We're expecting our 4th in August (I know, WHAT?), so I've turned my attention to getting ready for baby again. Interestingly, I'm connected to more first time moms now, and one of the things that can be daunting is figuring out what exactly you need for the first 6-12 weeks of baby's life!
The marketing out there is endless, and always makes you feel like you can never be prepared enough for baby's arrival. So, I thought I'd put together my own list, if nothing more than a checklist for myself!
The side snaps come in extra handy when you have a big spit up or leaking diaper! It's so much more convenient to snap off rather than try to get the dirty garment over baby's head. Also, you'll want t-shirts for before the cord falls off, so you don't irritate it as much.
Basically, my kids lived in these for the first 12 weeks. Even in the summer, keeping their feet warm is essential because babies can't regulate their temperature on their own. There's always socks, but I can't even save my own from the washing machine monster, let alone ones that are several size smaller.
In winter, or cold air conditioning, I would double up with a onesie or t-shirt underneath, which also provides extra protection for messy spit ups, as above!
My favorite bodysuits are the ones with snaps on the back vs the front. It's much easier to toggle without the snaps going all the way down to the feet.
I love these because you can change their diapers without having to remove any clothes. There's nothing more annoying that having to without having to fuss with any snaps or buttons when you're sleep deprived already, and especially in the middle of the night.
You'll want a good knit (winter) and cotton (summer) one, but really you'll just want one.
Alright, they'll come in handy, especially with the baby gowns. You can get a few pairs.
Remember that whatever clothes you get, you should buy both Newborn and 0-3 month sizes. That also means that you'll want to limit how may items you're getting in each size. I'd say 3-5 in total across sizes are a good mix, and more if you don't want to do as much laundry. However, lets face it. You probably will have to do a great deal more laundry than you're used to (unless, you are a laundry lady, then maybe not).
Babies tend to grow really fast, and before you know it, that bodysuit that you spent $40 on just got thrown into the "never again" pile.
Even if you're planning to use cloth diapers, you should probably get a box of disposables just in case. There is nothing worse than running out of cloth diapers (or any diapers) in the middle of the night, and having to use a kitchen towel. #truestory
Again, sizing matters, so get at least one box of Newborn sizes, vs just the size 1. As a note, the hospital usually carries only size 1s, and all my tiny kids swam in those while we were there. I learned the lesson of bring my own NB diapers the second time around. If you're going with disposable diapers, going with the smallest size your baby can take is the more environmentally friendly option (although let's face it, diapers just aren't).
Some of the more premium diapers also have a pee strip indicator, which is helpful because in the first weeks of your baby's life you'll be be wondering when/if they have gone, and won't need to actually open it up to check.
You'll use these for everything for the first 3 years of baby's life from cleaning genitals, hands, faces, and even tables. I may have spent enough on this to buy myself a small car. There's no harm in stocking up with a box or two.
We got to a point with #2 where we were just simply throwing the diapers into the trash outside, so that it wouldn't stink up the room. But, in the middle of the night, or when it's just not convenient, the disposable diaper bags really saved us. We'd just bag each poopy diaper up and throw it outside in the morning. Sassy's bags are scented and could mask the smell overnight. But you know what works just as well? Doggy poop bags!
Baby has spent 9 months in there growing vampire nails. I'd recommend a first manicure the day they come out, lest you find yourself hurting unnecessarily.
Can you use the same ones for both? Sure! Especially in the summer time. In winter, having a heavier travel blanket was handy, plus it was the one thing people really want to give you!
I'm personally a fan of swaddling newborns, and it's always helped mine sleep a bit better, so having 3-5 on hand was so helpful, yes, it's the mess thread again coming.
My TL;DR on swaddling is basically that it's helpful when they are really tiny, but once they get just a bit older 6-8 weeks, you can start to swaddle with arms out, and then eventually wean off within 12-16 weeks.
Did I mention the mess? Yes, this is what it's for. You'll want something that is ultra absorbant, easy clean, and not that bulky, because you'll want to put this in your purse when out with baby.
TBH, I haven't found anything in the states that is like what I use, as I purchased my set in Singapore, and I'm still using it today, 6 years later. But the link above works as well I guess. I'd get at least 10 of these.
