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As I sit down to write this, my and my husband’s Everest-sized mountain of paperwork to be adoptive parents is going through reviews by dozens of people around the country. We are ecstatic to be able to do this, but we are also terrified. If you’re early in the process or considering it, allow me to explain briefly how placement works (note: this is only for domestic infant adoption, international and foster-to-adopt are different).
Once we’re approved by our agency and our state, we’ll be on a list of waiting families that expecting moms can pick from as they navigate placing their child for adoption. These expecting moms (and dads potentially) are 100% in control of the family they pick. We will likely be matched prior to mom giving birth, but there is potential a mom decides after she gives birth to place her child. For us, this means we could get a call at any moment to come to a hospital and meet the child that will become ours… which is somehow both my best and worst nightmare as a super type-A planner.
Not only could we find out about picking up our baby within a few hours, but we also likely won’t have a baby shower (this is our first child) until after everything is court-official. Because of my need to be organized and ready for anything in this process, I’ve begun to do a great deal of research on the best baby products on the internet and how we can be ready for anything. I figure of the 18,000 infants that will be adopted this year in the U.S., I can’t be the only soon-to-be parent wondering what products are critical to bring a baby home. Thus, we present to you our 8 most important things to get before you’re called to come get your kiddo!
An Infant Car Seat
pipa + pipa base
Perhaps the most critical item adoptive parents need is a carseat. As you may or may not know, hospitals won’t let you take home a baby unless you have an appropriate, safe car seat for them to ride in. Until entering the world of adoption, I never realized how overwhelming the choices for car seats are for prospective parents. I researched half a dozen “luxury” car seat brands, talked to my mom friends, and eventually found that I liked Nuna’s pipa + pipa base.
The winning feature for me, besides the reasonable price (for a luxury item), was the fact that it does not require a base to be installed, meaning it can be installed with just a seatbelt. We live in the city and travel quite a bit, so I anticipate not wanting to lug a base everywhere. It is also FAA-certified, meaning it’s safe to fly with the carseat without the base. With the base, installation takes less than 5 seconds, so you can snap in and go, skipping the fuss. It looks sleek, adapts to your growing baby, and features a UPF 50+ canopy for sun protection. I also really like the unique color selection, which includes six earth tones that are sure to suit any style.
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As we’re waiting to be matched, we still enjoy life with our “furry family.” One of our favorite activities is going to a park and walking the dogs. I anticipate that this will not change once we have a baby, so I knew we needed an “off-road” stroller that was able to adapt to our active lifestyle. There are a whole lot of sexy, expensive strollers that seem to excel at converting between multiple configurations, but they seem to lack the ability to venture off the beaten path. Jogging strollers were of course an option, but with a smaller house, I didn’t want to store both types.
My dilemma was resolved when someone introduced me to the Roam Crossover Stroller by Guava Family, which offers the best features of a traditional stroller with the durability of a jogging stroller. One of my mom friends at work told me, “The Guava is more rugged [than other brands]: you can jog with it (once baby is old enough), take it on dirt paths, and not worry about it on uneven sidewalks. Plus, it folds up small enough to fit in the back of a sedan.” It is compatible with many different infant car seats, such as the Nuna Pipa (yay!), Uppababy Mesa, Graco Snugride Click Connects, among others, so you can easily utilize your choice of infant seat with it.
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Bottles are yet another baby item I didn’t know was so complicated, especially since this is the only way our little one will get nutrients for some time. There are so many bottles to pick from, ranging in material to shape to size to stage. For a prospective, first time mom, I found this to be pretty overwhelming. After some research, I learned a couple traits I wanted: natural/non-toxic materials, made for easy cleaning, and not hideously ugly.
Olá Baby seems to offer it all, particularly because their bottles are sorted by feeding stage, meaning you can buy the right thing without a ton of research or guesswork. For infants, they have the GentleBottle ($14.99) that meets all of my criteria – plus it transitions with your kiddo into a cup with a spout, straw, and even into a travel cup. With 100 (and counting) 5-star reviews on their site, you can bet I’ll be ordering multiples.
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Organic Infant Formula
Obviously, I’m not birthing our kiddo, which means I won’t be able to breastfeed, which I’ve always thought I’d do. This had me looking for the best infant formulas on the market. I don’t think I realized the importance of a good formula until listening to my parent friends being pained by the shortage that happened in 2022. Choosing a formula is a big decision. From having one that your child likes to accessibility, it really matters for parents who can’t or aren’t breastfeeding.
