When you are expecting a baby or adopting, it can be really challenging to figure out what you REALLY need vs. what would be nice to have. So many people want to be generous and offer to buy things for us and it is helpful to create wish lists that facilitate your friends and family getting you the things you will really use each and every day in the care of your baby. But, when you go to create a wish list, it seems that there are literally thousands of things that you might need and it is near impossible to figure it all out if you haven’t had a baby before (and even if you have it can be daunting!). Keep in mind that lots of people want to buy a baby a gift, but by the time your baby is even a few months old, they are already “old news.” Therefore, I have created a list of things you absolutely have to have when your baby arrives. This is a minimalist list and just explains what you must have in order to care for your new baby. In future blog posts, I will also create lists of things that you will start to need along the way in baby’s first year. This way, you can add things to your wish lists and registries that you will need over time. If you have any additional comments or things to add or take away, please comment on this list! It will help other expecting families if this can be a living and active resource. Keep in mind that what one mom couldin’t live without may be what another mom couldn’t figure out—we’re all different and we have different lifestyles and parenting styles. I’ve tried here to use links to Amazon so that you could easily create a wish list on Amazon, but you should feel free to register wherever you like and support your local stores and small businesses as much as possible with your own purchases.
You need to own this book: The Baby Book by Dr. Sears. Everything from dosages for Tylenol to how to identify poisonous house plants to breastfeeding, baby wearing, rashes, sleeping and night parenting and more. This is the best baby care reference book that you can buy. Are you looking for a great book that will help you prepare for birth and has great information on what to put in your hospital/birth center bag? Then you also need a copy of the Doula’s Guide to Birthing Your Way by Jan Mallak (who also teaches childbirth classes at Yoga Matrika!) and Theresa Bailey.
I have a summary list at the bottom of this post in case you just want to jump to the bottom. Enjoy preparing for your new addition and please let me know if you have any questions or concerns. You can reach me at Yoga Matrika: firstname.lastname@example.org or give me a call (412) 855-5692. When you have a baby, what you really need is “help”—-this means hiring a doula for your birth, a post-partum doula to help when you get home, ready to heat up meals or gift certificates for take-out. Consider asking your generous family and friends for this kind of support. Beyond the 14-items on this “must have” list, you truly do not need other “stuff.” Help cleaning your home, taking care of older children, preparing meals, supporting your breastfeeding efforts and more can make the difference between being able to enjoy your newborn and feeling completely overwhelmed. When I had my daughter, many beautiful friends brought the most wonderful meals for me and this expression of love and support—–not to mention having such delicious meals made for me—-was one of the best experiences of my life. So, skip the diaper wipe warmer and ask for what you really need!
When you try to evaluate what you NEED vs. what you WANT, it’s good to keep in mind what new babies do:
1. Sleep (not necessarily when it is convenient for you, but they do sleep a lot)
3. Poop and Pee
4. Comfort–babies need to be kept comfortable, clean and nourished emotionally and physically.
This is how I’ve organized my what you absolutely need right away list:
My recommendation is to plan on having your baby sleep in your room and prepare a Graco Pack N’Play or Fisher Price Rock N’Play sleeper so that they can sleep near you, but separately and so that you always have a safe place to put your baby down. If you have a smaller size space, Graco makes a really wonderful travel pack n’ play that is perfect for smaller rooms/spaces. It is called the: Graco Travel Lite Sleeper with Stages. I have both a Rock n Play Sleeper that I kept on the first floor and then a Travel Lite Sleeper with Stages that I keep set up in my bedroom next to my side of the bed. You do NOT need a fancy pack n’ play with a changing station. The basic pay n play with bassinet will work. Yes, you will eventually need a crib, but it is not an immediate need.
I have exclusively breastfed my two infants at the breast, so I can’t really provide information on how much formula you might need or what kind of bottles, nipples and how many of these things you need. If you are planning on formula feeding or you end up pumping exclusively and feeding baby breastmilk from bottles, then I highly recommend talking to your pediatrician about how to prepare and ask other moms who bottle fed for advice. The only thing I would recommend is that you not buy too many bottles of any one kind until you figure out what type of nipple your baby prefers. Then, once you figure out what they like, buy all of that kind so that you don’t have too many different “parts” in your stash.
