Only a few months until your little one arrives and there's so much to do. And the shopping list for the baby can quickly turn from simple to daunting, given the tons of choices: Sling or carrier? Ear or underarm thermometer?
Judith Gery, a mom of three from Reading, Pennsylvania, suggests sharing the task with a fellow mom to offer advice-or another expectant mom to compare notes! Oh, and bring a checklist. Here are the must-haves that should be on it.
What you really need for the first few weeks
- A car seat. It’s actually illegal to take your baby home from the hospital without one.
- A Moses basket, bassinet or crib. A crib can be your baby's sleeping place from the get-go, but if you'd like to start with something cozier, choose either a Moses basket (literally a basket with two handles for toting) or a bassinet, and take time to pick a crib later. Early on, even a well-padded drawer or wash basket will do in a pinch, especially during those early visits to Grandma’s.
- Basic clothing: shirts that snap in front (to wear til the belly button heals), onesies, kimonos and seasonal getups (coats, sleeping sacks). Buy only a few items in newborn sizes as most babies grow out of them quickly. Better to start with 3-month and up sizing.
- Caps to keep that little head warm regardless of the weather. Babies’ noggins are especially sensitive to changes in environment.
- Super-absorbent cloth diapers to be used as burp cloths (or diapers if you're not opting for disposables).
- A nail clipper - there are teeny ones just for babies, who can’t control their hands yet and can scratch their faces accidentally.
- Packs of disposable diapers (its all about diaper-changing at first, with babies needing eight or more changes each day). Even if you're using cloth diapers, it's a good idea to have some disposables on hand for trips and emergencies.
- Cotton squares or balls to use (moistened with warm water) for wiping after changes - commercial wipes are too strong for sensitive newborn skin.
- A baby bathtub, washcloths and towels.
- A basic first-aid kit with a thermometer. When you call the pediatrician to say Baby’s not well, you'll probably be asked whether she has a fever. Digital thermometers are generally considered more accurate than the pricier ear thermometers.
- A mobile or soft books for the baby to look at as his eyes begin to track objects.
- Stroller or a carrier/sling. Fresh air can do wonders for the sleep-deprived (parent or baby!).
- Breast pump if you're nursing, so that Dad and others can help feed the baby while you take a break or are at work. It also doesn’t hurt to have some formula on hand for emergencies.
One note: You'll probably leave the hospital with freebies, like pacifiers and diapers. Keep what you need and pass on what you won't.
What to do without (for now, anyway), or to borrow from friends:
A crib bumper. “Crib bumpers are so useless [for newborns] because they fall down, are hard to keep up and don’t keep babies tight," says Connecticut mother Mary Cavaleri. "They’re placed inside of the crib to protect the baby, who doesn’t move that much from the middle of the bed anyhow.” In a few months, when baby starts to roll, this will be useful.
A high chair - you can be buy one down the line; you won't need it til he can sit up.
Diaper-wipe warmer. Pampering, true. But necessary? Probably not. Most wipes are too harsh for a newborn’s skin in any case; you’ll want to use soft washcloths or cotton squares or balls dipped in warm water for the first few weeks.
Soothing chair or swing. Newborns can't ride them this early anyway, so you can wait for one of these.
This information is not a substitute for personal medical, psychiatric or psychological advice.