A Buying Guide for Expectant Mothers and New Parents
Expectant Parents' Buyer's Guide
I wrote this little guide to help other expectant parents determine what they might or might not need. I know when I was pregnant and starting to think about these things, I was overwhelmed and wished I had a little insight! So I hope this guide helps you to ask yourselves the right questions about what is necessary for your situation. I also hope that it helps you save some money, and simplifies things a bit. The entire process can be quite overwhelming.
Items you’ll need immediately!
These are items you’ll need immediately, upon your return from the hospital (or at the hospital). You’ll want to purchase these items and have them in your house near the end of your pregnancy. These are good Baby Shower items to register for.
Infant car seat, sometimes referred to as a “Bucket Seat” – One of, if not, THE most important item. They will not let you leave the hospital without one!
Car seat base – You will put this in the car before your due date, and it will stay in your car until baby outgrows his/her infant seat. They recommend you have it inspected at the local police station around month 8. We had to make an appointment to do this because there’s only one officer in our town that is certified to do this, and he wasn’t always available or on duty. So prepare for this ahead of time.
Stroller or Snap-n-Go – For the first few months, baby will hang out in his or her infant seat while you take him or her for walks. Baby will not just sit in a stroller until he or she is about 4 or 5 months old. So, Baby will sit in the infant seat that you will snap into a stroller or snap- n-go. This is a personal choice. If you splurge and buy a “travel system,” you’ll be able to use the stroller later. Or, you can opt for the snap-n-go and later on when baby is ready for a stroller, pick one out then that you like.
Baby Chair/bouncer – Babies love movement and vibration. They sell little reclined type seats that babies can sit in. You put these seats on the floor. You secure them in with the attached belt, turn on a button and let them vibrate or bounce slightly. It keeps them happy. Our son fell asleep in his a lot.
Infant Swing – This can be a lifesaver. We kept ours in our living room, but occasionally moved it near our kitchen table. He loved the movement; it kept him calm and happy while we ate or tried to do other stuff that wasn’t conducive to just sitting on the couch holding him. And it put him to sleep for naps. Just get one that isn’t too complicated and can be moved around. Oh, and this could be important – there are some swings that move forward and backward, and then have a different setting to make the swing go from side to side. This feature could be worth the extra few dollars since some babies have a preference. Better to get this one in the first place than to have to go out and buy a whole new swing that does the opposite of what you have.
Infant Bathtub – Ours was a convertible one that took him from infancy through early toddlerhood. It had a removable sling that he laid in when we first bathed him in the first months.
Body Carrier – You’ll want this for walking and light hiking with baby after about a month. Baby needs to be at least 8 pounds to use one and have some head control. You can buy one (we have the Baby Bjorn) that goes on the front of yours or Daddy’s chest and baby can face you or face forward. I have friends who put their babies in them while cleaning (not bending over), using the computer, long walks outside, etc. We used ours for walking around little towns while going in and out of small shops; it was less cumbersome than using a stroller.
Co-sleeper, bassinet, or pack n play with bassinet insert for your bedroom – When you first get home, baby will sleep in your room and needs something safe and cozy to sleep in.
We had an “Arm’s Reach Co-Sleeper.” This little crib has legs and is totally safe and usable on its own, but you also secure it to the side of your bed to prevent it from moving away from your bed. This way, in the middle of the night you can reach over, safely pull baby onto your bed and nurse, put him or her back in, all without getting out of bed.
In addition to this, we had a pack-n-play with a bassinet insert that we kept in the living room for naps or hanging out. When he outgrew the bassinet insert, we removed it and used the pack-n-play for travel (he still sleeps in it on vacation, uses it as a crib.) They’re also used as playpens. Some people also use them outside, and you can buy mosquito netting for them.
Crib – They have kinds now that do not have a drop down front. All four sides are stationary and permanent. They’re trendy, and some people think they’re safer. We got the other kind that has a drop-down front rail. Here’s why: In the beginning months it would be fine. However, as soon as our son could sit up we had to move the mattress down to a lower position. Being short, I knew I would never be able to reach down to place him in or take him out from a lying position without putting the rail down.
Changing table – Make sure it’s high enough for both you and your spouse. Most were too short for my tall husband. The kind that double as a dresser (much more expensive) are usually lower and uncomfortable for taller parents.
