I remember being pregnant with my first baby and going to the store to register for baby products. I was like a kid in a candy store, convinced that I needed every cute outfit, innovative gadget and award winning baby product. I registered for dozens of items, and in hindsight, I’m so glad that I never got most of them!
We’ve now gotten rid of many of the items we did get and either replaced them with better quality options or found we didn’t need them at all. I sometimes wish I could go back to my first time mom self in that store with the knowledge of a mom of six, and give myself a cheat sheet of items I would actually need and use.
Since I can’t, I’m sharing that list here, as I wish someone had given me this list all those years ago.
Baby Products: The “Don’t Needs”
Be warned before you go into any baby store in a highly pregnant state- there are hundreds of baby items and your nesting emotions will try to convince you that you need to buy them all. Don’t get sucked in!
Yes, every baby item is cute (just like every baby!) and there are so many cool things that didn’t exist when we were kids. You also don’t need all of those things! After the first few weeks of new baby, many of these items will be relegated to the “stuff I trip over while walking through the house in a sleep deprived state” list and you’ll silently curse them and wish you hadn’t bought them in the first place.
When it comes to clothes, you’ll find that your infant rather quickly outgrows newborn clothes and that he or she might never have worn all the outfits you had in that size!
You can certainly indulge your nesting instincts and create a space that you and your baby will both enjoy, but consider the long-term usability of baby items too. At the end of the day, if you want an item for you or baby, definitely get it! This list is not meant to be an all-inclusive judgement of which baby items are worth it and which aren’t, it is just my list of items I actually used and those I didn’t.
These are the items that I “had-to-have” with my first that rarely or never got used (and that I wish I’d saved the money on):
- A Wipe Warmer: Especially because we ended up cloth diapering, this rarely got used, and my kids never seemed to mind cold wipes anyway. Some people love the wipe warmer… it just wasn’t something I ended up using.
- Changing Table: This is certainly one that some people may use often, I just found that I didn’t use it that much. It served a purpose for holding extra diapers and clothes but I didn’t actually use it to change baby very often. Instead, I kept basic diaper changing supplies in a small basket with a handle that I could carry around the house (and eventually have older kids bring to me) so I could change baby wherever it was convenient. If you a short on space like we were, I’d suggest just getting the changing table cushion topper and putting in on top of a short dresser or other piece of furniture you already have to save space.
- Diaper Waste Pail: Not used once we switched to cloth diapers, but even with disposable diapers, I found that the expensive diaper waste pail was a pain to use and actually made things smell worse. Our solution? Diapers went in the kitchen trash can, which is pretty small and which we took out daily anyway. This cut down on the smell and simplified things.
- Nursing pillow: I’m sure they can be awesome and many moms love them, but I personally could never get in a comfortable position using them and always ended up using a regular bed pillow or throw pillow instead.
- Crib Bedding: I know, I know… it is so cute and there are so many options to choose from! I got sucked in and spent way too much money on a fancy bedding set with my first, only to find that apparently bumper pads are really assassins that will kill your baby in his sleep, blankets aren’t recommended for baby (and neither are pillows) and oh, yeah… my baby hated his crib anyway! Plus, the set I picked out wasn’t gender neutral and when we had a girl next, the bedding didn’t really fit. Stick to a neutral color organic crib sheet instead. It’s cheaper and much more versatile.
- Diaper Bag: They definitely seem like a great idea, and certainly, you need something to carry the baby gear in, but over the years, I’ve realized two simple things: (1) You don’t actually need to carry that much stuff for baby (some diapers, wipes and a change of clothes will work for short outings) and (2) you don’t have to carry these things in a specialized diaper bag. The easiest thing I’ve found is to just add baby items to my purse, or for longer outings, carry a basic backpack that doubles as my purse and diaper bag. (Bonus of this method- my husband doesn’t mind carrying a unisex backpack like that.)
- Baby Bathtub: I’m guilty of purchasing several of these over the years because they seem like such a great idea… but it turns out that there is an easier and cheaper option that works better. It is this novel invention called: the sink. While baby bathtubs are cute, I’ve always found it easier to bathe baby in the sink or take her in the shower with me. Baby bathtubs take up a disproportionate amount of room and I could never find a good place to store them and dreaded using them because they were such a pain.
- Bumbo Seat: These things are supposed to be great (though I’ve recently seen several stories of babies being injured or killed if the seat isn’t used correctly), but by the time my kids were big enough to sit in a bumbo, they were too active to want to. Over the years, I’ve learned to avoid items that can only be used for a short time and the Bumbo seat definitely makes this list. Other items on this list include things like walkers, bouncers, jumpers, etc.
