what does babby need?
September 8, 2009 2:33 PM   Subscribe

I am going to have a baby sometime in the next month. What things do we need to have before the baby gets here, and what things are we better off waiting on? And what are we better off skipping altogether?

Because we have only just now finished moving into our new place, we have yet to buy anything for the baby. This is our first kid and we're both a little clueless and overwhelmed when it comes to baby goodies and gear and whatnot. And every though I want my son to have everything his adorable little heart desires, I'm in favor of buying the least amount of stuff possible because I'm not rich and I'm secretly afraid of my life becoming overrun with horrible, primary-colored plastic things.

So...what things do we absolutely need right away, what things do we absolutely need eventually, and what do we really not need at all?
posted by logic vs love to Shopping (30 answers total) 21 users marked this as a favorite
One thing we did not have together was our diaper trip. A friend came to the rescue with these.

Whatever you decide on, it's something consider and decide on beforehand.

Also, put some dinners in the freezer. Lasagnas, other casseroles. You both will be too tired to cook a lot, I promise you.

Good luck!
posted by Danf at 2:39 PM on September 8, 2009


A lot of stuff is really useful for short periods of time - ideally you have a friend with a kid three to six months older than yours who can lend you stuff. Those goofy automatic swing things are great for a couple of months, same with a bumbo seat and all sorts of other bulky overpriced things. Failing that, just make sure you've got somewhere comfortable for you to sit while you feed the kid and somewhere for the kid to sleep. The hospital is likely to send you home with a pile of diapers, some small blankets to swaddle the kid in, some wipes, cream, and whatever else you might need all you need to do is ask.
posted by foodgeek at 2:42 PM on September 8, 2009

Right away: A place to sleep (co-sleeper, crib, bassinet, playpen, your bed set up appropriately), some diapers (cloth or disposable), a bunch of snap front t-shirts, a swaddling blanket, a car seat (even if you don't have a car and it's just to leave the hospital). If you're not breastfeeding, some bottles and formula.

Nice to have: More swaddling blankets, a motorized swing, zip-up all-in-one sleepers, a stack of cloth diapers for burp cloths and other assorted messes, a breastfeeding pillow (if that's your feeding plan), breast pump, a few pacifiers, a journal to keep track of feedings, diaper changes, sleep schedules, white noise machine, baby transportation (stroller and/or sling/wrap), a bunch of hats, a DVD player for your many house-bound days and nights, bouncer for placing baby when you get tired of being a human lounge chair.

It's sort of impossible to say what you don't need as some people find certaiun things invaluable but others shrug their shoulders and can't figure out why you would want, say, a bottle warmer. Plan on making a few trips to Target in the first month or so to fill in what you discover that you need.
posted by otherwordlyglow at 2:45 PM on September 8, 2009 [2 favorites]

My son came a month early and 2 weeks after we moved into a brand spankin' new house. We had nothing. My baby shower was actually scheduled for the day after he was born, so we were kind of waiting to see what things we would get before we bought anything. So he came home to basically nothing, and that was ok. We did have a bassinet that was given to us beforehand, but not much else. Babies really don't need a whole lot except diapers, food and a safe place to sleep. You can kind of play it by ear after he gets home as to what you need. You'll figure it out fast!

And regarding otherworldlyglow's comment regarding the bottle warmer...I am one to say it's not necessary. My son was bottle-fed and he was given room temp. water mixed with his formula. It seemed like all of my friends warmed their bottles, so whenever we would go out as a group, they were constantly trying to find a place to warm a bottle, whereas my kid would just suck his down no matter what the temp. It just made things a little easier that he wasn't picky.
posted by fresh-rn at 2:55 PM on September 8, 2009

Congratulations! Our third baby arrives next month, too!

The feeding pillow has a million uses. Get one. Also: tons of burp cloths. When you get a little junk on one, toss it in the dirty hamper (or keep a separate burp cloth hamper), there's nothing worse than wiping cold puke ONTO a child. As for things you ABSOLUTELY need, there's not really much for the first two weeks. Lots of sleeping, lots of crying, lots of spit and poo. You can wash the baby in the kitchen sink for the first year. Oh, you should get a stocked baby-bag that you don't have to unpack and repack every time you leave the house. In fact, if you have a car, keep it there.

The best advice I got was to not try to keep a completely quiet house. Children get used to a certain level of noise. If you tiptoe for the first year, they get used to silence, instead of the normal volume of a home.