Rocking chair - Many parents swear by these. It never helped our son fall asleep. Not once. We ended up just using it as a chair to read to him in once he was a little older and could hold up his head and upper body while we read to him. We did have to remove our wooden glider/rocker once he started crawling, since it was totally unsafe for his little fingers. So keep this in mind: it might not stay in the nursery for very long.Quite a few mothers love the gliders that come with ottomans. And most have slipcovers that can be removed easily for washing.
Mobile – They have black and white ones with some contrasting primary colors and designs that some people feel are superior because babies first see black and white, and then contrasting shapes, designs, colors, etc. Most of these mobiles have classical music. These aren’t necessarily “cute” and don’t coordinate well with nursery décor. They’re supposed to be stimulating.
Some people choose the softer looking mobiles with soft animals or other shapes that might coordinate with the nursery décor. Some of these have music other than classical.
Music – Soft lullabies are good, and many newborns prefer music that they heard a lot in utero.
Stuffed animal with heartbeat & nature sounds – This attaches to the outer part of the crib. We had a stuffed lamb that seemed to help our son fall asleep when we had the mother’s heartbeat playing.
Monitor – They sell audio monitors, video monitors, and combo ones. We had the combo which was good, but not great. We paid for the color, high-quality version but the picture and sound were just okay. Glad we had it and we used it constantly in the first 6 weeks, but not sure if paying for color made a difference. It definitely gave us peace of mind in the first 6 weeks…our floors are loud and squeaky, so walking in usually meant waking our baby. This was an easy way to watch him.
Books – Make sure most are “board books” that have hard pages, not just hard covers. Baby will destroy soft pages once she is at the stage where she holds the book herself. Of course, any books are good for you to read to Baby before he/she begins grabbing them, but I wouldn’t go making huge investments in these just yet.
Diaper Pail thing – Some people purchase these, others just use closed garbage baskets with scented bags. We did get the Diaper Genie and it was okay. Probably worth it unless you happen to have an extra garbage can around that would work. Not a huge deal either way.
Wipes’ Warmer – We did not have one of these and I’ve heard mixed things. However, I will say that our son has hated being wiped and I think it is because they are cold, so go with your gut on this one. Probably not a necessity and small enough for the two of you to purchase after he or she is born if you feel like it’ll help.
Hangers – Seems obvious, but it isn’t! You’ll need baby sized hangers for the tiny clothing! These small hangers will last through the years of toddler and pre-school clothing. Fortunately, many baby clothes come with their own hangers, and these are totally fine to use. You just might want to buy a small package of hangers in addition to these.
Diaper Bag – I appreciated having compartments and exterior pockets to find things quickly and easily. Remember, Baby’s father will be using it too, so don’t get one that will be ridiculous for him to carry. Some bags are clearly designed for the baby (teddy bears all over it) and others are designed for the parents (trendy). So this is a matter of taste. And most nowadays come with a portable changing pad that can be wiped clean. (Although, we also kept a “lap pad” in it to use with the vinyl pad for extra comfort and size – the vinyl pads that come with the bags are usually small and thin.)
Another thing to keep in mind – if you’re packing a diaper bag for an afternoon excursion, include a change of clothes for yourself, not just for Baby!
Pacifiers – Our son used them in the beginning, but by about two months he was done. Other babies – most babies– use them for much longer. So buy a few and see what happens. Don’t go crazy buying a lot – just some in the newborn size. We kept one at his changing table (which we also used while he was in his crib), one in his diaper bag, and one in the living room (sometimes you just don’t have the energy to get up and go get one). Having a few is also necessary because they drop on the floor frequently and you may not have time to wash and sterilize it before the next time baby wants it (often immediately). Believe me; you’ll want the peace and quiet to return QUICKLY!
Waterproof Pads, aka “Lap Pads” – You’ll need more than you think. I got so many as presents and didn’t think I’d use them all. After a few weeks, I thought maybe I’d need more. I didn’t, but I was constantly throwing them in the wash. We have different sizes and different colors. You’ll use them a few times between washings if nothing leaks on them.
You’ll use them constantly – at first, we used them on our laps, under our son while feeding him. Doesn’t matter if you’re going to breast feed or bottle feed – for a while, you’ll be feeding baby on your lap either way. While Baby eats, he/she often pees and poops without you knowing it. Diapers always leak in the beginning, so this will save you from constantly cleaning your pants, shirts, and the couch (things can seep down next to or between your legs onto the couch). Also, you can place one under baby while you have him on your bed – it’ll save you from washing your blankets, sheets, mattress pads…much easier to throw a small pad into the laundry than sheets. They dry quickly, too. We placed one under our son while he was using his swing or his activity mat. Again, much easier to throw these in the wash than clean everything else.
