There are a lot of “things” that everyone says you simply must buy in order to have a child. While I was pregnant (two years ago!), I searched high and low for the must-have items that I simply could not do without. I opted to look for deals but decided to not skimp out when it came to the bigger things. Obviously, all you need is breast milk or formula, clothes, diapers, and blankets. But some of the more expensive stuff has definitely been worth the money. Here are my top picks.
- Cloth diapers. Please consider saving money (you will spend about $300-500 on a cloth diaper stash used for all your children versus $3000 per child in disposables). Also, this is better for your baby. Have you heard about the chemicals that are used in disposable diapers? And lastly, it is best for the environment as well. 27 billion diapers make it to landfills each year. Yuck. Cloth diapers are cute, easy, and fun! Why choose cloth diapers?
- Baby carriers. I began with a Moby (stretchy wrap) and the Ergo baby carrier. I cannot recommend them both more highly. A Moby costs about $40 and the Ergo is a bit more pricey (Boba and Beco are also great options for a structured carrier – not the Bjorn – which do not hold the baby’s spine correctly!) I now have three woven wraps (these will last much longer than a stretchy wrap, as they can hold the baby’s weight much more evenly and you won’t have to readjust with use) and three ring slings in addition to my Moby and Ergo. I love the versatility of learning new carries with the wraps and the ease of use of the ring-slings. Every time we shop, my son is in a ring-sling and we talk about our shopping trip together. There are so many beautiful fabrics out there there that are strong enough to hold an 8 to 40 pounder! TheBabyWearer.com is the best place to begin learning about all the different types of carriers. This site also has a wonderful ‘for sale or trade’ forum where you can find excellent carriers for much less than the retailed price.
- An organic mattress. Your baby will be asleep more than he/she is awake and you want that air to be as clean as possible! My friend, Erin, wrote about this more extensively and said it best here. She references this thought-provoking article.
- Glamourmom nursing tanks: I got my first one when my son was already around five months old. Boy, do I wish I’d had these from the start. It is important to get fitted because I am a size I completely would not have expected, and they have many different kinds for women of all shapes. They are pricey ($39-47), but I wear one almost every day, you can wear them alone or with a shirt over them. They are well-made and built to last. No dreaded after-baby-tummy showing! Discreet and “modest” nursing is possible in one of these. Love it.
- Summer Infant video monitor: This was my splurge. My sister-in-law raved about them, and once I saw it in action, I decided that it wasn’t an excessive purchase. I use this every day. Even now that my son is well past a year old. I love seeing him move in his sleep and making sure he hasn’t jumped out of the crib.
- A good stroller. I chose to get the UppaBaby Vista. And though expensive, I can justify it by saying that I only ever wanted to buy one stroller in my life. I didn’t want a car seat stroller and a jogging stroller and a little stroller and another one after the first three broke down. I found a great deal on this (google around!) and this was a gift that I am oh-so-grateful for. The following features are what are important to me:
- Car seat snaps in
- Sturdy on our dirt road
- Tall enough for my husband and me (adjustable height)
- Easy to maneaver (it is big — but not too big — and it is narrow enough if I needed to bring it into a store, which I never have because I carry my baby with me when shopping.)
- Big enough compartment underneath for all my organic veggies that I get every week (this is the biggest space I have seen on any stoller – there is tons of room)
- Baby can look forward or backward
- Can become a double stroller (with a $99 attachment later on)
- Easy to fold and put in my Honda’s trunk (yes, it is a bit more bulky than a small umbrella stroller)
- And on and on. I love this stroller. The other one that is very similar (a tad more bulky, but has more options when you buy the second seat) is the Baby Jogger City Select.
- The Runaway Bunny by Margaret Wise Brown (and at least a hundred more board books). Literacy begins at day one. Reading to your baby is a wonderful bonding and learning experience!
- Aden and Anais swaddle blankets and Swaddlers: Check out The Happiest Baby on the Block by Dr. Harvey Karp (both the book and dvd) and you will understand why swaddling is so important! Both the blankets and the ready-made swaddlers came in handy. I also will add that the “receiving” flannel blankets, though so soft and handy for burp-ups and the like, they will not swaddle your little one unless you have a preemie on your hands, so splurge on a couple of these – you will not regret it!
- Calendula oil. This stuff has cured all my breast ailments. Everytime my son bites me or I feel sore, I put this on my nipples and the next day I am as good as new. Calendula has also been proven to prevent yeast (i.e. thrush!) This is a nursing mom’s lifesaver!
There are a lot of other “commercial” items that I thought I was too cool for. But, it turns out, these all really help if you want to set your baby down or travel. Some items can be found clean and safe at garage sales. So here is my list of other items that are best found second-hand, from a friend or a garage sale, if you are on a budget.
- Swing (day one): this was a lifesaver when I had to pump those first six weeks, and is also nice if you want to take a shower! A bouncer is also convenient to have so the baby can have changes in scenery while you’re doing laundry, dinner, dishes, etc.
- Play pen (day one): i.e. Pack’n’ Play for travel, change of scenery, getting your child to sleep in multiple places
- Play floor gym (around three months): there are so many different kinds, but it is so wonderful to watch your little one swat at something for the first time!
- Exersaucer: (around five months): yes, the dreaded, huge, over-stimulation saucer, but there is about a two month window, at least for my son, that he loved it and I was able to cook without a sweaty baby on my back with my baby carrier. I’ve never tried a Jump-a-roo.
A couple suggestions for what don’t you need:
- All the gadgets and gizmos. Really think about whether an item will last when registering – be smart about it! Do you need 4 cute animal washcloths? How about that wipe warmer? Or a travel pod set? Or a floor mat for kitchen messes (just clean the floor!)? There are so many gimmicks out there, and I have certainly bought into many of them, but buyer, beware!
- A huge plastic tub for your baby. Instead, I bought a baby sponge (about $4.99) that laid in the sink, and gave him a bath in our sink for the first two months. Then, we did buy one of those bath seats to put in the tub. This system worked for us.
- Baby shoes. I don’t know if I need to put a public service announcement out on this, but babies don’t walk. Don’t waste your money. As they get older, they will pull their socks off, so a pair of Robeez or Bobux or Shoofoo may be necessary. (Actually, a 6-12 month pair of these should be added to the “must-have” list. These are all my son wears, unless we are going out and it’s muddy or snowy — they don’t stifle a child’s natural movement in their growing feet!)
- A lot of “cute” baby clothes. You really just need a lot of onesies and sleepers (preferably gowns or zippers). Pick out 3-4 really nice outfits for going-out occasions, but if you’re like me, you won’t be going out all that much in the first three months!
I hope this list has given you some ideas and helped you navigate through the “baby industry”! This list is only for the babies, I have written great toy lists for as your baby gets older. Blessings!