What do we need before the little guy arrives?
January 12, 2009 12:59 AM   Subscribe

Me and the Mrs. will be having our first child in late March. We've already bought a few clothes and miscellaneous items, but I'd like to know what should we get now? Parents, what are some things (like bottles, strollers, bouncy seats, etc.) that you wish you had had on Day One but didn't?

The baby is a boy. Here's what we have so far:

-About 15 or so linen diapers. We'll use them as much as possible, while the kid is still more or less homebound, before moving onto disposables. Do we need a lot more of these?
-A baby carrier/shoulder carrier. We live in a large city, and this will be handy when walking around crowded city streets.
-A crib. We just bought this online, hasn't arrived yet.
-A few shirt/bodysuit(?) things.

We are thinking about buying but don't know much about:

1) Baby bottles and hot water warmers. What else is crucial with baby bottles?
2) A sort of ring pillow for my wife's sore back after the delivery, one that can also help when breastfeeding (actually I dunno what the wife is talking about here; maybe someone else does)
3) A baby bathtub...is this even necessary? When I was a baby my mom would wash me in the kitchen sink.
4) Clothing...how much should we get?
5) A bouncy seat. I hear the ones that vibrate are a lifesaver...are they worth it?

I should point out there will be no Western-style shower, so we don't expect to receive much in terms of gifts.

posted by zardoz to Home & Garden (42 answers total) 33 users marked this as a favorite
Craigslist is your friend.

Put a "Wanted" post on CL in your city, saying you've got a new child on the way and need anything and everything, that you don't even know what you need. CL is amazing, you never know what you'll find, many people just want to help others, maybe that would happen for you, free kids clothing, etc and etc.

Good luck with you new life -- I'm envious of you.



btw, the baby tub is worth having, my brother and his wife bought one for the new girl and she loves it, it's safe and comfortable, she lays back and kicks and splashes, totally happy, supported and safe. Maybe someone will have one on CL for you, a nice blue one for your boy...
posted by dancestoblue at 1:11 AM on January 12, 2009 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Congratulations!!! I just had my daughter a few weeks ago. Heres what I would advise:

- some clothes - a couple of little suits with feet (petit bateau is the brand we like the best)
- a couple of hats (get different sizes - my little girl was quite small, but newborns really vary)
- some baby blankets
- a baby sling (I have five - the one that works the best for us is moby wrap)
- Dr. Sears baby book, called "The Baby Book"
- a breast pump (if your wife will go back to work you will need it anyway and its great so that if you want to leave the baby with a grandparent for an hour they will have resources. I reccomend the medelco - its all bpa free. If your baby needs supplementary feedings, you can also ensure that they are breastmilk, not formula.)
- a syringe - if you do feed the baby off the breast you won't want to give him a bottle until he is 6 weeks to avoid nipple confusion.
- changing table (or cushion to put on a dresser)
- little self rocking chair so you can put the baby down for a minute and he will be happy

Finally, good luck and enjoy your new arrival!
posted by zia at 1:43 AM on January 12, 2009 [1 favorite]

One one more thing - find your local la leche person and get in touch with her before the baby is born. The advice they give on breastfeeding is amazing and can get you through the tricky bits of breastfeeding.
posted by zia at 1:44 AM on January 12, 2009 [1 favorite]

Best answer: The vibrating bouncy seats/swings are good. For newborns, a musical bassinet is even better. Our little munchkin would snooze as long as it was on.

You can't have enough burp cloths and onesies. Seriously. Learn how to swaddle very well. Can't stress that enough.

Mrs. Codswallop pumped and then fed the little one with bottles. We used the kind with disposable inserts. *So* easy it was awesome. None of this boil-to-sterile stuff. New liner, clean nipple, off you go. Our kid's been healthy as all hell, too.

Boudreaux's unfortunately-named Butt Paste is your friend. At the first hint of a rash lay it on like you're going to be charged for any unused portion.

Enjoy your new lives :) We spent some time lamenting our curtailed freedoms in the first 2 years but we want another baby pronto. My daughter's only two and times going so fast it's scary.
posted by codswallop at 1:56 AM on January 12, 2009 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Congratulations, indeed. Here's my 2cents

- A 2nd Kettle. - If you drink tea or coffee alot then having one set aside for the baby bottles is handy.
- A microwave steam steriliser - The makers of your bottles will have their own, ours was philips Avent and did 6 bottles in about 6mins. Really worth looking into it.
- A blanket for swaddling the baby. You'll be amazed at how much a wee baby will calm down when swaddled. Learn how to do it well and you'll be set.
- an old radio that you can tune to static, or a fancy 'slumber bear'. Basically a white noise maker. If this works for your kid, you'll be amazed at the difference it makes, it's like night and day.
- If you or the missus are anyway light sleepers then a set of ear plugs is not a bad investment either. Obviously not ones that completly block out noise. Be sensible, but wee babies make a lot of noise at night through gurgles and coos and stuff. maybe if you take a night each with the plugs.
- soothers\dummies - a good supply, you'll lose 50% of them.

I wouldn't bother with the bottle warmer. They take ages to get to temperature and are just not all that good. Having the 2nd kettle will mean that the water's always boiled and good to go and then zap it in the microwave for 30s or less to whatever your baby likes. I am assuming for formula, not breastmilk, so YMMMV

In conclusion.

Best of luck, it's the greatest thing in the world, but it is HARD work, especially for the first few months, when the baby gives nothing back to you, he'll just cry, poop, eat, sleep, sleep, cry, poop......and not in that order either. And you'll be tired, and frustrated that no matter what you do it'll will sometimes not make a difference to him. But stick with it, because when you get that first bit of recognition back, maybe a wee smile or a laugh it'll make it worthwhile. and trust me you'll almost forget what it was like before.

