What things are must-have for a baby?
March 5, 2004 3:43 AM   Subscribe

What stuff do you REALLY need for a baby? (more inside)

There are tons of checklists out there of "What you simply must have for your baby"... but they all seem to be provided by sites that want to sell you baby clothes or gear. How interesting that they think I need at least 12 side-snap shirts, when they are the ones selling them. I haven't bought much of anything so far. My baby shower is tomorrow and I'm waiting to see what we'll need after that. We have the major things taken care of (crib & other furniture that we think we'll need). We don't have much in the way of clothes. What do we really need, and how much, considering I have a washer & dryer on premises and can do laundry as often as necessary?
posted by Shoeburyness to Health & Fitness (38 answers total) 23 users marked this as a favorite
Hmm... with a two week old daughter might be able to help here.

I don't know if the situation differs where you are to the UK, but we've found that already barely any of her "newborn" size clothes fit any more, and we already need the next size up. That means that some of the vests and babygrows have had exactly *one* wear before becoming useless. You should definitely bear this in mind.

We've done 4 or 5 changes a day at times, for various scatalogical reasons, and we also overestimated how long Daisy would allow for us to do washing, cooking... breathing... and other household chores. You'll probably be wise to aim to wash her stuff no more often than every other day just for your own sanity / sleep, so if 12 side-snap shirts are a very cheap bulk-buy (they can be), then it isn't such a ludicrous idea.

I think a decent rule of thumb would be to half around half a dozen babygrows in the newborn size at most, and perhaps up to a dozen to start with in the 0 - 3 months size. Having probably 2 cold weather snowsuits / coats will let you have a change in case of accidents, and a couple of hats, sets of mittens / booties for the same reason (although it might be worth waiting on these if he / she will miss the worst of the winter weather). I don't think you can have too many vests really, particularly as they are very, very cheap. You may well find yourself changing them extraordinarly frequently. Have at least one change of sheets - probably 2 or 3 would be better. You might want to do the same for your own bed unless you think that you are disciplined enough to never be in bed with him / her, because they *will* projectile vomit on your bed at 3:00AM if you give them the chance.

I'd recommend you avoid buying exceptionally cute / expensive clothes for her. In our experience, other people tend to do that for you, and you'll probably need all your money for the boring hygeine products that no-one wants to buy.

By the way, I'd really advise that you go for functionality as a main consideration with clothes. We've got some baby-grows that make me wince to dress her in, they involve so much contortion of tiny limbs. The ones with snaps up the front and down the sides of both legs are ideal.

One last thing - get a few muslin cloths. They're very useful as light protection for furniture when baby is on it, and should save on laundry.
posted by bifter at 4:11 AM on March 5, 2004 [1 favorite]

Always have an unopened bottle of Pedialyte.
posted by mischief at 4:29 AM on March 5, 2004

A good supply of stain removers for various things (rugs, clothes, walls, furniture) would be handy as well.
posted by mischief at 4:47 AM on March 5, 2004

I second most of that bifter says - as many vests as possible, at least three changes of sheets and blankets, nothing too expensive or fancy as that will be the first to be subject to intense, er, staining.

The best item of clothing we have for 4 month old Joe - already in 6-9 month clothing despite not being a big baby - is a ridculously cute 'duck' yellow dressing gown complete with beak-style hood. Its much easier to get on and off than his normal clothes (just ties around the waist) and is suitable from newborn to 18 months - vfm guaranteed (just don't let him stand too close to open fires).

Otherwise, I'd recommend keeping as many receipts as possible and only opening stuff (especially more expensive equipment) when you REALLY need it- most stores will happily exchange goods months after you bought it if it is unopened.

Other than that - all you need is endless patience and an unshakeable belief that, however bad it gets (cos it does at times!) - things WILL get better!
posted by barnsoir at 4:55 AM on March 5, 2004

I used receiving blankets and undershits almost exclusively for the first 3 months of both of mine. Babies absolutely love being tightly swaddled in receiving blankets for the first month or two - makes them feel very secure, and since their arms and legs are still bent, they fold up into the cutest little packages ;) Plus they double as puke rags...