Most of the pads we have are white, but we did get a few colored ones that now come in handy. Here’s why: when I lay jack on our bed to nurse, I want the pad underneath him to protect my bed under his butt and also under his mouth b/c of spit up. Because you can reuse them a few times before washing (if nothing leaks on them, of course), I do not want to place his face on the same pad/area that I placed his butt the last time I used it (without washing in between). So, now I remember that I place the colored ones under his head, and the white ones under his body. At first this won’t be an issue, because Baby’s entire body head to toe will fit on one and you won’t need two anyway. I remember where his head was the last time by the tag. I always keep the tag at the bottom. Just a little hint to minimize confusion and extra work.
We used one on the changing pad as well. Again, much easier to throw this in the wash than the changing pad cover EVERY time you do a diaper change – 10 times a day during the first month or so.
These pads also kept our son from getting full of cat hair. If we left them somewhere – on our bed, on the activity mat, on the changing table – anywhere – we would simply fold it over in half so if a cat did lie on top of it after we moved him, it wouldn’t be on the side where our son was going to be again.
Another idea for them – keep one in the car and/or diaper bag. Most diaper bags come with a changing pad, but they’re small and slippery. It’s a good idea to have a waterproof pad for back up, to use under the vinyl pad that comes with the bag. Provides more space for baby.
To sum it up, here’s where we always kept a pad during the first few months:
Crib (until he was more mobile at around 3 months)
Our bed (kept under Baby while lying there with us)
Our couch (to use on our laps)
The diaper bag
The activity mat
The infant swing
Receiving blankets – It’s easy to keep baby wrapped warmly in one while you’re holding him/her during the day. You’ll also use one over the baby during walks in the carrier/stroller once it’s a little warmer.
Burp cloths – You will use many of these. You’ll almost always have one draped over your shoulder in the beginning weeks (although, most of the time baby has a way of missing the burp cloth…trust me, you’ll see…). So get a bunch. Cloth diapers work perfectly as burp cloths. Thin cotton receiving blankets work well as burp cloths too.
Face cloths – For at least the first two weeks, you’ll just clean baby with face cloths. I found it easier to have different colored ones for different things – there was no mistaking which cloth had soap, which one just had water. When you’re exhausted, these little things help!
Bundle Me – Absolute necessity here! It is a warm, blanket/sack type thing that attaches to the infant seat and it has holes for the car seat straps. You’ll attach it ahead of time (read: before the hospital) and you’ll probably keep it on there for months. It is a substitute for a jacket, a snowsuit, and/or a blanket…So, for instance, you’ll put baby in the seat at home, zipper up the Bundle Me, carry baby outside to the car, put her in the car, take her out at the store, etc. You get the point. No jackets to take off and on, no blanket to look out for. And if it seems a little hot in the grocery store, simply unzip it a little for air.
Toy for carrier bar – You’ll want something that can hang from the carrier bar and entertain baby. Keep in mind, you have to carry the carrier by the handle, so don’t choose something that makes this difficult. At this stage, simple is best. You can always switch it up later. Our son absolutely loved these two little animal toys by Infantino. They are a lion and an elephant, and they hang from the bar with two magnets. They’re easy to remove and move and they don’t get in your way of carrying it at all. If they do fall off onto baby, it’s not a worry – they’re light and soft. They provide just enough entertainment and the contrasting colors are perfect for newborns.
Mosquito netting for the carrier – Some people would say this is not a necessity, however, depending on the season and your lifestyle, it could be. The netting fits easily over the carrier to keeps bugs out. You’ll definitely need it while sitting outside with baby at dusk, in the evening, and even if you’re outside at dawn. Newborn babies cannot use insect repellent. However, if you’re having the baby in the winter when bugs aren’t an issue, it’s okay to wait a few months to buy one. But you’ll need it for the spring and summer.
