New parents tend to go overboard when it comes to preparing their homes for the new baby. New gadgets and gear can accumulate and quickly overtake a modest-sized dwelling. The funny thing though is that new babies really don’t need that much stuff to be perfectly content and developmentally on track. Don’t get me wrong – new babies are indeed high-need individuals - however they don’t need much in terms of material goods. What they truly can never get enough of is time spent cuddling and interacting with their caregivers. In my experience there aren’t a whole lot of items that you can buy that will truly make life better/easier for you or the baby. Here is my short list of items that worked really well for me, and that I think would work for every other parent out there, regardless of the size of your home or location. If you think I’m wrong or have missed something, I’d love to hear from you in the comments.

**I've edited this post to include costs for these items. Clever parents will find better prices than the ones listed here.
Discussions of cost-related issues will be in a forthcoming post.

1.       For brand-new newborns (up to eight weeks of age), you will need a few onesies that snap up the front, either kimono-style or something similar. Newborns hate having clothes that go over their heads.
Cost: 5 x $12 = $60

2.       For the slightly older newborn (2-4 months of age), you should have about seven regular onesies on hand. The season and your climate will determine whether they should be long-sleeve or short-sleeve. For instance, if your New England baby will be three months old in December, you probably won’t need any short-sleeve onesies in the 0-6 mo size.
Cost: 7 x $8 = $56

3.       Footed one-piece outfits – these are my husband’s favorite. They are super easy to get baby out of after a diaper blow-out. You should have at least 5 of them.
Cost: 5 x $14 = $70

4.       Muslin blankets – so soft, and they get softer every time they are washed. Their versatility is what endears them to moms - they can work as a makeshift nursing cover, a changing pad for when you are out and about, work well for swaddling, and many other various and sundry uses.  
Cost: pack of 4 = $40

5.       Wrap carrier – my baby loves being carried. Even if the Attachment Parenting philosophy doesn't particularly appeal to you, I still think this is a must-have. I went with the Baby K’tan and it has worked very well both for me and my baby, but there are many different brands and styles available.  
Cost for one: $40

6.       Infant bucket car seat – duh. They don’t let you leave the hospital without one. Nearly everyone I know has chosen the Chicco Keyfit 30 car seat, in part due to the seat’s top rating with Consumer Reports. That is not to say that the Keyfit is necessarily going to be the best seat for you; there are a huge number of perfectly serviceable seats on the market, and if you are purchasing a travel system then it’s nice to have the seat that fits properly into the stroller base.
Cost for one: $200

7.       Snuggly winter bunting – get two of them. Avoid the thick down puffy kind, though – not only do they tend to be more expensive, but they create a safety hazard when used in combination with the car seat, as the seat belt needs to be as close to baby’s body as possible. At any rate, you probably won’t be outside in the bitter cold with your new baby for very long, if at all. With the thinner one-layer buntings you can easily transition your baby from house to sling to car seat with no adding or removing of extra layers, and not worry about baby overheating when you are wearing her in the sling.
Cost: 2 x $40 = $80

8.       A place for baby to sleep – there are so many different and wide-ranging options that it’s impossible to make a one-size-fits-all recommendation. In the end, your baby will be the one letting you know what she needs to sleep best. We went with a mini-crib for our city apartment and it works for us. Other choices include: co-sleeper, full-size crib, or a mattress on the floor (before baby can roll over by herself, this can work very well as a temporary solution in the early months when nighttime feedings are frequent and side-nursing is necessary).
Cost: $100 (crib) + $20 (mattress pad) + $18 (3 fitted sheets) = $138

9.       Rocking chair – essential for nighttime feedings, whether you are breast or bottle feeding. I’ve seen others not recommend the old-fashioned kind, but the gliding rocker so that little fingers don’t get caught underneath. It makes sense. More important, especially before your baby is mobile, is to make sure there are no holes in the chair large enough for a baby to fall through if you nod off momentarily. The chair is NOT a safe place for you to take a nap with your baby and I don’t want to be misconstrued as condoning this.
Cost: varies, most around $200-$800

10.   Diapers – whether you go with cloth or disposable, you will need something to keep your baby’s bum clean, and all the accessories that go with that fateful decision (diaper ointment, wipes, diaper pail, etc). We went with disposable diapers. I think that it is worth mentioning that if this was my husband’s list of baby essentials, the Diaper Genie would surely be at the top of the list. It’s pretty good at minimizing diaper odor. In my opinion, if you are taking your garbage out every day you don’t actually need the Diaper Genie, unless your sensibilities are very easily affronted.
Cost for disposables: $40 (Diaper Genie) + $40/mo for diapers, wipes, and ointments

ABOUT $1,200



Great list:) I have the Chicco Keyfit 30 too:) My one addition would be to consider getting a stroller that has a bassinet you can use as a place for baby to sleep in the early months…..

12/19/2013 6:10pm

Thanks Jennifer, that's an excellent suggestion. I didn't realize some brands of stroller bassinets are approved for overnight sleeping use - I'm pretty sure that ours (Mountain Buggy) came with a warning not to allow babies to sleep in it overnight. In fact our bassinet turned out to be one of our least-useful baby items, since it was too cold in Boston last winter to walk outside much with the baby. And she grew out of it so fast! If we could have used it as a regular place for her to sleep for the first couple of months, that would have been perfect. Since it was so portable, it could have given baby a familiar sleeping environment anywhere we went.


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