A few of my friends are going to become first-time parents in the next few months. The birth of some chubby little babes is a great way to kick off a new decade! Although nothing really prepares you for all the joys and struggles the birth of your babe brings, getting the necessary gear and doing some reading beforehand will certainly make the transition smoother. I am no expert, but I have been through this transition relatively recently and hope this list (made with the help of other moms and parenting coach Kelly Packett) will be helpful to my friends … and other soon-to-be parents. Please, readers, share your thoughts and favorite baby gear items in the comment section.
- Crib. If you plan on having a family bed, of course this item is not necessary. If you plan on having a family bed, do your research and know what and why you are doing it. In fact this is as good as any place to state that at the very least you should be deliberate about your parenting decisions and methods.
- Mattress. This is sold separately from the cribs.
- Mattress Pads. The ones that go underneath the fitted sheets to protect the mattress. You probably need two of these (in case one gets soiled). An optional addition is to purchase a few of the ones you lay on top of the sheets, making it easier to deal with spit-ups. Of course once the babe moves around when she sleeps these are useless.
- Fitted Sheets for Crib Mattress: You probably need at least two, though I think it’s better to be armed with four. Stomach viruses can be nasty.
- Bassinet or Moses Basket or Co-Sleeper. This is for the baby to sleep in when he/she is first born and most likely sleeping in your room. Some people start sleeping their babies in a full-size crib from day one, making this item unnecessary. Lucy slept in her stroller for the first three months of her life, which has a bassinet feature. Lots of people I know buy a Graco Pack ‘n Play with the bassinet feature and use that until they move the babe to his/her crib. Do whatever works for you.
- Changing Table.
- Changing Pad and Cover. You probably need at least two changing pad covers. While we’re on the topic of changing, if you live in a multi-floor home, you may want to consider setting up an additional changing station on your main floor. This was not an issue for us since we live in an apartment, but my sister-in-law always had a Graco Pack ‘n Play with a changing station on the first floor when she had very little ones to save her the hassle of having to go upstairs for every diaper change. You do a lot of them in the beginning.
- Glider/Rocker. Though I’ve purchased one of these, I think this is an optional purchase. You can feed the baby in any chair or on the couch or your bed. I usually nursed Lucy on the couch, in front of the television, which is how my addiction to reality television began. I still, however, heart our rocker. Lucy is two, and the rocker is where we read books and sing songs before bedtime.
- White Noise Maker. We use one when Lucy sleeps to drown out other noises. This is essential for us since we live in a small apartment and our laundry closet is right outside her room. Newborns aren’t affected by outside noise but they usually are when they get older. We even travel with ours. Again, optional.
- Sleep Positioner. This helps keep a newborn in a safe position when sleeping, which is great if, like me, you have fear of SIDS. Of course, once Lucy was able to roll over on her own we stopped using this. Again, optional.
- Humidifier. This too is optional. Our apartment gets VERY dry from the heat in the winter. When the babe gets a cold, it’s also good to have on hand.
- Stroller. Don’t be fooled. You will make a mistake when buying a stroller and you will wind up with more strollers than you intended. Since we live in a city and do most of our traveling on foot, our stroller is very important. Assess your needs, do research, and take them for a test drive.
- Infant Car Seat. The kind that clicks in and out of a base such as the Graco SnugRide is the most useful at the beginning. Most stroller brands sell a car seat adapter so you can transport the baby in the car seat directly from the car and into the stroller without disturbing him or her.
- Bundle Me. JJ Cole makes this blanket that goes right over the infant car seat to keep the baby warm in the car and while transporting him/her. Since Lucy was born in November and we live in Boston, this felt like a necessary purchase. The company also sells the Bundle Me Lite for warmer months.
- Portable Crib (such as the Graco Pack ‘N’ Play). The portable crib is great if the babe’s going to sleep at grandparents’ house. My mom keeps one at her house. Check to see if a regular crib sheet will work with the brand you choose, or if you need to purchase brand specific sheets for your portable crib.
- Baby Carrier. Many people swear by the Bjorn. Another popular baby carrier is the Ergo Baby, which is easier on your back than the Bjorn. Some parents use slings too. I’m not a sling type of gal — I had images of Lucy flipping out of it — but I know most people are not as crazy as I am!
- Diaper Pail. I have the Diaper Champ. It works well. You can use regular trash bags with it.
- Diapers. You will go through 12 per day for the first 6-8 weeks. If you plan on using cloth diapers, I’m not your gal, though I highly respect you.
- Diaper Rash Cream. In my opinion, Triple Paste is the absolute best.
- Vaseline or Aquaphor. I would use this at every diaper change and save the diaper rash cream only for when the babe has a rash.
- Diaper Bag with a Cushioned Changing Pad.
Nursing: (if you plan on nursing)
- Breast-Feeding Pillow: One brand is the Boppy. This pillow is also great for baby’s tummy time. There’s also something called the My Brest Friend. Don’t know anything about it except that the name is a little too cute for me.
