When you know you will have a baby soon in your home, you must prepare their essentials in advance. Babies are simple creatures, but they sure do need a whole lot of gear. Since you’re new to this, the things you have at home are probably not baby-friendly, so you need to buy some stuff.
For first-time parents, baby stuff can be overwhelming, and you may get tempted to buy every baby care product to ensure you get what you need. But keep in mind that not every product is necessary. Here are some essentials that can help you get through that first year with your baby:
Bassinet or crib
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends parents and babies sleep in the same room, but not in the same bed, for at least six months. A convenient choice is to get a bassinet that can be used from birth, as it has a smaller footprint than a full-size crib. Bassinets with the built-in lowering wall can help offer easy and instant access to your baby while the bassinet is propped next to your bed.
However, some cribs do that as well. Some cribs come with a side that can be lowered so that it can be placed next to your bed and make it easy for you to get the baby during night feedings. Getting a crib instead of a bassinet can be a more practical choice because cribs can handle the baby until they grow out of it.
Babies love to have close contact with their parents. Parents love it too, but we also want to be hands-free most of the time. This is where baby carriers can help – it allows you to be close to your baby while allowing you to still carry or do other stuff. Carriers with adjustable straps for your shoulders and hips are great for babies six months old and up or babies who can balance their heads well.
For newborns, soft carriers like a sling, wrap, and front-to-back convertible carriers are recommended.
Nowadays, car seats are mandatory by federal law in the US, and hospitals won’t let you take your baby home without one. Baby car seats come with a carry handle and snap into a base. There are many car seat brands available that can fit your budget and style. Make sure to check if the car seat model you’re eyeing has recently been recalled, and brush up on newly-issued safety standards as well.
You will need a stroller to move the baby from one place to another. Especially when you will take your baby out in the park, if you choose a stroller, see if it has an adapter available for the baby car seat model you chose. Otherwise, you can find a stroller with adaptable stroller bases that are car seat-compatible, meaning you can slide the baby’s seat out of the base and snap it in place on the stroller in a few minutes. This way, you can easily move your baby, who’s sleeping in the car seat, into the stroller so you can continue with your errands.
Gone are the days of diaper bags looking like they carry diapers. Now, you can find a lot of stylish totes and backpacks that look good enough to be your everyday bag. Designed for carrying diapers, baby bottles, and other baby needs – diaper bags are handy when bringing your baby out with you anywhere you go. You always need to be ready for emergencies when with a baby, so make sure it’s stocked with diapers, a diaper changing pad, wipes, a bottle, formula, extra clothes, water, and snacks.
Bottles and formula
Milk bottles are a must if you are supplementing breastfeeding or planning to formula-feed. Choose at least BPA-free plastic bottles, or go for glass options or bottles with breast-mimicking style nipples.
When choosing a formula, you can pick one from the highly-recommended conventional brands or choose between organic, soy, and reflux-reducing formulas. Experts suggest not keeping formula in your house if you intend to breastfeed.
If you are breastfeeding, exclusive latching at the breast is recommended, which may mean that you don’t need a bottle. But if you’re working and have to be away from your baby for long stretches, a bottle and a breast pump are necessary.
We all know that diapers are a must if you have babies – and you will need a lot! There are many brands of disposable diapers, but don’t hoard one brand if your baby isn’t born yet. You will need to find one that goes well with your baby’s butt – meaning it doesn’t cause rashes or other irritations. Your best bet is to buy a pack from the best brand you can afford. If your baby’s skin does not respond negatively, you can keep using that brand or try others that may work better for you. If you hoard diapers and your baby is irritated by them, it would be a waste.
You may also consider using cloth diapers if you don’t want an eco-friendlier option since disposable diapering can mean tons of trash coming from your household. However, you need to spend extra time and effort to wash them up. The next best thing is disposable diapers containing biodegradable materials.
Just like the diapers, you need baby wipes too. Baby wipes are convenient tools to wipe your baby’s bottom with during diaper changes. But baby wipes can also be an all-around cleaner – they can be used for wiping your baby’s sticky hand, wiping the snot out of your baby’s face, cleaning up spit-ups and messes, and cleaning just about any surface that needs instant cleanup. It can save you some time compared to rags and washcloths that need washing after use.
