Nuby Softees Super Soft Teether: Parker started teething at three months old and we quickly realized his mouth was too small for teething rings. He was chewing on a silicon spatula until I found this at Target. He loves it! The teether is 3ish dollars and comes in blue and pink.
Pack 'n Play: Don't buy a separate bassinet, most Pack 'n Plays come with them and are really convenient for traveling to Grandma's house or for a hotel stay.
* Buy the full size pack 'n play. Parker grew out of the smaller version around 9 months.
Up & Up (Target) brand diapers: (we use these when we are on trips and sometimes at night) cheaper than the name brands and comparable quality to Pampers, plus they have a cute polka-dot design.
* We quit using these around size 3. Couldn't keep up w/ the amount of pee Parker was producing.
Angel Care monitor: Sounds an alarm after 30 seconds if it does not detect movement and breathing. It is also an audio monitor so you can hear crying, etc.
* Currently having issues w/ the handheld monitor, emailed customer service to resolve the problem...I will reevaluate after their response. ** Parker is almost 2 and we are on our 3rd monitor. All have been covered by the warranty. Pros/cons: You must send in the defective monitor, 2 week turn around, free shipping, and warranty starts over each time you get a new monitor.
Rechargeable batteries: EVERYTHING takes batteries! The up front cost is a bit steep, but will save you money in the long run.
Sleepers w/ zippers and sleep gowns: These make diaper changing so much easier! During the first few weeks, sleep gowns were our outfits of choice. Parker was a bit too small for newborn sleepers and we were too tired to wrestle w/ snaps and pants.
* Read up on new swaddle research and proper swaddling techniques.
Receiving blankets & old school pre-fold cloth diapers: These make great burp cloths. The diapers are super absorbent and the receiving blankets are big enough to protect your clothes and can be used a few times before you need a new one.
Waterproof lap pads: These work great to keep the changing table cover clean. The first week I washed the cover several times until I started laying these down under his bum. Our pack 'n play bassinet mattress is not water proof so I put one of these under the sheet to protect it from spit up and potential diaper leaks.
Crib wedge: "Back is Best" = spit up and reflux so elevating the head of the mattress or getting a crib wedge seems to help.
Dark curtains/blinds: One of Parker's bedroom windows gets direct sunlight in the afternoons. Check it out ahead of time otherwise you will end up clothes pinning towels and blankets for a temporary fix.
Hats: always keep a "seasonal" hat in the diaper bag. I got caught without one in cold windy weather and Parker had to borrow a pink flowered sun hat at an outdoor wedding reception.
Thermometer: Make sure you get a thermometer with an automatic shut off or a battery that can be easily replaced. We bought a Safety First thermometer but found that when the battery died no stores carried that size of battery so we ended up having to buy another thermometer.
Medela Breast Pump: Your boobies will thank you! Be sure to get the softfit breast shields and an AC power adapter. It is much easier to pump in the "privacy" of your car than try to find a private place to pump with a power outlet. Oh, and I find it helpful to stash a washcloth in with the pump to tuck into your bra to catch drips. Washing multiple bottles every time is tedious, so save yourself a little bit of time and buy Dr. Brown bottles (4.5 & 8 oz. skinny size), they have the same size mouth as the pump bottles and have an internal vent system that gets rid of most of the air bubbles (I know Medela now has baby bottle attachments, but they do not have an air vent system.)
Flip Video Camera: Compact, affordable, easy to charge, download and upload. We bought ours at Costco.
Swings: Yes, they are a bit pricey and take up quite a bit of room, but they will save your sanity (and give you a chance to get a daily shower) Be sure to find one with side-to-side AND back and forth motion. Portable swings are another cheaper and smaller option.