Have you heard that old story about the parents with three kids? For the first kid, if the baby dropped their soother, the parents would sterilize it. Twice, just to be sure. By the third baby, they were just wiping that sucker off on their jeans and popping it back in the child’s mouth.
An exaggeration to be sure, but there is some truth to the fact that first time parents in particular tend to overdo the baby gear. Some items come from family, some from the office baby shower and some just gets accumulated from trolling the aisles at the local baby gear store in the weeks and months that precede the big event.
If you believe what the marketers are telling you, you will need to move to a bigger house and buy a truck to haul your wee one’s stuff around with you: an expensive proposition, at the very least. So I decided to provide you with a list of things that I have seen, as a doula, that you and baby need, things that you might want and things you don’t need at all.
What are the essentials that baby and parents need
The list depends on whether you are going with breast or bottle, cloth diapers or disposables, but essentially, here’s what you need day 1:
- Diapers (TIP: Don’t bulk buy the newborn size: they might outgrow them faster than you can use them!): either disposable or cloth and if the latter, don’t forget the waterproof covers.
- Diaper cream
- A changing pad
- Diaper pail (for disposables OR cloth)
- Receiving blankets that can double as burp cloths
- Nightgowns (easier until the cord stump falls off than onesies or sleepers)
- Onesies and sleeper pyjamas (TIP: the zipper ones are easier to manage in the middle of the night; snaps are hard to handle at 3 am!)
- Depending on where you live and the time of year: a bunting bag and cardigan sweaters, hats and warm socks.
- Fragrance free wipes: disposable or wash cloths
- Fragrance free baby soap
- If you’re bottle feeding: bottles, nipples, bibs (a lot of these), brush for cleaning the bottles, formula.
- If you’re breastfeeding: a breast pump and storage containers, in case you need to be separated from baby for a while, nursing bras, breast pads, lotion for sore nipples.
- A safe sleeping place—bassinette or crib— with a firm mattress and no bumpers, blankets or pillows! You will need fitted sheets and if in a cold climate, consider a sleep sack.
- Nail scissors
- A baby thermometer
- Fever medication
- A baby monitor, particularly if your home is large enough that you might not hear them from the basement, for example.
- A rear facing car seat
- A stroller
What are the nice to have items that make your life easier
A baby swing — they don’t work for all kids but they are a lifesaver when baby is just inconsolable!
A travel playpen — visiting others with your baby becomes a safer proposition. Also, you can set it up in another part of your house where you spend a lot of time. It’s a safe place to put baby down so you can go to the bathroom or answer the phone!
A baby bath — while technically you can bathe a baby without one, they are slippery little people when they’re wet and soapy; a baby bath is more contained, with rounded edges and easy access.
A diaper genie — people in the disposable diaper camp disagree on this one, mostly because the baggie refills start to get pricey when you’re dumping 10+ diapers a day, albeit tiny ones. That said, it keeps the diapers out of the way of toddler hands (because they just want to help, don’t you know?), out of reach of the dog and does a good job of keeping odors at bay.
Change table — again, this is one of those things people don’t agree on, but a change table with appropriate spaces for all the diapers and cream, wipes or cloths, makes it easier for others to help with the changing duties!
Sling / baby carrier — babywearing isn’t just a fad. It’s a wonderful way to have close time with your new baby, to safely walk around with them in public or even around the house!
What are things you really don’t need to spend money on for your baby’s nursery
A baby wipe warmer — this is one of those inventions that really needs to go away. Unless you store yours in the refrigerator, which I don’t recommend, your baby will be fine with room temperature wipes.
Bottle warmer — this isn’t really necessary, as preparing formula in hot water takes about the same amount of time as using a warmer.
Shoes — baby isn’t walking anywhere, so shoes are definitely not necessary, though they are ridiculously cute so I’ll leave this one to you!
Despite my story at the beginning of the post, I didn’t put pacifiers on any of the lists. Some babies love them, some hate them but they can be a real hassle. Start as you mean to finish: if you don’t want to go through weaning them off the soother, don’t start them on one. Using pacifiers, and many of the other pieces of baby gear, come down to a personal decision to which there is no right choice except for what works for you and your family!