Learn a few songs to sing. I spent the first two months of our first baby's life singing showtunes and sitcom theme songs to her. But my catalog has expanded to include TMBG, Christmas carols, and patriotic songs. Basically, they love your voice.

Good luck and email me with any parenting questions and I'll ask my beautiful wife, because I'm a terrible dad.
posted by ColdChef at 3:06 PM on September 8, 2009 [3 favorites]

Phone with a headset. Helped keep my wife sane being able to talk to friends while breastfeeding.
posted by rodgerd at 3:07 PM on September 8, 2009

Depending on the size and layout of your house: A baby monitor, so you can be in another room and hear when the baby wakes up from a nap and starts crying.
posted by zachawry at 3:12 PM on September 8, 2009

I think otherworldlyglow has a good list. Basically, diapers, place to sleep, clothes, blankets, maybe bottles. You'll have to have a car seat in order to leave the hospital.
He won't care about toys for a few months, so don't worry about that. Something to change him on is nice - you can use a dresser with a pillow on top if you want. Some folks just do it on a blanket on the floor, but that wrecked my back too much. If he's going to sleep in another room, you might want a baby monitor.

Really, for the first few weeks you don't need a lot. You'll realize you need something and go get it. Eventually you'll want some sort of stroller, but you don't need it on day 1.

For the bottle warmer, we just used a pitcher with warm water in it, but fresh-rn is right that if you can get him familiar with room temperature, outings get easier.

I see you're in San Francisco, so get familiar with the various used baby stuff stores. Babies grow really fast, so don't bother with the $20 onesies. Chloe's Closet in Bernal Heights is great, and all the thrift stores (Thrift Town, Savers, Goodwill, etc) have tons of cheap baby clothes. Also, ask around - if you have any friends with young kids, they probably have a lot of this crap piled up somewhere and are happy to get rid of it.

For yourself, get The Happiest Baby On The Block, which is a great book that explains what's going on with crying newborns and how to calm them down.

posted by chbrooks at 3:16 PM on September 8, 2009

I really liked this list. It's a good pared down, but thorough list.
posted by rebeccabeagle at 3:35 PM on September 8, 2009


Here is a similar question that might help you.
posted by sapphirebbw at 3:37 PM on September 8, 2009

Congrats and not to be morbid but have you invested in getting your Will written up? They aren't as big of deal when it is just you and a spouse but they are certainly important when you add a third to the mix.
posted by mmascolino at 3:49 PM on September 8, 2009

We never really used our baby bathtub or baby wrap (though the Bjorn was great).
posted by mrmojoflying at 3:53 PM on September 8, 2009

We would have had a really rough time without baby wearing - I chose the wrap method, which has more of a learning curve but is much more adaptable than a structured or meitai type carriers. Also you can wrap children for years using the same wrap. I have a Didymos wrap (which was originally pricey but has been so worth it) - to wash it I just chuck it in the washing machine. Almost a year of use and it has no colour fade or even a pulled thread and we use it even at 16 months 2-5 times a day.

We started off with a stretchy one and front tying carries and it was great to have two arms! You can start practicing now with a teddy bear - your future 3am self will thank you.
posted by gomichild at 4:00 PM on September 8, 2009

You need a lot of onesies unless you wanna do laundry every other day. You'll need a carseat, of course. Swaddling blankets are really good to have. They make some with velcro and whatnot so they fasten pretty securely. The motorized swings are indispensable, our 5 1/2 month old still uses one every day. The Boppy pillows are also very handy if you're planning to breastfeed. Get *good* diapers. Huggies and Pampers work well, we've had bad luck with a lot of generic brands. Get a diaper genie. You don't need a white noise machine, just get a little analog transistor radio (yes, they still make them) and tune it all they way to the end of the dial for nice, soothing static. You'll need a diaper bag, preferably one that's not too garish. We liked the baby sling for the first few months, our little guy is just now getting big enough that he can use a proper baby carrier/Bjorn-style deal.
posted by signalnine at 4:09 PM on September 8, 2009

We needed these to survive the first week with our baby:
car seat
cosleeper or crib
diapers (likely disposable until the cord falls off, then, disposable or cloth) + wipes
(we use cloth during the day and a disposable at night)
swaddling blankets (we found the receiving blankets were great for this)
a sleep wedge if you are going to cosleep with the baby (even a little bit)
an yoga/exercise ball to help get the baby back to sleep - i would have died without this
"ergo" or other chest carrier, great to getting the baby to sleep or going around town
we had one baby book we would read to her every night (pat the bunny sleepy bunny) - even before she was born, it was a nice habit to get into
posted by bottlebrushtree at 4:14 PM on September 8, 2009

you also will need an infant car carrier -- many hospitals will not allow you to leave with the baby unless you have one.

