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Planning and preparing for a baby is one of the most exciting times for new moms! But it can also quickly become overwhelming as you search through dozens of baby products trying to figure out what you really need. As a mom of two, I’ve got a little experience with what worked and what didn’t work. I’ve also asked some other moms for their input on what is absolutely essential, what’s nice to have, and what you can definetly live without. So, here is your list of all the things you should consider purchasing for your new little bundle of joy!
The Bare Essentials
These are the things you absolutely must have for your new baby. Believe it or not, this list is pretty short! Keep in mind that the product you buy to meet these needs may vary depending on your current situation, but all of these things are necessary.
A Way to Feed Baby
Feeding your baby is a given. But how you feed him is different from family to family. You can choose to breastfeed, pump, give formula in a bottle, or some combination of these three. There is no one right way. Let me repeat that louder for those in the back. There is no one right way to feed your baby! Can I get an Amen?! 🙌
Regardless of how you choose to feed, you’ll need some supplies. If you want to pump breast milk, you’ll need a pump. Many insurance companies will cover the cost of renting a breast pump. Check with your insurance company or contact your local Lactation Professional for more information.
Of course, just about everyone uses bottles at one point or another. You will need between 4-12 bottles depending on whether you bottle feed exclusively or not and how often you want to wash them. If you’re ok with washing after every bottle feeding or two, you can certainly get by with fewer. I will caution you not to buy a whole bunch of one type of bottle before the baby comes. Get a couple bottles in a few different brands and see which ones work best for you and your babe. You might find that what you thought would work doesn’t.
If you’re not planning to breastfeed, go ahead and get a few cans of formula too. Even if you are planning to breastfeed, having a can on standby just in case things don’t go the way you plan is helpful. Start with the basic newborn formula, but don’t buy a ton right away. Your baby may need a different kind of formula once she arrives.
A Safe Place to Sleep
No matter what your parenting style is, your baby will need somewhere to sleep. Many parents love co-sleeping (sharing their bed with their baby). While there are plenty of benefits to this approach, there are also some dangers. If you choose to go this route, please do your research first and take all necessary precautions to minimize the risks to your baby.
Even co-sleeping parents will eventually need a separate sleep space. Some options for a safe sleeping space include a crib, a bassinet, a pack n’ play, or a rocker. All of these options come in a variety of styles, price points, and added bells and whistles. Choose what works best for your family. I recommend purchasing any infant bed new, since some older beds may not meet current safety regulations.
Everyone needs clothes. It’s kind of a social norm on planet E
Also, resist the urge to remove ALL the tags right away to wash the clothes. You want to be able to return anything you end up not using. Go ahead and prepare a handful of basics before baby is born, but don’t over-estimate the number of clothes you’ll need.
Most babies really don’t need as much you might think. I recommend starting out with 15-20 basic tops and bottoms. If you have a winter baby, add in a few hats and trim jackets/sweaters. If you have a summer baby, add in one or two sun hats and you should be good to go. Don’t forget baby socks! Things to avoid: lots of buttons, zippers, ties, or any other closures or embellishments. Stick to basic body suits and leggings for those first few months and your life will be so much easier!
If you’d like an easy way to get the cutest clothes for your fast-growing little one, sign up for KidBox! (If you order through my link, you’ll save $25 on your first box). You’ll get five boxes a year (summer, back-to-school, fall, winter, & spring) filled with adorable clothes you’ll absolutely love. But if you don’t love them, you can always return them. Baby boxes are $68 and usually include 5-6 items (an item is often an entire outfit). PLUS for every full box you keep, KidBox donates to a charity of your choice. KidBox sells clothes from newborn-14 for girls and newborn-16 for boys.
Of course this category also includes diapers – unless you plan to EC (elimination communication), in which case, kudos to you! You can use disposable or cloth but you’ll need at least 8-10 diapers a day in the beginning, so plan for that. Just don’t buy too many newborn size diapers, as most babies outgrow them fairly quickly.
Child Safety Seat
Unless you walk everywhere and never ever ride in a moving vehicle, you’re going to need some kind of child safety seat. It is the law in all 50 states that children must ride in an approved child safety seat. Most states require children to be in a car seat or booster up to 8 years old. Aside from that, children who ride in a car seat are far safer in the event of an accident.
You should always use a properly installed car seat in every vehicle your baby rides in (including public transportation). Once a car seat has been involved in a car accident it needs to be replaced. You should ALWAYS purchase your car seat brand new as you can never be certain of the history of a used car seat and car seat safety standards are always changing. Check out my page all about car seat safety here.
While it is totally possible to care for a baby with only the bare essentials listed above (I mean moms did it for centuries, right?), most moms find that they much prefer to have a few creature comforts available to them. Here are three things that moms say they can’t live without!
Whether you’re all about attachment parenting or you just need a safe place for baby when shopping in tiny stores (or anything in-between), you’ll love having a baby carrier. A carrier is a piece of soft fabric that supports baby and attaches them to your body. It has been shown to calm baby and helps facilitate the parent/child bond.
