There is nothing quite like the thrill of seeing a positive pregnancy test. It tickles your tummy, and sends tingles coursing through your body until you just want to laugh/scream/cry/do a happy dance. Babies are incredible.
Their smell, their snuggles, their grunts, coos, and even their poos. It is like holding heaven in your arms.
And then the planning starts. What do I need? There are so many baby gadgets out there and our society makes you feel like you MUST HAVE all of them. Not true. You will waste a lot of money and space that way.
This is my over-flowing closet full of baby gear that simply never got used like I thought it would.
Although all a baby truly needs is love, it is nice to have a few essentials to make parenting a little easier. But how do you know what is essential, and what is not? Ask a veteran mom, or lots of them!
We polled nearly 400 of our Facebook mamas to see what their can’t-live-without baby essentials were, and also the ones that just weren’t necessary. Of course what works for some may not work for others, but we hope this list will help both new and veteran moms narrow down the essentials from the superfluous.
- Crib and mattress- a newborn can spend up to 16 hours a day sleeping, so a good crib is essential. If you plan on multiple children, choose a gender neutral one that will last. Make sure it meets current safety standards.
- Rocking chair-some of your most precious moments will be rocking/feeding your baby. Choose a rocker that has some nice, comfortable padding.
- Dresser– a dresser is perfect for storing clothes, diapers, blankets, burp cloths, etc. It can also double as a changing table to save you money and space!
Nice to Have:
- Bassinet– some moms love them, others never use them. They can be nice for the first few weeks/months to have baby close. Some parents like to put baby in the crib as soon as possible. It depends on your personal preference.
- Changing table– the majority of readers agree that you change the baby everywhere except the changing table! Don’t waste your money on a changing table; rather, opt for a changing pad that you can place on your dresser.
- Expensive themed bedding and nursery decor-Don’t break the bank on decorating. It’s easy to get excited and go overboard and although we love a cute nursery, babies grow out of them fast. Keep your decor fairly gender/age neutral so that your room can easily transition with age.
- Car Seat and carseat canopy (Don’t forget to get your FREE one here!)- make sure your car seat meets current safety standards and that if you are getting a used car seat, it has never been in a wreck. Car seat covers are so great to have to protect your babe from wind, rain, sun, and prying hands.
- Stroller-most moms agree that you could have a million different strollers; there are joggers, umbrellas, sit-and-stand, doubles, etc. However, it is unanimous that whichever stroller you choose, make sure it has a great under carriage for storing diaper bags, toys, snacks, etc.
- Bouncer or Swing– you probably don’t need both. But it is so nice to have something soothing to lay baby down in while you are making dinner or doing laundry.
- Hands-free baby carrier- a lifesaver for grocery store trips, playdates at the park, hiking, or just anytime you need to use your hands. Also, babies love the closeness they feel snuggled up next to you.
I adore my vibrating bouncer, and so have all three babies!
Nice to Have:
- Pack and play-great for vacations, afternoons at grandma’s, or when you have baby guests.
- Nice diaper bag– Some readers love them, others prefer to use a big purse to avoid carrying two bags around.
- Baby monitor-mostly for your own peace of mind, so this one is up to you.
- Shopping cart cover– definitely not a necessity, but serves its purpose for a short time. For germophobes like myself, it’s nice to know my baby isn’t chewing/licking someone else’s flu bug.
- High chair or portable high chair– a good investment when it comes to messy eaters. Some may be a little bulky, but there are some great compact options that can even travel with you!
- Diaper Genie– you don’t need a contraption for diapers, and you definitely don’t want them piling up in your baby’s room. Stinky! Your best bet is to put them in a plastic grocery bag and dispose of them outside.
- Wipe warmer- Although the thought of it is comforting, wipe warmers dry out your wipes quickly. Honestly, babies don’t seem to mind the cool ones and you will still be a wonderful mother without one.
Gotta Have for breast feeding:
- Nursing pillow (Boppy or My Breast Friend)- Your back will thank you and it has many functions: prop baby up, use it for newborn picture posing, I’ve even been known to use it as a tray for my dinner plate:).
- Nursing cover– Let’s face it, nursing can be so convenient at times, and then extremely difficult at others. Having a nursing cover allows you to maintain privacy everywhere you go…the park, the mall, other people’s houses, even amusement parks! Don’t forget you can get a free one HERE!!
Nice to Have for breast feeding:
- Lily Padz instead of nursing pads-…a lot of readers loved Medela gel pads as well.
- A breast pump– depending on your need, a breast pump is a nice thing to have for storing milk, or having extra on hand for child care. If you will be going back to work, a nice electric double pump is a must. If you don’t plan on much child care, a simple hand pump can be handy.
Don’t worry about:
- Buying a big container of lanolin- the hospital usually gives you enough to get you through the sore phase of breast feeding. If you are concerned, buy a small container.
