Shopping for a new baby can be nerve wracking for first time parents, but if you just keep the basics in mind you’ll be sure to get everything you need!
There are few things that inspire people to shop like the impending arrival of a new baby! Considering the overwhelming number and variety of items on the market for babies its little wonder new parents and parents to be feel completely overwhelmed!
Rest assured though, you won’t need the duration of the pregnancy to stockpile items in anticipation of your little ones arrival. You won’t need a new addition to your house to hold your baby items, and you won’t need to go broke to have a happy baby.
As the mother of three children, I feel pretty secure in knowing what is, and what isn’t, a priority. I remember the days before my first was born though… what little we didn’t buy was given to us, sometimes in multiples. There was a constant nagging worry that we were forgetting something and my husband and I combed the isles at local discount and baby stores looking for that all mighty important item we were surely forgetting!
Then our son was born, and we realized that there was no way we were ever going to use even half of the supplies we’d accumulated (we did have a heck of a garage sale later on though!).
So, what do you and your baby really need?
The answer to that will depend quite a bit on how your personal preferences. Parents who intend to practice attachment parenting will have a relatively short shopping list when compared to parents who wish to adhere to more mainstream ways of raising their baby.
One of the biggest surprises to me, as a new breastfeeding mother, was that the beautiful crib we’d bought went completely unused! It was so much easier to let my son sleep in bed with me. I didn’t have to wake up at night to go get him from another room to nurse him. And so the crib collected dust (and so did the bassinet, my son preferred nap time on my bed surrounded by pillows to keep him safe)… Do you need a crib? Probably not if you are going to practice attachment parenting. Co-sleeping is both practical, and a wonderful way to bond with your new baby.
If co-sleeping is not an option for your family, then a safe secure place for your baby to sleep is a necessity. There are many options on the market ranging from cribs that convert to toddler beds and later to twin or full sized bed frames, to cradles which offer a slightly longer period of use, to bassinets which are good for the initial (but brief) newborn period.
To go along with your baby’s sleeping area you will need:
-2 fitted under the sheet mattress protectors (it’s always good to have an extra in case one is dirty. They also come in sizes big enough to fit adult beds, and I strongly suggest having one on your bed for co-sleeping)
-3-4 fitted sheets (again, things that have a tendency to get dirty are good to have in multiples)
-2-3 weather appropriate crib/cradle/bassinet blankets
The next major area of concern is diapering! A great, little thought of alternative to disposable diapers is using reusable cloth diapers. They aren’t the ambiguous squares of cotton that must be folded and pinned like our Grandma’s used to use. Today’s cloth diapers are just as (if not more) convenient and effective as disposables! And with cloth, you have the added bonus of never running out of diapers. No midnight emergency runs to the store for diapers! Either way you choose, you’ll need a supply before baby arrives.
-18-36 size small or newborn cloth diapers is a good starting point. I would recommend having at least 24 diapers. Since babies grow so fast, it’s a good idea to have at least a few diapers in the next size up already on hand.
-6 diaper covers
-2 dozen cloth diaper wipes
-2-3 Mega sized packages of newborn diapers. Don’t stock up too much on the newborn size! Babies grow so fast, you might find yourself outgrowing diaper sizes before your baby uses up a pack.
-Diaper wipes (it is more cost effective to buy one diaper wipes box, and then a bag of wipes refills)
-Baby powder, diaper rash cream, etc
-Diaper changing table – This handy (though not necessary) baby item is a great way to keep all your diaper changing supplies organized and in one handy location ready for use.
Now that you have sleeping and eliminating covered, you need to consider what and how you’ll be feeding your baby. Breastfeeding is by far the best choice nutritionally for your little one, and has health benefits for Mom too. There’s very little you need (if anything) when you choose to nurse your baby. You’ll have an always ready food source in a perfect container that is always the perfect temperature! There may be times though when you’ll need to give a bottle of expressed breast milk, and if you choose formula you will need to have all your supplies ready and on hand.
