Mamacita Must Haves: Preemie + Purchase Guide

With Mother’s Day quickly approaching I thought I’d give you the best gift I can share– timesaving items. Because at the end of the day, we all hate wasting time and money. So here are some of our baby items that have proved to be worth every penny. I’ve also included some of my favourite just-for-fun items. (For NICU must haves, check out my blog post here.)

October 22 proved to be one of the happiest days of our lives. But having a little NICU graduate greatly influenced the way we shopped for our daughter, Finnley Haven. Because she was born at 29 weeks, everything from our carseat standards, to diaper and bottle regimens were greatly affected. It was tough at first, but after several failed attempts, we found the best items.

So whether you’re a new mommy or have a friend who’s pregnant, I hope my little list helps narrow down your search!

Keep growing and loving on those beautiful babies!! Happy shopping mamacitas!


    – RACHEL

1. Milk Snob Paparazzi Carseat Cover ($34) The Milk Snob™ Paparazzi Carseat Cover was designed with your baby in mind. It is the first Car Seat Cover on the Market that fits perfectly within seconds on almost any infant car seat. It’s 96% Rayon, 4% Spandex material is everything you need to protect your child against harsh sunlight, wind, and pesky strangers who want to touch your new baby.

2. Cozi Planner App ($0!) This app is truly a life saver! We needed something to track all of our family’s events. We added different labels for myself, Johnny, Finnley, and even different reminders for family birthdays/anniversaries, dog appointments, and bills. You can edit it on your desktop, or mobile device– and it will send you alerts! This is a mommy must have!

3. Thieves Waterless Hand Purifier / Thieves Household Cleaner ($6) / ($29) As a neat freak myself and mother of a fragile preemie, I’m basically obsessed with germ killing– but I always hated how rough it made my hands. Then I discovered THIS. This all natural hand sanitizer smells AMAZING, and actually leaves your hands feeling silky smooth! It’s a mother’s dream come true! / While The Thieves Household Cleaner has EVERYTHING you need to clean and disinfect your entire home. Safe enough to use around preemies. This will replace your bathroom cleaner, fabric freshener, glass cleaner, and lysol. Trust me, you want this! Don’t believe me? Try it!

4. 4Moms Mama Roo ($270) When our little preemie came home from the NICU at 37 weeks, it was apparent to us that she loved being held and rocked. While we couldn’t hold her every second of the day– the Mama Roo held her when we couldn’t. With several different rocking settings, it proved to be the BEST investment. We joke that it’s our little girl’s nanny. Seriously, it’s worth every penny. And if you purchase it for your newborn, be sure to get the newborn insert ($60) so that your newborn will be safely tucked in.

5. Fawn Baby Bag ($130) Hands down the BEST baby/diaper bag I own. One big pocket filled with tons of smallers ones. This is where style and class meets space and functionality. It transforms from a messenger bag to backpack (perfect for dads). It’s high quality, waterproof interior and exterior will blow you away. So what are you waiting for? Its PERFECT for everyday wear. So, buy it already!

6. Comfort & Harmony Sleepsack ($16) Compared to the woombie, this zippered sleepsack is PERFECT for newborns. Our little wiggleworm would wake herself up from throwing her little arms around. This sleepsack eliminates the insecurity babies feel when they have too much room. The sleepsack imitates the snug fit inside the womb. As our doctors and nurses always told us while in the NICU “babies love and need boundaries.” Everytime our little two-pounder had anxiety in the NICU, they would tuck her in snug as a bug in a rug– and she loved it! This will help your little one sleep. And for when they get a little older, you can use C&H’s sleepsack with legs ($13) to help developing little leg muscles. (Be sure to follow appropriate age guidelines and instructions.)

7. Milk Snob Baby Wrap Carrier ($72) The Milk Snob Carrier Wrap is the perfect way to carry your child from birth until 25lbs.  Designed with us Texan mommies in mind, they’re light weight, cool to the touch, and superrr fashion forward! Our little girl LOVES being wrapped. And her father and I are so thankful for this little invention. It’s the best way to save our backs and be able to get things done at the same time! Safe enough for preemies– I started wrapping Finnley when she was only 4lbs! (Be sure to visit Milk Snob’s tutorials for instructions.)

