My group of friends is experiencing a baby boom right now, particularly among my group of college friends who are about to become moms for the first time. I was talking to my college roommate, Jenna, who is amongst the first-time-mom-to-be group, and she was curious about my thoughts on what were baby essentials, and what could be skipped.
As a mom of two, I’ve been through the pregnancy and newborn phase of life twice, yet I don’t necessarily feel qualified to be handing out a lot of advice. (Motherhood has a wonderful way of making you feel like you don’t know anything about anything. I say just embrace it.) However, while I don’t feel like a baby expert by any means, I have had two opportunities for plenty of trial and error. It is the wisdom gained from those experiences that I will share with you today.
It can be overwhelming to walk into Babys R Us during your first pregnancy and attempt to navigate the ridiculous amount of stuff they have for sale and claim you desperately need.
I found that there were quite a few “must have” items on my first registry that I rarely used with Theo, and skipped altogether with Oliver. Conversely, I was surprised by several items that I came to rely on for both boys.
Keep in mind this is MY list of essentials and nonessentials! Each mom is different, so even though I have cloth diapers on my list of essentials, it’s ok if you would put that on your list to skip. I love that we all do this a little bit different. There is so much to learn and gleam from each other! Ok, let’s get started.
What You Can Skip
- baby monitors Ok, don’t hang me for this one, just hear me out. I knew that a monitor in our room would just keep me up (I can’t fall asleep if there is even an alarm clock). Instead, I opted for our boys to sleep in our room in the Rock And Play (see below) for several months. Then, we simply kept their door open and did plenty of night-time checks when we transitioned them to the crib.
Also, it goes without saying, we always left them in a crib area that was completely hazard free (no stuffed animals or toys in the crib, no curtains or shade pulleys nearby, etc). This one is up to everyone’s own personal comfort level, but for us, it was a “skip” that I stand by.
- lots of bottles and binkies Buy one kind and wait until your baby is born before going gangbusters. Lots of babies have a strong preference for types of bottles and binkies they like, so so don’t buy too much of either until you know what your baby prefers.
- bottle warmer Use warm water to sit the bottle in. It’s free!
- diaper wipe warmer
- lots of bedding Your baby needs a crib, a crib mattress and sheets. Keep it simple; it’s better for the budget, and safer for baby.
- diaper bag that will only ever be a diaper bag Go ahead mom, buy something rad that looks good with every outfit and doesn’t make you feel like your kids valet. Your baby will never know the difference…
- a Diaper Genie Again, this is just personal preference, but this is an item that can only be used for a very short and specific purpose. I’d rather just take the trash out more often.
- a baby food maker Full disclosure, I had one and loved it with Theo. It was one of those that cooks the food and purees it for you. However, we did Baby Led Weaning with Oliver, and I would much rather cook one meal for all of us than to spend my time smashing, steaming and pureeing for the littlest eater!
- towels that are just for a baby If you are like me, and I bet you are, then I think it’s safe to assume you already own towels. Just use those.
- a good crib We got ours at Ikea. It cost lest than $100. We love it.
- 2 good quality blankets (so you always have one when the other is in the wash)
- plenty of receiving blankets, burp cloths and bibs (While you don’t need the receiving blankets and burp cloths forever, you will find endless uses for these during the newborn, baby and toddler phase.)
- lots of onsies I mean, tons. Or, if you are like us, lots of sleepers. I used those around the clock with both boys when they were newborns. Especially if baby is born in the winter, it’s just nice to have them in a one piece that you know is keeping them warm.
- newborn hats I mean, even if it’s not cold, they are just so dang cute!
- sleep sack or swaddle blanket
- cloth diapers and cloth wipes
- infant tub
- changing pad and covers
- car seat, or two!
- car seat cover if baby will be in it during cold weather (Buy this, it’s easier than a coat!)
- good quality stroller
- baby wearing sling or carrier (I did both)
- activity mat or bouncy seat (Great for when your baby still isn’t mobile and you need them entertained long enough for you to get a shower! I took our bouncy seat into the bathroom with me with both boys for showers and it was a huge help.)
- thermometer Because you don’t want to be running to get one when your first born has their first fever. Not that I would know from experience…
- a pack-n-play I hesitated to put this on the “essential” list because we made do without one for over a year by just using the Rock and Play. However, they really are amazing to have. At the end of the day, I recommend purchasing one. I bought mine used for $35. It works just as great as a brand new one for $100+.
Every pregnancy and labor is different and so is every baby and newborn experience. That is why I created a final list of things that I found myself needing, simply because I had one very preemie baby, and one slightly early baby.
- Breast pump. I had to use mine almost exclusively for the first few months with Theo because he was too underdeveloped to nurse. Even once he finally developed the necessary skills and functions to nurse, I still pumped a lot because of some of his special needs and his difficult temperament.
With Oliver, I had to purchase a new pump because I just plain wore the other one out. I haven’t needed to rely on it nearly as much with baby O, but it was a life saver for the times I needed someone else to watch him and didn’t want to use formula. (I bought a Lansinoh the first time and loved it. The only reason why I purchased a Medela the second time was because that was the brand my insurance helped partially cover. Both are great!)
- Fisher Price’s Rock and Play. This was without a doubt, the greatest gift I was given as a new mom, especially of a fussy preemie (thanks mom!). I didn’t even need a pack-n-play for Theo’s first year of life because he was small enough to just use this, which was way more portable and much smaller to use. We only used it for about 6 months with Oliver, but it was just as much of a life saver with him. I could go on and on about how much I love this thing, so let me just say – buy it, you won’t regret it!
- The book, The Happiest Baby on the Block. Especially for THIS TIP!