What do you need to take care of a baby? Though many of these seem to be a given, I can tell you that I’ve run errands for my friends who just had their babies. You’d be surprised just hoe many needed me to pickup diapers for them! Below is a list I’ve created for myself over the years and births. I’ve stuck in the bare essentials (mostly), that you really can’t manage without. Feel free to shout out anything I missed. I’ll put it on my list for next time. (Don’t tell my husband I said that!)
Diapers, Baby Wipes, and Diaper Care
Personally, I usually only get one package of newborn diapers. I have big babies and they grow out of them really quick. With the wipes, I like to stick to the hypoallergenic variety. I also start off with the basics of diaper cream, baby powder, and a thermometer. Being the super-organized person I am I always make sure to have a diaper caddy with everything in its assigned place, but this is not a “must-have”.
A place for Baby to sleep
This can be a cradle or a crib. Even if you are into co-sleeping, you want a place for Baby to sleep when you are not in bed. Keep in mind that you need to get basic bedding too (swaddler, receiving and regular blankets, crib sets)
I make sure to have washcloths for sponge bathing for the first couple of weeks. As my babies gain more muscle control I switch them to a baby bath tub. Be sure to have a towel and clothing ready so that Baby doesn’t shiver too much. Again, I use hypoallergenic baby wash. Besides for being gentle on their silky skin, they usually won’t burn their eyes if a drop accidentally gets in. And while these may not be “must-haves”, I always make sure to have some baby lotion and spout covers. Babies’ skin do not need it, usually, but I love the smell of freshly washed hair and pretty smelling skin so I get the lotion. The spout covers are usually more handy when a baby goes into a full-sized tub, though not really and essential.
Don’t go crazy on the tiny little outfits. They are adorable, but remember, you will just have had your baby and you are going to be spending plenty of time opening, closing, and changing your little one while trying to recuperate from the birth. Additionally, they get soiled so quickly and grow out of them very rapidly. I’m not saying not to get any really cute outfits. Of course you’ll want them to be able to show Baby in. Just make sure to have some really practical stretchies that are easy to open and close, even at 2:30 am. I’m a big believer in baby undershirts, particularly while the umbilical cord is still on and until the belly button has closed completely and has stopped oozing. I’ve had too many sleepers stained like that because I hadn’t put an undershirt on my baby. Don’t forget accessories. I’m talking about socks for outfits that need them, hats if you are looking to keep Baby extra warm, and booties/soft shoes. And if you have a girl and are interested, feel free to go all out on headbands and jewelry.
Personally, I am a major fan of pacifiers. They’ve been a lifesaver more times than I wish to remember. I also like to use the pacifier clips at night. It makes the middle of the night a lot easier to cope with when I don’t have to fumble in the dark to find the pacifier.
If you are a nursing mom, I highly recommend a nursing pillow. Though it’s not absolutely necessary, I find that it makes me more relaxed and comfortable while feeding. It was my solution to the crick in my neck. I also like to make sure that I have my pump, nursing cover, and all nursing supplies ready before I have the baby. This way, when I go back to work I have one less thing to take care of. That being said, bottles are needed for both nursing moms that work (or simply go out for the night) and bottle-fed babies. Bottles, accessories, bottle warmer (though I must say that I find putting a bottle in a tall glass of hot water works just fine, too), the works. As Baby gets bigger you will need to have a high chair of sorts. There are many options so you can compare and find the one that works best for you. Once Baby starts eating solids (or mush, for starters) food, if you are not into the processed goods, or simply want to give your baby some “real food”, you may want some sort of food processing tools and storage containers, in addition to utensils. Now while this is not for the food itself, I would recommend a bib, particularly if Baby doesn’t latch on well and as they begin to feed themselves. Bibs make my mornings a lot more doable. I love to be able to pull a splattered bib off and be able to take a fresh, clean Michael to daycare.
A note about this one. Most hospitals do not allow you to leave the hospital without a qualified car seat, even if you are planning on walking home. You will either want to start with an infant or a convertible car seat. All car seats sold in the USA have to pass safety regulations so you can be sure that you will be getting a very safe choice. You can always check an option out on the NHTSA’s site for extra reassurance. Whichever you choose, you usually have a host of accessories that you can get along with it. Check out these handy comparison charts on infant and convertible car seats. I also highly recommend getting a diaper bag that suits your needs. There are thousands of choices, so figure out what you want and then have fun shopping and finding your favorite one.
Stroller and Accessories
Though nothing will happen if you don’t have a stroller, I can tell you that your life will be dramatically less complicated if you’ve got one. As with car seats, all strollers sold in the USA have to pass safety regulations and so they are all safe choices. But, not all strollers were created equal. Read up about stroller features here to determine which features are best for you, or give one of our mom reps a call (877-747-4767). You can also use our handy stroller comparison charts to help clarify your options. As for stroller accessories, find out what your options are, then determine which ones are most important to you, find out what your chosen stroller comes with, and then buy based on those facts and preferences.
A Place for Baby to Play
While this may sound somewhat unimportant for right when the baby is born, but having a place for Baby to rest/play can be extremely convenient. Instead of having to go back to the nursery each time you want to put Baby down, there are options that are easily moved around for your convenience. Some options include bouncers, swings, porta cribs, and play yards.
This one really isn’t essential until Baby gets bigger, and chances are you will get a number as gifts, but they’re fun to look at and try out. If you scout the field you can let people know what you have your eye on when the time comes. I’m a BIG fan of all toys: regular, bath, stroller, car seat… You name it, I love it.