If you’re pregnant with your first (or it has been awhile between babies), chances are you are totally overwhelmed by the various THINGS you need for baby. There are so many questions when prepping: What is actually essential? What are the secret best things? What are just marketing ploys to get you to spend all your money, preying on your ignorance and fear that you’ll be lost without the ONE thing that baby needs?
In the end, every baby is different and everyone finds their own way, but I made the lists to give you a head start. I have broken it down into what I consider the basics, the god-sends, the items for later and the unnecessary. Again, what was vital for my baby may not work for your baby. However, there are some basics that every new parent needs to get through those first three postpartum months in particular.
- Muslin blankets – We used Muslin Swaddle Blankets for everything (swaddling, spit ups, barrier between baby and floor/couch/changing table. Essential!
- Diapers, Wipes and Diaper Trash Bin (if you’re using disposable diapers)- You want to have diapers on hand asap. I recommend getting a pack of NB size and a pack of size ones to accommodate your rapidly growing baby. I have a friend who’s baby bypassed the Newborn size altogether, so it’s great to have them on hand. My favorite brands for diapers are good ol’ Pampers Swaddlers with the indicator line. Best wipes are the Kirkland brand from Costco (but any from the grocery store that don’t have added scents or chemicals are good, too). I used the Diaper Dekor trash bin and have been very happy with it. (I didn’t use cloth diapers, so I can’t speak to it, but if you did, let us know in the comments!)
- Car seat– Infant car seat is different than those big, convertible car seats. You won’t need one of those big ones until baby is closer to a year old. The Chicco Keyfit 30 is the one we, and I think most of my mom friends, used. It’s relatively affordable, safe, cozy and comfy for baby. Great newborn/infant carrier. A word – I didn’t realize that car seats have expiration dates. This is to ensure that the car seat is up to the strictest safety standards. We purchased our first car seat second hand and while that was a big money saver, it only had a year left on the expiration so we couldn’t use it again. Just fyi!
- Onesies – We got away with having maybe 10 onesies in NB size and then moved quickly to 3 and 6 month onesies and sleepers. Some babies bypass the NB size altogether, and others take a long time to grow. It’s good to have a few in every size.
- Changing Pad & Cover – Essential to have a Changing Pad if you have a changing table or you want to move the changing area around the house.
- Baby Bath Essentials– We neglected to register or purchase any of these items before hand so we had to send mom out week one to buy all of these items for us! I really liked this Stokke Flexi Bath, Transparentbecause it folds up and in our tiny apartment, it was essential that all things take up as little space as possible. But there are others that are not nearly as pricey. This Shea Moisture bar soap is the only soap we’ve used for my little guy because it’s so gentle on his sensitive eczema-prone skin. Bonus: it smells awesome.
- Bassinet – Loved, loved, loved this Arm’s Reach bassinet. The baby is so close by your bed, but safely in his/her own space. We used it until he was far too big for it.
- Diaper bag– I like the Skip Hop Baby Duo bag we got fine. It’s narrow which is nice because it can’t ever get too bulky but it’s a double edged sword because it’s hard to find things and sometimes doesn’t feel big enough. Now I just throw things in my purse or backpack, but in the beginning I needed a dedicated bag for ALL THE THINGS.
- Breast pads – Lansinoh and Medela brands were my favorites for disposable. There are also cloth ones that you can use but that was just more washing that I couldn’t get my head around.
- Breast pump – I think I started pumping for relief week 2 or 3 so I was happy to have mine right away. Remember to look if you are eligible to purchase one through your insurance. I used the Medela brand pump and it worked great for me.
- Swaddler– We were gifted this SwaddleMe swaddler with velcro wings and it made a world of difference in baby’s sleep. No matter how hard we tried, we could never get the muslin swaddles tight enough after a while. Our baby was such a good little flailer, he would fight and win against our swaddles until we put this on him. It quickly became part of the routine those first three months.
- Zip-Up Sleepers – Zip-Up sleepers for the sleep-deprived parents are the BEST. Avoid snaps at all costs for those sleepers!
- Bouncy Chair and/or Boppy Seat – You’re gonna need a place to put baby once in awhile. I personally didn’t want items that made noise or had a bunch of bells and whistles. So I really liked the Boppy Newborn Lounger and Baby Bjornto put baby while I ate a meal or took a shower. There are tons of options, but these were my favorites. The kiddo still uses the Bjorn as a chair now that he’s a toddler.
- Diaper/changing table organizer – The Diaper Caddy is so helpful in being able to transport the diapers/wipes/butt paste to different rooms if there is a spontaneous poo-splosion, and it is also just nice to have everything organized right there on the changing table.
- Nursing bras and nursing tanks – These are personal and difficult to size, so not a registry item, but important to shop for yourself and have before baby comes nonetheless. They are VITAL.