Gowns with mitts are great at first, as babies tend to scratch their faces a lot with their flailing arms and sharp little fingernails.

You'll probably want to have on hand - desitin, cotton swabs, q-tips, hooded towels, soft cloths, baby oil, maybe a pacifier or two. Newborns don't really need much except lots of love, a full belly, and a dry diaper.

And don't forget about you, and what you need!
posted by iconomy at 5:22 AM on March 5, 2004

My 4 month old son is also in 6-9 month clothes and he is not a "big baby".

He weighed 8lb 1oz at birth and did not wear new-born sized clothes at all. The 0-3 month stuff looked a bit big on him, but as bifter aluded to above, this meant that we did not have to shoe horn him in to anything at a time when we were not entirely comfortable with handling him.

Bifters ammount recommendations are pretty spot on, though this will start to lighten a little after a month or so. We use 8 vests at present and wash them every other day. We use re-useable bambinomio nappy stuff, so vests just all go in with the necessary wrap washing schedule...

As far as the vests go, the ones that I find easiest to put on the little wriggler are the ones with a double overlapping collar that can open out the whole width at the top (not sure I'm describing this well, they probably have another name). I find the second button next to kiddy's neck really tricky to do up button-ups.

The absolute hands down amazing, brilliant, great, wonderful thing we bought was this mobile made by Manhattan Toy company. I know, it looks like cheap cardboard when you take it out the box (coz it is), but our boy LOVES it (a bit less now, sadly). He would lie on his back in his cot staring at it for 20 minutes plus at a time (That doesn't sound like long now, but believe me, it felt like a three week vacation at times).

I also recommend black and white cloth books. They are quite tricky to track down, but again, keep a very small baby occupied for a surprising amount of time.

Oh yeah, if you don't own a hand blender, get one. In the last week, we have been using ours non-stop.

On preview:

Iconomy, mits are very useful, but what's an undershit? Should I be looking out for them?
posted by davehat at 5:50 AM on March 5, 2004

Duh. It's the opposite of an overshit. And you call yourself a dad...
posted by iconomy at 6:10 AM on March 5, 2004

You need a million onesies, a million recieving blankets, a million bibs and a million burp cloths. You can never have too many. Trust me. You wont have time to do laundry as often as you'd like, not in the first few weeks anyway.

When you're at the hospital, every time you or your partner go out in the hallway for anything, grab a couple recieving blankets and toss them in your bag.

Don't buy the little 8x8 inch "burp cloths" that you'll find in baby stores. Use full size face clothes or even recieving blankets. In the first few months your baby will be a yogurt factory and those little burp cloths are useless. (Imagine wiping with one single square of TP)

Without going on a big cloth vs. disposable rant, if you can find a diaper service in your area, use it. It's cheaper than disposables in the long run and cloth really aren't that big a deal. We use plenty of disposables (going out, bedtime, etc) but it's nice to know how much waste we've cut down on in 22 months by using mostly cloth. Our diaper service is GREAT. I swear, magic diapers. If you're in the Boston area, I can recommend one.

DO NOT BUY ANY STUFFED ANIMALS! In the first few weeks, everyone you've ever known in your entire life will buy your baby a stuffed animal. You'll have more than enough and your baby will not even aknowledge them for a year or more.

Get a baby swing. Neglect-o-matic. You'll need it.

Don't assume breast feeding will be a piece of cake, if you're going that route.

Diapers aren't really that big a deal.

For the first month, know that it gets eaiser (or you just get used to it) after a month or so.

Second hand baby stores are GREAT. Babies grow FAST, so they don't use their clothes too many times. Most used baby stuff is in great shape.

Keep a bunch of "heat and serve" meals in the freezer. Start cooking and freezing now.

