Minimalist baby must-haves
January 13, 2018 9:23 PM   Subscribe

My sister is throwing me a baby shower which is so nice of her. My husband and I really, REALLY don't like to accumulate stuff and we buy very few things new. So what the fuck do I register for?

I am going to formula feed and disposable diaper.

We already have a hand me down crib, high chair, stroller and pack and play thing and diaper genie.

I really don't want to register for a bunch of stupid shit just for the sake of filling a quota. Can I register for diapers and formula?

Are there other things that are really worth it? For example I've heard a bottle warmer is pretty great.
posted by pintapicasso to Grab Bag (59 answers total) 24 users marked this as a favorite
My sister uses bottles and loves the Medela sanitizer. She is super minimalist and despises unnecessary one trick pony gadgets but swears by this item.
posted by padraigin at 9:34 PM on January 13, 2018 [1 favorite]

you don't need a bottle warmer.

a few things that we would have appreciated before our son was born that are all practical and non-fussy-

mixie bottles are awesome for overnight and on-the-go. they let you premeasure the water and formula and keep 'em separate/unmixed in the bottle. so in the middle of the night when it's time to feed you just grab the bottle, push the bottom to pop the formula lid, shake and feed. a few more parts to wash but very much worth it for the convenience.

some people love the velcro swaddlers, we didn't and just used regular swaddling blankets.

after swaddling we used sleepsacks until sometime between two and three years old when he got too big

absorbent cotton bibs that double as burp cloths early on (something like these).

cute pajama sets- we dress our son in long-sleeve pajamas year round. these work well as gifts as you don't run into the "outgrew the 0-6 month t-shirts before summer hit" problem early on.
posted by noloveforned at 9:41 PM on January 13, 2018 [1 favorite]

posted by theperfectcrime at 9:42 PM on January 13, 2018 [11 favorites]

You’re going to need a lot of things. You can also return things for credit and buy diapers. That said:

Crib sheets, sheets for the pack n play
Baby carrier like an ergo
Car seat
Stroller that the car seat clicks into
Changing pad, travel changing pad too
The oxo wipe dispenser is the best (sometimes the wipes dry out, this sucks)
The travel oxo wipe dispenser also good

I’ve heard the bottle warmer is junk, a mug with hot water in n the microwave is your friend.
posted by vunder at 9:43 PM on January 13, 2018 [3 favorites]

also, you don't need to warm formula.
posted by noloveforned at 9:45 PM on January 13, 2018 [4 favorites]

Register for a few formula dispensers; you can travel with bottles of water and add the formula when ready to feed.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 9:46 PM on January 13, 2018

Also, this sort of baby seat.
posted by vunder at 9:54 PM on January 13, 2018 [1 favorite]

I was pretty minimalist/poor when my littles were little, which was a while ago so no doubt there are 10x more products that are being pushed on Parents Todaytm. Baby-specific things I actually enjoyed/appreciated having, approximately in order of usefulness: sling/front carrier for newborns; baby backpack for older babies; sippy cups; board books; stupid cute little melamine baby dishes.
My oldest niece just gave me my first grand-niece and she swears by a boppy type pillow; she is not even breastfeeding any more but it's super handy for, like, putting the baby on the couch or bed and worrying 25% less that it's going to roll off.
posted by drlith at 9:58 PM on January 13, 2018 [2 favorites]

Chew toys
Baby tooth brushes
Small bath tub for when they out grow the sink
Diaper bag
Drool bib
Cold weather gear if you need that
posted by St. Peepsburg at 9:59 PM on January 13, 2018 [2 favorites]

I was basic as hell with my kid and desperately wanted a bottle warmer. So YMMV. Books are awesome. Memberships to local attractions you'd like to visit with the baby are a nice thing like if you know you want top take the baby swimming, an upgrade to a good pool club membership with nice changing rooms and baby swimming lessons would near if that's an option. If it's close friends coming who know your philosophy, ask through your sister or directly if they can coordinate one big gift like the stroller rather than multiple small gifts. A great stroller and maybe a good umbrella stroller alternative would be amazing.
posted by dorothyisunderwood at 10:01 PM on January 13, 2018 [2 favorites]