- Booties – These Zutano Booties are amazing. They don’t fall off (as opposed to socks that you lose constantly). They’re adorable and they’re warm. Win, win, win. Worth the little extra money because you’ll use them until they’re walking/standing.
Down The Line:
- Stroller – I personally was intimidated to use a carrier right away so pushing my baby in the stroller was so nice even week 1 for a little walk. I have been very happy with our UPPAbaby Cruz Stroller. It is so easy to push, has great basket storage and is so smooth even on crazy Oakland sidewalks. That being said, it is expensive and we were very fortunate to have it given to us as a gift. It is a bit heavy and clunky, so not the easiest for just throwing in the car. I also really liked and see a lot of parents who use the Baby Jogger. For any stroller, you’ll also need a Car Seat Adapter – that handy device that allows you to click those carseats right in.
- Baby Carrier – Once I did figure out the carrier, I was mad I had waited so long to use it! It’s so nice to be able to just strap baby to you and go (though hot and sweaty). I have and like the Ergobaby. I have also seen the LILLE Carrier and it seems AWESOME. There are TONS though and unless you want it day one, you could honestly stand to shop around and find what works best for you. In retrospect, I probably would have done a Moby Wrap for the first three-ish months, then transitioned to a sturdier carrier. (For reference- The wraps are the cloth ones where you can do skin to skin and just totally hold baby to you all around town, the carriers are the more sturdy with all the straps for when they are bigger!)
- Activity Mat – Nice to have an activity mat from day one for safe place to lay baby and give him/her some tummy time. We liked this Infantino one, and tarted using consistently around two months. Also, those Foam Tiles to keep the floor squishy are great and so easy to clean.
- High chair – You won’t need a high chair until 4 months at the earliest. I like our Graco Blossom , it has served us very well, but there are also tons that are a little smaller or just booster seats at the table. Depends on your available space and what you’d prefer. It was nice to just have it when the time came!
- Pack ‘N Play – There are many options for travel cribs, but I’ve been very happy with the simple, affordable, straightforward Graco Pack ‘n Play.
- Sophie – Do you need Sophie, this bizarrely ubiquitous teething toy? I mean, my baby was deprived of Sophie because I didn’t know about it. But pretty much every baby out there has a Sophie La Girafe. The choice is yours.
- Pacifiers – This is different for every parent/baby. For us, we were fortunate that breastfeeding went well and at about two weeks we were given the green light by the pediatrician to introduce the pacifier so as to give me some space and allow baby some comfort. Baby never got nipple confusion and also stopped using it once he got teeth, just stopped liking it. Other toddlers still use their pacifiers to sleep and still others never use them at all. All up to you, but I liked these ones by Avent and the Wubbanubs are also just adorable.
- Bottles and Cleaners – Dr. Brown’s and Avent bottles were great. This Drying Rack for bottles and nipples, also awesome.
- Books and Toys – You’ll want books and toys, of course, but get those as they occur to you and trickle in. Not necessary out the gate.
- Bouncy Swing – Once my kiddo hit about 5 months, he was all about this Graco jumper swing. He would have bounced all day if I let him (though tempted, I didn’t). It was the BEST and helped him develop some core and leg strength.
- Nursing Pillow – I really liked the My Brest Friend pillow for learning to nurse, though I didn’t end up using it after the first 4 weeks or so because pillows worked once I got the hang of it.
- Super Seat – My kiddo used a Summer Infant SuperSeat a few times then got over it. Some kids love, love them.
Things I didn’t need after all:
- Nipple Cream – Despite sore nipples in the beginning, nipple cream didn’t bring much relief and I was paranoid of baby ingesting anything weird even though it would have been totally fine! Some people swear by it. So much variance!
- White Noise Machine – We use apps and YouTube.
- Swings – Again, some parents swear by these for baby sleep, but we didn’t use one because I was worried of having to break him of the habit of using it to sleep. We survived well, but it also would have been nice those first few months. Depends on baby and what you’re willing to do- I’ve heard good things about the Fisher-Price Rock ‘n Play.
- Nursing Cover – They are lovely, but I just used a muslin blanket and it worked just as well.
Ultimately, shop around, ask around, look around. Get things second-hand if that appeals to you; neighbors and friends are always happy to pass along their clothing and gear for which they no longer have a need. There will be some things you’ll use once and never again, there will be some things that you find are amazing for you that aren’t on this list (tell me what you discover if this is the case!!).
Researching, shopping and setting up all the items and the gear helped me so much to feel prepared and nest. But, if that’s not your thing, you’ll survive without all the gear, too. The baby has you, and that’s an awesome start. But, like, get diapers and blankets at least.
Any items you used that I left off this list? Any items you used and loved from this list? Let me know in the comments!