Crib: You have two basic options, a convertible crib that changes into a toddler bed + a full size bed or a regular crib. The convertible seems like a cheaper option because it is three-in-one, but keep in mind you have to buy all of the conversion pieces, which can run $150 each. Also, if you have another baby while your first is still using the crib/toddler bed/bed, you will have to buy another crib anyways. I would suggest buying a regular crib to start with. Toddler beds and twin beds are cheap, and most kids don’t need or want a full size bed until they are in their teens. What I bought: europa baby Palisades Lifetime Convertible Crib. Great quality, but like I said, I would get a simple crib if I were to do it over.
Fitted Crib Sheets: I would suggest using the felted or jersey sheets in the winter so your baby stays warmer. Use the regular sheets in the summer for coolness. Read reviews of sheets to make sure the elastic doesn’t fall apart in the wash and that the sheet fits crib mattresses well. You don’t have to buy the sheets that match your bedding perfectly unless you want to – they sell sheets everywhere in basic colors and some fun patterns. What I bought: Circo Fitted Crib Sheet. Works well, no complaints.
Waterproof Mattress Pad: Made to protect the mattress from baby’s accidents. These are all about the same, but read reviews to make sure it doesn’t fall apart in the wash. I do not use a mattress pad.
Ultimate Sheet: This is a specialty item. It goes on top of the fitted sheet and acts as a waterproof layer between the baby and the sheet. Honestly, since using it I’ve never had to change the fitted sheet, which only stays on to hide the sides of the ugly mattress. I just lay this on top and wash as needed. What I bought: Ultimate Crib Sheet. I like it, although it is harder to attach to the crib than I expected; it is still easier than changing a fitted sheet.
Other Crib Bedding: Everyone says not to use bumpers and quilts in the baby’s crib, but no first time mom listens until she realizes she just spent a load of money on something she is putting in storage and never using. Some suggest making the bumper into a window valance, and the quilt makes a great floor throw, but really they are wastes of money. The only baby bedding that is useable is the dust ruffle, and it’s not actually necessary. I would suggest using Etsy.com and having exactly what you want made so you don’t have to buy the whole set, just the pieces you want. If you see something you like, you can post a picture of it in the wanted section of Etsy and people will bid how much they would charge to make it. What I bought: Land of Nod Crib Bedding. I would NOT recommend spending this much on bedding or getting the bumper. However, if you do want to, Land of Nod is excellent quality and cute. I still suggest trying Etsy first.
Blankets: You will probably want a few warm blankets or Sleep Sacks for the winter time or when you are out of the house. The Gerber receiving blankets are worthless – too small to use even on a newborn. What I bought: Plush Blanket. Find something soft, and buy a few different ones. Great for gift registries because people love to give cute items.
Swaddling Blankets: This is the most important purchase you will make for sleep because swaddling is the best way to help your baby sleep for the first 3 months of life. They sell swaddlers like Swaddle Me and the Miracle Blanket, but some babies don’t like them. The best option is the Aden and Anais swaddling blankets; they are large, gauzy, and the best swaddlers I’ve found. You can also make your own, but I suggest buying at least one Aden and Anais to compare/copy. When I made my own, it cost about the same as the A+A blankets, but I was able to make mine slightly larger. What I bought: Aden + Anais Cotton Muslin Swaddle Blanket.
Bassinet/Co-sleeper: Many parents like to sleep in the same room as their newborns, and bassinets and co-sleepers are great, safe options. I went with a co-sleeper because we wanted to share our bed with the baby, and when it was time to transition her to her crib we just put it in there so she didn’t know she was sleeping any differently. Then we phased it out. For a bassinet, I would choose something ultra-portable like the Fisher Price Newborn Rock and Play Sleeper. What I bought: Summer Infant Rest Assured Sleeper. As an on-the-bed co-sleeper, it worked really well for us, and I would highly recommend it. You can even take it on short trips as a portable crib until baby outgrows it.