Your car seat has to be new and a convertible one is neat for lasting longer or you can get the more portable types. There are strollers that will snap in a car seat attachment then turn it into a seat etc which is handy if you do a lot of taxi public transport.
posted by dorothyisunderwood at 10:04 PM on January 13, 2018 [1 favorite]

Barf rags and baby blankets. Since it's a registry, get nice ones like from Aden and Anais. You can never have enough.
posted by Toddles at 10:07 PM on January 13, 2018 [4 favorites]

Swaddling blankets and burp cloths. Baby tshirts and gowns. Extra cribsheets. Babies drool poop and pee a ton and diapers do NOT catch it all.
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 10:09 PM on January 13, 2018 [1 favorite]

It's not that practical to register for diapers in advance since you don't know what diapers are going to fit your baby's particular butt best.
posted by DarlingBri at 10:12 PM on January 13, 2018 [6 favorites]

Register for gift cards to the stores where you expect to buy most of your baby stuff.
posted by Autumnheart at 10:43 PM on January 13, 2018 [3 favorites]

Hopefully you're already on your neighborhood parenting groups and accumulating free stuff. You don't need a new car seat if it is from a trusted friend and not expired.

Money that you guys put into kid's college fund?
Nose Frieda - I might not want that used
Gift cards to local stores?
posted by k8t at 11:14 PM on January 13, 2018

DREFT. I give big boxes of Dreft at showers. Always well received.
posted by markbrendanawitzmissesus at 11:26 PM on January 13, 2018 [2 favorites]

Register for stuff a bit into the future, not just for the tiny baby stage which passes so fast. Non-season-dependent baby clothes to grow into, 6 months and up, soft and cotton, so the baby can move freely. Books for the first years. Toys that they can play with for years, like wooden blocks.
posted by meijusa at 11:39 PM on January 13, 2018 [4 favorites]

My friend had a shower for me where everyone brought books for the baby.

Crib sheets, waterproof mattress cover. I'm all for hand-me-down cribs, but you'll want a new mattress, just given the amounts of bodily fluids that go onto the mattress.

Those 4 packs of Aden and Anais gauze blankets are pricy but wonderful. (They're my go-to shower gift).

If the baby is due in the winter and you live in a cold climate, a bunting or fleece is nice.

Baby carriers are really good but try some on first.

You can totally register for formula. Diapers are a more individual thing and you will want to try a couple of brands.
posted by The Elusive Architeuthis at 11:42 PM on January 13, 2018 [1 favorite]

Second hand clothes are great when they are little but by the time they are crawling babies tend to wreck their clothes much more. Also solids can stain considering how babies love to mash food into their bodies. We have just hit the age where the second hand clothes we get from a friend are coming over stained, holey and in lesser numbers. So in addition to the good ideas you have above, older clothes (8 month plus) are good.
posted by jojobobo at 12:07 AM on January 14, 2018 [2 favorites]

You are going to need more burp cloths. No, more burp cloths than that. Also, you want burp cloths which are a color that white spit-up will show up on as dirty, so you can instantly tell whether they've been used.

You will need more baby clothes than you think you need. As a newborn, our kid habitually went through three outfits a day, all of them soiled enough to require laundering before reuse, and learning all the best tricks about how to diaper and keep clothes clean did not really reduce this number.

You need enough clothes and burp cloths so that you can go a few days without having to do laundry. Because you may well be too tired to do laundry, and even if you aren't literally too tired to do it, it's nice not to have to do laundry every. single. day. So get more clothes and burp cloths than you think you could possibly ever use, and you might approach enough. If you do wind up with too many, you can always pass them along to another baby, either among friends or or shelter donating.

Heck, register for a couple of months of a laundry service, if you have people who want to give you something expensive. I can't tell you how nice it would have been to just... outsource all the laundry, both ours and baby's, right at the beginning there.
posted by Rush-That-Speaks at 12:19 AM on January 14, 2018 [11 favorites]

My number one baby item is a sling--I had a Maya Wrap, which I absolutely loved and used until my kid was like three.

I feel like diapers and formula are too individual to register for--you don't know if your baby's going to skip newborn size diapers, or need the shape of [specific brand], and you don't know if your child's going to tolerate standard formula well, or if you'll end up needing a specific formulation or brand. Ask for gift cards if you really want to register for diapers and formula.

