Baby Stuff Must Haves: The Essentials

I’ll never forget walking into Buy Buy Baby with my husband for the very first time when I was five months pregnant.  We hadn’t been in the store a full minute before both of us just about had a nervous breakdown and B-lined for the exit. I would say stepping into the baby gear jungle as a newly pregnant couple makes the list of top 5 most overwhelming moments in a couples life, amirite?

To make a long story short, we spent hours at Buy Buy Baby that day, followed by hours more of researching this new world of baby stuff, followed by 10+ trips to stores to survey the products I’d spent hours reading about, followed by hours consulting cousins/friends/fellow new parents on the stuff they had that we needed, followed by hours online and in stores crafting and editing my registry….. bottom line: I put in the hours.

For the most part, I try to air on the side of minimalism (probably why my first sight of BBB had me running for the hills) and everywhere you go, someone is telling you “YOU NEED *insert fancy unnecessary item here* OR YOU WILL PROBABLY RECONSIDER PARENTHOOD ALTOGETHER.” When we signed up for our registry at BBB, they handed us a checklist of items that we would need to register for – can you say MIND EXPLOSION? As if the sight of a 20 foot wall stacked with strollers wasn’t enough to make me lose it, why don’t we add another 300 items that I’ve never heard of?!

I wanted to know what I REALLY needed when we brought baby home. Not the fancy stuff, the convenient stuff, or even the life-changing stuff… but what were the bare bones basics that I need to have ready when I came home from the hospital with my new bundle of joy.

You will obviously need more than the items listed below, but I have boiled it down to twenty items you will actually need and use when baby comes home. Almost every one of these items are things that we still use (at 4 months) and have used daily since the arrival of the princess (and probably will continue using for months to come). I will do another post for the “game-changers” (it’s gonna be good), BUT this post is dedicated to first-time moms like me who have had a nervous breakdown walking into their first baby store and just need to know the essentials. Allow me to give it to you straight….here it goes ladies:

1. Car Seat:


This is number one for a reason – they will literally not let you leave the hospital without one.  There is a big debate over car seats, and whether or not there is a correlation between price and quality. I’m sure there is to some extent, but I personally didn’t find it necessary to pick the most expensive car seat on the market. After all, every car seat needs to comply with safety regulations…. not to mention that back in the day, moms used to drive home rom the hospital in a station wagon holding the newborn in her lap and they survived. We’ve come a long way. We have the City Go by Baby Jogger, and I’m really happy with it so far. Check it out here.

2. Pack ‘n Play:


If I had to choose between a crib and a pack n’ play, I would go with the pack ’n play. A lot of people don’t touch the crib for the first few months anyway. Our pack and play has a bassinet attachment where baby slept for her first few days at home.  We kept it in our room at night, but we could move it to any part of the house and it folds easily for travel.  I also love the Pack ’n Play for its longevity – once baby gets older, you can take out the basinet attachment and use it as a safe, contained play space! We have the Graco Newborn Napper Playard and we’ve been really happy with it. There are some really nice ones out there, but this one has everything you need at a fairly reasonable price.

3. Rock ’n Play (or other portable seat):


I will also be adding the Rock n’ Play to my “game-changers” list, because it ended up being a life-saver. After the first week or so at home, my baby developed a brief bout of reflux so we started putting her to sleep in the Rock n’ Play because the incline helps babies with reflux keep their milk down – GAME CHANGER.  It’s lightweight too, so it’s also an amazing way to move baby around the house with you – for the first few months I showered with baby next to me in the Rock ’n Play. If reflux isn’t an issue, you could swap the rock ’n play out for another portable seat like a bouncy seat… or you could just get both. BUT if you’re looking for my personal minimalistic opinion, I’d say start with the Rock ’n play and save the space (and the ca$h). Check it out here.

4. Bottles:


Even if you plan on breastfeeding, I would definitely have some bottles on hand.  If you ARE breastfeeding, you will likely eventually begin pumping to give baby a bottle on occasion. I started breastfeeding, and unexpectedly had to give baby a bottle out of necessity at about a week old. I was SO GLAD to have some bottles on hand.  Side note: I wouldn’t consider bottles a game-changer on their own, but the particular brand we ended up settling on changed our lives (I’ll definitely talk more about this in future posts).  There are all kinds of fancy new bottles on the market, and I totally fell prey to the marketing – I mean, who wouldn’t. Some of them look like mini silicone space ships. After blowing at least $100 on 5-10 different kinds of fancy new bottles, we finally settled on Dr. Browns. Dr. Browns bottles are amazing for little babies because the nipple is small enough for their lips to fit tightly around it, preventing baby from sucking in air. There is also a handy little vent that helps expel any of the bubbles that may have snuck in, eliminating a whole host of problems like gas, spit up, and an overall colicky vomity mess. You can find Dr Browns here.

5. Muslin Blankets:


AHHH I LOVE THESE!!!! The Muslin blanket is multi-purpose… I am the QUEEN of multi-use items, if you couldn’t tell already.  These are the ones we have, and we have used them for everything from nap time cuddle blankets, to burp cloths, to swaddle blankets and even as changing pads in a pinch. Can’t go wrong.

