Things I wish someone had told me, Part 2: The must-haves & don't-buys

This is Part 2 of a Things I Wish Someone Had Told me. Part 1 is here.

When I got pregnant I had absolutely NO CLUE what a parent needed to take care of their infant. I actually had to do research on it! Even now I can't help but shake my head and roll my eyes at that. Parenthood is truly an alternate universe that we are thrust into the moment our little one arrives. I remember going to Babies R Us with Anthony to finish our registry. I had done the bulk of work online to save us the torture of having to zap a thousand little doodads by hand. It still melted down into a full blown anxiety attack for Anthony and a tight-lipped, white-knuckled, don't scream in public fiasco for me.

I wish like hell someone had known enough to tell me what to do and where to go. I would have avoided Babies R Us if I could have, but I had no idea what else was out there.

So, here's a list of the things you really need to get for Baby.
Less than 20 Things Baby Must-Have:
  1. Lap pads - You can make any flat surface into your changing table with these versatile lap pads.
  2. Baby sling or carrier - Baby wearing is great for both the baby and the mama. Baby feels safer and closer and all his signals are easily picked up by Mom and Mom gets to remain close to her little one while also carrying more weight, which helps in shedding the pregnancy weight. Seriously.
  3. Diaper bag - You know this one is my fav.
  4. Shitload of diapers - Either sign up for a cloth diaper service or get baby-friendly diapers like 7th Generation.
  5. Wipes or cotton pads - Wipes aren't necessary, you could use cotton pads, but you gotta have one or the other
  6. Baby cream & Diaper rash creams - The baby cream needs to be uber gentle (I used Weleda Baby Cream) and I highly recommend the Avalon Organics Diaper Cream. Update: It's been brought to my attention that I failed to qualify this. Basically, you only need these if your baby gets a rash or dries out terribly, but it's not a given. I just think it's good to have them on hand, in case.
  7. Baby laundry detergent and dryer sheets - We used 7th Generation Baby Detergent for HE washers and "free" dryer sheets.
  8. Baby tub and wash - Although, you only need to give Baby a sponge bath until the umbilical stump falls off, so, ostensibly, you could push this one out a couple of weeks if you wanted to. Update: Or even make it a NICE TO HAVE if you trust the cleanliness of your sink. You could also line your tub with towels and do a mini-bath that way if your back can handle it. Re: the wash we used Weleda Baby Wash (it doesn't suds up) when Hollis was teeny and graduated to Avalon Organics once he was older.
  9. Thermometer- Update: For clarification, Baby's temp can be taken under the arm in most cases, so a traditional under-the-tongue kind works great.
  10. Car seat - Keep in mind that when your wee one is wee, you may want your car seat to be mobile so you can bring it in to restaurants, etc. Infant/Toddler convertible car seats don't have this feature. If you plan on always holding/wearing Baby whenever you're out and about, it may not be such a big deal and therefore the cheaper convertible car seat may be your best bet.
  11. Sleep sack or Swaddle blankets - Two sleep sacks (to have in rotation if one is in the wash) and 3-4 swaddle blankets. These are either or. You don't use them both together. Parents who use one, usually don't use the other.
  12. A diaper changing bag for the car with a spare outfit- You need all your diaper and butt cleaning gear in the car, too. Trust me, there will be days you forget the diaper bag at home and it's a life saver to have a back up in the car.
  13. Blankets
  14. Bassinet or Co-Sleeper - If you're worried about bed-sharing, then buy a little bed for your little one for your room. Of course, you'll also have to buy the appropriate bedding, too.
  15. Diaper pail - You need something to contain the stink. I wish I had a Diaper Champ, but any one will do the job.
  16. Comfy chair to sit in - I know this may seem to not belong in my list, but truly, it is. If you can spare any money for this, you definitely should!
  17. Bouncer - (How could I have forgotten this!) As a SAHM alone a bouncer allowed me to take a shower or cook a meal. If you only have one set of arms, a bouncer gives you just a tad more freedom to do everyday tasks. It's supposed to be just a short-term rest stop, though. I never used it for more than I needed to to accomplish a certain task. Babies need to be held!
  18. Dr. Sears' The Baby Book: Everything You Need to Know About Your Baby from Birth to Age Two - This book is invaluable due to Dr. Sears' years of experience as a pediatrician. He lays to rest any worries over the choking noises a newborn makes and gives you step-by-step instructions for CPR. This book has been the Baby Encyclopedia in our house and it's been a life saver and a mind saver. It's also a terrific reference for how attachment parenting works.
  19. Clothes - Depending on the season the baby is born in, this list can be modified:
  • 5-10 onesies, depending on how often you want to do laundry
  • 5-7 baby sleepers or nightgowns
  • 1 cold weather sleeper if necessary
  • 5-7 pairs of baby socks
  • 1-2 newborn hats, depending on climate