Again best of luck and congratulations
posted by MarvinJ at 2:17 AM on January 12, 2009 [1 favorite]

Aint no way youre gonna be prepared whatever you do. So my advice is this: Relax, take it easy - just sit back and let nature do its thing. You will learn along the way what you need and in the begining all the baby needs is a clean diaper now and again, sleep and his mother.
posted by FidelDonson at 2:18 AM on January 12, 2009

Best answer: 15 diapers are enough if you have a washing machine in your apartment. If you don't you may wish you had more (I made do with one dozen and a laundromat six blocks away with my first but it would have been easier if I could have afforded more). You may want to get a humidifier if the air is dry. You will spend a LOT of time just sitting - nursing, holding sleeping baby etc so make sure you have a least one really comfortable chair, large enough to get into different positions, with good armrests and rocking if possible. A lot of the "things" you need for a baby are pretty subjective. I never used the baby tub so I got rid of it by the third child but some people really like them (personally I got in the adult tub with baby). I loved my swing, making room for it in my 300 square foot apartment but ended up not getting one for my fourth child. I've never used a change table, instead just throwing a blanket down on any horizontal surface (preferably the floor as the baby can't roll off). Instead of a crib I have a moses basket (portable bassinet with handles, only slightly larger than the baby). It can be moved from room to room so I can keep an eye on the baby (who sleeps in the family bed at night) without taking up the space of a crib. Get mummy lots of drinks, comfort food and snacks for the first few weeks as well as a stockpile of magazines and shows to watch. You are going to be pretty housebound the first few weeks so you may as well work though a few good TV series together. Now would be a good time to upgrade your camera too. Have lots of fun!
posted by saucysault at 2:36 AM on January 12, 2009 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Congratulations! Mum of a nearly-four-month-old here.

Addressing your specific points:

- Washable diapers. The number you need will depend on how often you wash and how quickly you dry them, clearly but bear in mind that a young baby will expect to get through 8 changes a day. We don't use a tumble dryer (a bit hard-core eco, I know) so needed 24 (8 to wear, 8 to wash and 8 to dry). Despite the eco-warrior tendencies, we did also get a pack of disposables to take to hospital and for the first couple of days, not least on account of baby's first meconium poo.

- Sling/carrier. I love, love my sling. The only drawback is if you've got a couple of bags of heavy shopping and a baby to carry, you'll soon get tired out. Maybe consider a buggy/pram. Incidentally, don't underestimate how exhausted the Mrs will be after the delivery. Mine was very straightforward (out of hospital within 12 hours) but even so, I could barely walk to the end of the street until about a week later.

- Crib. Clearly a good idea. However, our babe ended up sleeping in bed with us - trust me, you'll do anything for sleep, whatever you may have decided beforehand. In fact last night was the first time she spent the entire night in her own bed (yay!). We were given a moses basket by some friends which was really handy for toting the babe around the house too. Probably not so useful that I'd've bought one though.

- Vests/Sleepsuits (the names vary). Again the number you need will depend on how quickly you can turn around the washing. Allow 2/3 per day (in case of accidents at either end).

1) Bottles, etc. You don't seem that clear whether you're intending to b/feed or not. I was dead set that I would but it was a lot harder than I thought. We were told by the lactation consultant we saw before the birth not to get any paraphernalia as we'd be 'tempted to give up'. Very glad we ignored her advice in the end. I'd recommend stocking up with a couple of bottles, an electric pump that fits the bottles you've got - if you plan to breastfeed, that is, a microwave steriliser (although I think in the US, the advice is to use the dishwasher?), and a small quantity of formula - get some ready mixed in little cartons if you can, these were a life-saver in the middle of the night at the beginning. In my experience, a bottle-warmer is a complete waste of time, money and patience. Babe would cheerfully drink milk at any temperature (straight out of the fridge even). Room temperature is fine for all but the very fussiest of babies and you can easily warm a bottle up in a jug of hot water for goodness sake!

2) Pillow. I got a Widgey donut pillow, which I've used a bit (it's quite good for propping the babe up in a sitting position now she's older). To be completely honest, though an ordinary pillow is far better - make sure it's easily washable though.

3) Baby bath. Grandparents seem to delight in telling new parents about washing babies in the kitchen sink! To be frank, if we did that, babe would have a tap in her face and pneumonia - it's freezing in there! Again we were given a bath, but a washing up bowl would probaby work just as well. the critical bit as far as I'm concerned is to do it somewhere warm and safe (the bedroom floor in our case). Babe also joins in grown-up baths now, another 'nice but not essential' maybe?

4) Clothe - see above. Also try to avoid the temptation to buy cute outfits. Early on they need very little and it'll all get sicked and poo'd on anyway. For going out in the early weeks, layer up with blankets and a hat.

5) Bouncy seat - another, nice but not essential. You will somewhere to 'park' the baby whilst you get on with other stuff though so some kind of chair would be good.

I have whole spreadsheets of research I did into other pieces of kit we got and/or decided was a waste of money (I think it's about all I was up to in the last couple of months of my pregnancy). Mefimail me if you'd like more info.

Best of luck - it's the most amazing ride!
posted by dogsbody at 2:54 AM on January 12, 2009 [1 favorite]

Best answer: --A lactation consultant!! And info on breastfeeding support groups in your area. Line up the LC *before birth.* You don't want it to be 9 pm on a Saturday with a newborn screaming because he's hungry and can't latch right/suck well with no one to call.

If giving birth in a hospital, there will be one to help you while you're there. Don't believe about the nipple confusion. It's mostly myth. My son had some problems eating early on and lost more weight than is okay. Our LC, who has been a lifesaver, had us supplement with a few bottles each day starting when he was about two weeks old because my son needed to strengthen his mouth muscles. He's had no problem going back and forth -- just, make sure you get bottles with slow flow nipples. The Dr. Brown's brand is good. You shouldn't need more than 4 bottles to start with.