- Nursing Bras. 2 to 4 of them. You will be living in these, so make sure they are comfortable. I also purchased a few nursing tanks by Glamour Moms. I loved them. Get the long ones – they do a great job of keeping the mess that was formally your bump somewhat pulled together.
- Breast Pads.
- Nursing Cream and Soothies. For sore nipples. Soothies are lifesavers!
- Breast Pump. I would suggest opening it and learning how to use it before you give birth … in case (as was the case with me) breast-feeding is not going well at first. That way you can easily pump and serve the babe expressed breast milk.
- Contact Information for a Lactation Consultant. If you are struggling with nursing, get help from an expert!
- Bottles & Nipples. At least four if only occasionally bottle-feeding. Because I wasn’t anticipating our breast-feeding struggles at the beginning, I didn’t have any in the house when Lucy was born and I had to send my father out to purchase some.
- Bottle Brush/Bottle Drying Rack.
- Germ Guardian Nursery Santizer. This is optional but I think it’s worth the money. All you have to do is rinse the bottles and then run them through this. It’s also great for sanitizing breast pump parts.
- Formula. Even if you plan to breast feed, people recommended that I have at least one container on hand. And I actually used some right at the beginning.
- Burp Cloths. At least two dozen. I just purchased two of Gerber’s 12-pack of cloth diapers to use as burp cloths. They’re great.
- Pacifiers. We loved the WubbaNub because they’re hard to lose and easier for the baby to keep in her mouth. They’re cute too. Pacifiers are great for the first three or four months when babies are not necessarily hungry but have a need to suck. After those initial months; however, you run the risk of the pacifier becoming a prop. A baby having a pacifier as a prop is not necessarily a horrible thing, but it’s worth being aware of this.
- Infant Tub.
- Soap & Shampoo.
- Towels. 2-3 of them.
- Washcloths. 4-6 of them.
- Monitor. We have a video monitor and we love it, though a regular audio monintor will certainly work just fine.
- Digital Rectal Monitor. Keep it at the changing table. You’ll want to have easy access to it should you ever need it.
- Nail Clippers and Mini Files. Just file the babe’s fingernails until he or she is about four-weeks old.
- First Aid Kit.
- Hand Sanitizer. I keep it on the changing table to use after diaper changes.
- Bulb Syringe. Lots of people told me to take the one from the hospital home, that this is the best one. I took it home and have never used it.
- Gripe Water. A natural aid to help with gas, hiccups and colic. It’s safe to use with a newborn.
- Baby Tylenol.
- Liquid Benadryl. Obviously don’t use any of these last three items with a newborn unless you’ve consulted with your pediatrician first.
- Short Sleeve Onesies. 6-8 of them.
- Swaddling Blankets. 6 of them. We swaddled Lucy every night for the first 3 ½ months of her life. I think swaddling helped Lucy be a great sleeper. It’s also a great idea to chip clip a swaddling blanket to the canopy on the stroller to protect the baby from the sun.
- Footsies. You know those PJs with the feet. Get 6 to 8 of them. As a newborn Lucy used to hang out in these ALL the time. I only dressed her in an outfit if we were going out somewhere. Some people recommended I get those gowns with the elastic at the bottom for the first few weeks. They do make diaper changing easier (no snaps), but I found it really hard to handle Lucy in them because they kept riding up.
- Hats. Lucy slept in a cotton hat for the first few weeks — made her feel cozy. Of course, she was born at the end of November.
- Baby-sized hangers. But please do not purchase many newborn outfits. The babe will grow out of these clothes so quickly!
- Fragrance Free Detergent.
- Going Home from Hospital Outfit.
- Bouncy Seat.
- Floor/Activity Gym.
- Maxi Pads. First two weeks heavy flow, then to medium flow.
- Cheap Underwear.
- Hemroid Cream/Pads. Gross.
Other Items You Won’t Need Right Away:
- High Chair.
- Travel high chair/booster seat.
- ExerSaucer. These are huge, garish, plastic and generally an eye soar, but they’re so very useful.
Books to Read:
Check out Melanie’s post about books to read before the babe is born. I would also add Hogg’s Secrets of the Baby Whisperer. Her EASY (Eat, Activity, Sleep, You Time) helps provide structure to your day that doesn’t feel as rigid as the Babywise book.
Other To Dos:
- Take Prenatal Classes. Ask your OB to direct you to these resources.
- Research Cord Blood Banking. It might be something you and your partner want to do.
- Add infant to health insurance.
- Make initial pediatrician appointment when baby is born. The babe will need to be seen in the first week of leaving the hospital. I got a pediatrician recommendation from my OB. Some people interview new pediatricians while they’re still pregnant. Not my style. I just figure that if I don’t like her, I’ll switch to a different one. It turns out we love our pediatrician.
- Get announcements ready before baby is born by figuring out from where you’re going to order them. If you’re really on top of your game, you can get the envelopes early and address them.
- Create a call/email list so everyone can hear the good news.
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