Five Favorite Baby Items & A Free Baby Book Printable

If you’re anything like us, patience is easier said than done, so we’ll get straight to the something free. After many (many) requests, we’re happy to announce that we’ve finally created a downloadable PDF or Word Doc (click here for print-ready PDF, here for editable Microsoft Word) of our “DIY Baby Book” that we revealed in our getting-ready-for-baby post a few weeks back. Just to jog your memory, here’s how we whipped it up:

The idea was actually John’s brain child (I’m telling you, he’s the sweet sentimental one and I’m the neurotic fool who worried about ruining our sofa if my water broke). He suggested that we get a fabric covered album and create our own little baby book of sorts, with fun patterned paper and printed prompts that you see in typical baby books like “The First Week Was….” and “My First Word…” I loved the idea of adding in keepsakes like Clara’s inked footprints from the hospital along with a ton of photos, so we headed over to Michael’s (with a 40% off coupon in hand) and snagged a sweet 8.5 x 8.5″ album covered in super fun Amy Butler fabric for just $9 after my coupon.

We also picked up a pad full of 8 x 8″ patterned paper to use as a backdrop in our keepsake album (to the tune of $6). So our entire DIY baby book project ran us $15 total. And after adding all the decorative paper and leaving room for notes about momentous occasions- along with photos and other memorabilia- we were left with a pretty sweet way to document many of Clara’s firsts (a few of which we’ve already written in!):

And since we made it ourselves we had fun sprinkling in a few quirky things, like this page of “Future Predictions” where John and I guessed everything from Clara’s hair and eye color to her first word, her favorite subject in school, and even her future profession – before her arrival of course. It should be fun for the beanette to look back at all of our goofy (and most likely completely wrong) guesses someday.

Plus the fact that it looks so cute in the nursery is the icing on the cake…

So now you can download the print-ready PDF or the editable (and then print-ready) Word Doc by following the links in the first paragraph. Then you just have to grab some pretty paper and an album and you’re ready to print out our little PDF/Doc, cut each caption out, and arrange them in your new homemade memory book.

And now on to those five lifesavers that we mentioned in the title. Much like the frequent requests for a version of our DIY baby book, we received a lot of questions about what household items have come in handy since Clara came along. And although this isn’t exactly home improvement related, it definitely falls under the “what makes your house more efficient” category so we figured we’d dedicate one post to this much asked question. Although at first we wondered if we’d even have any favorite items at just three weeks into parenting, but we’re happy to say that we most definitely have a small collection of items that we ABSOLUTELY LOVE. As in probably couldn’t have lived without. So although every baby is different and every parent has varying opinions, here’s what we’re so glad that we had on hand to help us adjust to life with Clara-Clara-Bo-Bara:

1. These Aden and Anias swaddle blankets are amazing. They’re made of thin stretchy (and breathable!) muslin and they’re giant (44″ x 44″)- which makes them perfect for giving Clara that back-in-the-womb feeling. Ever since we noticed how happy she was when she was swaddled by the all-knowing nurses at the hospital, we vowed to carry on that tradition at home. Have we mentioned that we actually have to set an alarm and wake her up to feed her at night when we swaddle her before putting her to bed? Note: be sure to securely swaddle your wee one before putting him or her to sleep since loose blankets can pose a suffocation hazard- just google “how to swaddle” for some great step by step tutorials.

2. This little clutch from Skip Hop can be slipped into any large purse to make it an instant diaper bag- which appeals to a deal hunter like me. See, I’ve noticed that bags billed as “diaper bags” can be over $150 for something that looks polished, while non-diaper bags of the same quality/size can be found for a lot less. In fact I grabbed a chic oversized black bag from The Gap for $25 (on clearance!) and just slipped the Skip Hop clutch right inside. Now I always have diapers, wipes, and an extra outfit on hand – I even have a clean mat to change her on while we’re on the go. Plus I can easily drop it the clutch into other purses and bags if I feel like changing up my look without buying another official diaper bag. Oh the versatility. We actually plan to pick up another one because the changing mat part (which can be detached) is great for dropping over our changing pad in the nursery. Clara LOVES to pee when she’s being changed- seriously the girl does it 8 out of 10 times. Thankfully, the slippery waterproof material makes those little impromptu pee-fests so much easier to clean up!

3. Our next must-have Clara item is actually a super handy iPhone app that we downloaded on the day that we returned home from the hospital. We were obsessed with trying to keep track of how many diapers she was wetting and dirtying (since the docs & nurses stressed that as a great way to monitor her health and the quality of my feedings). I also kept blanking out about which side I needed to start nursing her from every few hours. Enter Baby Brain stage right. It’s just $4.99 and it keeps track of all my feedings (it even has a ticker at the top to track how long it’s been since the last one) and it also tracks wet & dirty diapers. We love that we can push a button and see everything there is to know about Clara’s day (and even compare that day to others) . Especially since products like the ItzBeen Timer are sold for around $25 and this app does pretty much the same thing for $4.99. Plus we didn’t have to acquire yet another baby gadget. Score.

