It hardly seems possible, but little James turns five months old today. (Five month update coming soon!) I still clearly remember being pregnant and trying to sift through the ridiculously long lists of things you “need” before bringing baby home, so I thought I’d talk about the top five baby items that have stood out so far for us in these first few months.
These are certainly not the items I would have predicted, but they have been the best for us. I am by no means an expert and of course each baby has his or her own preferences.
Note: I did not include the floor bed, which has absolutely been a favorite, as I discussed it in detail here.
Everything I read when I was pregnant emphasized that you could never have enough light swaddle blankets, especially these Aiden and Anais ones. I don’t know why, but I feel like we barely use these. Sure, we tuck one around James in the stroller, but I seem to have about five times as many light blankets as I need.
We have far fewer thick blankets, but use them much more. These are the ones we lay James on when he’s playing. This may be because we have hard wood floors, but we often double up so he doesn’t bang his head when he rolls over. My very favorite is the one that my friend and former boss, Lisa, made me. It is soft and thick and was especially perfect when James was learning to hold his head up and often lost control and hit it on the floor. There were no head bumps or tears when he was on this blanket.
Independent Black and White Books
I love to read, and absolutely love reading to James. It is one of my favorite things. When he was a newborn, I would lie next to him on the floor and read to him. He now sits and my lap as we read.
As much as I love reading books with James, I really appreciate the books that he can look at independently.
Two of these we’ve particularly loved are the Black & White board book and Art for Baby. The Black and White board book unfolds like an accordion so that the baby can look at the images independently. James LOVED this as a newborn. He would lay and stare at the images for the longest time. It was the first thing I saw him really concentrate on.
We didn’t have the Art for Baby book until he was a little older, but he still loves that one now at five months. It features black and white images from different well known artists. It is much larger than most board books and quite sturdy so that it’s easy to stand it up opened to a certain page to allow your baby to look at it on his own.
This was a relatively inexpensive item that I can see us using well into toddlerhood and beyond. It is probably my number one favorite baby item – and we almost didn’t get it! While I always loved the idea of having a mirror in James’s room, I got a little overwhelmed trying to figure out what type to get and how to mount it to the wall.
I was concerned about the safety of having a glass mirror in his room, since he could potentially bang toys on it and break the glass when he gets older. (I wouldn’t have worried about this if he didn’t have a floor bed / freedom of movement or if we were going to put it in a playroom rather than his room.) On the other hand, many reviews of acrylic / unbreakable mirrors complained about distorted images.
In the end, we ordered an acrylic mirror from Home Depot (our Home Depot didn’t have them in the store, but they do have them online). I couldn’t be happier with it! Is the image perfect? No. Does James stare into it and smile and gaze with fascination? Yes! He does this every single day.
He has been transfixed by it since we first showed it to him as a newborn. If you look into the mirror from across the room, the reflection does look slightly distorted, but from his close up vantage point, it looks great.
This is the only toy to make the list – James loves it! He has been given so many beautiful rattles and toys, but this one definitely stands out as his favorite. My mom gave it to him for Christmas because she remembered it as one of my little brother’s very favorites when he was a baby. It has not disappointed!
This was one of the first toys James could reliably grasp and hold onto. He also loves putting the knobs in his mouth. We have the one with colored knobs, but there is also an unpainted natural wood option.
This was something we added to our wish list just for fun, but it turned out to be so helpful in the first couple of months. While we mostly put him down on a blanket when he was awake to allow freedom of movement, he did sometimes seem to enjoy the change of perspective of being in the lounger. It let him get a better view of the Christmas lights or watch us as we were eating dinner.
As much as I have loved these items, even they have not really been necessary. I’ve been amazed by how engaged James is just looking around the room, watching us go about daily tasks. He has also been captivated by household items like the ceiling fan, a red and black plastic cup we got from a bbq restaurant, and, perhaps his favorite, a beautiful blue silk scarf given to me by a friend (thank you Lisa!).
In the end, we certainly have a few things we haven’t used (the bassinet…), but I’m so glad we didn’t rush out and get everything on the lists. Each baby is so different and you just never know what they will love!