The best thing that I registered for, honestly, was clothing for a variety of seasons in a variety of sizes between 0-3mo and 18mo. Children grow at unexpected rates, and being able to just produce the correct size of jacket/onesie/whatever on expectedly hot or cold days was fantastic.

I didn't register for any sort of infant medical care kit, but I wish that I had. One of the fancy swipe-y forehead thermometers, infant tylenol, etc. You probably won't need most of it for the first few months, but if it turns out you do, so much better to have it on hand than to end up standing in the medicine aisle of the drugstore with your sick, sobbing infant.

I'd also suggest registering for food, especially things that you can eat without prep. Boxes of your preferred type of food bar, luna bars or kind bars or whatever, for example. Those early weeks can be real rough.

I also think that it's worth noting that no matter what you do or don't register for, your own personal baby will almost certainly defy some of your planning. The notes about burp clothes are great for some situations, but I ended up never needing them with my kid. I had a dozen cute hats, which were super cute, except that my darling child refused to wear them--a stark contrast to now, when the now-teenaged child refuses to take hats off. Resign yourself now to the idea that you're going to end up with a bunch of stuff you can't use.
posted by mishafletch at 1:02 AM on January 14, 2018 [3 favorites]

Our son is two months old. Some things that have been really great for us are:

* A super swanky forehead thermometer that syncs with an app
* A fancy countertop sterilizer for bottles
* A really nice car seat that snaps into a really nice stroller (we have an Uppababy car seat/stroller, but you can just register for a seat that will work with the stroller you have)
* A great diaper bag (we love the Parental Unit from Tom Bihn)
* Other consumables that are less dependent on your particular baby, like really good wipes, alcohol-free hand sanitizer, and extra strength diaper cream.

Nthing the sentiment that you really can’t predict what your baby will need or want. Our son expressed a clear preference for one type of bottle over another very early on. Some diapers fit him well, others do not.

I’d say register somewhere like Amazon or a big chain store that’s convenient to you so it’s easy to return/exchange things that don’t work for you. Amazon also lets you register for gift cards, which is great.

And yeah, try to mentally prepare to have a lot of extra stuff around for awhile. You can always sell/exchange/donate it when you don’t need it anymore, but that flexibility and convenience in the first few weeks is really helpful.

Also, we had about half our shower guests ignore the registry and get us other things, most often cute clothes. I was slightly annoyed at the time because I wanted people to buy off the registry I’d carefully curated, but they’ve been really useful since it widened the range of what we have. Even the wipe warmer we thought was a little silly was very appreciated when we discovered it made middle of the night diaper changes less screamy!

Good luck and congrats!!
posted by bananacabana at 2:10 AM on January 14, 2018 [2 favorites]

Some counties - Finland originally and over here Scotland as just one example - provide all parents of newborns a baby box - a bunch of free stuff from the government which is intended to cover the essentials. This Wikipedia page on the Finnish box tells you what they put in it. And here is what is in the Scottish one.

Either list could serve as a checklist - or you could just request a baby box with a specified set of stuff in it.
posted by rongorongo at 3:07 AM on January 14, 2018

Agree with much above.

Maybe also: baby wash, baby nail clippers (and nail files if you do not already have some - their nails need management so quickly), dye-free baby Tylenol and baby Motrin (dye-free so when they spit it up, you don't have a huge mess), carseat cover if you live in a cold place, a few baby blankets, Amazon gift cards and a Prime membership if you don't already have one. Yes to the nose Frieda, you WILL need one. Yes to so many burp cloths. We were given a forehead thermometer but prefer rectal plus probe covers plus alcohol wipes plus KY jelly, so who knows. Yes to some kind of baby carrier (we like a ring sling and a lillebaby, using the lillebaby more often). Bottle brush - even if you have a dishwasher, there will be times you need to handwash and they eat 8-12 times per day at the beginning. Aquaphor is useful for many things, diaper rash, other rashes, dry skin, so good to have that on hand. Register for a small bottle and re-up as needed.

You don't need a diaper bag branded as such, but you DO need a bag that holds all the gear needed to get out and about with baby. We found a baby bath tub to be indispensable, but also possible to get used. A bassinet of some kind is really helpful unless you have a very small apartment. They nap so often at the beginning, and you need a place to put baby down so you can go about your day. The pack n play could work for this. I found a rolly ikea cart to be indispensable, as a place to pile handy gear (my water bottle and snacks, pens, burp cloths, blankets, etc), but I was breastfeeding so my needs were different.

