Preparing for Baby: What Do You Really Need to Get?
All of my other kids were born 18-20 months apart (yes “I’m a busy woman”), so I always had everything I needed when the next one came along because I had pretty much just finished using it. This time I’ve been caught off guard. My youngest is three and I got rid of everything after she was done either because I didn’t need it or it was time to replace it. So when nesting struck a few weeks ago, I realized I didn’t have a box of stuff to pull out this time, I had to start preparing for baby from scratch (at least on the little things). So I started my shopping list and wandered the baby aisle at Wal-Mart to refresh my memory. I’ll admit though as I walked the aisles I realized there are so many things that look so important and that as new parents we’re told we “need” that its laughable.
I thought I’d share from my tried and true experiences what you REALLY need to get before baby comes, so you don’t get fooled into silly purchases and way too much stuff that you’ll never use. Remember there are also a TON of freebies that you’ll get to bring home from the hospital (these vary by location), so wait for the free stuff.
Consider This You’re Official Preparing for Baby Shopping List
- DIAPERS (newborn) start with at least 2-3 boxes, this should give you an idea of your baby’s growth rate and when you’ll need to move to the next size. It doesn’t hurt to start amassing an inventory of size 1 and 2 as well. That’s why diapers are the worlds greatest baby shower present. WARNING: babies have sensitive skin and weird diaper issues, one brand could produce a rash, another may not hold enough, and yet work great for the next kid. I know – it doesn’t make sense, but consider yourself warned – stocking up on diapers may result in trading out for other brands to meet your baby’s special needs.
- Wipes – buy a case or two, scented if you’re sensitive to smells or your spouse has a tendency to dry heave while changing diapers!
- Burp rags – don’t get the cute little kind (that’s totally pointless, go for utility). Get a package of cloth diapers and a cheap plain receiving blanket or 2. If you’re kid is a talented puker you’ll find the blanket is a great shield for your clothes.
- Blankets – if you have friends or family that sew or knit/crochet than you’re probably set already. But if not, all you really need is 2-3 lighter receiving blankets for swaddling and one heavier blanket for colder weather (2 if you don’t have a cover for your carrier).
- Crib sheets – 2 should do it. You’ll be doing lots of laundry so you won’t have to worry about whether you’ll have clean sheets when they explode (diaper wise), there will always be a clean one in the dryer.
- Under onsies – I love these and to be honest I think most babies do too. I have more pictures of my kids in just these onsies than all those cute little outfits, because they prefer them (yes they come that picky about their clothes already). If you get any hand-me-downs then you’ll probably get quite a few that look stained and stretched, these are good for actual under onsies (especially in the winter or colder climates) and get a few nice clean ones for normal wear.
- One large bottle of baby shampoo/wash – you’ll get a small bottle from the hospital but you’ll have a lot of baths ahead of you
- Baby bath tub – this is a really a personal choice area, there are tons of special tubs for baby baths and they vary in prices. I personally love using a towel on the floor of the tub with the top rolled like a small pillow or the cheap little sponge bear thing (there’s no technical name). I’ve never bought the special baths, mainly for $$$ reasons, but also the fact that I don’t want to store the tub between kids. You’ll only need them for a few months so you can decide if its worth it. Soon they’ll discover the joy of the bath tub (size wise it’s like a kiddie pool for them) and you’ll need the space for their splashing and giggling.
- Nail clippers for infants – not only does that baby grow way too fast but their claws get lethal very quickly, be prepared.
What Items to Wait on
Like I mentioned before there’s a pot of gold that you’ll bring home from the hospital (besides your baby), all the freebies and baby supplies. Anything that’s in your hospital room that’s been used or intended to be used for you, or your baby is free game. If you don’t take it, they have to get rid of it due to sterilization issues. Some hospitals will bribe you to go home early with extra diapers, or simply just because they’re glad you’re doing so well. I’ve delivered in 4 different hospitals and there are some standard items that I’ve never had to buy because I got them from the hospital. So here’s what you can wait on. Other items on the list will be determined by your baby’s personal likes and dislikes and you’ll just want to wait and see.
- Bulb syringes (you’ll bring home the one used on your baby at birth so unless it gets lost later don’t bother buying more, but watch older kids they think they’re fun toys – GROSS!)
- Baby powder – you’ll get a small bottle at the hospital and each little bum is different so you may not ever get through one bottle or you may need to buy it in bulk, start small.
- Pacifier – most will tell you to avoid pacifiers if you’re nursing due to nipple confusion. I’ve always let them have a pacifier in the hospital and let them chose which they wanted in those first 2 weeks. If they were confused I could never tell (you’ll be sore anyways), but it was what helped me know what kind of bottles to buy (you will want to pump!), and what worked best for that child. They may like the one from the hospital or one from grandma, but either way they will choose what works best for them. Pacifiers are great for helping prevent SIDS, excessive parental distress, and preventing thumb sucking so I highly recommend them.
