Preparing for A New Baby: Essentials?

Our little nursery in our bedroom

I have humored myself by all the things that I have bought and sold on craigslist in preparation for each of our kids. I’ve tried this swing, and that stroller, and this bouncer. There is this certain hype and excitement about having a baby that leads you to want to find the best of everything that would be suitable to meet your needs. Just enter a baby store and you will likely be overwhelmed by the walls of stuff that claim to sooth that colicky baby, or is essential for a peaceful nights sleep, etc. It has finally taken me to this third little one when I have finally figured something out…your baby doesn’t really need much at all. I’ve known it in the back of my head…but I still wanted to all least try it all. You think it would be obvious. But its fun. It’s exciting to do the research for the best stroller, car seat, bassinet, etc. But in reality. Your baby only needs a little tender loving care. And we have to be on guard against wasting too much time in this preparation and planning stage.

So as we welcome our third little one, we have narrowed down our baby supply list significantly…

1. Changing Table on Top of Dresser

I have found this to be the best idea ever! It can change from room to room as needed or removed to the floor. It saves space as it eliminates any need for an additional changing table.

2. Bassinet

A simple Moses Basket will honestly suffice for a baby bed for quite some time. They are easy to transport, bring traveling, and save space. We use the Contours Classic Kolcraft bassinet (thanks to craigslist once again!) that has the removable Moses basket with additional storage beneath which stores baby clothes, blankets, cloth diapers, and burp rags. Simple, cute, and serves us very well.

3. Swaddling Blankets

I loved swaddling my babies for the first several months of their lives. The best choice here is the Aden & Anais Muslin or Bamboo swaddling blankets. They are simply a large piece of wonderfully soft material that wraps snugly around your little one for swaddling. Baby sleeps so much better in this fashion.

4. Burp Clothes

We have found the best option for burp clothes is some simple indian/chinese prefold diapers. They are the most absorbent, useful, and durable. Chose in a premium/toddler size for the best coverage.

5. Baby Carriers

I am a huge fan of the ergo baby carrier! This was the best investment we have made. We tried the standard bjorn and found it extremely uncomfortable to the back. The ergo provides more significant support and works in three different positions (front, back and side). We also love the Moby Wrap as a snug comfortable hands free fit for the early months of life.

These are a few additional items that all our baby’s have really enjoyed, but certainly not essential:

6. Travel Swing

This item is compact and easily movable! This works especially well in small places and can be easily transported upstairs, which was a very nice feature. We also took this with us on a few vacations. It doubled as a bouncer. Worked well from 0-6 months.

7. Johnny Jump-up

I remember the days my younger siblings entertained themselves for long periods of time in this jumper! Great for developing the strength in their legs, small, and lots of fun! I have seen them for $10-15 on craiglist or garage sales. We borrowed a Graco one with a basic tray, which works well for snacks or to give them small things to play with. Works well from 6-10 months or so.

8. Walker

This was a borrowed hand me down from my family. This worked very well as both my kids learned to walk. They both used it for several months, followed by standing up on the edge and using it as a push toy. It worked well on both carpet and hard wood floors. Works well for us from 10-15 months, or until they start walking.

9. High chair

We choice a portable space saver booster seat that secures on top of a chair. This works well especially for small places. It is portable which made it wonderful for bringing on vacation or when invited to other friends’ homes. Made feeding times so much easier! You certainly don’t need a huge high chair that takes up half your dining room! Plus it works great as a transitional seat.

10. Nursing Cover.

This is a handy tool for nursing discreetly in public. Making your own is a fun little maternity project.

Beyond your basic clothes, diapers, basic car seat (whether you choose an infant or convertible style), simple stroller (I don’t recommend the huge trailer ones, as we have found more often than not, that a simple umbrella stroller does the job the majority of the time), and eventually a crib of some sort, you don’t need anything else. Also, always buy these bigger items used on craigslist! You can save so much money in this manner.

Diaper bag? My favorite has been such a simple large hand bag. My current hand bag doubles as a diaper bag.

Nursing pillows? Nice for the first week but ultimately, you figure it out pretty quickly.

Baby bath? The best place to bath your little one is the kitchen or bathroom sink, just like our mommy’s did.

Bath toys? They get moldy. My kiddos are perfectly happy in the bath with just a little toy matchbox car.

Baby toys? Babies will enjoy holding and sucking on practically anything. One or two soft toys is all you need. Sophie the giraffe is the only one on my wish list.

Things we borrowed or bought but then later sold because we found to be nice but ultimately unnecessary in our opinion and mainly adding to clutter were an exersaucer, play mat, car sun shades, and bouncer (the swing covered any need for the bouncer, accomplishing the same purpose).

Overall, I have been amazed how much money you can save by utilizing craigslist! I always recommend that you never buy new. And more often then not I actually made money when reselling various items. It is certainly possible to have babies on a budget!

And of course, feel free to take my recommendations with a grain of salt. This is just my little whisper of experience from my trial and error.

About Lindsay

Lindsay Edmonds is first a lover of Jesus, wife, mother of four, homemaker, and writer. She loves inspiring women around the world toward simple, natural, and intentional living for the glory of God.

69 Responses to Preparing for A New Baby: Essentials?

  1. Brittany January 25, 2013 at 9:08 pm #

    I know you wrote this a year and a half ago but I was wondering if you had any suggestions on a tactful way to say before your shower that we are trying to go minimal and need a few certain things and not all the extras? I don’t want to rob any of my friends and family the opportunity to bless us but we really want to keep it simple and not be tacky and ask for cash.


    • Lindsay January 26, 2013 at 8:54 am #

      I would just suggest you make a gift registry and only pick the essentials you desire to receive on it. This might graciously communicate your desires in an appropriate way.

  2. Ashley September 15, 2012 at 1:03 pm #

    Which of the Indian/Chinese prefolds did you purchase for burp cloth?

