As a first time mom, you are probably overwhelmed with items online and in store that look really cool for baby. But what do you really need and what can you live without?
When you get home from the hospital, your baby is literally going to be sleeping, eating, and pooping. So if you wanna go bare minimum? Some clothes, a co-sleeper (we used the co-sleeper attachment on our pack-n-play for the first few months if he wasn’t sleeping across our chest in the recliner downstairs – I am totally not recommending that), lots of diapers, wipes, swaddles, and baby soap… maybe a swing/seat. But for the first year, here ya go:
If you go the disposable route, do not stock up on newborn diapers. Your baby will outgrow them within the first two or three weeks. Stock up on size 1s and 2s. Roman was in 2s for what seemed like 6 months. As for brands, everybody has their favorites. We tried Pampers, Luvs, and Target brand and saw leaks every time. Huggies have always been reliable for us, especially the Little Movers. However, my sister in law swears by Luvs.
I can’t speak on cloth diapering but there are a lot of great resources out there.
We have switched back and forth between Pampers, Target brand, and Huggies wipes but always gone back to Huggies wipes. It’s a personal preference but any wipe will do. My husband simply prefers the quality of Huggies. Whatever brand you choose, STOCK UP!
When it comes to diaper rash creams (if you are using disposables), the best I have found to date, and this has been recommended by every daycare provider we have used, is A&D Ointment – the same stuff you put on tattoos. Don’t buy the white creamy A&D, get the original A&D ointment – the yellow, greasy stuff that smells like pig fat. It clears up the meanest diaper rash in hours. Butt Paste & Desitin have both worsened Roman’s diaper rashes every single time.
Things I didn’t use/stopped using/don’t recommend:
Wipe warmer. Seriously, I see it as waste of water, electricity, and wtf is your kid going to do when you are in public and have to wipe its butt with a cold wipe? Either warm the wipe in your hand or get him used to cold wipes. 🙂
Changing table. We didn’t transition Roman to his room until he was about 4 months old and even then most of his changing took place on our bed, the couch, or the floor. Save yourself some money and just make a diaper changing basket for those areas.
Diaper pail. I actually used this, a lot. But would I again? No. I don’t care what the box says, they do not prevent odors. Instead, they trap them inside of the damn things. I used to pour baking soda in the bags, on the bottom of the pail, and buy air fresheners and stick them inside of pail and they still reeked of poop! You are better off double bagging your poopy diapers and throwing them in your garbage can.
If you are breastfeeding, invest in a top quality pump (check with your insurance – your OBGYN may have to write the prescription). I don’t know what brand I have up in the closet but I hate it. Before I realized Roman had his milk and soy allergy, I pumped quite a bit and this thing left me raw. You can also get nipple guards that help with the pain when breastfeeding. And don’t forget the lanolin cream, nipple pads, and milk bags.
If you are formula feeding, Enfamil is typically a good formula and Target’s brand is basically the same thing. Roman liked it before we had to switch him to Nutramigen. As for bottles, you are on your own. My sister-in-law bought us several kinds Tommee Tippee, Dr. Brown’s, and Playtex drop ins. Roman liked Dr. Brown’s (naturally, since we were ballin’ LOL!). Later I was able to get him to drink from the cheapest bottles out there, thank the Lord. I don’t recommend stocking up on formula until you know which brand will work for your child.
Should you decide to formula feed, definitely buy some formula dispensers! I used this Munchkin one and these Tommee Tippee ones. They allow you to measure out the formula so that when you are ready to make the bottle (that already has the premeasured amount of water added), you can just pour the formula into the bottle, shake, and go! This is a life saver in the middle of the night when you are trying to count scoops of formula but your brain is mush and you miscount and have to start over! Having it pre measured before you go to bed will save you time and your sanity. Also, it’s great for traveling!
For sure get some bottle brushes (there is nothing worse than a smelly, gross bottle!), burp cloths, and bibs.
A nursing pillow, such as the Boppy, is a great idea for breastfeeding positions and resting baby’s head to keep your arm sore while bottle feeding (it can also be used later for propping baby on his or her belly or helping baby sit up right). You can find really cute covers for the Boppy in stores or online.
A note on high chairs: you can wait on this since baby won’t be eating solids or sitting up for some time. When you do decide to get one, think about your needs. I fell in love with a wooden high chair that I saw in a baby consignment store. After a week with it, I realized it was incredibly hard to clean. It had several pieces and it was wood. It didn’t wipe down easily and I quickly became frustrated. Also, it took up SO much space! If I had to do it all again, I would get something compact, plastic, and easy to clean, like this JOOVY high chair.
Things that we also used for feeding:
Bumbo! I refuse to get rid of ours. Not only does it help babies sit upright, it was perfect for those early days of baby cereal and jarred baby food. Bowls and spoons. I
Things I didn’t use/stopped using/don’t recommend:
bottle warmer – I tried, but eventually, it burned out and Roman’s formula couldn’t be warmed.
Drying rack – it became a nuisance and got in the way. Instead, get one of those dishwasher things that holds your bottle caps. MUCH better!
