Pregnancy can often be a time of bliss and joy; it can be a time of excitement and thrill! It can also be a time to be scared out of your mind on how to care for a newborn! Don’t worry, we’ve all been there, even if we say we haven’t. It’s often a time of panic of “what will this baby need?” and a lot of parents fall victim to ‘the list’. Ya know, that list that EVERY baby store will hand you once you register telling you the millions of things you’ll NEED to have in order for baby to be born. Well, let me present you with a different point of view, YOU DON’T. If you go into baby registering as most things are listed as impulse buy or not necessary then you’ll probably fare alright. Now, keep in mind there are a few essentials that you will need but 90% of that ‘list’ won’t get you any closer to raising a baby!
The #1 must have for a newborn is some sort of car seat. You legally, no matter the state, cannot bring a baby home from the hospital without one. Make sure the car seat is newborn ready, as in can go rear facing and usually take 4-5 pound babies. Believe it or not, even that extra padding and inserts they put in car seats are often not needed. Make sure your car seat is BRAND NEW or in a non-expired state. Car seat hand me downs are typically not recommended as you have no idea where that car seat has or hasn’t been (if you need some reassurance go check out my blog about our accident we had recently). There is often no way to notice any damage even from a minor car accident; for example, my son’s old car seat would have been visually fine to sell: not expired, great condition, no stains, no outside damage. However, it was involved in a ‘minor’ accident and it was located on the damaged side of the vehicle, but you wouldn’t know that by my ad on craigslist would you? Trust me, if you’ve got 9 months to prepare for baby, you’ve got time to figure out a brand new car seat (no dumpster diving on this!). Even if you’re having a home birth, you’ll still want to plan to have a car seat just in case you and baby need to be transferred to a hospital for complications; always be prepared.
I would suggest an outfit or two ready on hand for baby. Obviously these hand me downs are much encouraged! Don’t go too crazy on outfits, babies grow quickly…very quickly. Since you can’t be totally accurate of what baby will weigh upon birth I suggest having a few newborn outfits and a few 0-3 month type outfits. When my son was born, he was so tiny even the newborn things wouldn’t fit. So when we were prepping for my daughter, our doctors told us to expect another peanut so we prepped with preemie outfits and newborn clothing, well she was born nearly 3 pounds heavier than my son and even the 0-3 month items were tight (take that ultrasound technology)! Babies are so unpredictable, don’t bother trying!
Oh, diapers. Those will help too! These days, you’ve got tons of options on diapers. I’m not much help in the cloth diaper department, however, I know there are tons of great, great resources out there that can offer insight and preparation steps if you’re planning on cloth diapering. If you’re planning on disposable diapers, you too, have lots of options. No matter who you ask, chances are your mom friends will have different favorite diapers. My son did great in off brand, however, my daughter gets rashes from them and needs a ‘higher end’ diaper. Moral of this story: although stocking up on diapers is GREAT and typically won’t be an issue, not all bums are created equal. Most stores will let you exchange any un opened diapers for a gift card so you can purchase a different item. Also if baby out grows a size too quickly you can often exchange the same brand for a different size. If you find some sort of manufacture defect you can often get compensation for the company for that.
A few other essentials might include things like blankets to swaddle and a place to sleep. Most newborns will sleep in a bassinet or co sleeper for a few months anyway, so that can give you some extra time to save up for a crib (those suckers are not cheap!). If you’re planning on breast feeding you won’t need much in the way of bottles and formula, but if you know you’re going to be formula feeding from the gate, make sure you plan accordingly. Again, don’t go too crazy picking out bottles and supplies as every baby has a different ‘taste’. What worked for my son, didn’t work for my daughter. They each had their own set of bottles, which personally made me crazy…too many bottles! Buy one kind to try and if baby doesn’t seem to do so well with it, try another. Keep this theory in mind if you use a pacifier.
A few other essentials would be things such as a bath tub, however, you can get away with a sponge for a few weeks anyway. Burp rags or old fashioned cloth diapers are great for lots of messes. A few swaddling blankets are great to keep on hand whether they be for bed time or just play time. Newborn gas drops are also a great must have item as babies can be quite gassy the first few nights.
As far as everything else, it’s honestly extras, or things that can be purchased over time. If you’re anything like me, that list was a MUST have list. If I didn’t have something on it, it was full on panic mode, but take it from a mom who threw (or donated) a lot of stuff, you don’t need it all. Say it with me: the list is a hoax, you don’t need it all! Take time to learn your baby and you will have a lot less wasted purchases. Had I taken time to learn my son prior to purchasing a wrap type carrier for him, I would have know that he hated being swaddled and therefore being pressed tightly to mommy and constrained is not his idea of a good time; oh well, at least I donated it to a great friend! Talk to mom friends, see what worked best for them and get some advice. Just go into the list knowing that no baby is created equally so what worked for someone else as their must have might be your least used baby product.
And new moms and dad’s, the #1 must have, outside of a car seat is caffeine. Trust me, you’ll thank me later!