Never did I imagine such a little person would need so much stuff! And over the course of three little people joining our family, I have realized….they don’t! I’ve already written about the journey of minimalism I’m on as well as how I came to realize my kids had too many toys and what I did about it! Well, preparing for and bringing baby home is another situation in which I would like to suggest that less might just be more.
But first, let me explain that I can remember what it was like to be getting ready for our first child and really unsure of what I needed to actually be ready. I was totally overwhelmed. And my most typical thought was wondering how this little tiny person would need so much stuff. Cause in reality, I’ve boiled it down to five things a baby absolutely needs: food, a clean diaper, clothing, love, and sleep. This is truly it. But now there are so many gadgets, odds and ends to help us take care of our little ones in these specific areas, plus many more. However, more stuff means more cleaning and more work. And trust me, there isn’t a new mama that has time for anything more than what she already has ahead of her! More cleaning and more work mean less sleep and fewer snuggles. But those will be your two favorite things when you bring that little baby home. So strip everything else away and keep it simple, mama. You have all the time in the world to get more as the need arises, but just make sure it is a need and that you are not being sucked into the long list of things people have determined you need for your baby. Your baby will be happiest with you and asks for little else.
Also, this is a good place to bring up the idea of not everything needing to be brand spankin’ new! Your baby is going to spit up and poop on every single thing you lovingly pick out and put together for him. Seriously. Nothing will be left untouched. So, take time to consider what is really important to have new and what would be just as useful second hand. I have lived in a different country for the early months of each of my three kiddo’s lives. So, buying everything new simply wasn’t always an option for me. And I’m so thankful for this! I love new as well as the next gal. But now I appreciate second hand more. The amount of time my child will use each item as a baby is so remarkably short compared to the rest of their lives that spending so much for brand new items is simply unnecessary. Save those dollars and create memories like family pictures, a trip to see family who would love to meet your new bundle, or enjoying this trend I’ve heard about (and secretly wish I’d gotten to do) called a babymoon. You will remember these experiences much longer than you will remember which baby bouncer your child sat in for six months. I promise.
Now, if you are planning to have multiple children, I understand the reason behind and desire to purchase new the first round and then reuse with each child. I would still suggest that you can get items second hand that were minimally used that will be a fraction of the price and still last just as well as purchasing new. It really is worth checking out an online second hand site or visiting your local kids’ consignment store.
Lastly, I just want to recommend borrowing and sharing amongst family and friends. My little man Micah has a full wardrobe up to two years old from his cousin. After that, a friend has given us clothes for him until he is four. Four, people! I bought a couple sleepers when he was born, a pack of socks, and recently a few t-shirts because the season where my nephew is living doesn’t get as hot as where we live. I’m so incredibly thankful for the generosity of family and friends and I want to be a blessing like to others. I know I have so much fun shopping for and dressing my kids, but honestly, they obviously don’t care. So, perhaps I’ll save the headache of shopping for and fully outfitting my little peeps for when they have an opinion about it. And my four year old does enjoy picking out her clothes in the morning. But her only requirements are that she match her sister and that her wardrobe include pink and purple. Got it. So, I keep it simple and that actually makes life easier on all of us. No need to have more than they truly need.
So, to continue with figuring out what your little one truly needs so that you don’t over purchase, I’ve come up with what I consider some necessities as well as some items I have truly loved even though they may not be an absolute necessity. Be sure to check out the links at the end of the post that will take you directly to the items I’ve mentioned on Amazon!
- Diapers: The rule I try to follow here is to try to have the next size available so I don’t go to change a diaper and realize that my quickly growing baby just seemed to outgrow the current diaper size since the last change two hours ago. Seriously, how does that happen? And this is assuming you are going with disposable diapers. I have done both. Nothing compares with the ease
- Wipes: Anything that gets those cheekies clean is fine by me! But, if you go to cheap, the wipes are ultra thin and that is no bueno when wiping a dirty bum.
- Diaper cream: I’ve used Desatin, Butt Cream (even though I seriously hate the name, it works great), Sudocreme and Aquafor. All work well. Sudocreme is only available in certain stores in Europe, but can be ordered online. It is a particularly great one!
- Baby tub: This is not an essential. I bathed my first baby without one and she still got clean. Ha! But, after using one with my second and third babies, I felt they were helpful and made bath time more convenient and comfortable. I will say that I only used them for the first several weeks though. Babies love to splash around so let them wiggle!
- Baby washcloth and towel: This are both absolutely non essentials in my opinion. However, I mention them because the washcloths are extra soft and the towels have perfect little hoods to keep baby warm after a bath. So, if you want to get these, just choose to get a few washcloths and one or two towels. I personally just used my hand to wash my babies most often. And, the towel can dry during the day and be reused each evening (and easily replaced with a regular towel when in the wash).
