I was looking up bare necessities for a brand spankin’ new baby and I was surprised at how many unnecessary items were listed as essentials. So here is my bare bones list of absolute basics that you MUST HAVE for a new baby. I’m following it with other things I find necessary but that could more than likely be ignored.
Bare Bones Basics:
A place for baby to sleep. This can be an expensive crib but it can just as easily be an inexpensive bassinette, a portable crib or play yard, or the least expensive (and best – IMO) option: in the parents bed (of course following co sleeping safety standards). Most parents already have a propper bed (which is more than likely where baby was made) so this one is something you already have if you’re on a beggars budget. You also don’t need crib or bassinette sheets if you cosleep.
Clothing. Baby has to wear clothes occassionally. Forget about those fancy lists of layettte essentials.. here is what you really need (more or less depending on how often you do laundry, which by the way will be less frequent after baby comes).
– 5-10 onsies. Baby will be in these most of the time as its easy access to the diaper and you’ll spend most of your time in your living room.
– 2-3 pairs of pants. For those infrequent trips out into the big wide world.
– 3-5 one peice sleep n play jammies. These are good for outings as well as for sleeping when its cold.
– 4 or so receiving blankets. For swaddling (not always necessary) and for using as burp cloths. Eventually you’ll give up on this too and just resign yourself to the fact that you will be spending most of the first few months in clothes covered in spit up.
– 1 hat. For colder weather outings.
– a few pairs of socks. Baby will hate these. They will come off magically constantly.
Diapers & Wipes (you could even use wash cloths and forgo the wipes).
A Blanket. ONE. Basically this will be used to put on the floor for baby to play on and for wrapping during rocking or swaying. Also useful for draping over the car seat in colder weather.
Liquid Tylenol. Because even if you breastfeed baby will get sick.
– 2 breasts (the healthiest and cheapest option although not not always the best choice for every mother and child… if anyone wants to argue against bottle feeding with me I can think of three reasons off the top of my head to use formula- women who have been sexually abused or assaulted shouldn’t be made to feel bad about having ptsd or similar when it comes to feeding their child, women with severe Post Partum Depression who don’t respond to breastfeeding safe meds, and extremely large breasted women who end up with severe debillitating back pain due to engorged breasts. I’m sure there are several other reasons NOT to breastfeed but these are the three- all based on people I actually know- that came to mind.)
– 1-2 bottles if breastfeeding (for pumped milk or emergency feeding. Also good for prune juice if baby gets constipated).
– 3-10 bottles if formula feeding. I reccommend the playtex vent aire ones as Aria would ONLY use those and they helped with colic.
– a bottle brush (also nice for cleaning regular drinking glasses).
– a breast pump. Not 100% neccessary (you could totally get by without one very easily) but nice to have for when your breasts get engorged and won’t let down. Also, if you ever plan to go back to work or be away from your child for more than a half hour, you will need to have expressed milk available for the baby.
– formula. Obviously needed if formula feeding, although I suggest having a can around, even if breastfeeding, for all those just in case moments. – breast pads. Because standing in the grocery store or sitting in a nice restaraunt with milk running down your shirt or fancy dress is so embarrassing it should be illegal.
Baby Wash & Shampoo In One. Because baby’s should smell nice and be clean without getting owies in their eyes.
Baby Lotion or Oil. This is only really needed if your baby has very dry skin or if your family has a history of dry skin.
DESITIN. Or other diaper rash cream. You can avoid this if you are meticulous about making sure your baby’s diaper is changed frequently and they are always dry, but this is really a longshot. Sometimes no matter how fastidious you are about your baby’s butt, they’re still gonna get diaper rash.
A Place to Change Your Baby’s Diaper. Obviously you have to put baby somewhere to change him/her. I had a special area set up for Aria but in the end we usually ended up changing her diapers on a blanket on the floor. This ended up being not only cheaper, as we didn’t have to have a fancy changing table, but it was safer (a baby can’t roll off the floor), and easier and more time saving.
A Car Seat. Because you can’t leave the hospital without one. Obviously if you don’t drive and you never intend to let your child in a motor vehicle you probably don’t need one but I’m not sure that happens too often.
A Nice Comfy Couch. Trust me. You’ll need one. When you and baby are up at 6 am watching PBS Kids (because Mommy is too tired to do much of anything else), you’ll eventually fall into a snooze together on the couch. If your couch is comfy, you can doze off with baby on your chest, and have a wonderful, cuddly, bonding nap. Some of my best memories of Aria as a baby are the times we napped together on the couch during our morning PBS Kids ritual. We still have this ritual, cuddling together on our big comfy (and extremely stained) couch, watching PBS Kids, only now actual naps are few and far between.
If you have these things you can sucessfully and comfortably take care of your baby. This is a very basic, streamlined list, but it includes all NEEDS. Now onto some of the WANTS.
Things That I Find Necessary But You Could Probably Forgo.
A Baby Swing. I couldn’t have lived without mine. Well, I could have, but it would have been far less comfortable. You can always substitute rocking and swaying with your baby in your arms, but new mommies get tired and daddy’s don’t always have the sway down perfectly.
A Bouncer or Vibrating Chair. Some babies don’t like the swing and do better with the chair. It is best to have both to make life really wonderful but again, you can get by without them. I believe Fisher Price makes a swing/bouncer in one that looks amazing, saves space, and saves the money of buying both items.
A Baby Carrier and/or Stroller. I prefer wearing my baby close to me with the baby carrier, but the stroller was nice for long trips at the zoo. It also was nice to have a place to put the diaper bag and beverages and my purse. If you had to pick between the two I would say evaluate your lifestyle carefully (avid hikers want the carrier, people with bad backs want the stroller). Both is better but again, like everything else in this part of the list, you can get by without these things. Carrying your baby in your arms works in a pinch.