Plastic canopy for the carrier – We have one made by Baby Bella and we like it. It fits easily and quickly over the carrier to keep out rain, snow, and wind. There’s a clear window so you & baby can see each other, and there’s a hole at the top for ventilation and so you can carry the handle of the carrier. Of course, if it’s just sprinkling you won’t really need it, but it can be useful in stronger rain, and especially in the snow and when it’s very windy and chilly. Keep in mind – grocery store parking lots are usually windier and you may have quite a walk to the door. Although, we may have used it more b/c we don’t have a garage and have to deal with the elements on our way to the car, too.
Boppy (pillow) & Cover – This is a great u-shaped pillow that you can wear around your waste. You put baby on it while breastfeeding – it’s more comfortable for you this way – your arms will get tired from holding Baby without it! Diego will probably use it to while cuddling with Baby. They sell covers for it that zip off and go in the laundry. You’ll want a cover.
Our experience with clothing was simple: Like many newborns, our son really disliked being changed, so we did this only out of necessity, and we tried to do it as quickly as possible. He made the process “challenging,” so changing him in and out of cute outfits became not so fun. We kept things simple for the first month – our main goals were comfort (softness, thickness, shape…) and ease of change.
Here’s another thing about newborns: Their diapers leak. Constantly. It gets better with time as their digestion improves and the fit more snuggly in diapers….but be prepared. And keep in mind it does get better!
Having a washer-dryer in the house certainly helps. You will feel like you are constantly doing laundry. You have no idea how many shirts and onesies a baby can pee on, poop on, and spit up on. But, even though you’ll still need more than you think of some items, you won’t need as much as most store clerks will lead you to believe.
You’ll want to remove store tags and wash some things ahead of time, so you won’t need to do this when you get home from the hospital. But remember – there’s a chance your baby will not fit into certain items when you want them to (because of weather, size, etc.)…so keep tags on some items in case you need to exchange them for a larger/different size once the season arrives to wear them in. For instance, you have a 3-6 month summer outfit for the baby, but by the summer weather, she’s in 6-9 month clothing. Trust me, it can happen, so don’t go removing tags and washing larger items. Just do it with a few newborn necessities.
When your baby is in the hospital, the nurses will probably dress him or her in a side snap t-shirt, diaper, cap, and swaddle blanket. You’ll soon realize why they do this and you may choose this most of the time, plus a pair of bottoms, probably. Here’s why:
Side-Snap T’s. These are a must-have because in the beginning weeks, especially, it is difficult to get clothing over Baby’s delicate, wobbly head. You’ll want to dress Baby easily and quickly and side-snap T’s can help (think button-down shirt). They sell short-sleeved and long-sleeved ones. Also, these are great to have in the first few weeks when Baby still has the umbilical cord stump. They don’t rub against and irritate the stump like a onesie might, and they also allow it to get some air which will allow it to fall off and heal more quickly.
You’ll need at least 6 long sleeved t’s. These usually come in packs of 3, and you can buy them at places like Target, TJ Maxx, Marshall’s, and Toys/Babies R Us. Most come tagless, which is great because most babies’ skin is easily irritated by tags.
Onesies – These have snaps in the lower area to keep the clothing in place. Many times, if you don’t have something that snaps, it rides up. They sell short-sleeved and long-sleeved ones. However, you really shouldn’t put one on Baby until after the umbilical cord stump falls off, usually around 2 weeks old. The material can irritate it. But after it falls off, the baby will be in these constantly – he or she will probably go through 2 or 3 a day!
Pants – Anything soft and loose and comfortable with an elastic waistband. Stick to items without buttons, zippers, etc. – although, they probably don’t sell newborn clothing with these things.
Socks – You’ll need a bunch of socks regardless of the time of year Baby is born. You’ll want to keep Baby’s feet warm in an air conditioned house, and of course, warm in the winter. Remember to remove socks when you change the diaper! They kick and move their legs when you change them…Trust me…But socks come in multi-packs and are very inexpensive. Again – his or her feet might be larger than expected. Jack did not fit into any “newborn” booties…and he was not large when he was born. And while I’m on the subject, booties and shoes are not the most comfortable things for babies anyway. You’ll probably get some as gifts and use them occasionally (photo op), but don’t stock up on shoes. Get thick, warm socks.
Caps/hats – Our son had a million of these, but only wore a few. If you’re having the baby in the colder weather, you may need a handful – some thick for outdoor, cold weather, some not so thick for inside the house or store.
