Our days have been crazy over here. Poor Charlie has come into our lives during extreme and frequent transition. I mean, we’re about to move for the second time since we found out I was pregnant with him and both of these moves were unexpected, borderline last minute decisions. That means lots of transitions in short amounts of time all while growing our second son.

So, as it tends to be for any kid after the first, he hasn’t been #1. Not that he’s not a priority. Of course he and Oliver are both #1 on that list. But, unlike his older brother, Charlie has not been the center of my attention and it’s time for me to give him a moment in the spotlight.

While there’s lots of stuff we have left over from Oliver (and our two nephews - we’ve got lots of boys in this family), there’s still a good amount of stuff we’ll need for Charlie. Plus, I don’t want him to fall victim to having 100% hand-me-downs. It’d be nice to at least have a few things that are all his own. So I’m taking the time to make a list of all the necessities for a newborn. From stuff we have to stuff we need to get, these are all the things I remember being most useful my first time around.


Honestly, newborns don’t need much. Mostly they just need food and diapers and a cozy place to sleep. There are many gadgets and things all over the internet that claim to be a must-have for any new human. Honestly, after getting rid of half the stuff we never used with Oliver and taking note of what was truly useful, I’ve found that it’s best to start with the true essentials and go from there. Every kid is different. What Oliver loved and used frequently, Charlie may not bat an eye at.

That’s why, this time around, I’m going to be prepared with all the stuff he really needs and if I feel I want extras along the way, I’ll grab them as I go.


  • CAR SEAT | Of course. You can’t even take the baby home without one! We have Oliver’s old car seat that we’ll be using since he outgrew it very quickly. But, I’d honestly recommend his new car seat if you want to get one that will last you all the way through. It’s good for a 5 lb baby all the way to a 50 lb toddler, so it’ll basically last you through all the years they need a car seat. The only downside to the new one is you can’t take the whole seat out of the car to transport baby which is a little inconvenient when they’re super little and sleepy. The old one, however, clicks in and out of the base making it very easy for transporting a baby, though Oliver grew out of it in a year!

  • SWING | It may seem like a big item for a minimalist’s list, and honestly, I don’t think you NEED to start with this, but it is so handy to help create some kind of nap schedule before you’re ready to put baby in a crib. It’s so cozy and soothing and, at the very least, it gives you a few minutes to be your own person which is very valuable in the newborn days.

  • PUMP | If you’re planning on pumping or you’re a working mom or you just want to have a pump handy, I recommend Medela. I exclusively pumped with Oliver, so I’m a bit of an expert on the subject. I’d love to breastfeed with Charlie, but I know having the pump around, especially after the first month or so, will be really nice so I can at least have the option if I ever want some time by myself or I need to go somewhere without the boys.


It may seem silly to only have two types of clothes for your baby, but these are really the only things we dressed Oliver in for a while. You don’t need a ton of either thing. But these are really good options for being able to easily dress baby without having to pull clothes over their head or button and unbutton things all dang day.

I’ve intentionally left off socks, gloves, and hats (unless you’re going outdoors in freezing weather. Then definitely bundle that baby!) because it’s impossible to keep them on a baby. Just have blankets handy and make sure most of their clothes have the little hand covers.

  • 3-4 KIMONO BODY SUITS | I love this for day time. It’s cute and simple which makes it perfect for outings and you can keep a swaddle for them so pants aren’t super necessary. My favorite features are the front buttons, which make it so you never have to struggle with pulling a onesie over a brand new baby’s head (which is terrifying and difficult) and the hand flaps or covers, whatever you want to call them. It’s so convenient for during the day when baby is most active so you don’t have to worry about them scratching their little faces (or strangers getting their germs all over their hands).

  • 2-3 DRESSES | Also known as bunting bags. I was hesitant to get a dress for Oliver because, well, he’s a boy. But newborn dresses are for anyone and everyone should have these, especially as PJ’s. The ease of simply lifting the bottom of the dress for those midnight diaper changes you’ll be doing is a life saver. It keeps baby warm because you don’t have to undress them (which is always a plus) and it prevents you from having to unbutton and re-button all the time. Seriously, get your son some dresses and make sure they always wear a dress for bed. At least until they stop waking up for night feedings. I also really love the ones I linked because they have a piece that wraps over baby’s feet which will prevent it from riding up (which is a problem with most newborn stuff that isn’t secured at the bottom).

I’d recommend only getting one or two things in a true newborn size and getting the majority of your clothes in 0-3 month sizes (with one or two 3-6 month). 0-3 month is the most versatile size for small and big babies and you really have no idea what you’re going to have until you have them. If you have a smaller baby, you can always grab more newborn sizes and the 0-3 month will still be useful very soon down the road!


