Excitement, anticipation and joy are some of the emotions you feel when you are expecting a baby. You wait and wait to meet your new little bundle of joy, but as your due date approaches, the responsibility of it all can be daunting. Especially when you are trying to figure out what you need to take care of your little one. The market for baby gear and care items is flooded with all kinds of “stuff” and it can be overwhelming for new parents to try and figure out what is needed for a baby. The purpose of this list is to let new parents know the absolutely needed and necessary items for having and taking care of baby. (For the purpose of this list, I am considering baby needs for ages 0-24 months.)
I will mention a few items that may not fall in the absolutely necessary category, but would make things slightly easier.
- Car seat – Unfortunately, these are one of the most expensive items that you will have to have. And you have to buy more than one. Here are some options for car seats: Infant carrier car seat and base – Usually fits baby for first year of life. When baby exceeds the height and weight limit (usually 22-30 pounds and 30 inches), you will have to buy an additional car seat. The recommendation for rear-facing has been changed from one year and 20 pounds to 2 years and/or until the limit of the rear-facing seat. This means that after using a carrier, you should get a convertible car seat. Most of these remain rear-facing for 35-45 pounds and until the child’s head is above the car seat. For those that are more financially conscience, you could just get a convertible car seat as your only seat. These usually fit 5 -45 pounds rear-facing and then as much as 70 pounds forward-facing. For instance, the Britax Boulevard 70 fits babies from 5 – 40 pounds rear-facing and up to 70 pounds forward-facing. This seat will most likely last from birth until 5 or 6 years old depending on the size of your child. However, the Britax car seats are pretty expensive. For an inexpensive car seat, the Cosco Scenera costs about $40 and will fit a baby rear-facing from 5-35 pounds and forward facing until 40 pounds. (My son is almost 4 and is only 33 pounds.)
- Stroller – If your budget allows, I would recommend an all-terrain 3-wheel stroller (with a swivel front wheel), but you could get by with a $20 umbrella stroller. (Keep in mind you will not be able to put a newborn in an umbrella stroller.) If this is your second baby, I recommend finding the best tandem stroller you can, which will make life a lot easier managing two or more children.
- Crib/Portable crib – There are bassinets and baby baskets and co-sleepers for baby to sleep in, but if you want to keep it to the absolute necessary item for a baby, you can get away with just buying a portable crib (Pack-n-play). A lot of times these even come with a bassinet and changing table.
- Changing table/dresser – A changing table is not a necessity (you can change a baby’s diaper on the floor, couch or bed), but it is nice to have. You can buy a changing table/dresser combo and knock out two birds with one stone. If you choose not to buy a changing table, you can store baby’s clothes in a dresser or even plastic drawers.
- Carrier/ Sling/ Wrap – I hesitate to say that this isn’t really a necessity. I honestly don’t know how I would survive without my carrier or wrap. There are some days babies just need to be held, and you need to have your hands free. For some babies, that could be every day. I use my carrier or wrap every day.
- Diaper bag – The ones with all the compartments are nice to have, but you really just need a bag big enough to carry a few diapers, wipes, change of clothes, bottles (if not breast-feeding), burp cloth, blanket, sippy cup and snacks for older babies.
- Baby clothes generally come in newborn, 3 month or 0-3 month, 6 month or 3-6 month, 9 month or 6-9 months, 12 month, 18 month or 12-18 month and 2T or 18-24 month or 24 month sizes.
- For younger babies you need probably 2-3 outfits per day (diaper blow-outs and spit-ups), for older babies you need 2 outfits per day. Depending on how often you do laundry, I would say you need 3-5 days worth of outfits.
- Newborns do best in gowns, onesies and footed sleepers.
- Socks – 7-10 sets of socks
- Burp Cloths (cloth diapers make good burp cloths) – 10
- Hats – 3-5
- Blankets – 3 swaddling blankets, 2-3 thicker blankets (for colder weather)
- Shoes – for babies that are learning to walk or already walking (when outside, as it is best for their foot development to be barefoot when inside).
- Diapers – You change a newborn about 10 times a day/night. As they get older, 5-8 times per day. Buy diapers in bulk from places like Costco or Sam’s for the most for your money or use cloth. You can do cloth diapering full time with about 24-30 diapers and 8-12 covers.
- Wipes – Same as above or use cloth wipes.
- Baby wash – Babies have delicate, sensitive skin, so it is important to use a mild baby wash.
- Towels – Baby towels are not a necessity. Adult towels work just as well.
- Wash cloths – These are nice to have because they usually are smaller and softer than our adult wash cloths.
- Baby bathtub – A baby bathtub is nice to have, but not a necessity. You can bathe your child in the sink or in a regular tub with just a little bit of water. (I put a hand towel in the bath for baby to lay on.)
- Diaper cream – May or may not be a necessity. Some babies have diaper rash and some do not.
- Baby Grooming Kit – I would say this is not a necessity but it is nice to have. You can use adult clippers on a baby, but the little clippers are a little easier to use on their teeny, tiny fingernails and toenails. The brush and comb are nice to have as well.
- Thermometer – Rectally is the most accurate (though I have never taken my children’s temperature that way), or you could do under the arm.
- For the SAHM who is breast-feeding:
- Nursing cover
- For the Working mom who is breast-feeding:
- A good hospital grade portable pump – Unfortunately, if you are working outside the home and are planning for your baby to be breast-fed, this will be an expensive purchase. It is important to get a good pump. Many working moms have not been able to get enough milk with lesser quality, cheaper pumps. The Medela Pump In Style Advanced double breast pump has been reviewed as the best.
- Bottles 6-8
- Freezer storage bags
- Insulated pouch and ice packs
- Nursing cover
- For formula fed babies:
- Formula – The rule of thumb for feeding babies formula is 2.5 ounces for every pound they weigh. So an 8 pound newborn would get about 20 ounces per 24 hour period. Of course, this is just a rule of thumb and should not outweigh the advice of your pediatrician or your individual baby’s needs.
- Bottles 6-8
- Insulated pouch and ice packs
- Baby food – Whether you make the baby food yourself or buy it pre-made, you will need about 4-8 ounces per meal until they are eating table food (what you eat, cut up).
- Whole milk – after 1 year of age, 16 ounces per day.
- Baby, spoons, forks and plates – 3-4 of each
- Sippy cups – 3-4
- Bibs – 3-4
- High chair – Nice to have, but you can feed a baby when they are in your lap, so it isn’t a necessity.
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