Rocker/Glider: Everyone has their own opinion on this topic. Some like the upholstered chair look, but they take up a lot of floor space. Some like the traditional gliders, but they can clash with décor. Traditional rocking chairs are hard. I suggest going to stores and seeing what you think is comfortable. Sit in the chairs for a few minutes each and make sure they work for your body proportions. Everyone swears by Dutailier gliders, but check out Shermag gliders (at Babies R Us) for an inexpensive option, also. Finally, make sure you get an ottoman to put your feet up on when needed. When choosing upholstery, make sure the arms are padded and keep in mind the chair will get substantial use and probably get pretty dirty over time. What I bought: Shermag Glider and Nursing Ottoman. I think it is overall well made, but there are fabric issues I didn’t expect.
Dresser/Changing Table: You will want a dresser to store all the baby items in, but find one that is at least 16” deep so you can also use it as a changing table. Just put a changing pad on top and you have a perfect changing table without taking up needless floor space. You can use the top drawer to store your diapering supplies, too. I used a dresser I already had.
Monitor: A baby monitor is indispensible once you move your baby to the crib. I have used both the audio only monitors and a video monitor, and I’ve learned this: you don’t need a video monitor, but when you wake up in the middle of the night and wonder if your baby is okay, it’s a lot easier to look at the video screen than to get out of bed, walk to the other room, and risk waking your baby up. What I bought: Lorex LW2003 LIVE snap Video Baby Monitor. It works well, although the range is a little small and the audio isn’t very loud. The VOX feature is awesome.
Bookcase: Find a bookcase that works well for your room. They have tall and narrow bookcases that are excellent space savers. Make sure you secure it to the wall as children love to climb up them. What I bought: Billy Bookcase from Ikea. I sometimes wish I had opted for the wider size, but this saved floor space.
Rugs: Think softness for this purchase. Your baby will probably spend substantial time on the rug playing, and you want something soft against the skin. If you have hard floors, make sure it is also padded and has a non-skid bottom so you don’t slide on it in the middle of the night. What I bought: Circo Rug from Target. I love it because I can wash it, and when she decides she doesn’t like it we can use it for picnics.
Lighting: You will want lots of layers of lighting. A bright room light – preferably a ceiling fan for air circulation and because babies love looking at them –, a table top light for dim before bedtime lighting, and a nightlight for nighttime feedings, etc… What I bought: Spoka Night Light from Ikea. I love it! It can be plugged in or unplugged and run on rechargeable batteries. It’s rubbery soft. It’s great!
Decorations: Think low maintenance. If you like wall murals, consider using a stick up vinyl one that you can take down without having to repaint. For all hangings, try to make them multi-purpose: wall lights that work as nightlights, hanging pegs, etc… What I bought: Vinyl Wall Decal from Modern Decals on Etsy. It’s really high quality and customizable.
Diapers: No matter what people say, you WILL have time to send someone to the store to buy diapers in the first few days after the baby is born. I would have a few newborn size diapers on hand, but if you are registering for diapers choose the larger sizes your baby will grow in to – you never know how large your little one will be when it comes out! Note: When your baby starts pooping out of the diapers, it’s time to go up a size. Pampers Swaddlers/Dry Max are always well reviewed, but feel free to try smaller packages of other brands. Sign up for the bonus points programs online whichever diapers you use – in 2 months I’ve earned enough points to make 2 Shutterfly photo albums! What I buy: Pampers Sensitive with Dry Max.
Wipes: Huggies wipes are the best, hands down. Buy the small size wipes that come with the reusable travel case – it works better than the wipes cases that you buy for diaper bags. And you can never have too many wipes. What I buy: Huggies Natural Care.
Diaper Cream: Desitin is the traditional, and the original formulation works great. Boudreaux’s Butt Paste smells strangely, but it excellent for preventing diaper rash. Not as thick as Desitin, but if it is for prevention it doesn’t need to be. Make sure you have a small size for travel. What I buy: Boudreaux’s Butt Paste.
Changing Pad: They come in two basic types, two sided and three sided. It doesn’t matter which you get, but the two sided is a little more functional and fits the covers better. The three sided ones are not any safer. Also, the seat belts they come with are useless, so don’t worry if yours has one. What I bought: Serta Contour Pad. I would have gotten a two-sided one if I had known it is nicer to be able to access the baby from either side.