  3. Jen @ The Artisan Home March 16, 2012 at 8:21 pm #

    This is great! :)

  4. Damaris January 17, 2012 at 1:30 pm #

    I very much agree! We’re on the countdown for our 5th, and a couple of things needed replaced. One is the infant/baby tub. What do you do for baby baths? Do you use something that you’d recommend?
    Thank you for all of your helpful insight! Love reading your posts!!!!

    • Lindsay January 17, 2012 at 4:08 pm #

      I bathe my babies in the sink. It actually works far better than all the tubs I have tried, plus it doesn’t take up any extra space!

  5. Tali November 11, 2011 at 8:45 pm #

    This is incredibly helpful. Thank you!

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  7. Mishka B August 9, 2011 at 7:24 am #

    When my babies were born we were broke – to put it plain and simple. We simply didn’t have the money to spend on “stuff” for the baby. With the first one i was terrified that we wouldn’t have all the things we needed, but honestly, the Lord made sure we had just enough. A place to sleep, something warm to wrap him in, a breast (or bottle and which ever milk you are using if you aren’t nursing) and a diaper (or a few) are pretty much all you really need for a new baby. A sling/baby carrier is a bonus as is a stroller – it’s my experience that you will almost always find someone throwing their old baby things out while you are pregnant and you can snag these for free most times.

  8. Crystal July 28, 2011 at 7:58 am #

    Hi Lindsay, I was wondering if you ever tried the Kelty baby carrier?? I’m trying to decide whether to go with the ergo or the kelty, they both have good reviews, it seems that the only difference is the kelty has more storage space for drinks and such. I’d love any input from anyone who’s tried these, thanks!

    • Lindsay July 29, 2011 at 12:37 pm #

      I am unfamiliar with that one. Sorry!

  9. Ami July 26, 2011 at 9:25 am #

    It took until #3 for us to get past wanting the cool stuff, too. But I did think the play mats with toys hanging overhead was useful because it kept the bigger kids from accidentally walking on the infant who was laying on the ground.

    Have you heard of the chain store BuyBuy Baby? Makes me cringe every time!

  10. April July 26, 2011 at 7:49 am #

    THANK YOU for this post!! I’m a first-time mom (due in October), and I’ve been so overwhelmed as we enter the registering process. There’s just so much stuff!! Plus, we’re on a tight budget, so it was really helpful to me that you boiled down the essentials. Now I’m making a list of what we NEED for when the baby is born, and the rest is just fluff or things we can get later. So helpful.

    One question I have for you…what’s your opinion on the best cloth diapers? I know you’ve tried out several (Bum Genius, Envibum, Sprout Change, etc.). What’s your favorite and why? And where is the cheapest place to buy them? What accessories are ESSENTIAL for cloth diapering? I definitely want to use cloth diapers, but I’m completely new to that world. Any advice you have would be greatly appreciated!!

  11. Shelley July 25, 2011 at 10:58 pm #

    I do agree that most baby things are not needed. I would differ from your list in the the boppy pillow has been a life saver for me. I nurse my babies on the couch at night, and since they were preemies, we had a much longer time frame of being up for feedings every three hours. There were countless times I fell asleep during a feeding and my arms and baby rested on the boppy pillow until baby woke up for the next feeding. Without a nursing pillow, I think I would have dropped my babies when I drifted off to sleep.

    • Chrissy August 13, 2011 at 12:51 pm #

      I understand the worry about that, but you have to give your instincts more credit. I nursed three sons for over 2 years each and never used a boppy (I think they are a pain…always needing adjusting and they made me hot…my kids were all born in the summer). I’d just tuck a pillow under my arms when the babies were tiny and there was no need for anything as they grew and filled my lap a little more. I fell asleep feeding them nearly every night when they were less than six months old (three babies in six years = one tired mama) and never dropped them or smothered them or anything. I would wake up and there they were…just like when I fell asleep. Usually gazing up at me, the sweeties that they were. My arms were snugly wrapped around them. Even in my sleep I knew to keep holding them. It should be said that I don’t think this would work as well if you are on medication or drinking alcohol or something…things that make you sleep more deeply.

  12. Katie July 25, 2011 at 12:20 pm #

    We feel the same way! Your baby doesn’t need all the “stuff”!! We wanted to keep things simple when our son came two years ago, not least of which was because we were living in a microscopic apartment at the time. My in-laws however seem to have let our beliefs and desires go in one ear and out the other. It’s their first grandchild and they’re really REALLY excited! But they bring in new toys every single week. And they’re “junky” toys too (lots of batteries, books with poor illustrations, abysmal literary quality and questionable morals, cheap stuffed animals coming out our ears). We don’t want to crush them but we also don’t want to be buried under a mountain of toys or to foster materialism in our home. Anyone have any advice? How do you deal with grandparents who don’t jive with simple living?

    • Randi July 25, 2011 at 1:08 pm #

      I have a similar problem with my in-laws…. They have gotten better, but gift giving time is still a problem. I’ve found giving or e-mailing them articles about toy recalls and all the bad stuff that it is toys today has helped a little, and our eldest is now five, and knows all about the ramifications of plastic on the environment, so even she is telling grandma how bad the toys are! :)
      Otherwise, I’m interested to hear what others have to say! :)

  13. Dia July 24, 2011 at 10:22 pm #

    We’re expecting our third in October, and I find that you’re right! There really are very few things you “need” :) As for diaper changing, we now just pull up a cloth prefold diaper to protect the carpet and do it on the floor – after all, baby can’t fall off of the floor!

  14. Kamille@RedeemingtheTable July 24, 2011 at 8:25 pm #

    I’m right there with you on the changing table on top of a dresser. It what I did with both my girls & plan on with any more children we are blessed with in the future.

  15. Becky @ Our Peaceful Home July 24, 2011 at 5:41 pm #

    I have never had an Ergo. I have heard wonderful things though. Maybe if we have another one than I’ll have to try it out. I do own a sleepy wrap that is similar to a Moby. But, those things are so hard to get wrapped around you when you are out and about. They say that you get used to it, but I’m not sure I’ve ever gotten used to mine. And, our youngest wasn’t really a fan of being carried in it like the oldest was.