Hand Mittens – Okay, these are important. They are not for warmth; they’re for safety. They look like little socks for the hands and they prevent Baby from scratching his or her face. Their little nails grow so quickly (lots of times they already need to be trimmed right after they’re born!), and they’re not so easy to trim. So long nails + flailing arms and hands = lots of scratches. FYI – some pajamas have material that folds over the hands. These are great; they remove the need for the mittens. Oh, and these mittens can get lost easily, so buy a few pairs in the same color so you’re not always trying to find a match.
Pajamas – There’s a little variety here. They sell nightgowns (for both boys and girls) that are basically what they sound like, but they are longer than baby and have a sort of drawstring/elastic type thing at the bottom to close it off and keep the warmth in. These are great because when you need to change Baby, you simply hike up the bottom, change the diaper and pull it back down – no pulling out legs, arms, out of pajamas, etc. Simple. They also sell one-piece footed PJ’s for baby that will come in handy as well. As long as they’re dry, you’ll end up keeping Baby in them during the day too….comfort, ease, etc…We found the easier ones opened down the front. We got frustrated with the ones that had back openings/buttons.
Swaddle Me – We couldn’t have gotten through the first two months without them. Yes, you can just use a receiving blanket to swaddle, but we found there was no comparison between the two. The Swaddle Me ensures you do it correctly and snugly and it won’t come undone. We had a few b/c we used them for naps too, and yes, diapers leak. We had cotton ones, but we found the fleece ones worked better and we have a/c anyway.
Sleep Sack – These are great for the fall and winter. You will not be able to use a blanket for baby during the night, so these are a safe way to keep baby warm and cozy. They zip up from the bottom for quick diaper changes. Apparently, they now sell a Swaddle Me / Sleep Sack combo.
Hooded bathrobe – What it sounds like. Target sells cute animal-type ones.
Personal Care Products
Diapers – Do not go out and buy a million in bulk thinking you’re saving money in the long run. They grow out of the smallest ones quickly (we ended up having a bunch left over when we moved to the second size up). Some babies are extra-sensitive to certain brands and you’ll have to switch brands. Also, shapes differ slightly and you may end up with a preference (i.e., the type that leaks the least). So buy a package or two ahead of time and open just one of the packages. FYI - newborns go through about 10 diapers a day.
Wipes – Same deal with the diapers. Be aware that “lightly scented can still seem strong. We always opted for the free and clear – no perfumes.
First Aid Kit – The hospital will probably give you a little zip-lock bag filled with necessary items. This should be all you need. But if it makes you feel better, go out and get stuff ahead of time. But – seriously – this little bag should be enough. And ask the nurses at the hospital what you should clean the umbilical/belly button area with after you go home.
Thermometer – Yes, you should have a special baby one. And the rectal ones are more accurate. But we used a good digital one on his forehead when we suspected a fever. Shhh…
Baby wash/shampoo – It should be tear free. Small bottles are better, because you may find that baby is allergic to one kind and you have to switch to another product. You don’t want to spend a lot of money on a jumbo size thinking you’re saving money in the long run, when you actually lose money buy using two teaspoons out of a gallon. Buy in bulk after you’ve tried an item and know you like it and baby likes it.
Diaper Rash cream – similar deal to the baby shampoo.
Talc-free powder - You don’t want to buy any powder that has talc in it. You want a talc-free product. Burt’s Bees (Or Baby Bees) sells a good one.
Baby nail trimmers – Yup, you need these right away. They sell safety type ones anywhere, including the grocery store.
Cotton balls – you’ll need them
Cotton swabs / Q-tips – these are controversial, but most agree you should never buy regular ones for a baby – you could end up putting them too far in the ear after a flaling arm hits you. We did use the safety-shaped baby ones occasionally.
Obviously this is a personal choice. I can’t tell you what formula feeding is like, but I can tell you a little about what I do know about the items you’ll need for nursing.
I must also note that breastfeeding gets easier (and less complicated) with time. The most difficult and complicated part is in the beginning. Then it’s so simple you don’t even think about it. And as time passes and it gets simpler, you will not need anything more than a few nursing bras and a pump and bottles if you so desire. You’ll notice quite a few products listed below, but they are really just used in the beginning. I can only speak from personal experience, and everyone’s body is different. But here’s what I found:
Nursing bras – You’ll need a few comfortable ones. Target sells many. And you can buy them in your third trimester and begin wearing them. Most likely, you won’t fit into your old bras at this point.
Nipple cream – Lansinoh is a good brand to prevent and/or heal cracked, sore nipples. This only a problem in the very beginning.