Changing Pad Cover: This is the colorful fitted cover that goes over your changing pad. You can buy them anywhere, and they are all about equal quality. Also, if you use a foldable changing pad over it, there is no need to wash it. What I bought: Tiddliwinks Changing Pad Cover
Foldable Waterproof Changing Pad: These are great to use to protect the changing pad, the changing table on your pack n’ play, or to just throw on the floor and change your baby. What I bought: Circo Changing Pads at Target are inexpensive and perfect.
Diaper Pail: The Diaper Genie or the Diaper Champ are both fine, although the Diaper Champ is cheaper and can use regular trash bags more easily. Honestly, I would skip the specialized diaper pail and just use a trashcan with a step lid. It will seal the smell in fine (especially if you breast feed), cost less, and have a purpose post-diapers. What I bought: Diaper Champ. Save your money and get a lidded trashcan.
Car Seat: The Chicco (pronounced key-co) is the best rated car seat system, and it is very easy to install, but it doesn’t work with grocery carts. The Graco car seats are actually made to click into grocery carts when needed. If you plan on using more than one car to transport your baby, make sure you buy extra bases so you don’t have to move them once they are properly installed. Don’t buy the infant head inserts – they aren’t needed or safe. If you really want to pad around your baby’s head, use rolled up receiving blankets. What I bought: Chicco Cortina Travel System. Next time I will buy a carseat and snap n’ go stroller.
Stroller: The best option is a snap n’ go base. Your car seat clicks into it just like in the car, and it is more lightweight and portable than a traditional stroller. You can find them at various price points at almost any baby store. Travel systems are overrated. The large stroller that the car seat clicks into is clunky and useless until the baby is large enough they it fits into an umbrella stroller. If you really feel you must get one, go to a Babies R Us and compare them by taking them off the shelves, folding them up, unfolding them, lifting them to see how heavy they are, etc… What I bought: See above.
Umbrella Stroller: You don’t use these until your baby is about 4 months old, or has really good head control. Wait to buy them as they are inexpensive and just take up space for a while. I don’t have one yet. When I do buy one, I will look for one with a reclining option.
Baby Carrier: Your baby will want to be carried more often than you will be able to go without hands, so I strongly suggest getting a baby carrier. The Ergo is the most comfortable. The Baby Bjorn is the most common and easiest to use. The Moby is popular but can be tricky to put on and doesn’t work with babies over 15 pounds. What I bought: Baby Bjorn Air. It hurts my back after a while, but is super quick and easy. Also, this fabric keeps baby cooler than the original Baby Bjorn.
Diaper Bag: This is another item you should read reviews about. The primary downfall of most diaper bags is weight and storage. If you are looking at diaper bags in a store, remember that it will be about 5 pounds heavier when full. I suggest getting a diaper bag you won’t mind using as a purse for daily activities if you are a stay-at-home-mom. Also, buy the clips that allow you to attach the bag to your stroller – great for shopping hands free! What I bought: Skip Hop Studio Diaper Bag. It’s heavy, but well-made and fashionable.
Pack n’ Play: These are great to use as a bassinet in your master bedroom when you first bring baby home. After that, you can set them up in a playroom to use during the day. Make sure you find one with a diaper changing table feature, and check it out in store to make sure you can fold it up. They are all heavy and awkward, so don’t expect perfection, just something manageable. What I bought: Carter’s Playard & Changer in Bumble. It’s a little awkward to collapse, but works really well and is neutral.
Shopping Cart Seat Cover: This foldable cloth cover for shopping carts is great to keep germs off your toddler. It’s not actually useable until your child is old enough to sit in the seat area of a cart, though. What I bought: Balboa Baby Shopping Cart Cover.
Onsies: Necessary. Have at least 10 on hand depending on how often you do laundry, and have the next size up on hand because babies can grow out of them overnight. Your baby will spend 80% of its time in onsies. Keep in mind the weather when you dress your baby – use the short sleeve onsies in hot weather, the long sleeve onsies in cooler weather.
Baby Pants/BabyLegs: Slip on over a onsie and you have an outfit! Opt for elastic waists, soft cottons, and be aware that the waist is usually large if the legs are long enough. BabyLegs are a great alternative for quick diaper changes.