Gotta have for bottle feeding:
- Good bottles– our veteran moms strongly suggested Avent and Dr. Brown’s bottles. You may want to try two different bottles at first to see which variety your baby prefers. After that, it’s nice to have about five bottles handy. More than that can get cluttered.
- Formula–it’s nice to have a small stockpile, at least for the first few months while adjusting to life with your new little sweetie. Sometimes, getting to the store can be too inconvenient when there are snuggles to be had!
Don’t worry about:
- A bottle warmer– most readers agreed that they just didn’t use a bottle warmer. You don’t have it when you’re out and about, so having a bottle at room temperature is much easier in the long run.
- Bottle sterilizer- Also a good thought, and some moms appreciate them, but the majority of HDS moms polled agreed that bottle sterilizers are more hassle than they are worth. But if you feel safer using one, go right ahead!
1. Diapers and wipes– when you think you have enough, get more! I recently had my third baby and have finally figured out a pretty close estimate for the first six months of diapers (*my babies are on the small size, around 7 lbs and never get too chunky, so sizes may vary for you):
-Newborn diapers: 222
-Size 1 diapers: 460
-Size 2 diapers: 300
-Size 3 diapers: 300 and counting (my babes stay in this size for a looong time!)
2. Hospital nose bulbs- stock up on them while you are in the hospital and do not lose them! The store bought ones never compare. A lot of our FB moms recommended the NoseFrida for an effective nasal aspirator.
3. A good thermometer– invest in a quality thermometer to monitor your baby’s temperature at home. They are great for toddlers and children as well.
4. Diaper ointment– there are several to try, and they all work different on different bottoms. Here are the top picks from our veteran mommies: A+D Ointment, Desitin, Bourdreaux’s Butt Paste, and this nurse’s secret that every mom should know...Resinol. This medicated ointment doesn’t require a prescription, but is very effective. My newborn had a diaper rash that was so bad, her little bum was raw. After trying everything, a pharmacist friend recommended Resinol and it took care of it almost immediately!
5. Basic medicines– infant tylenol, gas drops, essential oils
Nice to have:
- A few hooded bath towels
- Changing pad and two pad covers-
- A baby bathtub– some readers used them all the time, others simply used the sink or regular tub. I’ve used one for all three babies and love the ease of resting them instead of trying to wrangle them as they slip and slide. The downside is that it does take up extra room.
- Cool-mist humidifier– health care providers are now recommending cool-mist humidifiers for infants and children. It’s great to have one handy during RSV/cold season. I especially love infusing mine with essential oils.
You can do without:
- baby bathrobes– I know, I know, but they’re sooo cute! Go for it if you’d like, but hooded towels cover a lot more surface and allow lots of growing room. My 4-year-old is still using her hooded baby towel.
- Infant first aid kits-a lot of the items found in these kits, you will get at the hospital. As stated earlier, the hospital syringes are the bomb, and the nail clippers in these kits are not very effective. You’re better off using a nail file when they are newborns, and regular clippers as they get bigger.
Most new parents go way overboard when it comes to clothes. They really don’t need that much, but of course we all love to play dress-up. Save your money for cute clothes in bigger sizes when they won’t get ruined from blow-outs, spit-up, or food messes.
- Onesies– five to ten in each size. What a great invention! Our readers especially love the onesies with built-in mitts for those tiny scratchers.
- jammies- 4-5 in each size, preferably the zipper kind (much easier to manage, especially in the middle of the night!), and built-in hand mitts for newborns who tend to scratch themselves.
- Burp cloths- again, five to ten is a good number. My favorite are these designer baby burp cloths; they’re soft, cute, and practical!
- Swaddling blankets– the resounding #1 Facebook fan pick for perfect swaddling blankets are the aden +anais swaddlers. A great baby blanket is also a must for the cold months, or for laying baby on the ground. Check out this designer baby blanket you can easily make yourself.
- extra crib/bassinet sheets- bodily functions happen…a lot. Having one or two extra crib sheets is a definite must!
Nice to have:
- a sleep sack– when baby starts to roll over and squirm, loose blankets can become a danger. A sleep sack is a great way to keep your baby warm and safe too.
- socks- although babies go barefoot the majority of the time, socks are nice for winter time.
- a few cute outfits in each size-it’s hard not to go overboard, but sadly most clothing gets ruined from spit up, poop, and food stains. Get a few great outfits for when you want to show that sweetie off; otherwise, put those onesies to work!
You can do without:
- baby shoes- although they are a-d-o-r-a-b-l-e, babies tear them off, or just don’t wear them. Buy a few cute pair if you must, but save your big shoe purchases for when they are walking.
- hand mitts– opt for the onesies and jammies that have these built in. The mitts alone just don’t stay on.
Babies come into this world with nothing, and yet, they are absolutely perfect. Just remember, all the stuff isn’t what’s really important. It’s the snuggles, the kisses, and the late night comforting that is what they really crave.
Feel free to share your constructive comments!