Perhaps if a local movie theater does a baby movie on the regular, a gift card there? (Baby movie = intended for new parents to get the f out of the house in a supportive space. Our theater didn't dim the lights quite as much and left the sound a touch low. Not kids movies, our first baby movie was rated R.)
posted by teragram at 3:40 AM on January 14, 2018

Two additional thoughts: you might not want to be this practical, but I found ibuprofen and colace (stoop softener) to be entirely necessary postpartum, so have that on hand and you could even register for it (on Amazon).

Based on the answers you see above, you know that one parent's must-have is another's junk. You will buy some stuff you don't end up using: sell it or donate it. You will decide you DO need a particular gizmo to stay sane: buy it and be happy. You can sell or give things away as you no longer have need for them, so join the local yardsale Facebook group or whatever is typical in your area.
posted by teragram at 3:49 AM on January 14, 2018

If I had it to do over again, I would have done a book shower. They don't take up much space, they will be useable for longer, and you get to talk about books for two hours instead of heartburn. Wins all around.
posted by tchemgrrl at 3:56 AM on January 14, 2018 [1 favorite]

You don't need to warm formula unless you end up with a baby who refuses to drink room temperature formula, but will wolf some 8 ounces in a sitting if it's been gently warmed to a mysterious ten So uh. You don't need it until you do? Ask me how I know.

If the registry is set up for it, and if you aren't doing the sit around and watch the lady unwrap things part of the shower, museum/zoo memberships and classes can be hugely great. If you're still pregnant, kid museum memberships may not be the best thing for this year, since the kid will still be largely immobile, but a membership to the local science or art museum so that the kid can be taken there in a carrier to walk around on a day when outside weather is bad/too hot, or those wee baby water classes, or parent-kid music classes, or a membership to a play space/kid gym.
posted by joyceanmachine at 4:07 AM on January 14, 2018

Local milk has some really cool minimalist (plus good looking) thinking re babies, here is a post about travelling with tiny kiddos and there's a pretty sharp list at the bottom of the page of tried-and-tested baby gear they've been stoked with.
posted by speakeasy at 4:43 AM on January 14, 2018

Car seat: you'll need one for infant stage and then another one when the kid is a bit older. if you're planning on putting the kid into more than one car, the infant car seats snap into a base and you'll need a base per car. if you have grandparents helping out, register for a base for their car.

Refills for that diaper genie.

nail scissors. my sister got me these and they're really quite good - you don't feel like you're going to accidentally cut the tips of your kids fingers.

Do register for basic sick kid stuff: as mentioned above, both acetaminophen and iboprofen, a thermometer appropriate for tiny babies and another one for older ones, a nose frida, diaper cream (people have opinions on brands and styles on this, so you may end up getting one kind and then finding out that your kid's butt doesn't like it). Pedialyte. These are all things that you don't want to be going out to get at 3am.

Being minimalist and having a kid are hard to combine. Babies are so variable that I could tell you the perfect set of things to get for my kid on a specific week of his infancy and then have to tell you a largely different set of things for the following week. One week the only thing that kept him from yowling was a bouncy chair, another week it was being held while I sat on an exercise ball, then it was a different bouncy thing, ...

Are each of these items necessary? Probably not, but boy was it good to have them around to try out. If you can temper your desire for minimalism with using hand me down items as much as humanly possible, you'll do fine.

Bottles: different kids like different bottles, nipples, etc. There do exist bottle sampler packs - and you pay a premium for this - but it might be the kind of thing that someone getting a shower gift might like to do.

A way to register for things without having to make immediate decisions is to ask people to buy you Amazon Prime Membership, or Costco membership or ...
posted by sciencegeek at 5:06 AM on January 14, 2018 [1 favorite]

Even if you're not using cloth diapers, a friend gave me a giant, cheap pack of white cotton cloth diapers (like these, but maybe 50 of them, from Honest Ed's here in Toronto) and I used them for everything, for years. They were bibs and burp cloths and great for naked tummy time and for layering on top of wherever I was changing her, and for spills and for when I had to sit on dirty park benches or wipe off the stroller in the rain, and then they became cleaning rags. I swear they lasted a decade, and I wish I could buy a pack again.

