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What You Need for a New Baby (AKA What a Mom of 4 REALLY Used)

I was recently asked by a first time mom-to-be what items I thought were important to have for a new baby.
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She told me some of the suggestions that many of her friends (most of them with only 1 or 2 kids) had given her and was shocked at some of their suggestions. I found many of the things useless and silly. I mean, come on….I’ve had 4 kids. 3 of which were back to back in 3 years. I do believe I have a pretty good handle on what’s really necessary and not a waste of money. That being said, I thought it would be fun to take a list that I found in a magazine and put my two cents worth in.

1.Cradle, crib or bassinet: This one is obviously a basic necessity. However, they failed to mention the most important, and obvious, choice: a pack & play. The ones out today have a lift-out bassinet on top which can later be removed. Some even have changing stations. These are nice since they are a “jack of all trades” way to contain your baby. They even have ones that accommodate twins. We were given a really nice one with our 2nd baby and used it all the way through the 4th baby. We kept it by our bed, but it collapsed fairly easily and we could take it with us on trips. I was also able to move it during the day when they were very little if I needed them to be in the same room with me. When our 4th child came along, we ran out of room for kids (we lived in a tiny house that had THE smallest bedrooms ever) so we had to improvise and make our HUGE master closet (ironically, nearly the same size as one of our extra bedrooms) her room for the first year. The pack & play fit perfectly. We continued to use it as a playpen after the kids were older and finally retired it after several years of good use.

2.Crib mattress: Um, this one SEEMS so obvious but what people probably don’t realize is that this mattress will later be used for your child’s toddler bed (if you don’t transition straight to a regular bed). We bought a fairly nice one at Walmart for about $40-50 bucks and it’s lasted through several kids. My advice is don’t cheap out and buy a 19.99 one, since I also found the really cheap ones are very plastic and made a lot of noise.

3.Crib mobile: I’m going to have say no on this one. If you have a huge budget for new baby, that’s great, but most of us don’t and a fancy mobile to hang over the crib is just not a necessity. However, if you really have your heart set on one, go to Pinterest . With all the great ideas floating around, you can truly make one of your own and it will be personalized at a fraction of the price.

4.Dresser: Not necessarily a dresser specifically, but some piece of furniture or organization system for baby items. Believe it or not, babies have lots of little clothing items and believe you me, in the middle of the night when they have a “blow out”, you don’t want to be digging through clothes to find a clean onesie. I really like the idea of using a regular dresser (especially one that you can find on the cheap at a thrift store or garage sale) with a changing pad on top so that once they outgrow the need for a changing area, you can still use the dresser.

5.Changing area: This goes back to the previous suggestion of a dresser, yes you will definitely need a changing area, but it doesn’t have to be in the form of a “changing table”, heck, I used the bed on many occasions since it was the right height for me. The photo above is an absolutely great solution to having both a dresser and a changing table.

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6.Rocking chair or glider: I was fortunate to have inherited a glider with my 2nd child, but truth be known, I rarely sat in it. I’m sorry, but in the haze of those middle of the night feedings, I needed the television to help keep me awake. I either sat up in the bed and feed the baby or went into the living room and sat in our recliner. I am on the fence about this one since it really is nice to have, especially if you have a child that is soothed by the rocking. That being said, I would have never purposely bought one for the sole intention of sitting in and feeding the baby.

7.Night light: I personally found that a night light was great next to the pack n play or crib at night so that I could easily see the baby while he/she was sleeping. And the night light was what I used to help me see when I was feeding the baby so that I didn’t have to turn on the bedside lamp and wake up my husband.

8.Tape or cd player: Um, nope. Nada. This suggestion is just silly to me. I’ll tell you why. Most of the time this is suggested to help drown out the outside noises and help soothe the baby. Didn’t work for me. I used a sound machine with all four of my kids and to this day, we all sleep with one. It truly helps us all sleep and prevents you from creeping around the house during nap time, too.