--Lansinoh!! and a head of cabbage for your wife. Seriously. Cold cabbage leaves are the best to place on breasts for when milk comes in and for when any time after when engorged.

--Lots and lots of blankets! My son likes to spend most of his time right up against me with only a diaper on while wrapped in a blanket.

--The ring pillow your wife speaks of is known as a Boppy or My Breast Friend and well worth it!

--A list of area playgroups. I've been holed up for a full month because of my son's particular eating needs, and I am desperate to get out into the world again!!

--A Tiny Love gym. Our son loves his. It's the only place I can put him down for ten minutes. He hasn't taken to his swing yet.

I'm sure there's more I can think of, but these were what I found to be the can't-live-withouts.
posted by zizzle at 2:58 AM on January 12, 2009

Congratulations! For the first day or two:

Newborn size diapers well in advance, just in case.

Several baby books. Sears, Spock, What to Expect, etc. Each one will make you feel vaguely guilty about something, so it's good to balance it out.

An emery board. My son was born with very long fingernails and the hospital had a policy against cutting his fingernails, and they were gross with blood and mecomium under them.

Seconding the bottles, even if you're planning to exclusively breastfeed; if you wind up supplementing or pumping even briefly, it's easy to get overwhelmed with the many choices when you're underslept and having a Major Life Event.
posted by chesty_a_arthur at 3:07 AM on January 12, 2009 [1 favorite]

I agree with the other posters, get more diapers. Also if you can afford it get a diaper service, or even a full blown laundry service. You will not believe the amount of laundry a kid adds to your life. I also recommend an automatic swing over the bouncy seat. It takes up a huge amount of space but it totally worth it. I didn't find the baby bath that helpful. When shopping for baby bottles remember to get BPH free plastic, and buy a variety of nipples. Baby's often do better with slow nipples if you are trying to breast feed. Instead of a crib, consider a pack and play. Also an infant car seat; and the next size up even if you don't have a car. Next make sure you have a baby thermometer, squeeze bulb and infant Tylenol; you don't want to have to run out and get these things during juniors first cold. Finally there are a lot of baby carrier options. You might want to check out the Baby Wearer forum. Good luck. Remember during any panic attack that there have been something like 15 billion babies born and raised on this planet; many of them by people with no education so odds are you'll be alright.
posted by humanfont at 3:24 AM on January 12, 2009 [1 favorite]

I'm not a parent, so I don't have specific "in house" recommendations, but as a nanny I would recommend that you get as many clothes and diapers in varying sizes as possible.

And stock up on laundry detergent. Seriously. Kids are a mess!
posted by grapefruitmoon at 3:40 AM on January 12, 2009

(And congratulations! :))
posted by grapefruitmoon at 3:40 AM on January 12, 2009

OH! PS! A great thing to do before your son is born is to cook and freeze massive amounts of food for the grown-ups. A friend did this just before her daughter was born and it was a total lifesaver in the first two weeks when she and her husband were too exhausted taking care of baby's needs to take care of their own.
posted by grapefruitmoon at 3:42 AM on January 12, 2009 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Thirding or whatever more diapers, more diapers, more diapers. We went through 10-12 changes a day. This is one area where I bowed to sleep needs rather than eco-needs, so we used disposables for the first 6 weeks. Time to do laundry, and the brain capacity to correctly fold cloth diapers (yours don't sound like pre-folds or all-in-ones), just did not exist in the first few weeks. Plus, newborns are so wildly shaped that even with disposables, it took us a few tries to figure out which brand fit the little body best to keep the poop in and not on us. So more diapers and a vote for guilt-free disposables.

Also, yes, the phone number or one or two lactation consultants and/or La Leche League in your area (If available) pre-loaded on your phone. LLL volunteers will often do call backs at all hours. Lifesavers.

The phone number of your son's pediatrician pre-loaded on your cell phone and 1) knowing what their call back policy/timeframe is, and 2) knowing in advance things you might want to call them about. The first few weeks are crazy and if you know in advance what justifies a call to the doctor, it will ease your minds (and be one less thing to think about). I also like the idea of a baby care book, one that's easy to use as a reference in case you get in a jam ("What's this rash!!!???") and need to get a quick reality check.

Breast help for your wife, in the form of lanolin, (a brand to look for is Lansinoh), Soothies or similar, etc. The first few weeks can be quite painful and every little bit of care helps IMO.

You don't mention a car seat, but if you'll be in a car at all (even taxis), you'll need one.

More for you guys than the new guy, but prep & freeze some food in advance. It'll make a difference. Anything you can eat with one hand will be appreciated. Also, a water bottle for the Mrs. or a few water bottles around the house/apartment. I have never been so thirsty as when breastfeeding.

Depending on weather, baby hats, socks and mittens. Good for layering in March on a baby who can't yet regulate body temperature.

I like the idea of a bouncy seat or swing. It's nice to be able to put the baby down and have them soothed to give you a chance to brush your teeth, shower, eat, etc.
posted by cocoagirl at 3:47 AM on January 12, 2009

Obviously every baby is different. This is what we stocked up on at the 1 week mark, when we could make it out of the apartment.

1. Burp cloths (or spit up clothes, which is what we call them) and bibs. Our baby is the spit up queen. At 4 months she still spits up all the time (it doesn't bother her at all). We have spitup cloths stationed all around the apartment so there is always one within grabbing distance. Likewise bibs. She is never, ever, without a bib. Much easier to change that than her onesie.

2. Blankets for swaddling. Learning to swaddle is key (although again, some babies don't like it). Ours does, calms down instantly when she's swaddled. We only had a couple, and again with all the spitting up we ended up going through 2-3 a day. You really don't want to be doing laundry every day.

