i think one of the most overwhelming tasks when you’re expecting, is figuring out what you really need once baby arrives. there are countless brands and products out there and everyone has a different opinion on what works best and what is a need vs a want. i’ve been hesitant in the past to share my own list of what i’ve found to be incredibly helpful with my first two babies, just because there are already so many great guides and resources out there. plus, i truly believe what you need will vary a lot depending how you spend your day to day, and your child and your neighborhood or urban environment. but don’t get too stressed about having to go out and buy a whole bunch of stuff. because really, the most important thing is to really just keep your baby clean, fed, healthy, and loved! and you will be just fine!!
but since we’re a few weeks away from welcoming our third baby into the family, and i’ve started pulling out all of our baby stuff trying to figure out how we’ll do this third little one in our cozy two bedroom new york city apartment, i figured i might as well share what i think is *really* essential, and what’s not. i’ve rounded up what products we actually used (and some we still use!) with both eleanor and samson, and plan to use once again when we bring home our newest edition soon.
*these are the basics i’d recommend, and keep in mind you’ll probably be gifted by family and friends plenty of darling clothing items in teeny tiny sizes. also, i wouldn’t start buying any cute outfits for your little one until you’re in the 3 month and up sizes, since your baby will outgrow anything infant sized wayyyyy too fast and will probably be swaddled up in a blanket the first several weeks anyhow.
- 6-8 onesies since you are changing those diapers so frequently in the beginning, it’s nice to find the onesies or sleep-suits with zippers rather than a million snaps. babyGap had a few options awesome zipper options when my littles were smaller, that i’m not seeing now, but it’s a good place to keep your eye out for some. while searching online, i just found THESE that might work nicely
- infant caps are important since baby needs to stay warm. i love THIS one and THESE are great too
- socks and booties. we found that THESE as well as THESE stayed on eleanor and samson’s feet the best
- depending on when baby is born, lightweight clothing or additional layers as well
- swaddles we have loved swaddling. josh has become the master swaddler at our house and our kids always slept much better and longer when they were swaddled up. THIS blanket also surprisingly works great as a swaddle during the warmer months. this is a good place to link to info on swaddling safety and how to reduce the risk of SIDS, provided by american academy of pediatrics
*once again this really depends on your living environment. we’ve only lived in cities with our babies, where space is often on the smaller side. so we’ve used and fallen in love with the idea of smaller, space-saving cribs that can work with our tighter spaces. i’m also a fan of co-sleeping, so then there’s that. basically, sleep and sleeping arrangements and staying safe and healthy are a big deal and will differ a lot depending on you and your little one.
- we used the bloom mini crib with both eleanor and samson and just pulled it out of the back of the closet to use once again with our new little one. while it’s definitely on the smaller side and only fit E and S until around 18 months, you can fold it up easily, it has wheels so you can bring baby around the apartment with you throughout the day, and it’s narrow and compact so it fits basically anywhere
- a mattress, a waterproof mattress pad and crib sheets
- a comfortable chair or somewhere to nurse. i preferred to nurse both eleanor and samson on my side in bed the first few months over sitting in a glider or rocking chair. we bought one and ended up giving it away because i never used it, so i don’t have one to recommend. but a comfortable chair is definitely nice for all those hours you get to hold your new little one
- a space heater or fan to help keep baby’s temperature consistent. maybe it’s just city living where we don’t have control over our building’s heat, but these things are like life savers at our apartment
*my recommendations below are based on my own experiences breastfeeding and bottlefeeding. how you feed your baby will depend greatly on if you are able to and whether you choose to breastfeed or if you use formula instead. if you just breastfeed, then you may not need anything, but here are some things i found helpful with my second baby. (we never used a bottle with eleanor, she refused!)
- medela breast pump while i mostly only fed my E and S by breast, pumping and having josh or someone else feed the baby through a bottle felt incredibly freeing at times. i use a single breast pump and in hindsight, i wish i would have bought a double breast pump (since pumping is time consuming!) one nice factor of the single pump is that it is small and easy to carry around. i have pumped in a lot of weird places, like sitting on the ground discreetly pumping under my shirt and jacket outside the vatican in italy, lol. you get to this point where it’s just like, whatever. time to pump…
- milk storage containers medela sells some that you can pump straight into and store
- lifefactory glass bottles i discovered that these bottles can actually screw straight into the medela breast pump which makes life even easier! they aren’t made to be compatible, but they do work together, if you’re just transferring the pumped milk straight to the fridge and not freezing any
- lawn bottle drying rack
- a simple bottle cleaner brush
- it’s not too essential, but a bottle warmer can be really nice
- you’ll need a highchair eventually. around 4 months is when we start to really sit our baby’s up at the table with us. we have tried out a few, and the stokke tripp trap highchair is by far our favorite. eleanor still sits in it at the dinner table, since you can take off the baby part and turn it into more of a toddler chair as your child grows. we’ve had a few conversations with her about how soon we’ll need to give the chair to baby and sit on a big chair (samson sits on a big chair at the head of the table, i’m not sure how it happened, but he claimed that as his seat and no one can sit there but him.) anyway, we’ll see if E gives up her beloved chair for the baby this spring. she’s not too keen on the idea just yet ; )
- also, if you’re looking for a great breastfeeding book, i loved the womanly art of breastfeeding. if you have a la leche league in your area, their meetings or support groups are super informative and helpful as well
- a baby carrier is life changing! we have tried several wraps and carriers over the years. the ergo is hands down both josh’s and my favorite. it’s especially great because you can wear it on your front or back, and it can be used from infancy through the toddler years. both eleanor and samson still love it! before you invest in a carrier or wrap though, i recommend borrowing one and trying it out for a several hours at a time. everyone’s body is so different, so you might find one option easier on you than others
- a stroller or carseat. (this one depends on where you live and your daily routine.) we don’t use a car in new york city, so we don’t use carseats to get around, but we use our stroller for miles and miles of walking, carrying groceries, commuting through the city each day, so we have a heavy duty stroller that i like to joke seconds as our car, honestly. we used the stokke xplory stroller when we only had eleanor and loved that thing! we now use the bugaboo donkey since it was the best double stroller option in our opinion. we will keep using it once we have the third baby by using the ride board on the back to make it compatible with three kiddos. but a less expensive umbrella stroller might work best if you use your car more and don’t really use a stroller every day. or you might not need a stroller at all and can get away with just a baby carrier. it really depends on your day to day activities, terrain, urban environment and lifestyle. not to mention the ages and spacing of your kids!