9.Quilted mattress pad: Hmm, this one I could go either way on. I personally never saw the need for it, UNLESS it was waterproof and the sole purpose was to protect your mattress from diaper explosions.

10.2 fitted crib sheets: Yes, and I think even 3 would be a good number. I can’t tell you how many times in those first months that I changed a sheet in the middle of the night. One of the best tips I’ve ever seen is to layer your sheet with a waterproof pad under so that you can remove the top sheet and the pad and still have a dry sheet under that. Trust me, you’ll be thanking me for that one at 2:30 in the morning when the LAST thing you want to do is change a sheet with a crying baby in your arms.

11.2-4 waterproof mattress pads: Again, this is a definite must, perhaps not 4, but at least 2.

12.2 light blankets: I used receiving blankets, and truth be known, did actually use the ones they send you home with from the hospital.

13.Diapers (plan on using 70-90 per week for the first six weeks, then 50 per week): HA! That may sound like a crazy number, but it’s probably close to accurate. I know that one of the BEST baby shower gifts I received was a case of diapers AND wipes! Those little ~~suckers~~ babies go through SO MANY diapers those first few weeks! Diapers and formula were our biggest expenses in the beginning.

14.Diaper wipes: DUH – goes without saying, and again if you are smart, you can ask for this as a gift. Trust me, you will be glad you did. I still use them and my youngest is 2 1/2. I use them for dirty hands, dirty faces, to take my makeup off. And, whatever you do, don’t use the store brand ones. They are the driest, flimsiest ones and you will end up using at least twice the amount necessary at each diaper change. To this day, I refuse to buy anything but brand name ones.

15.Diaper rash ointment or cream: I definitely did use this since newborns seem to get rashes very easily. And even easier when they are allergic to their formula. All my kids had some issue with formula at some point and developed a rash. I personally found that the white stuff worked the best since it coated the skin well.

16.Pad for baby to lie on during changing: You may think this one isn’t necessary, but TRUST ME, it IS. I learned the hard way with my first child that newborns tend to pee when the air hits their bare parts and as soon as you whip that soiled diaper off, they have a tendency to saturate whatever they are laying on. Yes, this one is a must. I used those thick absorbent changing pads that they sell in a 3 pack. These worked very well and were easy to wash and store for next time. However, if I had to change the baby somewhere other than my normal spot, I DEFINITELY made sure something was under them, even if only a doubled up blanket.

17.Diaper pail: Yuck, yuck, yuck. Sorry folks and all you Diaper Genie fans, I tried one of these things with my first and QUICKLY realized that it was just as easy, FREE and less smelly to just toss it in a plastic grocery store bag (the kind you bring home from the store) and take it out right then and there. Not that I always took it immediately to the garbage can in the garage, but I at least bagged it, tied it and put it near the door to be disposed of. Those Diaper Genies were not only an extra expense, they were STINKY no matter what people say. Yuck, no poopy diapers will sit in my house in a can.

18.6 undershirts(3 in three-month size and 3 in six-month size): Hmm, I’m on the fence about this one. Unless it’s extremely warm in your house, this one seemed kind of silly. I preferred either onesies over those little tie shirts they give you in the hospital. And I know some moms like to put these shirts on under baby pjs, but I found it redundant and quite frankly, a pain in the behind. They tended to bunch up and I saw no reason for them. Stick with the onesies, even if you still want something under their pjs, these are better – they don’t ride up or get twisted.

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19.3 to 4 infant gowns: YES PLEASE! Best.thing.ever. for those first couple of months. There is nothing easier than being able to pull up the bottom and change a diaper in the middle of the night. I highly recommend using these INSTEAD of the footed pjs. The other thing that I ABSOLUTELY loved was the zipper blanket type thing, also known as “sleep sacks”. It’s a blanket type sack with arms or arm holes that you put on the baby and zip the front shut. LOVE THESE. I used them with all my kids and they are amazing. I only had to put a onesie on them and zip them up. They stayed warm without using a blanket and were easy to open to change the diaper. I see also that they now carry ones with leg holes!