Build a network of friends and family who can help you out with errands. But on the other hand, don't be afraid to tell people when it's a bad time to visit.

Having a kid KICKS ASS, but it's also one of the hardest things you'll ever do. I honestly didn't think I'd survive the first month. It's good to prepare as much as possible, but you can only prepare so much. Good luck!
posted by bondcliff at 6:16 AM on March 5, 2004 [1 favorite]

On preview, I'm repeating some stuff, but just consider it another vote.

You DON'T need a special "diaper bag," unless you just want one. Any backpack that you have laying around will do fine for the stuff you need to carry around, and it's easier to strap on to yourself when you need both arms.

The kind of carseat where the infant carrier snaps out of it always seemed like it would be neat, tho we never had one. So the infant carrier was a separate deal for us. Obviously, highly important.

You don't necessarily need a full-blown pram, but an umbrella stroller is both cheap and required.

We found a baby backpack to be useful once baby can keep his/her head up, although we didn't use it tons. Until then, a sling is nice for mom to feel close to baby.

I would definitely invest in one of those automatic 'swing' chairs for baby. They should be prescription, they are that effective at putting a baby to sleep (YMMV). Get one at a thrift shop to save $$$, probably just as good.

If you use disposable diapers a "diaper genie" is a must for keeping the smell down. Get the large size (if they even still sell small), the refills are easier to find. Again, check thrift shops for these.

Finally, get a video camera. It's a cliche, but you'll thank me later. For some reason, it's almost impossible to see, in your mind's eye, what your kids looked/acted like when they were younger. I'm always shocked when I go back to look at our old videos. And the kids LOVE them.
posted by stupidsexyFlanders at 6:26 AM on March 5, 2004

We found a baby backpack to be useful once baby can keep his/her head up, although we didn't use it tons. Until then, a sling is nice for mom to feel close to baby.

Ditto. We love our Kelty backpack.

If someone doesn't give you one at the shower, buy yourself a Baby Bjorn.

Also, if the baby will be breast fed, stay away from the useless Boppy pillow and find yourself a Breast Friend.

Get a baby monitor.
posted by bondcliff at 6:31 AM on March 5, 2004

Two things that really saved our necks and paid for themselves over and over were the Fisher-Price Kick and Play Bouncer and the Boppy. If you're breastfeeding the baby, the Boppy acts as a nursing pillow and it becomes really useful as the kid gets older. Oh and I would definitely get one of those car seats that has a handle to carry the baby. We bought the big ol' Eddie Bauer ones that remain in the car and ended up (luckily) borrowing two of the other style seats from friends. Of course, the Eddie Bauer ones will come in handy once The Girls can walk by themselves... (NOTE: that's a rationalization for having spent $300 on car seats that have never been used.)

We had three or four baby showers from various people, so we bought only the big stuff. Things that we really thought we'd need that we hardly ever use include the Diaper Genie, a changing table (we do most diaper changing on a blanket on the floor or the bed), and various slings and backpacks.

Oh, and we spent over a hundred dollars on a huge assortment of Avent bottles that was largely wasted because we ended up replacing every last one of them with Dr. Brown's bottles when The Girls started getting really gassy from the Avent.
posted by bbrown at 6:35 AM on March 5, 2004

Oh and one other piece of advice that really helped us: don't shy away from eBay. We found lots of gently-used clothing and baby equipment as substantial discounts on there. We bought a Maxi-Mom on eBay for half the price of a new one (though it ended up being a lot harder to work than we expected and put a heavy strain on my wife's back with two thirteen-pounders strapped on her front).
posted by bbrown at 6:39 AM on March 5, 2004

bbrown, having no idea what a Maxi-Mom is, I am visualizing some kind of frighteningly exaggerated breast-enhancing prosthetic device. I prefer this, and so will not click your link.
posted by stupidsexyFlanders at 7:01 AM on March 5, 2004

I understand completely. The reality is much more frightening to see.
posted by bbrown at 7:13 AM on March 5, 2004

I 2 echo a lot already said here. The swing will let you get a little bit of rest and we really loved our backpack carrier.