stock up on meals, and...

ask friends to help. you are going to need sleep -- if friends can come over a couple hours a day (or even a week) and give you some respite from the baby, you will be soooooooo glad.
posted by unlucky.lisp at 4:19 PM on September 8, 2009

Newborns don't actually need much, esp. if you breastfeed. Diapers, onesies, stretchsuits, blankets and a place to sleep safely. You'll probably get a lot of samples from the hospital; we had plenty of baby bath stuff. We bought a couple packages of cloth diapers, and they were really useful as shoulder cloths for spitup.

Having plenty of meals frozen and a well-stocked pantry was helpful. I liked reading while the baby nursed, but it had to be mass-market paperbacks, because of the way I held him and a book at the same time.

We just used a canvas book bag as a diaper bag. It always held a cloth diaper, a flannel changing pad that has a rubber lining, several disposable diapers (even if you use cloth, disposables are handy for travel), several plastic bags for diaper disposal, a travel pack of wipes, paper towels. At home, we had a big, beautiful basket, made by my aunt, with all the changing stuff and a flannel/rubber changing pad. It took us forever to get a dresser, and just changed him on the bed or couch for months. When we got a dresser, the basket just moved to the dresser and we changed him there.

My son's dad (my ex) insisted on disposable diapers. We just put a plastic grocery bag on the door, and tied it and tossed it when it smelled. Several friends kept us well-stocked w/ plastic bags.

My son pre-dates the World Wide Web, so we had a family medical guide. The only medical item you really need is a thermometer.

You really need a camera. Have fun.
posted by theora55 at 4:50 PM on September 8, 2009

This little baby essentials that aren't series of blog posts is a decent reference.

Things I did not have: crib, baby bath (just bring the kid in the tub or shower with you), infant car seat (get a convertible one), bottles, a stroller until 19mo, playpen, "nasal aspirator," diaper pail...

But I found 'bouncy chairs' invaluable in the kitchen and bathroom, had not planned on using a baby monitor but found it essential in a three-storey house, and have no idea how anybody gets by without slings and soft carriers. One great purchase was forty washcloths -- for diaper wipes, for blotting spit-up, etc.

My advice would be to get the very basic basics, and do some comparison shopping without buying anything. That way when you're hitting the mall with a four-day-old because you NEED an infant such-and-such, you'll know who sells a decent-looking one cheaply.

If you want to spoil your kid without being spendy, try fundraising-type book fairs. I have amassed an impressive selection of children's classics without spending any real money.
posted by kmennie at 5:08 PM on September 8, 2009 [1 favorite]

I dunno, I'd put a lot of items on rebeccabeagle's linked list on my "do not ever need" list. For example, fleece bunting and/or a newborn neck thing for the carseat -- I would not put anything soft between baby and carseat or baby and straps, as the straps would be looser to accommodate it, and then in the event of a crash (puh puh), the soft material would compress and the straps would suddenly be loose.

otherworldlyglow's list looks great. The only thing I would add is: friends who've been there. You might look into a babywearers group or la leche (if you're into that sort of thing) or similar, to meet parents of babies maybe 6 months and up, so that they can lend a sling to try out or a swing or a bouncer or a sympathetic ear. These groups are often open to expecting parents, too. Do beware of the labor-horror-story-tellers, though. They are the worst.

MeMail me if you want anything further!
posted by palliser at 5:08 PM on September 8, 2009

Clothes for little babes are easy to come by second hand, don't waste money on them, especially the tiniest size because they outgrow them fast.

I didn't read carefully above but one thing you might want to have on hand is a couple of pacifiers, I was totally opposed until I had a kid who just wanted to suck all the time.
posted by mareli at 5:42 PM on September 8, 2009

You don't really need anything right away much other than common sense, babies are fairly robust. Lots of diapers and some baby clothes, mainly.
A good thing to have is a second room/place to sleep so you can take turns getting some actual rest at night.
posted by signal at 6:19 PM on September 8, 2009

ColdChef: "The best advice I got was to not try to keep a completely quiet house. Children get used to a certain level of noise. If you tiptoe for the first year, they get used to silence, instead of the normal volume of a home.