This being said, if you are breastfeeding, I think that you do need:
1. All cotton nursing bras that you just push aside to provide breast access. My favorite are the Blue Canoe Jane’s Plus Bra Tops. I’ve also used the Jen’s Bra as a nursing bra with great ease. You can use them as sports bras for yoga or other low impact sports after you are done nursing. My Blue Canoe bras have lasted me through two pregnancies and nursing two babies now. I wash them and am not gentle with them in any way and they are in great shape. If you are looking for the kind with clips, then my favorite brand is the Bravado! nursing bra. Really, you don’t want wires in your nursing bras—–this can cause mastitis and other discomfort and problems. You can graduate to wire bras once you’ve established breastfeeding if that is your personal preference, but in the beginning, you need some of these more comfortable bras.
2. Some kind of nursing pillow for your own comfort. Some would argue that this is a want and not a need, and I agree that you can certainly nurse without a pillow, but I’ve found them to be so very helpful for nursing both of my new babes that I truly feel like a nursing pillow is a need. You can get a Boppi, which can be used later for tummy time or supporting your baby when they start to sit up or a My Breast Friend pillow which is superior for breastfeeding, but has no other use (that I can think of!).
3. Yes, you will eventually, if you will spend any time away from your baby, need to purchase a pump of some kind and you will need to purchase bottles and nipples to get what you have extracted to your baby. But, you will not need these things for at least a month, so they aren’t on my list of things you need right away list. Please note that many health insurance companies will provide a breast pump at no charge. Call your insurance company to find out if this applies to your plan and the process for getting it. With UPMC insurance, I just needed to call after I had delivered and get my pediatrician to “prescribe” it for me.
4. You will probably need some kind of breast pad to soak up the leaks and some Lasinoh Breast Ointment for comfort in the beginning. Some people like the kinds of breast pads that you can wash and some prefer disposable. I like the Simplisse disposables the best—very absorbant without bulk. Also, if you use the ointment, you put it on the pad and not directly onto your nipple. These Bamboobies washable and re-usable nursing pads are soft and wonderful.
POOP & PEE
1. You need diapers. A lot of diapers. Your newborn will likely go through 10-15 disposables per day for the first month or so. Whether you are going to diaper your baby with disposables, cloth or both, my recommendation is that you order a case of newborn diapers from Amazon Mom. Also, order a case of wipes while you are at it. The Amazon Mom membership is free and allows you to purchase cases of products you use every day at an excellent discount. I highly recommend Seventh Generation Diapers and wipes. Although I have not used them myself, I’ve heard excellent reviews from Matrika moms about Earth’s Best diapers. I do not recommend Pampers or Huggies unless you purchase their Sensitive or Natural brands because the regular diapers have chemicals that, while highly absorbant, can cause skin burns and severe irritation. Are you looking for cloth diapering information or suggestions? I’ve got a separate blog post about that here.
2. You do need a changing table. The best idea is to get one that can also act as a dresser later on and just put a changing pad on top of it. But a changing table allows you to keep all your diapering stuff together and is at a good height for you to change lots of diapers without hurting your back. Sure, you’ll also end up changing diapers on your bed, the couch, the floor, your stroller, etc. But, I have to recommend the changing table. IKEA sells a dresser that is somewhat reasonable in price that would work great as a changing table. Here is a really expensive changing table that I have used and had some other excellent reviews for. Honestly, if you think that you will have more than one child, get the expensive one. An inexpensive one will fall apart before your wee one is out of diapers. Be creative—if you give yourself time, you can find a changing table through Craig’s List or by asking around and seeing if anyone is ready to give the one they have away. You shouldn’t feel that your only option is to buy a new one or an expensive one. Your baby won’t know the difference!
1. Your baby will be happy naked, but perhaps not warm enough or protected from the elements. So, you need to have some baby clothing for your newborn. Unless your baby is premature, it is highly unlikely that you will need newborn sized clothing for very long (usually 5-8 pounds) or at all. You may want to have one or two newborn things prepared just in case you birth a tiny wee one or for the first day or two until you figure out what size baby you have, but otherwise, preparing a large newborn wardrobe is a waste. My recommendation is: 4 sleeper gowns, 6 body suits, 4 sleep & play type one-pieces, 3-4 cotton caps and a few pairs of cozy socks, 2 pairs of pull on pants. I generally shop at Old Navy, Baby Gap and Carters when I shop. Target has a Carters brand with their own label that is good and it is better to shop for it at the store than online. I have been the very lucky recipient of many hand me down items. Ask around and take everything that people give you. There is NO reason on earth to spend a lot of money on baby clothes. Your baby will literally grow overnight and may only wear any one item of clothing once. The items listed above will get you started and will definitely be enough to get you through until you meet your baby and know their size and get a sense of how often you do laundry, etc.