We cloth diaper. Let me highly recommend it. Cloth diapers aren't the PITA they were when our parents used them. They are fitted, durable and in the long run cheap as hell. Our son has worn Luke's Drawers Candy Wrapper All-in-One's all of his life. He doesn't have the blowouts that friends of ours have with their disposables and has had infinitely less rash trouble than his disposable wearing play mates. I hooked up a kitchen sprayer to a toilet so I don't have to get up close and personal with a dirty diaper. Our laundry use has gone up; we wash a load of diapers every night but your laundry usage will go up anyway with a baby. We have only have spent approx $350 on diapers and our son is over two. They are a lot better for the environment than disposables also. I was hesitant to go cloth, but can never see myself using disposables now.
posted by spartacusroosevelt at 7:15 AM on March 5, 2004

A baby monitor.
Mittens. Booties. Hat if it's born with no hair.
A breast pump.
A gallon of Calpol. Some Piriton - which is an anti-histamine but briliant because it causes drowsiness. In emergencies, if it's your sanity on the line, drugging kids is fine.
A babysitter. Because you still have a right to a life.
The courage of your own convictions for when random strangers give you unsolicited advice.
Lots of vodka/ beer/ wine.
A sense of adventure, and a sense of proportion.
posted by Pericles at 8:29 AM on March 5, 2004

Ditto for swing, lots of face cloths, diapers diapers diapers (sounds like such a boring shower gift, but trust me it's the one you'll appreciate most), and second-hand clothing. You wouldn't believe the amount of never-worn clothes we've picked up at yard sales, durable high quality and good looking items for a buck or two. I doubt there are more than a handful of store-bought items in my son's wardrobe, and he's almost 1 year old. Best of all, if you buy too much or he/she outgrows it quickly, you're not out as much money.

But here's the one thing you REALLY need if you're going to have a baby - organization. Set up your diaper station so everything's in reach. Same with bottle-making, laundry... every little process. Adjust as necessary so that you're comfortable doing it blindfolded. Because with the lack of sleep that's coming you need to be able to do it all without thinking. That fog will start to lift in a few months, but until it does you have to be an automaton.

Rearrange everything in your life to make baby your top priority, because he or she truly is that important. And oddly enough, this will give you more time to deal with other priorities. Don't ask me how that works, but it did for us. My 11 month old son comes first, and we get out to movies and dinner far more than our friends who try to work the baby around their lives instead of the reverse.
posted by GhostintheMachine at 9:23 AM on March 5, 2004

What's the "baby swing" that you all are talking about?
posted by bifter at 9:38 AM on March 5, 2004

baby swing

let's see...plenty of good stuff mentioned so far. go with the "breast friend", not the "boppy". we gave ours away to friends who swear by it. it's great.

definitely a breast pump! sometimes you'll be sore and the baby won't be hungry...other times you might need to go out. and you'll pump so that A: your kid has food and B: so you don't leak.

speaking of leaking, buy um...three boxes of nursing pads to help with the leaking.

as far as lotions go.

1. get yourself some lansinoh lotion. also, read up on la leche league if you're breastfeeding (and i hope you do!). this will help you a LOT, especially in the beginning, and don't give up if it hurts a little...you'll get used to it and it'll go away quickly, especially if you use the lansinoh.

