Making a baby registry and purchasing products in preparation for a new baby’s arrival can be confusing for first-time parents. The number of baby products on sale is already outrageous and companies are inventing new baby products daily. Many claim to be absolute necessities for new parents and their babies, but which do you actually need, and which are just an additional convenience? We took a look at which products experts and seasoned parents claimed to actually need going into parenthood, which are helpful, but not necessary, and which have proven themselves nonessential.
The Necessary Baby Items
Car seat for your baby: The most necessary item to have for a new baby before going to the hospital for delivery is a car seat. In fact, the nurses at the hospital will not let you take your baby home without one. There are many different types of car seats for your baby; some variations are more pricey than others. Many parents want to be able to remove the car seat from the car with the baby inside it (in case he or she is asleep), and thus choose age-specific car seats. Others prefer to buy longer-lasting car seats that stay in the car and convert to a toddler seat as they get older. Whichever you choose, make sure it will hold your newborn baby inside safely (sizing information appears in the instruction manual), it is not expired (expiration dates appear on the seat), and it is installed correctly (you can find out where to go in your neighborhood to get your car seat inspected here).
A place for your baby to sleep: You will certainly need to have a safe place for your new baby to sleep, whether it be a crib, a bassinet, or a play yard. These three places are the only ones that comply with the rules of safe sleep. Be sure to use the mattress that is fitted to your crib, play yard, or bassinet with a fitted crib sheet. Do not place anything extra, like blankets or toys, in the crib with the baby. Be sure that your sleep surface choice meets all current safety standards and that you are practicing SAFE SLEEP.
Diapers and wipes: It is advised to have two day’s worth of diapers on hand during the first few weeks so you don’t have to fetch them in the middle of the night. Some people choose to use cloth, while others prefer disposable. You will need wipes and diaper cream (to avoid diaper rash) to accompany either choice.
Baby bath supplies: You will need a plastic tub to put baby in for baths and a towel to dry him or her off. You may also choose to use a gentle baby wash and shampoo.
Grooming supplies: It is advised to keep your baby’s nails short to avoid scratching delicate skin. Many parents use infant-sized nail clippers, while some use nail files. Other suggested grooming tools include a hair brush, a wash cloth, and baby lotion.
Medical tools: It is recommended that you have a digital thermometer on hand to take your baby’s temperature to report to the doctor and a nasal aspirator to help clear mucus from your baby’s nose when necessary.
Clothing and blankets: You will likely need several shirts and pants for baby to wear until his or her umbilical cord falls off. Afterwards, you can dress the baby in onesies and sleepers, with additional layers for colder temperatures. You will likely need at least six onesies for the new baby; some people prefer to buy more so they don’t have to do laundry as often. No need for fancy or frilly outfits! You will likely be taught to swaddle your baby during your stay at the hospital. You will be given a blanket, but may need a few others to swaddle your baby in at home. If you have a baby during the winter or in a colder climate, you will also likely need a few knit sweaters and caps, as well as some heavier blankets for trips out of the house.
Feeding necessities: Whether you choose to breastfeed or use formula, you will need certain feeding aids. For breastfeeding, may need a nursing pillow, nursing pads, nipple creams, a breast pump, and a few bottles for feeding expressed milk. According to the Affordable Care Act, insurance companies are now required to cover the costs of breast pumps for breastfeeding moms. For bottle-feeding, you will need several bottles, bottle-cleaning supplies, and formula in powder or liquid form.
Useful, but Not Necessary:
Stroller/baby carrier: It is a great idea to get outside and get moving with your new baby. For this reason, strollers are on the high-priority list, as are infant carriers. Strollers come in all different shapes and sizes to fit your specific needs, while carriers make it so you can carry baby with your hands free.
Diaper bag: Though you will be able to carry the diapers and wipes you need with you in any old bag, some parents prefer a diaper bag because it has specific compartments for all diaper-changing needs.
Baby monitor: A baby monitor allows parents to listen to (or sometimes view on video) their baby while they are napping or sleeping in another room. This allows parents to do other things when their baby is napping instead of having to remain in the room with them. Be sure to practice safe sleep for your baby when you plan to leave the room.
Bouncer or swing: Most parents recommend a bouncer or swing to put baby in because they are safe and enjoyable for the baby. They also allow parents to do chores or other things in the same room as the baby.
Changing table: Though you can choose to change your baby’s diapers and outfits on a blanket on a tabletop, many parents find a changing table to be useful as a place to change the baby with all clothing and diapers easily accessible. Be sure to always keep one hand on the baby when changing him or her on an elevated surface.
Baby-friendly laundry detergent: Because babies have such sensitive skin, it is often advised to buy a baby-specific laundry detergent without fragrances or dyes.
Baby wipe warmer: Though they are tools intended to keep wipes warm, they often end up drying them out instead.
Bottle warmer: All you need to do to warm up a bottle is place it in a bowl of warm water for a few minutes. Always drip some of the bottle liquid on your wrist to check its temperature before giving it to the baby.
Nursing cover: Some mothers prefer to use nursing covers when breastfeeding in public; this is a matter of preference.
Shoes: It is generally not advised to put hard shoes on your baby until they are 1 year old, but some parents choose to purchase soft baby booties to keep their child’s feet warm. They are cute, but unnecessary, as socks (and a heavy blanket, when out in the cold) work just fine.
Fancy fabrics and clothing: Avoid putting your baby in anything too fancy or expensive, as they will likely get it dirty through eating, spitting up, or playing.
Disclaimer: This page is intended solely as an educational tool for parents. It is not intended as – and should not be mistaken for – medical advice.
- Parents: 9 Baby Registry Mistakes to Avoid Making
- Scary Mommy: The Only 12 Things you Really Need for a Baby
- Parents: Essential Gear for Baby’s First Six Weeks
- Baby Center – Baby Products: Must-Haves for the First Year
- Babble: What Not to Buy for Baby
- March of Dimes: Safe Sleep for your Baby
- What to Expect: Get a Breast Pump Through Your Health Insurance
- Parents Central: Get Your Car Seat Inspected