To start off, we used the book Baby Bargains to read reviews and compare products. It was an absolute lifesaver when I had no idea where to begin. I can't recommend it enough!
GETTING AROUND TOWN
Stroller: We went with the Uppa Baby Vista stroller. They are definitely on the pricey end of strollers, but I feel like it was worth it. It handles like a dream, has a nice big basket below, and comes with a bassinet for tiny babes and a nice big seat for babies and toddlers. We also bought a car seat adapter so that we could clip the car seat onto the stroller base. This is terrific if the baby falls asleep in the car, and you don't want to transfer her to the stroller seat. You will probably also need a newborn insert for the stroller seat if you plan to use it in the beginning months. I now need an umbrella stroller for travel, but the Vista has been great, and I know we will be using it for a long time.
Car seat: We went with the Chicco KeyFit 30 car seat. I think it's very popular because when I went on my daycare tour every other person there had the exact same one! You would also want the newborn insert for the car seat, but this one comes with it! While you can use a seat belt to strap in the seat, I would advise the car seat base. We got one in CA and one in CT because the seat just feels so much more secure when it is on the base.
Carrier: We got the Beco Gemini carrier. This has been awesome while traveling this summer, and I would recommend it. I didn't realize how much babies love to chew the straps of these things, so I wish I can gotten the chew pads. I do plan to order those so I can throw them in the wash and not have to wash the whole carrier.
Wrap: I picked the Solly wrap mostly because it was so pretty, the packaging was lovely, and I liked the organic fabric. It was wonderful when N. was tiny because I could wear her around the house when trying to do dishes, laundry, my makeup, etc. and she could happily nap on me. She was too heavy for it (in my opinion) rather quickly, although apparently you can keep wearing it for a while. Once she reached a certain weight, I preferred the support of the Beco.
Swings and Things: My sister-in-law bought N. a beautiful bassinet, which I put her in when we returned home form the hospital. In short, I was delusional. Babies like to be held, and really N. just needed something a bit more cozy in those early days. When she got to be closer to 8-10 weeks, she transitioned into her bassinet. For the first few weeks, she slept in her mamaRoo (with the newborn insert), which I loved because it felt safer than a traditional swing because, when reclined, the baby is not slumped over, which can block her airways. I still pretty much obsessively watched her when she slept, but I think she was safe in this. As she got older, the mamaRoo was great for keeping her happy when I needed my hands free for a moment. At almost six months now, she is too long for it, and her little feet dangle over the edge (but she is quite a big baby), so that gives you a sense of how much time you might get out of it. We also got her a Rock 'n Play at my parents' house, and she really loved that. I didn't let her sleep in it, but she enjoyed being in it for a little quiet time or while we were eating at the table.
Crib: We went with the Babyletto crib, and I absolutely love it. It looks modern and cool, and it transitions into a toddler bed. N. is happily sleeping in there as I write this this. Yes, this is a miracle. My grandma gave us beautiful sheets and a quilt from Serena & Lily, and the quality is amazing.
Swaddling Blankets and Sleep Sacks: We used the Aden + Anais swaddling blankets. I foolishly thought that N. didn't like to be swaddled in the early days. Big mistake. Thank you to my friend Erin who told me to just do it already! It changed N's sleep quite a bit when she was happily swaddled. When she was a bit bigger, we transitioned N. to the Halo Sleep Sack, which was easier than swaddling with the blanket, but which she would not stand in the early days. I also found the Easy Swaddle by Aden + Anais to be terrific. Now we are using the Sleep Sack without the swaddle.
Black Out Curtains: When babies are tiny they can pretty much sleep in any conditions. As they get older, they definitely need more quiet and darkness to sleep well (or at least better as I am not the one to ask about how to get a baby to sleep well). At my parents, our room was quite bright. Since being home, N's room has blackout curtains, and it appears to be helping her sleep a bit longer in the mornings. I am now madly in love with my blackout curtains, and I would definitely recommend them!!
PJs: I bought lots of PJs with snaps, but I would highly recommend zippers. In the middle of the night when you have to change diapers, it is much easier to zip the baby up than to try to see the snaps, particularly if you are trying to keep the lights off. (I never wanted to turn the lights on, so I bought these little lamps, which were handy.)
Changing Table: We have a changing table that we fashioned ourselves. It started with an Ikea dresser. We attached a changer top and pad from Land of Nod to the top. Then, J. added hooks on either side where we hang the tub. I love that we outfitted this to meet our needs. We even spray painted the knobs gold.
Diaper Pail: We went with the Ubbi because it is metal, so it doesn't odors. In addition, you do not need special bags for this pail; you can use a regular trash bag. That adds up to savings even though the pail itself is a bit more than some of the plastic pails. (Plus, it comes in lots of cool colors, and I read somewhere once that the Kardashians endorse these--if that isn't a ringing endorsement, I don't know what it.)
Tub: The First Years tub is cheap and amazing. N. loved it from from the get go. You cannot beat the price, and it works from the newborn size up to a much bigger baby. It also worked in our sink and now sits in our bathtub. I highly recommend it.
Towels and Washcloths: I went with Aden + Anais towels and washcloths. They are great, but for a newborn, I would recommend a smaller washcloth like these. I received this towel as a gift, and it is literally the cutest thing I've ever seen. Buy one for a shower gift. It will be a big hit.
Soap and Lotion: I originally bought the Mustela products because I wanted to be all fancy like that, and they are very nice, but I was given a sample of the Noodle and Boo line, and I became obsessed with it. It smells like heaven. Yum.
ODDS AND ENDS
Pacifiers: At first, N. wasn't very interested in the pacifier. But, thanks to the persistence of my mother-in-law, it is now my favorite baby item and the all time savior of my sanity. I have been using the Avent pacifiers. Now that N. sleeps unswaddled because she is rolling, the WubbaNub is terrific because it gives her something safe and little to hold on to while she is sleeping. Plus, they are cute, which doesn't hurt. I also highly recommend the pacifier clip!
Bottles: We tried a few different bottles for feeding her expressed milk (starting with the free ones they give you at A Pea in The Pod), but N. didn't care for them. Luckily J. found her these bottles that are cool looking and which she takes very easily. I also just got her a teether made by Comotomo, which she seems to love.
Nursing Accoutrements: If you are going to be a nursing mom, I highly recommend a nursing cover for feeding the babe on the go. While I personally think it's fine to whip out a boob if need be, most people are more comfortable with a little privacy, so I went with this cover by Bebe Au Lait, and it was great in the early months. Now it is honestly more of a hindrance, and N. claws at it when she is under it. If you are pumping, you cannot beat the Medela Pump in Style. From what I understand, this is the Cadillac of pumps. Go big or go home, right?
Toys: Honestly, little tiny babies do not play with toys. They do not do very much of anything. But, when you are ready for something, a play gym is great, even for littler babies because it gives them something to look at, as does a mobile. We found that stuffed toys like lovies were the first things N. took to. We've found some good rattles, but another nice toy that a small baby can hold is the O-ball. We are really just entering the wide world of toys, so I will have to keep you posted on this one.
The more I thought about this post, the more things I thought I could add to the list, but this seemed like a good place to start! If you have any questions, please send them my way. And, if you have any products that got you through those early months, do post a comment so others can benefit from your knowledge!