-Breast pump (breast pumps have a wide range of price and effectiveness. How much you spend will depend on how often you need to use your pump. If you are going to be going back to work soon and pumping often, it’s a good idea to invest in a very high quality pump or rent one. For infrequent use, a low cost hand pump will be sufficient.)
– 2-4 bottles for occasional use with breastfeeding
-12 bottles, or more for full time formula feeding (it’s nice to have enough to mix up bottles and store them in the fridge for that days use)
-Bottle liners if you’ve chosen a bottle that requires a drop in liner
– 1 or 2 cans of formula, keeping in mind you may need to change the type of formula you use if your baby has sensitivities, so don’t buy too much at first
-A bottle brush for cleaning bottles & nipples
-A drying rack for bottles (really only practical for full time formula feeding)
Next on the must-have shopping list is a car seat. Before you buy a car seat, it is wise to spend some time researching the safety records of the various manufactures. The various makes of car seats have different safety features. They all have to meet government minimums, but some really excel far above and beyond what is required.
There are two basic types of infant car seats. The most common for newborns is an infant carrier. They often come bundled as a unit along with a matching stroller. The infant carrier style seat generally has a base that is installed in your vehicle that the seat its self then snaps into. Infant carrier style car seats are good for very small babies, and are generally outgrown by the child reaches 20 lbs. At which point, the seat must be replaced with a new one. The second style of care seat is referred to as a convertible seat. A convertible seat is designed to sit rear facing for an infant, and then converted to a forward facing seat after the child turns a year old. The obvious advantage is that the seat will be able to be used for a long time. They are designed to be used from birth, until the child is ready for a booster seat (3-4 years old, or more). They usually cost more initially, but you will get a lot more use out of the seat. The biggest drawback is that the minimum weight requirement of the seat is usually higher than that of infant carrier style seats, which could be problematic if you have a really small baby. The convertible seats also do not come bundled with a stroller, which means that you will have to select one separately.
Strollers and other means of carrying your baby are something that can easily be purchased after your baby is born. If you intend to attachment parent, you may want to forego the use of a stroller all together and purchase a sling carrier instead. Most parents feel that slings are more comfortable than front-pack style carriers. They can also be used from infancy on into toddler hood!
Now that you have the real necessities covered, you can kick back and have fun shopping for your little one! When you are shopping for clothes, blankets, and other infant accessories remember to keep in mind the time of year during which your baby will be born, not what the weather is like outside right now! It’s also a good idea to only buy a few clothing items. Despite what the ultra sound may say, the bouncing baby boy you may have been told to expect could very well turn out to be a gorgeous little girl! Plus, until you’ve had a baby or two you won’t really know what items you’ll like, and what you won’t! For example, some Moms love sweet little gowns, and others prefer union suits. It’s also wise to buy only a few newborn sized items, anticipating that your little one will quickly outgrow them!
The following items are good to have on hand to get you through the first few days to a couple weeks (long enough to recover from childbirth and be ready to go shopping!):
– 6 Onsies – this traditional clothing staple can be worn alone in warm weather, or under a heavier outfit for added warmth in cold weather
– 6 Sleepers – come in either heavy, or light weight fabrics depending on your needs
– 4-6 pairs of socks
– 2-4 knit hats
– 4-6 Receiving blankets
– 2-3 heavier blankets for cold weather babies
– 12 burp clothes
– 6 water proof changing pads
– 2-4 infant towels
– 2-4 infant wash clothes (make sure they are really soft for baby skin)
– Gentle baby soap (Try brands found at health food stores for a truly gentle, natural soap)
– Gentle baby lotion
The nice thing about babies is that as long as they are warm, clean, and fed they are generally very content little creatures. So, when you are shopping be sure you concentrate primarily on the necessities and odds are you’ll have everything you need to welcome your new little one into the world!