At my baby shower…
I was overwhelmed with wonderful gifts for my baby. I also did quite a bit of shopping on my own. I worried that I had too much stuff… but I wanted to make sure we had everything we needed. As a working mom, I knew it would be harder to shop once I also had a baby to care for. I was influenced by marketing messages that told me I needed things I’d never even heard of. And I had that natural desire to get the nursery ready for my baby.
Now that my little girl is six months old, I have the experience to share what is really useful. My list may not be same as every other mom’s, but I can definitely tell you the items we use the most. These things are not optional!
- Diapers – There’s no such thing as too many diapers. We bought cloth diapers just in case, but haven’t used them yet. We used Pampers Swaddlers and had no leaking issues at all. They were small enough for our 6 lb baby but also secure and comfortable for her.
- Baby wipes – In general, we avoid disposables around the house, but baby wipes, like diapers, are an exception. We tried out lots of different brands. We chose to use Water Wipes for a couple of reasons. The wipes were soft and thick, not too dry and had the smallest number of ingredients when compared to many other options.
- Thermometer – You’ll want to have one to calm your nerves. As babies get used to being in the outside world, their bodies are still sorting out temperature. Baby might feel hot or cold and having a thermometer keeps your mind at ease. We didn’t find that brand or type made a big difference for our little girl.
- Swaddles – These are blankets made of muslin gauze that crinkle up when you wash them. They’re designed to wrap baby up firmly for comfort without being too hot. There are lots of options! You can choose swaddles with velcro, flaps, buttons, zippers, and so forth that make it easy to wrap your baby up. Or you can opt for square swaddling blankets. We went for the blankets to lower the sheer number of items we had to keep track of. The Swaddle Me line even has a nice little diagram for how to swaddle correctly on the tag! These blankets can be used for so many things, too. They are breathable but keep baby warm. They’re absorbent so if there’s a spill you can use them to clean up, and soft so you can fold or wad them up to make a little comfy nest for baby. I drape one over my shoulder to stay modest while nursing and put them over the top of the stroller to keep sun off my baby;s face. Swaddling blankets have been by far the MOST used item I had in the first 6 months with baby.
- Kimono-style onesies – These are a life saver when going to doctor visits or changing baby after an accident. These just open right up so you don’t have to put them over baby’s head.
- Sleep sacques – Recommended for baby by the American Academy of Pediatrics for baby to sleep in once out of swaddles or if baby doesn’t like to be swaddled.
- Car seat – Required to leave the hospital! You can feel confident about safety if you buy one new. If you’re getting a hand me down, make sure it’s up to current standards. Also make sure you know how to install it correctly.
- Backpack style diaper bag – You will definitely want to have both hands free when you’re out and about. Fumbling around with a diaper bag three times the size of your baby while also trying to carry baby around is as humorous for others to see as it is annoying for you to experience.
- Stroller – Do lots of research on this and think about your lifestyle when deciding which one fits you best. Whether you run daily, love to shop, hike, go on lots of quick trips or on day trips, have one child or multiple children all make a difference in your stroller. There’s a wide range of options for strollers, but you’ll use it constantly for years, so think of it as a decision like choosing a car rather than picking a pair of shoes.
- Bed or playpen — You’ll most likely have baby in your room with you when you first come home from the hospital. You’ll need a separate sleeping area within a few weeks or months, though. We bought a gorgeous convertible bed for the nursery and were surprised to find that we also needed a bassinet at the beginning. You might prefer a crib or a Rock ‘n’ Play Sleeper. We also learned that safety is as much an issue for baby beds as for car seats. Make sure you have a separate sleeping space for baby that is easily accessible for you to make night time feedings and changes.
All that other gear? They’re a pleasure to have and contribute to that perfect nursery. But this list is what you really have to have for your newborn.