As a soon-to-mom, I was completely overwhelmed with the amount of baby products out there. I can distinctly remember the first time Lance and I went to Buy Buy Baby to register. We walked up and down the aisles and it seemed like in order to be the best prepared parents, we needed it all. This is exactly what all the brands and stores want you to think. But it simply is not true. We definitely got sucked into some of the hype over brands and the newest baby tech products, but the truth is some of the most basic, simplest, and lowest price tag items we got, were the ones that were most useful and are still the ones we are using on a daily basis nine months later. Hopefully, this list can help guide you through the aisle as you determine what is essential and what is just not. Side note: this list became very long, so I chose to not include any nursing/feeding items and will dedicate a full post to those items in the very near future. Second side note: This will probably be of little interest to current parents. This list is really intended for those beginning to plan for baby.
- Travel System Carseat/Stroller
To me, this should be your first priority because it really is the first thing you will actually need before going home from the hospital. The hospital literally will provide you with everything you need for baby those first few days. Diapers, wipes, and swaddles are all provided for you. And to be honest, that is mostly all you need those first few days anyways. We brought a diaper bag full of things for Hudson. The reality is we did not need really any of it. But, the one thing you will actually need before you can leave the hospital is a carseat. You will definitely want to get a carseat that is part of a travel system, so you can easily snap carseat from base in the car to the stroller. Especially in the early days, this made such a difference when he would always be sleeping in his carseat. It made the transition out of the car so easy. There are literally so many options and some very steep price tags. I know there is a lot of hype around certain brands and I think if you can afford it and really value name brands then buy that UPPAbaby stroller, but paying over $1,000 for a stroller is just not our jam. We were gifted the Chicco Bravo Travel System and we have found it to be very reliable. It might not be as fancy looking, but it does the job it needs to. When finding the right carseat-stroller combo, don’t feel like you need to get the most expensive one. There are so many great and durable ones that are less than half the price of the super expensive ones.
2. Bassinet and Crib
I know everyone has their opinion on what is best for where baby should sleep those first few months and honestly it really comes down to personal preference. For us, we chose to have Hudson sleep in a bassinet right next to our bed for basically the first 4 months. We were able to borrow a bassinet from my sister-in-law which was very helpful. It can really start to add up with all the new things you need to purchase, so if you can borrow or inherit someone’s bassinet I think that is a great way to go because the reality is that you will only be using it for a few months. We really liked the Halo Bassinet Swivel Sleeper. I know there is a lot of talk about the SNOO bassinet and how helpful it can be to getting your baby to actually sleep, but again the price tag is over $1,000. It is one thing to spend that much on a carseat/stroller that you will use on a daily basis for over a year, but your baby will likely only be in a bassinet for the first few months. Along with a bassinet, you will likely want to have a crib that you will be able to transition baby into. We chose our crib based off the style we were going for the nursery. This is another big expense, so I think it is important that you make sure you choose a crib that grows with baby. The crib we got, which I am linking to here, will literally be able to become a big kid bed for Hudson. While cribs are also pretty expensive, this is an investment that your baby can use for years!
3. Velcro Swaddles and Muslin Swaddles
This is one of those items that we found extremely useful and necessary for getting Hudson to sleep, but I am also aware that some parents find that their babies hate to be swaddled. According to Dr. Harvey Karp, author of Happiest Baby on the Block and creator of the SNOO, swaddling is an essential step to getting your baby to sleep through the night. Babies have the startle reflex, so without a swaddle, they can easily wake themselves up. I can remember being in the hospital and obsessing over how perfectly and tightly the nurses swaddled him. We would ask over and over again for them to show us, in hopes that by the time we were home that we would be master swaddlers like them. No matter how hard I tried or how many Youtube videos I watched, I never seemed to swaddle Hudson tightly enough and he almost always got his arms out. Hence, the velcro swaddles quickly became our friends and were the swaddles we used every single night. There are a ton of brands out there, but we really liked the SwaddleMe ones. A piece of advice with the swaddles: start by registering for just a couple so you can try it out and see if it works with your baby. I know a lot of people end up with a ton of swaddles and a lot of them will just sit in the closet. For us, these really worked so we used multiple ones per day. I would also suggest registering for larger sizes, so you can continue using them once baby gets slightly heavier, but remember you definitely need to stop swaddling baby’s arms once they begin to roll. Along with these velcro swaddles, we also used muslin swaddles all the time. We did not swaddle him in these as much, but they were super handy to have around, especially since we had a baby with acid reflux that was spitting up multiple times every feeding. We really like the prints and feel of the Aden & Anais swaddles. These really are multi-purposeful and we would go through 5 plus a day early on, so it is nice to have a large stash of these. They also are great to use as a cover over the carseat and stroller and act as the perfect blanket especially during the hotter, summer months.