4. This mouthwatering lasagna photo represents all the amazing frozen meals that were dropped off by friends & family members after returning home with our little bundle of baby. John and I joke that we’ve never eaten better. Seriously, the kindness of our loved ones has been amazing, and if you’re not sure how many relatives and friends will show up with meals as you adjust to having a wee one around we would definitely recommend making (and freezing) a few meals before delivery day, just so you have them on hand. Anything that makes things like feeding yourself a no-brainer is pretty much guaranteed to be a hit when you’re so focused on providing for your babe that you forget to eat!

5. This last gadget is totally a personal preference thing. We know some moms who scoff at the idea, but personally it’s been the reason that we sleep at least 8 hours a night (interrupted by just one feeding!) so we’re eternally grateful. Basically, it’s a monitor that detects movement in your baby as he/she sleeps- even just their chest rising and falling as they breathe. And if there aren’t any movements/breathing in 20 seconds it sets off an alarm. John and I can’t tell you how much peace of mind this gives us. Plus it allows us to sleep more soundly and not do that hover-over-her-crib-to-make-sure-she’s-breathing thing. Seriously, I haven’t done that once. It has also helped us to get her into her crib from day one (as opposed to a moses basket in our room) which has done wonders for her sleep schedule since she isn’t disturbed by us moving or the dog bounding around the bed at night. Remember, we have to actually wake her up to feed her or she’d sleep right through the night! Oh it’s also a sound monitor so we get to hear her cooing… and if she were to wake up and cry someday, we’d hear that too.

So those are the five things that have been indispensable these first few weeks. And in case it’s not obvious without this little disclaimer, none of the makers of the items mentioned above have paid us or perked us in any way to call them out here, they’re just honestly the five things that have helped us out immensely so we thought we’d share ’em (especially since we get so many emails from new parents or parents-to-be who want our opinion). We’re honestly kind of shocked that anyone cares about what we like, but there you go!

And now, since that’s an awful lot of words up above, let’s break things up with a few photos:

We’ve decided, like many other fellow bloggers, that we’ll be documenting Clara’s growth with a series of weekly photos. And we came up with the idea of using a white onesie (along with some Photoshop magic to add the week) and a colorful swatch of fabric for the background. We already had some great textiles laying around, but we also look forward to hunting down some cheap remnants to keep the project going (and using baby blankets and even our bedroom duvet if we ever get desperate). In fact the last photo was taken with Clara laying on the fun pillowcases I got for the hospital (mentioned in this post). By Clara’s first birthday we’ll have 52 weekly photos showing how much she’s changed on a slew of punchy graphic backgrounds to compile in a photo book (you know, one of those Snapfish or Kodak Gallery ones?). Should be fun. Oh and we’ll be adding all of our weekly beanette photos to this album in Flickr, just in case you’d like to follow along…

But back to the subject of those five favorite lifesavers, we’d love to hear your top five can’t-live-without-’em baby picks. And if you’re not packing the parental card in your wallet just yet, we’re definitely interested in hearing the five must-have items that make your life easier. What’s frying your bacon these days?

Psst- This post contains affiliate links. 


  1. Sandy says

    How I wish blogland was around and especially YHL when I was expecting! Let’s just say you are a couple of decades (plus some) late! These are fantastic ideas for expectant and new parents! Love the colors and the weekly pic of Clara. She is beyond adorable!!! Hope you are all well!

  2. Jennifer says

    Your #5 is a good one. When my first niece was born, her heart would tire from pumping, and it would just stop. She was hospitalized for weeks. She’s now a happy 2 year old, and a proud big sister….to my other niece who was born in March. They monitored her heart’s development in utero, and they were fine. It was her lungs that would tire from working. More hospitalizations. For their 2nd baby girl, my sister got that same pad. That’s what woke my sister up at 11pm when baby Nora had stopped breathing a few days after coming home from the hospital. Scary stuff. All is good now!

    My other sister swears by her wipe warmer (a gift from ME!). It keeps the wipes nice and warm so the baby doesn’t get startled by an ice cold wet wipe. I got it on Amazon.

  3. Kelly says

    WOAH, that iphone app is killer!!!! I have notebooks where I kept up with feedings and diapers for my two kids! I am so jealous that is available now.

  4. Kelly says

    How are you managing the crease under your photoshoping? Just a change in opacity or are you making your layer an overlay? How cute!

    • says

      Hey Kelly,

      The photoshopped weeks on her onesie is an overlayed layered set on “Multiply” and I also decreased the opacity a bit, that way the shading of her shirt comes through. On the most recent one I had to transform the 3 a bit to make it match the fold in her shirt better too. It’s not perfect, but we think it does the trick. Hope that helps!