Disposable nursing bra pads – These will prevent wet shirts from the leakage. You just slip them into your bra. I bought a box and didn’t even use a third of it. Leakage was just a problem in the very beginning. So don’t go buying a bunch of boxes. Just buy one and wait to see if you need more. Chances are, you won’t.
Cooling/warming Pads – You can put these in the freezer or microwave to make your breasts feel better. Again, the soreness was just a problem in the beginning. After a while, it was not an issue at all.
After about 4-6 weeks (they say not to do it until after this point), you’ll most definitely want to consider pumping. This will allow the other parent to feed the baby and give you a break – read: SLEEP! Until this point, you’ll be doing 100% of the feedings throughout the day and night (every 2-3 hours at night at first). So you’ll welcome the break at night! To pump, you’ll need:
Pump – I had a manual one that worked just fine. Some women, mostly women who have to go back to work and pump a lot and pump quickly, get an electric “hospital grade” one. These are usually a couple hundred dollars. My (much less expensive) manual pump worked just fine. It seems complex and confusing at first, but you get the hang of it. Mine was the “Avent Isis on- the-go Pump” and I would recommend it. Oh, but a little hint: some insurance companies will end up paying for the hospital-grade kind. But if they don’t, and you’re still home all day, I’d stick to the manual one.
Sterilizer – this is something that you can fit all of the pump and bottle parts into and pop in the microwave to sterilize before each pumping and/or feeding session.
Bottles (that you use for both storing and feeding breastmilk) & Caps & Nipples –
Make sure you buy the “BPA Free” kind. Most common brands are Born Free, Avent, Dr. Brown’s…just make sure they are specifically BPA Free. You pump the milk directly into a bottle, put a cap on it and store it in the fridge or freezer. When it’s time to feed Baby, you take the cap off and put a nipple on it to feed (and warm it at some point –I can’t remember if you warm it with the cap or the nipple, sorry!). And of course, you can pump the milk directly in the bottle and immediately put a nipple on it to feed if baby is ready to drink. But most of the time, you’re going to be storing it for a bit for someone else to feed the baby with while you’re busy, working, sleeping, out, etc. After all, if you’re with baby and she’s hungry, you would just nurse instead of pumping. Get it?
Bottle Warmer – This turned out to be a necessity for us. We didn’t have one at first and tried to warm the bottles of milk up the manual way by placing them under warm running water. IT NEVER WORKED! Our son clearly thought they were too cold and wouldn’t drink them. We finally went out and purchased a simple bottle warmer and it worked perfectly. FYI: you can’t warm bottles of milk in the microwave EVER. It’s unsafe – hot spots form.
Soft wind up toys that play music – Don’t really need these for a month or so, but good to get ahead of time because they’re cute to decorate the nursery with.
Stuffed animals – Same deal as the plush wind up toys!
Rattles – Soft ones are good to start with because you can hand them to her when she’s practicing her grasp, without fear of her accidentally hitting herself with it! Hard ones are fine for you to hold and shake, and then put out of reach and save for the teething stage, perhaps.
Black & white, simple toys to look at are good…Newborns and infants see black and white and then contrasting primary colors the best.
Items you’ll need after a couple of months
(But you may want to register for these items anyway)
Activity Mat – Jack really started to love his around 2 months. We put him on it earlier and at first he didn’t show much interest, but that changed over time. By about 8 weeks he started to love it, and at 22 weeks, he still loves it. I strongly recommend the Baby Einstein Discover & Play that you bought for Jack. When set to “Motion,” it provides endless entertainment. Jack loves the star that lights up and plays music when he touches the toys (i.e., the motion setting…)
Any little toys or animals that play music
Baby Bumbo Seat – They recommend you start using this after about 3 months. It helps baby sit and offers a new and exciting position for baby. It’s a little seat and you really should keep it on the floor (not on furniture unless it’s reliably sturdy and you’re sitting very, very close the entire time).
You can sit in front of him/her and play with her and show her things or talk to her. Or give her a toy. They say not to place them on elevated surfaces. But by this time, you all will welcome a new position & vantage point that doesn’t involve your carrying him/her.
Exersaucer & Jumparoo – Two great items for when baby is about 4 or 5 months old. Keeps them busy and entertained, and frees your hands!
Night Light - self-explanatory!