- Changing table: I have only had a changing table with my third baby and I love it! It is not a necessity but I have been so glad to have it.
- Bottles: These are a must even if you plan to breastfeed. Talk to me after you’ve had a tiny little human latched onto your nipples for 0.24 seconds and tell me if you won’t want a break from that eventually. You will. I promise. It might not be after 0.24 seconds, but after even a few days, you will likely know what I’m talking about. So, have a few bottles washed and ready before baby comes so that you aren’t screaming and crying and making your husband run to the store at midnight when you just can’t nurse one more time. And if you don’t end up needing it for…ahem, pain purposes, you will certainly just want a break from being solely responsible for feeding your little one. Giving dad the opportunity to feed your baby gives you a break but also gives dad a chance to enjoy some special time with his baby. Make sure you do some research on when to introduce a bottle as to avoid nipple confusion. As far as brands, I have used both Avent and Dr. Browns. I recommend either but I switched to Dr. Browns to try to help my last two gassy babies. I do recommend, also, that you have a few smaller (4 oz) bottles for when baby is brand new and only eats a little at a time. This makes it so you don’t have to tip the bottle as far for them to get what they need. This is more of a preference than a necessity.
- Breast pump: If you are breastfeeding, this can give you a break when you need as it is less intense than breastfeeding, can allow someone else to give your baby a bottle of your milk if you don’t want to use formula, can be used when you go back to work, and can help keep your supply up. I have used an Avent pump as well as a Modela pump. The Modela was awesome. I loved having a double sided electric pump with a pumping bra. Very practical. Also, check with insurance as I’ve heard of many mammas who got theirs covered!
- Nursing pads: You can find disposable or reusable.
- Nipple cream: I’ve used Lansinoh Lanolin and it was great. Use it after every.single.feed. Just do it.
- Burp cloths: I absolutely love muslin burp clothes. They are absorbent and just the right weight. They are worth the extra money. I personally prefer the medium sized clothes but there are certainly the smaller, crescent shaped clothes as well as the larger blanket size that can be used as a burp cloth or a lightweight blanket.
- Boppy Pillow: For me, this was an absolute necessity to be comfortable during feeding time with a bottle or breastfeeding. I really despise the tiny little poppy pillows that are pretty much the only thing I see people using. I had my first child in London and I ended up getting a more multipurpose pillow that did not have such a tiny opening. It was more of a crescent shape. I used it with both my girls and then when we traveled from the Middle East to the US to have our son, I forgot it. I literally cried. Let’s blame that on pregnancy hormones. But seriously, I knew I could not use one of those tiny little donut boppies. So, I searched and searched and ended up going with Dr. Brown’s Gia pillow. It has been great and I highly recommend it. It is worth the money and is durable enough to last for multiple babies. Your back will thank you for getting this.
- Sippy Cup: This might be a little premature to include in a baby post, but I just gotta get this bug in your ear. When you are ready to offer your baby some water, which I do between 6-8 months, just go straight to the Avent My Twist And Sip cup. I tried multiple sippy cups with my first daughter and as soon as we used this, we never went back. Babies are used to sucking to get their milk (especially if they bottle feed) so this is a very natural transition. My kids love to sleep with water so this cup is also very handy for that reason. It never leaks! I highly recommend these!
- Nursing cover: Have one ready so that you can comfortably feed no matter who visits in the hospital or at home as well as for when you feel up for going out with baby.
- Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child by Marc Weissbluth: If you can, get this book before baby comes and read all 503 pages. It’s an amazing storehouse of wisdom about not just when your baby will want to sleep, but why they want to sleep so you end up truly understanding the reasons behind why and when your baby needs their rest as well as what you need to do to make sure it happens. Weissbluth is a paediatrician and has studied the brain to understand children’s sleep habits and needs. Even if your little one has already arrived or is well beyond newborn age, this book will not disappoint. Also, I love finding the books I want on half.com to save tons of money and really, spending a couple books on a book that you may or may not love is well worth it. But, I think you will love this book. I will note here that getting books from half.com can take a couple weeks. So, if you are in a rush, Amazon might be the way to go. Also, if you want to preview the main ideas, check out my Baby Sleep Series, which is based on what I’ve come to know based on Weissbluth’s information as well as how I’ve tweaked it to work for me and my family.
- The Contented Little Baby Book by Gina Ford: This is my other go-to book for baby sleep. I will say it is a little old fashioned and you will immediately know what I mean when you open it up. Ms. Ford has been in the baby sleeping business a long time and knows what she’s talking about though! However, the detail she uses to plan out baby and mom’s day was a little overwhelming for me at first. But, once I got to know my baby a little better and definitely by my second child, I saw she was right on with her sleep scheduling and this book is never far from me during the first few months after I bring my babies home. This is another one to pick up on half.com. It is just over 150 pages long and is packed with helpful information. I have laid out a very similar schedule that I used with my children which might also be helpful. I do not go into as much detail as Ford’s book but it is definitely worth checking out and can be a quick reference for you.