3. Hats and socks. You can't have too many pairs of socks IMO because they are easy to lose.

Other indispensables (for us) were her rocker, a big soft fuzzy blanket to wrap her in for cuddles when she is just in her diaper, sling/bjorn (we have both and use them equally) and boppy pillow.

posted by gaspode at 4:06 AM on January 12, 2009

Swaddling blankets, as gaspode suggests. Read up on swaddling in Dr. Harvey Karp's "Happiest Baby on the Block."

Also see this question.

Wonderful news--congratulations and good luck!
posted by MonkeyToes at 4:11 AM on January 12, 2009

This is all so subjective; one person's must-have is another person's white elephant gift the next year! But I'll take a crack at it:

-a pillow like the Boppy or the other less-fortunately-named one. As mentioned above, great for nursing, sitting on, or leaving the baby on the bed.

-a sling-style carrier was awesome for the first few weeks, especially in a crowded city. Wallababy was tucked in close to me and random strangers weren't able to reach out and touch him. (In fact, he was so tucked in and cozy that often people didn't even realize there was a baby in there.) The sling was also handy for taking the baby in the car in situations where using a bulky car seat just wasn't possible.

-a couple of good blankets for swaddling were great; the millions of receiving blankets we were given went mostly unused. They were just too small for a good swaddle.

-some kind of lactation help ready to go. I really wish I had met with someone before Wallababy was born so I would have known about some potential anatomical problems that could have been helped prior to the baby's arrival.

-the amount/type of clothes depends on your weather, laundry facilities and how much you plan to take the baby out. Wallababy was born in the middle of the Brazilian summer so we got by with about 15 onesies and some socks (we don't have a dryer).

-some way to put the baby down so you/she can get things done. We had a bouncy seat and, later on, a swing. Unfortunately this one totally depends on the baby's preference.

-I cannot emphasize enough how wonderful it was to have meals ready to go in my freezer. This was actually pretty easy to accomplish--I just made a point of making meals with four servings and then freezing half. It doesn't take long for the stockpile to grow.

-a support system
posted by wallaby at 4:43 AM on January 12, 2009 [1 favorite]

Congratulations! I'm reading this because I'm up with my daughter who is now six days old. I apologize for a long and rambling post. Hopefully some of it will be helpful to you.

If you are a procrastinator (like me), assume that the baby will be a couple of weeks early, or you will not be ready (oops!). So far, little Evelyn hasn't needed much besides Mom and Dad, fresh diapers and a warm, safe place to sleep. Every thing else is really for you and Mrs. Zardoz.

That being said, some things that I'm really glad that we have include:
-a boppy pillow. it's this c-shaped pillow that wraps around my wife's stomach, providing extra support during breastfeeding. I use it sometimes when I'm hanging out with Evie as well.
-a fully stocked freezer, and lots of ready to eat food like fruits and veg.
-Having the house all set up, including a fully stocked and ready to go diaper changing station.
-Since you're doing cloth diapers, some Snappi closures. They're much easier that diaper pins.

15 diapers might be a little bit light. You may be changing diapers up 8-10 times a day. And trust me, you don't want to run out. Our diaper service gives us 80 diapers a week for a newborn.

We were lucky and had a few baby showers, and received a ton of clothes. So far, Evie's just been wearing onesies with a swaddling cloth and a cap to keep her warm. She'll definitely need clothes soon, but not right away. Fewer clothes also makes diaper changing much easier. The stuff we've been using the most right now, we got from our hospital.

So far, I've read two books that have actually helped me out. "Alterna-dad" made me stop freaking out about how much my life will change. It didn't have a lot of useful "how-to" info, but it was a fun read, and did wonders for me.

The second book is a paperback called "Secrets of the Baby Whisperer." It's got a ton of great information, written in a very common sense way. I really, really wish that I had read this book about a month ago.

Well, Evie's got a dirty diaper, and Mrs. Mattybonez is snoring next to me, so I should go. Holler if you want any more information. Also, check my profile for my website if you want to see the most ridiculously cute little girl. (Sorry, had to brag a little.)

Good luck. It's been the most wonderful experience of my life. I'm very excited for you.
posted by mattybonez at 4:44 AM on January 12, 2009

Response by poster: I think it would be obnoxious to "best answer" every single answer, but that's what I feel like doing. Thanks, all, for your input, this is all really, really helpful.

And keep it coming!
posted by zardoz at 5:13 AM on January 12, 2009

Just to pile on here - as Mrs. Frogs and I are expecting our first baby (it's a boy!) in May, I'd like to thank zardoz for asking this question and all of you for answering. I'm going to file this one for reference.
posted by caution live frogs at 5:48 AM on January 12, 2009

I breastfed, and it was GREAT. Especially after the first 6 weeks - it just seemed to click after that and was super convenient and easy. The helper pillow type may depend on your wife's chest size. I didn't have any and didn't feel I needed it, but I am a 38C. My good friend is a 36DD and used the hideously named but expertly designed My Breast Friend, mentioned above. She had a Boppy as well but preferred the MBF because it actually strapped around her waist. It was a great help for her, as she has back problems. She was able to comfortably breastfeed both of her children for more than a year.

I have heard from users of the Boppy that it can slide around while you're breastfeeding if you're not super-slim. YMMV.

Oh, and we used cloth diapers as well (Fuzzi Bunz all-in-ones) and loved them. It's great that you're planning to give cloth a try.

Congratulations and good luck!
posted by chihiro at 5:57 AM on January 12, 2009


Lots of good advice above. We found our boppy pillows to be absolutely indispensable, whereas we never used the Baby Bjorn so many other parents loved. It will be a highly subjective experience.