This is a tricky area because there are so many debates about co-sleeping and the cry it out method and other sleep methods for babies. So I will speak from experience. As I said above, my husband and I slept in shifts for the first few weeks. When we were on baby duty, we would stay downstairs with Roman while the other got to sleep in the bed. Typically we ended up crashing on the recliner with Roman across our chest (like I said, not recommending this). After a few weeks… or maybe three months… of this, we had enough and wanted to reclaim our sleep. I had promised myself my kid would not sleep in my bed so we transitioned him into his crib using the cry-it-out method at the recommendation of his pediatrician (in case you are curious, it took us 1 1/2 nights). Roman remained in his crib until a year and a half (the point at which he began climbing out multiple times a night). So yes, cribs are necessary if you want to sleep. Invest in a convertible crib that your child can grow with! It is not necessary to get a fancy mattress. A simple crib mattress will do, just make sure it is waterproof.
A pack-in-play with a bassinet top is wise for nap time outside of the nursery plus the pack-in-play makes for a great travel crib for the first year or so. We actually kept Roman’s at his grandparent’s from 9 months – 2 years of age so that he would have a crib when we visited and it worked perfectly!
An absolute life saver for us were swaddles/sleep sacks. Swaddling a baby soothes a baby and helps him sleep through the night better. We always used one if we couldn’t get Roman to calm down and at bedtime. Some of my favorites are:
Another sleep life saver? A noise machine. Three years later, Roman is still using his. Honestly, I don’t know how to break him from it. We bought this myBaby Soundspa Sound Machine and it broke fairly quickly (don’t buy!) so I bought this Munchkin one and two years later, and while the images no longer rotate, they still light up and the music still plays. I definitely recommend it! Roman used to fall asleep much quicker with it than without. It was so essential that when the myBaby sound machine broke, I ordered one next day shipping and had it delivered to my in-laws while we visited.
You will definitely need a couple of fitted sheets. I think I had about seven that way I was covered when I needed to do laundry.
Extra: Before baby starts teething, investing in crib rail guard. This will protect baby’s teeth and the crib!
Things I didn’t use/stopped using/don’t recommend:
Glider/rocking chair. Don’t get me wrong. I have one and occasionally I sit in it now but I honestly don’t recall rocking Roman in it. My butt walked around with him, swaddled him, or sat in our recliner. If you are going to get one maybe try reclining glider?
Waterproof mattress pad. I had multiple types and they were either pointless or a pain in the butt. The first set were standalone pads – you just lay them under the sheets. The problem with this was that they would bunch up. So then I bought one that goes over the entire mattress and it occurred to me that it is MUCH easier to wipe down the mattress with a Clorox wipe than to wash those damn waterproof pads and put them back on the mattress when Roman would leak through his diapers overnight.
All that extra crib stuff like a crib blanket, bumper or mesh liner. I did buy a mesh liner because I was so fearful that Roman would hit his head on his crib because he tossed and turned and I knew bumpers weren’t safe but one night he threw up and had explosive-out-the-back-of-his-diaper-and-pjs diarrhea. Both went all over that mesh liner. I took one look and said, “Fuck that,” and into the garbage it went. Brain damage it is.
Care & First Aid
First things first, invest in a high quality baby monitor with wonderful reviews. It doesn’t have to be state of the art that let’s you know if your child is breathing but make sure it has a good monitor. Ours was decent – it had a color screen and decent volume but let me tell you, next time I am investing in one that connects to wifi and our phones because after about a year, the monitor was always freaking dying! After an hour or so it was start beeping that it had a low battery. The point of a monitor is that you want it to be mobile. If I am picking the crap ton of weeds out of my flower bed during nap time, I want to take the monitor with me so that I can make sure my abnormally large 1 year old isn’t climbing out of the crib and about to break his face.
I am conflicted about the bathtub. I began with a bath hammock but Roman hated it or maybe he just hate bathtime. We ended up donating it and I began taking low water level baths where I would sit in the bathtub with him and it worked wonders. So the bathtub is on the fence – maybe if I had tried a different kind for longer it would have been better but I have heard of lots of moms bathing with their babies so I don’t know?
Absolutely get the run of the mill thermometer, soft brush, and nail clippers… I mean look at this dude on the day we left the hospital!
A nasal aspirator is a must, too but I am not sure you absolutely need the NoseFrida. If you happen to get it and it works, let me know! I secretly want to know how great it is (and the Windi The Gaspasser)
In regards to medicine, your pediatrician will likely recommend Vitamin D drops for regular use (we used Poly-Vi-Sol because Roman was formula fed but a breastfed baby will be fine with D-Vi-Sol, of course, there are other brands out there, just check with your pediatrician!) and we kept baby Tylenol and baby Advil (usually generic for both) on hand (when Roman was old enough we alternated during high fevers), as well as gas drops, but hey, if the Windi Gaspasser works, drops might not be needed! 😉
I have a love hate relationship with humidifiers. Actually, I take that back. I hate them. I know that I should love them because Roman has fewer breathing problems when we actively use them but they often require a lot of TLC and I have one thing to say about that:
Seriously, though, humidifiers are great for stuffy-nosed and coughing babies! I just haven’t found a kind I like (I don’t recommend Vick’s).
Finally, baby detergent is a must, at least at first. You don’t know how sensitive your baby’s skin is so it’s smart to use a dye and fragrance free detergent. I started with Dreft because it smells sooo good but then I couldn’t stand to pay that much so I switched to Free & Clear. After a while, pieces of Roman’s clothing got thrown in with mine by accident and I realized that he didn’t have any allergies to the normal detergent.
Other things that are great to have around the house:
- Outlet covers (you don’t need these until baby is mobile)
- Table corner protectors (also not needed right away)
- Cabinet locks (once again, wait until baby is mobile)
- Baby gate (for when baby is mobile, of course)
Of course, these are just my recommendations!