Footed Sleepers: Opt for patterns you wouldn’t mind taking your baby out in public so you can use them during the day, also. They are versatile, great for around the house, and perfect for wintertime. In fact, I use/like these far more than the onsie/pants combination because they are easy. I like the zippered ones because they are faster to zip up and easy in the dark at night, but some people have a hard time getting the leg back in. The snapping ones are usually cuter, but if you’re impatient they can take longer to snap up.
Baby Socks: Have at least 10 pairs at all times, and be prepared to lose them constantly. If baby is wearing pants, put them on over the pants to help the socks stay on their feet.
Pretty Clothing: Useless. Have a few outfits for social events or pictures, but you will quickly find you don’t use them on a daily basis.
Sleep Sacks: Great for older babies who aren’t being swaddled. Use it instead of a blanket to prevent suffocation. What I bought: Halo Sleep Sack. I don’t use it because we are still swaddling, so I would wait to buy one until your baby is ready for it so you can get the right size.
Brands (arranged ascending by price)
· Gerber is great, but runs very small. They were the only ones that our 7 pound baby didn’t swim in, but at 2 months she is already wearing the 6-9 month size.
· Faded Glory from Walmart is VERY soft, but the seaming is horrible so check before you buy.
· The Circo from Target is generally sized well and is great quality.
· Carter’s is sized the best, good quality, but more expensive.
Cloth Diapers: Not just for bottoms! Use the cloth diapers for burp cloths, to wipe up spit up, or during messy nursing sessions. Have a dozen on hand, and opt for the pre-folded gauzy types. What I bought: Child of Mine by Carters from Walmart.
Bottles: Babies develop preferences, and you can tell which brand or nipple your baby likes by how much he fusses and how quickly he is able to drink from it. What I buy: Medela. If you get a Medela PNS, you can pump directly into the bottles for storage/use.
· Dr. Browns is good for gas, but is hard to clean.
· Avent is very popular, but some people say they leak. However, they are easily in the top 3 most suggested bottles.
· Born Free I haven’t heard anything bad about, and a lot of people swear by them.
· Medela is horrible for nursing, but once you get that established it works well. Use the wide-base nipples.
· Breast Flow is great for breast feeding and avoiding nipple confusion, but hard to get baby to take.
· Drop-ins are great for cleaning, but hard to warm.
Bottle Warmer: Not necessary – just run under hot water or warm a cup of water in the microwave and set your bottle in it to bring to temperature.
Pump: Invest in the Medela Pump-In-Style Advanced. They are pricier, but work well, last forever, and have great customer service. Also, buy the SoftFit cups – they help you get more milk. What I bought: Medela Pump in Style Advanced with Backpack. I hated the backpack style at first, but it has a lot of storage and is really more comfortable and easier to use than the tote bag.
Nursing Pillow: If you plan on breastfeeding, a Boppy or My Brest Friend Pillow is a great option. They help lift baby to the right height, allowing you to free an arm. You can also use the Boppy to sit your child up or practice tummy time – supervised of course! If you are choosy about fabrics, you can buy a plain pillow and have a cover made for you through Etsy. What I bought: Boppy Pillow and Cover.
Nursing Cover: If you plan on breast feeding, make sure you have one of these. Although it is legal to nurse, covered or not, it makes for a more comfortable experience in public. Check that the one you get has boning at the top so you can see your baby under the cover, and make sure you get a large one so you and baby can fit under it comfortably. I bought mine from a seller on Etsy.
High Chair: Make sure it is height adjustable with lockable wheels and a removable, dishwasher safe feeding tray. What I bought: Carter’s Newborn to Toddler Folding Highchair. I suggest waiting until you need one to get one; ours is collecting dust in the dining room.
Tub: Baby tubs are not a waste of money – they make washing your baby much easier in my experience. I love the type with the seat that holds baby still while you wash. What I bought: Fisher-Price Whale of a Tub. It has a seat for infants that can be removed once baby is larger and a padded, non-slip back.
Bathtub Thermometer: Checks to be sure your baby’s bathwater isn’t too hot. What I bought: Aquatopia Deluxe Safety Bath Alarm. It works really well, and beeps if the water is too hot or too cold.