I don't have kids (I just live vicariously through friends and family) but I can attest to this! I am friends with a fun, boisterous couple who have a 2-year-old. He is so used to the way things are at home that when they are at parties he can take a nap in any spare bedroom because he always falls asleep.

Good luck and email me with any parenting questions and I'll ask my beautiful wife, because I'm a terrible dad."

Well actually I think coldchef is a pretty cool dad, and his kids are adorable, but recent video shows him making the girls choose their favorite parent, in front of very-pregnant Mom - not cool! :)
posted by radioamy at 6:31 PM on September 8, 2009

A lactation consultant.

Get one on board you can call the day or day after the baby is born so she can come by a day or two after you are home.

Yes, consider this immediate rather than eventually.
posted by zizzle at 7:01 PM on September 8, 2009 [1 favorite]

A lot of what you need will depend on your particular living situation, preferences, and your baby's personality.
I strongly recommend the Baby Bargains book for product reviews and advice.

The comments in this ParentHacks post can really help you think about what you can skip.

To help plan your pre-baby prep, have a look at this article.
posted by Sprout the Vulgarian at 7:20 PM on September 8, 2009

Don't forget the things YOU may need when you get home: Maternity pads and breast pads, in abundance. A good maternity bra, which you will be comfortable wearing at night (I know - it's wierd, but you will leak so need to wear breast pads and you will need to feed comfortably during the night)
posted by lottie at 8:37 PM on September 8, 2009 [1 favorite]

Just another vote on getting some time with a lactation consultant. If you're planning to breastfeed, this was the most valuable hour for my wife and I before the birth - we were set to go. Many people seem to wait until "there's a problem", but that can be a bit late ...
posted by jjderooy at 9:05 PM on September 8, 2009

Nthing lactation consultant. Call in advance and also arrange to have a visit after birth. Familiarize yourselves with the function of such items as fenugreek, nipple shields, supplemental nursers and know where to procure such items if the need arises. Know who to call to rent a breast pump. I wish I had done this before my kid was born.
posted by crazycanuck at 11:36 PM on September 8, 2009 [1 favorite]

This is a commercial list of things that you *might* want, from a seller of such things: http://www.buybuybaby.com/img/babyChecklist.jpg

DO NOT buy everything on the checklist. DO go over the whole thing, and evaluate whether or not you think that you might need one (or 6, or 12, or 100).

The only thing that I think you should remember is the whole baby's-sensitive-skin thing. Buy some baby-friendly detergent (Dreft is the commercial gold standard, although there are a bunch of smaller organic options, as well as Tide Free and the Arm and Hammer dermatologic one). And, wash baby's stuff separately for the first few weeks/months, until your pediatrician tells you that it's OK not to.
posted by Citrus at 9:00 AM on September 9, 2009

Subscribe in an RSS feeder to your local Craigslist's Baby/Kids section. I did recently (baby = 10 months) and OMG I should have subscribed a long time ago.

Stuff that you need:

- some onesies - get 2-3 newborn sized ones but don't take the tags off until you know your baby's weight (if s/he is bigger than 7 or 8 lbs, you can get away with 0-3 month sized stuff), and some 0-3 month sized onesies
- some SwaddleMe blankets
- some baby shampoo/soap
- diapers
- one towel for baby
- pure/free detergent (Dreft sucks. I used pure/free detergent and wash all of our clothes together, but hang dry baby clothes so they don't shrink.)
- carseat (you can get a convertible one to be cheaper... infant bucket seats don't last long (my baby grew out of his at 5 months))
- rocking chair glider (we got a great one on CL)
- a GOOD maternity bra. You'll wear this daily for months on end, so buy one that isn't a POS - get fitted at a bra shop or Nordstrom with the oldest saleswoman you can find

Stuff to keep an eye out for when it is on sale or on Craigslist:
- baby tylenol
- baby playmat/gym
- baby socks

DON'T BUY a swing, a seat, carriers until the baby is born and you know if s/he likes to be swung, rocked or whatever. Get it on Craigslist and if it doesn't work out, you can sell it for about the same price!
posted by k8t at 1:36 AM on September 13, 2009

Oh, get some maxi (big 'uns) pads for when you return from the hospital. You'll take a few of their industrial sized ones home, but you'll need some for the first month or so. Maybe get a box of pantiliners too for when it trickles off.

I ended up sending half a bag of maxi and pantiliners to my next pregnant pal though.
posted by k8t at 1:40 AM on September 13, 2009

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