  16. Jessica July 24, 2011 at 5:49 am #

    I’m shocked that no one has mentioned this yet, but walkers are not recommended anymore because they encourage toe-walking (and some toddlers have needed special shoes or physical therapy to get their hamstrings lengthened so they can walk properly). It is best for babies to learn to walk by holding onto furniture and then eventually pushing a push-toy.

  17. Rachel July 23, 2011 at 9:13 pm #

    We’re expecting #4 in Sept, so I’ve been reevaluating what we need and don’t need. All babies have been super fussy (colic/food allergies/eczema) for the first year of life so our ‘needs’ may be different from others.
    Needs: -swing (we love Fisher Price’s cradle swing, as it goes side to side. All 3 kids loved that motion but not the front to back motion of other swings),
    -stroller (umbrella works for most needs, but I like a bigger one for all day treks to the zoo, etc),
    -bassinett (got for $4 at Goodwill and is still going strong) we have it at our bedside for sleeping in part of the night and the rest we co-sleep,
    -cloth diapers (bought off craigslist almost new)
    -mini-rocker (like a bouncy chair but I take them all over the house with me in it),
    -baby carrier (Moby type wrap, maitei and Ergo),
    -boppy type pillow (made myself for under $5),
    -nursing cover (made myself for free for my super wiggly nursers),
    -high chair that clamps to table (even easier to clean than the chair mounted type, and little babies love it once they can sit up, because they’re involved with meal time even if they aren’t eating yet,
    -baby car mirror (one of our babies heads flopped forward and he was too little to pick it back up at 3 weeks old and he was all blue when I looked back in the mirror. I hate to think what would have happened if I didn’t have it and was able to stop the car and readjust him immediately)
    -reusable nursing pads (yep, lots and lots of them)
    -zip up sleepers (why waste your time with dozens of snaps)
    Don’t need: -double stroller (bought 2 kinds used and sold them too as they were too bulky to steer, plus they were both front heavy with the toddler in front. I do have a double jogger I use for walks at home, but never take it anywhere as it has a stationary front wheel that makes turning almost impossible, bought cheap at garage sale),
    -johnny jump-up (don’t have a good place in my house for one and worry about back compression with them),
    -baby tub (we just shower them with one of us as soon as their umbilical cord falls off. Put a washcloth around them so they aren’t so slippery),
    -baby soaps (so many have yucky ingredients, and they don’t need all the extras anyhow), -hiking backpack (good intentions, just never got used),
    -limited clothing (one change for each day of the week, more for new babies, get rid of the rest)

    My sister-in-law just had a baby, and said that going through a major baby store to register got her so stressed out that she started crying and had to leave because it was so overwhelming. As a first time mom, she just wanted the basics, but had no idea what they were. Thankfully us family and friends were able to help, but I sympathize with those that spend hundreds because no one tells them what they really need! Thanks for sharing.

  18. Lacey Wilcox July 23, 2011 at 2:03 pm #

    I wish I’d had this list when I was pregnant with our daughter–we bought and were given way too much. The one thing we splurged on that I was thankful for was a jogging stroller. It wasn’t super fancy, but it has helped up perfectly. Baby Girl and I have probably logged 100+ miles in it, and it’s been great. And my sanity was thankful for it as well ;) .

  19. Deanna July 23, 2011 at 1:38 pm #

    Someone got Sophie the Giraffe for us and my daughter LOVES it. We ended up tying it to her car seat to keep her happy when out and about and it has been hard to keep OTHER kids (even older ones) away from it! =)

  20. Nola July 23, 2011 at 10:19 am #

    An actual changing table I have found great (it was free) since it keeps all the diapers and wipes and covers (cloth stuff) and its at the right height. I have back issues. The floor or a dresser top at the wrong height (all our dressers are and I just used one we already had for the baby) would not work for me.

    I also love the ergo (4 months and up, the infant insert it not comfy) and the Moby (for newborn to about 5 months was when I found it comfy). I could not have a baby without those two things unless I really had to.

    I also love our high chair that fits on a chair.

    I’ve never used those other walker/jumping things etc.

    3 dozen cloth diapers and 10 or more covers and about 40 cloth wipes have been really great to have. You can totally make due with less (2 dozen) but its nicer to have more. I use prefolds so its not very much money.

    Diaper bag- I LOVE having a backpack that I bought a good one (meant for day hiking actually and has lots of compartments and good zippers) it was a great investment so I can be hands free and just throw it on my back. Much easier than a handbag for me. I tried that and never had enough hands! Later the diaper bag will work for hiking or trips or whatever.

    Baby bath- essential for me, again because of my back. The kitchen sink and other sinks and the regular bath tub are not at a good height for me. I store it with other things inside it so its not a big deal.

    Sophie the giraffe- thought this sounded great but my baby didn’t like it. Only my older child did- lots of squeaking.

    Stroller- I found this to be a must for me after the child is no longer wanting to be in the ergo for walks. If I want to go any distance at all. I let them out too but a good stroller (not umbrella that hurts my back) and one with big, all terrain wheels (I got it second hand its a Graco Outrider, not sure if its made anymore) has been the best. I can go no problem on grass and gravel etc. which is common where I live. My umbrella stroller hardly gets used and I might even get rid of it.

    For my first and big spitter upper I found receiving blankets essential and prefolds too small. I had ones big enough to double as swaddlers, but my kids hated being swaddled and screamed! Funny how kids are so different.

    We’ll have to see with #3. Its always an adventure.

  21. Sarah July 23, 2011 at 3:08 am #

    FYI- something that just happened recently (past month or so) is that it is now illegal to resell a crib with a drop side. The new ones don’t have them, so that might make a difference in how you purchase. So you’ll have a hard time finding one on craigslist (unless the seller doesn’t know/care). But you can pass them along (as far as I’m aware), so that is something you might want to talk with other moms about passing around.

  22. heather July 22, 2011 at 8:33 pm #

    Diapers, diapers, diapers… cloth diapers, that is! That’s the only thing I saw missing from the list. I always tell my doula clients that the only things that babies really need are diapers and boobs! ;) All the rest you can make due! (Of course if you try EC then you don’t even need diapers much!)