Wash Clothes: You can use any wash cloth for your baby; you do not have to buy specialized cloths. Just make sure it is soft and you have enough of them for each bath. If you plan to bathe your baby as part of a nighttime routine, have at least 10 on hand. I use plain white wash clothes I already owned.
Towels: Hooded baby towels are cute, but not necessary. Just use a soft bath towel.
Soaps: Johnson & Johnson works fine and has a nice line of nighttime washes if you make bathing part of a bedtime routine, but I prefer Aveeno Baby. Their products don’t smell as strongly, and they are very gentle and non-drying. What I buy: Aveeno Baby Wash and Shampoo.
Lotions: California Baby Calendula Cream is great for really dry skin. Otherwise normal baby lotion works fine. Don’t use anything overly perfumed, and don’t use sunscreen until baby is 6-months old. What I buy: California Baby Calendula Cream and Aveeno Baby Lotion. I highly recommend registering for the Aveeno Baby Gift Basket. It has full size and sample size items of all the lotions and washes, as well as a great, soft cotton blanket.
Brushes: Take the baby brush from the hospital – it’s great if your baby develops cradle cap. Otherwise have a baby brush/comb set at home. They are soft and useful. What I bought: A random baby brush and comb set from Walmart.
Clippers/Files: I have yet to meet a single mom who wasn’t terrified to use baby clippers, and I only used emery boards. However, if you do want clippers, I hear the type specifically made for babies work best. I use Emery boards I already owned.
Toys are VERY baby specific. For example, some babies love the Bumbo Baby Chair and some hate it. I would always suggest trying items out before you buy them, whether that means visiting the store and letting your baby sit in an Exersaucer for a few minutes or visiting a friend and letting your baby try out their stuff.
Swing: Get a swing; it will save you in the early days when you have no idea how to quiet your crying baby. They take up a lot of floor space, so consider getting one of the “portable” swings – they are much smaller. Alternatively, consider getting one of the sleeper swings where baby can recline fairly far. All swings have horrible reviews, so take them with a grain of salt. The Bright Starts Ingenuity swings are great; they use batteries instead of plugging into the wall, but the batteries last forever. We used ours every day and some full nights for 3 months and the batteries were still going strong. The other option is a plug-in swing, but make sure you have an outlet that is accessible where you plan to place the swing. What I bought: Bright Starts Ingenuity Swing. What I wish I had bought: Bright Starts Ingenuity Portable Swing.
Bouncy Chair: Bouncy chairs usually vibrate, except the Bright Starts Ingenuity bouncy chair – it bounces itself. I really like ours. It’s not a strong bounce, but it is enough to calm a fussy baby. What I bought: Bright Starts Ingenuity Bouncer.
Plastic Links: Use them to hang shopping bags from your stroller or toys from anything. Incredibly useful! What I bought: Bright Starts Lots of Links.
Books: Focus on books with black and white or bold, graphic pictures in the beginning. Don’t plan on reading anything longer than 5 minutes for a long time; baby’s attention span will be short. The cardboard page books are best for small children, so it’s good to have a collection of them.
Rattles: Rattles are great. Make sure they are small enough to fit in a baby’s hand. The padded rattles are too big for babies to hold, but are great to rattle for your baby. What I bought: Sassy Rattle and Bright Starts Bloom and Rattle. My baby loves the padded rattle more than any other toy.
Hanging Toys: Have tons of these. Make sure they have crinkle parts, they rattle, or they have bells so when baby swings at them they will make noise! You can hang them from play mats, strollers, mobiles, etc… What I buy: Anything by Infantino, Tiny Love, or Sassy.
Teethers: Buy the type that vibrate or can be microwave or frozen for soothing relief. One of the most popular teething toys is Sophie the Giraffe. Her rubber is natural, so it smells and tastes better than most teethers, and she’s completely non-toxic. Wait to buy until your baby is actually teething.
Pacifiers: This is the most baby specific item I can think of. We tried 4 or 5 types and never really found one that worked with our baby. However, some babies will take any pacifier you throw at them. It’s really hard for babies to keep pacifiers in their mouths, though, so if you do end up liking the Soothie type, look into buying a Wannanub. It will help baby hold on to the pacifier more easily.
