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.
If you’re a first time parent you’re finding lists from magazines, stores, and online and guess what? 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. They take advantage of first time parents who are overwhelmed and don’t know what to expect.
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.
But unlike most lists, the website which I used to create this list above actually acknowledges people’s priorities and changes in variables such as climate and location may affect their list.
They ask you a few extra questions before providing you with a decent list. For the purposes of this post I tried to answer vaguely to get a more general list.
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.
I would have reminded myself that all children and families are different and have different needs. I would remind myself to get the basics and come back for any extras if and when necessary.
Below I put together my own list of just the basic essentials along with some side notes, note the *’s.
I also added a few affiliate links (disclaimer) for specific things I got along the way and do recommend.
Your baby will likely be sleeping in the same room as you for the first 4-12 months.
Its 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.
You don’t need to get the best or most expensive bassinet but something that baby can sleep in.
I’ve heard a lot of stories about people spending hundreds on a great bassinet and then baby doesn’t like it and it goes to waste. At the hospital babies sleep in a clear box with a little mattress pad and they’re fine with that, so keep in mind that simplicity works too.
* Nursing Chair
These take up a lot of space and can be pricey, as long as you have one or two comfortable places for you to sit with your child around the house you should be fine.
Mine became an issue of concern for me once baby started cruising and walking because little fingers could easily get caught or cut by the mechanics of the chair and then my kid would go around the chair and get stuck behind.
* Changing Station
Some people question getting these because you can easily change a diaper on the bed but you have to consider the comfort of leaning over in front of your bed several times a day for 2-3 years (til fully potty trained).
I did a couple night changes on our low bed for a month and it was a total back breaker, especially postpartum when you’re back is still out of whack from pregnancy. And if you had an epidural or spinal anesthesia it makes these back movements much more difficult.
There are different kinds of changing stations, some are entire furniture pieces while others can be placed above a dresser. There are even some that don’t require sheets.
* Large Playmat
Your kids will fall a lot and these will protect them. I have hard floors so we spend a lot of time on these mats.
They’re ideal from baby stage to the end of toddlerhood but they make great accent pieces so you may keep them even longer.
* Swaddle/Receiving Blankets
These are soft fabrics for babies, they are intended for swaddles but are very versatile. When wrapped or folded properly they serve as sheets for changing stations, whether at home or in public.
They’re lightweight and perfect for a little extra cover in a cold restaurant or as a sun cover while on an outdoor walk. A lot of people use them as nursing covers or spit up bibs as well.
I once used it as clothing for my baby at the mall because she had completely pooped through her clothes in the carseat, it was a mess!
I love these blankets.
* Diaper Pail
The diaper pail was convenient for me when I lived in a two-story home for the first few months of being a parent.
I had two back-to-back kids and during my second pregnancy my heightened sense of smell couldn’t take it. To this day our diaper pail is in the garage and the house feels much cleaner.
I could be trashing those stinky diapers in my regular trash or just straight into my trash bin in the garage but once a few start to sit for a day the whole room smells.
I have a love and hate relationship with Diaper Pails.
* Diaper/Everything Bag
The baby market has created many different kinds of bags, ranging from $80 to hundreds.
In essence, you will be carrying around daily essentials for your child, or multiple children in my case.
You don’t have to get a designated bag from a Baby store, a good backpack or side bag will do the trick as long as you’re comfortable and can easily access a variety of things.
To minimize to weight of carrying things I will not need daily, I leave the bare essentials inside and pack what I need for that day regularly. Carry as light as possible!
This is the diaper bag we have, its a backpack.
* Carseat & Stroller Systems
Do some heavy research on which Carseat and Stroller systems might be best for you because these are some heavy ticket items and you don’t to make a mistake like I did.
I did a whole post about car seats and strollers because the first stroller we got was recommended, it was one of the best out there… for running in terrain, which I don’t do and I live in flat Florida so I was stuck with a giant stroller that didn’t fit in my car.
I now have two strollers, a small lightweight stroller for one kid, and our double stroller which I researched a lot about and personally tested and compared for price, weight, and ease of folding up.
You also need to decide what kind of car seat is best depending on your needs and where you live.
Convertible Carseats are great because they can be used for infants as well as toddlers once they face forward however Infant Carseats carry major benefits.
Infant Carseats can be removed regularly so you can carry your child in their carseat onto the stroller or into a restaurant comfortably.
There are many kids of carriers, some are on the front while others on the back and some are wraps while others are like backpack straps.
Some can be used for up to 6 months while others can be modified for toddlerhood.
Some people swear by wraps, but if you live in Florida like me, the extra layers will leave you sweaty and uncomfortable.
* First Aid Items
Some kits come with things you may never use.
Hospitals will give you at least one bulb syringe and as great as they are you may end up buying a Nose Frida instead- check it out.
Its good to have Infant Tylenol or Motrin and a thermometer.
* Infant Tub
If you don’t want to spend the extra money on a tub you could easily bathe your child in a large sink or in a regular tub with running water (not full).
* Bouncers or Rockers
These can be really great to keep baby out of your arms for a few hours but not all babies enjoy them and they take up a lot of space for a short term use.
Sometimes they can be life savers, other times they can be a crutch. It truly depends on your needs and if your baby will make good use of them.
And just like everything else, there’s “cheap” kinds and super high end kinds that can both work equally well for our babies.
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.
Things like toys for babies may never get used anyway.
For example, my son didn’t care for them but my daughter enjoyed 2-3 things.
And you wouldn’t want to overdo it because you need to make sure you have space for all the stuff you will need as your baby starts to grow up into a child, because trust me, you will be begging for space and selling every baby item online really soon.
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. 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.
Just keep in mind that your child’s room will evolve.
Here’s what your baby’s room might look like within a year or two (these are my kids’ rooms).
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.