Everyone’s list of must haves for your first baby is different. Often it is based on opinion. However, there are things you need and things that make life easier. Deciding between what looks like it is a must have and what actually is a must have can be hard to do.
There is no way around this one. You must have a car seat. It should be rear facing or have the option of facing the rear (some are a two in one). It should be less then five years old and never have been in an accident. Because your baby’s safety is important you should never buy a used car seat without knowing its history. Come and find the best convertible car seat on the market. Accidents can cause small cracks and soft spots (even if you can’t see them) which can make them less safe in an accident.
Place to Sleep
There are several sleeping options for you and your baby. You can choose to get a bassinet which will be a great place for your baby to sleep for the first three months or until it is 15 pounds. However, if you have a large baby then the period of time that a baby can use the bassinet can be significantly less. There are also cribs (some will convert to a toddler bed and then a full size headboard), portable cribs (smaller and easier to move around), and co-sleepers (a baby bed that hooks to the adult bed so that your baby is near). Whatever you choose it should be a safe place for the baby to be, shouldn’t have excess of soft material (no crib bumpers because they present a suffocation risk), and should be separate of your bed (co-sleeping without a co-sleeper bed is dangerous).
Often times it is tempting to buy the wonderful matching sets with sheets, blankets or comforters, and a beautiful crib bumper. However, these items aren’t safe. For bedding your should have a couple of fitted sheets. It is sometimes nice to have a waterproof pad in case of diaper leaks. You will also want something to keep your baby warm. When little receiving blankets can be used to swaddle the baby. Whenever using regular blankets swaddling is always best so that the blanket can’t get up around the face. Other great options are wearable baby blankets, sleeping sacks, or swaddle blankets (designed specifically for swaddling complete with Velcro for easy use). Avoid covering the baby with regular blankets, pillows, stuffed animals, and crib bumpers which are all SIDS risks.
Depending on what type of feeding you are choosing to do will determine what you need. Bottle fed babies will need formula, several bottles, and a bottle brush. While you may want a couple of bottles for breastfeeding (if you will be leaving your baby with anyone else) you don’t need as many. You will also need a brush if you go this route. You may want a breast pump as well. For nursing it is often a lot easier if you have nursing bras and tops as well as a nursing pillow (a Boppy is a wonderful help). You may want a cover for nursing in public as well. Finally, no matter which type of feeding you are doing you will need burp cloths of some type. There are ones you can buy specifically or you can choose to use something else. A lot of people use flat cloth diapers which are much cheaper then cloths specifically labeled “burp cloths”. I prefer to use receiving blankets which are about the same price as burp cloths, but are larger, easier to use, and multipurpose.
Later on you will need other tools as your baby begins to eat solid foods. The introduction of solid food shouldn’t begin before the baby is four months old and it is often recommended by physicians to wait till six months to introduce solids. At this time you will need a seat for your baby. There are a few options to choose from including the traditional high chair, one that goes on a dining room chair, or some types of boosters that can also hold young babies. You will also want baby spoons (at the very least).
Some feel that a baby tub is a must, this is really up to you. They aren’t expensive, but can be a pain to store and sometimes even to use. I didn’t like it at all, but there are many who wouldn’t give a bath without one. Bathing options can include in the full size tub (with or without you) or the kitchen or bathroom sink. You will need wash clothes. These don’t have to be baby wash clothes, but they should be soft and thin so that they can get into the tiny crevices of the baby. You will also need baby soap (Johnson’s head to toe baby wash makes it easy since it can be used as body wash as well as shampoo). Towels should be soft, thin, and of a good size for the baby. Two other options are to use a receiving blanket or a hooded towel for babies and toddlers. To finish bathing you will want some baby lotion and possibly some baby oil (depending on how dry your baby’s skin is).
A car seat is a must, and should be one of the first things considered. However, you will also want a diaper bag, a travel case of wipes, and possibly even a folding changing pad. These things can make diapering easier on the go. You may also want to consider a stroller if you will be walking places and or a carrier which can be used both on the go and around the house.
Figuring out what things you have to have verses what things people recommend isn’t often easy. You can use these suggestions and explanations to make the decisions yourself. Take a piece of paper and go through each section and determine what you will need based on your choices, lifestyle, and the ease of use.