    We are also fans of the slings, sink baths, umbrella strollers when necessary, and no changing table, no boppy, no big plastic bumbo. My kid has still never had his ‘own’ room due to our unique housing arrangement, never used the crib we set up, and still bathes in the utility sink at age 3! We love thinking a bit outside the box, and it makes for a less ‘needy’ and more flexible child, IMO.

  23. Sweetpeas July 22, 2011 at 6:53 pm #

    My 30 lb 2 yr old still loves our portable swing, I never bothered replacing the batteries when they died, but I keep it in our bathroom and she naps in it most days. My husband’s work schedule is sporatic, and my babies have all had “radar” that knows the second Mommy gets out of bed in the morning, so showering before she wakes up doesn’t work well for me. All my babies napped in the portable swing during my shower. The motion plus “white noise” of the shower worked great. And that’s still her preferred place to nap. And means I have no “time” spent putting her down to nap, since I need to get a shower anyway :)

    For bathing baby, I like to bath baby with Mommy, in a water sling (like the moby only made out of “swimsuit fabric”, or a pouch or ring sling made of mesh) in the shower or spend some bonding and relaxing time in the bathtub together. With my youngest, I started putting her in with her big sisters as soon as she could sit at all (her sisters are 6 yrs older than her, so could hold her in the bathtub). When the twins were little, they loved to play on the floor of the shower while I showered, got them clean, and me clean all in one step.

  24. Tempe July 22, 2011 at 1:21 pm #

    Love that your list is almost identical to mine – down to the Ergo carrier and stretchy wrap! Although I have a Sleepy Wrap not a Moby. :)

  25. Erin M July 22, 2011 at 12:00 pm #

    Wonderful ideas here by everyone. We gave away all of our baby gear after we had baby #4 and were “done”. Five years later we had baby #5 and I realized how little you really need. This was the first baby for whom I had a Moses Basket…loved it. He was a preemie & had reflux so we had to hurry and purchase a crib (he had a Danny Sling for his reflux) before we brought him home from the hospital. Money is very tight so this was no easy task. God was so good to us because while he was at Target looking for a crib, my husband ran into a “grandma aged” friend of ours and she had a crib that her grandchildren no longer needed. What a blessing! We hadn’t seen her for several years, God’s timing was perfect!

    A wrap carrier for my little 5 pounder was so wonderful, I had him next to me all the time.

    I had given away all of my cloth diapers and accessories, I didn’t feel like purchasing a diaper pail and liners again so I just use a 5 gallon bucket from the local DQ. I wash diapers every third day and wipe out the pail with a Norwex cloth then spray with the Odour Eliminator. So far so good and so much cheaper than buying a pail and washable liners.

    Children will be happier with less than we think…my 8 year old daughter just came in, hugged me and said, “You’re the best mom in the world-even if you don’t buy us corn syrup or sugar.”

  26. Jennifer July 22, 2011 at 11:34 am #

    Some have mentioned it already, but the one thing I have needed/loved the most is our “ocean”. A wonderful older lady in my church gave it to me at a baby shower before my girl was born. We have used it every night for 2.75 years now. It’s a great compact size, so we take it everywhere we go (grandmother, aunt’s, hotel rooms, etc.) When they are tiny and in your room, it covers up those little rustling noises in the night, so everyone sleeps better. Then as she got older, I started using one noise at nap (raindrops) and the typical “ocean” noise at night, to help her learn the difference. Now at 32 months, she turns it on herself every nap and night.

    Note: it has a few low reviews. I have read them all. The bad reviews are people who were disappointed that the separate light projection feature broke after a few months. We’ve never used the light projection much (although it can make a quick night light in an unfamiliar place!). For the record, our light still works, but once again, we rarely turn it on. We use the noise part EVERY DAY AND NIGHT and it stills works perfectly. I bought another one for my adult sister who lives in a noisy apartment building. She loves it too!

  27. Laura July 22, 2011 at 10:43 am #

    For us, #6 is due in December. What do I still own after 5? A crib and a cradle made by my dad. We use the cradle until the babies can sit up on their own. After that, downstairs naps are on a blanket on the floor surrounded by pillows which serve as a visual reminder to the others that baby is on the floor.
    I’ve never owned a boppy. If extra support was needed, pillows were used. I like the idea of pillows because I can put them were my arms need them, which isn’t always right next to my body. For most of my nursing, I sit in an oversized rocking recliner. Mine nurse on demand, not on a schedule. What do we do during nursing time – read books to the other kids and as an added bonus your baby gets to hear your voice which helps with their speech development, work on school work, I’ve even mastered cross-stitch one handed. I also use that time for my personal reading. Between babies, I’ve found that I miss my “quiet time”.
    I tried a cover-up and didn’t like it. I just use oversized blankets.
    I do have a changing pad upstairs on top of an old dresser that is used strictly for baby linens/clothes/diapers. Downstairs, a blanket on the floor works great!
    My high chair reclines. I’ve used it in place of swings. I’ve noticed that it’s not that my children always want to be held, they just want to see me. So, I put them reclining in the kitchen while I cook and they are happy with seeing me and a few soft toys on the tray. Later, it also works great as a napping station and there’s not need to move the baby when he falls asleep during the meal.
    I do have a bouncy seat which is used mainly for during my shower times.
    Clothes, we’ve been given most everything – between showers and hand-me-downs. I just store between babies.
    We do have both a double stroller and a single stroller. I use the single for around town trips. I use the double when we are on vacations or day trips – like the zoo – where my 2 yr old wouldn’t be able to walk all day.
    We do have a baby bathtub. It does make it easier than trying to use my little bitty bathroom sinks and I’ve been known to take a bath with my babies. Also, baby bathtubs allow older siblings to “help”.
    I do have lots and lots (2 packages) of cloth diapers which we use as burp rags. And toys – several teethers and lots of bright and soft colored fabric toys. The favorite toy for all has been a carousel.
    I also have a shopping cart cover which I think is a wonderful!!! We use carseat carriers until about 6 months/roughly when the babies start sitting up. After that, we transfer to a larger seat and start using the shopping cart covers. They provide wonderful cushions! They can also be homemade – McCall’s I think has a pattern. For diaper bags, I use ones given to me or make my own.
    The one thing I wish was available with baby #1 is the swaddler blankets. Those look amazing!
    I only own 1 bottle – with ounces measurments on the side – and we use it for mixing cereal when we start solid foods. And my favorite spoons are the ones that change colors when the food is too hot.
    The other thing I really like and have 2 of now – plastic, cleanable, placemats with food catchers on them. I don’t remember the brand – I purchased them at Babies R Us. They roll up neatly and fit nicely in the corner of the diaper bag.