2. Yes, you will want to swaddle your bambino. I love these swaddle blankets by Aden + Anais because they are very light, easy to pack and are great multi-use items. Much, much more usable than receiving blankets. These straight jacket type swaddle sacks with velcro are awesome. I’d at least have four of the swaddle blankets and two of the swaddle sacks.
3. You can use regular towels and wash cloths on your baby, but you will want something to absorb spit ups and other spills and thrills. If you are using cloth diapers, just keep extra pre-folds on hand and use those. If not, then buy a few burp cloths.
4. You are not supposed to put a blanket over your baby while they are sleeping, but you will want some blankets to cover them while you are holding them and/or when they are in their car seat (they aren’t supposed to be in coats or bunting in car seats), etc. I can’t imagine that someone isn’t going to make you a baby blanket or gift you one, but you will probably want to have at least two blankets for baby. A cozy one like this that is warm, soft and easy to wash is perfect.
5. You will want to wash your baby and this will require gentle soap and I like to use a baby tub. If you have a sink that will work, that’s perfect, but I admit to never really having my kitchen sink clean enough to use as a tub and my babe can’t fit in my bathroom sink. Let’s be honest, that’s not usually much cleaner than the kitchen sink! We had this one for my son and it worked great for as long as it needed to. We have this one for my daughter and it seems great so far. It isn’t that long before they can just sit in the regular tub. In terms of wash, this Johnson and Johnson’s natural baby wash is safe and smells lovely. I am personally a big fan of all California Baby wash products. They are expensive, but one bottle is going to last you about a year (seriously) and they are very safe.
6. Will you need a pacifier? I don’t know, but you may want to have a package on hand just in case. If you are breastfeeding you will not want to use a pacifier until at least 4-6 weeks. So, it’s not a necessity for a newborn. You should have a digital thermometer on hand. You will need some infant nail clippers.
7. You will need to transport your baby. This, of course, includes a car seat. The GRACO Snugride is great. You will want some kind of stroller that holds this baby seat. GRACO makes car seat holders with wheels, but if you actually want to walk anywhere with your baby, you need a real stroller. I highly recommend the City Jogger Mini and the attachment for infant seats. Then, you can use the City Jogger until your baby is around 5-years old. Why buy an extra car seat holder when you can get a stroller that you can use from birth to 5-years? This stroller is super light and folds up in an instant. I take public transportation all the time and need a stroller that folds up super fast.
8. You will want to wear your baby. Wearing your baby is convenient for you and extremely comforting for your baby. My first baby cried all the time unless I was holding him. Being able to wear him all the time provided some much needed sanity. If you can only have one carrier, then get the Ergo carrier because you can use it from birth (with the infant insert) to about 3-years old and it is both a front and back carrier. I hike all over the place with my baby in the Ergo and it feels great. For around the house and for newborns, you will want something like a Moby Wrap and/or a Ring Sling. Personally, I like the ring sling best, but this is really a personal choice. There is a lot of information about wearing your baby and different ways to use a ring sling in The Baby Book by Dr. Sears that is recommended above.
- The Baby Book by Dr. Sears
- Fisher Price Rock N’ Play Sleeper and/or a GRACO Pack N’ Play
- Soft nursing bras and a nursing pillow
- Bra pads and lanolin nipple ointment
- Changing table and/or dresser with changing pad on top
- A few newborn sizeclothing items (body suits, one piece suits) and about 10 size 0-3 month outfits or outfit combinations with cotton caps and socks (socks are not necessary for infants born in warm weather)
- Swaddle blankets and swaddle sacks w/velcro (they make them in microfleece for winter!)
- Burp clothes, a digital thermometer, a baby nail clipper and infant wash and shampoo
- A baby tub
- Car seat
- Stroller that will hold car seat
- Baby carrier for baby wearing (Ergo, Ring sling and/or Maya Wrap)
This post was written by Sharon Fennimore Rudyk, owner and director of Yoga Matrika and Matrika Prenatal. She’s the mother of two amazing children (if she does say so herself) and teaches prenatal yoga, mom & baby yoga and prenatal yoga teacher training programs.