The fourth trimester is no joke. While adrenaline gets you through the first few weeks – I honestly sprung out of bed, no matter the hour – reality hits around the 8 week mark. Suddenly, it’s that much harder to get through each day and to figure out what to do with a baby that has ever-increasing wake times.
While the newborn essentials I shared were about survival, these 0-3 month must haves for baby are about the day-to-day with baby. Once you’re out of the fog, you can think about things like activities, bedtime routines and even doing a little something for yourself. Plus, you have a whole new set of beauty challenges like postpartum hair loss + cracking hands.
If I can offer one word of advice before we start: try not to buy too many things too far in advance. Babies are fickle creatures. You’ll also develop really strong preferences as a parent as you learn more about baby items and get to talking with other moms, dads & caregivers. In fact, all of these products I’m sharing today are things I personally researched or are recommendations from friends. You also don’t need everything. Pick and choose what works best for you and your own baby.
I try really hard to buy for the season we’re in. In the never-ending quest against too much stuff, this is the best way I’ve discovered for managing.
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A typical day in the life involves a lot of time on the ground doing tummy time, looking at books and generally trying to stimulate baby during wake times. These are the best 0-3 month baby toys – according to Izzy!
- Multi-purpose is the name of the game. The Skip Hop Vibrant Village is a foldable fabric toy that stands up on its own, making it perfect for tummy time. One side is brightly coloured, the other a high-contrast black and white. It features tactile ribbons, a baby-safe mirror, and peek-a-boo doors, windows, and flaps – perfect for growing with baby. It attaches to your carseat or stroller for entertainment on the go, too. Plus, it’s washable (in the washing machine!).
- Sensory toys that can be easily grasped and teethed on are ideal close to the 3-month mark. Isabelle loves the Manhattan Toy Atom Rattle & Teether and Manhattan Toy Winkel. Both are easy to hold for baby, brightly-coloured (but not garish) and make a pleasing rattle noise. I found she gravitated towards the Atom rattle first (and it was also perfect for shaking to encourage head-turning during tummy time).
- While I was still trying to bring only aesthetically-pleasing items into our home, my parents bought Isabelle this for theirs. It’s flashy, it’s bright, it’s loud…and she loves it. Actually, every baby who has it seems to love the Fisher-Price Deluxe Kick & Play Piano Gym. My only regret is not buying it sooner – she prefers it so much over the muted, tropical activity gym I purchased before she was born.
- I bought the Pehr On The Go Teether for me. The muted colours, adorable bow and sustainable wood really spoke to me. Luckily, Izzy loves to grasp at the crinkly-paper bow and hold onto the lightweight wood, too!
Best Infant Sound Machine / Night Light
Nighttime feeds were made so much easier once I purchased the Hatch Baby Rest Sound Machine. This dual-purpose nightlight and sound machine can be controlled by an app, allowing you to fill the room with dim light before you walk in. You can avoid the nighttime fumbles for a lamp which is so ideal. If you forget your phone – or if someone caring for baby doesn’t have the app – you can save 6 favourite sound & light settings that turn on with a simple tap of the machine.
The only downside is that the Hatch Baby Rest must be plugged in. Since I purchased it, the Hatch Baby Rest Plus has become available and it has a battery and external clock option.
Car Seat Covers
To keep baby out of the elements, you’ll want to pick up a car seat cover for both the warm and cold seasons. I waited to long on both and caused myself a lot more grief than was necessary!
- For warmer months, I love the Itzy Ritzy 4-In-One Cover. It easily stretches over the car seat and is perfect for keeping sun and wind off baby. It comes in adorable prints and can also be used as a nursing cover, scarf and shopping cart cover.
- For the freezing season known as Canadian Winter, you’ll want a shower cap-style car seat cover lined with warm fabric. We have the Skip Hop Stroll & Go Carseat Cover , which allows for baby to go without a jacket underneath. It’s incredibly important to use only car seat covers that go over the car seat and not any that fit between baby and the seat itself. As cozy as they may look, they are not tested for safety and can compromise baby’s safety during an accident. Thick jackets are also a no-no: we stick to layering on a warm sweater or knit jacket instead.
This is definitely more of a want-to-have, but we adore our Ubbi Wipes Dispenser. It allows you to buy wipes in bulk and ensures that they stay wet. The weighted plate means wipes are readily available when you need them and easy to pull out. A clutch item when you’re dealing with a screaming infant and an explosive diaper. Plus, it looks sleek in the nursery.
