The baby business reminds me of the wedding business; you’re up to your ears in lists of things you MUST have. Since moms are determined to give their newborns the best possible start, I think they’re even more likely to stress over making sure they have every last item that they are told they need. The reality is that a huge amount of those lists are frivolous. In fact, having EVERYTHING might create chaos and clutter, which you definitely won’t need any more of. You might find them useful, but unless you have truckloads of money rolling in you’re better off saving the cash and foregoing the Baby Bounce-O-Matic 3000. Ok… so that’s just a contraption I made up, but here’s a list of what you REALLY need to prepare for your new arrival:
- A crib and mattress with extra sheets and a mattress cover. No bumpers or extra fluffy stuff! Your instincts will be to put the baby in as much padding as possible because they seem so fragile, but in this case less is more. There is a higher risk of suffocation/SIDS when things like bumpers and big fluffy blankets are in the crib. A receiving blanket will do to keep the baby cozy.
- A changing table, changing pad, and pad covers.
- A diaper bin. Ones like Diaper Genies are nice, but not imperative.
- A car seat with an extra base. No need to get the one that costs $800. They’re all approved for the same safety standards.
- A stroller. I prefer the ones that allow you to attach your car seat.
- A swing OR bouncer. Most babies seem to like one over the other. Ask around your mom friends to see if you can borrow ones they are not using.
- High chair OR booster seat. Pick one that fits your lifestyle best. You probably don’t need both.
- If you are breast feeding you will need a breast pump. Look into a rental or one that is used. You could save yourself hundreds of dollars. The only parts you need to buy new are the ones that actually touch milk or the skin, which are sold separately for much less. Also make sure you have milk storage bags or bottles.
- Nursing pads. Even if you don’t breastfeed you’ll need them.
- Burp cloths. From my experience, the ones the stores market really don’t do a very good job. Try using Gerber cloth diapers as burp cloths. They might not have puppies or flowers on them, but they are thicker and more absorbent and get the job done!
- 4 & 8 oz. bottles. You really don’t have to have the latest groundbreaking technology in bottles. What’s best for the baby is the breast. Beyond that there’s really not much difference between brands.
- Bibs, bottle/nipple brush, pacifiers, bowls, cups, soft utensils, etc.
- Blankets. Several receiving blankets and 1 or 2 warmer blankets for cold months.
- Gowns. In the middle of the night when you’re exhausted, it’s easier if you don’t have to fiddle with a bunch of snaps for a diaper change.
- Onesies/Sleepers. You’ll find both useful.
- Socks/booties, and scratch-preventing mittens. One thing you don’t need is actual shoes. Although you may think they are cute, rigid shoes can hurt foot development.
- Diaper bags. It’s useful to have a small and large one depending on your travel plans. When choosing a large one, it may be helpful to find one that can double as your purse.
- A baby monitor. Do you really need a $500 HD video monitor?
- Gates, cabinet locks, outlet covers, table corner covers, etc.
- A bath seat. The baby spa is a little bit overkill, don’t you think? A simple seat/sling for the tub will still allow you to get the baby just as clean.
- Thermometer, aspirator, medicine dropper, etc. Some places carry kits that include all of the infant healthcare essentials. Those are worth the cash.
- Diapers (cloth or disposable), wipes, and diaper ointment.
If you do a lot of traveling you should also consider a play yard. One with a lot of pieces can take forever to put up, so just a simple play yard that fits your needs will do.
When in doubt, ask the moms you trust or your baby’s pediatrician. They are the best ones to guide you on your journey to motherhood!