Congrats, you’re expecting a baby!
So you’re bringing a child into this world and everyone is telling you what you need for the baby.
Here I’ll be sharing the basic essentials you’ll actually need so that you don’t go overboard. I’ll inform you about baby products, their uses, and help you distinguish what your needs are.
The Marketing Scam
If you’re a first time parent you’re finding lists from magazines, stores, and online and guess what? Those lists are long!
And a lot of it is just marketing!
Companies benefit from advising toward specific items or category of things that most people may not even need.
A lot of times, “people make crap to make a buck.”
Like a pee-pee teepee which is a little teepee cover for a baby boy’s penis during a diaper change. Someone who’s never changed a diaper would think that it’s a great idea, however, parents know that a penis cover doesn’t stop a baby from urinating all over you.
Businesses take advantage of first-time parents who are overwhelmed and don’t know what to expect.
First-time parents walk into a baby store and are given a long checklist, provided by the store, as a way to get them to buy as much as possible. And of course, first-time parents are overwhelmed and believe it because a lot of the items are accurate but the truth is that those checklists are just suggestions.
I’m a mommy of two, of both sexes no less, and I can tell you now I didn’t need or get half of these things.
Clueless Parent Guilt Trap
When I was expecting my first, all the lists I could find were very long and full of things I wasn’t sure of. Some of those things I’m glad I got and other things I found useless or probably could have done without.
I’m a simple person and I don’t like having clutter or things going to waste so I try to keep to the basics.
But when I was expecting my first I was overwhelmed and didn’t know what we would really need versus what would be extra. I was worried that if we didn’t have the right stuff we would somehow be ‘bad parents’ right from the start so I may have gone slightly overboard and I followed these guidelines.
Now that I have two toddlers I think back to the things I would have done differently.
And as a parent, the guilt traps continue on. Everyone judges parents for their parenting styles. Whether it’s breastfeeding, not breastfeeding, your birth story, whether your kid eats off the floor, how many languages your kid is learning, or if you co-sleep or use the cry-it-out method.
But let’s stick to the subject.
A Complete List with Extra Fluff
I recreated what a typical list looked like for me when I looked at checklists and registries from BabiesRUs, BuyBuyBaby, Amazon, and Target.
It was freaking long!
And I omitted a lot of stuff, like nursing clothing, pregnancy pillows, toys, and parenting books.
but the truth is....
Not everything on that list is essential, urgent, or even needed. Some of it is pure bullshit!
Lucky for you, I’m here to tell you what’s useless and what’s not, what’s essential for every baby and what’s extra “luxury” item to make things a little easier for us parents.
My personal recommendation is not to focus on the numbers or buying everything you’ll need for baby’s first year but to focus on the first few months and go from there. Get the basics and, if you need to, go back and buy any extra items later.
Earlier, I mentioned that “people make crap to make a buck.” But there’s also people, moms particularly, who design ingenious products that actually help other moms and parents to make their lives a little easier.
So although, that list is long, I’m about to shorten it for you and give you some recommendations for some of the amazing crap that might be worth it for you!
Notice the list just got WAY shorter!
In RED, I’ve crossed off things that are unnecessary and possibly totally useless. Like a splat mat to catch food that your baby will drop on the floor.
In GREEN, I’ve crossed off things you may want to opt-out of getting or may prefer to hold off on getting until your child is ready for that stage.
And in BLUE, I’ve crossed off the quantity of an item. Some items were just exaggerated.
This list includes the majority of the basics I’d recommend. It is meant as a guide for you but it can expand or be even more condensed.
Now let’s get specific!
Cribs and Bassinets
Babies sleep in cribs, everyone knows that.
But the first several months, maybe even a year, of a baby’s life, they’re need to be fed approximately every 2-4 hours and they will cry for it so having a bassinet in your room is ideal.
It is best to avoid having them sleep full nights on the bed with you for many reasons, mainly your sanity in the short and long run. But we all do it, whether it’s a few hours or complete co-sleeping for several years.
Some bassinets come with extra pros and might cost a fortune and some are more basic and affordable. Some babies like bassinets and some specifically hate the really expensive ones. Just keep in mind that newborns sleep just fine in a clear box with a mattress pad at the hospital so you may not need the most high-tech bassinet.
Dressers and Changing Tables
Depending on the space within your home or your nursery, you may or may not need a dresser. Maybe you have a closet and that will be enough.