8. Munchkin Changing Pad Covers – 3Pack ($14) Tired of constantly changing your baby’s changing pad cover? So Was I! These are perfect for extra protection either on the go or on for fast clean up on your changing pad (on top of your changing pad cover). These are lifesavers!

9. Aquaphor Healing Ointment ($7) While in the NICU, the doctors taught us their best kept secret for fighting diaper rash. After every diaper change, put a small amount of Aquaphor on your babe’s diaper area. Our little girl has never had a diaper rash! The tubes are great for on the go, and we have a tub ($14) of Aquaphor on our changing table for faster application. Get the full instructions on my blog post here.

10. Audreys Bear Custom Baby Name Blankets ($39) Get 10% Off orders over $40 with promo code: “FINNLEY10”! Hands down my favorite baby gift. Create a one of a kind, personalized baby blanket for a crazy awesome price! While Finnley was in the NICU, we used them to personalize her little space– and over 200 washes later, they’re still as soft and cozy as ever! Read more about these blankets on my post here.

11. Gerber Slow Flow Bottles – 3pk ($5) A preemie MUST HAVE! These bottles helped Finnley come home. Like most babies born three months early, our little girl had trouble drinking from a bottle. She easily got overwhelmed and would choke and would have to return to a feeding tube. These bottles are what we used for the first two months after she came home. They’re truly “slow flow” and the BEST for preemies! After trying dozens of expensive ones, these were the only ones that worked and we couldn’t believe how cheap they were!

12. Dr. Browns Bottle Warmer ($33) This bottle warmer is a lifesaver! Forget putting bottles in a warm cup and waiting up to 15 minutes! The preset timer makes it easy for those 3AM bottle feedings when you just can’t muster up memory to enter in the numbers– just press the play button and your bottle will be safely warmed up in a matter of seconds!

13. Baby Jogger City Mini GT ($350) This stroller is an absolute God-send. It’s easily folded with one hand, in one swift move, and folds small enough to fit into my husband’s sports car. It’s perfect for those with an active lifestyle– because of this stroller we’ve been able to take our baby girl with us on hikes! Seriously, THE BEST INVENTION EVER! (Be sure to look at the Adapter Guide to see which part you’ll need to attach your carseat to the stroller.)

14. L.A. Baby Commercial Grade Changing Pad ($36) The safest changing pad you’ll find. If you’re like me and are terrified of your baby rolling off your changing table, then look no further! This changing pad has tall sides, a seatbelt so secure your child, and it capabilities to permanently attach it to your changing table surface. (Despite it’s safety, it’s important to remember that you should never leave your child unattended.)

15. Feed Baby App ($4) I had trouble keeping track of pumping, breastfeeding, and bottle feeding. It’s perfect for NICU moms or just moms in general. Forget writing everything down on paper you’re just going to lose. It even creates reports to easily track how much your baby is consuming. It’s a mommy must have!

16. Ryan and Rose Cutie Clips ($15) Before our little girl was able to use a Wubbanub, we were always losing pacifiers. So you can imagine how our lives were forever changed when we discovered Ryan and Rose’s Cutie Clips! With dozens of stylish designs, these adorable paci clips will change your life! And you can even personalize the clip with your little one’s engraved initials. They make the very best gifts!

17. Dr Browns Bottles – 4pk ($16) Our little girl greatly struggled during feeds. We dreaded feeding her for fear of her choking or spitting up. As soon as we were able to switch her off the Gerber Slow Flow Bottles, her physical therapist recommend Dr Browns Bottles. And WOW. Their patented technology is proven to reduce colic by preventing air from escaping the bottle. These are AMAZING, and completely changed our lives!

