There are SO MANY baby products on the market right now! As a doula, many of my clients come to me for product recommendations and help with building their baby registry. Often, they ask, "How much of this stuff does a baby really NEED?" My answer? Not much! There are basically five categories of things you really, really need before bringing a baby home. The rest is lagniappe (I'll be listing some nice-to-have items in a future blog!)
Here is the short list of things a newborn absolutely needs in their early days:
1. A safe place to sleep
The American Academy of Pediatrics recently announced updated recommendations for safe sleep. Included in these recommendations is a firm, flat, bare sleep space for the baby (not in the parents' bed). The crib or bassinet doesn't need to be anything fancy, but beware of buying these items used since some discontinued items are no longer approved by regulatory agencies. Buying new also allows you to sign up for alerts in case of a product recall.
My personal favorite cribs are the simple, economical, sleek cribs from IKEA. Ours has gone through 4.5 years and 2 energetic boys and shows no signs of wear! Just to compare, our first crib we got was actually more expensive and started to chip paint after just over a year.
Sooooo many cute clothes. But what does a baby really use on a daily basis? Comfort is key; you can't beat cotton onesies and button-up footed sleepers. White is excellent because it can be cleaned easily! Depending on how often you want to do laundry, you'd want anywhere from 6-12 of each style and size. It's too easy to go overboard and buy so many outfits that the baby doesn't have a chance to wear each outfit before it's outgrown. Also keep in mind that grandparents LOVE to buy baby clothes, so it's highly unlikely that your baby won't have enough, haha!
Babies poop and pee. A lot. After the first week, you can expect your baby to wet and/or soil 8-12 (or more) diapers daily. You'll need a good stockpile of diapers to avoid middle of the night grocery store runs! I would figure about 100 disposable diapers a week when calculating how many you need. When it comes to deciding how many to buy in each size, bigger (size) is usually better. Babies usually only stay in newborn size diapers for a maximum of a couple of weeks and some babies are born too big for size N. Size 1 diapers generally fit babies from 8-14 pounds. What age your baby will reach 14 pounds is widely variable, but it's generally safe to say that a baby won't double their birth weight until 4-6 months.
For cloth diapers, you'll probably want disposable liners to catch those first meconium poops so they don't stain. You can buy specially sized newborn cloth diapers, or go with a one-size model. Keep in mind that most "one-size" cloth diapers don't fit babies really well until they reach around 10 pounds, but I have had wonderful luck getting Lil' Helpers one-size diapers to fit down to 7 or 8 pound babies! There are many websites that serve as resources for information about cloth diapers, plus FaceBook support groups. So don't be intimidated!
Whether you are breastfeeding, bottle feeding, or a combination of the two, the baby needs to eat. The only foods that are appropriate for a newborn baby are breastmilk and infant formula. For breastfeeding, some supplies you might want to have on hand are comfortable nursing bras, a breast pump, and possibly a nursing pillow. For bottle feeding, you'll want to make sure you have bottles and an easy way to clean and sterilize them. Some dishwashers clean and sterilize, or you could simply wash them in hot soapy water and rinse, boiling clean bottles periodically to sterilize them.
5. Car Seat
You'll need an infant car seat installed correctly before you leave your birthplace to take your baby home. The nurses and hospital staff cannot install the seat for you, nor can they buckle the baby in due to liability concerns. Therefore, you'll need to ensure that your seat is properly installed and ready to go by 36 weeks of pregnancy at the latest. Also, make sure you understand how to properly buckle a baby into the seat. A CPST can help you with both of these tasks. Lauren Standridge of Baton Rouge Birth Services recommends the Chicco KeyFit 30 and Britax B-Safe infant car seats.
I hope this list helps you decifer what items you really really must have from those that are just nice to have. Happy shopping!