- Brushes and combs– I’ve yet to find a baby brush at the store that even comes close to the hospital baby brushes. If anyone can find them in a store let me know I LOVE them! Besides you have no idea if your little bun will even have hair or how much. Either way the brush is great for scrubbing cradle cap.
- Baby oil – I only use this for cradle cap, and they always sell it in bottles that are way to big. Buy only if you need it.
- Baby lotion – Often you’ll get this as a gift, but you will want to wait until you know what type of skin your baby has. They may be ultra sensitive, oily, super dry, just perfect. It’s also another popular baby gift, so you could have an overabundance.
Preparing for Baby – Nursery Needs
One of the things that I can’t help but laugh over is this silly notion that you’re nursery needs to be complete before the baby is born. If you search nursery on Pinterest you’ll see elegant and expensive nurseries decked out with everything but a kitchen sink. Maybe its because I’ve never had the privileged of having a nursery for any of my children, and I hope I don’t offend anyone in saying this, but that baby doesn’t care, and it a short while that room won’t feel so cute smelling- think… spit up, blow outs, and last nights crying baby still echoing in your ears. So if you’re trying to save money be honest about your needs and let’s look at what you’ll really need in your nursery.
- Bassinet – there are many models and special designs. Some connect to mom’s side of the bed for co sleeping, some look like the vintage swinging kind, and some are just an insert in a play pen. You’re baby will only fit in a bassinet for so long, so is it really worth the cost? Personally I use the playpen insert and love it. However, I use their carrier for the first few weeks, inside of the playpen. I buckle them in, tuck a blanket around them, and they sleep like… well a baby. They feel snuggled and I feel like they’re safe from stray blankets and choking on spit up, and we both sleep peacefully. Besides it trains them to enjoy their car seat which is SOOOO valuable.
- Cribs – you can skip all of the above and just use your crib. Just follow the safety guidelines for cribs and you’re good from birth to when ever they learn to escape.
- Skip the changing table and just get a changing pad – you’ll soon be changing that little pooper where ever there’s a flat surface. (just wait till you’re on a long drive and they blow out if you don’t believe me!). Its way more convenient, takes less space, and you can avoid having to truck it upstairs to change every diaper.
- Toys are pointless for the first little while, if you really want to get something (or their siblings do) go with board books that can be stood up around their head to look at during tummy time, a rattle, a teether, and a SMALL stuffed animal. These are things that they can look at until they gain more motor functioning.
- A comfortable chair for nursing – it doesn’t need to be a rocking chair, my favorite chair was an old armchair that you could sink into and almost sleep in while nursing. Just be sure there’s support for the arms so if you fall asleep while nursing you’re still holding you baby up.
- Swings – not necessary but it could be a lifesaver. You may want to wait and test out a friends first, some baby’s hate swinging or prefer a certain motion besides the back and forth. But if it works to sooth them, than its worth it.
- Car seat/carrier – It’s the law
- Snugglie/BabyBjorn/baby wrap – I consider this a must have item, not just for 72 hour kits but for everyday life. I’ve made dinner, vacuumed, hiked, and gardened with baby sound asleep in their snugglie. I can’t imagine getting anything done without one!
- Stroller – I’ve had 2 strollers over the years; a regular one that has matched my carrier so it snapped in securely, and the cheap umbrella stroller / the twin side-by-side umbrella stroller. They each have their pros and cons and meet numerous needs. Pick what works best for your needs and situation. You can use a snugglie instead of the snap on carrier and get an umbrella stroller. If you’re a runner than get a GOOD jogger! Nothing works better than the jogger stroller.
A lot of these larger items can be found at resale stored and purchased used online for super cheap. If this is your first kid go neutral to avoid having to “redo” everything with the next kid.
That should do it. If there’s anything that you have found is a lifesaver or that I missed add it into our comments. After all, I am pregnant, my brain forgets a lot.
PS: Tyra had her 5th child, a baby boy, a few weeks ago and they are doing great!
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Tyra Baird from Oregon simply lives a lifestyle of preparedness and has a passion for sharing it. She received a Bachelors from BYU-Idaho in Child and family studies, and Home and family living. As a stay at home mom of 6 children under the age of 10, she considers herself an expert in man-made disasters and daily coping. Emergency preparedness and self reliance has been a way of life since she was a child (her mom was in the Teton Dam flood as a teen and her dad’s just paranoid). Tyra and her husband have embraced preparedness wholeheartedly. She’s been in a tornado, tropical storm, flooding, snowed in twice, severe storms, and slept through a few minor earthquakes. All of them were pretty mild. Tyra is a self proclaimed nerd who simply enjoys reading, researching, writing, teaching, and public speaking.