The other day, it occurred to me that people actually read these posts. Errr… Like some people might actually care about what I have to say. This seems like a great responsibility. An opportunity to be truthful + practical. So let’s do this AND keep in mind mom/dad… YOU do YOU (always)! This is my experience and every tiny-human is different. Every parent is different! What works on a Monday might be rubbish by Thursday, so give yourself a break. There are no hard-and-fast rules here!!! Parenting is like the wild wild west.
My situation! I’m a mom of a 4-month old boy. I hate clutter. I’m frugal. I’m neurotically organized. This is our first/only child. And… baby “gear” makes me VERY anxious. Readers have asked for an “essentials” list, so here it is!! Grab and coffee and let’s unpack.
Throughout this pregnancy/postpartum period you’re probably going to pickup a book or two… I read a TON and forgot absolutely all of it once Boden was here. If I had to guess there are approximately 782,423,847 baby books out there; each claiming to to better than the last. However, there are two resources I found invaluable.
- Real Food For Pregnancy: The Science and Wisdom of Optimal Prenatal Nutrition (Lily Nichols)
- Elevating Child Care: a guide to respectful parenting (Janet Lansbury)
I could go on-and-on about why these books are amazing but just read them. Other good ones include Bringing Up Bebe (Pamela Druckerman) and Simplicity Parenting (Kim John). If you like data, Cribsheet (Emily Oster) is another good read.
The Essentials List
- Happiest Baby SNOO Smart Sleeper Bassinet. Sleep! Don’t believe what everyone tells you “you’ll never sleep again!” This is bleak and an untrue statement. You WILL sleep and your baby will sleep but it will be different than what you’re used to. As a new parent your day will consist of 2-3 hour cycles. You’ll do the same things over and over and over again – so don’t cheep out when it comes to quality items that will buy you added peace of mind day-in and day-out. I was absolutely petrified that Boden would roll over, suffocate himself and die. Yup. That’s where my head would go. It still does. So I’m super happy we were able to borrow a friends Snoo. In short, it’s a robot bassinet that tracks your kids sleep and soothes them when needed. It has wings that clip-in so your kid can’t roll over. They are crazy expensive and in my opinion worth it. You can rent them, to offset the sting of the price-tag. If you do buy yours, you can sell it afterwards and get most of your investment back. The Snoo requires specific sleep sacks/sheets; I recommend buying 3 sheets and 3 sacks of each size. This way you have one available while the others are in the wash. Think 2am spit-up!!! The Snoo is a sound machine too, so don’t bother buying another one. Your kid won’t get addicted to this thing; Babies will outgrow wanting to be swaddled, shushed and swayed after about 6 months. This is when you’ll transition out of the Snoo anyway so don’t panic. TIP: Don’t create a situation where your child needs optimal conditions to sleep. You’ll make your life a lot easier if you avoid things like black-out curtains. Also – Don’t stop living while your baby is napping! Go ahead and run the blender or a vacuum. Have an adult conversation without whispering!!!
- Clothes. I do laundry about every other day. This means we don’t need a cray cray amount of shit that he’s going to out grow in a few weeks. We did really well with x3 gown type sleepers, a x5 pack of Organic Gerber Onsies and x3 zipper outfits with feet. OMFG please don’t buy your infant socks or shoes! Socks don’t stay on and your kid isn’t walking anywhere!! If it’s a two-piece forget about it! While adorable, shirts will not stay in-place and pants will make you want to murder yourself during diaper changes. TIP: Buy one unscented/gentle laundry detergent for everyone in your house to use!!! No one has time to be doing special loads of baby clothes! One household. One detergent. Please don’t believe the propaganda that you need “baby” detergent!!! Just buy something that’s not loaded with shit and doesn’t have fragrance. Gown sleepers are a Godsend in the early days when baby is plowing through diapers. Also – We don’t have day clothes and sleeping clothes… it’s all the same. PLEASE wash everything that touches your babies skin before they wear it. I’m partial to neutral organic cotton for newborns but it’s certainly not a requirement.