18. DM Charm Co. Custom Bar Necklace ($30) It’s quickly become my favorite accessory. Read more about the necklaces in my blog, here. And now through May 31st, get 15% percent off your order with promo code: “FINNLEY15.” I just love how you can personalize your pieces with whatever you like — your anniversary, a loved one’s birthday, names, or initials. And they make gifts that much more personal.

19. Grass Drying Rack ($15) Quite possibly theeeee cutest drying rack you’ll ever see, it’s perfect and stylish so you can leave it by the sink. Don’t leave your drying bottles and pump accessories on the counter– keep them clean and sanitized on this adorable drying rack! You can even add “twigs” ($5) for smaller pump parts, pacis and other little items.

20. Milk Snob Nursing Kimono ($85) This one of a kind kimono is everything the stylish, fashion-forward breastfeeding mama needs. It’s buttons quickly transform it from a kimono to nursing cover– I know it’s hard to believe, but trust me– whether you’re a pumping mom, or breastfeeding mom, this is a must have!

21. Dr. Brown’s Electric Steam Sterilizer / Microwavable Steam Sterilizer  ($50) / ($20)  Preemies require a lot of TLC– including extra protection from germs. The easy one-button electric steamer safely steam sterilizes six bottles in 12 minutes for your convenience. If you’re wanting to save some budget wise, you can get the microwavable sterilizer– just put your bottles in this special container, add water, and microwave it to ensure your clean bottles are sanitized for your baby’s protection. (Doctors recommend that your baby’s bottles be sterilized until they reach 1 year of age.)

22. Peg Perego Primo Viaggio 4/35 Carseat ($300) European items are known for safety because Europe demands more strenuous testing than the US, this is especially true when it comes to car seats. This carseat is perfect for little preemies, because it’s safety rated for babies as small as 4lbs, but will convert into a seat large enough for a 35lb infant. It’s fashion-forward, sleek, and extra safe design is just gorgeous, and it was everything we needed for peace of mind while on the road with our little girl.

23. Zipper Onesies – 2pk ($12) Trustttt me, 2-piece sets are adorable, but at 3AM, you won’t care what that baby is wearing– and keeping socks on are a nightmare. These zipper onesies (or any zipper onesies for that matter) are lifechanging. It’s our new prerequisite when Finnley’s at home, because of convenience. She hates being changed, so these easy on and off onesies were a lifesafer! They help prevent messes too!

24. Sweet N’ Swag Moccs ($20) That’s right, just twenty dollars for your little one’s moccs. And better yet, these moccosins have transitional sizes so they can be worn longer. They have an elastic opening which allows the shoes to stay comfortably on your child’s foot. Each shoe is lined with cotton to keep the foot dry & warm. They also have flexible soft sole inserts which make these both great crib shoes as well as walking shoes for any age… So what are you waiting for? The prints are adorable and their pricing is affordable. Look no further for baby moccs!

25. Wubanub Pacifier & Friend ($13) Distributed in NICUs and hospitals worldwide, these one of a kind pacifiers help keep the paci in your baby’s mouth, and also give them a cuddly friend to hang out with. Perfect for babies who hate losing their pacis (aka: all paci lovers.) These adorable little friends are a must have!

26. Contours Bassinet ($137) This one of a kind bassinet transforms from a sturdy bassinet to a moses basket for safe co-sleeping. Handles on the removable Moses basket allows you to easily carry baby anywhere in the house. When your baby grows out of the bassinet stage, it transforms into a changing table. It has a hanging deluxe storage organizer and diaper stacker keeps baby’s items hand. The quilted and padded interior with mesh side windows provides good air flow. It’s the best!

27. Sleepy Snail SoundSpa Light & Noise Machine ($40) NICU grads are known to need noise, and newborns love listening to sounds when the sleep. This is the BEST noise machine. It can be safely harnessed to your crib, or stand it up right on a nearby surface. It has 5 noises and 5 songs to choose from (our favourite is the rainfall setting.) You can set the timer, or let it go all night. The motion picture projector puts on an adorable animal lightshow on your ceiling, or use the engaging light display to captivate and calm your little one.