If you do have space for one, I’d recommend using it as a surface for your changing pad or getting one that doubles as a changing table If you don’t have space for one, I’d recommend omitting a changing table.
You can use your bed for changing diapers if you need to, some people never bother with a changing station. I struggled changing my child overnight on my bed after my c-section, it was just too low for me and hurt my sore postpartum back.
Keep in mind that even though your child will outgrow the size of a changing table around one year, you may still be using it when they’re older. Babies don’t stop wearing diapers until they’re potty trained and that may be when your child is around two or three years old.
I crossed off nursing chair in green because they take up a lot of space and carry a heavy price tag. Some people fall in love with their nursing chairs.
I enjoyed mine until my kid started to crawl and try to hold on to it to stand. With it being a rocking chair, I felt it was no longer safe to have around, plus it took up a lot of space which we quickly needed for toys.
For my second child, I simply used an armchair in the living room and I loved it.
Nursery Decor and Extras
New parents get really excited to decorate their nursery for a new baby but often overlook toddlerhood in their design process.
One thing I’m always recommending though, is a foam tile mat. They protect your child from hard floors and take care of the majority of your nursery decorating job. They come in handy for both crawling infants and clumsy toddlers.
Diapers, Wipes, and Rash Cream
Stocking up on diapers and having them on your registry is one of the smartest things to do but you don’t want to have too much of just one size. In fact, some babies skip the newborn size altogether so if you’re going to stock up, I’d recommend getting more sizes one, two, and three.
I also recommend getting sensitive diapers, babies have very delicate skin and you don’t want to end up with a big stock of diapers that give your child a rash.
You might even want to consider cloth diapering, which is better for the environment and your baby but can sometimes be too much of a hassle for parents.
You should definitely stock up on sensitive wipes. which you will need for wiping butts, hands, and spit up for at least two years of a child’s life.
Babies get diaper rashes frequently, having cream is essential for relieving the discomfort and preventing a rash from worsening. I like to keep a large container by my changing table and a tube for on the go.
If you plan on using disposable diapers, a diaper pail is ideal but not “required.” Diaper pails are specially designed trash cans intended for containing the odor of soiled and stinky diapers within the pail.
Most diaper pails are made of plastic and can absorb the odor they are meant to contain but the Ubbi Diaper Pail is made of steel so it is currently the best rated pail for actually eliminating odors.
A regular trash bin does not contain the odor but regular disposal of your trash may be an option if you’re looking to opt-out of getting a diaper pail.
I have these items crossed out in green because you will not need these within the first year of your child’s life, so I wouldn’t recommend getting them until your child is around 18 months of age.
Bathtub and Support
Bathing infants can be a little tricky because they cannot support themselves. There are several different kinds of baby bathtubs and supports in the market that help us parents.
When infants learn to sit and stand, we have to adapt their bathing methods and it can get really tricky. You can use a bath seat, or a large utility tub or try to shower or bathe with your child instead.
Some products are even designed for multiple stages so you you can use the same product for a longer period of time.
You might also want to look into slip mat for your tub or shower.
Baby Wash Products
Stocking up on a good brand is definitely a good idea, as you may be using these tear-free formulas for at least three years.
Most bath toys are water squirt toys and, because they are hard to clean inside, can develop mold. Personally, I like to stay away from those or at least make sure to remove all water from inside after every use.
You won’t need a ton of washcloths. They’re great for newborn baths (because you can’t submerge a baby until after their umbilical chord falls off) but there isn’t a ton of use for them otherwise. They can also be used for teething and for helping to reduce fevers.
Stay away from buying any sets, they come with things that can be dangerous (crib bumpers), you may not need (quilt), or may not like (diaper stacker).
If you’re getting a changing table, you’ll probably need fitted sheets.
For the first few months you may be needing to wash them regularly from mid-diaper changing accidents and from dealing with blowouts so you may want to get a minimum of two sheets but no more than four.
Swaddles and Blankets
It is good to have at least one regular baby blanket and a minimum of four swaddle blankets.
Swaddle blankets are multi-functional, they’re useful as a swaddle, a light blanket, burping cloth, stroller cover, nursing cover, or even a changing table sheet.
It’s always good to have one or two spare ones for on-the-go. Once, I even used it as a backup outfit when my daughter had a massive blowout at the mall.
Bodysuits and Footed Pajamas
For newborns, I prefer using footed pajamas for daytime and nighttime, they’re ideal for both play and sleep. They also eliminate the need for a full outfit (bodysuit, pants, and socks).