2. screw desitin. used it on my baby brothers and baby sisters. it's fine, but doesn't come close to boudreaux's buttpaste. it's a southern thing, apparently, cause i had never heard of it until i had a baby with a southerner :). put it this way....i use it when i need to. or, put it another way, my daughter used to throw humongous fits if i wouldn't use it on her...even a few months ago, when she was still doing diapers once in a while. it's....transcendental.

dont' worry about ipecac. most people say you should have it around, but it tends to do more harm than good. the ole' finger down the throat is the best thing you can do for your kid.

don't forget about antibacterial wipes and stuff...like that stuff that you rub on your hands until it evaporates.

diaper genies are nice, but overrated..but maybe that's cause i was the guy who had to change the stupid thing. go cloth if you're metropolitan and can get a nice diaper service. cloth diapers are great for burping and laying your baby on...they're nice and thick and rugged and can take a lot.

mittens are good, especially for the first few months. or just use socks :) just as good. remember that you're going to need to file your kid's nails for a good... 6-8 months...so get some disposable emory boards.

i can't believe nobody's mentioned dreft yet. sheesh! that's the only stuff you should wash your kid's clothes and blankets and stuff in for the first year or so.

some other tips:

1. sleep whenever the baby sleeps. don't use that time to catch up, or you'll never get any sleep. learn to do things WITH the baby, not when they're down for a nap....in a few weeks you'll be caught up and can start letting them sleep once or twice a day without taking a nap yourself, but for the get-go, just worry about sleep.

2. whiskey helps for teething and colic. look, i married a southerner, ok? just wipe a small amount on their gums, and they calm down.

3. thrift and consignment shops are awesome! remember them when your baby outgrows everything. they'll thank you for the donations.

4. the car seat/stroller with the snap-in baby seat is positively awesome!!! we just stopped using the stroller portion a few months ago...when my kid was 2.5 years old! see, you can use the stroller without the baby seat, so it really scales to toddler age.

5. ah, go out and get a diaper bag or something. it'll double as a purse, but when formula spills or you need to throw a dirty diaper in there cause you dont' have a trashcan handy...well, you'll be glad it's not prada. also, as the kid gets older, they'll identify with it as being "their bag" and that's pretty cool. also, get a changing pad.

6. activities! books, baby gyms, etc. they won't want to use a lot of them, but some of them the baby will just attach to and want it for hours on end. good stuff.

7. bouncy chairs! hell yeah!

anyway, that's all i can think of right now.
posted by taumeson at 10:30 AM on March 5, 2004

Baby swing. They fall asleep so fast you can hear the chin hit the chest from across the street.
posted by stupidsexyFlanders at 10:34 AM on March 5, 2004

Ours child is nearly at a year and here is what we use most frequently:
  • diapers
  • butt wipes
  • Gerber cloth diapers (used as burp rags, dirt cheap)
  • butt cream (we use a Canadian variety from Souris Verte, which is fabulous)
  • Zout and a brush (removes poop and food stains)
Input We were forced into a bottled breast milk scheme
  • bottles
  • a wide variety of nipples until we found what she liked best (NUK)
  • nipple brush
  • dishwasher insert to hold nipples, rings, caps
  • Thermos for hot water
  • cold packs for keeping milk cool
  • Rectal thermometer
  • Vaseline
  • Johnson & Johnson Lavendar Baby wash (we like the smell)
  • Monitor
  • A sleep location (I made this which worked well for about 4 months (the thing on her face is a nasal canula. don't ask)
    • I think the thing that we really, really liked the most overall was a blanket that my sister-in-law made that fits in the car seat and goes around the straps. This lets you keep your baby covered in another layer that works with the carseat. By the by, sleep bags (little outfits that look are like a long night shirt that zips closed at the bottom) do not play well at all with car seats. Oh, and in case anyone else hasn't mentioned it, childbirth is an emotionally intense experience and absolutely worth it.

posted by plinth at 10:58 AM on March 5, 2004

I'm not a parent (yet) but I believe this is the most useful AskMe thread so far. It's giving me lots of good, practicial ideas for my friends and family members with new ones on the way. Thanks!
posted by pomegranate at 11:12 AM on March 5, 2004

Ok, yet another recommendation for the baby swing.