  28. Sarah July 22, 2011 at 10:20 am #

    We were so blessed to have wise older moms around us when we had our first. It’s funny how the “essential” items change from mom to mom and baby to baby. We have never used a changing table or pad (just a fold up waterproof cloth on the floor) and our little guy didn’t care for a swing. How NICE it is to not have to try to find space for those bulky things that didn’t suit our family or to have to resell them. Now we’re preparing for baby two and I imagine that things we didn’t use much the first time around (moby wrap) will get new life. Thanks for the reminder to keep things simple and not get sucked in by what manufacturers say we “need” for our precious ones.

  29. Angelita July 22, 2011 at 9:54 am #

    Check out this website for sids prevention. I bought the mattress wrap for $30 in case it’s a true theory.

  30. Mrs Y July 22, 2011 at 9:47 am #

    What things would you consider essentials for a new family member who is 1.5 to 2 years old (coming home from another country)? Since this will be our first child, we need all the advice we can get. :)

    • Krista July 22, 2011 at 10:47 am #

      I don’t know about Lyndsay’s recommendations, but especially when trying to incorporate a new/different language, I would say BOOKS! :-) Our little ones love to be read to, and it not only incorporates language learning, but also gives great one-on-one snuggle time, and bonding that is natural and yet can happen anywhere. I also recommend a shape sorter for that age – the Fisher Price brand that we got for about $6 at Target has been one of our favorites for our kids, and taught colors and shapes in a fun way. Also some inexpensive wooden puzzles (also cheap at Target) were great for teaching animals and sounds.

      As for simplifying for us, we skipped the toddler bed altogether and went with a twin sized bed with a waterproof mattress cover (available at Target or Walmart) and removable bed rail once they were old enough to climb in and out of a bed.

      I would say that an umbrella stroller would be nice, as that age still gets tired from walking easily. We would recommend a Chicco brand, similar to this one:

      This stroller reclines enough to allow them to sleep well if they fall asleep, the sun cover does it’s job quite well, and it turns and wheels quite easily, even with my nearly 40lb son in it. Ours traveled with us to Thailand, and several places here in the US, and has made it through three children so far and is still in great shape for our fourth. We found that by the age of 6 months, all of our children were ready to transition to this small, easily folded and compact stroller. We love it.

      To keep things simple, each of our children has one sippy cup, for when they are young. As they outgrow it, we keep on or two small plastic cups available, but any more get overwhelming in the cupboards, and cleaning them after they are misplaced for a few days is no fun! :-) It takes about 5 seconds to clean one out, so I recommend only purchasing one or two. Also, having a wipe-clean bib for the diaper bag and one for the house has worked very well for that age for us. Ikea sells some that are perfect and very affordable; they’ve held up better than anything else. We’ve done away with toddler silverware, as we found that a salad fork and standard teaspoon worked the best overall for our kids.

      Our favorite car seat has been the Graco Nautilus. It starts as a forward facing, full harness seat for children over 1 year and 20lbs, then converts into a high back booster at the age of 4 (depending on your state, some are younger) and then even into a simple booster as they are older. It’s a bit higher priced at the start, but the long expiration date and the fact that you really get to use it for all of their stages has definitely paid off for us. It’s also the top rated in it’s class by several safety companies, including Consumer Reports. We own two of them now, and are definitely looking at getting a third when our little one is old enough.

      We also went with the portable type booster seat for our children, and when they didn’t need the tray, it easily removed and we could sit them at the table with us without needing to buy another chair. We use our boosters for church picnics, for dinner with friends and for family vacations. We’ve used the Fisher Price “Healthy Care” booster seat, which comes in different colors depending on your taste. It folds easily and has been an amazing choice for us.

      Other random safety things to consider would be door knob covers/locks to keep them from escaping outside without you, outlet covers (at that age especially outlets are fascinating to them!) and perhaps a baby monitor and safety gate, depending on your situation. We had one little one who would wake up from a nap and attempt the stairs on their own if we didn’t have a gate up or monitor on.

      Congratulations on your little blessing! :-) I hope that all goes well for you – just remember that even parenting is a learning process, and if you snuggle and love them, you can’t go wrong! ;-)

  31. polyesterrobot July 22, 2011 at 9:39 am #

    I totally agree with you: while its not advisable to get a used car seat, for most things it is a much better idea to use children’s/maternity consignment shops, garage sales, bargain hunting, or websites like eBay, Craigslist, or bookoo to get baby items. Most things are easily cleaned and sanitized. You will save a bundle.

    I would have to disagree about a couple of things, but it might be due to the fact that my son was born with very low muscle tone (he’s 2 1/2 and still in physical therapy to catch up on gross motor skills).

    The nursing pillow was something I used for probably about a year. He was so ‘floppy’, it took all my arm and back strength to keep him positioned. The Boppy was a lifesaver.

    And this second time around (I’m expecting again), we’ve decided to go with simply a bath “sling” which is inexpensive, dries fast, and can be used in the sink or big tub.

  32. Amy July 22, 2011 at 9:19 am #

    We never used a bassinet with our first two (just straight to crib– well, we actually had our firstborn in his stroller for the first few months as we had in-laws in baby’s room at first),

    We didn’t have a special swaddling blanket (just used one of the larger baby blankets we were given)

    We only used a swing for my firstborn, but didn’t know how to reassemble it for the second when we moved and she didn’t need it, more time on the floor or in my arms.