Diaper changing pad
To keep your diaper-changing area clean, make sure you have a diaper-changing pad. These pads are waterproof, so if your baby suddenly pees or poos while you’re in the middle of a diaper change, the changing area won’t get soiled as the pad will protect it. It also allows you to change your baby’s diaper anywhere. It’s best to have at least two changing pads: a portable one to keep in your diaper bag and one to use at home.
Of course, you need new clothes to make sure your baby’s little body stays warm and covered. Here’s what you need for dressing up newborns and babies:
- Bodysuits or rompers
- Leggings, shorts, or nappy pants
- Footed PJs
- Dressier outfits
Do not buy too many clothes of the same size at once – babies easily outgrow them. The first year of the baby’s life is when they grow exponentially, so make sure you have enough on your rotation.
Nursing mothers need cloth baby bibs to ensure that the baby’s clothes don’t get dirty when burying the baby after feeding. They are also handy for catching drool and snot.
But when you start to feed the baby solid foods, these little bibs won’t cut it. There are polyester bibs that are water-resistant and are designed to keep your baby’s clothes clean. You may also want a silicone-type bib that doesn’t absorb water or food and comes with a catcher so it can catch anything that falls out of the baby’s mouth.
While bibs are great for managing messes and spit-ups, muslin cloths do so much more. If you’re breastfeeding, you can use them to absorb extra milk while feeding the baby (if your milk is in oversupply) to keep your breastfeeding pillow dry. You can also use them to pat the baby dry after diaper changes, use them as a burp cloth, or even drape it over yourself as a nursing cover.
If you plan to express breast milk, pick an efficient pump. There are many pumps on the market, so make sure that you choose one that’s well-reviewed. There are two types of breast pumps: electric and manual. And the choice is up to your preference.
You may also want to consider renting a hospital-grade breast pump if your health insurance plan covers it. They are efficient, powerful, sanitary, and returnable.
A nursing pillow is a big help for breastfeeding moms. It helps prop the baby up in an optimal position next to your breast, so you don’t have to strain your back, neck, and arms to feed your baby. It sits on your lap and wraps around the body, providing a stable and comfortable surface to position your baby at the breast. If you don’t plan to breastfeed, it can also help make bottle feeding more comfortable for both you and the baby.
When it comes to keeping your newborn clean, you may find that you need all the help you can get. A baby bathtub can make it easier for you to hold onto your baby and keep them safe while bathing them. Especially in your first weeks postpartum, a baby bathtub can make bathtub more convenient. It can stand over the kitchen sink to make it easier for you to bathe them, rather than having you sit on the bathroom floor tubside.
Hooded bath towel
After you have given your child a bath to your baby, you need to ensure that the little heads and ears are warm. You can get a normal towel, but hooded bath towels help ensure that their little heads and ears are warm. There are many fun hooded bath towel designs out there, especially ones with animal faces and ears.
The swaddle blanket can help your newborn – and you! – to get some rest. Swaddling does not only help your baby self-soothe, but it can also help them sleep faster. The snug fit of a swaddle blanket will remind them of the warm days back in the womb. Invest in at least two swaddle blankets, so you have an extra.
Your baby’s crib or bassinet needs some sheets, too. You also need a receiving blanket for your newborn to keep them warm.
Once you decide to breastfeed your baby, you may also need new clothes. A nursing mom should have at least two nursing bras in rotation. Unlike regular bras, nursing bras offer easy access to the nipples without removing the bra. This is done by specially designed bra cups that have flaps that can be opened with one hand to expose the nipple.
Invest in breastfeeding tops and dresses to get coverage while breastfeeding. These clothes also offer easy access to the breast without the need for hoisting your shirt up or down.
You need a small nail clipper because a baby’s nails are so small and grow amazingly quickly. Nail clippers can easily avoid scrapes on your baby’s face due to scratches.
While adults can easily blow their noses to clear congestion, babies need help, and this is why hospitals often send new parents home with a bulb suction for this reason. But these things can be hard to use and clean so that a nasal aspirator can help. It uses suction to remove mucus and snot to clear your baby’s sinuses.
Fevers during the first weeks of a baby’s life can be serious, so when the baby runs hot, you need a thermometer to check its temperature. A rectal thermometer can give you the most accurate temperature reading, as regular thermometers are not as precise for young babies.