As for quantities, you’ll want to have enough for about one to two full weeks. You’ll likely be doing laundry at least four times a month for the first few months.
There isn’t much need for having too many outfits because babies will outgrow them quickly, especially the newborn sizes.
Socks and Pants
Swaddle blankets are amazing but sometimes they slip out of their swaddles. That’s where wearable blankets come in handy, they’re basically sleep sacks that keep your baby warm. They’re especially popular in cold weather areas or seasons.
Coming Home Outfit and Seasonal clothing
A coming home outfit doesn’t need to be anything too special. It can be a cute outfit or a regular outfit. It is just called a ‘coming home outfit’ because you will likely be taking pictures of this day and remembering it for the rest of your life.
The need for any kind of seasonal clothing depends entirely on where you live. I live in hot Florida and my son was born in the summer so I didn’t need any warm clothing for him. But if your child is born in the winter, you might want to consider some extra blankets or layers for your baby.
If you live in a place where it’s cold all year round, by all means get your child some jackets and layers. If you live in a tropical area, I wouldn’t recommend any bikinis because of sunburns but I would suggest getting some rash guards and full coverage swimwear if you really intend on being in the sun (which you shouldn’t with a newborn).
Designer outfits or any kind of formal wear are unnecessary unless you actually have an event where they will be needed, in which case you should probably buy around that time so you can get the right sizing.
Health and Safety
Personally, I’m a little against “baby proofing” plastic products, I simply make sure our home is generally safe for a child.
Preventing children from getting hurt is impossible but we can take additional measures to make sure our kids don’t get electrocuted or have access to toxic chemicals or escape the house. There are several products for that in the market for all sorts of baby proofing needs.
For electrical, we installed safety-retardant style outlets. You can also use self-closing electrical covers or plug covers The rest we deal with by teaching our kids not to touch certain things or by moving dangerous things to out-of-reach places, like upper cabinets.
Having an alarm system and good locks in your home are also primary.
We have keypad deadbolts on all our exterior doors, we can control them with Alexa our phones, or even set times for the doors to automatically lock themselves. They’re also great for letting the babysitter in because they can have their own code to get in.
Humidifiers take up a lot of space and are not necessary for everyday use like registries make you think. In fact, they’re useless to you and your child until your child (or you) has a stuffy nose.
Although I used to recommend against getting a cool-mist humifidier, they do come in handy for treating our children when they’re sick. Steam vaporizers can also do the job but you need to take caution with the heat.
Some appliances even do both, which might be a better option.
First Aid Kit and Infant Medicines
Getting a baby health and grooming kit or first aid kit is unnecessary because the items usually included will be useless to you or not of great standards. Instead, make your own with some good products.
You will need a thermometer, nasal aspirator, brush and comb, nail cutter and emery board (or an electric one because it’s so hard to do their nails but so necessary), and your usual bandages, antiseptics, and creams (which you probably already have) as well as alcohol-free foaming sanitizer for you and baby.
For infant medicines, you definitely need a pain and fever reducer like Motrin or Tylenol and an infant medicine dispenser. Definitely get some Boogie Wipes, baby chest rub, and homeopathic cold relief medicine. Note the age of use and expiration dates for each of these.
You won’t need to carry most of these things around with you all the time, so there’s no need for a carrying pouch unless you travel a lot.
You won’t have to worry about teeth right away. Every child has their teeth erupt at different times, and not always in the same order. Once their teeth are growing in, you should start brushing their teeth to get them accustomed, with a silicone brush or a washcloth.
As they get a few more teeth, you can invest in toothpaste and better toothbrush and start paying a visit to the dentist.
I was always recommended against teething gels by my pediatricians but a lot people do use them without any side effects.
If you intend on breastfeeding you will need a breast pump, reusable or disposable breast pads for containing leaks, and nipple cream. If you plan on pumping and storing a lot of breastmilk, you may want to invest in storage bags for the freezer.
Nursing pillows can be great for supporting your child but sometimes a pillow or two will do the job. Nursing covers are not entirely needed. I believe people need to be more comfortable with us moms nursing in public but any kind of fabric, even your swaddle or a onesie, can be a makeshift cover if needed.
First-time parents always fall for the marketing schemes of large bottle sets. You do not need a sterilizer, formula mixer, or bottle warmer. And you do not need a million bottles, a small set of bottles will be fine at least to start.
There are several cases, where you may need to test different bottles depending on your child. So I highly recommend against buying in bulk for bottles.