- Swaddles and Spit Rags. YES you need these BUT you don’t need a million. Buy 3-4 large muslin swaddles and 6-8 big spit rags. Done! Nothing fancy. Boden loves to play with his spit rags and the swaddles have a multitude of uses.
- Baby Bjorn Bouncer Bliss. Seriously… I could be the unofficial spokesperson for this thing! It. Is. Amazing!!!! It’s self propelled and the only real piece of “gear” we have in our house. You don’t need fancy swings or play centers; this thing replaces all of that! Plus it’s super easy to pack in the car or shove in a closet (it folds flat). You can carry it anywhere! The kitchen, while you’re cooking. The bathroom, while you’re peeing. The living room, while you’re _______. Well you get the point! This thing is amazing and we use it several times a day, every-day. It’s good from newborns to 2-years of age, also it’s machine washable and the construction is solid/no fuss.
- A GREAT carrier. This is where your lifestyle kind of comes into play. We have a stroller (Nuna Mixx) but I use our carrier daily. We actually only really use the stroller to do laps around the house (inside) when Boden is having meltdown. In retrospect, we really don’t even need our stroller. I love our simple Sakura Bloom Scout carrier but really anything that’s easy to clean and has good support is great. You don’t need several carriers! You just need one. Ours is rated 5-45lbs. One and done!
- Convertible Car Seat: This is where people might think we’re insane. I 1000% could not justify spending money on an infant carseat (the type that clicks in-and-out of a base). To spend hundreds of dollars on a carseat only to turn around and buy yet… another carseat?! NOPE. In our case, Boden would have outgrown this type of carseat in 2-months (he’s a big baby); I am really happy we didn’t waste money on this item. It really isn’t a big deal at all to take your kid in-and-out of a carseat for the first couple months. The convertible carseat we bought goes from 5-150lbs, so it should be the only one we need. We have two cars and have the same seat for each (less to think about). TIP: Set-up a PayPal account or something on your registry. This way people can chip-in for big ticket items.
- Thin Down Bunting. This only applies if you have a winter baby!!! But we try to get outside everyday (and live in Maine). A quality bunting is a must! Something thin and with legs so that it easily/safely fits in the carseat. This is obviously not a requirement if you have a spring/summer baby… Or a winter baby who doesn’t spend hours outside. We got ours on super clearance but it’s a ThermoBall Eco Bunting from The North Face; ours is a plain grey color but it’s like this one.
- Booger Tools. There are a million ways to get snot out of your kids nose. The Frida, a suction ball. The only way I like to do this… and the way that has worked the best for us, is a tool called an Oogiebear. Outside of a baby hair-brush, this is really the only piece of baby hygiene gear we have and it doubles as a way to scrape out ear-wax. I am obsessed with cleaning boogers from his nose. I’d consider it a current hobby.
- Video Baby monitor. I was on the fence at first about needed one of these at all. In the end I’m really happy we have one but we don’t have anything fancy. When I first stared looking at these, I was looking a Wi-Fi, high range… Then I realized the idea of Wi-Fi freaked me out and I didn’t want to use my phone. We landed on a monitor that is capable of panning and has a wide-view lens. Thinking ahead, I know post-bassinet we want to do a Montessori floor bed so I wanted something where I could move the camera around the room (while wall mounted). I am more relaxed with staring at the monitor now but for the first month, I was glued to the screen… Even though he was only 15 feet away. It’s another peace of mind tool.
- Dyper Diapers. Disclaimer – We spend a LOT of money on Boden’s diapers. They’re worth it to us! I’m not cool with putting chemicals on our infants genitals. I’m also not cool with blow-outs! We have been very happy with this brand and they’re delivered right to the house. Added bonus – the company is VERY easy to deal with (excellent customer service) and Boden hasn’t had a single diaper rash. This makes me feel like we’re winning at parenting!
- Cold milk: I exclusively pump + bottle feed but the same concept would apply with formula fed babies too… Don’t heat your bottles!!! Don’t create a prince/princess!!! We’ve never heated a single bottle and Boden is absolutely ok with cold milk. He loves it! This has saved us sooooooo much time and headache!!!! Seriously – They won’t mind.