A Comfortable Play Mat
If you’re spending a lot of time on the floor with baby, you’re going to want a cushioned play mat. There are many options on the market, but we love our Play With Pieces mat. The nontoxic, Canadian-designed mats are high quality, reversible and design-forward. It’ll save your butt.
Books for Baby
We read to Isabelle every night as part of her bedtime routine and also use high-contrast books to keep her interested during tummy time. Something I didn’t realize before having a child: so many books designed for babies are terrible. Barely-get-through-reading-them terrible. One-word-on-every-page terrible. No-plotline-in-the-slightest terrible. As my friend Kat quipped, “Stories have a beginning, middle and end”. So many children’s books do not. So, here’s what we’ve been loving:
- Giraffes Can’t Dance is an adorable tale of Gerald the Giraffe. It is easy to read (it rhymes!), has beautiful illustrations and a wonderful message of individuality. Thank you to Maddy & Nick who gifted this at my shower!
- Anything by Sandra Boynton has been wonderful. They’re short enough to make a part of your nap routine, too, or for a quick activity. We love The Going To Bed Book and Pajama Time.
- Don’t be afraid of books for “older kids”, especially as part of bedtime. It helps to build your library for later, but, selfishly, the stories tend to be better for the parents, too. I love reading to Isabelle from Robert Munsch – Stephanie’s Ponytail and Thomas’ Snowsuit are favourites. Both have lots of repetition, which baby can pick up on!
- On The Night You Were Born will bring all the tears, but not nearly as many as I Love You Forever (avoid at all costs). It’s an incredibly sweet story about how special baby is that you’ll love reading to them.
- No list of kids’ books is complete without The Very Hungry Caterpillar. This is a book I have super vivid memories of reading as a kid at my aunt Laura’s house and I still love it to this day. It’s brightly-coloured and is a great opportunity to practice counting and identify different foods with baby.
Once I picked up this Stroller Organizer from Skip Hop, outings became much easier. No need to fumble in your diaper bag – this organizer has space for anything you might need on a walk or trip to the mall (lip gloss, baby socks, a sun hat, bottles…). It also features a handy zip-off clutch you can use to store your wallet and some cash.
When you look like you’re going backpacking in Europe every time you leave the house for a walk, you find ways to lighten your load. Swapping your wallet for a cardholder is a great way to reduce what you carry – and minimize stress about forgetting something. Credit, debit, ID, health cards for yourself and baby plus a bit of cash are all you need. I treated myself to this Saint Laurent Monogram Card Case after falling in love with my sister-in-law’s.
While we’re here… let’s talk about the glamorous aspects of the fourth trimester. Namely, postpartum hair loss and exceptionally chapped hands.
- In the shower, you’re going to want a wide-toothed comb and the supremely sexy Tubshroom. Try not to get too attached to the piles of hair that accumulate and pat yourself on the back for saving your drain from a massive clog.
- To manage your new baby hairs + distract from the bags under your eyes, I suggest the Satin Turban Knot Hairband. It’s fancy and updates any outfit – even sweatpants! This is the headband I wear most days, but you can also find super cute ones (treat yourself!) at Anthropologie and even on Amazon.
- To keep your remaining hairs up and out of your face (and away from grabby baby hands), Invisibobbles are the only hair tie you need. If you’re feeling fancy and want to jump in on the scrunchie craze, pick up their velvet Sprunchies.
- I tried everything to soothe my hands from nonstop handwashing and bottle cleaning. The only thing that worked was this drugstore brand hand cream, boosted with hyaluronic acid. Buy one for your bag, nightstand, kitchen and partner. * Massive kudos to my friend Kat for this one!
Phew! That’s a lot. But, this is what has been getting me through not only the 0-3 month stage but beyond. If I can offer one last parting recommendation, it’s to download the Huckleberry app. If you read my newborn essentials post, you’ll know I was using BabyTracker. I’ve since moved on and love that Huckleberry provides age-appropriate wake window reminders. Yes, it tells you when your baby needs a nap/bedtime. It’s wonderful.
A little about life with Isabelle: I absolutely love being Isabelle’s mom. Every day has new challenges, but it’s so rewarding to see her learning new skills, interacting with her baby buds and experiencing things like baby music class. She’s incredibly smiley and already makes so many noises – she’s going to be a talkative one!
It’s not always rosy – it’s very difficult to change your entire life to centre around an infant instead of your personal ambitions – career or otherwise. I’m extremely lucky to have a wonderful, supportive group of new mom friends who are always available to chat baby and who just get it. It’s made all the difference in the world.