Here is some advice I wished I'd had: baby clothing is very cheap and easily found at consignment shops or through neighbors and friends. Our parents were so over the moon to finally have grandchildren that they splurged on infant clothing. It wasn't necessary. Infant clothing gets all sorts of stains and is outgrown pretty quickly, too. I think our kids were outfitted in basic onesies 6 days a week! I wish my parents and other relatives/friends had purchased us some high-quality 6-, 12- or even 18-month clothing instead . The days when those sizes are needed come more quickly than you might think, and it is really easy to make do with the teeny little infant clothes you will receive or can obtain through friends or a consignment shop.

Finally, for those gift-giving relatives who want to splurge, it's never too soon to fund a 529 plan. It sure isn't the gift for everyone, but that sort of foresight will be really, really appreciated 18 years down the line.

Congratulations again!
posted by cheapskatebay at 6:01 AM on January 12, 2009 [1 favorite]

We are expecting our first in May and are just starting to consider the "stuff" that we will need to collect over the next four or five months (and continuing). We have been reading Baby Bargains and Parenting, Inc., which are both highly recommended. This stuff can easily overwhelm, but the books do a good job of providing necessary perspective and provide some great info.
posted by ajr at 6:35 AM on January 12, 2009

I stand by my previous answer to a similar question. Congrats.
posted by spikeleemajortomdickandharryconnickjrmints at 6:35 AM on January 12, 2009

Congrats Zardoz!

Above covers a ton, but here are few other items:

- Plenty of extra cloth diapers to use to clean up everything that come out of the baby: snot, spit-up, etc. (IMHO, disposable diapers are the win, for simplicity and hygiene)

- A rocking chair to sit in while feeding Baby Zardoz

- Think about how many baby bottles you might need, then double that amount and buy them

- If there is anything in you house you can't do one handed (opening things like drawers & cabinets, doors, appliances, etc.), change it now, your hands will literally be full

- Get some food that is cooks quickly and is easy to prepare and eat with one hand

- Trim the baby's fingernails with small scissors when asleep, sharp fingermails with scratch you and Baby Zardoz's face if left alone

Specific answers:

Wash the baby in the sink at first, you'll know when he's big enough to need something different.

Clothing should be mainly onesies (those jumpsuit things), booties, gloves, and hats. Most of the time he'll be wrapped in blanket, and you want simple access to the diaper.

Yes to the vibrating/bouncy seat. It's subtle, but works.

Good luck & have fun. My eldest turn 13 last week and it is wonderful being a father.
posted by Argyle at 6:38 AM on January 12, 2009 [1 favorite]

Get a calendar to write everything down! It's too hectic to keep a regular baby book, I found, but you might have time to write "First smile", measurements for the doctor's visits, etc. on a calendar. I still have the calendars for my older kids and am starting a new one for the baby. It's fun to look back and compare weights, etc.
posted by artychoke at 6:46 AM on January 12, 2009 [1 favorite]

Yes, get more diapers. If someone offers to pay for diaper service, by all means take them up on it!

You can never have too many burp cloths, onesies or socks, either.
posted by trip and a half at 7:07 AM on January 12, 2009

Congrats on your beautiful baby girl! My husband and I are now 7 months and 8 days in to the journey of parenting for the first time and we have learned some interesting things along the way. I am going to apologize in advance because I have the feeling that this is going to turn in to a long post - so bear with me.

Diapers - You definitely need to make sure that you have more diapers! During the first month and a half, we were changing our son's diapers about 8-10 times a day. Also, when your daughter gets sick and has her first bout of bad diarrhea (and trust me, this will happen regardless of how much you try to prevent it) chances are that she will experience a severely raw bottom as most babies do; the only thing that you will be able to do to keep her comfortable will be to change her diaper every 45 - 60 minutes. The most ideal thing to have on hand in case that happens is a back-up plan (AKA disposable diapers)...

Bottles - We use the Phillips Avent Bottles and have been pretty happy with them thus far.

Bathing the Baby - Bathing time can be very intimidating at first but it gets easier every time you do it. We have a Infant Bath Support and it has been a life saver. We bath our son in our bathroom using our garden tub and the bath support. It makes everything so much easier. Also, here's a tip: remember to turn on the heater in the bathroom when you start drawing her bath. It makes a difference for their level of comfort when they are taken out of the tub. We bath our boy at night before he goes to bed and we love to use the Johnson's Bedtime product line (lavender and chamomile scented). Also buy a box of the Aveeno Active Naturals Soothing Bath Treatment. It's great for soothing heat rash, diaper rash, dry skin, etc... We put half a packet in our son's bath water when he has some sort of skin irritation and it really helps.

Other things that I was very, very thankful to have in the past 7 months include:

Boppy Pillow

Graco Swing n Bounce Swing

Fisher-Price Rainforest Peek-A-Boo Waterfall Soother - When we turn this thing on at night, it's like a baby Ambien!

Boudreaux's Butt Paste - This stuff is GOLD! It'll beat any other diaper rash ointment hands down and it is very easy to spread on the bottom because it melts when it comes in contact with body heat (like butter). Smells really nice too.

Little Noses Saline Spray / Drops - You'll want this when she gets her first head cold.

Mylicon NO ONE is happy when the baby has gas...

