What do you REALLY need for a newborn?

Ah, all the stuff that a baby brings with it. Stores will try and sell you all of the things, whether you need them or not, and then a lot of that stuff will sit there not being used. You won’t use it, but because you were nesting at month nine, you opened everything, washed everything, and set everything out looking so pretty and cute, so you can’t even return the stuff. Well, let’s see if I can help you narrow it down to stuff you really need for when baby arrives. Anything not listed, you can probably wait to buy for a month, two, or even three. It’s also important to note that ALL of these things are available to buy used on Craigslist and it never hurts to check your local thrift store. Also, ask around and see if a mom is done using her stuff, she might just give you something.

  1. Bassinet. If you’re at all like me, the idea of co-sleeping fills you with terror at the thought you will roll over and crush that precious baby. So, you will look for cribs and bassinets. I will tell you this: that baby is probably not going to sleep in a crib by itself for longer than two hours at a time for at least 3 months, more like 4. A bassinet is great, but they are very very small and your newborn will outgrow it very very quickly. I compromised and bought a co-sleeper. It’s pricey, but also transforms into a playpen, so it’s a two for one. This newfangled contraption allowed my babies to sleep next to me without being in the same bed as me and I could roll over to check on them or breast feed. It was awesome. Both girls slept exclusively in this (or on me because newborns are like that) for at least three months.
  2. Clothes. Well, here’s the thing, your precious bundle of joy will go through so many outfits in a day. They spit up and poop all the time. ALL THE TIME. Diapers work, but they also poop while you’re changing an already poopy diaper and then there’s poop on the new diaper, oozing on the changing table, and oozing all over them. Buy simple outfits that are comfortable without a lot of frills or buttons and that you don’t mind getting dirty. It does not matter what a newborn wears when because you and them will lose all concept of morning, evening, and night. I highly recommend something that DOES NOT go over the head like these from Carters. Just buy a ton of those and let them wear it all the time. Onsies are also a win as are gowns (no buttons!). Sleep sacks are amazing for night time since you can’t put a blanket on them (SIDS). When it was hot I used these (which I don’t see at the Carters website, but check back, they might add it back) and for colder weather, these. For the light weight one, you can use the shirt or not and you don’t have to put anything underneath the fleece one. Sorry, I really like Carters. Their clothes last forever and are easy to wear and clean, but other brands are fine.
  3. Burp cloths. You will need more of these than you think. Buy a bunch and then buy even more. It’s important to realize that not all burp cloths are equal. Some can be really scratchy and some seem absorbent but are really terrible. I really liked these and those come in other colors and patterns. I still have all of mine and use them as rags. They hold up REALLY well.
  4. Receiving blankets. Not to be confused with swaddles, receiving blankets are usually too small to effectively swaddle but are supremely useful in other ways. I used to have on in the bottom of the co-sleeper to protect the sheet from poop and spit-up. I would also use them if I had to put the baby down on the floor or couch for the same reason. They are a light cover for going outdoors in their car seat or stroller and a myriad of other things. I like the flannel ones because they’re super soft.
  5. Swaddles. This will make your newborn sleep a little longer than if they weren’t swaddled. Remember, they’re used to being all scrunched up and squeezed and they just have no idea what to do with all the freedom that comes with being born. They’ll flail and wake themselves up and then you’ll cry because you’re just so tired. So, swaddle. There are a multitude of swaddles out there to choose from. Have the nurse at the hospital show you how to do it with a blanket so you don’t get home and panic. For that type of swaddle, I liked these. The vast majority of the time, though, I used these (even when they’re awake, they like to be swaddled). They were tough for the baby to break out of and easy to use even when I was exhausted.
  6. Noise machine. This is not an absolute must but it’s key to remember that the baby was used to noise before it was born. There was mama’s heartbeat, the rush of her blood through her veins, and her laughing and talking (not to mention everyone else laughing and talking). They are USED to the noise and if you put them in a quiet room, it might be hard for them to sleep.
  7. Feeding supplies. Have this ready before baby comes home. If you’re planning on formula feeding, ask your pediatrician what they recommend and buy some. If you’re breast feeding, you can rent a breast pump or buy one, and have milk storage bags on hand as well as lanolin for your nipples. If you’re breastfeeding, it’s important to remember to try not to give bottles or pacifiers for at 4-6 weeks because your baby might prefer those to latching on the nipple. Still, it’s always nice to have a bottle or two on hand. I really liked these but there are so many to choose from and it’s a pretty personal choice. A feeding pillow like a Boppy is very convenient, but a bed pillow will work if you find the cost prohibitive. If you have a body pillow, try wrapping it around your waist and using that, I did that with my eldest.
  8. Skin care. I include diaper rash ointment and any lotions you wish to use in this category as well as baby powder and baby wipes. Everything should be fragrance free and hypoallergenic because their skin is so new. I really like Pamper’s sensitive baby wipes and still use them. Desitin is a perfectly serviceable diaper rash ointment, but they have super organic stuff you can use if you prefer. As for lotions, I know a lot of people go for Burt’s Bees, but come to find out from a labor and delivery nurse, that brand actually causes a lot of skin irritation and rashes. I also discovered that with my first born after I used a baby balm on her and she broke out in a rash. I switched to Aveeno’s Baby line which I REALLY liked. I use their lotion and body wash with the kids still.
  9. Diapers. I didn’t use cloth diapers, so I won’t be too helpful on that front. If you want to know about them I do know of a really go informational site for you. It’ll tell you everything you need to know about cloth diapering. If you’re using disposable, I will say I had a definite preference. For newborns I loved Pampers Swaddlers.  They will most likely have these in the hospital. They have this nifty yellow line that tells you when the baby has peed and they don’t leak as much as the Huggies equivalent did.  Once they started moving around, I changed to Huggies Little Movers and my 18 month old still uses those.
  10. Car seat/stroller/bucket seat. Ok, there are a TON of choices for these, so I will tell you what I did and then give an alternative or two. I purchased this stroller/car seat system. It work great because I could just remove the seat from the car, set it in the stroller and be on my way. Both the stroller and the bucket seat were easy to use. Honesty compels me to tell you, however, that I didn’t use the stroller on it’s own. Ever. So, you can probably get away with buying this frame instead (but the car seat and base alone still seems really expensive and comparable to the stroller/seat combo).  You will need to buy a base for the car seat and that will also cost you money. Now, I’ve known several moms of the baby wearing variety who just bought a car seat and then wore their baby everywhere. The problem is you won’t know which way (baby wearing or stroller using) works best for you until you have the baby. You will absolutely need a car seat, so that’s the one thing I can tell you you have to buy before baby arrives.  There are many types of convertible car seats available, but I recommend Britax brand. I had a Graco one but ended up having to return it because my 18 month old could open the buckles. The Britax I have has lasted at least 2 years and will be used for at least 1.5 more and shows no signs of wear (both babies moved out of the bucket seat at around a year).
  11. Monitor. So many types of monitor available. I would avoid any of the cheap ones simply because their signal is easily interrupted and you’ll just hear a bunch of static and beeps all night. A good alternative is this one from V-Tech (which I have used and is GREAT). I didn’t have a video one, so I can’t recommend one for you, but I did have one with a sensor that would tell you if the baby stopped breathing. FULL DISCLOSURE:  I am not sure how accurate this monitoring system is. It’s prone to false alarms which makes me doubt if it would actually go off when it needs to.
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