Pacifiers and Teethers
Parents worry that pacifiers bring harm to a child or can cause nipple confusion.
With infants, there is nothing to worry about, there is no real nipple confusion and dental issues are only of concern past the age of four. I know this because my son is a thumb-sucker. I also know that babies who enjoy pacifiers tend to be much calmer and both my kids were comforted by them.
Teething toys are not usually needed for the first few months but you will definitely need them. Babies put everything into their mouths, and when they’re teething they want to chomp on anything and everything.
They will also be drooling a lot when they are actually teething, which may cause rashes on their chests. Drool bandanas with biting rings were my go-to during this stage.
High Chair and Infant Feeding
You will not be feeding your child anything but breastmilk or formula until four to six months, when they can sit up on their own, where you can start with pureed foods. At that point, you will need a high chair or a place to sit them for feedings.
I’ve gone through several shitty bibs with crappy velcro and poor fabric materials but ended up falling in love with the OXO Tot bibs. They’re easy to clean, have a silicone pocket for catching crumbs, folds up for portability, and actually stay on my kids.
There are several bowls and utensils in the market for infants and toddlers. I like to have a set of small bowls with lids as well a suction bowl or the EZPZ mats for my toddlers. For spoons, I particularly like the white-hot system for when I reheat my baby’s food, as well as these cute silicone training/teething spoons.
Gear and Travel
Strollers and Car Seats
There are several different kinds out there depending on one’s needs and comforts.
The long list suggests you get a stroller and an umbrella stroller but I disagree. I would recommend getting a good stroller that isn’t bulky or heavy for everyday use. Umbrella strollers are only recommended for children of at least six months to one year of age anyway.
You can refer to one of my other posts for more details about strollers and car seats.
Most strollers do not come with much but offer add-ons like snack trays and cup holders or multiple child options like an additional seat or ride-on stand.
More than likely, you will need a stroller organizer to put things like your phone and your water.
You don’t have to get a swing but babies do love to be swayed to sleep or just to calm them down because it reminds them of the womb. Having a swing definitely helps relieve us parents the duty of constantly carrying our child and rocking them to sleep.
There are tons of swings on the market, from simpler side swaying to side or front to back sway or full round motions.
Bouncers, Rockers, Play Mats, and Entertainment Stations
Play Mats and Entertainment stations are more popular amongst infants.
A play mat will come in handy for almost the entire first year, maybe more depending on the mat’s features. An entertainment station or jumper, becomes useful once your baby can hold their head up properly to sit and it is safe for them to be bouncing on their feet. Again, it’s long-term usage depends on the one you get.
Most people invest in a diaper bag, and a lot of them spend a ton of money on something that they end up hating. Some people even use a regular large bag or backpack and that’s fine.
My favorite is the Skip Hop Forma Diaper Backpack It’s super lightweight, easy to clean, fits so much stuff (mom of two here), and it’s a backpack so it’s not sliding down my arm or weighing me down while I’m carrying my babies, who are now toddlers and I walk with one on each hand.
A lot of these things you can get when baby is a few months old because the truth is you won’t be going out as much with baby. Besides, they will more than likely be sleeping in your room for the first 4-12 months.
So going shopping for baby stuff may be the perfect excuse to get out of the house with or without your kid.
Having a ‘perfect nursery’ is really not important. Think of it like this: a baby nursery will need to go through changes once baby becomes a crawler, and then a walker.
People are so focused on making the nursery all cute and fill up the space with the ‘baby essentials.’ But pretty soon that baby will be crawling and climbing everywhere, and you might rather have a less crowded and safer space. Some of the things you may “need” for a newborn will quickly become useless to the baby who will be more entertained by larger toddler toys.
As for baby decor, well that baby will be sleeping in your room for quite some time. So you may end up wasting your time, money, and effort on creating ‘the perfect space’ for it to go unused.
If you do choose to decorate, choose things that are cute for a wide age range, between babies and young children. Pick generic patterns and colors. Just keep in mind that your child’s room will evolve.
I particularly didn’t decorate much but the floor tile mats did all the talking, as well as a few wall hanging items and wall decals These are my kid’s rooms, not much baby decor but plenty of character and toddler mayhem.
My name is Paula and I’m a mom of two scrumptious cuties. Thanks Mommy Blog became a project for me to help guide other new moms and current moms through any of my own personal experiences and struggles. My hobbies include singing, doing jigsaw puzzles, baking, designing and trying to stay creative.