20.6 sleepers: You will need plenty of these since babies are messy and you will probably change their clothes MANY times a day (and night). Make sure they are zippered, not sure if they even still make snap ones, but the zippered ones are WAY easier.

21.3 to 4 pairs of booties or socks: Even though new babies tend to kick their socks off, it’s nice to have some to keep their little feet warm. Don’t bother if you put them in a sleep sack, though. They will work their little feet so much, they’ll strip ’em right off. And even when I put the babies in their nightgowns, they still tended to work the socks off.

22.2 to 4 receiving blankets: Lots of uses for receiving blankets. I used them for last minute diaper changing (as protection under them), as a last minute burp cloth, and even a shield on the car seat when the cover wasn’t enough to block out the sun.

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23.Sweater and hat: A sweater? For a newborn? Haha, yeah – don’t think so. Just use a blanket.

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24.Baby bathtub: This was one of those things I could have gone either way on. I had a love hate relationship with my baby bathtub. I loved that you could contain the baby in the tub and be able to stand at the counter to wash them, HOWEVER, I hated having to store that ugly plastic thing because, let’s face it – they don’t just stash under most bathroom counters. I found that the thing I liked the most was the big sponge that the baby lays on in the bottom of the tub. (I purchased mine from Target and it was cheap)and was able to wedge it in the towel bar in our shower to drip dry when done.

25.4 terry cloth bath towels: I found that while these are certainly ADORABLE, they aren’t necessary. I mean, come on….all this is is a cute little towel with a hood on it. I had 2 that my kids used, but 9 times out of 10, I grabbed an adult towel and guess what? They dried the baby just the same.

26.4 to 6 washcloths: Ugh. What a waste in my opinion. For my first child, I think I got about 25 of these. The truth is that when they’re washed, they tended to roll up into little washcloth sausages and were really NOT absorbent. In my opinion, save your money and just use a really soft regular washcloth.

27.Tearless shampoo: Yes, and I actually still use it for my 5, 4 and 2 yr olds. It’s a no brainer to use something that doesn’t make them cry. Especially since they STILL squirm when I wash their hair! *ugh*

28.Baby soap: Seriously???? No. Save yourself some money and just buy the combo baby wash/shampoo.

29.Brush and comb: Again, seriously???? This was comical. Um, my kiddies did NOT have enough hair to comb, let alone brush.

30.Rounded-tip nail scissors or clippers: Baby’s nails grow quickly and can scratch his or her face, so yes you do need these. I preferred the tiny clippers and still use them to this day on my toddler and preschoolers.

31.Bulb syringe nasal aspirator: These were a staple during those early days and I used them for the next couple of years when the kids got sick. I used the one they give you in the hospital and cleaned it occasionally by boiling some water and sucking it up in it.

32.Bottles & nipples: With our first, we only used the Brown’s or Avent bottles, however, with the last 4 we used the cheap Gerber ones. They all worked just fine.

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33.Bottle and nipple brush: I did actually use this (though not ALL the time). It was nice to have this, especially when that formula powder clogged up the nipple. I also found it just as easy to leave a bowl of soapy water in the sink to toss the dirty bottle parts in during the day. The soaking alone is usually enough to clean out the nipples.

34.Dishwasher basket: I received one as a shower gift and to this day still use it for sippy cup lids and small things.

35.12 burp cloths: Yes, I’ve mentioned these before. These were a definite staple at my house since we used them for a variety of things: impromptu changing pads, wash cloth, bib. You name it, we probably used them for it.

36.6 bibs: Umm, this a no brainer one also. We used every kind manufactured, from the hard plastic ones with the tray at the bottom to catch the food, (which were pretty neat by the way) to simple fabric ones. At the end of the day, any bib is better than no bib.