6. Stroller:


You will need a stroller for obvious reasons. This was the toughest decision of everything on the list (if you’ve been to Buy Buy Baby,  you know why). There are SO many options out there, and I really think the decision needs to be made based on your individual needs and budget. We decided on the Baby Jogger City Select because it’s super durable, it has big rubber wheels for different terrain (slushy, snowy Buffalo winters), a big storage basket, and it converts to a double (YAY for multi-purpose!). I absolutely LOVE the City Select, and IMO it’s worth every penny. There are fancy strollers out there that go for double the price, but don’t offer the practicality and versatility of the City Select. There are also less expensive strollers that might wear much faster and need to be replaced. In my opinion, the City Select was the perfect balance and I am SO happy we went with it. Check it out here.

P.S. There is also an adapter that allows you to use the stroller base with the City Go car seat.

7. Baby Monitor:


Even before baby is sleeping in their own room, you will want a monitor to keep an eye on baby while you’re moving around the house. We have the Summer Infant in View Digital monitor and I’m pretty happy with it. The only complaint I have is that you can’t move camera, which is more of an issue now that baby is moving around more in her crib. My cousin has the Motorola Digital Video monitor and I’ve experimented with it a few times, and if I had to pick it again I might go with that one just because you can move the camera around from the screen.

8. Baby Bath:


There are all kinds of baby baths to choose from, and like the stroller, I think it’s all about your individual needs.  Consider where you’ll be bathing baby. If it’s in the bath tub, go for something larger and self-supporting. If you’ll be using a sink, there are a bunch of inserts you can buy to prop baby up in your sink. We have a Puj tub and I LOVE IT. It’s soft and cozy for baby, and it unfolds to store flat so it doesn’t take up a bunch of space. It’s also not an eye sore like most baby tubs (sorry, it’s true).

9. Swing:


This was a no-brainer for me. Baby soothers are pretty essential, but some people will tell you that you need to get one of everything. In my opinion, I’d have some variation of a swing and something portable like a bouncer or Rock ’n Play and that’s PLENTY. For the swing, we went for the Four Moms Mamaroo and thankfully, princess loves it. Bonus: it takes up about half the space of your average swing.

10. Pacifiers:


I know pacifiers are controversial, especially in the world of breastfeeding, but for me they were a necessity. Even if you don’t plan to use a pacifier, I would probably have a couple around JUST IN CASE… just in case you’re losing your mind in the middle of the night and a paci is the only thing that can save your sanity. We LOVE the Wubanubs. They’re awesome because they’re weighted and they won’t bounce away if baby pops it out of her mouth. You can find them here!

11. Diaper Pail:


I actually didn’t register for a Diaper Genie, but I ended up getting one from my brother for Christmas. Thank HEAVENS bro stepped up to the plate because I would’ve been totally lost without it… not to mention my house would’ve smelled like a cesspool.

12. Changing Pad (and covers):


We don’t have a stand-alone changing table, but we have a dresser topper that works just fine (also a space saver). You’ll need a changing pad, along with a couple covers to go over it… trust me, you’ll want at least one backup in case of an “emergency”.. and by emergency I mean a colossal blowout. We have the Boppy Changing Pad Set that comes with the extra pad for blowouts. The Boppy patterns are adorable, plus the extra pad has REALLY come in handy.

13. Diaper Bag:


Make sure it’s one you love, because you’ll be taking it everywhere with you for the next couple years! I love this one by Itzy Ritzy.

14. High Chair:

We opted for the Fisher Price SpaceSaver High Chair that comes without the legs and attaches to a normal kitchen chair. It’s great because it saves room, but it’s still a bit of an eyesore. I actually have my eye on the 4moms high chair, but it’s a littleeee pricey for something that’s just going to end up being covered in pureed sweet potatoes.

15. Backseat Mirror:


I know these might be controversial because they CAN pose as a distraction while driving, but they’re awesome if used properly. You can’t call to baby to make sure she’s doing okay so it’s great to be able to check back once in  while to see if she’s sleeping or fussing, or just taking in the sights. Check out this one by Britax.

16. Bath Towels & Wash Cloths:


We have about four hooded towels, and that’s probably more than we need to be honest. I love these ones with the animal hoods 🙂

17. Fitted Sheets:


Have a few spare. Like the changing pad covers, these get really messy really fast! You’ll need a fitted sheet for the Pack ’n Play, as well as a fitted sheets for the crib (even though I didn’t mention the crib in this list). We have the Graco Pack ’n Play Placard Quilted Sheet and I think it’s a little cozier than the plain ones.

18. Activity Mat:

This is great to keep baby stimulated, even when she can’t yet hold herself up or move around. The colorful mat is also perfect for tummy time. We have this one by Infantino, and she loves it. It’s awesome because it folds up really easily and you can tuck it away or take it with you.

19. Thermometer:


This is actually one thing I thankfully haven’t had to use yet, but it’s essential nonetheless. I have this ear thermometer by Safety 1st.

20. Baby Grooming Kit:


Just the basics: brush, comb, nail clippers, nasal aspirator, and maybe a nail file. We have this basics kit by Safety 1st.

BONUS:
21. J.J. Cole Bundleme:


If you live in colder climate and your baby is born in the winter time, you’ll definitely want a Bundleme! This was AWESOME because it saved us from having to layer up baby whenever we went out in the frigid Buffalo winter. It’s like a toasty little cocoon.

 

I really hope these help! I’d love to hear what you think, so PLEASE leave comments below 🙂 Also! let me know if you have any additional suggestions/recommendations!

 

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