I'm the youngest of four. I only have 3 first cousins, and they are all older than me and lived across the country and world as we all grew up. All this is to say that until I had my own children, I had absolutely no experience with babies. They just weren't around, and they kind of scared me.
As my friends and I started pairing off and having children, I still remained pretty blissfully unaware of all things baby. I remember placing a nipple brush off of a friend's baby shower registry in my basket at babies 'r us, and in that moment calling my mom and asking in a hushed tone "wait, you have to brush them?!" Turns out the brush is meant to wash bottle nipples, not the other kind.
When Jason and I found out that we were expecting, I had no clue what this little baby would need. So I started asking friends and sisters in law and compiling a list. I put many of those things on my registry having no clue what they were. Some were instrumental in our lives, some were complete wastes of time.
Now that I've been through it, I've been able to share my list with friends who found themselves in a similar position. One of those friends recently told me that she has shared my list with tons of people, so I feel like maybe it could help others if I post it here? I know, I know, not exactly newborn photography, but newborn-related! I should probably put a disclaimer here that I'm not a medical professional, just a lady who has two babies and photographs newborns a lot.
- 1 Infant car seat + base. We have the Britax B Safe that goes with the BOB Revolution running stroller which is a really good running/off-road kinda thing, but it’s way too big for day to day errands. But if you’re into running, you can find them all over craigslist for a lot cheaper than in the stores.
- For day to day strolling around we had the click it. It’s a crappy little stroller thing that works with the infant seat that we own. You will only need that for as long as the baby is in the infant seat, so maybe 6-8ish months. This is best for errands, grocery store, and generally having a stroller that fits in your car.
- If I had to do it all over again, I’d go with what’s called a “travel system stroller.” It’s the infant car seat, base, and a stroller which works with the infant car seat, but also is just a regular stroller for when the baby is bigger. Britax and Baby Trend are good brands.
- Having a baby carrier worked really well for me. You know like that thing Zack Galifanlksdhgoweijas wore in the Hangover. The one that worked best for me was the Baby K’tan carrier. Jacob and Fiona LIVED in this thing for the first 3-4 months. I tried a few different carriers and this was by far my favorite. It all kind of depends on the baby though, there are tons of options out there.
- Once baby gets a little bigger, I LOVED the Lillebaby. I ordered mine on black Friday and got a great deal.
- Get a white noise app on your phone and/or a white noise machine, we like the Graco Sweet Slumber Sound Machine which we still use for every nap/bed time
- Rock n Play. I wish I'd had one of these the first time around!
- Halo Sleep sacks. My first baby freaking loved these, second one hated them. So who knows.
- Bouncer. This was a lifesaver for me from birth to about 6 months. I was able to put Jacob in it in the bathroom with me while I showered, or in the kitchen when
- Baby Monitor. There are so many options, I think most of them are fine. This can wait a month or two if you have the baby in the room with you for the first few weeks.
- Pack and Play. I liked having it on the main level, so there were two diaper changing stations for the first 3 months or so, especially coming off of an unexpected and painful emergency c section. Then it became a good place to put the baby when I need to do something where I can’t have him/her getting into stuff. Then, works great for a travel crib for about 2 years. I would recommend the kind that has a diaper changer on it.
- For baby's crib, you'll want two mattress pads and two fitted sheets. This comes in handy if there are any middle of the night incidents that require laundry, at least you have another set ready to go.
Pretty Much All Optional
- Mobile – Keeps baby occupied for a few minutes?
- Door jumper. Starting around 3-4 months, he/she’ll be occupied in this thing for a while. At least my children were! They're also hilarious.
- Exersaucer – Amazing from about 3 months to 9 months. Kept my kiddos super busy. But really big, takes up a lot of space.
- Activity mat – Really great from about 1 month to about 6 months
- Bottles. Even if you breastfeed, you should start introducing a bottle around 4 weeks so that the baby gets accustomed to eating from someone other than you. I know people who waited too long to try a bottle, and the baby flat out rejected anything that wasn’t the boob.The thing about bottles, is that different ones work for different periods with the baby. The biggest thing is to try different flows…obviously slow flow at first, then quicker as he/she gets older.
