Hello there! This post has been in the making for awhile, but I am really excited about it as I was looking for a post like this when I was preparing for the arrival of our little one. When I was pregnant, I was researching and looking for a list of essentials to get for a baby. I wasn’t an over the top spender, but wasn’t super frugal as well. I found a couple of websites, but nothing really matched what I felt suited my personality. So as I started this blog, I wanted to add the the world of internet by contributing my First Baby Essential List (for the economic-efficient-not over the top-kind-of-mom :)). I’ve mentioned great resources before in my previous entries, but in this one, I will list items that I’ve found were necessary in having a first baby – sort of like a baby kick start kit!
Now, the baby world is CRAZY – very similar to the wedding/bridal world. There’s just so much out there, and in my opinion way overpriced. Don’t get me wrong – I enjoy cute and tasteful products every now and then too, but when it comes to the everyday, efficiency is what I look for. So here goes, the list of things that I found were MUST HAVES!
If you just want a quick and dirty list, here it is (for a baby born in the fall). For more details on my preferences, read in the detailed descriptions below:
1. Nursery Items:
Crib & Mattress – We got ours second hand. The greatest feature to have is adjustable height. We have that feature, but the highest height is still super low – so make sure you check that before you buy it or else it will become more stressful on your body as your baby grows 😉 Another feature I like about ours is that it can become a double bed eventually – less furniture to buy down the road!
Dresser/Changing table set-up – A lot of dressers come with the option of installing a changing pad on top – we have that and I love it instead of having a separate changing table. To be honest, you can change your baby on the floor too 😉 But I organize her clothes in the dresser, so using the top for a changing table works for me.
Organizers – Along with the dresser, organizing all those cute mini-baby-items is a MUST (for me). I bought these foldable boxed organizers from Ikea and they work wonders. I hang some of her cuter outfits and box up each age range of clothing (i.e. when she was newborn, I’d have her 0-3 months clothing boxed up in closet, and 3-6 months boxed up next).
Clothing – The list above is the bare minimum that I find is useful. I like to keep her on sleepers mostly when we are at home as they’re the easiest to get in and out of (and they are CUTE!). I prefer footed sleepers as their circulation’s not the best at this age. When we go out, I usually dress her in a onesie with pants so that when I do change her, her body is not all exposed in this winter cold. Again footed pants are best, but if they’re not I pull on a pair of socks to cuff up the pants old school style 😉 Toques are a must for winter babies as we lose most of our heat from our heads.
Baby hygiene products: I did not know that you put on diaper rash cream for prevention until a couple of weeks after she was born. So apparently it is preventative too 🙂 The only other product I use is Johnson’s baby shower gel. I like baby powder just because of the smell and often puff her up with some under her multiple chins as they get wet and rashy quite easily.
Medical items: I got one of those medical packs with a few things inside. The only things I’ve used is the thermometer and nail clipper. In hindsight, I would’ve just invested in a better thermometer. My doctor gave me a stash of baby advil which has been helpful after her vaccinations (and on standby on weekends)
Baby monitor: There’s the option of video vs audio. It really depends on your preference. I like to know what’s going on (sometimes in an unhealthy way that it stresses me out), so I love our Motorola MBP36 video monitor. It has way more features than we need so I think we will grow into it more. You can adjust volume, play music, the camera can adjust to all angles and zoom, and you can speak 2 way via the monitor.
Bedding: Make sure you get a mattress protector and a few crib sheets. If yours is a spitter like mine, you will need a few extra to keep on rotation. I find getting 2 mattress protectors and 3-4 crib sheets suffices for me. And as mentioned in another post, I love the Baby Moov pillow.
Swaddles: If I were to go back in time, I would’ve invested in those swaddlers vs just swaddling with a swaddling blanket, because it takes too much time, especially if your baby seems to have the hulk’s superpower and breaks out frequently. We use a swaddle blanket during the day and use the miracle blanket at night. I am not a fan of the miracle blanket because it’s so cumbersome, and she’s actually learning to break out of that too. So for our next baby, I’d like to try something like the Ergobaby swaddle or a new product I found from Ollieworld.
Bath towel: I love our hooded towels. It wraps her head up nice and it’s just extra cute. Either way, a big absorbent and soft towel does the trick.
2. Travel Items:
Car seat: We borrowed this from a friend. I would recommend this as they can get quite expensive and babies grow out of them anyways. Check out Consumer Report for the best ones. For price point, weight and size, I would go for the Gracco Snugride. We have the Chicco right now and I find that it’s too bulky and heavy.