The only other advice I can give you is to enjoy every last second of it. Next thing you know, time will have flown past you while you weren't looking and she'll be asking you for the car keys...
posted by lrkuperman at 7:19 AM on January 12, 2009 [1 favorite]

Some things I didn't see mentioned in my quick scan of previous answers:
- Kiddopotamus Swaddle Me blanket. Takes the learning curve right out of swaddling and it's velcroed so there's no chance of your little one breaking out (as my guys are so eager to do). Randomly lady at the store said to avoid the fleece ones, as they get very warm for the baby.
- Instead of a bottle warmer, find a nice microwavable plastic container that won't get hot to the touch (e.g., old tupperware) and use it to microwave water for bottle warming when needed.
- Cloth diapers actually make the best burp cloths. They're super abosrbent. Get at least a dozen, so you don't have to do laundry every day. For our twins, we have 3 dozen and I still have to do laundry every few days.
- Paper plates, plasticware, and plastic cups. If you and your spouse are going to be home for the first few weeks, months, etc., dishes will pile up very quickly and it's a pain to have to run the dishwasher every other day and then have to load and unload it all the time.

okay, I got babies waking up right now and wanting to be fed. congratulations and best of luck!
posted by puritycontrol at 7:23 AM on January 12, 2009 [2 favorites]

Our twins are 6 months old. When they were born we had a lot of extraneous items, and were missing some important ones.

Be sure to have:
1. Bibs. Baby will be a messy eater, either breast- or bottle-fed. It's handy to have something hanging around their neck you can use to sop up spillage. The decorative ones are useless- you want the ones made out of towel material (terrycloth?).

2. Burp clothes / rags. For the many and various fluids that come out of baby. The more the better.

3. Bottle holder for dishwasher. They have holders for the nipples and a separate compartment for bottles and other parts.

4. Microwave bottle sterilizer.

5. Lots of onesies. Each baby would go through several a day, and if you have a large supply you won't have to do laundry so often. They're little, so you can fits lots in the washer.

6. Formula. A big can of powdered stuff, as well as a bag of pre-mixed and measured formula. Even if your wife is breast feeding, it may take a few days (or weeks) for that to work well and you may need backup formula. The pre-mixed stuff is more expensive, but good to have for the late-night feedings where you may not be up to careful measurement. It's also nice to have for travel out of the house. If you use formula you'll also need bottled water (not supposed to use tap)- we bought some of those big two gallon plastic bottles with taps.

7. Lots of baby wipes.

8. A Baby bathtub is nice. They make them with a little anti-skid seat, a gentle recline, and a reservoir for water. We never tried just bathing in the sink, but that seems way harder than the little tub.

9. A swing is nice to have. Our girls found the swinging motion really calming.

10. Nthing having lots of meals that can be prepared with minimal effort (and ideally with minimal cleanup). It's that last thing you'll want to worry about.

Some stuff you may not need:

1. Bottle warmer. I agree that the take too long to heat up. We just kept our smallest pot on the stove with some water in it.

2. Baby monitor. Depends on your home- ours is laid out such that we had no problem hearing any significant noise in their bedroom from anywhere in our house.
posted by uberfunk at 7:26 AM on January 12, 2009

This guide to buying baby stuff is great:
posted by k8t at 7:58 AM on January 12, 2009 [1 favorite]

I didn't read through all the posts, but as the mama of 13 month old boy triplets, I feel like I know a lot about new baby boys. :)

Anyway, I don't know if anyone suggested this, but lots and lots of baby washclothes. Cover the boy up when the diaper is off so you don't get hit by his pee. Or poo.

posted by pyjammy at 8:12 AM on January 12, 2009

You don't need much and it's not that hard to get what you do need on the fly.

But my suggestion is to get a basket or tote bag and keep it stocked with the sorts of things that one wishes they could get up and get for themselves, but can't because they are anchored by a nursing baby. My own basket contained:

Reading material, both serious and frivolous
A bottle of water
Some snacks
An emery board
Lip balm
The telephone
The remote control for the television
Hand lotion

And like a million more things that I would otherwise pine for as the baby settled in for the second consecutive hour of eating. I would just carry this around from bed to chair to couch so it was always within arm's reach while I breastfed.
posted by padraigin at 8:25 AM on January 12, 2009 [2 favorites]

My brother and his wife are raising a baby in Italy, and he's now about a year old. Something they were told to do, that I hadn't seen before, was to blend up food and serve it to him in a baby bottle with the hole enlarged.

Being Italy, the doctor gave them recipes that included Parmesan cheese and olive oil, along with crackers, milk, juice, and regular baby food.

It seemed to really speed up baby's mealtimes, without all that chin-wiping and cajoling to open up for the little spoon.
posted by StickyCarpet at 9:58 AM on January 12, 2009 [1 favorite]

For the first day? I'll second all those people who said you don't really NEED very much at all. I would say that you should get more diapers - 15 is a day's worth with a few left over. More burp cloths, and also agreed that cloth diapers make the best burp cloths. Those pretty decorative things sold as burp cloths are not very absorbent. Not sure how many outfits you have, but depending on the level of spit up, you may need to change baby's clothing 2 or 3 times a day. Swaddling cloths are also a necessity, we used receiving blankets but Joh Jr was very small, and even he grew out of them within a few weeks. We also used the kiddopotamus swaddleme blankets which were easier. The Miracle Blanket is more secure for extra-wriggly babies, but personally I found it too fiddly to use when very tired (all the time!), and Joh Jr was not particularly wriggly. Oh, and for cushiony things, I loved the unfortunately-named My Brest Friend pillow.

Something to put the baby in while you do something else is also handy - whether its a bouncy seat, swing or just a nice playmat on the floor. Swings are the most expensive, but also the most risky, some babies love them and go right to sleep. Some babies hate them and cry the whole time. If you decide to get one, buy it used so you haven't risked a large cash outlay.