- Bassinet: Upon bringing each of my babies home, I’ve used some sort of smaller sleeping space for them before moving them to their crib. Due to living in different countries often, I’ve used something different for each baby because I was lent something different for each baby. For my first baby I used a Moses Basket, with my second I used a bassinet, and for my third I used a type of co-sleeper bassinet that pulled right up to my bed with a drop down side for easy access. I will admit I never figured out how to drop the side down but the idea is a good one, especially for breastfeeding moms at night. I personally liked the Moses Basket and bassinet the best because they both had little hoods that I could then also drape a blanket over to make my baby’s sleep space extra dark, which is a huge bonus. No matter what you use, I highly recommend a small space for your baby to sleep in right away as they like to feel cozy and snug. Sometimes babies seem upset in the large open spaces of a crib and all they need is a smaller space to snuggle into. Remember, they just came from a very, very cozy space in your tummy. It makes sense they would want the feel that same coziness.
- Rock ‘N Play: This was a lifesaver for me with my second and third babies. Both had gas trouble to the point where they were in sever pain. One of the best ways I could help them sleep and be comfortable was in the Rock ‘N Play. This is advertised as something babies can sleep in, so it is safe. They can be buckled in as well. However, it’s always good to remember that whatever you get them used to sleeping in will be what they want and eventually they will outgrow this. So, I think it is a lifesaver for both having baby hanging out near you while you relax or do housework as well as for napping or longer sleeping, but their bassinet and then crib will be best so always make it your goals to get them sleeping in their longer term sleep arrangement most often. But, my last two babies definitely would have gotten a lot less sleep without the Rock ‘N Play. This is not a purchase you will regret and for me, it was a necessity.
- Crib: My only recommendation here is to consider getting a crib that turns into a toddler bed. Of course this depends on the timing of when you have your children (space between siblings) and your preference for reusing the crib with other children, but I loved already having a toddler bed by simply removing one piece once my daughter was done in the crib. It was also nice that though she was going through a big transition, she was transitioning within something that was familiar. I’m not sure this is a necessity, but perhaps a benefit. Regardless, if you get a crib that becomes a toddler bed, at least the last child could use it for that purpose even if you have to move previous children from the crib to another toddler bed.
- Sheets and blankets: There are so many fun patterns and designs out there, but consider choosing a very plain sheet set for your baby. If there are flowers, frogs, trucks, or any other design on the bumper or sheets, your baby could actually end up getting very distracted by these. In Weissbluth’s book he notes that there were babies who were overtired and then once put in their cribs they absolutely could not sleep because they were trying to pick the flowers off their sheets! It sounds somewhat silly, but your baby (after a certain age) may end up getting less sleep just because of the pattern you choose to put in her crib. I’m not saying this will end up causing sleep problems, but just something to keep in mind. So, choose two to three sets of (plain) sheets. This will be enough as long as you stay on top of laundry (and you’ll hate me for saying that when you go to find a new sheet at 2am and there is no extra set). I’ve never had more than three sets at a time and it has not been too much of a big deal. I will admit that when I only had two, there were times a twin sized sheet had to be used to get through till morning because my only other fitted crib sheet hadn’t gotten washed yet. This isn’t ideal because you never want there to be extra fabric in the crib with your baby and with all their wiggling there always is no matter how tightly you try to tuck that twin sheet, so three is a safe bet. Also, I tend to keep just one heavier blanket and then three to four lighter blankets. For my lighter blankets, I prefer a couple flannel receiving blankets and a couple thermal swaddle blankets (Gerber brand is the best I’ve found). I used both for the first weeks of swaddling, with the flannel blanket first and then the thermal blanket. The flannel is a bit stiffer and harder for baby to wiggle out of but doesn’t stay in place on it’s own as well as the thermal blanket. So, the thermal blanket can be used on the outside of the flannel blanket and can be pulled and stretched, then tucked in for the perfect swaddle. It’s a wonderfully snug combo. For my last baby, I replaced the thermal blanket with a muslin blanket because he was born during a warm season. One larger quilt is also a good idea for tummy time or any time your baby will spend on the floor.