Sometimes being minimalist is not about having fewer things, but about choosing great multi-purpose things. So having an enormous stack of cloths that could be bleached white again in one load, folded neatly to fit in one convenient space, and that were light, portable, useful and not so valuable that I couldn't give one away, lose one, or toss if they got truly grody was great. So it was a great minimalist gift for me. I give the best version of it I can find at showers now, and explain this and everyone's been pretty happy having some around as well.
posted by peagood at 5:29 AM on January 14, 2018 [5 favorites]

A battery recharging kit -- or, if you already have one, a dozen more AAs and AAAs. Our kid doesn't hardly even have battery-operated stuff, but it's so nice to always have replacements ready for their things and ours.

Also: smoke alarms? Any other household baby-prep needs like wall anchors for shelving, or incomplete home improvement projects you could use supplies for? Add a note of explanation about how X needs to be replaced/fixed to keep everyone safe and it totally becomes baby-shower-worthy.
posted by teremala at 5:50 AM on January 14, 2018 [1 favorite]

Most (all?) bottle warmers are horribly-manufactured junk. Be warned.

Pre-fold cloth diapers make great burp cloths.

You don’t need Dreft. It is expensive and full of potential irritants like fragrances, which defeats any possible purpose of having special baby detergent. Just use a “free and clear” detergent for everyone. We favor Biokleen powder, but All is good too.

You’ll need lots of clothes. Register for many different sizes so you are well supplied for the first year. Be aware that some larger babies may never fit in newborn sizes!

You really don’t need a bassinet if you have a Pack and Play. You don’t need a formula dispenser for travel if you’re happy with a Mason jar and a scoop.

Don’t forget storage. Some things will have to wait until you figure out what you need, but you might already know you need a new bookshelf, closet organizers, an extra laundry hamper, etc. Throw it on the registry!

For the things you miss on the registry (except those that expire or have ever-changing safety standards, like cribs and car seats), look to thrift stores, Craigslist, Freecycle, etc. Babies outgrow things much faster than they wear out, not to mention the things that parents buy and never end up using. Not only do you save a lot of money, but you keep perfectly good stuff out of the landfill.
posted by musicinmybrain at 5:53 AM on January 14, 2018 [2 favorites]

Even though you're disposable diapering, the covers made for people using cloth diapers fit over disposables just as well and can prevent blowouts. I cloth-diapered most of the time but even when using disposables would use a cover.

Where's baby sleeping? If not in your room, get a video monitor. Not because of helicopter parent reasons but because babies make a ton of incidental noises in their sleep (no one warned me about how loud babies are when fast asleep!) and a video monitor lets you check to make sure everything's okay from the comfort of your own bed, and also doesn't contribute to accidentally waking a sleeping baby while checking to see if they're asleep.

Swaddlers you will want but are also one of those things where you have to find the right kind for your baby. That's a gift card item, along with clothes. (I wish I had explicitly told people to not get clothes. I had a lot of hand me downs but also a July baby whom everyone bought me six month size SUMMER clothes for. When he got to be that size, it was January.)

Baby carriers are also one of those highly individual things. I somehow wound up with five different kinds in between hand me downs and shower gifts. Really only used two (Moby and Ergo) and sold the rest on Craigslist.
posted by soren_lorensen at 6:16 AM on January 14, 2018

Oh, also a swing and/or the magical Rock and Play. We had both. Swing is often necessary for an unsleeping baby. Rock and Play is nice because it folds up, is highly portable, babies seem to love it, the reclining position can be helpful for babies with reflux or with a cold, and you can move it easily to wherever you're sitting, take it over to grandma's or friends houses. Highly recommended piece of equipment for the 0-6 months stage. Way more practical than a pack and play.
posted by soren_lorensen at 6:22 AM on January 14, 2018 [1 favorite]

I would not register for formula. Your baby might handle one brand much better than another, or might need a soy formula or whatever. You won't know which one works best for him/her until they arrive and you try a few.

