When I was pregnant and trying to plan for baby, it seemed like there were a MILLION must have baby lists out there. I pinned and read each and every one and… then ignored about 99% of them. Not to be all Occupy Baby but those 99% seemed to be lists made for rich people or crazy people. Seriously, $55 moccasins ARE NOT a baby must have item. Neither is a baby wipes warmer. Read on for some real suggestions of newborn baby must haves for the practical or poor.
Newborn Baby Must Haves for the Practical or Poor
Plain White Onesies and/or Kimono Tops: Your baby will eat, sleep, poop, pee, and snuggle in these. I know, I know – newborn clothes are SO tiny and adorable! But listen, you really don't need to be messing with a million different snaps and straps and bits and bobs in those early days. Ditto to trying to do laundry/stain removal. Just put that baby in a one of these and then toss the soiled ones in a cold tub of water (or a sink) until you're ready to do laundry. No worrying about matching, no concerns about colors bleeding – just straight up easy. And an added bonus? Babies look seriously adorable in all white. We used these ones from Gerber.
Lightweight Blankets: Blankets and babies go hand in hand. You'll use them as swaddles, as changing pad covers (or even a changing pad!), to cuddle on the couch, and car seat covers. Pick them up on clearance, at garage sales, and you will definitely get a bunch as gifts. We used these ones from Snug-Ems.
Crib or Co-Sleeper: The baby's gotta sleep somewhere and while for the first few months, it will feel like it's only ever on your chest, they actually do need their own space. Whether you co-sleep or crib-sleep is entirely up to you but pick up a crib or co-sleeper before the baby is born. We used this crib from Ikea.
Support Pillow: If you breastfeed then yes, you can use pillows to support your arms but man, a support pillow is The Shit. Our pillow was a God send to me while I struggled to breastfeed. These are just fine used (buy or make a new cover if you need to) and can/will be used for many, many months. We used this one from Boppy.
Changing Pad: You don't need a fancy changing table. All you really need is a changing pad (and really, that's mostly for you – the baby could care less if you change them on a pad or the floor). We used some 3M Command Strips to attach ours to our dresser and never got around to buying a cover. We used this one from Summer Infant.
Pump: If you're planning to breastfeed, a pump is a great tool. Yes, some people never need one and some babies refuse a bottles but most breastfeeding moms use a pump during the nursing phase so pick one up. I got mine used from a friend and it works just fine. I also see them for sale all the time at garage sales. You may also be eligible for a free one through the Affordable Health Care Act so ask your insurance about it. Pick up the accessories at garage sales and buy the knock-off storage bags at Target. We used this one from Medela.
Bottles and Formula: If you formula feed then you'll need some bottles (if you pump you can just use the ones that come with your pumping set-up). What formula you feed your baby is personal and a trial by error sort of thing. Get recommendations from your doctor and keep trying until you find what works. Same thing with your bottles. Buy a couple and then see what baby takes to. Here's a great post from The Ranty Mama about bottle feeding supplies.
Diapers and Wipes: Cloth or disposable – you need these. The hospital will give you some disposable samples on the way out the door. We do a combination of cloth and disposable diapers that works for us. You'll figure out what works for you once the baby is born – you may be all generic diapers all the time or you may end up having to use the expensive ones due to skin issues (we did). We used this cloth diapers from Charlie Banana and these disposable ones from The Honest Company.
Swaddles: Some baby's love a swaddle. Some love a blanket wrap. Register for a couple of each and then see what works for you before investing in a bunch. As far as the swaddles go – you may end up needing the expensive ones or you might luck out and only the basic model will do. Or your baby might only want a blanket – we used these ones from Summer Infant.
Baby Bather: The reality is that you can line your kitchen sink with cloth diapers or towels and bath your baby that way. However, safety-wise and laundry-wise, a tiny tub is the way to go. You do not need anything fancy, a sling style that dries quickly and can be raised up as your baby grows will do the trick just fine. We used this one from Summer Infant.
Car Seat: You're not allowed to leave the hospital without one. This is a HUGE must have – so much so that some hospitals even give you one for free. If yours does not then pick one up sometime in your third trimester and keep it in your car for when the time comes. And be weary of buying one used or getting a hand-me-down. Car seat standards are incredibly strict and a car seat can be deemed unusable by your insurance company even if it has only been in a minor fender bender. Also, car seats have expiration dates so double check and be 100% sure of what you're getting. Honestly, this is one place were I'd save up and buy new. We used this one from Baby Trends.
And, contrary to popular blogger-world belief, a stroller is not a necessity. It's awesome to have but if you don't walk anywhere or have a sling/carrier (another wonderful but not must have item) then you can skip one (we registered for this one and use it a TON so if you can pick up a car seat/stroller travel system then I highly recommend it). We used this one from Baby Trends.
A Going Home Outfit: I'm adding this because everyone should have one lovely little outfit for their new baby. Buy it new or pick one up at a garage sale – just go ahead and enjoy it! I'm saving Melanie's with all her other little newborn bits and bobs (hospital bracelet, newborn hat, bellybutton) because it was that special to me. Here's a girl one that I love and a boy one that's to die for.
Notable Items That Didn't Make the List
Baby Grooming Items: Anything you need, you can “steal” from your hospital room (it's not really stealing – it's built into the cost of the room so load up). And FYI, baby nail clippers are discouraged by doctors and nurses – use one of your nail files instead.
Bibs: You may not these need so hold off (or grab a couple for a quarter at a garage sale, just in case).
White Machine/Monitor/Gadgets: Buy these later if an issue arises and you can't deal with it with things you already have in the house. The radio set on a non-station makes great white noise as does a vacuum or hair dryer. If you're house is tiny then a monitor is not a big deal. And all those other gadgets? Not necessary.
Strollers/Wraps/Slings/Carriers: I discussed this a bit above. While these items are lovely and we use ours all the time – they really aren't what I'd consider a must have. Register for yours or pick them up used at a garage sale.
Baby Toys: Your baby could give a shit about that rattle or stuffed bunny. In the beginning, they want you and food and that's it. Everything else is overwhelming. Ask for hand-me-downs for in a couple of months.
Baby Books: Yes. It's a huge thing to read to your kid and will make them a Super Duper Genius. But you know what? That kid could give a shit WHAT you're reading to them. I used to read poetry and Sports illustrated articles to Melanie and she reacted the exact same way as when I read from an actual baby book. So don't stress.
Swings/Rockers/Bouncy Seats: Another awesome-to-have-but-not-a-must-have item. My baby hated all of these with a passion until she was out of the newborn stage. Other babies adore them. Get them used and only if it's a bargain – definitely something to acquire after the baby is born on an as needed basis.
Binkies/Suckies/Pacifiers: I had a million of these in all types and sizes before Melanie was born. She used exactly ZERO of them. It's actually pretty common for babies NOT to use one so don't stress out too much about having them on hand when the baby first comes home. The hospital may send you home with some (especially if your baby is bottlefed).
// Special Note: Be careful and cautious when purchasing ANYTHING used. While it's illegal to sell recalled products, that doesn't stop them from ending up on CraigsList or at yard sales. Since consignment shops/events sell products for other people, they aren't responsible if if you end up buying a recalled product. Read this excellent article for more information. //
Do you have any practical or inexpensive baby items to add to this list?