1. Crib or Pack ‘n’ Play.
- Extra credit: get both, especially if you have friends/family with littles who will visit. We used our Graco pack ‘n’ play downstairs for dinnertime/playtime for a while, as a safe place to put baby. Once he could stand up on his own, he kind of hated it. It’s nice to have the pack n play, but for the long haul, get a good full-size crib for sleeping.
2. Diapers and wipes. Stockup now.
3. Carseat and later, a compatible stroller.
- Infant seats are nice to have as you can strap the seat to a stroller easily without waking up your baby. If you do decide to get an infant car seat, buy a seat with the max weight limit of 30 lbs. Try to use it as long as you can. Accept the fact that you will only use it as a baby carrier for a few months anyway. The 22 lb limit seats are going to be lighter seats, yes, but how many of us can lug our babies around in them all day long anyway? Babies grow more alert and after a while, they won’t want to be in stuck in a seat all day.
- The same rule applies to the convertible car seat. Some of the cheap ones I looked at for travel only work up to 40 lbs. Because the seat is lighter, its weight limit will also be less then bulkier/heavier seats. I still haven’t found a great seat that is both lightweight and goes up to 60-70 lbs.
- Here’s my review of the Britax travel system.
4. Baby bathtub; first an infant tub (we got ours as a gift from the hospital), a transitional tub like the inflatable Kel-Gar Snug Tub (recommended for babies who can sit up), then use the regular bathtub (you may want a grippy mat). Extra credit: Buy some bath toys later or find some cheap plastic measuring cups or cups with a spout or small bucket. They can be super cheap, just make sure they are sturdy.
5. Feeding and equipment. Here’s my list of equipment for breastfeeding.
- For formula-feeding or weaning off nursing, get bottles like like Medela or Avent Natural. We have also used the Avent bottle brush with our twins.
- I personally like a Boppy; many moms say a supportive pillow would work as well, but I do not own a regular pillow as supportive as the Boppy. They are used for a limited time, 4-6 months depending on your baby’s size.
6. A simple, basic layette. Start with the layette of a newborn.
- Here’s my list of what you should get for the first two years. Extra credit: A cute going home outfit
- I recommend Carter’s onesies because our baby wears them the longest. They wash well; they only shrink slightly. Buy the cotton ribbed knit not cotton jersey for a stretchy fit that can be worn a bit longer. I promise I don’t work for Carter’s, I just really love what we’ve used from them. I’ve used other brands (Gerber, Gymboree, etc) and washed them and while they remain in good condition, they shrink terribly (I love Gymboree designs for dress-up days but I always line dry them, which can get annoying when you have to sort through all your baby’s wet laundry). Always shop the Carter’s 50% off sales and use a coupon which means you will be buying in large quantities of $40+ (so buy the next size up) to meet the dollar amount for the coupon and free shipping.
- For other articles of clothing (dress shirts, pants, jackets, etc) a good option is a second-hand children’s store, that only sells items of certain nicer brands. Ours is Once Upon a Child. (We live within walking distance!) You will still need to sort through the stuff they sell and wash thoroughly, but we’ve scored some great Janie & Jack, Carter’s and Gymboree dress shirts, hoodies, and some great toys. Another option is Just Between Friends consignment sales.
7. Muslin swaddles – don’t buy too many baby blankets, We have WAY TOO MANY.
- Get a swaddle or thin blanket of good size: Aden + Anais is a great swaddle and Baby now uses it as his precious blankie. He gets excited when he sees one of us holding his blankie and has to sleep with one or two while holding the corners. Luckily for us, we have four of them, in case one gets peed on, gets dirty or gets lost. It is lightweight, breathable and washes well. They have been used for 24 months now; one that is especially loved is getting stained and has snags, but the others look great. $40 seemed crazy for 4 blankets but it’s been completely worth it to me. The lowest sale price I’ve seen is on Amazon for $31 so keep your eyes open for this gem. Remember to buy the larger size not the Aden + Anais for Target which is a swaddle of smaller dimension.
8. A cute diaper bag, make sure it’s cute for your own enjoyment (dull the pain of hauling baby gear)
- Here’s my review on the Boxy Backpack I used with my first. Here’s my review on the Honest Company City Backpack Everything Tote Diaper Bags, a couple of stylish options for a diaper bags. Here’s how I packed my bag for my newborn, to give you a good idea of the stuff I carried around.
9. Baby highchair or booster (you can wait on this one, but only for 6 months)
- Here’s my review of the booster highchair we have from Fisher Price.