  • BASSINET | Honestly, I didn’t see a need to get a bassinet with the first baby, especially at first when all they really do is lay in one spot or cuddle. I’m mostly getting a bassinet this round because I’m thinking it’ll be really nice to have a portable place for Charlie to lay and sleep where his big brother can’t accidentally trample him, but he can still be apart of the action. Oliver also loves his crib still so I’m not sure when he’ll be ready to hand it over to his little brother. That’s why I’m also going to get a stand for when we transition Charlie to sleeping on his own.

  • SWADDLES | You really don’t need more than 2-3. I liked having one that was always with the car seat, one on the bed, and one for playing. And of course, if one of those got dirty, we still had backup! You don’t need to go crazy on swaddles. Just a few that are nice and soft are good.

  • VELCRO SWADDLE | These things look hilarious. And while your baby may look like a psych patient, I promise they are very cozy. Honestly, from the first night we used these things, Oliver slept.. well.. like a baby! All the way through the night. I never mastered the art of swaddling with an actual blanket. Plus, babies move sporadically when they sleep and it can be the very thing that wakes them up in the night. These little swaddles are so helpful for giving them a snug and secure nights sleep, especially when they start sleeping in their own space.


I did not and don’t plan on doing reusable diapers. The zero-waster in me hates that, but I’m sorry world and all who inhabit it. I like the ease of throwing away diapers. So, obviously diapers and wipes are things you need. And here are a few little extras.

  • CHANGING MAT | We rarely left the bed when Oliver was born. We just used a little mat to prevent any spillage or surprise attacks from getting on the bed. It’s also great for when you leave the house because it’s super easy to roll or fold. Honesty, I’m thinking about getting rid of our changing station at home all together and just having a changing cart with a few of the essentials because it’s less space and way more convenient.

  • BABY POWDER | I got this at our baby shower and it was an amazing thing to have. To start, all of the ingredients are natural so you don’t have to worry about harsh chemicals on baby. Second, the powder is diaper rash magic. The first diaper rash Oliver had was horrifying. He screamed all night and we couldn’t figure out what was wrong until we found that, TA-DA, his butt was bright red. So we put the powder on him and by the next diaper change, he was all clear.


As far as where to put baby for the first few months, until he could sit up, I’d either just climb in the bath with Oliver and let him rest in my arms or lap OR lay a hand towel in the bottom of the tub and have him lay in very shallow water (heavily supervised!!). Honestly, he loved the latter around 2 months because he could splash which was lots of fun for him!

  • TOWEL | I have the space towel for Oliver and I love these little things. You really only need one or two because you’ll be doing enough laundry to keep them clean with all the spit up and blowouts newborns like to do.

  • SOAP | Honestly, I’d just make a bubble bath and use a washcloth to wet Oliver’s hair and make sure water was reaching in-between all the baby-chub creases (don’t forget behind the ears. They get really gross back there). The same way I don’t really wash my hair, I don’t make it a priority to get soap directly on my kid’s hair because, well, he’s doing fine without it! I also don’t like the idea of having soap go directly on baby’s sensitive and naturally soft skin. The soapy water is usually enough to get ‘em clean!

  • LOTION | Baby massage time is a really good time for having a little one-on-one interaction with your new one. I love any sleepy time lotion because it’s a good addition to nighttime routines and helps to keep baby’s skin soft and smooth. Since it can tend to become irritated easily, a daily dose of moisturizer is always a good idea.

  • BABY BALM | This baby balm is amazing for those dry patches or cradle cap that baby’s can get. Oliver had a bit of baby eczema and this balm was really great for that (along with this bath treatment which was an actual life saver).


While not everything listed below is essential, they are all nice to have to help with baby’s development or to just give you a moment of having free hands, put baby down, or have some time alone.

  • PACIFIER | I was very against the idea of pacifiers for some reason, but for a little while, they were super helpful. Sometimes babies just want something to do, so rather than have them mindlessly hanging on your boob all day, a pacifier is a nice alternative. Especially when you want to indulge in a little luxury like eating a meal without holding a baby or taking a shower by yourself. - just make sure you get a clip! It’s a little mortifying when a pacifier hits the ground, especially in public.

  • MAT | So this is technically a blanket, but I think this pattern makes it a good option for a play mat. We have a mud cloth hanging on our wall that Oliver couldn’t take his eyes off of so I like the idea of giving Charlie his very own intricate pattern to look at. Plus, dual purpose is always nice!
    Really, just having a surface for tummy time that is some kind of design is helpful. Something that is interesting for them to look at but still keeps them off the floor. It’s also a good motivator when they’re ready to start rolling over.

