Shopping for a new baby can often feel overwhelming and confusing, especially when there is so much to consider. However, babies don’t need the fanciest or newest products to thrive. Below are a few things you should expect to use in caring for a baby:
- Diapers: You might choose to use disposable or cloth diapers, and neither option is better or worse. Brand does not matter. Just make sure you have enough for many diaper changes each day! See also:
- Wipes: Either baby wipes, made for sensitive skin, or soft washcloths work wonders.
- Burp cloths: You don’t necessarily need a separate burp cloth, as any soft, absorbent towel or cloth diaper does the job well.
- Swaddling/receiving blankets: Babies feel safest and sleep best when they’re wrapped.
- Bottles: You don’t need many right away, as every baby has a preference of bottle/nipple-type. Even if you plan on breastfeeding, a few bottles are useful to have on hand, especially if someone else is occasionally feeding the baby milk or formula.
- Breast pump: Insurance companies are required to cover the cost of a breast pump for you to keep, or they may supply you with a rental. Contact your insurance agency before the baby’s arrival to discover what they can offer you. Or, the hospital may provide you with a manual breast pump, upon request.
- Disposable breast pads and nursing bra: If you choose to breastfeed, keep special pads in your nursing bra. Your nursing bras should be supportive and comfortable. Breastmilk often leaks out, so these pads help keep clothes clean.
- Formula: This is a great way to get your baby the nutrients she needs to grow. If you’re breastfeeding, having some formula at home can come in handy if your milk supply is low, or if you’re not always available to breastfeed. You may also qualify for nutritional resources available through the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC). If you’d like to access this resource, make sure you speak with your doctor, or contact your local WIC office, which is best to do before the baby’s arrival. See also:
- Car seat: You might like to use a car seat that is easy to carry around. Or, you may look for one that can be converted from a rear-facing infant seat to a front-facing toddler seat. If you purchase a used car seat, ensure that it is no more than six years old. After that point, the seat is no longer considered safe. If you have a car, your local police station can help install the car seat correctly and safely! All babies must leave the hospital in a car seat.
- Stroller: Some strollers have removable car seats and carriers. Others grow as Baby does, and others are for multiples of the same or different ages. Some have seats that can change direction so you can have the baby look out—or look at you.
- Baby in back: Have a toy or some other object perhaps on top of your purse to remind you that there is a baby in the back seat before you go. Sleep-deprived parents who are rushing to get to work or back home may accidentally forget, and in extreme weather, this is life-threatening.
- Crib/Pack ‘n’ Play: Babies sleep a lot, so having a designated area for them to sleep safely and comfortably is essential. There are hundreds of great options, from cribs that become toddler beds, to bassinets placed next to your bed, to portable pack ‘n’ plays. Choose whatever bed works best for you and your baby, as long as she sleeps on her back with nothing else in her sleep-space.
- Baby clothes: Babies don’t need the trendiest style; comfy is best! Lots of onesies, baby leggings, a lightweight hat, socks, and a few extra layers for cold weather are all that’s necessary. Some soft pajamas are also good to keep them warm/cool at night. Babies are not fashionistas. Hand-me-downs and thrift store finds are great. Some moms suggest washing the baby’s clothes/blankets in gentle detergent before the baby arrives!
- Bathtub insert: If you plan on using a bathtub or sink to wash the baby, some equipment to keep her safe and comfortable is highly recommended. Many parents find a seat helpful, which they strap the baby into, or a small plastic tub to fit the baby alone. A foam cushion can keep children of all ages from slipping around the tub. Stay by your baby the whole time she’s in the bath, and she’ll be safe!
- No tear baby shampoo + body wash
- Gentle baby lotion
- A clean, warm washcloth: Just place this on your finger and gently rub Baby’s gums and teeth. This is often found to keep little mouths healthier, and it makes toothbrushing a part of the child’s routine from an early age.
- Diaper bag: This might be a backpack, tote bag, or another kind of storage that is easy for you to carry out of the house. Inside, parents often keep spare diapers and wipes, an extra outfit, and whatever else you might need while out.
- First aid kit:
- Baby nail file
- Cotton balls: to clean Baby’s ears and nose
- Baby thermometer
- Infant Tylenol/acetaminophen (safe for babies after 12 weeks)
- Diaper rash cream
- Nasal aspirator (the hospital should provide this)
A pediatrician is always a great resource for specific questions regarding your baby’s needs. If you’re having trouble finding a particular item, pregnancy resource centers are often able to provide it for you, or direct you to someone who can.
Finally, if you have a baby shower, your host can suggest these basics as gifts!
Remember, the most important thing for your baby to have is someone who loves and cares for him!
By Grace Berning