4. Diapers, Wipes, and Changing Table Scale
Obviously, you are going to need lots of diapers and lots of wipes. But like I mentioned earlier, you really do not need to pack any for the hospital because they will provide all of that for you. You will use plenty of diapers at home, so I would really take advantage of using the supplies offered to you at the hospital. The amount of diapers we went through was shocking to us as new parents. Early on, were going through 10-15 diapers a day. That number decreases over time, but the fact is diaper expenses can really start to add up. I know Honest diapers are beautiful, but I really do not think they are worth the extra cost. I found that they did not feel as soft as Pampers. While they are very stylish and I loved the fun prints we were gifted (thanks mom!), they just are not as practical and they end up in the trash in just a few hours. It is also nice to get diapers that have that yellow line that turns blue to indicate a wet diaper. The Pampers Swaddlers are the ones used in the hospital and were my favorite for him as a newborn. As he got older and we moved to size 1 and beyond, we started getting the Kirkland Signature Supreme diapers from Costco. These are slightly more affordable and they feel very similar to Pampers. With wipes, I wasn’t too particular and personally did not notice a huge difference, but I think it is always best to get wipes that are unscented or sensitive. We get the Amazon brand wipes and love them. Again slightly more affordable and they are durable, but still nice and soft. Along with diapers and wipes, it is nice to have a spot to consistently change baby. A changing table is definitely not needed. We just put a changing pad on top of his dresser. In terms of changing pads, I really wish we had gotten a changing pad that also acted as a baby scale. This is something we did not have and it is the one thing I wished we received. I had no idea how obsessive I would become over his weight gain. I literally drove to the hospital every week to use their lactation room to nurse Hudson and then weigh him to make sure he was gaining sufficient weight. It was a bit of a hassle to make this trip every week, so it would have saved a lot of stress if we had a baby scale at home. From what I have heard and just based off what I have read, the Hatch Baby Grow seems to be amazing. This is definitely one of those high-tech baby products I wish we invested in. It functions as a scale and connects to an app that tells you exactly how much baby is eating per feed. Especially for nursing mamas, this is such a useful tool because it can be extremely stressful when you are uncertain how many ounces baby is intaking. This product would have saved me a TON of tears and drives to the hospital.
5. Onesies, Zip-Up Footie Pajamas, and Socks
Clothing is the one thing everyone will want to gift you and it is super fun to add adorable pieces to your registry, but especially early on the basics are what really matter. Also, your baby will likely outgrow clothing SUPER quick. We found that we barely needed to purchase much clothing at all since we were given so many pieces. Of all the cute, little outfits we received, the items that were most useful and practical early on were lots of onesies, zip-up pajamas and socks. Hudson was constantly spitting up the first few months so we went through a lot of outfits per day. It was super helpful to have a good assortment of simple onesies to change him into throughout the day. For pajamas, the footie zip-up ones were by far our favorite. Especially in the early days when you have to change diapers in the middle of the night, it is so much easier to have pajamas that simply zip, rather than have to struggle in the dark with those dreaded little snaps. We also were gifted some really cute pairs of shoes, but we found that Hudson would always just kick them off and hated having them on his feet. Even now at 9-months, Hudson still just wears socks!
6. Baby Bath
Basically from the time we brought Hudson home we have been giving him baths every night in his bath tub, which we place on the kitchen sink. For the first month this just consisted of placing him in the bath and pouring water on him and using washcloths, but after his umbilical cord fell off, he has had full on baths in his baby bath tub. We have really liked the Boon SOAK tub. It is nothing too fancy, but it is a great size, fits on our counter well, and holds Hudson in just the right position. This is one of those products that we literally use every night. Along with the tub, we are obsessed with Johnson’s Bedtime bath and lotion. We have also used baby Aveeno products, but it just does not compare to the sweet, lavender smell of Johnson’s. The smell is just the best and the use of the lotion after his bath has become a part of our night time routine that we both enjoy. I will dedicate a whole post in the future to go in greater detail on our entire night time routine.
7. Baby Carrier
Strollers are not always the most convenient especially when you want to walk on the beach or take a hike. For these situations, a baby carrier is essential. Again, there are lots of brands and different types. There is Ergo, BABYBJORN, the Moby Wrap, and the list goes on and on. We have the Ergo 360 carrier, which we love. It seems like there are a lot of great brands for carriers, but whatever brand you go with, I do think it is best to have the function to face baby both in and out. Facing baby in is great for the first few months, but by six-months it is likely your baby will be much more interested in the world around you and will prefer to look out. You also want to check what the weight requirements are for each carrier. The Ergo 360 carrier was one we were not able to use right away, but we also were given my sister-in-law’s original Ergo, which comes with the infant insert, so this was a carrier we were able to use even in his first month. I personally never got very into the baby wraps. I found them to be way too complicated, but I know a lot of people like using the wraps when baby is very small. It really is all a matter of preference.
I know not all babies take a pacifier, but Hudson did and we found it to be especially helpful. It was a great way to soothe him down when he was especially little and fussy. We would never leave the house without an emergency binky. It has definitely saved us a few times. Pacifiers are especially helpful at the doctor’s office during shots and for sleeping. Before Hudson was born, I would always see babies with the WubbaNub and thought Hudson would like them too, but he never liked them. I am not even sure the brand of pacifiers we use, it is just the really basic ones, but he loves them! The nipples of each brand can be very different so if you plan on offering a pacifier, maybe try a few brands before you buy tons. And I would recommend getting tons! Binkys seem to be like socks. They are lost so easily! It is always a good idea to have an extra in the diaper bag.