More than a year ago, I wrote a post on what our shopping list for the upcoming baby looked like, and it didn’t look good. I kept reading and researching about baby stuff that new parents might need and the list just kept expanding. Somewhere in the process, quite confused with over-research, I asked my wife’s mid-wife for tips and she had a very simple answer:
“All that the baby needs is you.”
A year, later I have realized how true that really was. As the baby came into the world, we started to figure things out as and when we needed them. In any case, it never harmed anyone to be prepared but it is also important to know that there is a lot of marketing that pushes new parents towards buying stuff that they really would never need. For instance, do you really need one of those expensive baby monitors? Does a bottle sterilizer make any sense or should one use a pan instead? Before deciding to buy something, always ask yourself ‘why’ and ‘when’ you would be using it and then buy it only if you see a very clear need for it. But how to do you know for sure that you will need it as opposed to you being convinced by marketing? Just wait till the time the real need actually arises and then buy, like I did before buying our Baby Carrier.
So, from my experience as a recent new parent, here is a list of almost everything you will need for your baby in the first few months, along with the ‘why’ and ‘when’:
- Feeding Bottles
For a new-born, remember that the priority should be to only breastfeed as far as possible. But you should still be prepared with at least a couple of bottles, in case you face difficulty with breastfeeding and need to give some formula or if you need to store breast milk for later use as well.
It depends on you personally if you plan to have your baby sleep separately in a cot or in the same bed as the parents. For us, even though our baby sleeps with us on most nights, it is good to have a secure place where we could leave her for some time and not worry about her rolling over and falling off the bed. Having her own cot also means that the baby can sleep undisturbed and one does not have to worry about being too careful getting on or off the bed.
- Changing table (with changing pad)
Again, it is not a necessity and you can easily manage on the bed as well. But we did find it to be excellent use because it meant we did not have to bend in order to change our baby’s diaper, which was very good news for our backs and we were also able to store a lot of our baby stuff under our changing table, so it was easy to reach diapers, creams and other baby stuff while changing diapers. By the way, for our baby, we stopped changing her diapers on the changing table when she was around 9 months old because she became too big for it and kept wanting to get up and roll over so it now became impossible to use it any more, but we still use the space to store her stuff.
This is a no-brainer. You will definitely need lots of these since they are easy to put on and don’t have to be taken off for diaper changes. I would recommend at least 6-8 along with a few pyjamas, caps, gloves and socks. In the early months, diaper leakages and vomiting undigested milk are more frequent and it is handy to have a few changes always at hand, considering that you might not be able to wash the baby clothes every day. Babies can also feel colder than we do and it is necessary to keep them warm and that is why you will need some gloves and caps. But remember not to pack the baby too warm that they start feeling hot.
- Diaper bag
As well as keeping things handy and organized at home, diaper bags are a must if you want to take your baby out. And, of course you will. Buy one diaper bag and stick with it for s long as possible. Make sure the bag you buy has enough space to manage all the stuff you need and has a few compartments to organize stuff as well. Read about the contents of our diaper bag here.
- Moisturizing and Diaper Rash creams
Baby skin can get dry and rough if the weather is cold or if not taken care of. If you think it is needed, remember to apply moisturizing creams (the ones for babies, not adults) on their body as well as face. Which cream you use depends on where you live and what is available, but for us our mid-wife recommended Decubal. Diaper changing creams are a must because they help cure diaper rashes, which are inevitable if the baby wears diapers for long. We used Bepanthen and Inotyol.
- Nasal spray
We had bought salt water sprays, such as Näsfrida, which are specially developed for use with babies. These have been helpful on two occasions, when the baby developed congestion in her nose due to cold and when her mucus hardened in her nose and could not be dislodged easily. I would say carrying a Nasal Spray is a must. Check your local pharmacy or baby stores to know what is available.
We bought a mobile hanging from IKEA that we hung via a mobile arm that was attached to our baby’s cot. It turned out to be a very interesting distraction for our baby. Our mobile had bees hanging from it which always caught our baby’s attention. Whenever our baby cried, we only had to turn the mobile a little and she would get engrossed in the bees flying around. It was a great thing to have.
