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When you find out you are expecting a baby, (or two in my case,) the thought of everything a baby “needs” can be very overwhelming. Through my experience, I have found a very short list of baby gear you actually need. If you are trying to stay on a budget, keep your baby gear minimal or just don’t know where to start, these few baby gear items will help you keep your baby registry under control.
Must Have Items:
Convertible Car Seat
If you really want to skip a large piece of gear – I recommend skipping the infant bucket seat. Babies only fit in these the first year if they are lucky, but will typically outgrow the height or weight limit before then. It is also not easy to carry a 15 pound baby around in these seats. There are parents who can’t live without it, but it was not worth the extra investment to me. With the twins, I just took them out of the seats and they went straight into the stroller. It might have taken a few extra minutes, but not enough to make me regret the decision.
A convertible car seat is where your child will be for many more years. They will be using this same seat until they get a booster. A rear and forward facing convertible car seat is a good piece to invest in – Look into Britax or Chicco. There are a handful of seats that will safely fit a small infant from birth as far as the shoulder strap height and weight limit. We went with the Maxi Cosi Pria with tiny fit insert, and my 5.5 and 6 pound babies fit perfectly.
Crib, Waterproof Crib Mattress, Sheet & Wearable Swaddle Blanket
Cribs and mattresses come in a wide range of prices. You can find a crib for under $100 or upwards of thousands of dollars. Crib mattresses vary widely as well from newer “breathable” models, springs or memory foam. Whatever you find, make sure it is a flat, firm surface and that it is waterproof – you will save buying a waterproof mattress cover and thank me when you are potty training!
A sheet (or two if you’re lazy on laundry day,) and a wearable blanket are all that is recommended to be in your crib with baby. Our hospital sent us home with the Halo Sleepsack Swaddle but I love the Summer Infant SwaddleMe for when they are tiny babies. No other crib bedding or gear is needed due to safety reasons. The current recommendation is to keep your baby in your room for the first year, but we moved our twins into their own room and cribs around 3 months old. It was much easier to establish a sleep routine and we felt more comfortable having the Owlet monitors.
Stroller OR Baby Carrier
I would say to choose one of these, although both are extremely useful. You might easily identify yourself as a stroller mom or babywearing mom and can make the decision as to which of these two you should have. If you don’t have a strong desire to babywear, I would go with the stroller and borrow a carrier if you find you want to try it. If your friends don’t have an extra carrier, there are babywearing groups that have lending libraries for you to borrow and try out.
If a stroller is your choice, I would recommend that you do a lot of research on the best one for your family. Don’t cheap out on the stroller! This is something that comes in a wide variety of prices, but you do get what you pay for. Consider this another investment for this child and your future children – you want to make sure it will last. If you’re looking for something to grow with your family, I’d check out Uppababy or Baby Jogger. See my post on the Uppababy Cruz if you are looking for a nice single stroller that can also be a travel system.
Nice to Have Items:
Swing OR Glider OR Rock N Play
These are all the questionable pieces of baby gear that people always wonder if they should get or not. Although they aren’t necessary, I would recommend having at least one of these. It is nice to have a place to lay baby while you step away for a meal or bathroom break. I have used all of these pieces of gear and can’t say that any one was better than the other. It was nice to have them for the early days, but they will be outgrown well before baby is a year old.
Play Mat/Baby Gym
Babies need some sort of entertainment and unless you have the time to be it, a baby gym is a great piece of baby gear. They will roll around and look at the hanging objects for good blocks of time. It is great for back and tummy time and when they are first starting to be mobile. If it is in the budget, or something that can be borrowed, I definitely recommend a baby gym.
You don’t necessarily need a changing table – I have a changing pad securely attached to the baby’s dresser. It is a place we visit several times through the day for diaper changes and after bath for bedtime routine. You could get by using the floor or a couch for changes, but I like the central changing area for our family.
If you are a first time mom, it’s hard to wrap your head around how tiny your baby will be, or how fragile they will seem. I look back at how I could barely hold on to my slippery newborn and bathtime was so stressful for me. Perhaps this is why the baby bath is on my list, but I think it is a piece of gear worth having. You will be bathing your child fairly often, and I can’t imagine
Of course you’ll be going through a lot of diapers. Diapers piled up over the day will smell up a room. If you have access and ability to get your diapers out of the house as you change them, that’s great. Otherwise, I would definitely look at a diaper pail. I have found The Ubbi to be amazing for containing smell, and yes, it is worth the price.
If you can start your baby registry or must have list with these items, everything else will fill in. If you walk around a baby store you will see plenty of options and decide what else you might want. You can also see my post on 4 high end baby registry items I recommend! Although baby gear is a big industry, babies are pretty simple. Not to mention, the first year will go by so fast and most of the “must have” items won’t even be needed. What is one piece of gear you think is a must have for your new baby?