    We didn’t use a jump up thing or walker.

    And you don’t need to buy a nursing cover (just knot a scarf and put it around your neck).

    So you can save even more money this way, knowing those items aren’t even essential. :)

  33. Sarah M July 22, 2011 at 8:09 am #

    I think the 3 most essential things for a newborn baby are easy, too: a place to sleep (pack n play, crib, bassinet, whatever!), swaddling blankets, and a sound system ($15 at Bed Bath and Beyond)…we get those last two things for every first-time mom for a gift, the sound soothers are SO nice, especially if you have other kids they’ll be sharing a room with. There is even an option for “heartbeat” so it sounds similar to the womb. Worth every penny!

    Sarah M

  34. M. July 22, 2011 at 7:30 am #

    I like most of your recommendations here!

    I also find the Ergo to the be most practical, comfortable way to wear my babies. With my son I used it from about 3 months to 18 months, at which point he was walking enough to not care to be carried that much, and I became pregnant and it was harder for me to “wear” him! But I used the Ergo so often, in so many situations!

    My opinion about strollers: For the mama who likes to walk often and get exercise (and we all know new mamas generally need to work off some pounds!), I’ve found that it’s a MUCH better investment to purchase a quality stroller. (In my case, a duallie, as my first 2 babies were 14 months apart.) We ended up with a BOB revolution. Though it cost a small fortune, even from Craigslist, it’s quickly paying itself back. It’s SO easy to push (even with 2), I can walk on gravel, it’s even easy to jog with— it really enables me to get out and exercise and get fresh air, something that wouldn’t happen with a cheap stroller. I’d encourage other moms to evaluate what/where they need a stroller for, and not feel bad about getting a more expensive one.

    • Sarah July 22, 2011 at 10:28 am #

      I agree about the stroller! I’m in a hot and humid climate for the summer and the idea of wearing my little one about chokes me. But my craigslist jogger has been FANTASTIC and an amazing investment.

  35. Jill July 22, 2011 at 6:57 am #

    Thank you for your thoughts on the ergo baby carrier! Have you heard of the Chai Wrap Tai carrier? Have you ever used one like that? If you have, how was it? Did your shoulders/back get sore?

  36. Rachel July 22, 2011 at 6:48 am #

    I would have to slightly disagree on some of the items you mentioned at the end of this post. I actually used a bobby nursing pillow for the first 8 months or so every time I nursed while at home. It made it soooo much more comfortable, and freed up my hands to do other things like work on the computer or read. Since my daughter nursed every 2 hrs for the first 8 months of her life, this was a lifesaver for me. I found it very tiring to continually hold her up without the pillow.

    I also LOVE our baby bath tub. Our kitchen sink would be too small for her now, but she still fits in the baby bathtub at 13 months. It saves on water usage (esp. if you bathe your baby more frequently like we do) and also gives me a more secure place to bathe her. Before baby is sitting upright, it can be very hard to bath them in a sink, as they are always slipping around. The sink is really hard during that stage too, which makes it difficult to avoid them hitting their head on the side. Bathroom sink faucets also do not move, which make it impractical for bathing, as again, you are always trying to avoid hitting their head with it. I also think the baby bath tubs are safer in general.

    As for a bouncer, it was our lifesaver since our daughter hated the travel swing. She would cry every time we tried to put her in it, but was content in the bouncer. Sometimes it is just trial and error for each child I guess. It’s nice that we have both for the next baby to see what will work for them.

    And finally, I love our car sun shades, as my daughter hates it when the sun is in her eye. She can’t really move in a carseat, so it is really nice to have, exp. in the summer if you live in a warm climate like we do.

    All in all though, I totally agree that you don’t need much for a baby that many people over-buy and over-think what they will need for a little one. We did just fine with just the basics.

    • Randi July 22, 2011 at 6:52 am #

      With my first, I hated the baby bathtub, as I had nowhere to put it that was comfortable for me. So with my second child, I just laid a towel in the tub and washed her up that way. It worked well for me.
      To each his (or HER!) own! :)

    • M. July 22, 2011 at 7:19 am #

      I agree with Rachel about the baby bath tub. (Although I wouldn’t have *before* I had babies!) When I’ve tried bathing a newborn in the kitchen sink, I’m so nervous about holding the baby’s head out of the water, but it’s difficult to feel like I’ve got a one-handed secure hold on the baby without the danger of bonking it on the hard sink! I SO appreciate having a little bath tub with the infant sling. It’s made newborn bath time much more do-able!

  37. Jill July 22, 2011 at 6:41 am #

    Thanks for posting so much useful information about having a new baby! We’re expecting our first in January, and it will be so nice to know what’s needed and what really isn’t as we’re getting started purchasing and registering things for our little one’s nursery.

  38. Joy July 22, 2011 at 6:18 am #

    I just wanted to say one thing–I have looked at Sophie the Giraffe online before and I noticed on it got some negative reviews due to children choking on the feet/legs of the giraffe. It was maybe 10% of the overall reviews, out of about 1,000 reviews, but it still gave me pause…I didn’t know if anyone had heard of this happening and I just wanted to put a little “buyer beware” blurb…not saying don’t buy her but it sounds like supervision is in order…

    Thank you for a great, down to earth post Lindsay about what babies REALLY need. I found that my little newborn did not require much. I like your idea about the Moses Basket…that looks really great. Nice and easy to carry from room to room so baby is nearby.

    God bless!

  39. Annaleah July 22, 2011 at 6:13 am #

    I just had my third, and all of our kids are 15 months apart. We bought a crib with our oldest (and at 2 1/2 he’s still in it – we’ll soon be taking one of the sides off to turn it into a toddler bed), but when our second was born we got a Moses Basket, since we didn’t have room for two cribs. Now our second is in a pack-and-play, and our third is using the Moses Basket. I love the Moses basket – it takes up no room and I love that I can move it around as necessary for naps, and that we can take it traveling if need be. Our second used the Moses Basket for six months before she didn’t fit anymore.