A Tummy Time Mat or Play Gym. I adored these as they gave Aria something interesting to do during tummy time and made it slightly less horrible for us (she HATED tummy time). You can always put a small mirror, a couple of stuffed animals, and the family cat or dog on a blanket on the floor and get the same effect for way cheaper, but it’s fun to have the real thing if you can afford it.
Diaper Pail. You can use bread bags (simply tie a knot between each diaper), throw them in the trash and remove the trash to the outside can daily, or (as a girl I once knew did) throw them outside on the porch, patio, or balcony in a trash bag so the smell doesn’t circulate through the house. However, if funds allow it, I highly recommend a good diaper pail. Because poopy diapers stink to high heaven.
A Baby Tub. These are nice to have, especially if you’re nervous about safety, but it’s just as easy (and less expensive) to hold baby in your arms or lap while bathing.
Bibs. Yeah they are nice as they protect babys clothes from immediate spit ups and dribbles. But I guarrantee you, once you take that bib off, baby is going to spit up everywhere. So, while these are nice, they’re not necessary.
Baby Proofing Items. As long as you are watching your baby and putting them in the carrier, bouncer, or swing when you need your hands free, they’re more than likely not going to get into electrical outlets and sharp corners until they begin to crawl. At that point, you should be watching them carefully anyway. However, I’ll admit, I would often fall asleep on the couch when Aria was in her crawling stage, so I had gates to block her into the area around the couch and I made sure there was nothing there that could hurt her or that she could get into. I never fell into a deep sleep unless she was sleeping on the couch with me, but I still was careful just in case.
Things You Definitely Do Not Need
Mittens. If you’re going to be taking your baby out in cold weather, you’re going to have baby covered with a blanket. I guess if your baby flails their hands out from under the blanket you might need them, but until you know that, I would wait on these. Also, after baby is three or four days old, they have the same internal temperature regulation that an adult does, so they DO NOT NEED mittens on in the summer. Their hands are NOT going to get cold, especially when adults are wearing tank tops and shorts. When I see babies that are clearly overdressed in warm weather I want to scream! Your baby is better off being slightly chilly than overheating, sweating, and getting dehydrated, or worse- heatstroke.
Shoes. Baby’s feet are usually in a bunting or snowsuit in the winter, as well as socks, as well as being covered by a blanket or car seat cover. And for the other seasons, until baby can walk, they really don’t need shoes. Most babies I’ve known have hated shoes. And they definitely don’t need them in the house. Leave the expense of footwear for when baby starts to walk.
A High Chair. Really, who eats at the table anymore? Even when we did, Aria just sat on my lap. If you ABSOLUTELY feel that you need one
Every Expensive Baby Item & Gadget & Toy Ever Invented. Honestly, babies are easily amused, generally preferring Mom’s face and voice to anything else. A picture on your wall, an empty box, a magazine, your car keys, your cell phone, a chunk of wood… These are all things that baby will probably find more interesting than the $59.99 light up doo hickey toy you found at Target.
I’m sure there are more things to add to this list but I can’t think of any right now. That is a good sign that they probably really aren’t necessary at all!
And Finally, A Word About Security Blankets & Security Stuffed Animals.
Don’t even bother going out to get a bunch of expensive and beautifully made stuffed animals, baby blankets, etc… Your baby will pick the most random thing as a security item and it will more than likely be the cheapest thing in the house.
Aria chose a huge stuffed Nemo that my friend found in a garbage can, washed, and gave to me. Because I wanted her to play with the expensive blankies and toys, I never really gave her the fish to play with. One day, when she was around seven months old or so and at the height of separation anxiety, Daddy gave her the fish to play with while I was at work. It was as big as her and big and fluffy (not unlike Mommy) and she could use it a sort of body pillow when she slept. I figure that, because it was cuddly and close to her and really large while she was sleeping, she equated it as a “replacement” for cuddling with Mommy. After that day, she always had to sleep with it, using it as a body pillow, and eventually it came out of the crib with her every morning, and then she had to hold it when she ate, and then she had to take it with her EVERYWHERE. Eventually, when she was upset or needed comforting, she started eating the stuffing out of “Fishy” (even though we constantly sewed him back together and restuffed him). Pretty soon Fishy was no longer stuffed and no longer a recognizable fish. He looked like strips of worn, dirty, orange and white fabric. Because she still NEEDED Fishy, I ended up sewing him onto a blanket, cutting the fabric into strips to sew between the head and the tail to make him look like a fish again. Now “Fishy Blankey” goes everywhere with her and is starting to fall apart. Regardless, when she goes to sleep, she has to have Fishy Blankey on her first with the head at the top by her face.
This is the story of Fishy Blankey and how your child will end up attached to the most random, least expensive thing. It is also about how you, as a parent, will go to any length to “save” your childs security item. And don’t think replacing it will work either! Nate found a completely IDENTICAL stuffed fish at a thrift store (it was the same one, from the same design, made by the same company) and, even though it is bright and fluffy and new, it still isn’t FISHY!
I would also like to add a note: your childs security item could very well influence your childs likes, loves, obsessions, and future career goals. Aria is obsessed with Fish and Marine Life and wants to be a Veterinarian who specializes in aquatic animals. She’s even been offered a job at SeaLife Minnesota in 12 years, because of her absolute adoration of everything at the aquarium. On a less fun note, it also means that Finding Nemo was played 10 times a day in our house when she was younger, and has been followed by Sponge Bob now that she’s older.