- Medela. These worked well for the first few months
- These are so pricey, but meant for breastfed babies and were my kids' favorites
If you plan on breastfeeding:
- Boppy or My Breast Friend
- Nipple Cream. If you plan on breastfeeding, bring it to the hospital with you
- Breast Pump. Your insurance should cover this and send you one
- Quick clean micro steam bags. These are great for sterilizing breast pump stuff, bottles, pacifiers, etc.
- Get a few nursing bras, especially sleep ones. Target has cheap ones!
- Nursing pads. I tried a few and liked these the best. The only weird part is that they have like, fake nipples.
- Milk storage bags
- Get a few muslin blankets they are great for swaddling.
- Onesies. A few in NB size, more in 3 month size.
- Maybe a few pants/shorts (NB and 3 month)…but these are mostly useless. I kept my babies in either a onesie or a sleepsack most of the time. Maybe I'm just lazy?
We didn't know it, but our first baby was battling reflux, probably what would have been called colic years ago. Since we didn't have much experience with babies, I just assumed this was what they all did. Turns out, they don't. If your baby is crying all the time, there could be some problems! We found that the following were helpful:
- Gripe water and Mylicon Drops, both in any drug store. Just get them. There will be times when the baby is crying and nothing else is working, the reason is that he/she has gas stuck in his stomach and it’s painful. These dissipate it.
- If you plan on doing pacifiers, get Avent Soothies. A lactation consultant told me to get the most nipple-like paci out there. She said “if you don’t want your nipple looking like a particular pacifier, don’t get it”. Gosh I've said "nipple" a lot in this post
Poop & Gross Stuff
You're going to want a poop receptacle that keeps the smell contained. We have two, Ubbi which is nice because you can use regular trash bags. Then we also have the diaper genie. The only annoying part with the diaper genie is that you have to buy special bags for it. You can find generic ones at target.
Diapers - If you're amazon prime member, do subscribe and save on diapers. I went with Pampers Swaddlers because that's what the hospital used. I really like them though, they have a little line that turns blue when the baby has peed or pooped. If you do subscribe and save, start it maybe 2 or 3 weeks from your due date, and only get one box of newborn diapers, and then get size 1 for the next box. Most babies don't stay in newborn sized diapers too long. Obviously you can reassess if you need to, but it's better to have to get more than have tons of newborn diapers that are too small for your baby.
Diaper rash cream – Desitin, whatevs
Wipes. I did amazon subscribe and save with the pampers sensitive ones
- Burp cloths (cloth diapers can double as birth cloths...provided you only use them for one or the other).
- You’ll need a baby tub starting around 3 months, this is so annoying because you will only use it for a few months and they generally take up a good deal of space. You can do little sink baths before that.
- Get Mustela Foam shampoo, it's the only thing I found that cured cradle cap
- Some kind of baby head to toe wash
Things you need before the baby arrives (in my opinion)
- Crib, cradle or bassinet
- Pack and Play
- Boppy pillow
- Nipple cream
- Bottles (just a few at first)
- Burp Cloths
- Nursing Pads
- Nursing Bras
- Muslin Blankets
- Tearless shampoo/bath gel
- Baby lotion
- Diaper cream
- Diaper Genie bags
- Gripe water & Mylicon drops
- White noise machine
- A few onesies
- Zip up footie pajamas. The zip up part is key. No one has time for those snaps.
Things that can wait
- Baby monitor (if the baby will sleep in your room for a bit)
- Crib (if the baby will sleep in your room for a bit)
- Clothes past 3 month size
- Baby care kit (nail clippers etc)
- Real stroller
- Convertible car seat. I put one of these on my registry because I had no idea. Then I saw anonymous people on Baby Center making fun of people who did this. Ah well. Anyways, this can wait until the baby is 8-12ish months
- Pretty much everything else
Random Closing Thoughts
- I went through about 3 diaper bags, and I hate them all. I'm such a nerd, but have found that for me, a backpack is best when I'm out and about with the kids. But these days I actually don't even need that. Now I'll just keep some diapers and wipes in my car for emergencies.
- Babyproofing will start to be a concern around 8 months. You'll need baby gates, things to secure tall furniture to walls, cabinet locks, and all that stuff. On advice from moms who had been there done that before me, they said not to buy those cheapy cabinet locks because kiddos figure those out quickly. We've put the magnetic locks on our super dangerous cabinets, and love them.
- And let me tell you, the "baby registry checklist" on certain a baby store website is a complete load of crap. Don't believe the hype!