  • PLAY GYM | If you choose to opt out of a swing with a mobile, a play gym is actually pretty nice to have. It’s good for giving baby time to play and entertain himself before he can really start moving his body. We also have this chair that has a little mobile on it which is great for when I’m cooking or cleaning and want to bring baby with me, but still need a free hand to focus on what I’m doing.

  • BURP CLOTHS/BIBS | Babies spit up. A lot. Really, stuff that goes in there body quickly leaves it one way or another. Burp cloths should be kept anywhere and everywhere. Really, just a rag will do, or a swaddle. But having one or two actual soft, thick burb cloths is nice for cleaning off baby. Bibs are amazing for protecting their cute clothes and it’s much easier to change a bib than a whole onesie.

  • CARRIER | Something for wearing baby is definitely nice. I didn’t love leaving Oliver in the carseat or a stroller when he was super little. Having him close brought me ease and him comfort. I have a Solly Baby wrap from Ollie’s baby days, but I’ve heard great things about WildBird and I think I may give it a try with Charlie!

  • TOYS | There’s not a ton a newborn is going to play with at first, but you’d be surprised how quickly they start learning and getting into stuff. Having a few rattles or teether type toys on hand to put with them during playtime will help motivate them to explore and entertain themselves.

  • BOOKS | Little plush books for newborns are great. We had one colorful one and one black and white one. Oliver LOVED the black and white one as a newborn. All the interesting shapes and animals made for a great time.

I’m a big planner, so sitting down and thinking of all the things Charlie will need gets me excited about all of those first moments you get with your baby. The newborn stage is tough, but it goes by so quickly. The sweet cuddles and chunky baby legs don’t last forever so enjoy it all while you can and don’t get too caught up in all the stuff.

I’m excited to meet you baby Charlie. I think you’re going to fit in nicely over here.



Up until now I’ve kept Oliver’s toys pretty minimal. He has one box of toys that is full of random items we’ve picked up over the last year, a truck that came with some Mega Bloks, and a few stuff animals. That’s pretty much it.

The thing about babies is, they don’t really need much in the way of toys. Oliver didn’t even really start interacting with his toys until he reached about one and he hasn’t been consistent with them until recently. So the need for toys, at least for my son, has not been a big one. All of that paired with the fact that household items and kitchen things seem to be way more entertaining than his actual toys and we’ve really not seen a need.

So, for this Christmas I’ve decided to go a little crazy on toys simply because, well, he doesn’t really have any, the few he does have need some upgrades, and he is now getting to a point of actually enjoying a little bit of creative and imaginative play with toys.

So welcome to my gift guide! This is including toys on the list for him this year as well as a few he’s already been loving.


Before I officially start the guide, I want to give a little insight on my experience with stuffed animals and my son and other kids I’ve seen. For Oliver, he does have some favorites that have been gifted to him, but his absolute favorite stuffed animal is this little beanie baby cat he picked out all on his own at the store. As soon as he saw this plain, grey cat amongst the bright and sparkly unicorns and platypus; he grabbed it and hugged it as tightly as he could with the biggest grin on his face and didn’t let go until we got in the car. Now, every night when he gets in his crib, he gives the cat the same big hug with the same big grin and it is heart melting every single time. - and I’ll add the he’s not usually one to grab at stuffed animals at the store which is how I knew this one was special

The point to this story (besides the fact that I wanted to tell a cute story about my son) is this: While it’s really fun to try and guess what stuffed animal could be your kids favorite or to be the person who gifts a child their favorite stuffed animal, I think for something like this it’s better to let them find it all on their own. I’ve noticed that when a kid finds their favorite stuffed animal, it’s a love at first sight experience that you can’t create artificially and will happen much more effectively if they’re not already weighed down by a mountain of stuffed animals in the first place.

So for all of that, I am very intentionally leaving stuffed animals off of this list.



    This is a toy that Oliver already has and loves. We specifically got him this one that comes with Mega Bloks (which is another toy he’s starting to enjoy), but they have wooden ones if that’s what you’re into! The best part about the truck is it works as additional toy storage and is an awesome motivator in teaching your kids to help with clean up by encouraging them to put their toys in their dump truck rather than a “boring old toy bin.”


    This is another one that Oliver currently has, but we’re thinking of getting an upgrade for Christmas. Right now the one he has is plastic and the shapes are so form fitting to the holes that it’s even hard for me to fit them in the right spots, and I’m an adult.. So we’re thinking of going with something more like this. It’s a little more neutral and the shapes look like their a good size for kids to put in the box with ease.

