One of the most overwhelming tasks for me was figuring out what I needed to get before my baby arrived.
Even if money was no object (which it was) I just didn’t know how much stuff to get. Did I need two sleepers or 20? Did I need bottles if I was planning to breastfeed? Aren't a swing and a bouncer the same thing? If they aren’t, would I need both of them?
So with the help of BabyList, I’ve put together a checklist of things you can consider when you’re having a baby.
Have a look:
A stroller is typically a big ticket item. I would recommend figuring out which stroller you’d like, then pick your infant car seat because you can snap your car seat into many stroller frames to toot around the mall. If you don’t know where to begin, my tried and true recommendations are the Britax B-Agile, Baby Jogger City Mini and UPPAbaby Vista. Nope, they aren’t cheap but they are great all-purpose strollers and might be your primary mode of transportation for a while. BabyList has a nice Best of Stroller Guide to check out too.
Also, feel free to have a look around for strollers second hand (it’s an excellent way to save some cash) but buy the carseat new unless you know the history of it.
A carrier is another place where I would take some time to research. There are a lot of them out there and what one person loves, another person will hate. Try them on, see if you can borrow one from a friend, and never ever turn down a free carrier from anyone willing to give you a hand me down. Be sure to read my post on ‘crotch danglers’ in case anyone tells you that you’ll ruin your baby if you don’t buy an expensive carrier too. If I only had to recommend one, it would probably be a Líllébaby but there are so many good ones out there so have a look around.
For me, swings, bouncers, monitors often came down to the price paired with the rating. Something like the Mamaroo or BabyBjorn Balance is awesome (frankly, I’d love chilling in that) but a Bright Stars bouncer is still going to do the trick so don’t sweat it too much if your budget it tight.
As for sleeping arrangements, my recommendation would be to at least buy something bassinet’ish for when the baby first arrives. You can make a crib, co-sleeping, etc. call down the road but it's recommended that you sleep in the same room as your baby but in different beds. The Halo Bassinest is really nice, I love the portability of something like a Dream from Babyhome, and the Graco Pack n’ Play covers a lot of bases – you can use it as a bassinet in the beginning then use it as a play yard. Here are some other bassinet considerations though.
I would stay somewhat conservative on your sleep sacks and swaddlers in the beginning. Both you and your baby may have a preference for a certain kind and style so just grab one or two to get started. Halo makes great sleep sacks and they come in all kinds of weights and styles.
I’ve included a noise machine and a glider but they are by no means essential. I had a noise machine – and thought it was a godsend – but I skipped the glider because the nursery was really small and I usually ended up either feeding him on the couch or bouncing him on an exercise ball to get him to sleep anyway. That said, they are really nice and comfy and tend to make a larger nursery look complete.
I found that most bath accoutrements were purchased once my baby got older – toys, faucet covers, etc. are more of a factor once they are sitting up anyway. Newborns don’t do much in a bath (except terrify me with how slippery they are) so your needs are fairly basic in the beginning. You can check out my How to Give a Newborn a Bath post to go into more details.
Care and First Aid:
Most of my medicine cabinet was acquired by my husband at 3am with me screaming on the phone “I don’t know what's wrong, just find something that says ‘colic’ on it!!!” That said, it doesn’t hurt to have a couple of these things on hand. I prefer the Nose Frieda over the suction bulbs because I think it works better, and the saline helps loosen the nose goop. The vitamin D drops are if you are exclusively breastfeeding (there’s also some debate if you need them in sunny climates) and opt for scissors over clippers or a nail file – like this one from ZoLi – if you are nervous about clipping, biting or cutting those baby talons.
I feel like over-buying clothes is the number one first-time parent mistake (this included me). I grossly underestimate how quickly a baby grows, how many clothes people would give me and how rarely we saw the Queen and therefore didn’t have to dress to meet her quite as often as I expected.
My reco would be to stick to soft and basic and pick the onesies you like then match everything to them. Sleepers are the same – soft and easy. I preferred zippers over snaps because I found them easier to deal with, but that’s a personal preference.
If you are in a cold climate, think about where your baby will be out in chilly weather. If it’s traveling to the car, get a car seat safe cover or blanket (here's a post if you don't know what I'm talking about), if it’s going to be in a stroller or carrier, get something with legs – I'm a big fan of Old Navy for outwear because their snowsuits fit well and are inexpensive.
Depending on whether you are going to go with cloth diapers or disposable (or both) will dictate more of what you need (here’s some pros and cons if you’re trying to decide). If you’re going the disposable route, I would buy one pack of newborn size and a box of size one. Neither of my monster babies fit newborn diapers and I ended up giving about five unused packs away, so if you see a huge diaper sale, stock up on larger sizes like 2 and 3 because kiddos are in those for a lot longer.
If you’re going the cloth route, I would skip the newborn size and use disposable during that time because they are in that size for such a short period. Buy a couple from each brand and style to see what you like. You’ll need about 20’ish so you don’t run out between washes. Here's a nice guide to get you started.
Feeding is another area where there’s a bit of a fork in the road – you may need some items more if you formula feed or breastfeed. Once again, I wouldn’t stock up on bottles and pacifiers because you and your baby will probably have a preference so I’d get one or two of a couple of brands.
If you’re going to be breastfeeding, I would get at least one comfy nursing bra – they make a world of difference. I have a guide to buying them here.
I didn’t add utensils, bowls, sippy cups, etc. because you won’t be getting into food for quite a while, but I did add a high chair because it tends to be a larger ticket item and you may want to add it to your registry. I loved my IKEA highchair, but if someone else was footing the bill, I'd probably get a Stokke Tripp Trapp. You can check out the Best High Chair list too.
Whew! That’s it!
Do you NEED all of it?
No. As you can see from my Baby on a Budget post you can be pretty nimble when it comes to babies, but I wanted to put something together that would give you a relatively comfortable set up so you aren’t frantically scrambling for stuff after you’ve given birth. Plus, I’d rather you didn’t get something because you decided that you didn’t need it rather than skipping it because you didn’t know it existed.
Can you get more?
Sure. Buying for babies is fun so if you want to go nuts, have at it! I remember everyone telling me how stupid wipe warmers were but then thinking one February night, “I don’t know, I think my baby would like having his sleepy bum wiped with something warm right now.” I have all kinds of things on my Kick Ass Registry that are more of a want than a need but haters can suck it.
Also keep in mind that you can always get stuff once the baby gets here.
If you find you need another set of onesies, you can always order them online or shuffle off to Target. For some reason I felt like I was prepping for house arrest and didn’t think the UPS guy could come to the house once I gave birth (not only could he come to the door, but he was unfazed by my left boob hanging out while I signed for a package. "Evenin', ma'am.")
So have fun! Happy nesting! And let me know if there’s anything you’d add!
You can add anything to your baby registry with BabyList. Literally anything - even Etsy items, babysitting help, or a family zoo membership! It's easy, beautiful & free. BabyList works just like Pinterest, and it's simple enough for the grandparents-to-be too. Building your registry with BabyList is fun (and a lot less overwhelming) with the help of the BabyList Best Guides, dozens of inspiration registries, and personal registry consulting from the Happiness Heroes too.