    When our second was born, we bought a used double Maclaren umbrella stroller, which we love because it’s so small. Now that we have our third, we typically put the older two in the stroller and I have the baby in a carrier.

    It really is amazing how little you need for a baby! I love keeping things simple!

  40. Amanda Evans July 22, 2011 at 6:06 am #

    I’m expecting #4 *any day* now (I’m 42 weeks today) and since we had our last baby we moved to a tiny house. Because of that and because of my experience with baby stuff, I pared down a ton. There’s a lot of things that can be handy if you have them, but I’m thinking I will be able to find simpler alternatives.

    It would be really fun to do a series of posts on this same topic from different people because everyone’s situations are different. For example, a first time mom might need more bouncer chairs, swings, etc. because her baby doesn’t have any siblings to entertain/hold the baby. I used to live in a town where I could walk everywhere so I did buy a special stroller that would make pushing multiple babies (and groceries) up and down hills easy. Now we live in a small space, but I like having a separate high chair so that the baby doesn’t take up a chair or a seat at the table (leaves more room for the rest of us). I don’t know if you ever do posts and then have people link up to their blog posts on the topic, but it would be fun (and beneficial) to hear many moms’ experiences with simplifying baby stuff.

    • Sarah July 22, 2011 at 10:33 am #

      I think it would be great to hear different perspectives as well. I know a lot of moms who didn’t use their bouncy/swing/exersaucer, etc items with their first, but have used them a lot more with their second and third children, especially when the kids are close in age. A toddler doesn’t really seem to love to entertain their immobile little sibling so much, but having a swing for dinner prep or spending one-on-one time with the older kids seems to be a much lauded idea.

  41. Megan July 22, 2011 at 6:00 am #

    We love Sophie the Giraffe too – best teether ever! The ergo is amazing too – much better than the bjorn. I love your list, I think once we get to our third I’ll pare down significantly from where we are with our 2nd, Lucy (10 mos.).

  42. Katy @ Purposely Frugal July 22, 2011 at 5:52 am #

    I so agree with your attitude towards baby stuff! Our daughter slept in a pack-n-play crib the first 2 years of her life. We didn’t have a changing table we just changed her on a pad on the bed, couch, floor or whatever was handy. We never had a swing, but were given a bouncy chair that we used quite a bit. And I never ended up buying a nursing pillow, I found a regular pillow worked fine. And we were given so many clothes, we bought almost none the first 2 years!
    Love this post!

    • Lindsay July 22, 2011 at 5:58 am #

      Isn’t it crazy how possible it is to have babies on a budget? ;)

  43. Carly July 22, 2011 at 5:50 am #

    Great encouragement and ideas!
    Oh it’s so easy to get sucked into the idea of “needing” all these things for baby. Both my babies loved being swaddled, and I love the muslin blankets, but I was never able to get it tight enough. Their little arms always made it out! I love the Miracle Blanket. Used to be only available online, but I found it at Babies R Us and it was less expensive and you can use their 20% off coupon! It’s been a lifesaver for us. We also borrowed a mini co-sleeper from a friend. I love that it sits right up next to my side of the bed so I can easily lift baby out, nurse in bed, and gently transfer back. But they are expensive so borrowing or craigslist is the way to go.

    The Boba Carrier is also very similar to the Ergo…it just has a longer body so baby can fit in it longer. I got it on a baby steal website for less than 60 dollars and I LOVE it. The Moby has been great for our newborn during the day around the house. Easy to throw on (once you figure it out!) and it’s a sure fire way to get them to sleep and you can tend to your other kids or housework without putting baby down!

  44. Amy July 22, 2011 at 5:46 am #

    One quick word of warning about the giraffe teething toy – please read the 1-star reviews on Amazon! I really wanted to buy one of these, until I read a bunch of reviews that said babies can get the giraffe legs stuck in their throat. That’s just way too scary a possibility to chance, in my opinion. We ended up getting one of the other rubber teethers made by the same company in another shape that didn’t have the same risk and it worked fine.

  45. Kate Cole July 22, 2011 at 4:54 am #

    There is great info here about the safety of different baby seats (jumpers, bumbos, walkers). Definitely worth reading…..

  46. Natalie July 22, 2011 at 4:43 am #

    I love the changing table on top of dresser idea! We live in Germany and before we moved, thinking our family was complete, we sold our dresser/changing table. I didn’t want to have to go out and buy a changing table again. This is a perfect idea! Thank you.

  47. Randi July 22, 2011 at 4:20 am #

    I am due with my third right now, and had gotten rid of everything after my last one, even the crib! She’s only 20 months old, and sleeps on the mattress on the floor. Before that, we co-slept, and plan to do that with this one too! It makes nursing so much easier! I did love my Boppy pillow, but I don’t think I’ll be getting another, because I won’t NEED it. And everything else is just extras. I will be borrowing a baby swing from a friend, just because I don’t want everyone bothering baby while he or she is sleeping! :)
    Great article!
    I too, am wondering about twin strollers… I don’t actually use the stroller much now, but when I do it’s a life saver! My bff has one I could borrow if we go on a long trip or something, but I’m curious if anyone recommends them? I didn’t need one with the first two, because my eldest was almost four when baby two was born… I figured I’d use the Ergo at first, and my Moby, but what about when baby gets bigger?

  48. shannon July 22, 2011 at 4:18 am #

    My son loved the Vulli! It was a great gift that he’s now outgrown but I loved that it was made of rubber and not made in China.

  49. Sarah July 22, 2011 at 3:46 am #

    Do away with the Johnny jump up, walker & swing… You baby doesn’t need those either!
    check out this link on Magna Gerber, she studied babies and belives they should never be put into a position from which they cannot get themselves into. I’ve worked with infants and toddlers and they develop almost faster without any of those things. :) All they need is the floor and maybe a floor mirrior (they’re fun to explore during tummy time).

    • Lindsay July 22, 2011 at 6:04 am #

      By no means do I think they are a necessity (thus the clarification), but they sure were appreciated (thanks to the family and friends who loaned them to us!). ;) My baby’s never had a problem developing as a result. They develop fast enough as it is…I think there will certainly be various opinions about the safety of every baby product. By all means, use your discernment. Less is certainly more.