Now I've seen rash ointment recommendations, but I want to emphasize prevention first and foremost. To that end, I endorse Weleda's calendula baby oil. Use it the first few days to keep the dreaded meconium from sticking to baby, which in turn makes those early stressful diaper changes go much quickly.

Later on, slather some on the tiny heinie after bathtime. We have done this every day with our second son, and he has only had a couple of small rashes. Our first son, with whom we used all the *wrong* prevention (powder, a&d, & zinc oxide ointment), was constantly rashy.

The oil is also great for infant massage, which I highly recommend as well.
posted by whatnot at 11:53 AM on March 5, 2004

Here's one kind of offbeat suggestion: Get a book on sign language. We communicated with our second baby in sign language from nearly the very beginning (not exclusively, of course, but a lot) and it was amazing how she would talk back to us that way, much, much earlier than she could speak orally. For instance, at one point months before she began talking, she woke up at sunrise, uncharacteristically. I went in to get her and she's sitting up with a big smile making the sign for birds. It was the birds that woke her up! It's cool to get a little jump on what's going on inside your baby's head.
posted by stupidsexyFlanders at 12:17 PM on March 5, 2004 [2 favorites]

If you don't have glass shower doors, get a shower curtain that's clear. Your baby can still see you while sitting a bouncy seat.


Burp Cloths

Video Baby Monitor as baby is often awake long before crying; so no need to wait for the late stage indicator to comfort him/her. And it comes in very handy when they're older too.

Baby Diaper Service. Often times they'll allow friends/family to purchase so many months as a gift.

Lansinoh ointment is good for sore nipples, and can be used on baby's bum. Completely safe to ingest; La Leche League recommends it. They've even got tips on breastfeeding an adopted baby.

You won't need the crib if you're breastfeeding. Once you're used to baby being in bed, you'll use the same subconscious that prevents you from rolling out of bed to keep from rolling over baby. But for the first few months until you're certain, a sleep positioner will bring peace of mind.

The goal of night nursing (takes 2-4 months) is to notice when baby starts stirring (hasn't woken up yet), latch on still sleeping baby, and both fall asleep together. It is FAR more wakeful to get up in the middle of the night to go to the bathroom to pee than it is to latch and drift back to sleep.

DON'T mess around with those cheap breast pumps (usually made by the same companies who make formula, baby food or bottles). They'll destroy the nipples and extract the minimum amount of milk, very frustrating. Go for Medela. If cost isn't a factor, the double pump is much more efficient.

Ditto for nursing pads, don't mess with the Gerber, Even Flo brands. Curity is great!

If you don't like drop in visitors, tag onto the answering machine that you appreciate a call before stopping by. Eventually the word will get out.

Baby Bjorn or some sort of carrier. Using the Bjorn is a great way to get them to sleep; they're snug against the body and can hear familiar sounds like when in the womb. Slings are convenient as baby can nurse at the same time. Over the Shoulder Baby Holder and Maya Wraps come highly recommended. When out in public any body carrier is a great way to keep strangers from touching your newborn. With the Bjorn, anytime someone comes near, just hold the baby's hands and the kid is pretty much off-limits.

Rare is the baby who is ho-hum on swings. They either LOVE or HATE them. Wait 'til the tyke is old enough and take them to the baby store and sit them in it. You'll know instantly. If you do get one, get one that that is quiet starting.

File/Trim nails when baby is asleep.

If you're housebound for a while, get a broad spectrum light bulb and use it in the morning and afternoon (not evening!).

In reality babies don't need anything but a loving parent. The "stuff" is really for the adult making the responsibility part easier.

Good luck and have fun!
posted by Feisty at 12:24 PM on March 5, 2004

Hard plastic bathing tubs are uncomfortable for newborns. Get something with a soft insert that can be taken out and thrown in the wash (because the warm water is soothing and a great place to poop).
posted by Feisty at 12:28 PM on March 5, 2004

Response by poster: Despite the fact that my handle is an English town, I'm actually American. Let me see if I am translating some of these things properly from British:
Babygrow= stretchy terry pajama type things?
Calpol= no clue
Vest= not quite sure. In American, this is a sleeveless shirt, usually opens in the front, usually worn over another shirt.

