Preparing for a new baby is a joyful and exciting time, but it can also be overwhelming. Advice is plentiful, and everybody seems to have a different opinion on everything. There are thousands of products on the market, each promising to make your life with baby easier, more peaceful, or otherwise better. But which of these items do you really need? And which are likely to just be tossed in the back of a closet somewhere after a single use? Once you have your shopping list, check out our coupons for baby gear and clothing.
Whether you’re expecting a baby yourself, helping a friend fill her registry, or looking for the perfect gift for a new mom, we’ve got you covered with our list of products and items new moms really need.
So What Do You REALLY Need?
- A Baby Swing. For a baby that is colicky or otherwise just doesn’t like to be still for any length of time, a baby swing can be a real sanity saver. It allows you to be hands free long enough to eat a meal or just take a break. You’ll want a plug in version if possible, so that batteries don’t run out at exactly the worst time. And of course, make sure it includes a safety harness to keep your little one secure as he or she swings.
- Bottles, but just a few. Even if you’re planning to breastfeed exclusively, you should have a few bottles on hand. This allows you to pump and then let Dad or other family members participate in feeding time. It’s also handy in case you have any struggles with supply and need to supplement, or in case you can’t breastfeed for any reason for a time. That said, don’t go crazy and buy dozens of bottles. In reality, you probably only need a few. And if baby doesn’t take to a bottle (some don’t!), you won’t have to figure out what to do with a huge stash.
- Car Seat. Safety comes first with car seats. Do your research and be sure to choose one that is appropriately designed for a newborn, and this is one of the few items where it might be best to avoid buying used. You can probably skip the neck support insert as rolled up receiving blankets will do the trick just as well until your little one can support his or her head without assistance.
- Gift Cards. Never underestimate the power of gift cards. Need to buy an expensive item that’s a bit too pricey for a gift? Combine several gift cards and you’ll be on your way. Plus, with a stash of gift cards in your wallet, you’ll never have to dip into savings to afford diapers or other necessities when the unexpected blows a hole in your budget.
- Newborn Sling or Wrap. Women have been strapping their babies to them for centuries, and today there are lots of great options for this. In addition to making it easier to use your hands while carrying baby, slings and wraps promote bonding, can help alleviate back pain, and offer shared body warmth in chilly climates.
- Nursing Attire. Nursing is hard enough, so make it easier on yourself and baby by keeping things comfortable and accessible. Nursing bras are an absolute must. In addition, companies like Thyme Maternity and boobdesign.com are now making tops, dresses, nightwear, and more designed for nursing moms.
- Receiving Blankets. You can never have too many receiving blankets. They’re incredibly versatile, exceptionally useful, and just an overall handy thing to have around. In addition to blankets, they’re great for swaddling, burp rags, towels, nursing covers, changing pads, to place under baby during tummy time, to cover an infant seat, or any number of other uses. In addition, they’re lightweight and layerable, so you can use more than one at a time to keep baby at just the right temperature in the cold Canadian winter months.
- A Stroller. You want something sturdy enough for every day use, but also easy to fold and store. If the stroller is convertible to many configurations, you’ll get more use out of it. And it’s a huge bonus to get one that works with your car seat to easily move your little one into and out of the car when running errands. In addition to your everyday stroller, you may want to look into a running stroller if your fitness routine includes jogging or running.
So-Called “Essentials” You Might Choose to Skip
- Anything Purchased in Bulk. It might seem smart to stock up on diapers, soaps, lotions, or other items you’re likely to need to buy over and over again, but we would recommend not doing this at first. Buy a smaller package and make sure the product works for you and for baby before you stock up. If the diapers leak or irritate, or baby is sensitive to some ingredient in the lotion, you could wind up having to return (or give away) all of that extra stock.
- Baby Food. This tip is for a little ways down the line, when it’s time to start introducing baby to foods. Commercially produced baby food is convenient for sure, but more and more moms are opting to just throw some whole foods in the blender for a less expensive option with far fewer additives.
- Baby Laundry Detergent. With a baby in the house, you may feel like you spend half your life in the laundry room, and expensive “baby” laundry detergent will begin to add up quickly. Look for a “free & clear” formula from your favorite brand instead to save plenty on laundry needs.
- Baby Timers. These pricey little pieces of tech promise to help you keep baby on a schedule for feedings, sleep, and changings. But in reality, it’s just one more item to keep up with. Check the App Store or Google Play for phone apps with the same functionality, for a fraction of the price. Or grab a pen and notebook and go low-tech.
- Booties or Shoes: Here’s a secret. Baby booties rarely stay on the baby’s feet. Yes, they’re super cute, but in all honesty, they’ll probably spend more time on the floor than on the baby.
- A Changing Table. There is a lot of debate on this one. Many moms swear you MUST have a changing table. Others say they rarely used theirs. If you choose to go with a table, it can be a great way to keep all of the diaper changing necessities organized and in one spot. But if you prefer, you can always just use a portable changing pad and any flat surface (including the floor).
- Crib and/or Bassinet. Of course, every decorated nursery you’ll see in magazines or on TV includes a crib. If space or budget is limited though, you can always get by with a pack-n-play, or any number of other solutions. In fact, in some places, it’s not uncommon for baby to sleep in a cardboard box!
- Crib Bumpers. These are adorable, and they sound like a great idea, but crib bumpers can actually make your baby’s early months less safe. In fact, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends you skip the bumpers, including the new, allegedly safer, mesh versions.
- Diaper Bag. Yes, babies have a lot of gear to carry around. But rather than a pricey diaper bag, try a backpack, tote, or messenger bag. And added bonus is that you can continue to use these items to haul around kid stuff once the baby is no longer in diapers.
- Diaper Disposal Systems. The whole idea behind these pricey but convenient systems is that you won’t smell the diapers if they sit around for a few days. But who wants dirty diapers sitting around the house for days at a time? In most cases, any household trash can with a lid will do the same job as long as it’s emptied regularly.
- A Stand-Alone High Chair. This is another of those items that is going to take up a lot of space. If you have the room (and budget) for it, great! If not though, the smaller versions that attach to your dining room chairs work just as well. Either way, make sure you get something easy to wipe down because it will get messy!
- An Infant Bathtub. If you have the budget for it and the room to store it, an infant bathtub is great. But it’s not a necessity. Experts recommend you bathe a newborn about once a week, so you’re unlikely to get more than about a dozen baths in before baby outgrows that super cute tub. If you’re set on getting a tub, a better buy is a baby tub with a removable newborn sling.
- Newborn Size Clothes. Let’s face it. Nothing is cuter than the tiniest of baby outfits. Newborn sizes generally fit babies up to 3,175 grams, but the average Canadian baby weighs in at 3,374 grams. It’s often better to buy slightly larger clothing, like 0-3 months, and then if the baby is too small, they can grow into them later. Newborn diapers are a little larger, generally fitting babies up to 4,500 grams, but don’t over buy on these either or your little one may outgrow them before they’re used.
- A Wipe Warmer. What a great idea, right? Not so fast. Take a look at the list of recalls for wipe warmers and red flags may start to go up. Some brands have been known to shock parents’ hands, or melt down. Wipes can dry out more quickly in a warmer. Warm moist environments promote growth of bacteria and fungus, so it might be healthier to skip it. And finally, unless you plan to pack the warmer with you everywhere you go, it might be better to get baby used to cold wipes, so it’s not such a shock when you have to change a diaper away from home.
By Holly M, contributing writer