We didn't have a shower but got a lot of gifts when our child was born. We took a ton of stuff back - almost all of it was from Babies R Us - and got gift cards which we then used over the course of the first year to get what we needed when we needed it.
posted by Kangaroo at 6:49 AM on January 14, 2018

oh yeah, forgot about the baby swing. there was a period of a couple months where we put him to sleep in the swing and then transferred him to the crib after an hour or two. it was so useful that when we had a family wedding to attend at four months we took the swing instead of grandma (she had to drive on her own).
posted by noloveforned at 7:36 AM on January 14, 2018

If your baby ends up liking pacifiers, buy a couple pacifier leashes. I found they were great for making sure pacifiers stayed clean (no more landing on the floor at the grocery store) & weren't constantly getting lost. (Babies can be very picky about which pacifier they like, so don't buy a bunch of one brand/style until you have discovered your baby's preferences. Then make sure you have a few extras tucked away in the car, bedroom, etc. for those times when baby is freaking out and wants to suck but all the pacifiers have gotten lost under the sofa/while shopping/etc.)

We had a sturdy, washable quilt (about 3 feet square) that we could put on the floor or ground as a safe place to set baby. It was good for tummy time, naps, and general playing. It kept the rug clean, doubled as a carseat blanket, and gave the baby a dirt-free place to sit when we went to the park.
posted by belladonna at 7:42 AM on January 14, 2018

I'm writing this while my five-week-old baby sleeps on my lap. Here's what we've been getting good use out of so far.

- Clothes: I bought lots at Goodwill but the zipper footed PJs we were gifted get the most use. Also, baby hats are harder to find secondhand.
- Swaddlers: I have four of the swaddle suits and three blankets and these get used all the time.
- Infant car seat with a base for each car.
- Fisher Price piano play mat for tummy time and playing.
- Video monitor: usually my baby sleeps on his crib in the nursery for one feeding cycle per night because he's so loud in the bassinet.
- Crib mattress, mattress cover and sheets.
- Changing table or dresser top and changing pad, wipes.
- Ergo baby adapt carrier: used daily for walking and getting stuff done around the house.
- burp clothes: we have about 15 flannel receiving blankets and these get used a lot.
- baby nail file, saline, nose frida, rectal thermometer, infant Tylenol.
- Boppy newborn lounger: this is not essential but it gets used daily and is a nice place to put him that can be close to people.
- Rock n play: a friend lent this to us and he really likes it.
- Portable changing pad for the diaper bag. I'm still using the free bag we got from the hospital but I could see wanting a nicer one eventually when we go out more.
- I don't have many toys but could see that being useful for the future.
- We were gifted a white noise machine but don't use it because my husband hates the sound.
- Could you register for a prenatal massage? I never had one but they sound really nice.
- What about a newborn photo session? I couldn't justify paying for one and but I really like those kinds of photos.
- Take out gift certificates?
posted by carolr at 8:04 AM on January 14, 2018

The main thing is to register at a place that has a brick and mortar shop near to you so you can easily do returns and exchanges. So like if there's a BabiesRUs you're golden -- register for stuff there, and then you can always bring it back and exchange for diapers, formula, etc.

(I see lots of things I would never want in the above lists; and I'm sure some of my must-haves would be extraneous to others. I won't even say which, as I don't want to hurt anyone's feelings. These things are incredibly individual, yet ironically parents have some of the fiercest, most evangelical opinions about How Things Are Best Done. Nobody wants to hear that their parenting thing is stupid, but a lot of it is.) And you won't know until you have your baby and try stuff.

(I mean you might be perfectly fine doing your diaper changes on a towel on the floor, you know? Or using your college backpack as a diaper bag. Your baby might hate being swaddled or need cloth diapers or a million other variables. Just set yourself up to try and see, with easy returns.)
posted by fingersandtoes at 8:19 AM on January 14, 2018 [6 favorites]

Others have covered the baby basic necessities. Are some non-obvious things that I think would make the life of even a minimalist much easier.

A woombie had my son sleeping through the night at 6 weeks old until he started to roll over and couldn't wear it anymore. I'm a big fan. Easier and safer than swaddling blankets. ANd less bulky.

Everywhere I go parents ask me about my baby's bottle ball. It allows the baby to hold on to the bottle much earlier and more easily than he otherwise could. Also, I feel like it gives a little cushioning for when the bottle falls.

Don't get those formula dispensers others linked to. They're fiddly and annoying. Get these little single serving containers and you can use them for baby food and freezing other things, later. They sell them at baby stores, too. You do want something that can carry individual-sized portions of formula, though. Having to scoop and measure in the middle of the night or when you're out with the stroller and nowhere to put anything down and the baby is screaming, sucks.