In my opinion
, Baby Don't-Buys:

  1. Matching bedding with blanket, pillows, bumper, etc. - Baby only needs a place to sleep. Blankets are considered dangerous for at least 9 months due to suffocation (at 9 mos, most babies can roll over and remove the blanket from her face). And the whole "suite" of decor is just a marketers way of getting you to shell out more money.
  2. Changing table - some will totally disagree with me on this, but it's not a must have, it's a NICE TO HAVE
  3. Diaper holder - Pointless waste of money. You can get a basket or use an old canvas bag and set it anywhere near where you change your baby.
  4. Wipe warmer - Baby won't be harmed if you use a cold wipe on his tushy. More money down the drain.
  5. Crib - Baby will be safe and happy in your bed. If you're concerned about bed-sharing, there are things you can buy that your baby sleeps in on your bed, but a bigger sleeping apparatus isn't necessary until Baby is much older.
  6. Bottles and accoutrements - Don't be scared into believing that your breasts "might not work." Having a bottle and formula around may undermine your breastfeeding efforts.
  7. Baby proofing stuff - You'll need this stuff once they start crawling, but definitely not a moment sooner.
  8. Bibs - Baby drools a lot. Big deal. Don't be so anal!
  9. Highchair - Wait on this one, too. Baby won't be eating solids any sooner than 4 months, so save your money.
  10. Stroller - For those long days shopping and your back can't possibly take another second of carrying the baby around. This happened for me around 20 lbs and 5 months. It's not a must have for an infant. Save your cash until you're begging for a stroller.
  11. Special baby towels - Your smaller house towels work just fine.
  12. Baby first aid - Nothing; medicines are not safe for babies. The only time they would be on any is if they are SERIOUSLY ill and being treated by a doctor. Saline drops for stuffy noses is fine, but if you breastfeed, your milk works great for that! Also, you can use your milk to heal ear infections and cure conjunctivitis. *I'm not a doctor. This is what I learned from my midwife and pediatrician.
  13. Breastfeeding pillow - Any old pillow in your house will do the job just as well as that $40 Boppy.
  14. Breastpump - Unless you know for sure that you will be pumping, save the $200 and pass. New moms are always told to buy a pump "just in case," but it's hogwash. It's an expensive investment and not one that is a necessity unless your situation requires it (i.e., going back to work while still nursing).
  15. Any specialized gadget - Just ask yourself, "Is this required for my baby's happiness and health? If money is no object, then by all means, indulge, but you really don't need 95% of the things out there.
  16. Mobile - It's another NICE TO HAVE, but not a must have.

Once you get your feet wet you'll have a better idea of what you want. Some of my favorite stores for all little widgets, safety items, and toys are:

Here's a more extensive list. Also, Cool Mom Picks is a great resource for handmade, safe, "mom approved" items.

Well, that's about it! I'll update and bump this post up as I think of new things to add. To you veteran moms, keeping in the "frugal, must-have only" vein, are there any things I forgot?

Good luck, Bri, Clara, Craig, and Larry!! I hope this helps even a teeny tiny bit!! Love you!


  1. Great post! The biggest waste of money for me was the wipe warmer, for sure, and the 'breastfeeding pillow' that was completely useless to me, and not as comfortable as using a regular pillow on my lap when I was breastfeeding. But I needed my breast pump! :) This is a great list to give to a newly pregnant mom-to-be! I might have to pass it on to my sister when she gets pregnant!

  2. I made a list last year of 5 things you gotta have. Babies don't take much. :)

  3. Honestly, you don't even need the baby tub, just bathe the baby with you. And the baby laundry detergent is a ripoff, regular detergent is fine. As for a diaper pail, I used a lidded trash can and washed diapers every other day.

    One thing I would add is Lansinoh, though that's mostly for mom's cracked nipples. Works great as a barrier ointment on rashy bottoms, too.

    A comfy chair is a definite must!

  4. I'm always interested in what other people's "must haves" and "don't buys" are.

    I wish I had started baby-proofing well before Westley was crawling/walking/getting into things I didn't think he could get into yet. But my parents NEVER baby-proofed anything AT ALL, and my brother and I are still alive. Also, I needed the firmness of my breastfeeding pillow. A regular pillow didn't work for me. I don't have a Boppy, though. I bought it at the craft store, and it's bigger and wider than a Bobby, which is nice when you're nursing your GIANT toddler; I think they were just calling it a C-pillow.

    I could not agree more on the swaddling blankets. Saved our lives! Westley was swaddled most of the time when he was new, and it really helped him stay calm and happy. Swaddled baby + Ergo + Daddy = many a happy brunch experience for all in the early days.