- Pacifier: There are many opinions on this, but I always chose to have a set of pacifiers on hand when my babies where born. Babies naturally want to suck to feel comforted and when your precious little one wants to suck on YOU for comfort for hours, you will be happy to have a pacifier on hand. Of course you need to be wise with the offer of a pacifier to avoid nipple confusion, but I have always personally chosen to have them available to my baby because I could only handle so many hours of a baby needing to suck on me to be comforted. It ends up hurting a lot and then that makes it harder to breastfeed when your baby needs to eat. I am not an expert in this area at all and do not want to mislead you into using a pacifier and creating any trouble with breastfeeding. I just personally was in too much pain to allow my baby to suck when she wasn’t feeding. With each baby I’ve used them for a couple weeks and then each of them have naturally found and sucked their thumb. In the beginning, however, pacifiers were a necessity for me.
- Noise machine: Some of the worst advice I ever got was to vacuum while my baby is sleeping so they would get used to noise. Let me tell you…whoever gives you that advice either does not have children and does not realise how much you need nap time to stay sane or has forgotten what it was like to have a couple hours to yourself with a new baby. Or any baby. Or a preschooler. Seriously. Do not vacuum or do anything else that makes noise while your baby is sleeping unless you have a noise machine to drown it out. With two other kiddos, Micah has a noise machine in his room and I’m so thankful for it! The girls can run and play and while they can’t do it right outside his door, they can be active and play even while he is sleeping. So, this is now a necessity for us.
- Monitor: I could take or leave this one, but mostly only because we have been in some small spaces while our kids have been babies. If you are in a small space like an apartment, or even just a small house, or you are having your first baby and will not have to have an air tight, noise proof situation for baby to sleep in due to lack of other kids running around, perhaps you don’t need a monitor. We have been fine without one most of the time. If, however, you have a larger home, are a heavy sleeper, or will have the door closed where your baby is sleeping at all times because of other kids or people in the house, a monitor will be very useful. Personally, I just recommend a good ‘old fashioned sound monitor that will let you hear when your baby wakes up. I have found that many a parent sits staring at a video monitor and interfering with their baby when there is no need. You really only need to hear if they are awake and if they need you. Everything else is a non-necessity.
- Play mat: This is my favorite entertainer for the first several months. I have used the same play mat with all three babies and they love it. They can spend lots of time looking at the everything and tummy time can take place here too.
- Baby bouncer: None of my babies have spent a ton of time in this because I prefer the Rock ‘N Play and a play mat, but I have used one for each baby for a short time. I would not say it is a necessity, though, because of the other options I have listed. I found that my babies enjoyed the other two options much more. We had a bouncer that was given to us so we used it, but never for very long.
- Baby activity chair: I love an activity chair because it is a safe place for baby to hang out once they can sit on their own and are mobile. When I can’t be right next to them, I love to have an activity chair for them to entertain themselves and watch all that’s going on. I like the one we have because it has lots to do without being overwhelming but also acts as a little bouncer for the child once they want to try out their legs or burn some energy.
- Diaper bag: I have had only two diaper bags with my three babies and I prefer my second one. It is a Petunia Pickle Bottoms diaper bag that I bought off a friend who was done with it. I like the particular style I have that allows me to carry it over my shoulder or as a back pack. The back pack straps are removable but I usually use that option because I need both my hands free with three kiddos to wrangle while out and about. I think the key to any good diaper bag is a hands free option of some sort, plenty of pockets inside that don’t take away from the overall capacity of what can be held, as well as outter pockets. I like having a place to drop my phone and keys on the outside of the bag and I love my bag’s ability to have two bottles on the outside of the bag also…I can just reach back and grab a bottle without even taking off the bag! That is efficient and quick! Also, being that I’m the second owner, have had it for almost three years and it is still in great shape, I can say these bags are definitely durable! They are not cheap, for sure, but I can attest to the fact that they are worth getting second hand as long as the previous owner took good care of it. And if you want to make a good investment with one bag for all your babies, this would be the bag to choose!
- Car seat: There are so many great and safe options out there. I have not purchased a car seat in the US, but have been happy with the Graco car seat that went with the travel system we purchased when in Europe.
- Infant travel bed: I seriously love the Eddie Bauer infant travel bed that I got with our second baby. We were going on a trip when she was only two months old and I didn’t want to worry about lugging a pack and play around with us. This little bed saved me a lot of hassle and I used it so often that I consider it a necessity when traveling with a little one. It folds up and can be worn over your shoulder so we took it on the airplane with us and used it on a seat while we flew as well. I will say the sides are not so sturdy that you should leave a baby unattended once they are rolling, but using it while they are still very small is definitely helpful!
- Pack and Play: Once baby is older, a Pack and Play is needed for overnight stays in places that won’t otherwise accommodate your baby. I am so thankful we’ve always had one on hand because of our regular travel and right now my 10 month old boy spends time playing in the Pack and Play during the day when I’m doing housework so he is always safe as he’s learning to stand on wobbly legs.
Well, there’s my list of what you might want to consider buying when you have your little one. When I really only look at what the necessities are, this is what I come up with.