  3. RINGS

    This is the final one that’s been tested and passed in our home. A good stack of rings (or a very neutral option) has provided us with lots of fun, only now it’s time for us to make an upgrade from plastic.


    You know, the rainbows (or neutral rainbows). Well I found these really cool waves as well - can you tell I have a thing for blue? There are so many different ways for kids to play with these and they really are becoming a classic amongst kids these days.


    If you’re ever on a trendy mom’s instagram account, you’ve probably seen these mats. We picked up this one for Oliver, but they have many other patterns and sizes to choose from as well as some plain ones if you just want a good, portable playmat. The reason I decided on a Gathre mat is because they are made with leather, so clean up is super easy if there are ever any spills. They’re also easy to move from one place to another so we can put it out in the living room, in the kid’s room, to the park for a picnic, or we can hang it up if it’s not in use! Plus the design. I mean, it’s mom’s dream neutral palette to keep decor cohesive wherever you put it, but it also has a fun pattern for the kids to enjoy.


    This is partly something I think Oliver will love, but also I have a place in my heart for old 1950’s/60’s cars for no reason besides I think they look dreamy. For Oliver, he has grown an obsession for cars. Specifically the tires, but in general he loves to watch them drive by so I figured this would be a really cool addition to his toy collection.

    We’re going with this and this to start but you can get lost in a worm hole of tons of different models.


    My parents have been holding onto a wooden train set for a while (Basically it was my mom’s older brother’s when he was a kid, and then we got it for my brother. So it’s been in the family for a while.) but I can’t wait to see what Oliver thinks of it! We went to a local kid’s museum in Waco that had a big model train set up and he was mesmerized so I can imagine it’ll be fun to see him make his own little world of trains!

    If we didn’t have the old one, we’d probably ask for something like this.


    This is one my sister-in-law put on a list for her son and then I promptly put on a list for mine! It’s another one that I think could really add some creativity to his playmat by building a tiny town for his cars to drive around in. Of course, he’ll do what he will! The possibilities for blocks are truly endless.


    If you haven’t noticed a theme here, I’ve basically made Oliver’s Christmas list full of things to create his own little town on his playmat. Of course he will use his toys however he sees fit, but I wanted to give him all the pieces he needed to go anywhere he wants to in his own little imagination land. Plus, these little animals come with a house that they can live in when he’s not playing with them!


    On a recent trip to visit my family, my brother had a disposable camera that Oliver was so interested in. He will also spend as much time as he can playing with a digital camera that I have so I figured he may be a little interested in cameras right now. I thought this one was a really cute toy to add to his collection so he can pretend he’s a little photographer.

  11. BOOKS

    I don’t have a master list of books to choose from. He has some that he loves right now and frankly, I’m tired of reading them 500 times a day. So I’ve put our family to work to find some new books for us to dig into! The only real advice I have for books right now is to have a good mixture of soft paged and hard paged books. Some that you all can read together, but also some that they can look at themselves without having to worry about the pages ripping.


Obviously, when choosing toys for your toddler, it is a little risky. There’s no telling what they’ll truly like and what will go unused. In addition, we like to stay in smaller living spaces which means our capacity for toys is minimal. Beyond that, I don’t ever want to overwhelm him with too many toys or have so many toys that he’s distracted from the world around him. So in order to keep Oliver’s Christmas list as intentional and minimal as possible, I ask these questions to determine what I think would be a good addition to his play time.


Looking at what your kids currently play with at home or on playdates or look at in the stores is a good way to gauge what peaks their interest. Oliver is very mechanical. He loves to figure out how things work which is why trains and cars seem like a really good fit. He can make them move forward and back while getting up close to see how it’s all happening. He also likes to make things fit together and build which is why the upgraded shape sorter and rings, along with the blocks, will be a cool addition for him.

Really, just take note throughout the year of what they get into the most. It’s a good guide for what they will enjoy as a gift.


The nice thing about toddlers is, they don’t quite understand Christmas or gifts. They may enjoy opening the gifts and seeing new things, but they are not going to be eternally disappointed if they get socks. Maybe bored, but they’ll get over it. Last year I needed clothes so he got clothes. This year, we happen to need toys so that’s the majority of the list. For his birthday, I’m going to make a list of school supplies so we can start learning colors and shapes and letters and things when he turns two. A can confidently say a kiddie potty seat is definitely in his future gifts. Don’t be afraid to ask for what you need. Your kids will always benefit in the long run.