Play Mats: This is useless until baby is about 2 months, but then you will wonder how you ever lived without it. Allows baby to practice tummy time and lay on her back to play with toys overhead. Make sure you get one you can change the toys out on and try to find one with a mirror. Also, lights and music are great. What I bought: Tiny Love Play Mat. I love it! She will play on it for 30 minutes at a time.
Play Pyramid: Great for tummy time because it gives baby something on their level to interact with. 2+ months. What I bought: Infantino Tummy Time Activity Center. Really great.
Bumbo: 3+ months. Wait until baby can hold his head really steady before using this, but it is great to use until your baby can support itself sitting. Some people swear by them for bath time, too. What I bought: Bumbo Baby Sitter. I would wait to buy this until your baby is old enough. My child has rather chubby legs and they don’t fit well in the slots already.
Exersaucers/Jumparoos: 4+ months. Baby has to have excellent head control to use these, but they are the modern version of walkers. Find one that swivels and is interactive. Keep in mind they take a lot of floor space, so you may want to wait to buy one when your baby is old enough for it. If you go to Babies R Us, you can pull them down from the shelf and have baby test them out.
Mylicon: Gas drops. Most babies develop gas at some point, and these really do help. I only use them at night so my baby’s gas doesn’t wake her.
Infant Tylenol: You can only find generic brand right now because of the Tylenol recall, but it is good to have on hand for fevers. Also, make sure you buy it before your baby’s first round of vaccines at 2 months.
Aspirator/NoseFrida: Take the aspirator from the hospital – you will never find one as good in store. It is fairly harsh, so if your baby’s nose bleeds from it or becomes irritated, consider using the NoseFrida. You suck the boogers out through a straw with a filter. Sounds gross, but it isn’t.
Saline: Buy infant saline so the nozzle is small enough for your baby’s nostril. It’s the best way to liquefy boogers and aspirate them.
Nursing Pads: Use these inside your bra to prevent leaks. Lansinoh is great, but a bit crunchy. Johnson & Johnson is excellent, but not good for larger breasts. I also own Bamboobies, a washable nursing pad that absorbs really well but isn’t good until your milk supply is mostly regulated. Finally, Lily Padz are great once your supply is regulated and you aren't nursing every 5 minutes because they are silicone stickies that have zero bulk.
Nipple Cream: No matter what, your nipples will be painfully sore for a few weeks when you start nursing. Lansinoh cream is very commonly suggested, but I find it to be a bit messy. Motherlove Nipple Cream is great to help ease some of the pain. Put it on every time after you nurse to keep your nipples moisturized. You don’t have to wash it off because it is all natural and won’t hurt baby. What I bought: Motherlove Nipple Cream.
Pads: Have a box of supers and a box of lights on hand for after the hospital. You will bleed for 2-6 weeks.
Underwear: Buy a size larger than you normally wear to fit the pads for the first month after having the baby. Make sure they are all cotton and cheap because they will probably get ruined anyways.
Nursing Bra: Nursing bras should not have an underwire, which is a hard adjustment if you need support. After your milk comes in and stabilizes (about 1-2 months) is a good time to invest in a good bra. For backups, check out the Bravado Basics collection at Target. Don’t forget a sleep bra, too. What I bought: Bravado Nursing Bra. Lacks Support, but it is comfortable, breathable, and works for everyday stuff. I also have the Bravado Basics Sleep bra from Target – it looks like a sports bra but has no support and breathes like you aren’t wearing anything at all. My high quality nursing bras came from Nurtured Family in Northwest Houston, and they are both underwires. Anita 5041 is lacy and has a great reminder medallion in front to tell you which breast you nursed from last. The Bella Materna T-Shirt Underwire Bra isn’t very comfortable, but gives a great shape and still allows you to nurse.
Nightgowns: Find nightgowns you can pull down or open easily to nurse in, and ideally gowns you can slide nursing pads into. You will leak at night for at least a month. I use any nightgown with a low v-neck or spaghetti straps I can pull down. I also sleep in old t-shirts I can lift up and sweatpants when it’s cold.