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37.12 bottles: Even if you are breastfeeding, you should have bottles to use for pumped breast milk. We ran the gamut of bottles, we tried nearly every kind on the market and honestly, it pretty much boils down to personal preference. I used the really expensive ones with my oldest and ended up using the cheapest ones with my youngest. My advice? Buy one of each and see which one your baby (and you) like best.

**38.Diaper bag:**You definitely need one, whether it’s a backpack or a shoulder type messenger bag. I had all sorts, but truly preferred the type that you can strap across the handle of the stroller. In the beginning, with my first child, I shoved the diaper bag into the bottom basket. Ugh- what a nightmare trying to get anything out of it. I learned quickly that even though there’s a basket under there, it’s not for your diaper bag.

39.Pacifier: If you use one, make sure you have TONS of extras stowed away everywhere.

40.Baby Tylenol: I found that swapping between Tylenol & Ibuprofen worked best for my kids.

41.Infant car seat: I know some people never purchase an infant car seat, preferring to buy the convertible type seat. I really enjoyed being able to just pop the car seat out of the base and put it in the stroller, especially if the baby was sleeping. Trust me, there’s not much fun in trying to run in a store once you’ve awakened a sleeping baby.

42.Thermometer: Did I use this in those first few months? Not really, I was fortunate to have some relatively healthy kids once they came home from the hospital. They developed other strange things besides fever, like rashes or stomach ailments. That being said, I did have one in my medicine cabinet and once they got older, really enjoyed the temporal thermometer. I still use it and find it’s the easiest, quickest thermometer I’ve ever used.

43.Baby monitor: Yes, I did have one. No, I didn’t really use it. We lived in a very small house when my kids were babies and I could hear them from anywhere. These are probably nice if you do a lot of yard work and would like to get things done during nap time.

44.Swing: This was a hit or miss. Out of 4 kids, only one really liked to swing. I had a swing with each of them, but they were never “hard core swingers”, they would swing for short periods of time and then want out. I would definitely recommend one to a new mother since I think my kids were in the minority as far as liking the swing.

45.Baby book: This is a definite yes, though as more kids came along, I became very lazy about their books. Shame on me, I know, but I was busy! I found some really good bargain baby books at places like Ross and found that I did better at just sticking things inside their books to be organized later (like when they’re in college). My reasoning was that even disorganized memories are better than none.

46.Bouncy seat: Yes, yes and YES!!! This was my best friend through every single one of my kids. A plain, bottom of the line bouncy seat was what I had and it worked beautifully for all of them. I loved it so much that it was one of the few things I actually carried with me when I went places. It was so lightweight that I carried it with me when we made quick daytrips to visit family and even carried it with us to Disney World for the hotel room.

47.High chair: After owning several different highchairs, my honest advice to you is this: get one WITHOUT any bells or whistles, ESPECIALLY get one without any kind of padding. I really like the one simple one Ikea sells and wish I would have had it for my babies. You’re probably thinking, “why would I want a hard plastic highchair for my precious bundle?”, ummm, well after ~~hosing~~cleaning that sucker for the umpteenth millionth time, you will thank me. I detested that cutesy jungle print seat cover with all its cracks and crevices immensely. You wouldn’t believe how many places food can collect until you’ve tried to clean a highchair. I fed my babies in the bouncy seat for the first couple of months and then when they were able to sit up, I moved them to a highchair.

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48.Baby sling or pouch: I honestly wanted to use one of these, really I did. I tried everything from the Baby Bjorn type carrier to the kind that is simply a large piece of fabric that you wrap around you. All of them hurt my back. Bad. I wish I could say they worked for me, but they didn’t.

Well, there you have it. That’s my honest advice on what I think a mom of a new baby needs. If you guys have any suggestions, please feel free to add them in the comment section. I know I personally love hearing what veteran moms ACTUALLY think a new mom would REALLY use!


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