Ask any parent and you will get a confusing list of "must haves" and "must avoids"
This is because we all have personal preferences, and guess what? So does your baby!
So how do you buy a gift for someone you've never met? And equipment for a game you've never played?
Here's a place to start:
Essentials. Babies eat, poop and sleep. They need diapers, breastfeeding, a car seat, if you have a car, and a place to sleep.
1. Diapers - cloth or disposable. Even if you plan on using cloth, a pack of disposables eases the learning curve of parenting
2. Wipes - cloth and disposable - babies are wet and messy. Plain water cleans most messes and has no chemicals. Even if you use disposable wipes when you go out, washclothes are bigger and more absorbent than disposable wipes.
3. Breastfeeding support - even if you don't have a horror show beginning, you will have a ton of questions and Lactation
Consultants can answer them to your satisfaction, unlike Google.
4. Domestic help so you can breastfeed. Housekeepers are not just for the rich! There is a special kind of housekeeper called a Postpartum Doula or Baby Nurse who is like your mom, only better. They cook, clean, hold the baby so you can sleep or shower, do laundry and hold you when you cry.
5. Meals so you can take care of your baby. Ever try to cook with only one arm? It's possible. But imagine how much nicer it is to pop a ready to eat meal made with love by your relatives? Buon Appetito!
6. A safe place to put the baby when they aren't in your arms. The American Academy of Pediatrics just updated their Sleep Policy. It's a long read and complicated, but please read it.
7. A car seat. Even if you don't have a car, you might want one for taxis and planes. Have two cars? You will be happier with two car seats.
Anything that makes essentials easier is next on the list.
Nice To Have Items:
1. 4-6 nursing tanks and bras. You will appreciate expensive ones if you have them, so ask for them.
2. Breast pads. cloth or disposable. You may not need them after a few weeks or you might. Ask for a variety. You will have a preference and you won't know until you use it.
3. Nipple butter or salve. Natural ones made with olive oil and calendula top my list for soothing and healing.
4. Burp Cloths - it's nice to have a dozen. Cloth diapers work well too for catching active letdowns and leaking on the other side.
5. Breastfeeding Pillow - Personally, most women would do better without this until breastfeeding is going well because breast pillows are often too tall or too short. When babies are breastfeeding well, they are convenient and cozy.
For Naps and Sleep
1. Rock N Play is #1 for parents. Somehow, the magic RnP keeps babies mostly happy or sleeping when you aren't holding them. It's some kind of miracle.
2. Bassinet that attaches to the parent's bed - These are wonderful for breastfeeding moms and babies. If nobody told you yet, most babies only want to be held by you. It's biological and while some babies don't mind being put down, our brains need the safe feelings and interaction with adults to grow.
3. Crib - While expensive, do not use a secondhand crib unless it has all the original hardware, the sides do not drop and it has not been recalled.
4. Pack and Play - Many people have this with the changing table/bassinet in the living room and something else in the nursery/bedroom. It's convenient for traveling, too.
5. 2-3 Sheets for each of the above
Taking care of the Baby
1. Baby clothes - You will have too many newborn and 3 month sizes. Your baby will probably be too big or too little for what ever you stock up on. Be flexible.
2. Blankets- A heavy blanket for the floor or stroller, 3 or 4 swaddle blankets
3. Sleep Sacks/Swaddles These ensure that your baby is warm, but not too warm, while they sleep.
4. Diaper Bag. This can be any tote bag or backpack or can be the real deal.
5. Bathtub or foam mat for sink and a towel
6. Natural Diaper cream and a natural soap/shampoo/bodywash. Skip the Johnson's Baby and Desitin. While natural products are more expensive, you don't need much. Plain warm water is the gentlest, most effective cleaner.
At some point, your family and friends go home & you are left alone to take care of the baby & the house.
For Getting Things Done
1. Enough clothes - There is a balancing point in having too many clothes and scrounging around in the hamper for your baby's or your's "least dirty" dirty shirt.
2. A baby carrier. The average family has 4-6 baby carriers because babies grow, your friend's give you theirs and your preferences change. Mobywraps are wonderful stable carriers for the early weeks but can be complicated to learn. Ergobaby, Tula, Onya and Lillebaby are all great carriers and they fit people differently. It's hard to guess while you are pregnant but know that many people are very happy with each of these.
3. Bouncy seat, swing or vibrating seat. This equipment is only useful for a few months - the most painful months. They are worth it.
4. A stroller. While a new baby might not appreciate it, most babies do at some point. A stroller allows you to get out for walks, which helps you feel better. They are great for combining errands without the in-and-out of the car and they hold a lot of coats, shopping bags, diapers and library books.