Congratulations on your upcoming bundle of joy! As you embark on your motherhood journey, it’s important to remember that there is no perfect transition to parenthood. The journey can be full of surprises, challenges, and joyous moments.
One of the new parents’ biggest challenges is figuring out what baby gear is necessary and what is just extra. As a first-time parent, you may feel pressure to buy the best and most expensive products for your newborn. The average parent spends over $13,000 in the first year. However, it’s essential to recognize that not all baby gear is a need, and many items marketed as “must-haves” are unnecessary.
Everyone around you will help you fill out your baby registry checklist. They will all suggest what you need to buy and why. Advertisements from brands that describe every baby gear as essential or must-have will feel your timeline online.
Before you know it, your newborn wishlist will be filled with hundreds of products. And you will quickly question if your baby needs all those products. The truth is, they don’t.
In this article, we’ll help you navigate the world of baby gear by breaking down what you really need to buy. We’ll also cover what you should consider when buying each item and give you some savvy tips on shopping for your baby.
What Baby Gear You Need (and What you Don’t)
Shopping for newborn baby gear is never easy. Not even for second or third-time parents. This is because it’s simply impossible to predict what your baby might like and what they might hate. Therefore, as a rule of thumb is best that you stick to essentials and buy the rest as you get to understand your baby’s personality after they are born.
To help you make the right choices, we’ll break down the essential items you’ll need for your baby in different categories, from diapering, nursery, and feeding to travel, so you can feel confident in your choices and avoid unnecessary expenses.
In a hurry? Here is a quick checklist:
The first thing on your list will be diapering. While it might look simple, shopping for diapers and diaper accessories can be challenging. Go to Amazon or any baby gear shop to search for a diaper, and the algorithm will recommend 100s of other products.
So what should you buy and what shouldn’t you?
What you Need
- Diapers: These are essential items you’ll need for your baby. As a new parent, consider buying a one-month supply of diapers from different brands. This is a good way to find the best one for your baby’s skin. Before going shopping, decide whether you want to buy organic diapers. Organic diapers can be more expensive, but they’re made from natural materials and are free of chemicals that may irritate your baby’s skin.
- Diaper wipes: Diaper wipes are essential for cleaning your baby’s skin after diaper changes. Effectively cleaning your baby’s skin after a urine-only diaper will help maintain healthy skin but will also help minimize bad odor.
- Diaper cream: Diaper cream is important for preventing and treating diaper rash. It forms a barrier between your baby’s skin and potential irritants, helping to keep the skin healthy and rash-free.
What you Don’t Need
- Diaper Pail: This is a trash can designed to store used diapers. While they are nice, there’s nothing wrong with throwing your used diapers in your general waste bin. Ensure you don’t throw them in the recycling bin.
- Diaper Pad: You won’t use a diaper changing pad whenever you want to change your baby’s diaper. Most of the time, you’ll do this on your lap or use the dresser table.
- Diaper Caddy: You don’t need to incur the cost of buying one when you can use the diaper box as your diaper storage unit. You can also use a section of your baby’s cabinet to store your diapers.
Nursery shopping is one of the most exciting things for new parents. And one that you need to approach carefully as there are many things to consider.
You first need to consider safety. Ensure that all your furniture and baby gear are JPMA certified. Second, consider the size of the nursery. Don’t buy too many products that will fill the room, taking away playing space from your child.
Finally, think long-term. Buy products that your baby can grow with and ones you can pass on to your future children if you plan to have more.
What you Need for Your Nursery
- Crib, Crib Mattress, and Waterproof pads: Babies need a safe and comfortable place to sleep, and a crib provides that. It reduces the risk of suffocation, entrapment, and Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS). With a crib mattress pad, you’ll have helped create a more sanitary sleeping surface for your baby. You’ll save yourself the headache of constantly changing sheets in the middle of the night, as leaky accidents are common with newborns.
- Changing Table: Every parent needs a dedicated and safe place to change and dress their babies. Go the extra mile and buy a changing table with storage space to keep your child’s clothes and other belongings.
- Sheets and Sleep Sacks: Buy ones specifically designed for newborns, made from breathable and comfortable fabrics that are easy to clean. They are essential as they keep your baby cozy and safe. Shop for sheets and sleep sacks for different seasons.
- Baby Rocker: Baby rockers provide a calming and stimulating experience for newborns through gentle bouncing reminiscent of the womb. While not recommended for sleeping, they can help soothe fussy or colicky babies, making them an invaluable addition to any nursery.
- Baby Monitor: A baby monitor is an electronic device that allows you to see or hear your baby in another room. With it, you can shower, nap, and attend to household chores without constantly worrying about your baby. The baby monitor allows you to communicate with your baby through two-way communication to soothe them from afar.
What you Don’t Need in Your Nursery
- Crib bumper: This is a soft pad that attaches to the inside cribs to prevent babies from getting injured. However, experts warn that they are hazardous and increase the risk of suffocation. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) advises against using crib bumpers due to their potential danger.