A boon drying rack with some accessories is great for bottles. Of course you can use whatever drying rack you use for your own dishes, but you will have lots of bottles and it will just never be empty and it will be a pain.

A pot sized to hold enough water to fill all your bottles, with a lid *and* a pouring spout. For boiling water. I have a kettle but like to have a dedicated pot for baby.

And as others have said, warmers (bottle or wipe) and sterilizers are useless. Books are great. Shell out for the most awesome stroller you can afford, it will really affect your quality of life. I thought I didn't need a change table (I can change him on the bed, or on the couch or on the floor!), and got one because others insisted. Now I'm glad because I really find that when I do have to change him somewhere else, it kills my back.
posted by If only I had a penguin... at 8:32 AM on January 14, 2018

You could register for “services”and help from your friends and use like Honeyfund or whatever people use now (it’s been a few years since my friends did this) - they “registered” for people to bring X meals after the birth - I would have brought food anyway but they liked the gesture / structure of my bringing something every week, or for money earmarked for their favorite takeout places or for hours of babysitting. I think someone signed up to take walks every weekend w the expectant Dad every Sunday morning while Mom got some sleep.
posted by sestaaak at 8:35 AM on January 14, 2018

For formula you could go wild and get a Brezza formula maker! We didn’t get one, but we did get a formula mixing pitcher to mix a day’s worth at a time. If you go that route it’s better to measure formula by weight than scoops.

I’ll also second the nail scissors. They feel expensive compared to regular clippers, but I found them so much easier and baby nails do grow at an alarming rate. Though some parents swear by biting their kid’s nails, so ymmv.
posted by wsquared at 8:42 AM on January 14, 2018

Digital thermometer. Traditional cloth diapers make great burp cloths and can be used as a diaper at 2 am when there are no diapers. Flannel blankets. We kept diapering supplies in a basket (that my aunt made!) and some flannelized rubber pads, and changed the baby on the bed, floor, couch, etc., and that was easier than a changing table. Onesies and clothes in larger sizes. And there's no such thing as too many books, or too much kid-friendly music. My grandson was so soothed by classical music playing softly.
posted by theora55 at 8:43 AM on January 14, 2018

Oh, I wanted to say about thermometers that you should take to your doc. Docs and nurses I've engaged with don't trust forehead or ear thermometers at all and will only reluctantly accept underarm measurements as possibly suggestive. Rectal temps are what you want, so just get a digital thermometer that you can use rectally. It's actually easier than underarm anyway and once you get over the idea that you might do it wrong and hurt the baby you'll see that it's simple and easier on everyone involved.
posted by If only I had a penguin... at 8:51 AM on January 14, 2018

Our two month old absolutely loves white noise and it's incredibly effective at helping him sleep. You can make due with a phone app and bluetooth speaker but a dedicated device will be much easier (and you don't have the bluetooth speaker loudly announcing "battery low" just as the baby is falling asleep). Don't cheap out on this as you want loud, low-pitched, and high quality white noise.

We also love these night lights. They're battery powered so you can put them wherever you need them, have two levels, and can be controlled by tapping it. Plus they're usb powered so you don't end up with another special charging cable. We have four and I'm thinking of getting more.
posted by unix at 8:57 AM on January 14, 2018 [1 favorite]

My son and daughter in law found swaddling sleepers very useful as it is not recommended to put blankets in cribs any more. Various kinds of baby carriers were also essential, and of course car seats. And the little nail scissors are needed, or else babies scratch themselves with their sharp little nails.
posted by mermayd at 10:34 AM on January 14, 2018

Not sure if someone mentioned the small hooded baby towels. We’re still using those above 2 years old.
posted by vunder at 11:03 AM on January 14, 2018

I had a puker. Then I had another puker. I washed a load of cloth diaper type burp cloths per day. Burp cloths.

Other than that all we used was a car seat, carrier (ergo), a place to put the baby (we had a fisher price rocker chair type thing), crib, diapers, sleepers, onesies, sheets, and two huge swaddled that I made because receiving blankets are only big enough for like two weeks.
posted by songs_about_rainbows at 11:18 AM on January 14, 2018

oops, in my comment above I said "take to your doc." I meant "talk to your doc." Obviously I'm not suggesting you take the baby to the doctor any time you want to take the temperature. But talk to your doctor about whether they find non-rectal temperatures acceptably-reliable.
posted by If only I had a penguin... at 12:56 PM on January 14, 2018

Robeez or other soft sole slippers in sizes up to 18 months are great. The packs are small and tuck into a drawer until you need them.