  50. Shannon July 22, 2011 at 3:42 am #

    So true, Lindsay! I’m ever amazed at the sheer volume of baby “stuff” available on the market! Our first baby is about 7 months old, and we’ve been blessed to find most of what we’ve needed on Craigslist (Pack ‘n Play with bassinet — which we use as a crib; stroller; glider rocker; high chair; swing). If we’re blessed with more children, I think I might want to buy a simple Moses basket for those early weeks, since it would take up much less space in our bedroom. I change baby on a folded towel on the washing machine, and with cloth diapering I love being so close to the laundry. Plus, my wipes box is on the dryer, so when a load of clothes is drying I have a natural wipes warmer! ;-) We have a Johnny Jump-Up that we received as a gift, and both I and my baby love it! We did end up buying a swing, which helped immensely (especially around dinner time :-) . I’ve purchased one “toy” so far — stacking cups, which I loved as a child — but we do have several toys that we received as gifts (or were mine when I was an infant!). I plan on buying an umbrella stroller soon, but other than that we seem to be set. We’ve spent less on the whole ensemble than we would have spent on one fancy baby crib or travel system.

    Thank you for your post! It was such an encouragement to avoid the materialistic traps of Babydom, and to think more simply!


  51. Caroline @ The Modest Mom July 22, 2011 at 3:32 am #

    I love your list! We are currently expecting our fifth, and I can relate to a lot of what you are saying! I would love to switch to a changing table on top of a dresser, but my husband built me a custom changing table with our first, and I can’t bring myself to part with it! I have yet to try swaddling blankets, but plan to when this baby is born. I love the ERGO carrier also! I won a Beco carrier from a blog giveaway and I’m excited to give that one a try also.

    As for nursing covers, well since my sister makes them and sells them on my website, she always blesses me with a new nursing cover for the new baby! I love them, and can’t imagine nursing without one now!

    I have a double stroller that is a combi, and it’s very compact which I like.

  52. Lisa July 22, 2011 at 3:10 am #

    We’re expecting number four this winter, and I’ve narrowed down the list even more! We co-sleep, so we don’t use a bassinet. Then, after a few months, we move the baby to a pack and play. THere they stay till big enough for a single bed around 18 months. No cribs. We also just put the changing mat beside the dresser and move it to wherever we are. No walkers here either. Too many of us (babies and adults) fell over it, and it was a big safety hazard. I do, however, use a nursing pillow for years. I still use my Boppy every night to nurse my 15 month old to sleep.

    • Natalie July 22, 2011 at 4:46 am #

      Lisa, I like the idea of co-sleeping to pack and play to bed. Maybe we’ll do that with our third (and last) as we sold our crib when we thought our family was complete. It was a crib that turned into toddler bed. But, your idea is great! Thanks for posting about it. We happened to keep our Arm’s Reach Co-sleeper (mini) and pack and play for guests.

    • Lisa July 28, 2011 at 4:49 pm #

      Oh, and how could I forget the sound machine? Our babies are so close together that inevitably, they would wake each other up, and they are/were ALL terrible sleepers. Having a white noise sound machine has been a wonderful way to keep them all asleep.

      My “desert island” list would be the Boppy (I do extended breastfeeding, and it was pretty much necessary for tandem feeding my newborn and 16 month old. I also like it that if I dozed off while feeding, I didn’t have to worry about the baby rolling off my lap), the Ergo, and the sound machine. I guess dipes are necessary too, but in the summer, even clothes are optional.

      I also showered/bathed with my babies. Hated bending over the crazy baby bath. I noticed one poster mentioned that some moms found some things like a swing unnecessary with their first, but used it with following children. All of my babies have been reflux-y, miserable, screaming messes for about a year, and I’ve never been able to use swings. They’ve only been happy being worn by mommy or daddy, well up to their second year. I did, however, get a small travel swing for my third so that I could buckle him in safely where siblings couldn’t step on him, etc, while I was tending to other needs. He howled in it, but at least I knew he was safe.

      It’s interesting to see what some moms find necessary and others find extraneous! Great topic, and fun to read the comments!

  53. debbie July 22, 2011 at 2:41 am #

    When our second child was born, we didn’t have a separate space for her. She slept in her carseat beside our bed for the first four months as our son had b/c neither could sleep on their backs initially. Our girlie was only 2 1/2 months old when we had a flood in our basement which sent us to my husband’s mom’s house for a bit (that “bit” has turned into 15 months; another story and filled with grace!). We didn’t have room here for a crib, and that’s when we discovered that a pack-n-play works perfectly through toddlerhood.

    One question for you – since your children are pretty close in age, did you find you were able to do without a tandem/sit & stand stroller for your toddler or do you just have two umbrellas for the longer outings?

  54. Catherijn July 22, 2011 at 1:41 am #

    Ahhh, I’m glad to see Sophie la Girafe (Vulli) has appeared in the US! It’s her 50th birthday this year, and just about every family here in France has one… they’re fantastic things, really solid and environmentally friendly and no nasty chemical products.
    Thanks for this post, anyway- we’re starting to look for things for our little one (due late October) at the moment and it’s really good to have some outside advice!

    • Lisa July 22, 2011 at 3:16 am #

      We will have four in four years (our first two are only 16 months apart), and I used two baby carriers to start with (Ergo on the back, Moby on the front) when I did shopping or walking, but when I was pregnant with the third and couldn’t wear the carriers, I did spring for a double stroller. I’ve found that with little ones this close in age, containment is the most sanity saving strategy. There are some very lightweight double umbrella strollers out there. I also have a double jogging stroller that I love, but I found that it was too wide for standard doorways, which is very annoying. It worked great for outside events and the mall, but little shops in town (and the courthouse!) leave us stranded. Now that mine are a little bigger, I let my 4 year old walk, and put my two little boys in a little wagon for library trips, post office, mall, etc. That works well too and is less hassle than the stroller.