As somebody who exclusively breastfed, combination fed and exclusively formula feed (all with the same baby!), I got a pretty good idea of what the necessities were. While I wanted to breastfeed exclusively for the entire first year, due to medical complications and my baby’s weight I had to combination feed. By the time I returned to work, my supply wasn’t ample enough to justify pumping, so I became a formula momma. Here’s a look at what I couldn’t live without during my baby’s first year.
Breastfeeding Pillow While a lot of my mom friends swore by the Boppy since I am plus-sized, I found My Breast Friend to be more comfortable. It comes with an adjustable strap, so you’re able to really get a good fit. The Boppy, meanwhile, is a fixed size that you just hug over your body. Having a breastfeeding pillow will help you achieve a comfortable position for both you and baby. Since you’ll be spending a lot of time in this position, this is well worth the investment. If you get a chance when you’re at the hospital, have a nurse or lactation consultant work with you on finding the best breastfeeding position for your body type and baby’s needs. For example, since I was on the bustier side, the football hold was the best choice for us.
Bottles & Bottle Accessories Whether you breastfeed or formula feed, you’ll likely find yourself needing bottles. Even if you decide to exclusively breastfeed 100% of the way, you may find yourself needing to pump for whatever reason, so bottles will become a necessity. For me, the biggest hitch in the plan was making sure bottles, nipples and nipple collars were all compatible with each other. For example, we started on Medela bottles, but at some point started buying various other types of nipples and bottles and it required a little trickery to make sure it all worked together. The best strategy is to just pick your preferred bottle brand and stick with it for the long haul.
Breast Pump As earlier mentioned, you may find yourself needing to pump for a variety of reasons even if you’re exclusively breastfeeding. First of all, it’s just really convenient to pump and freeze ahead. Secondly, if you intend on returning to work and want to continue to breastfeed, this is a must. Make sure you check with your insurance to see what is covered. For example, my Humana plan covered a double electric Medela pump. I also ended up using a manual pump at the hospital and actually liked it. It’s great for when you’re in a pinch and don’t want to deal with finding the space and power source for an electric pump.
Bottle Warmer This one is something you’ll probably want at first, then find as baby gets older that it’s not that essential. In my case, I just assumed my child would want warm milk since she was so used to breastmilk that was body temperature. With everything being so sensitive in the beginning, I didn’t want to rock the boat. Then one day without really thinking about it, I gave her a cold bottle because she was getting really impatient. She didn’t seem to care, so I just stopped using it one day. So, how do you find the best bottle warmer? First I tried Dr. Brown’s and ended up needing to return it because it wasn’t working (maybe it had been dropped?). The next one I tried was First Years Quick Serve, and it was fantastic.
Formula Pitcher This one’s for the formula mommas. Go ahead and invest in this cheap contraption, which is basically a pitcher with a mixer function built in. This will enable you to prepare formula in bulk, which will feel like a godsend when you’re dealing with round-the-clock feedings. We went with the Munchkin Smart Blend Formula Mixing Pitcher and it’s been a dream. There’s even a numbered dial on the rim of the pitcher that you can set to remind you when you prepared the batch. While one-off bottle making seems like a small chore in the grand scheme of things, you’re going to find that all these little shortcuts really add up along the way.