Don't go crazy buying stuff or feeling like you need to buy lots of stuff. Give it a few days and see what you actually need. Bottle warmers and all that stuff are definitely in the category of "only if you really feel like you are missing it" purchases, rather than must-haves. We just poured hot water into a mug, then dunked the bottle in it for a few minutes. I did buy formula even though I was breastfeeding, just so I had the psychological comfort of knowing it was there if needed. Breastfeeding is hard, so be prepared for anguish and pain, and have someone to call for help if you need it.
posted by Joh at 10:22 AM on January 12, 2009

stay at home dad for nearly four years now -
Digital camera, tons of batteries, video monitor, lots of books, and some decent dvds really saved my ass (among many other things).
One note on the digital camera though, please make sure you back up the pictures. Really. Do it. Weekly.
posted by ducktape at 10:27 AM on January 12, 2009

White noise machine!!!!!! My clock radio happened to have 4 settings for white noise and it works like you wouldn't believe. Turn it up LOUD to settle your newborn. We still use it at 7 months but now it's just familiar to her, it's not something she needs to calm down. We used the kitchen sink for the first two months or so for baths and I wish she still could use that - it's a lot easier on the back. Also, we had a swing that was used constantly for the forst 4months or so. It was the only place she would nap reliably during the day.

A netflix subscription was really necessary too. We don't go out nearly as often as we'd like to but having some ready in-home entertainment is great.

As for diapers, 15 isn't a whole lot for a newborn. You'll need to wash nearly every day but if that's okay with you then fine. Don't forget diaper covers and it's nice to have a stash of disposables for going out and don't want to deal with the cloth ones. I also thought I'd be using cloth from the start and bought a huge stash of cloth diapers only to decide they were more trouble than they were worth but I still use all the cloth diapers as burp cloths and for other clean-up tasks.

If your wife is planning on nursing, do have the name of a local lactation consultant at the ready. Breastfeeding was A LOT harder than I could ever have imagined and with the stress of being a new parent and the hormonal craziness of the post-partum period, just be prepared for that to be a rocky road.

We never used a bottle warmer and our baby is just fine with cold milk. I actually am happy that we never did that as it makes travel much easier. We used the BPA-free bottles.

For clothes, I like the one-piece zip-up deals with feet. Easy to get in and out of for the never-ending diaper changes and warm, too. A lot of those and a lot of receiving blankets for swaddling (I stole a lot of the hospital's blankets because they were the perfect size and not at all stretchy).

Also, tell all your friends to bring over meals for when you come home, maybe a friend per day. you'll be thrilled to have the freshly made food.

Good luck!
posted by otherwordlyglow at 12:10 PM on January 12, 2009

Congratulations! I don't have babies of my own, but here are my suggestions, based on observations as Aunt and Grandaunt. Sorry for the long post.

Nthing the bouncy and/or swing, baby wipes, stocked pantry/ frozen meals, car seat, clean/organized house, camera ready to go, & things to pamper the two of you.

Nthing backup formula. Judging from family experience, breast-feeding doesn't always workout. I noticed lots of experimenting with different types of bottles to find what worked the best. Even people that I've known that successfully breast-fed still needed lots of bottles so that they could leave the baby with other people, etc. Bottle warmers wound up not being used.

I know that they are frowned upon but a pacifier can be your best friend from day one, and yes, you need lots of them. However, get as generic a binky as you can get. My nephew was first give an orange squeaky binky and would have nothing else until he was broken from the binky. My sister has horror stories of searching several towns for replacements.

Nthing more diapers. In fact, my mother laughed when she heard you just had 15. I've noticed that regular cloth diapers wind up getting used for things other than the obvious and disappearing altogether. Plus, you don't want to have to do laundry every time you turn around. Get some disposable diapers just in case the reality of using cloth diapers is not what you thought it would be.

Clothes - Babies don't stay in those small sizes long enough to warrant buying a lot of expensive outfits. My niece had to practically give away hundreds of dollars worth of newborn - 12 mos outfits that had only been worn a couple times, if any. Lots of onesies, sleepers, & t-shirts and diapers were worn for the first 6 mos or so. Blankets and a bunting for cold weather outside. I agree with buying larger sizes now. You'll need them sooner than you think, and they'll likely not ever be cheaper.

Changing tables seem rarely used except as catch-alls. Changing mats or blankets get used instead. Diapers wind up being kept close at hand, not in the nursery, and the baby gets changed on the floor, on the sofa, on the lap...etc.

A bassinet or pak-n-play seemed to work better than a crib. The new moms in my family always liked keeping the new baby closer to them a crib allows. The pak-n-plays are great because they convert from a bassinet to a playpen and they are portable. We used the one for my grandnephew until he could climb out of it and then used it for toy storage for a while.

I don't know how well they work, but we really wish we had had something like this movement sensor for the grandnephew. It would have certianly save his mom many sleepless nights "just watching him breath". The next baby is getting one for sure.
posted by sapphirebbw at 1:09 PM on January 12, 2009

Response by poster: There's sooo much good stuff here, I need to organize it all in a flowchart or something. Again, everybody's given a "best answer", so forgive me that I haven't chosen them all. Thanks again!
posted by zardoz at 4:23 PM on January 12, 2009

Just had a baby three months ago, so all of this is very fresh in my mind.

Miracle Blanket - It was recommended to me on ask.mefi and it is the best thing ever. Babies love to be swaddled. It will calm them down. They will bust out of a regular blanket eventually. The Miracle Blanket keeps them locked' down. My three-month old goes into a trance when we put her in it.

Boppy - It really hurt my shoulder to prop up my daughter while feeding. Maybe I have a bad technique, but but using the boppy, it took a lot of pressure off of my arm when I fed her. My wife also loves it as she can put the baby sideways on it when she breastfeeds.

Organic Colic / Gripe Water - Our next door neighbor introduced us to this 'Magic Medicine'. Our baby gets the hiccups a lot and this stuff just knocks them right out. It also seems to help her with gripe / gas.

Fisher Price Swing - This thing is a life saver when you need to give the baby some hands-off time. She loves the swinging motion, and it gives mom and dad time to get stuff done / take a break. We will actually bring it to friends houses and plop the baby in when we are having drinks / eating / conversating.