Nthing books.
posted by crazycanuck at 1:31 PM on January 14, 2018

If you are hoping to be minimalist, could you request savings bonds or something similar for a college fund?
posted by steady-state strawberry at 2:24 PM on January 14, 2018

As said above, you don't need to warm formula. I think it's actually safer if you always make it at room temperature because you can't over heat it by mistake at 3am.
Costco formula is top quality and cheap.

In terms of things that are useful with a newborn to 1 year old: car seat with base, a base for each additional car you have, a stroller base for the car seat.
Later on you will need a bigger car seat and a bigger standalone stroller, but that's 18 months or so down the road. This kind of transferable crib system is great because you can move the sleeping baby from the car to the stroller and back without waking it up.

Glad you already have a baby swing, our kid loved that and would sleep in it all the time.

Costco baby wipes (which come by the crate).

Forehead thermometer, e.g. the Braun one. Our kid would not submit to being tested with regular ones.

Portable changing pad that folds up and can be stored in the diaper bag which you will also need.
posted by w0mbat at 2:24 PM on January 14, 2018

We asked for diapers and got'ed in all shapes and sizes, and used every one of 'em. It was awesome.
posted by john m at 4:27 PM on January 14, 2018

I appreciated clothing in the next sizes up. It seemed the kiddo would grow up a size in her sleep. That way I had something handy to put on her without a run to the store. Diapers the same thing, lots of different sizes.
posted by PJMoore at 5:13 PM on January 14, 2018

A note about bottle warming: when I worked the baby room at daycare, we used a crockpot set at low and half-filled with water. Yes, you need to stay aware of the temp but you would probably do that anyways. And crockpots are pretty easy to come by and you can make stew in them, too. But not at the same time.
posted by Foam Pants at 8:09 PM on January 14, 2018

Register for a night nanny. Everything else you can pick up for $10 used as soon as you need it (with a few exceptions). A full night of sleep is priceless and not available on Craigslist. Here's one, but find one in your area. There will come a day when you look at your adorable baby and think, I cannot function for one more day like this.
posted by oryelle at 8:41 AM on January 15, 2018

Diaper bag or similar. Babies need a lot of STUFF when you travel around with them - extra diapers, a change of clothes for when they inevitably pee/poop through the ones they're wearing, extra bottle/formula, toys to distract them, wipes, a change pad, things like that.
Books. Always books.
Toys - jingly ones, chewable ones, soft cuddly ones.
Clothes. Babies go through more clothes than you think they should. They're messy!

Also - think about asking for stuff for YOU. Like a really nice hand cream or lotion, or a massage visit. Being a new parents is stressful and very baby-focused, and having something nice for you at the end of the day when you're exhausted and need a little pick me up can be good.
posted by sandraregina at 8:46 AM on January 15, 2018

We were probably a bit more minimalistic then a lot people as we bought very little during those early days (not an endorsement or criticism, its just what we did). We didn't formula feed, didn't use disposable diapers & potty trained early, got loads of hand me downs, borrowed larger items, bought second hand items for the rest. So we needed stuff just not necessarily a lot of new stuff (only the car seat was new) - so it is possible to make do with not much if you plan accordingly. Everybody is different and you'll find your own rhythm.

However, two things we found invaluable for us - a diaper service and a higher end stroller that was more comfortable for taller people to use (we're both taller than average). So for some of the showers, we just convinced people to kick in to pay for either a month of the diaper service or to put money towards the stroller. A friend of my wife threw a shower that was kind of a blessing / empowerment shower - that was all wise woman advice and and small personal care gifts for my wife. For the family run shower we simply had to suck it up and politely accepted things we didn't want (which we quietly passed on to the shelter for pregnant teens). Whether we registered or not was sort of irrelevant for that event - people were just gonna buy whatever. Surprisingly the most useful thing we got from that shower, which on the surface was a bit of a gag gift, was a toilet brush.
posted by Ashwagandha at 9:51 AM on January 15, 2018

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