Stroller: One of my husband’s favourite baby things. We actually didn’t use it much in the early months just because when we go out, we are in and out of our car to the restaurant/friend’s house, so we just carry her in the carseat. But summer is coming and her wake time is lengthening, so I’m sure we will be using it more! This is the one I did the most research on. The ones that came on top were the Uppa Vista and the City Select by Baby Jogger. Both have the options of becoming a double stroller. I liked City Select because of all the ways you can configure the 2 seats and it has a huge basket at the bottom. The only thing I don’t like about it that the Uppa Vista can do is be stored upright. Make sure you do get one that’s easy to snap open and shut, because if you’re on your own, the last thing you want to worry about is jiggling around to get your stroller working.
Carrying Sling: Again, we haven’t used this much yet because we take her in her carseat the most so far. But we love our Ergobaby carrier whenever we can use it. I researched this too and compared to other popular carriers, this one is the most ergonomic (duh the name), which is important to me as a Physiotherapist 🙂
Traveling blanket: I actually use the bunch of receiving blankets we had from the beginning. Our friend also made us a cute one that we use on colder days. We also bought the BundleMe by JJ Cole that straps onto the carseat but found that Colette got so hot from it. So we actually just dress her a bit warmer (with a jacket) and use blankets on top.
Diaper bag: In retrospect, I wish I bought a nicer one. For many women like me, this will BECOME YOUR EVERYDAY PURSE! No more cute fancy purses to spruce up your outfits! Sometimes I actually squeeze all her things in my bigger purses so I can enjoy a bit of accessorizing. I am keeping my eye on these 2: the Madeline by Lily Jade and the Doe by Fawn Design. Just make sure there are LOTS of compartments. Here’s a list of things I store in the diaper bag: diapers, extra blanket (for playing or changing when out), 2 extra baby outfits, 1 extra shirt and leggings for me, a few burp cloths, hand sanitizer, rash cream, wet wipes and extra bib.
Pack N Play: We tend to go out a lot and sometimes stay over-night at the in-laws. So we find this is helpful for us more so as Colette is growing out of taking full naps in her carseat.
Backseat view mirror: My husband LOVES this – keeping an eye on her for extended times on the road is really nice. And as she gets older, we will be able to interact more.
Changing pad: My diaper bag came with one, but this is definitely useful when you’re out and about. I also double up using a receiving blanket as a changing pad, as the waterproof material of most changing pads makes leaks more messy as they spread everywhere quickly, where as a blanket will just soak it up :$
3. Activity items:
Bouncer/Play mat: I find having at least one of these are great so you’re not always carrying the baby around when they’re awake. Especially as they grow older and have more time for playtime! I actually like both because our house is big and I keep one upstairs and the other downstairs. Babywise recommends starting independent play time at 5 weeks so make sure you have hanging toys on these things!
Infant bathtub/non slip mat: When Colette was small, we sat her in the sink with a non-slip pad and was great. But now that she’s bigger, we’ve transitioned to an infant bath tub. Can’t wait to take real baths with her!
4. Nursing items:
Burp cloths/towels: My baby likes to spit up! For maximum protection and minimal clean up, I started laying a regular bath towel underneath her (to protect myself), a bib on her and then an extra towel over her feet when I burp her sitting up. Needless to say, we just do a lot of laundry. She’s better now, but what I still find helpful is an absorbent bib, and a longer rectangular towel (vs square) for burping. I actually just buy kitchen/bath towels from Target or Walmart as it does the trick. The baby “burping cloths” are overpriced, and one of my future projects is to learn how to make them myself.
Nursing bra and pads: I would highly recommend investing in a good nursing bra! I bought 2 that are more expensive and don’t regret it. Nursing pads were necessary for me (more so the first 1-2 months), but I hear not for all women.
Nursing cover: This is essential for me as we go out quite often, and thus I have to nurse her when we are out. If you are REALLY frugal, you can double up a blanket as one (strap it to your bra straps), as I’ve done that when I forgot mine at home.
Things I didn’t need:
Rocker chair: I have a normal arm chair in her room and used it often in the beginning. Now I nurse sitting on the floor, on the couch, in an office chair or dining chair – pending what I am doing 😉 A good stool/foot rest is nice to have though no matter what chair.
Nursing pillow: I got my friend’s U shape nursing pillow, but I actually didn’t find it very comfortable. I actually preferred just using a small random pillow under one arm or propping one knee up 😉
OKAY! That is a long post. But I think that wraps it up for the things I feel like I needed in preparing to be a first time mom. These items were the essentials, and of course there is SO much more depending on the health of your baby, your feeding methods etc. Hope this helps you! If you’ve found anything else essential, please comment and add to my list!