28. AngelCare Monitor System ($230) Protect your NICU grad from sleep apnea and safely monitor your baby’s breathing with this incredible monitor system. It safely monitors your baby’s movements with the sensor that’s safely placed under the mattress. Keep an eye on your baby’s crib thanks to the live video feed transmitted from the nursery unit to the parents unit. The camera angle is adjustable and the night vision will help you feel at ease. We highly recommend it!

29. Honest Company Diapers & Wipes Bundle ($88) Our little preemie’s sensitive skin made purchasing diapers and wipes tricky– that is, until we discovered the Honest Company. For just under $80 a month, you’ll get all the diapers and wipes you need– delivered to your doorstep! The diapers come in adorable prints and are eco-friendly, ultra absorbent & free of lotions, fragrances & latex. Also included are 4 packages of Honest Wipes — plant-based, soothing, super thick, ultra versatile. After using Honest’s products you won’t want to use anything else for your little babe.

30. Noodle & Boo Essential Care Kit (Shampoo / Body Wash / Lotion) ($35) If you’re obsessed with that baby smell like I am, then you’ll be a big fan of Noodle & Boo. Featuring provitamin B5 and vitamin E, the soap-free formula hydrates and strengthens to promote healthy, silky-soft skin and strands. It’s just the best smelling stuff ever!

31. Koala Baby Duck Bath Cozy ($15) Because Finnley was born in the winter, we hated giving her baths. I was always afraid that she’d get cold. That is until I received this oversized (and adorable) ducky washcloth. It’s perfect to place over your baby’s body while giving a bath to keep baby warm. It’s a win + win!

32. 4 Moms Infant Bathtub ($50) This is quite possibly the best baby tub ever invented. It’s side drains allow dirty water to flow out while clean water flows in. And it features a built-in digital thermometer with a color-coded temperature display. It fits most single and double sinks and will change your life! It also includes a rinse cup that conveniently fits into the integrated rinse cup holder.

33. Optodrum App ($5) NICU grads are known to sometimes struggle with eyesight. This app came highly recommended by one of Finnley’s doctors. It’s an easy tool to use at home to promote healthy eye development. It features several stimulating patterns that will keep the baby’s eyes busy and growing.

34. Little Unicorn Brookside Tote ($75) I’m obsessed with Little Unicorn’s diaper bags. They’re brilliantly designed with the fashion-forward mama in mind (and fairly priced!) It’s great for more formal events and functions. Boasting a combination of clean style and straightforward function. It has 8 pockets, wipeable vegan leather, a handy key hook, equipped with IPad pocket, a cushioned changing pad and matching stroller straps.

35. The Crafted Co. Headwraps & Bowties ($10-$16) Hands down, the cutest, most comfortable and affordable bowties/headwraps. I loveee these headwraps for my little girl because they’re adjustable, meaning– they will grow with her. Finnley wore the headwraps as soon as she came home at 37 weeks, and six months later she’s still wearing them. LOVE!

36. Day One Journal App ($3) A journal-styled application. I loved using this to keep track of Finnley’s progress, what I was feeling, and photos of the day. It’s a wonderful place to store all of your memories. Once you create a profile, you can log into it on your desktop, or any device.

37. Groovebook App ($3/monthly) Tired of going to the store to print off photos? Then this is for you! Perfect for busy moms, this app prints up to 100 of your phone photos and creates a beautiful 4.5″ x 6.5″ photobook and mails it to you monthly. The photos can stay in the adorable little booklet but are also perforated for easy removal. I love adding my favorite photos of the month and having them printed– and now I have a library of adorable little photobooks.

Baby Cavanaugh’s Nursery

I’d say that having a child is the best reason to redecorate. We had so much fun transforming our guest room into a baby-friendly nursery. Because our space is limited, I had to find a way to keep a queen-sized bed in the same room. We love that we can still host out of town family and friends if need be.

