I remember when I was looking at being a new mom straight in the face. I remember searching for the answer of what the bare minimum was I needed in order to have my baby. We lived in a little 808sqft home back then, so I needed to be space conscious. While we both worked multiple jobs, we weren’t striking it rich any time soon. I didn’t end up having a baby shower for our first baby, so no help there with getting big things there either. The last thing I needed was stuff that would end up sitting around that I could have saved for and gotten later, or even worse, things that would just sit around and never get used. Further, am I the only one that thought “holy crap I’m now in charge of a human and these people are just like ‘ok have fun with that’ and send me on my way…instructions, maybe?” Yes, I’m totally adding to the piles of (Blank) Things You Need To Have A Baby posts that you’ll find all over the internet and Pinterest. If you want the simple version, the version I wish I’d had, and would like to buy some time, keep reading.
A Car Seat
You cannot leave the hospital or birth center without one, and even if you have a midwife at a home birth, chances are they will be checking that one is installed.
A Sleeping Arrangement
You don’t need a crib, for quite awhile, actually. First, figure out if you plan to co-sleep for awhile, or if you’re claiming your bed right away. With Olivia, I planned on co-sleeping for a few weeks, because the more I thought about it, the less I liked the idea of a baby held in the confines and safety of my body to suddenly find themselves alone, dressed in clothes, and hungry. She ended up being born early-that first night in the Postpartum ward, she cried for three hours in that plastic bassinet at my bedside. I couldn’t take it anymore and went to pick her up-she stopped immediately. Especially with preterm babies, co-sleeping might not be a bad plan, if you are at all up to it (just don’t tell some pediatricians, if you get the vibe that they’re not cool with that). Otherwise, there are now really cool bedside bassinets that connect to the bed, so you can easily put your hand over your baby and find them instantly calm. We used this one-it’s collapsible, light, and the price was right! There are MANY sleepers/bassinets out there, in every price point, and they are well worth every penny. Every baby is different, but here is Olivia’s timeline: she co-slept with us for six weeks, then she moved to a rocking and vibrating bassinet by my side of the bed until she was almost four months, and for the last ten months she has happily slept in her pack n play in her own room (the first night was rough). I wrap the pad of her pack n play with a sheet to both protect the pad a little and offer some warm cuteness. We will be graduating her to her crib soon. So, that crib has sat for a year in pieces, taking up space. Less is more here, especially in the beginning. They somehow need to be close to you, you just need to figure out your comfort level, and what gets you some sleep.
Some Food Paraphernalia
Yeah-whatever way you choose, it’s stuff takes up some real estate. If you are planning on breastfeeding, get a pump. Insurance can cover it, and if you’re like me and have a preterm baby and procrastinated, the place you labored in can help set you up with one through your insurance. Even if you think you’ll breastfeed on demand, a pump is SO helpful to help increase milk supply, to have supply for the other parent or grandparents if you get sick, go to work, or anything else happens to you. I think I procrastinated because I just didn’t want to deal with a pump, and figured I would just feed baby when they needed food. Just trust me on this one. Having at least a 4-pack of bottles or SNS system is helpful as well, for the above-mentioned people and scenarios. Also, you’ll need to pick up containers to store your milk-those little ziplock bags are easy and easily frozen and thawed.
If you’re planning to formula feed, you’ll need bottles, obviously. But how many? When you’re baby is brand-new, they will eat every couple of hours, in gradually-increasing increments. They’ll start out at a half ounce or so, and move up to four ounces within about two months. So, it really comes down to how often you want to do dishes. We had a 4 pack of the smallest Medela bottles at first, and eventually graduated her to bigger bottles a couple months later. But, I love doing dishes. That 4 pack of little bottles got us through the morning, before I’d wash them all and start over, basically. Hot tip, rinse them out quick after baby eats…formula left in the nipple and on the bottom sucks to wash out, and it reeks. Many hospitals will give you a bag filled with formula and other things from a formula company such as Similac. Do your research and pick a formula you feel comfortable giving your baby-they’re not all created equal out there, and there’s a full aisle to stare at. Through several misfortunes, Olivia ended up formula-fed within her first week, although I tried desperately for three months to get a milk supply. I’ve posted her birth story HERE. And HERE, you can find out specifically why she ended up being formula fed.
A Few Clothes
Let’s face it, your new bundle needs some clothes. BUT. Before you run out and buy all of the cutest dresses or plaid shirts you can find, sit down and think about it. Even if you live in a hot climate, your baby just came from a constant 98 degree place. If it’s any colder than that, baby would probably appreciate long sleeves. They’ve also never seen pants before, and I don’t know about you, but suddenly having elastic around your waist would freak me out. Go with a few of cute and soft footed pajamas, initially. We actually loved sleep sacks in those early days of changing diapers at 3am. It’s basically a zippered dress that envelopes their whole body. Skip anything with snaps, or you’ll be swearing at 3am. If you live in a very hot climate, a pack of simple onesies will do at first. A hat and some scratching gloves are also super helpful initially (Olivia would shred her face if she didn’t have those gloves, I’m not kidding. Some babies do, some don’t). Quite honestly, you will likely not have to buy much in clothes. We did not find out the gender of Olivia before she was born, so we had nothing but a few gender-neutral sleepers. This was just fine in her first weeks, and when friends and family found out she was a girl, we were swamped in clothing within the week. Do yourself a favor and make sure you have a few sleepers-cool down on the rest until you’ve brought baby home and your body is well enough to shop and you know a little of their personality (as in, Olivia was always cold, so I skipped anything short sleeves or thin). If you haven’t been inundated by then from others, knock yourself out. 😉
Get at least one blanket that is thicker than a receiving blanket (the thin one they wrap baby in when you delivered). It’s often the first colorful thing that your baby gets. For me, I did not want to be in a hospital AT ALL, and it added some home comfort for me that meant everything in that moment. Further, baby is likely cold. Again with the 98 degree constant heating thing. When you get home, this blanket can be spread on the floor for tummy time after the umbilical cord stub falls out. It also offers a little buffer between your baby and all of the arms they’ll be visiting in their first days. You can skip buying this and tell a crafty friend that a blanket would mean the world to you and baby, and that person will be ecstatic to make you such a meaningful gift. Olivia is a child after her mother’s heart-if she’s cold, she lets everyone know. My mom made several blankets quick out of flannel I had previously picked at JoAnn Fabrics. Since Olivia was littlest in the winter, in our household, blankets were an absolute necessity.