Bobbie’s Organic Infant Formula has come recommended time and time again to me as a good place to start with our baby. It is simple in its makeup, allowing only the essentials to be fed to your baby and nothing more. As the only mom-led infant formula company founded in the US, the focus remains on your baby’s health and well-being, with benefits around development, growth, digestion, and immunity. Curious to know more? Read our full review from editor and mom-extraordinaire Aliza.
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Travel On LX 2-in-1 Compact Playard with Bassinet
This one could be controversial as to whether it’s “critical” or not, but for me, it definitely is. Considering babies only sleep in bassinets for a few months and my house has limited space, I didn’t want to invest in getting a standalone bassinet. At the same time, I was researching playards for an eventual registry. This is when I learned about the 2-in-1 playards and bassinets, which I knew was the right solution for me. Sure, it’s not as aesthetically pleasing as many luxury bassinets out there, but for this one, I’m picking practical over aesthetics. Speaking of looks… so many of these playards were just downright ugly. It seemed hardly any had been updated since the 90’s when I used one of these – and not in like the cute Y2K look that’s in right now.
I finally found Century’s Travel On LX 2-in-1 Compact Playard with Bassinet after searching the depths of the internet, which actually looks like it belongs in this millenia. Beyond being convertible, it is made with recyclable materials, comes with a carrying bag and sheet, and folds down nicely for travel. It may not be the prettiest thing you’ll buy, but it’s certainly a great multi-use product with a reasonable price tag.
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Plenty of Infant Diapers
Ahhh diapers, every parents’ dream baby equipment to get. Similar to formula, I was overwhelmed by the choices out there. From store brand to the classics to cloth, the options are seemingly endless. How’s a momma-to-be to know what is comfy and well… what’s not going to leak? This is one I had to rely heavily on my friends for, many of which pointed me to Coterie’s Diapers.
Available in multiple sizes, hypoallergenic, and soft as heck, these diapers ship straight to your door on a scheduled basis starting at $90/month. With this deal, you can always be locked and loaded for whatever – er, load – your little one gifts you. Check out our full review of these diapers here to hear from a current mom what Coterie can do for you.
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Loads of Wipes
Bamboo Baby Wipes
Sure, you can certainly pick up wipes on your way home from the hospital, but why waste your precious first few hours with your new baby on errands? I’ll be getting Caboo’s Bamboo Baby Wipes sent straight to me. These wipes are incredibly gentle, yet surprisingly strong from the bamboo fibers that they’re made of. Though they can’t be flushed, they are clean for babies and clean for the Earth, too. Even better, once we know how much our baby uses, we can set up a subscription to have wipes sent to our door on a regular basis.
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A Diaper Bag
The Diaper Backpack
I recently fell in love with luggage brand BÉIS after my sweet MIL gifted me a weekender bag. It has easily become my “drink of choice” when it comes to luggage and bags, so it was a no-brainer for me when I saw their Backpack Diaper Bag. I suppose I could get the diaper bag after picking our baby up, but I also don’t want to show up to the hospital with my reused Trader Joe’s bags full of diapers and wipes. It doesn’t scream “diaper bag” and the bag features all the pockets I could want. Don’t believe me? Check out this video highlighting all its best features.
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Stay in It, Parents-to-Be
I recognize as someone still going through the home study and application process, this can seem preemptive, especially considering adoption doesn’t always work out. To those people thinking that, I hear you and I am bracing myself… with great return policies. All kidding aside, I am emotionally bracing myself for things to not work out, too. Guarding your heart is part of this process, just as much as opening it up is.
However, I believe in my heart of hearts in our “why” and that it will work out. Preparing for it to work out by getting these things is just one tangible way I’m getting ready to be a first-time mom and to take exceptional care of my baby-to-be. To my fellow hopeful adoptive moms and dads reading this, stay strong and courageous in this long and emotionally-exhausting process. Orphan Justice summed our hopes and fears as adoptive parents up best: “Foster care is risky. Adoption is risky. Love itself is always risky.” Keep choosing that risk today and everyday – our families and our world are going to be all the better because you did.