- Don’t buy special baby-specific crap.
- I have one tub of unrefined organic virgin coconut oil. This is my body lotion. Boden’s body lotion. It was my nipple cream. Don’t get sucked into the consumerism of specialized creams and toiletries! Save the money and use one thing for everything!! Coconut oil works great for us, it’s affordable and chemical free (you can eat it). If I run out, I use olive oil.
- Soap. We all use the same bar-soap!!! This is also Boden’s shampoo – Dr. Bronner’s Baby Unscented Bar Soap. This makes shopping easy.
- Washcloths/towels. We all use the same washcloths and towels. Boden doesn’t have anything special. Your child will not be traumatized by an adult sized linen.
- Changing table. We use a dresser with a faux-leather pad on top. The pad doubles as a padded play area for the floor. The dresser is furniture that we’ll use well past the infant/toddler phase. This Gathre Padded Micro+ is awesome because you can just wipe off spit-up, poop and pee. Fabric feels like a cleaning nightmare.
- Baby nail clippers. He uses ours.
- Blanket/play mats. Throw an old blanket on the floor instead (or use the padded micro).
- Bottle drying mats/trees. Use whatever you use for your regular dishes! Umm… Like a dish-towel!
- Wipe-warmers. This is crazy unnecessary and will actually dry-out your water wipes.
- Diaper trash cans. Use your kitchen waste-can. I don’t understand why you’d want to have a bin of shit in the bedroom.
- Breastfeeding pillows. Use a bed-pillow you have laying around (that is – if you use anything at all).
- Baby pillow loungers. Boppy, Dock-A-Toc, etc. Why?! They fit in these for like 4-weeks! Lay them on a blanket on the floor or just sit with them on the couch.
- Diaper bag. You can use a bag you already have – We have a dedicated “diaper bag” BUT it’s beautiful and something I’ll use wayyyyyy after Boden is out of diapers.
- High-Chair: You’re not going to feed your baby solids for like the first 6-months and even then, you don’t know what your stye will be (maybe the baby sits on your lap at the table), so WAIT on this item. You don’t need this giant thing taking up kitchen/dinning area real-estate.
- Don’t buy a million of each thing: Be diligent about returning items to specific spots and then you don’t need a hundred of them; we have x2 ComoTomo 8oz bottles and 2 pacifiers (one for the diaper bag and one for the house). We never bothered to let Boden dictate what style of bottle nipple he was into. We committed to getting him to use what we had purchased and he did great. Why let him make this choice? If you want the milk dude… This is the only bottle you’re getting. Simple.
- Pump Parts/Bottles: Store these in the fridge so you can just rinse them and don’t have to wash them every time. TIP: Check to see if you qualify for a free pump through your Health Insurance. Also – Reusable breast pads are a must!!! You’re going to leak everywhere (breast feeding is a whole other beast I’ll cover some other time). Nursing bras and tops are expensive and silly! Pull up an old stretched out sports bra or something – and honestly the first few weeks just go topless. It’s easier than wrestling with clips and hidden shirt pockets.
- Board books and Toys: Don’t register for these. People are going to buy you them!!! TIP: Newborns have NO clue what you’re reading them, so I recommend downloading some free chapter-books online. Reading Charlotte’s Web is a lot more entertaining for mom and dad than Cat In The Hat. Once they can appreciate the story and the pictures… Well that’s a different story.
So what’s the take-away? Don’t buy everything right away! For example, you don’t need to buy clothes more than a few months out because you don’t know what’s going to fit and if you need something, it’s never more than a few clicks away (AKA Amazon). You don’t have to buy something because your friend/sister/cousin says you need it; what works for someone else might not work for you. Don’t travel? You probably don’t need a Pack’n Play. Decide you need one down the road? Ok! When in doubt, air on the side of buying less! Your list is going to be different than mine and please remember – you’re allowed to change your mind.