- Moses Basket: These are portable, lightweight baskets with handles, often used as a sleeping space for newborns. However, experts advise against purchasing them as they do not meet the safe sleep guidelines. Additionally, they are not designed to be used for an extended period, so you may need to invest in a full-size crib once your baby outgrows the basket.
As a new parent, you need to follow this guideline when shopping for your baby’s feeding gear: choose a feeding method, select appropriate bottles and nipples, opt for easy-to-clean equipment, consider accessories, and avoid purchasing too much at once.
By following these tips, you can make informed choices when selecting feeding equipment and have a comfortable and efficient feeding experience for you and your baby.
What you Need For Feeding
- Bottles: If you plan to formula feed, it’s important to have bottles on hand before your baby’s arrival. Bottles are also important if you plan to return to work soon or take your baby to daycare. You should stock up by buying 8-10 bottles.
- Bibs and Burp Clothes: These are essential feeding gear items for new parents as they help keep both babies and parents clean during feedings. Burp cloths are particularly useful for wiping up spit-up during burping, while bibs help prevent food and liquids from staining clothes during feeding. While both serve similar purposes, bibs are typically attached to the baby, while burp cloths are free-standing.
- Breast Pump Complete Set: It helps to express milk when the baby is not feeding or when the mother needs to be away. When shopping for a complete breast pump set, consider the pump’s suction strength and ease of cleaning to avoid contamination. Also, choose a portable pump.
What you Don’t Need For Feeding
- High Chair: While they can provide a safe eating environment for babies, they are not necessary for newborns. Alternative options, such as feeding seats and bouncer seats, can be used. Holding the baby in your arms will also work. However, if a high chair is preferred, experts recommend waiting until the baby is 6 months old to use one.
- Sterilizers: While they might sound essential, they are not. Bottles can be thoroughly washed and sterilized with alternative methods, such as boiling them in a large pot of water for a few minutes.
- Baby Food Processor: This isn’t necessary for newborns as regular blenders can be used to make baby food, which can then be stored in small jars or containers and even the hot pots you already have at home.
- Bottle Warmers: You don’t need a fancy machine to warm your baby’s milk. You can use a pot with boiling water to do it. You can check the milk by squirting it on the inside of your wrist to ensure it’s not too hot.
- Formula Mixer and Dispenser: Making a bottle of formula by hand is sometimes more efficient and gives peace of mind that the correct amount is being used. There have also been concerns over the cleanliness and accuracy of formula dispensers.
Before you go shopping for your baby’s travel gear, you should first consider your lifestyle and needs. That is your mode of transportation and how often you will travel with your child.
Next, search for compact, lightweight, and multipurpose gear to reduce luggage weight. And most importantly, go for certified and safe items for your child.
With that in mind, what should your travel gear consist of?
What you Need to Travel
- Diaper Bag: This is a specialized bag designed to hold all the essential items for baby care, such as diapers, wipes, and other baby-related items. The main benefit of a diaper bag is keeping everything organized and easily accessible. It offers the convenience of having everything you need for baby care in one place. New parents need a diaper bag to ensure they are always prepared for any situation when they have to travel.
- Car Seat: This is a safety device designed to protect children from injury or death in the event of a car crash. The proper use of car seats for infants and children reduces the risk of death by over 70%. Using a car seat is not only recommended for safety but also required by law in every state in the US, making it a necessary purchase for all new parents.
- Stroller: This baby transport device is designed to help parents move their infants around easily. It offers various benefits, such as safety, flexibility, and storage, while providing comfort to both the baby and the parent. Strollers are a necessary baby product for parents, allowing them to go on walks, run errands, and attend events while keeping their babies safe and comfortable.
- Baby Wrap: This is a long strip of fabric tied around the body to carry a baby close to the parent’s chest or back. It offers many benefits, such as making breastfeeding easier, reducing crying, and building a better bond between parent and baby while leaving the parent hands-free to do other things. Its portability and convenience make it an essential product for traveling.
What you Don’t Need to Travel
- Portable high chair: This chair is designed to help parents feed their babies when they are on the go. However, it is not necessary for new parents as it is bulky and less practical for traveling. Other options, such as holding the baby or using a baby wrap, are more convenient.
- Travel Crib: A portable baby bed that parents can take on trips might sound essential. However, it isn’t. First, you do not need it because it is difficult to recreate the same sleeping environment while on the move, and second, it can be a safety risk as they are not as structurally sound as traditional cribs.
- Jogging Stroller: This stroller is designed for running or jogging with a baby. However, experts advise against using it for newborns due to safety concerns as they cannot recline. It is recommended to wait until the child is at least 8 months old before using a jogging stroller. In the meantime, get a babysitter when going for a run.