CLEANING & HEALTH
- baby shampoo and wash. we use and love mustela, burt’s bees and honest company products in our home
- i personally didn’t like using the infant tubs when we had eleanor, they felt bulky and more clumsy to me and just took up a lot of space. for us, rolling a towel up under the baby to help prop them up in a bathtub with just an inch of water or so was what we preferred until they were old enough to sit up on their own. sink baths are also great options. it just comes down to your preference!
- diapers of some sort
- wipes we have found the pamper’s sensitive wipes work the best at our house. you can also subscribe and save each month on a lot of sites where you place bulk orders
- changing pad and one for on the go
- a few burp cloths
- diaper cream / butt paste my pediatrician recommended bourdreaux butt paste and we love it. we have stayed away from any additional lotions and other ointments besides the occasional use of vaseline or aquaphor
- nail emery board it freaks me out to try to trim or cut a baby’s nails, so i prefer to just file them when they are babies. (and now that E and S are bigger, josh cuts their nails when they need it)
- hand sanitizer i recommend buying several tiny travel packs and just stuffing them into all of your bags, pockets, car doors, and drawers at home
- a diaper genie seriously comes in handy!
- a thermometer and saline drops
- baby friendly laundry detergent. we have used a couple different kinds. the honest laundry detergent works well
- a bleach pen the clorox bleach pen is the only one that works, in my opinion!
OBJECTS & TOYS
- pacifiers — this really depends on your baby. eleanor never took one. and samson gave his up around six or seven months all on his own (i think his bottom teeth were coming in at the time) i recommend buying a few different brands/ kinds and seeing which one your baby likes. all are shaped so differently…a lot of it might depend on what kind of bottle or nipple the baby is used to
- sophie the giraffe (both of my kiddos loved sophie! i just bought a new one for baby since our last was very destroyed from some serious TLC)
- teether ring
- a few board books. i can’t recommend reading to your baby enough! a few of our favorite board books have been brown bear, brown bear, what do you see? and first 100 words as well as the very hungry caterpillar
- black and white toys / books
*we don’t use these items, but i know many feel a baby monitor, a travel crib, a swing, a noise machine, and other items are very helpful. it really just depends on your lifestyle and situation and budget. what one family might think they need is different from another family. while we have been just fine without them, i’m mentioning these items here because i hear about them a lot from friends, so they are definitely items to think about as you figure out what you’ll be wanting…
- adult diapers (take it from a girl who has been there twice now. you’ll need these. a lot of these)
- a diaper bag that YOU want to carry around. i started out with pretty heavy diaper bag because i loved the look of it. but i soon learned you tend to carry around A LOT of little things when you first have a baby, so you want a lightweight option to begin with! so be mindful when you’re shopping for one to look for the lightest option…. i eventually stopped using a proper diaper bag and just started using whatever handbag or tote i really loved at the time, even if it wasn’t a diaper bag to begin with, and would just call it my diaper bag. while in the first few months you tend to carry your entire home with you for the baby when you’re out, i eventually learned to just carry a few things, like a couple diapers and wipes, hand sanitizer, a small book or toy, a snack, an extra onesie for that inevitable blow-out, and a bleach pen. not much, right? :)
- vitamins. i never stopped taking my prenatal vitamins after having eleanor. between nursing, then tandem nursing E and S and then just the overall benefits while trying to get pregnant once again, that vitamin is worth staying on
- nursing bras and comfortable nursing shirts/dresses if you are able/choose to nurse
- disposable nursing pads i remember going to church one sunday a few weeks after E was born and somehow deciding on a silk shirt. twenty minutes in and i had milk all over that thing and went home in such a state of new motherhood embarrassment. so, note from someone who has been there, stick a couple little pads into your bra for those first few weeks as you’re getting acquainted with your milk supply
- baby owner’s manual and your baby’s first year are the two parenting books i read cover to cover when eleanor was born and used as reference points once again with samson. for me, it was comforting to have a guide to read, but i also tried to get different opinions and pay attention to what my instincts were nudging me to do
- an app to track feedings, sleep and diaper changes for the first week or two until you and baby get into an easy routine of knowing each other and each other’s schedules
gosh, what a list! hope some of you find it helpful! are there any helpful products or items you and your baby can’t live without? how do you decide between what is essential and what is helpful?