- Baby carrier
A baby carrier is an expensive product, but it also has a good use case. We bought an Ergobaby 360, but we did not buy it in advance (read about our experience here). It was when my wife was having a hard time carrying our 2 month old baby all day long even at home and her back was hurting her, we decided that it was better for us to have a baby carrier. Now, we just strap our baby to our chest and can do other stuff at home, such as cleaning up, cooking, or even take her out for a stroll and she observes the world pass her by. We have made excellent use of our baby carrier, but I can advise waiting untill you really feel the need for it.
To breastfeed or to use formula milk is the big debate. But even if you intend to only breastfeed, remember that at certain times, formula milk comes in very handy. We have had very stressful initial few days and weeks where we weren’t sure if our baby was getting sufficient milk or if she was still hungry. We used to give her top feed with formula just to be sure she was not hungry. Also, when the mom is not feeling well, it is good to have some spare formula milk. We use Baby Semp here in Sweden, so check what is available where you live.
It is next to impossible to avoid using diapers. Either one can dedicate their lives to washing and changing nappies as well as underlying bed sheets, etc. every time the baby pees or poops, or one can take the easy route of using diapers. We have been using diapers since day one, and even on days when we decided to use a nappy instead, we had a tough time keeping up. I would advise that you keep at least 15-20 diapers (which means a pack each) of size 0 and size 1 handy before the birth just to be sure which size will suit your baby in the beginning, and then stock up for at least a week’s worth of supply at a time. Small babies can use up as much as 6-8 diapers a day. You can also read here about which diapers we have utilized.
If you re going to take your bay out of home in the first few years (of course you will), you will most definitely need a stroller. We got a Bugaboo Buffalo for our baby but not everyone needs such an expensive stroller. Think a little bit about how often you are going to use the stroller and in what conditions. Do you think the stroller you need should be able to accommodate a lot of stuff, such as when you are out shopping? Or is it more important for you that the stroller is light and folds compactly and fits in your car? Do you want to be able to fit a car seat to the stroller at times? In that case, do you get adapters to fix your car seat to that stroller? Do you need bigger wheels such as if it snows where you live or if the terrain might be a little rough, or will smaller wheels suit you since you are only going to use it when you are in easy terrains, such as in a mall? Think about these things and then decide.
- Car Seat
Do you have a car? If yes, then you obviously need a car seat for your baby. If you don’t have a car, you probably don’t. But think about how you are going to bring your baby home from the hospital, and how you are going to take her to the doctor for the follow-ups and in emergency cases? Do you easily get taxis which come with infant car seats? Are you going to be travelling with your baby in a manner that might require a car seat? We bought a car seat despite not having a car, and over the last one year I have realized that we used it only in the initial few days and only when we had to take our baby somewhere in a taxi and going by public transport at odd hours with the stroller was not an option. But after she was 4 months old, we have never had to use the car seat, but the reason is that we have excellent and stroller friendly public transport in Stockholm and one can get to anywhere in the city with the stroller. But is your situation different?
- Bottle Sterilizer
We almost fell into the trap of buying an electric bottle sterilizer which would have cost us a good amount of money. And though there are some good sterilizers available, I was lucky to have spoken to a friend who told me that they just wash the bottles and then sterilize them in a pan of boiling water in their kitchen. And my friend’s wife is a nurse, so that gave me the confidence that we did not need anything special. Now that I reflect on this decision, I realize that if I had bought the sterilizer, that would have meant one more thing that needed to be taken care of, such as cleaning if it became dirty, maintenance in case it malfunctioned, whereas a pan needs to maintenance at all.
- Baby Gym
We bought a fancy one from Fischer Price which had a mirror, music and lights as soe of the features and we started to put our baby in it from when she was 6 weeks old. She took some time to get used to it, but we did notice that she tried to observe the hangings quite a lot and the music also occupied her attention. After a few weeks, our baby had started to enjoy and interact with the gym a lot and we could leave her in it for 15-20 minutes at a time and be free to do other stuff. So, I would say you will most certainly need a baby gym, but which one completely depends on you. The point is to give the baby things to observe and touch so she learns.