Geometric Black and White cloth book - We got this at our baby class. Not sure where to get it, but baby was mezmerized by it from day one. We put it on the side of the bassinet . crib. The high contrast is the only thing they can see early on, and I am a firm believer that it is helping develop her vision.

Zip up long sleeve one-zies - Who wants to screw around with buttons and snaps in the middle of the night? Trust me on this one. Carters and Gerbers both make awesome ones. Carters even have animals on the feet. Pure cuteness!!

White-noise on an ipod on repeat - Not sure if it helped, but I am a believer in Happiest Baby on the Block / Shushing, so I say get it. Turn it up loud. I have a one hour long mp3 if your interested.

Microwaveable Sterilizer for bottles - Four minutes and your done

Milton Tablets to sterilize everything else - Breast pump, binkies / soothers, syringe for Gripe Water.

Paper plates, cups, and plastic ware - You don't want to spend time washing dishes, you want to spend time sleeping and cleaning up poop.

Plenty of bibs, burping cloths, blankets, and one-zies.

Plenty of bottles and formula. Breastfeeding may not work 100% of the time. We spend a lot of time preparing bottles. The more you have, the easier your life.

Frozen foods - I ate lasagna for a week and loved every minute of it because neither of us wanted to cook. Make a rule: If people want to come over, they must bring a frozen dish or takeout.

A sleeping plan. Don't try to be heroic and both stay up all night. We slept in separate rooms ( her in nursery ) if I had to work. It doesn't make sense for both people to get awoken if only one can do the job. She took care of the baby during the week. I helped on the weekends, and on Tuesday nights. She can sleep on the couch while the baby sleeps. You can try to sleep under your desk, but your boss might not like that. If you both go back to work, work out an equitable schedule. Do not go to bed without a plan on who will get up. It will be cranky chaos at 3:00 am.

I should have bought one of those nice glider chairs with the gliding foot rest. Would have made feeding a lot easier.
posted by jasondigitized at 6:55 PM on January 12, 2009 [1 favorite]

Congrats! I had a baby 7 weeks ago, and here's what's been useful:

-Cloth diapers--we're not cloth diapering (no local services, sadly), and we still go through our stash of 36 cloth dipes every few days. They are godsends for burping, protecting upholstery, etc.

-Kiddopotomus swaddleme blankets. After a week, we went back to the store and bought two more. Not only does it work magic in helping soothe the lil bugger at night, but it's the only sleeping thing that actually keeps his hands warm. While you're at it, I reccomend checking out the Happiest Baby on the Block book and/or DVD. Reading it ahead of the game kept us from losing it when the kid was inconsolable. And the 5 "S"s really do work. It's kind of trippy how well.

-footie pjs/onsies. Ones with either snaps or zippers, with feet attached. Forget the cute little pants and shirt combos for the first few weeks, and make life easier for yourselves and the kid and just go with the one-piece foot attached outfits.

-breast feeding pillows. we're breastfeeding and so both my brest friend and the boppy gets used all the damn time. the my brest friend is good for breastfeeding in bed and the like, and the boppy is good to sit the kid in, to prop your elbows up while you're holding the kid, etc. I'm using the brest friend less and less as he gets bigger, and the boppy more and more (but not for breastfeeding)

-breastpump, bottles, etc. If you have a microwave, get the microwave steam sterilizer bags. AWESOME product. When the kid practically broke me with constant feedings (literally every hour all night long) during his 3 week growth spurt, I was SO SO glad we had these on hand so the husband could take a feeding or two and give me a break so I didn't break. Oh, if you're delivering in a hospital, they'll probably send you home with a ton of formula freebees. Take them. You never know if you'll truly need them, or if they'll come in handy during said growth spurt. And free is free.

-bottle warmer. I think we must be the only one who finds this useful. Frankly, when the kid is hungry and screaming his head off in the middle of the night, taking the 5 minutes to let a bottle sit in hot water (or under the running tap--wasteful), the bottle warmer is a godsend. We have the prince lionheart one, I think, and it's super quick. also, everyone says not to microwave bottles to warm them, in case of hotspots, which I buy.

-bouncy chair. Godsend. And really, the only reason I was able to go to the bathroom at all for the first three weeks. I could strap the kiddo in it, and know he was secure and safe for the minute it took to go.

-extra diapers--disposable. Just one pack of 7th Generation, just in case.

-pacifiers. babies like to suck, and frankly, I don't buy nipple confusion (nipple preference, yes. confusion, no.)

-bassinette/cosleeper/something for the kid to sleep in that's close by your own bed but not your bed. Even if you are truly cosleeping, it's nice to be able to put the kid into his own space for a minute, and like the bouncy chair, functioned as a safe comfy space to put him for a minute without fear of rolling/smothering/other dangers

-carseat. again, if you're delivering in a hospital, they won't let you leave without one. The graco buckets are great, and you can get a cheap stroller frame for them to snap onto.

Things I have not used (yet. I reserve the right to acknowledge that these may be useful in the future):
swing--we used it a little, but kid likes the bouncy seat better
snot sucker bulb syringe (though I know that'll come in handy)
gripe water/gas drops (we're lucky so far)
half the blankets we have. we just don't need as many as we have
half the rattles and toys we have
sleeping when the baby sleeps--never worked for me. I'd try, and it'd take me as long as his nap to fall asleep, which was worse than never sleeping at all.

One thing:
Please don't blend up your food and give it to a baby in a bottle. Especially not a newborn. It's one thing to give an older baby who has already started on solids your food (and then it's awesome to feed them what you eat), but babies do not need anything but breastmilk or formula for at least 4 months. Not cereal, not pasta, not water.
posted by kumquatmay at 4:42 PM on January 13, 2009 [1 favorite]

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