So far we have, left over from my stepdaughters: a crib, a bassinet, a baby backpack, and one of those really huge strollers that's good for walking, but useless for going on public transportation or taking in the car. Also we have some things I've knitted (sweater, blanket, hat, booties) and a Maya-type sling (unpadded with rings) that I sewed yesterday for less than $14. (Could be even less... $10 was 2.5 yards of $4/yard fabric.) It's not hand-loomed organically color-grown Guatemalan fabric, but it didn't cost $45 plus shipping, either.

I find "Boudreaux's Buttpaste" highly amusing. I have never seen it around these parts, but perhaps my sister-in-law in the South can send me some.
posted by Shoeburyness at 12:31 PM on March 5, 2004

A Cabbage kept in the 'fridge. Seriously, if you become engorged, break off a leaf and stick it in your bra. Feels fabulous and is theraputic.

To boost milk supply McCann's Steel Cut Oats and Mother's Milk Tea.
posted by Feisty at 1:10 PM on March 5, 2004

I couldn't find a useful answer to your question before I had my son, either, Shoeburyness. This thread is a great resource to have! He's seven months old now so here's some measure of what we've learned:

You only need little t-shirts for the first few days before the cord stump falls off. After that we barely used them, except on really warm days. Right over the head is fine, side-snaps can be fiddly work with a squirmy kid.

You don't need so much 0-3 mths sized stuff; our critter outgrew that size in a month. 3-6 mths sizes lasted us to 4 months. 6-9 mths sizes he's still wearing.

Stick with one-piece stuff for the first few months. Don't even bother with shirts that don't snap over the crotch no matter how cute. They ride up under the kiddo's armpits whenever you lift them. Onesies in short sleeve, long sleeve, crotch-snap, and long-leg with snaps down the legs were in constant use here. Pants that go over the onesies are fine but we didn't use those too often either since they'd slide down his butt.

We laid in a good stock of footie onesies and footie jammies. Socks DON'T stay on and they're too little to need shoes; footies rock for cold weather.

They don't need jackets 'til they're older, just blankies to swaddle them if it's cold or a snowsuit if it's really cold.

Cotton blankies are great and can mop up spit-ups in a pinch. Plain prefold diapers for burp rags are good too. If you're breastfeeding, you don't need bibs 'til they start eating solids because breastmilk spit-up doesn't stain.

Baby nails need clipping like twice a week, it's nuts.

If you're breastfeeding you'll need a breast pump, and get something like an Avent Isis (I wish I did, my cheapo pump is a pain to use, but I didn't think I'd really be using it). Even if you're never away from the baby and never have to pump a bottle - it helps when you get engorged.

The baby car seats with the handle *look* easy to carry, but aren't, and they get heavy fast. Consider another way of hauling the bug around, like a sling. The car seat that snaps into the stroller combo works really well, and the stroller is really big so it'll last the first couple years, but you'll need to buy another car seat at 20 lbs. (we're just at this point now).

A backpack is fine as a diaper bag, and easier to carry. I use my Jansport from college, the diaper bag I was given was too much of a pain to use.

I snagged a baby tub from my aunt since I'd read they prefer a little tub to feel more secure - and he screamed every time we tried to use it. From the first month we ended up taking him into the tub with us and that baby tub is just taking up space now.

I really wish we'd had some kind of play gym for our critter when he was littler. Good way to keep them busy.

We have an old Fisher Price musical clock that was a dream for magic-instant-sleep. I wish we'd snagged it from my mother when he was born.

Make sure your bed is big enough for the baby because that's the best way to nurse in the middle of the night! =) We have a double and endured some pretty cramped nights.

Baby reference books are worth their weight in gold on those nights where you're freaked out that something is wrong.