Baby skin can be very sensitive, but at the same time you can keep them clean with just one product. Notice I didn't add bath tub as an essential item because seriously for the first 12 weeks they were so small it made more sense to give them a bath in the bathroom sink.
Bottles & Nipples
Even if you're preparing to breastfeed, having bottles on hand will give you the option of having someone else feed the baby if you need it. Like if you're exhausted, sick, or just needing some time away.
If you plan to pump long term because you'll have to go back to work, then having the pump early on will help you get used to letting down and expressing from early on. I know some moms who left it until the week before they had to go back and ran into much frustration because their bodies weren't used to it.
Even an inexpensive hand pump like this one can help. If you end up getting engorged, it's also a great way to relieve it quickly.
Personally, I started pumping from day one, so that I could start stashing my milk, and also to have baby get used to the bottle.
Crib & Mattress
Co-sleeping is great, but at some point you'll need to put baby down while you take a shower. Having the crib set up will also give you an option to put the baby down in case you need a time out, but want the assurance that baby is safe.
Personally, all my babies slept in a crib. I felt I got a better night's sleep since I didn't need to be hyper vigilant about them right next to me.
Especially if you are not planning to co-sleep, you'll want several fitted crib sheets in case of.. yes, you got it.. (a big mess)
Going out gear:
Instagram and baby websites have some really cool pictures of moms enjoying a cup of coffee with their newborn babe by their side. #lies
While you probably won't feel like stepping out of the house, you'll actually need to. There are countless doctor appointments both for yourself and baby in the first 12 weeks, so you'll want to be ready to get to those.
This isn't even about going out, more than it is about going home. You can't take a newborn home without a car seat! I highly recommend having a car seat that can snap into a base, where the base is already installed in your car. You can get the base checked out by the fire department or hospital to make sure it's properly secured.
Also, when going home, it's so much more convenient to strap your baby into the seat in the comfort of your own hospital room, rather than trying to do that in the crowded carpark. Having a snap in carseat will give you the flexibility to do that.
Even though babies are tiny when born, they'll tend to get heavy when you carry them around for extended periods, and this is where strollers come in handy. I'm a big fan of the snap and go, which basically allows you to snap your car seat from your car into the stroller. It's amazing as you don't have to wake your sleeping baby and cause a riot by transferring them into a separate stroller.
You have the option of carrying your baby around in the handheld carseat, but when you've given pushed out a watermelon, or may have had stitches in your uterus, probably not a great idea.
Basically, I used a snap and go until my kids were too big to be in their infant car seat anymore!
I'm not nuts about baby wearing, but having one allowed me to free up my hands, sans stroller, especially with other kids in tow. I'm also that crazy mom that took my newborn on a long haul trip to Singapore with a <2 year old in tow, so yes, this was an essential for me.
This one is really for moms. But having a diaper bag always packed and ready to go can save some time when you're already in a rush to get somewhere. The general consensus according to some article that I can't reference at the moment was that Moms typically prefer to have a bag with lots of compartments so they can find stuff, while Dads prefer to have just a single carrier that allows them to chuck all of their stuff in it.
My own diaper bag was a kate spade that no longer exists, but is similar to this. It came with just enough pockets, a changing pad, and had spacious enough pockets for all of my other stuff (wallet, pen, checkbooks, etc etc). I also liked that it came with a crossover strap which was handy when I already had baby in one arm.
Plus, it looked like a Prada. However, I haven't actually used it since baby #2 was here. My regular purses just got larger and larger, and it was sufficient for me to put all of the baby stuff in one of it.
I might go back to it this time around as I've just convinced myself of the need again :)
What you don't need:
It would vary from family to family, but personally, I didn't find any use for the following, at least for the first 12 weeks of life:
Baby spoons, high chairs, baby seats (bumbo), boppys (for breastfeeding), fancy baby clothes, baby saucers, toys, books, wipe warmer, 500 baby quilts, jogging stroller, nursing chairs (I hear lots of controversy on this one, but I loved being able to practice nursing anytime, anywhere), nursing covers, baby towels, changing pads, hair brush, sleep sacks, baby pens.
My favorite non-essential:
I love my white noise machine. It's definitely a non-essential, but sleep training my kids to the roar of the oceans was definitely more helpful than deafening silence. They were (still are) always so comforted when the noise machine is turned on, falling asleep is relatively painless for us now