastfeed or bottle feed your baby while in bed without having to get up to reach for them.
Some brands also adapt as your baby grows, so that your newborn won’t grow out of their side sleeper in a matter of weeks.
They’re a great option for co-sleeping without actually bringing your baby right into bed, which can be a potential SIDS risk.
5. Baby towels with a hood
A minimalist will tell you that any towel from your collection will do. But a towel with a hood is essential because trying to wrestle a wriggly baby into a towel while keeping them warm is a struggle.
The hood keeps the towel on, and makes sure your baby doesn’t get cold when you pull them out of the bath.
6. Swaddle bags for sleeping
Getting the hang of swaddling is extremely tricky. Especially when you’re sleep deprived and it’s dark too!
Swaddle bags enable you to give your baby all of the comfort of being swaddled, without having to faff about with folding and tucking a large blanket.
Babies love swaddling, because it reminds them of being in the womb. There are some beautiful zip-up swaddle bags and wraps on the market.
If you’re planning to put your baby in socks, then you need Sock-Ons!
Babies just do not keep their socks on. They either pull them off with their own hands, or they kick them off from wriggling about constantly.
Sock-Ons slide on over your baby’s socks and keep them snug on their feet.
8. Baby car seat mirror
Your baby will be rear facing in the car for at least the first 12 months. The trouble is, that means you can’t see what they’re up to while driving.
Are they asleep? Are they playing? Have they been sick?
Getting a car seat mirror will enable you to keep an eye on what your baby is up to without having to pull the car over so that you can angle yourself to see them.
9. Non-contact thermometer
Most budget thermometers work by being placed underneath the armpit or just inside the outer ear. While these do the job, the non-contact thermometers are so much easier for checking the temperature of a fidgeting baby.
Although they are slightly more expensive, remember that you’ll be using it well beyond the first year, and it can be used on the entire family too.
10. Carabiner hooks
How I wish I had bought a ton of these hooks with my first baby. Use them to clip to your stroller handle then you can attach all of your shopping to it.
But they have loads more uses too! Use it to hang bags of toys on a wardrobe rail to keep them tidy, organise shopping bags all in one place in your kitchen, to attach your keys to your baby’s carrier and many more.
There’s a fab post about carabiner hook hacks from super mama Mummy of Four.
11. Haakaaa breast pump
It’s not so much a pump as it is a milk collection device! The Haakaa breast pump can collect your letdown from the breast you are not feeding from, thus preventing any milk wastage!
You can also use it as a manual pump when you’re on the go. It’s a reasonably new product and is being raved about by breastfeeding mamas.
It’s not too expensive and could help you collect up a stash of milk for bottle feeding. It’s also very handy for popping into your bag for pumping on the go to prevent engorgement and discomfort.
There are lots more breastfeeding must-haves here.
12. ALL the baskets
Inevitably, babies come with a lot of stuff. There’s nappies, creams, bath stuff, toys, books and the list goes on.
Getting baskets and boxes is an inexpensive and neat way of organising all of your babies things.
Pay a visit to IKEA and find a range of boxes and baskets you love so that you have consistency in the type of container you’re using in your baby’s room. You may want various different sizes.
I love these boxes for storing baby’s things, such as nappies, creams, and toys.
13. Picnic blanket
So simple but oh so useful! Get a picnic blanket with a waterproof backing to it, and make it a super size one too!
You can spend a lot of time just enjoying the fresh air with your baby during the summer months. It’s great to get an extra large one so that friends can join you, and your baby has plenty of room to roll about too.
We’ve saved the best until last! This product is an absolute game-changer and you will be seriously glad you picked one up.
The Rockit fits onto any stroller (it’s completely universal) and rocks your baby when you’ve stopped walking! That’s right, it rocks the baby so that they don’t spring awake when the stroller has stopped moving.
It works by sending vibrations down the handles of the pram to soothe the baby. It’s rain-proof, has a battery life of 60 hours and works on a 30-minute cycle.
You could even use it indoors, if your baby is still snoozing from a walk, just push your stroller into your home and leave baby sleeping with the Rockit on so that they don’t wake from their nap.
Check out this post showing the Rockit in action:
I hope you found this post useful and it’s given you some inspiration for what to buy for your baby!
What are your must-have baby essentials?