The baby books and online pregnancy websites will have you believing that you need to fill your house with all the newest gadgets to make baby comfortable and happy. But truly there are very few necessities you’ll need for baby’s first year. There are some items that are cute and fun, but not necessarily essential. If you’re a first time parent, how do you know exactly what you need and what you can skip?
We welcomed our tiniest Mouseketeer on March 24th! She joins our blended family with a 12-year brother, 12-year old sister and 4-year old brother. We were fortunate enough that many of our friends and family just had babies and were able to offer their “hand-me-down” items. However we live in a very small house so we had to be choosy with what we accepted and what we said, “No thank you” to. Here are my 10 new baby essentials that fit within a tight budget.
Newborn babies do best in one-piece sleeper pajamas in the daytime and gowns with elastic along the bottom (for quick diaper changes) at night. Those tiny jeans, itty bitty socks and hoodies are super cute but newborn babies have little tolerance for getting dressed and tiny t-shirts tend to bunch up in back and socks slip off. I find that that one-piece outfits work best until the third month. Aim to have at least one sleeper for each day of the week and two gowns.
Before you go out and purchase all new outfits, hit the baby resale shops first. Most of the clothing you’ll find in these shops is very gently worn or perhaps never worn at all. I shop thredUP online frequently and you can sell them your gently used clothing when baby outgrows it.
Blankets in a variety of thickness and texture are extremely versatile. Use muslin blankets to tightly swaddle baby. Use a thin receiving blanket to drape over the car seat and block sun from her face. Smaller sized lightweight blankies make a nice burp cloth over your shoulder. A soft blanket can be tucked around her legs to keep her warm. Lay a thick blanket on the floor for tummy time. A few blankets in each style will suffice.
Want to encourage your newborn to sleep longer than a few minutes at a time? Every time baby brushes his hand against his face it will kickstart their rooting reflex and cause them to awaken. A swaddle wrap makes it easy to keep their hands down and helps them feel snug and secure. I have two of these swaddle wraps that have built in Velcro tabs that make swaddling quick and tight and even my little “Houdini” baby has a hard time wriggling out of this one! She’s been sleeping in multi-hour chunks since I started using the swaddle wrap.
Newborn babies should sleep bedside for the first three months. If you don’t have room to fit their crib in your room, it’s great to have a small bedside bassinet that baby can sleep in. I had the Fisher-Price Rock n’ Play Sleeper with my son four years ago and loved it so I knew this was a purchase I’d have to make this time around too. This particular bassinet has an incline and babies are able to nestle right in. I keep the vibrate feature on all night and my little girl sleeps very restfully next to me. I appreciate how portable and lightweight this unit is and that I can easily fold it up for storage or to move it from room to room.
(Amazon affiliate link) Fisher-Price Newborn Rock ‘n Play Sleeper
Nursing pillows, like the Boppy is a great multi-use item. It can be used to hold baby when feeding, to rest baby against and to use for “tummy time”. Later when baby is sitting, set the pillow behind them and assist with propping them up. Even if you are bottle feeding, give your arms and shoulders a rest by having baby lay on the nursing pillow when you feed him. I’ve had a Boppy Nursing Pillow with all three of my kids, I love them. Be sure to have at least two pillow covers to change out if one gets soiled.
Your diaper bag doesn’t have to be traditional. Really whatever works best for you, whether it be a backpack, messenger bag or tote. In my opinion, having a diaper bag with a good number of compartments is best otherwise all the little things like diaper ointment and pacifiers will settle on the bottom of the bag. Make sure you find a bag that fits a changing table pad because a travel pad is a necessity. Think about how you’ll carry this bag and make sure it’s not overly bulky or weighted (because you’ll be lugging this along with baby, car seat, stroller, etc). I’ve had the traditional style diaper bag in the past and after it fell off my shoulder for the 50th time on our first pediatric appointment I’m determined to find a backpack style that will work better for my needs. Consider getting something in a dark color that won’t show wear and tear as much. Black or gray is great because it’s appropriate for both mom & dad to carry.
From left to right (Amazon affiliate links): Diaper Bag by AeroBaby for Mom / Dad On-The-Go – Classic Black & Grey Stripes and Skip Hop Forma Backpack, Black
Is a baby bath tub necessary? Perhaps not. You might feel at ease washing baby in the kitchen sink. Just know that they are tiny and slippery and you might feel more comfortable having them lay inside one of these sling-type tubs when they are newborn. You’ll also need a hooded towel, no-tears shampoo/soap and a few soft washcloths.
From left to right: The First Years Sure Comfort Deluxe Newborn To Toddler Tub and Aveeno Baby Wash & Shampoo with Natural Oat Extract 18-Ounce
(Amazon affiliate links), Winnie the Pooh hooded towel (Disney Store affiliate link)
When your newborn outgrows the swaddle wrap, move on to the Sleep Sack to keep them warm and cozy at night. Blankets in the crib are a no-no so these wearable blankets are perfect. Just dress baby in regular pjs, then zip them into a Sleep Sack before putting them in their crib.
From left to right (Amazon affiliate links): Halo SleepSack 100% Cotton Wearable Blanket, Navy Blue Whales, Small and Halo SleepSack Micro-Fleece Wearable Blanket, Pink Zig Zag, Large
Car Seat and Stroller
I received the Britax 2016 B-Agile 3/B-Safe 35 Travel System before baby was born and posted a video review about this travel system. Now that she’s here using it, I love it even more. Click the link and see my video review. I recommend doing a “test drive” in the store to make sure that the features work well for you. In the case of a travel system you’ll be using this for many years, so buy the best that you can afford.
Additional Things to Keep in Mind
- Don’t be swayed by color. Who cares if it’s pink or blue? If the price is right (or it’s free!), accept it happily. Baby won’t care.
- Think neutral when making a purchase. If a baby product is gender neutral in pattern and color, you’ll have an easier time with resale.
- Consider the lifetime value of a product. If it’s a product that will only be used for a month of two, either skip it, buy it used or borrow from a friend.
- Wait to buy. No need to jump out and buy an exersaucer or high chair for your newborn yet. Wait until they are old enough to use it and you can scout out resale shops for the best prices.
What newborn baby must have is tops on your list? Share in the comments!