When shopping for clothes for a newborn, it’s crucial to keep in mind the size, comfort, ease of use, weather-appropriateness, safety, quantity, and washing instructions.
Buy soft and breathable fabrics and easy-to-use designs suitable for different seasons. Ensure the clothes are safe and washable to prevent harm to the baby’s delicate skin. Finally, have an adequate number of outfits on hand and purchase some in bigger sizes to accommodate the baby’s growth.
But that doesn’t mean you need to buy 100s of outfits. Babies grow rapidly. Therefore, when shopping for their clothing, you must get it right.
What you Need for Your Baby’s Closet
- Onesies: This is a one-piece bodysuit for babies that is snug and comfortable. They provide a base layer for keeping the baby warm and comfortable, and their snaps prevent them from riding up like a t-shirt. They are an essential wardrobe item for newborns and infants because they can be worn on their own or under other clothing, and they make diaper changing easier.
- Hats: This is crucial for keeping newborns warm and comfortable and preventing heat loss in colder environments. Babies heads are relatively large compared to their bodies, making them more susceptible to heat loss. Although not always necessary, hats can be handy for newborns in their first few weeks of life, especially when adjusting to new temperatures. However, they should only be worn under supervision.
- Socks: These are essential in keeping a baby’s feet warm, which helps prevent heat loss and regulate their body temperature. Baby’s feet tend to get colder than other body parts, especially during cold months. Socks also help prevent accidental scratches to a baby’s delicate skin.
- Sleepers: This one-piece garment with long sleeves and legs keeps babies cozy and warm. They are convenient for parents as they often cover the baby’s feet, preventing socks from coming off or toes from getting cold. Having at least five pairs of sleepers for a new baby is recommended.
What you Don’t Need for Your Baby’s Closet
- Shoes: You don’t need to buy shoes for your baby until they start walking, as per the American Academy of Pediatrics. Socks are enough to keep the baby’s feet warm.
- Fancy Clothing: You don’t need to buy formal and fancy clothes because babies don’t need anything fancy in the first few weeks. It is better to stick to simple, plain, and budget-friendly clothing, and avoid buying too many newborn items, as babies tend to outgrow them quickly.
Hygiene and Safety
These are some of the most important items in your kid’s collection. You must therefore approach it well after doing thorough research.
When purchasing hygiene and safety items for a newborn, consider the following: safety standards, size and age-appropriateness, brand and quality, non-toxic and hypoallergenic options, and the baby’s specific needs after their birth.
To avoid regrets, you can consult with healthcare providers as necessary to ensure safe and appropriate products for your newborn.
What you Need
- Bath Set: A newborn bath set includes essential items such as a baby tub, washcloths, towels, and baby soap. It is necessary to keep a baby’s sensitive skin healthy, prevent rashes and dryness, and maintain proper hygiene.
- Baby Nails, Scissors, and File: A baby nail care set includes scissors and a file to shorten and smooth the nails of newborns. Keeping babies’ nails short is essential to prevent them from scratching their faces, as they have no control of their hand movements yet.
- First Aid Kit: This is a collection of essential medical supplies and tools that can help in an emergency when a baby is injured or unwell. New parents need it to keep necessary supplies and help them feel prepared to address urgent situations.
- Baby Thermometer: This device is used to check the body temperature of infants. New parents need an accurate thermometer to monitor their baby’s health and detect fever or illness early on. Different types of thermometers are suitable for different age ranges, and a rectal or temporal artery thermometer is recommended for newborns.
What you Don’t Need
- Scented Laundry Detergent: Using fragrance-free laundry detergent is recommended for babies as fragrances can be irritating as they still have sensitive skin.
- Apnea Monitors: These are unnecessary for most healthy babies unless a pediatrician or neonatologist has prescribed the monitor. The monitors tend to have many false alarms, creating anxiety for parents.
- Fancy Infant Bath Tubs: The functionality of a baby bathtub is more important than its appearance, with comfort, efficiency, portability, and safety being the key factors to consider. Fancy infant bathtubs are not necessary for new parents.
Smartly Shop for Your Baby Gear
If you’re expecting a baby, it’s time to consider what items to buy. Before heading to the store or shopping online, prioritize buying what you need before splurging on nice-to-haves. Doing so can save you some cash and avoid the hassle of returning unnecessary items.
To make the most of your shopping, research products before you buy. Look for the right model for you, compare prices, and ask for recommendations from new parents in your network. Check the Consumer Product Safety Commission website to ensure they meet safety standards.
When shopping for baby clothes, remember that many babies grow into six-month outfits long before their half-year birthday. Consider buying the six-month instead of the three-month size to get more wear out of your purchases.
Additionally, opt for easy-on, easy-off outfits with zippers instead of snap buttons. You’ll appreciate this when you’re sleep-deprived or in a rush. Finally, remember to prioritize what you need before what you want. Most of the items advertised as must-haves are things that will turn your baby’s nursery into a junkyard and waste your money.