Because we’d decided to wait until our baby was born to find out the gender, most of our nursery is nice and neutral. Now that our Finnley Haven is here, I’ve begun to add some feminine touches. It’s easily our new favourite room! I hope our baby girl’s nursery inspires you to create a room that fits your littlebit.


    -RACHEL // baby cavanaugh's nursery

blanket: nate berkus, c/o target // faux sheep skin: ikea // triangle banner: hobby lobby // ruffle pillow: gardenridge // striped pillow: ikea // gold metallic crib sheets: dear owen co, c/o etsy // crib: similar, wayfair // baby cavanaugh's nursery

blanket: nate berkus, c/o target // striped pillow: ikea // ruffle pillow: gardenridge // gold metallic crib sheets: dear owen co, c/o etsy // crib: similar, wayfair // baby cavanaugh's nursery

fancy female fox: anthropologie // crib: similar, wayfair // chair: serena and lily  // shelves: cavie and company // baby cavanaugh's nursery

crib: similar, wayfair // triangle banner: hobby lobby // shelves: cavie and company // baby cavanaugh's nursery // baby cavanaugh's nursery // baby cavanaugh's nursery // baby cavanaugh's nursery // baby cavanaugh's nursery // baby cavanaugh's nursery

headboard: cavie and company // striped pillows: ikea // fancy female fox: anthropologie // night stand: DIY HERE // chair: serena and lily  // ruffle curtains: madison park, “kylie”, c/o overstock // baby cavanaugh's nursery

headboard: cavie and company // night stand: DIY HERE // // baby cavanaugh's nursery

dresser: custom, DIY // changing pad: la baby, c/o target // deer bust: white faux taxidermy, c/o etsy // eat you up sign: hobby lobby // baby cavanaugh's nursery

dresser: custom, DIY // changing pad: la baby, c/o target // deer bust: white faux taxidermy, c/o etsy // eat you up sign: hobby lobby // baby cavanaugh's nursery

deer bust: white faux taxidermy, c/o etsy // eat you up sign: hobby lobby // changing pad: la baby, c/o target // baby cavanaugh's nursery // baby cavanaugh's nursery

deer bust: white faux taxidermy, c/o etsy //

Discriminating Mommies

Let's make motherhood a beautiful thing. Can we learn to support and encourage fellow mamas?

dis·crim·i·na·tion          noun: discrimination;
1. the unjust or prejudicial treatment of different categories of people or things.
2. recognition and understanding of the difference between one thing and another.”discrimination between right and wrong.”

Prepping for motherhood can be absolutely terrifying. To co-sleep, or not to co-sleep. Wide-mouthed bottles, or traditional… oh wait, should I plan to use a bottle at all?

As a first-time momma, I felt absolutely overwhelmed through pregnancy. I was terrified. Petrified. I was bombarded with all kinds of statistics, opinions, articles, and research on the daily. Nursing, immunizing, birthing, professional care… all the options and arguments circled my thoughts and closed in on my emotions. It was an overwhelming, constant feeling of, “I should be doing more.” And if I’m perfectly honest, I still fight it today.

So, let me just start out by saying that I’m not arguing for or on behalf of a particular parenting topic. But instead, my heart is to hopefully broaden our perspectives and face the real issues.

We live in a society that lives and breathes to replace one idol with another. If it isn’t fame, it’s fortune, or success, or goal achievement, or superficiality, or a certain relationship, or self-improvement, or a particular job position. We’ve become convinced that we are sovereign over our own lives. And while we are indeed responsible for our actions, we’ve lost the freedom that comes with entrusting our Creator with our lives and worshiping Him alone.

We’re bombarded with and constantly reminded of what we don’t have, what we do have, or why we aren’t good enough. We obsess with what we believe in, or the choices we make; to the point that they themselves become a part of our identity.

With one year of motherhood under my belt, I can confidently say that the same struggles come with motherhood.