There are many carrier options available including slings, wraps, and structured carriers. Each has its own set of benefits and may be used for different ages, stages, and circumstances. While structured carriers are probably the easiest to use, many moms love the versatility of wraps and slings. It’s really a personal preference. But one thing moms can agree on is that having a carrier can be a lifesaver when you have a fussy baby who just wants to be held all the time! (And trust me, they ALL go through that at some point).
Swaddles & Sleep Sacks
Have you ever heard the phrase “sleeping like a baby”? Yea, it’s more like waking up every couple of hours around the clock demanding to be fed! Ok, so realistically that only lasts for the first few weeks or months. You will sleep again, I promise.
One way to help your baby sleep well and adjust to life outside the womb is to wrap him up nice and snug in a swaddle. Most babies love the feeling of being swaddled. To us it seems restricting and we would probably hate it. But for them, it makes them feel safe and secure. Think about it, they just spent about 9 months enjoying the warmth and small space of your womb. Then in just a few minutes, they were thrust into this big open world that’s totally unfamiliar to them. Swaddling helps them feel that peace that they felt when you carried them.
There are lots of options for swaddling too. From a basic swaddle blanket to a wrap with Velcro, snaps, or zippers, you can find just what you need. A swaddle blanket is usually a big square piece of fabric that you wrap around your baby to keep him snug. This method has a little bit of a learning curve, but once you figure it out it’s a cheap and easy option. If you prefer something a little easier, try one of the many types that just velcro or zip. You may need to try a few different swaddles before you land on one that you and your baby both love. One thing to remember is that swaddles shouldn’t be used once your baby can roll over.
When your baby outgrows the swaddle, you can switch to sleep sacks. These are essentially a blanket your baby can wear. Since it’s not recommended to put blankets in your baby’s sleep space until he’s a little older, the sleep sack helps to keep him warm in the meantime. You can get sleep sacks with or without sleeves and in a variety of sizes and designs to fit your needs.
Rock N’ Play
*Disclaimer: The Fisher-Price Rock N’ Play was recalled in early 2019 due to the risk of infant injury or death from improper sleep positioning. This product is no longer available for commercial sale. If you do choose to use this product (second-hand), please be aware of the risks.
As a mom of a son who sufferend from GERD, which caused him to spit up a TON, sometimes caused him to choke while lying on flat surfaces, and made it difficult for him to gain weight, the Rock N’ Play was our saving grace. For months it was the only way to get our first-born to sleep for a reasonable amount of time.
There are so many options for the Rock N’ Play now. From a basic model that you can rock yourself, to the Bluetooth connected smart rockers that can be controlled from an app on your phone. There’s an option for everyone. And they come in lots of different colors and designs too, to match whatever decor you have in your home.
Babies love the cozy, slightly inclined sleeping space, and parents love that it’s compact and easily portable. This is the sleeper that you can easily bring to Grandma’s house or use in a small space. The
Nice-to-Have Items (That aren’t entirely necessary)
Even after purchasing all the basics and must-haves, there are still some things that many moms enjoy having even though they know they could totally live without them. These are items you may want, but definitely don’t need!
Yes, you can carry your baby everywhere or just lay them on the floor (or in their rock n’ play if you take my advice). But sometimes you just want something a bit….more. This is where the swing comes in handy. It can be a safe place to lay baby and keep her content while you cook, clean, shower or whatever else you need to do sans baby.
This is one of those items that many moms either love or hate. I personally think the best option is to buy a low dresser and put a changing pad on top. Once your baby is out of diapers, just take the changing pad off and you have a dresser you can still keep using for many more years! But some people swear by their designated changing table. It does add some extra storage in those early days, but it doesn’t have much use past the diaper stage.
Stationary Baby Entertainer
AKA the Exersaucer. Many babies find great joy in all the lights and sounds you can find on these toys, but I personally prefer to stick with more basic play things. Plus these things can take up a surprisingly large amount of space! We’ve had two in our house and they’ve probably been the least used items we purchased. Babies, at least my babies, prefer to have the freedom to explore rather than being contained in one place. That’s not to say these don’t have their place in your family. Many parents use and love them. But it’s definitely something you can live without.
One Worth-It Splurge
So this may not be worth it for everyone, but for me and my family it is the one thing we absolutely would buy again in a heart-beat. The convertible stroller.
I thought I was going to be a baby-wearing only, no stroller, no infant carseat kind of mom. But I am not. I LOVE my stroller! We bought the Joovy Qool and it is amazing.
We mostly use it for shopping trips and walks around town. But it served us well for a long trip to the zoo with three kids too! I love that you can use it as a single stroller, a double stroller, and even a triple stroller. Plus there are great accessories like the bassinet attachment, a shopping tote, and a parent organizer, just to name a few.
Sometime in the future I will do a full review on the Joovy Qool, now that I’ve been using it for almost a year. It’s probably my most favorite baby item yet!
Even if you’re only having your first baby, a convertible stroller might be a great purchase for you if you plan to add more children to your family in the next few years!
Now that you know what to buy, get out there and create your perfect baby registry! Trying to decide where to register? Sign up with Baby List for a free registry that allows you to add items from literally anywhere and has the added bonus of being able to add cash, gift cards, and even unique gifts you won’t find anywhere else (like babysitting, home-cooked meals, and used books).
Wishing you and your baby love and joy!