This is a really good way to narrow down what you want on the list. I know plastic toys are becoming a big thing to avoid. Personally, if there’s not a better alternative, I’ll take the plastic but I do try to stick with wooden toys if for no other reason than it just plain looks better and our house is small so we’ll be looking at them a lot.

Beyond the material, there’s the actual toy to think about. Maybe you want to avoid barbies. I know my mom HATED Bratz dolls growing up because of the message they sent. Maybe you want to encourage more imaginative play or outside play. Whatever you want for your kids, your toys should align with that.

So that’s my guide for you all! hopefully this helps you find some good stuff for your kiddos!

What’s on your kid’s list this year?


The other plus to all of this is that I get to share what I’ve done this year in a time frame that may actually be able to add some value to your holiday season to!

So I’ve decided to make it a priority to take a photo of the kids for Christmas every year. The past 2 years it’s just been Oliver, but come next year, I’ll have a 2 year old and 9 month old to wrangle together. But that’s my problem for later..

When it come to full family shoots for nice photos, I think going professional is best and if you have the budget and a photographer you love, why not support them for the holidays?

But I’ve found that with phone cameras getting higher and higher quality each year, we’re at the point now where it’s possible to do quick shoots like these all on your own and here are some tips on how to make it happen!



A good backdrop is basically the foundation of a good holiday photo. It doesn’t have to be anything crazy. Even a blank wall is fine as long as there’s nothing too distracting.

Last year, my set up was literally just Oliver propped up in a chair with the tree behind him. This year I just took some garland and made a tree on the wall. You can keep it simple or get creative, stay inside or let the outdoors be your backdrop! really anything besides a messy room will do

(also, how do they get so big so fast??)



Lighting is make or break for a good photo. Lighting that is too low or too harsh will be very distracting to the eye which will take away from the main focus: your cutie!

If you’re shooting indoors: figure out what time of day is brightest in your home and try to shoot where your scene is facing a window. Not with a window to either side, but with the window straight on. Or in a room that has a lot of windows.

It’s also good to turn off overheads. They’ll add a yellow hue to the photos that will make it look a little too homemade.

If you’re shooting outdoors: You want to go out during a time when the sun isn’t too high in the sky to avoid weird shadows that will distort your kid’s face. A good tip is to figure out when the sun sets and venture out about an hour before that to give yourself enough time to shoot with good lighting.


You don’t need anything crazy, but it’s nice to have a few props to make the photos a little more dynamic.

I set up a toy for Oliver to play with, an antique chair, and plant to make the photos look a little more homey than studio…y. But again, last year having just the chair for him to sit in added enough so don’t feel like you need to go crazy.



Basically, be on your knees and keep your phone straight when taking the photos. It might be fun to try a few different angles, but there are so many factors to keep in mind when taking a good photo that I’ve found it’s easiest to just get on the same level as the subject of the photo and take straight on shots. You can get closer or go farther away, you can even go crazy with a bunch of different angles! Just make sure you get a few photos from a straight on perspective to keep it safe.


This is something I think about when getting their winter clothes. I just throw in a few casual items that I know will work well with a photo so that way I’m not spending extra money on an outfit they’ll wear once. Of course, I try to get the photo out of the way early so I don’t have to worry about the wear and tear that comes with a toddler wearing clothes for the rest of the season.

I like the more casual look for outfits. Something with holiday, fall, or winter colors in any style will work. PJ’s always make a really cute photo too. Then all you need to do is make your bed and throw your kids on it for a photo! (definitely an idea I’ll use next year)


Lighting is important, but a happy kiddo is crucial. Don’t try and take any photos too close to nap time or if they’re hungry. If they just want to play and hate everything that’s happening, take a break and then try again. Maybe try moving some of their toys to the scene you have set up and take some candid photos of them playing! Honestly, if you can’t get them to cooperate it may be worth it to try another day.

Whatever you do, don’t try and force them into taking photos if they are not into it or else all your photos will look like this:



Spouses, siblings, friends, parents, just someone to help you out.

Sometimes you’ll need a little help getting them set up or getting a really good, genuine laugh. It’s just nice to have some helping hands so you can be set up and ready to get a good shot without having to also make the funny faces and fix their clothes and put them in position and all that stuff that comes with trying to take a photo of a kid.

The only way we got the money shot was with my husband running back and forth while making our tiny dog play peek-a-boo from behind me. If anyone were to see that scene, I’m sure they may be a little worried for our sanity. But hey, you gotta do what you gotta do sometimes.

Either way, in the end we got some great photos of our boy that will be reminders of this hilarious experience we all shared.