5 Things to Buy Before the Baby Comes
First and foremost, congratulations! You're going to be a new mom or dad! Babies are wonderful little balls of joy that... Okay, I can't do it. Maybe it's because I'm a guy but babies are a lot of work. They pee, poop, vomit, slober, stay up all night, cry, and cost 3 bank accounts and 18 years of your life.
I'm kidding, kind of. I love my kids, I have three, and wouldn't trade being a dad for the world. It's the single term that defines me. Who am I? Dad, that's who. I'm going to try and help you out with things I've learned along the way.
1. Stroller/car seat
I'm going to start with this one because it's obvious but what's not obvious are the features. Cheap is not always better and expensive isn't always best. Here are some things to look for when choosing your child's life protection while riding in the back seat of your new minivan.
- Combo. You have to get a combination car seat that fits into a stroller. Yes, they're more expensive and yes they're worth every penny. The stroller can be 4 wheeled or 3, your choice. The 3 wheeled stroller seems to roll nicer but going up curbs is a bit tricky. Anything less than 3 wheels is a scam, don't do it.
- The stroller. There should be a lot of compartments, hooks, netting, bags, cup holders, and overall storage space. You're going to need it, trust me.
- The stroller should be easily foldable and just as easily unfolded. The size of the stroller when folded is important but should not be a deciding factor. Go to the toy isle and grab a football to hold and try practicing opening a few of the strollers while holding the football.
- Car seat. There should be a handle that moves for holding the car seat when not in the stroller or base. Make sure that the handle is curved because you'll learn (right now hopefully) that it's 100 times easier to hold a car seat with your arm and not your hand (see photo above). Also, some handles are difficult to rotate, requiring 2 hands to push buttons simultaneously. You're a new parent, you no longer have 2 hands. Stay away from anything that requires 2 hands.
- Base. Make sure the car seat can be easily removed from the base. Some have side levers which are preferable.
2. Diaper Bag
This is the American Express Card of parents. You don't leave home without it. Ever. The options for bag styles are endless. How you want to carry it is up to you and will determine the style. You're going to want one with lots of pockets. Pockets that snap, that are open, that velcro, and you may even want pockets with zippers.
I recommend a dark color and possibly one with patterns as this thing is going to be your combat action, daily carry, bag and will get stained.
- Backpacks are great for carrying everything you need, hands free. The downside is they're larger than traditional diaper bags.
- Messenger bags are the most popular for their ease of use but lack the various features of other bags.
- Totes are also very popular and are a step up from messenger bags as they have a much more wide array of pockets and storage. However, they look like purses.
If you're a dad looking for a diaper bag, I have bad news. It's not a dads world. Moms have 408,912 options for bags, we have 2. Very sturdy, rigid, and functional. I recommend the diaper bag from the good folks at Tactical Baby Gear.
2.1 Diaper Bag Essentials
- Burp cloths
- 2 Changes of clothes
- Bottles with formula added without water
- Water bottle
- Baby Wipes
- First aid kit with emergency information easily noticable
- If you're a dad, a changing pad because most mens rooms don't have changing tables. Moms world, remember?
- Plastic bag for dirty diapers
There are many other things I could add to this list but these are the bare bones essentials.
3. Crib, Bassinet, Swing
Your baby will spend most of their new time on earth sleeping. You're going to want to make sure you have plenty of options for the baby.
Bassinet will be your go to for sleep. The baby will be in your room for at least the first 6 months. A bassinet should be tall enough to reach without getting out of bed yourself. It's optional, but beneficial, to have one that vibrates. The bed pad should be flexible that you can prop it up slightly if needed. A hood or cover will also help keep light out. Again, storage is a must. You'll want one with side pockets or an under carriage that can store things for ease of use in the middle of the night.
A swing or bouncy chair is nice for naps during the day. I recommend the swing. Swings that vibrate, play music, and auto-rock are well worth the extra cost. Make sure they have soft, comfortable straps to hold the baby safe while rocking. If you opt for the bouncy chair, stick with one that vibrates and plays music.
Cribs are a huge decision. Wooden is my favorite and you'll want to save money later by spending money now. Find a crib that you can raise and lower the bed. You should also consider the crib that grows with your baby to save you from buying a new bed frame every year. These cribs will last you years until your child is ready for a twin size.
4. Baby Bath
These don't get enough attention. Until you try to freehand bathe your baby in the sink or tub, you won't realize how useful these are. Like everything else on this list, the options are plentiful. You don't want to soak your new baby so find a bath with a raised bed that the baby can lay in. If it fits in the sink, you're lucky. Most will fit in a bathtub but bathing in the sink or kitchen counter is much easier.
5. Cheating the list for extras
These aren't essentials but definitely close!
- Gripe water (or other gas relief). Much needed for babies who have gas or have colic.
- Changing pad. Not a full table, just a rounded pad to set on a dresser.
- Wipe warmer. (Tip: It's not just for the baby)
- LOTS of burp clothes and blankets. You may think you have enough, you don't. Go get more, now.
- Socks and mittens for babies with long nails so they don't scratch their face.
- Bottles that have matching nipples. Your baby will get attached to one nipple over the other. A set of at least 6 should be acquired.
- A drip dry bottle rack.
- Dreft is the soap you use to wash baby clothes. I think it's the only one. Why hasn't anyone else stepped in on this market?
- Baby gates are great for toddlers and if you have dogs you want to keep out of areas of the house.
- Play pens are also great to sectioning off an area, inside or outside, for your baby.
- Pack and plays are also great, and if you have a baby sitter who is not in your home, they're essential.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.