Before B was born, I spent a lot of time talking to other moms, reading blogs, and shopping around for essential items we'd want the minute baby took over our world. There's a lot of hype around certain things, and it can be hard to tell what you'll actually use and what's just extra and unnecessary. These are the standout items that I was SUPER glad we had on hand, and a few that we've bought extras of because they've been so essential. Yes, you can survive without them, but when you're sleep-deprived, totally overwhelmed, and d-o-n-e with everything, certain products make a huge difference.
Wubbanubs - Can't say enough about how brilliant these are. Brooklyn loved her pacifier from day one (and we were cautioned not to use one until after 6 weeks if we didn't want to risk nipple confusion, but to each your own!) However, she'd constantly spit it out or lose it, and I'd be scrambling to catch it before it hit the floor. These things are nice because babies can hold them easier, and they're much easier to find in a diaper bag or spot in a room full of baby things. Obviously, having a few normal pacifiers is great too, but we really like these the best.
Swaddle sleep sacks - I knew about these before we had Brooklyn, and I wasn't sure if they were worth the hype so I only bought one in a newborn size before she was born. They're 110% worth getting multiples of (and bringing to the hospital). Swaddles are essential to newborns sleeping because of that darn startle reflex. They hold their arms in tight and cozy so they don't scare themselves awake, and it hugs them like they're in the womb again. However, swaddling tightly and perfectly enough (and all night long) is a huge pain/impossible at times. This is so easy - you just zip them up and velcro arms in. If you're religious about the swaddle sacks, the idea is that babies will associate them with bedtime/naps and go down easier when it's time for sleep. We have two fleece and two cotton ones - the cotton always seems plenty warm enough for her though in December. I always have a clean spare for middle of the night blowouts (and one time when a zipper broke at 3am - that wasn't fun.) Amazon sells them with Prime shipping, so if they outgrow them you can grab another size asap.
Bamboo swaddle blankets - Obviously, you don't need these for actual swaddling if you have the sleep sacks, but we literally use them for everything else. They're thin enough that they are great any time of the year, but they're bamboo so they're super soft and cozy. We use them for car seats, strollers, cuddling, etc. I cover up the Rock and Play with one usually to protect it from stains (and I like the patterns on my swaddle blankets better hehe). They're really nice to have around, and I always have an extra in the diaper bag because they fold up nice and small too.
Rock and Play - I know people who swear by these. You're not technically supposed to let babies sleep unsupervised in these because it's not a lay-flat surface, but they're wonderful for naps during the day. It vibrates, and it hugs them nice and tight so that womb-like experience is replicated. It also folds up super easily and is really light for travel in the car - we've taken it down to the farm multiple times. Brooklyn has loved hers from the beginning, and it's something I couldn't live without.
Bestever Baby Mat - My cousin gave us one of these right after B was born, and I was really glad to have it! It's our go-to tummy time, diaper changing, clothes changing, dog bed (ha but really, Mali steals it so often), etc. It's machine washable, which is like the most important part, and super soft. There have been quite a few blowout changes on that thing, and stains are gone after every wash (plus it protects the carpet a little better than a regular blanket!) We use it all the time, and it's one of those random items I would have dismissed as unnecessary while registering. It's a must-have, though!
Boba Baby Wrap - Favorite favorite favorite thing, ever. When I was pregnant, I got this as a gift from my mom at a shower. When I unraveled it, it literally looked like an awkwardly long stretchy blanket, and I was skeptical. But after B was born, I watched Boba's videos on how to tie and wear it, and I was amazed at how easy it was to put on. Brooklyn LOVES being worn. She usually falls asleep pretty quickly if she's fussing to be held, and then I can get things done with my TWO FREE hands. I've used this while shopping also, if I need more room in the cart since the car seat takes up a ton of space. It's a huge help, and I've read plenty of things that say that baby-wearing is awesome for bonding as well. I like it because it's like productive snuggling - the best of both worlds!
Milk Snob Carseat Cover - A friend of mine showed me these when I was pregnant, and I really just liked the look of them at first. They're actually really smart because they don't fly up in the wind (hello, Kansas!) and they work as nursing covers, shopping cart covers, and I've even seen moms use them to cover swing seats. I've used the nursing cover many times, and I love it because it's right there in plain sight for me to literally never forget to bring. It stays on the carseat at all times, and goes with B everywhere so I never have to panic about forgetting it in case she needs to eat in a public space. So far, after two months of use, it hasn't stretched out. I've washed it multiple times, and it's been great. Definitely recommend buying one to have on hand.
That's all folks! I know we'll discover more products as B grows. What's been your go-to items for the first 6 months??