When we have a good mommy day; we’re great. And when we miss the mark or it’s challenging; we’re miserable. Just like everything else, motherhood can quickly become an idol. And our preferences, routines and parenting styles can easily become a part of our identity.

We allow them to define us and take it personally when people don’t agree with our styles or share similar perspectives. We get bent out of shape over feeding techniques, oils, health standards, professional advice, and physician care.

We allow the real enemy to come between us. And before we know it, it’s high school all over again, full of mean-girl cliques, “she said’s”, peer pressure, and “did you see what she did’s.” It’s silliness. It’s absolutely ridiculous. And yet, I fight it, and have found myself guilty of it many times.

How did we get here? Where did it start?

The older I get, the more I recognize my desperate need for Christ. Comparison, gossip, and judgement are not new tricks. The enemy’s just really good at disguising them. And now more than ever (even more than in high school.) I need Christ.

I need Christ to lead my husband and me as we seek out wisdom. I need Christ when it comes to bridling my tongue against gossip. I need Christ when it comes to guarding my heart against judgement. I need Christ when it comes to loving my family well. I need Christ to silence the voices of insecurity, pride, and selfishness. I need Christ when it comes to encouraging my sisters and fellow mommies.

I need Christ more than motherhood. More than my husband. More than my daughter. More than anything. I need Christ. He alone is worthy of my worship. He alone must be my source.

While I was pregnant, I fought so many feelings of insecurity and judgement when it came to our original plan. We chose a hospital, high risk doctor, and epidural, for Finnley Haven’s birth. I was told all about articles, horror-stories, and statistics which had underlying undertones of fear. Well-meaning people whom I love and adore lovingly tried to me that we weren’t choosing what was best for our daughter. I fought feelings of being judged, bullied, and almost discriminated against.

We didn’t get to our much prayed about “birth plan” due to severe pre-eclampsia at 29 weeks. But I am so very thankful for our doctor whom the Lord led us to. She stayed up all night while I was in critical condition, on her night off. She performed an emergency c-section the following day (on her other day off) and saved our lives– by no exaggeration. We’re also so very grateful for the hospital and incredible nurses who literally kept our little preemie girl alive for her first two months of life. God used our little “plan.” 

I say all this to say, that I understand this is the plan the Lord led us to. It was His sovereign hand on our lives. He led us, and He kept us. So, I mustn’t judge anyone if they’re being led in a different way than myself. Because who am I to know what the Lord has planned for their lives? 

There are risks to all kinds of births and parenting styles. Fear shouldn’t ever be the deciding factor. There is no perfect, fail-proof way to have a baby. Which is why we must put our trust in Christ alone as we seek out wisdom. If you seek the Lord He will lead you. Entrust the outcome to Christ. Trust His best for your family– through the boatloads of articles, opinions, statistics, and options. He has a plan, and He’s not up there freaking out. He is with us.

I love the wealth of information that’s out there, but at a certain point I think the best thing we can do to love our mama friends well is to pray for them, hold our tongues and wait for them to ask us for advice, and be okay if they don’t.

I want to trust that God knows my friends. He will lead my friends in the best path for their children. Just like there’s a reason He made Johnny and I Finnley’s parents; there’s a reason why He chose my friends to parent their littles.

Can we as mamas encourage and empower each other instead of sizing each other up and trying to convince each other of our own personal convictions when it comes to birthing/immunizing/parenting? Can we be a safe place, and extend grace to others when they struggle? Can we lean on Christ while fighting against pride and gossip amongst us? Can we point others to Christ, instead of some article?

Our mission as moms should be to make Christ our foundation, as we seek Him for wisdom and entrust our children to Him. He is good. He is for us. He is with us. 

There’s no easy or perfect way to parent, so let’s do everything in our power to support and encourage our fellow mamacitas. Let’s build each other up in Christ and stop discriminating mommies. Let’s love each other deeply, and make sharing the bond of motherhood a beautiful thing.

Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not rely on your own understanding. Acknowledge him in all your ways, and he will make your paths straight.” [Proverbs 3:5-6]