I never imagined that shopping for our little one would be such a learning curve.
When people graciously started asking what I needed, I buckled down and started a registry with the help of pre-made checklists available online, but they were still overwhelming.
The toughest part was not only refining these lists to trim off the unnecessary, but also choosing between so many different variations of each item, which became a time-sucking decision requiring research.
Two months before baby’s arrival, I feel like I finally have a beginner’s grip on what is needed. It inspired me to make a no-bullshit guide for other rookies, or those seeking inspiration for baby gifts beyond the obvious onesies and blankies.
I’ve broken down my baby essentials into five blatant categories: sleeping, feeding, pooping, cleaning, and getting the hell out of the house:
Today’s moms have four main options, and you don’t need em all:
- Crib – There are traditional cribs that operate exactly how they look, some with attached drawers and changing tables. Then there are convertible cribs that turn into toddler and day beds, as well as drop-side cribs that grant easy access to baby. Each type comes with a different price tag and safety rating.
- Bassinet – Some find a bassinet helpful in those first few months. Just don’t feel the need to spend a shit ton of money on one because babies grow out of them quickly, with the maximum weight hold at just 15 pounds for most.
- Pack n Play: Handy portable cribs; the fanciest versions offer bassinet and diaper changing attachments, creating a multi-functional piece that grows with baby.
- Napper/Rocker: More practical than a traditional bassinet, but just as small and convenient, these allow baby to sleep anywhere with the added function of serving as a seat and rocker for when they are awake, too.
Add on a mattress and/or/bassinet crib with a few sets of fitted sheets, and you’re goood to go for sleep time. The fancy bedding sets, large quilts, padded bumpers, cute mobiles, pillows, and stuffed animals are not necessary, and some can turn your sleep haven into a SIDS hazard.
Babies don’t eat solids until about 4-6 months. So, for now, it’s your boob or a bottle:
- Breast pump (usually covered by insurance)
- Breast milk storage set (freezer bags and/or bottles)
- Burp cloths
- Formula of choice
- bottles & teats
- Burp cloths
There are a ton of optional add-ons from nursing pillows, bras and tank tops, covers, bottle warmers, bottle drying racks, nipple shields and ointments, … the list goes on. Some mamas never use nursing covers, some do. Some don’t find nursing tops any different than the tops they already have. Some find home remedies in place of nipple ointments. Get into your own routine before breaking the bank.
Cloth vs. disposable:
Cloth: Upfront investment, but major longterm savings. These have really come a long way and there are so many different brands/types, including hybrid systems that blend reusable and disposable into one adorable diaper.
Disposable: Self explanatory. Just don’t stock up too much on any one size or one brand before baby comes as it is hard to predict what brand will best suit baby’s bum.
Either route, you’ll need baby wipes, diaper rash cream, a changing pad and fitted covers, and gentle baby laundry detergent. You don’t need a fancy diaper disposal system/diaper pail – a nearby trash can will do just fine. No need to buy a new designated diaper changing table unless it’s in the budget; many parents throw a changing pad on top of an old dresser … and, you know, there’s always the floor.
Cleaning: Bath time basics
Get a baby tub better designed to support baby or just utilize your sink. Add on gentle baby shampoo, soap and lotions, and wash cloths. You don’t need all the fancy toys or mini terry bathrobes unless you really want them. Boom. done.
Keep little nail clippers, saline drops or nasal aspirator and a first aid kit around too. Despite fancy ads for temporal scan thermometers, most pediatricians still ask for you to to use a rectal thermometer.
Getting the hell out of the house:
- Car seat
Unfortunately for us rookies, none of the above are as easy to decide on as they sound. There are numerous variations of each that will take a chunk of your time to compare and research before purchasing. But start off with one of each and you’ll be golden.
What you don’t need, but want:
- Activity gym: Tummy time! Keeps baby entertained.
- Bouncer/Swing: Fun and practical additions to the home that baby can grow into while
giving you free hands around the home.
- Bins/drawer dividers: So. many. new. things. Storage, storage, storage.
What can wait, really:
- The toys: Stuffed animals, books, table sets, decor – Basically all the goodies that line baby stores. They are cute but they do not make the functional list.
- The outfits: Smart purchases include onesies (without the feet in case baby has long legs!) sleeper gowns, leggings and side snap tees; don’t feel the need to stock up on all the cute outfits out of necessity especially without knowing how fast baby will grow. Same rule applies to baby shoes. Get socks for their feet instead.
- The home: Baby gates, fancy monitors and other baby proofing measures are important, but they are not necessary right away. Newborns mostly sleep, giving you some time before the crawling and exploring begins. Phew.
Admittedly I have veered off the essentials list and decorated a themed nursery and browsed those baby clothes sales one too many times. I’ve learned that the random – but fun – shopping sprees aren’t what prepare you, it’s understanding that your little one won’t care what color the nursery is or how may toys are lining the walls. They will want to sleep, eat, shit, and repeat. Cover those basics, and consider your nesting phase a success.