I'm sure I could think of more but I have to go take the little guy for a walk now while the weather's nice.... sorry for the ramble, hope it helps! Good luck! =)
posted by Melinika at 1:14 PM on March 5, 2004

posted by Ignatius J. Reilly at 5:26 PM on March 5, 2004

I forgot earplugs. Have some on hand for the occasional inexplicable crying jag. There will be times that you can do nothing for your baby besides hold 'em while they cry. The earplugs make it more bearable.
posted by whatnot at 7:42 PM on March 5, 2004

(the earplugs are for you of course. heh.)
posted by whatnot at 7:44 PM on March 5, 2004

Things I regret:

Not having the friggin' car seat set-up before I went into labor. My ex-husband cannot follow directions to save his life, so he picked us up at the hospital with the car seat unattached and unassembled.

Buying way too many clothes at Baby Gap. Let's face it babies look cute in anything, including T-shirts and diapers. All those sun suits! All that money! Why didn't I put it in a savings account? Moan.

Buying a cheap breast pump.

Things I don't regret:

Every precious picture, every second of film, every sound recording.

Taking the newborn class at Gymboree. I learned many great games for infants, met lots of new parents, and even got some tips on coping with colic.

Reading every book I could find on parenting. Certainly they were not all equally valuable, but a broader array of information leads to a more informed choice.
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 10:03 PM on March 5, 2004

Vest = undershirt/tank top. You know, what some folks call (*shudder*) "wife beaters."
posted by web-goddess at 11:19 PM on March 5, 2004

I tried calling those "mommy beaters". It wasn't funny, apparently.

By the by, I think one of the more important skills to acquire is awareness of FUD marketing. Many baby things are marketed using Fear, Uncertainty, and Doubt as the main tools of pushing the necessity to purchase an item. If you look at something and think, "they're trying to FUD me" then you can start asking other questions like, "is the risk real?" "how likely is it?" "do I need to worry about it for my child?" I've seen baby bottle warmers that were advertised using FUD that if the warmed milk wasn't the ideal temperature, your baby wouldn't eat as well and would be more gassy. No, it wasn't stated that directly. We've warmed milked entirely with hot tap water (our tap is seriously warm) and a bowl and our daughter burps like a marine. No problem. And as for travel, a thermos keeps water hot all day and I haven't yet been in a restaurant that has refused me a big cup/bowl of hot water if I'm holding a bottle in my hand. Oh, if you're going to warm water in a microwave, please put a wooden utensil or bamboo skewer in the water onto which bubble may collect. Having one huge bubble come shooting up out of a mug and spraying hot water all over you is no fun at all.
posted by plinth at 3:10 AM on March 6, 2004

er... don't know if it's a bit late, but when I said vest, I meant light cotton undershirts, generally with capped / short sleeves and no legs at all. The ones we tend to use have snaps under the crotch only, and baby would usually wear them under something else.

Babygrows are exactly what you describe I think Shoeburyness (lovely place btw ;-)), hang on, I'll have a swift hunt for an image... here we are (could only find a Birmingham City FC one... sorry!)

By the way, it's a UK site (and thus faces translation issues for you USians), but we have found Babycentre to be a fantastic resource for pre and postnatal information / advice etc - particularly useful towards those people that have complained about not finding any practical guidance, lists etc. online.
posted by bifter at 4:58 AM on March 6, 2004


vest = sleeveless bodysuit.

Babygrow = Sleepsuit

calpol = children's tylenol (I think, Calpol isn't available in the US)

And I got a propper slap from my partner for giving false info in my post. The washing goes on every day and we have twice as many bodysuits as I mentioned.....

... I need to go in to our laundry more often apparently.

Now that the little 'un is able to hold his head up, we have a tippi toes in the kitchen doorway. He really likes bouncing around in it.
posted by davehat at 5:16 AM on March 6, 2004


or what bifter just said....
posted by davehat at 5:17 AM on March 6, 2004

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