  5. Sarah says

    Thanks for the tips! We are in family-planning mode and my friends are all expecting so these pre and current-Clara ideas are wonderful!

  6. says

    Hey Sherry and John,

    Did you have any favorite frozen meals that friends and family dropped off? I want to put together a few things for our friends who just arrived home from the hospital with their newborn, but I’m having trouble being more creative than lasagna or baked ziti! Also, did you find things like cookies or muffins equally as helpful?


    • says

      Hi Erin,

      Great question because now that we’ve been on the receiving end of these meals, we never want to miss a chance to help out a friend with a newborn. The lasagnas we got were great, actually, because they lasted more than one meal. But we also had some people bring some dessert-y type things like pound cake (which was also nice because it lasted a while) and got some great side dishes like salads and pre-marinated asparagus. My parents also made a great “one-dish” meal that included baked chicken and roasted potatoes in the same pan so it was easy to heat up.

      We didn’t get too much breakfast stuff, but the muffins and OJ that Sherry’s mom got us definitely got gobbled up quickly, so I would say that’s a clever thing to do if you’re trying to be different. Hope that helps!


  7. sarah says

    As a mom of four (2 boys, 2 girls ages 7.5, 6, 4, 15 months) I have lots of experience in knowing what is a must have in our house. So, here is my top 5:
    5. sleeping gowns- makes nighttime diaper changes a breeze and keeps their itty bitty legs warm.
    4. onesies- you can’t have too many.
    3. diapers- i’m sure by now you know how often her little bum needs to be changed!
    2. wipes- i still use them for the older kids too! we have a bag in every room of the house and one in the minivan.
    1. cloth diapers- another item you can’t have enough of. I never did use them as actual diapers, but they are wonderful to have around for feeding, wiping spills, mini blanket to lay the baby down, night time feeding leak protection (if you’re nursing) and my most favorite thing to use them for is to put between my arm and baby’s head when feeding- it keeps them from getting sweaty-heady, especially in the summer.
    As new parents I hope this helps you with a few items to keep around!
    Have fun and enjoy every minute because it goes by so fast!
    Congrats on Clara, she’s beautiful! :)

  8. Kristen says

    My son is now 20 months old, but here are a few things we couldn’t live without in his first months of life:

    1. Mylicon gas drops
    2. Chicco Lullaby LX playard. It includes a bassinet and changing table, which make it great for traveling, AND there a remote controlled music/vibration/light that sits on the side and helps baby to feel comforted in the few seconds before Mommy or Daddy come to the rescue.
    3. Lamaze Freddie the Firefly: Full of colors and textures, this quickly was something that engaged our little boy and helped him discover this brand new world.
    4. Each other–my husband and I learned how to rely on each other in totally new ways, and our relationship grew (and continues to grow!) stronger and stronger as we shared in the joy of loving our little bundle.

  9. amelia says

    quick question…first, great post! i’m looking forward to expanding my family of 3(me, hubby & fur baby) to 4 in the very near future and i will definitely keep this post in my library! The photos of Clara are super cute :-)
    Okay, back to the question…when i click on the link to get the downloadable baby book you made it says “opps. sorry page not here”. Is this just something on my end?

  10. Plume says

    Oh boy. I have a 21-month-old now, and I think I can better tell you what has been a total waste as opposed to what has been a life saver for us, ha! I honestly cannot think of something that I would’ve died without. Hmmm… But I do have a similar clutch as the one you do, and it was pretty good, though bulky. We live in NYC so we walk/take the train everywhere, and to carry that plus a bag plus the baby and the stroller, just wasn’t really fun. Now I just throw a slim changing pad in the stroller basket, disinfect before and after use, and we’re good to go. Best to you guys!

  11. Hilary says

    “Remember, we have to actually wake her up to feed her or she’d sleep right through the night!”
    Be careful putting stuff like this down in ‘writing’! You dont’ want to jinx yourself! I do like your top 5 though. (Meals are my fave:)

  12. Claire says

    I don’t have a baby so I can’t offer any advice or feedback on useful baby items, but I just wanted to tell you how much I adore Clara’s facial expressions. They are just so darned cute! She is so animated!

  13. sarah says

    be careful with that clara-clara-bo-bara bit. i thought my middle name was bo-barah for an embarrassingly long time.

    that monitor saved the life of my friend’s child. she somehow got a blanket down her throat during a nap. if the monitor had not gone off, it would have been tragic. literally a lifesaver! excellent choice (imho).

    your daughter is gorgeous. congratulations!!

  14. Clare says

    I’m so glad you posted the monitors for #5. My friend had one (found it in Europe) for her babies, and I was wondering how I’d be able to locate them in the US. As an occasional babysitter during a night out, it was also nice for me to have that monitor nearby, so that I wasn’t interrupting baby’s sleep by my nervous hovering.
    The pictures of Clara are adorable – thanks for sharing.

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