So Many Diapers and Wipes
First, figure out if you’re going disposable or cloth or both.
Cloth diapers are SUPER fun, but initially a bit spendy. But, they are cheaper in the long run…by far. Like, within your first month if you had gone disposable. You can also pick up several packs of baby washcloths and make up a jar of water with a little squirt of baby wash to put them in clean. Then just throw them in the same bin as the diapers. But obviously you have to wash them, and that’s not for everybody. Plus, the kinds are a little confusing. I’ll write a post on that shortly.
Disposable are so simple. Initially they’re cheaper, which helps those of us that live check to check. Wipes are the same way, it’s just so much easier to throw it away and be done with them. Pick up a bag or two of newborn size-don’t stock up, just in case your baby is born early or grows very quickly.
Whatever way you choose, store the soiled ones in an open container…I know, totally counter-intuitive! They stink!! Aha, but they stink because there isn’t air circulation happening. Store them in a small plastic laundry hamper, and you’ll be amazed that they don’t really stink anymore!
Olivia has both disposable and cloth diapers. I buy cloth diapers on Etsy when I find one that is way too cute to pass up, although I try to do most of them gender-neutral so I can use them if we have a baby boy next. Under her dresses this last summer, they were SO CUTE! But we also fell into the convenience trap-we got disposables at first because we were broke and her arrival caught us by surprise. Plus a newborn soils their diapers so frequently, you need at least 20 cloth diapers to start out, and that’s with washing them and letting them air dry every night. So, I’ve slowly invested in cloth as I feel we can. She now goes through about six diapers a day at fourteen months old. I can tell she likes cloth more, and I’d imagine they’re way more comfy.
In a pinch, you can change baby on your bed, the couch, or some other surface. Quite honestly in Olivia’s early days, we changed her wherever was convenient. Several of my friends had designated changing pads that went unused. You do what you’ve got to do, and when you change 3 diapers in 15 minutes, I doubt you’re going to run to one place in the house to do it, no matter how great your intentions are. However, someplace to pack diapers, feeding paraphernalia, and an extra change of clothes IS helpful also, but it doesn’t need to be anything fancy. When we first brought Olivia home, we used a reusable bag the hospital gave us filled with pamphlets. It worked for several weeks until a friend found one she just had to buy us (it was Superman themed with a terry cloth cape, we couldn’t blame her).
Baby Soap and No Add-in Detergent
Gentle for their eyes and skin, yet gets the job done. Stay away from anything that’s got perfumes or dyes in it. That baby soft skin is soft for a reason, and it is often sensitive to anything harsh or added in. If your detergent is colored or has a mountain fresh smell to it, either get a little jug for baby, or in our case, we just swapped it out for everyone. Turns out, our dog had an allergy to perfumed dye, and since we now wash her bedding in the add-in free kind, she rarely scratches and her belly isn’t dark pink anymore. Fun for the whole family!
Their nails grow SO FAST. Like, I clipped Olivia’s every other day and there was something to clip. Not joking folks, this would be a need, especially since babies often scratch their faces and bellies. They are like serrated knives, I’m not joking.
A Baby Carrying Device
Technically you don’t need this RIGHT away, but it’s handy pretty shortly after. Whether it’s a sling, wrap, or stroller, think about how you’d like to go about carrying your baby. I can tell you that the car seat insert idea is stupid. Sure it’s handy I guess, but it’s totally awkward and gets heavy VERY quickly. Especially in her early days, I used a wrap when we went shopping. She usually slept as she got to listen to my heartbeat. Now, she uses all three. Dad puts her in a carrier he wears, I often wrap her, and we do use the stroller in the mall, just because it’s got a handy area underneath where she sits to put any bags. But at crowded places such as the zoo or Comic-con, that girl is worn and she loves it. I’m currently trying to figure out how to do a back carry with a wrap well…I’m still a novice and you can tell with my wrap job. :/ As an alternative, my husband uses our Ergobaby, which is also probably one of the most popular carriers out there. If you go with this type of carrier, just make sure baby’s legs are splayed, instead of hanging by their crotch, and it gives a nice supportive seat. Believe me, these are worth every penny!
Continue taking your prenatals, iron, vitamin d, and any other supplements you were taking while you were pregnant, and enjoy your new family! I know everyone says it’s a big adjustment, and I went “yep, uh huh, ok” and got smacked in the face with a lot to deal with. In a world where we are so public-this is a time to take a step back and be a new family for a day or two, and you won’t regret it. And quit obsessing over your baby Pinterest board. In the moment, it’s the last thing that you’ll care about. 😉
I would love to hear your thoughts! If you’ve been a new mom, is there anything you would add or do differently?