Some common products that you think you might need right away, but don’t – (and some you just won’t need for a while or should just give extra thought to before purchasing)
High Chair - Keep in mind that you will not need a high chair until Baby is about 6-months-old. There is absolutely no need to get one until then.
Newborn shoes – Yes, they’re cute so get one or two if you must, but don’t think they’re necessary by any means. Jack actually didn’t even fit into the “newborn” shoes that people bought him as gifts before he was born. And from what every one else has said, they’re difficult to put on and look uncomfortable for baby. And doctors actually recommend that you don’t put shoes on newborn feet. Again, if you get one or two, fine, but don’t spend a lot of money on these or too much focus.
Bibs – Our son did not use a bib until he began eating solids at 6 months. We received quite a few cute ones as gifts and we used them after 6 months. So don’t go spending a bunch of money on bibs for a while, unless you see one that you absolutely must have and don’t think you can find again. So, if you get some as gifts, keep them and wait. I must say, however, that I have a friend who always put one on her baby from a month on because he spit up constantly. She did it just to save an outfit. So, maybe you’ll need a few within the first few months, but don’t go crazy.
Growth chart – I bought one that I loved, turned out to be impractical. Keep in mind that once baby can stand and you can measure him or her on the chart, you’ll need the growth chart to be safe if it’s in a place (bedroom?) where he or she will be. I bought a cute, soft one with Velcro tags. My son constantly pulled at the chart, trying to yank it off the hook. He also pulled off the little Velcro height markers. Looking back, we would’ve been better off with a paper one that appeared to be completely attached and secured to the wall, not something hanging from a hook. Something that could’ve been marked with a marker and not a removable piece of material would’ve been nice, too.
Piggy Banks – Yes, they’re cute and if you see one you love, get it. But keep in mind that your Baby (and toddler) will not be handling coins for years.
Floor lamp: We picked out a perfect one, only to have to remove it once our baby was crawling. He eyed the cord once, and that was it. If you must have a floor lamp, keep in a place that baby can’t get to, or remove it once he or she is crawling. (Thinking about this, recessed lighting or ceiling fans with lights would be great for a nursery!)
Bedding. I focused on this a lot, as did all of my pregnant friends. Fortunately, you can find cute, inexpensive sets at places like Target. To tell a pregnant woman who’s about to have her first child that she shouldn’t focus on this is stupid. Every woman I know wants to have an adorable crib set for her baby. So that’s fine. But keep in mind that you will NOT – EVER – use a quilt inside baby’s crib. So if you see a cute one, get it – but find another spot for it. We received two as presents and have one draped over the back of a rocking chair which is perfect for us – cushions our backs and looks cute. We also have one for our son to roll around on the area rug. Both uses are perfect.
Random, helpful hints (and I apologize for any repetition from above!)
Ahead of time, decide on a good, easily accessible spot to keep all receipts, all instruction manuals, etc.
Don’t remove too many store tags off clothing ahead of time. You might have to exchange for a different size and don’t want to miss out on the credit or cash. You’ll have to remove some before baby is born so you can wash some items before you give birth, but there’s a balance here. Just don’t go removing tags from every item!
Don’t buy too, too many diapers, wipes, body wash, etc. before Baby is born. There’s always a chance that baby is allergic to a specific brand! You’ll want to get each one of these items ahead of time, just don’t stock up or buy in bulk just yet. Or buy it and keep it sealed, closed, receipts, etc. just in case. But yes, you do need to buy at least one package of diapers, wipes, wash ahead of time so you have them ready to use once you get home and to pack in the diaper bag for the trip home from the hospital. From what I remember, the hospital provides all diapers, wipes, wash during your stay.
Always have AA batteries on hand, as well as an extra supply of AAA and maybe D. If something like the swing suddenly runs out of batteries while baby is using it and asleep, you may want to try to replace them ASAP (read: not have to go to the store) so she stays asleep!
Always have extra lap pads, burp cloths, and pacifiers handy.
It’s beneficial to sign up to do product reviews for a company like iparenting.com (the one I’m with!). Basically, you register and tell them about yourself (if you’re pregnant, when you’re due, etc.) and they send you free products to use and you write a review for each within a designated time-frame. They have stuff for pregnant women, newborns, infancy, toddlers, pre-schoolers, elementary school kids, and parents. The time and effort is definitely worth it - I own hundreds of dollars worth of free, practical, useful and/or fun products!