10. Some other baby care essentials (if you are having a baby shower, register for these or WAIT before buying these yourself, they may come as gifts); you do not need to buy the pre-assembled kits; just like first aid kits, you can create your own of better quality items and essentials:
- Baby nail clipper scissors, a light comb, gentle baby 2-in-1 wash and shampoo (I like Aveeno), one tube of diaper rash cream/ointment, and one tube of Aquaphor healing ointment (we like to use this on chapped skin from sick noses or cold weather)
Buy but don’t spend a lot of money on:
- Baby toys, teethers, or activity gyms – I’ve found a lot of life in gently used toys (toy cars, blocks, and musical toys) after a good cleaning. I’d recommend buying toys new if they are plush or fabric (for sanitary reasons) and also, buy new teethers; we liked the Banana teether but the bristles will be bit off if your baby has several teeth.
- We have this Skip Hop activity gym given to us by my cousin, and I love it because it’s soft and plushy (not hard plastic), but it is expensive at $75 MSRP! I suggest registering for this or saving up your gifted baby shower gift cards/funds for this or one similar. I bought a second for our twins to each have one, used off Craigslist for $10! That’s a great find. Skip Hop is a great brand.
- Buy toys that have multiple levels of use and interest. I know this is really difficult to do, as babies tend to get bored of toys fast but try to find toys that have a lot of different play modes and are relatively inexpensive. An O-ball is a great example:
- This flexible ball (comes highly rated and is 100% dishwasher safe, PVC, latex and phthalates-free) was the first toy Baby could grab and shake. Later he could kick it when we attached it to his playmat with a ring. Later he would throw it or hit it against another toy. Recently he has learned to “kick” it while walking. He’s now 15 months old and just starting to get bored of it, but we will put it away for a while and bring it back out to learn to play with later. It has a “toy life” of 10-12 months, pretty darn good for a baby toy that costs $5 at Walmart or Target.
- If you have a bigger budget, look for developmental toys from Lamaze or Skip Hop. These are items you will want to register for: a fun activity toy with bells, crinkles and rattles, etc (a distraction in the car), some soft blocks and/or nesting toy. Just keep a handful of good variety. A lot of these toys have a wide age range and are very colorful but at the same time gender-neutral.
- Try Fisher Price toys with the age range of 6-36 months. Baby has the Laugh & Learn Learning Home and it has been played with daily since he was about 11 months. It has a variety of play modes and teaches a lot of songs, words, opposites etc. It was a gift from my mom that I didn’t think we “needed” but we’ve really got a lot of use out of it. (UPDATE at 20 months, Baby still plays with this toy in so many unconventional ways: putting toys through the windows, rolling his cars through the doorway, etc. It’s super fun! UPDATE at 24 months, we’ve finally given this toy a well-deserved break! UPDATE 30 months at 2 1/2 Baby still plays with this from time to time. It’s “learning time” function is really catchy for a toddler learning words.)
- Board Books – okay, this is completely a personal preference; if you love Usborne Books like I do, go ahead and splurge; if not, get some cheap board books or gently used books from Once Upon a Child or Amazon Marketplace.
- Stuffed Animals: babies don’t even know what these are, and to be honest, they should not be in the crib with your young baby until they are at least 1 or even 2. That’s when my son realized what they are and started imaginary play; he only has one plush Nemo he got this year that he has actually sort of bonded with; he also has a Kohls Cares Mouse (from If You Give a Mouse a Cookie) which he thinks is neat and will occasionally play with.
- changing table – I really like having one, but some moms think it’s an extra piece of furniture. If you choose to get one, get a nice pad like this one and a cover (Amazon) and you may need some grippy texture liner underneath for stability. I recommend getting a changing table that can be used as a dresser when your child grows up.
- baby swing – we have one; it was used for such a short period of time, but nice to have in those early months
- baby bouncy seat – we could have benefited from having one, but we didn’t buy one, and my child is still super active, so he wasn’t stunted in growth by not having one. For our twins coming, I bought two as I’m expecting to need to put the babies down where it’s safe where my toddler cannot step on their toes.
- Buggy Bagg grocery cart cover – I really like having mine, it’s extra large and fits all carts, even those huge ones at Costco; the germaphobe in me feel a little better about having one, plus the pockets are a nice shopping tool to store coupons and snacks for on-the-go instead of having an entire diaper bag with you
- seats like Bumbo etc – some moms love them, I didn’t even try one; I think it will quickly be outgrown, so I think it’s unnecessary
- baby carrier like ErgoBaby – I think you can skip the carrier, or at least try to borrow one or get one gently used; some babies don’t like them; others love them. I did buy one for my twins, a Lillebaby carrier, out of necessity to transport three littles. It’s a great product but used mostly for walks and airport travel.
The Unnecessary (Most Moms Say to Skip)
- Wipes warmer
- Bottle warmer
- Diaper Genie (just use a step trash can and empty your trash often)
- baby powder
- baby monitor (though I’ve often wondered what he’s doing up in his crib when I hear him kicking instead of napping!)
- wipes dispenser (I bought the OXO PerfectPull, and while it’s nice quality, we easily could have gone without and used Amazon Elements or Pampers Sensitive disposable dispensers.)