- Baby Food Makers: Since my first baby, I’ve moved away from buying or making pureed “baby food” and now stick to these simple first foods that encourage baby to feed himself. Turns out, babies don’t need watered down foods pureed in a high-tech specialized baby food maker. If you do want to puree, try the blender or get an inexpensive immersion blender that can be used in dozens of other ways in your kitchen.
- Designer Hospital Gown: This is the item I laugh about the most, and to be fair, I have friends who have purchased a designer gown and actually wore it and have gorgeous magazine-worthy pictures with their gown and full makeup… in labor. I am, unfortunately, not that kind of laboring mom. I’m more of the stark-naked-messy-hair-look-like-I’m-half-dead-after-24-hours-of-labor type and my designer hospital gown quickly became a really expensive pillow covering when I could no longer stand to have it on me. Regular hospital gowns are ugly, but you won’t feel bad if you get bodily fluids on them (and you don’t have to wash them!).
- Anything Plastic: I wish I’d known a decade ago what I know now about plastic products as I’ve now gotten rid of almost all of the plastic in our house. There are some great alternatives to plastic bottles and sippy cups, and we’ve also found some awesome plastic-free toys.
Baby Products You Actually Need
The list of most-used items will vary from mom to mom, but these are the ones that I wish I’d known to get with my first and that I still use today. All of these items can be used for several ages and stages and have held up really well through multiple babies.
Ergo Baby Carrier with newborn insert: After a lot of research, I saved up for the Ergo wrap and I wish I’d purchased it sooner. It removed the need for a bouncer, stroller, etc. and I especially like that it support’s baby’s hips correctly to help prevent hip related problems.
Moby Wrap: Another safe carrier option and an easier one for tiny babies as it cradles them carefully and with proper hip position. I used this almost every day the first few months.
BumGenius cloth diapers: We made the decision to cloth diaper to save money but also because this was a safer option for baby. It really isn’t much more work and we have much fewer leaks and ruined outfits than with regular diapers. They are one-size and fit from newborn to potty training…
Muslin swaddling blankets: I wish I’d found these blankets with my first baby. They are lightweight and big enough to be a great swaddling blanket. nursing cover, and burp cloth for a baby with reflux! They are cute and very functional!
Homemade baby products: I make all of my own baby products including baby powder, baby oil, diaper cream, etc. Many baby products contain ingredients I wouldn’t use myself and most certainly wouldn’t use on a new baby! Here are the recipes I use.
Medela Freestyle breast pump: I don’t pump the first six months, but when baby is older and I am able to get away, I pump so that I can keep nursing longer. I like this one because it is very compact, travels easily and is hands free.
Organic Sheet & Mattress Cover: In place of expensive bedding, we now have a really simple crib setup. We have organic mattresses and also use waterproof organic mattress covers to protect the mattress and an organic crib sheet. The best part? Our fully organic baby mattress/sheets set is cheaper than the original crib bedding I bought with our first!
A Good Stroller: For older babies, we most often just use a lightweight umbrella stroller, but especially when I had a baby and a young toddler at the same time, a high quality double stroller was really helpful.
A Car Seat: This goes without saying, but a high quality car-seat is worth the investment and one of our top priorities. We chose this car seat for its high safety ratings (and because you can fit three of them across the back of most cars). It works for baby from newborn until booster seat and has been extremely durable.
A Capsule Wardrobe of Organic Baby Clothes: Instead of buying dozens of cute baby clothes (most of which babies outgrow before they can wear them), I wish I’d known with my first what I do now: buy a few high-quality organic staple pieces in each size. This way, not only am I able to buy higher quality baby clothes that last longer and are more durable, but I ended up spending less on clothes and was much less overwhelmed with the mountain of baby laundry.
Snot Sucker: If this thing existed a decade ago, no one told me about it. A veteran mom friend gave me one of these as a baby gift and while I thankfully don’t have to use it often, it is tremendously helpful when it is needed! Basically, it is a device that let’s you get the snot out of baby’s nose so he can breathe. It sounds strange, but it works really well. This is the one I have and I like that it doesn’t require filters and is softer silicone (unlike some other brands).
Natural Disposable Diapers: I know I just said I use cloth diapers and I think they are great, but there are a few times that I don’t use them (the first couple of weeks, while traveling, if we have a babysitter, etc.) and I keep a small stash of natural chlorine free biodegradable diapers for these occasions.
A Baby Bouncer: For the most part, we avoid baby items that only work for a short time (bassinet, bumbo, swing, etc.) but the one that my husband swears by is a simple baby bouncer that actually bounces. My theory is that this small bouncing movement mimics my movements while pregnant and this is my hubby’s best trick for getting the baby to sleep so I can shower or run errands once in a while.
An Instant Pot: Not a specific baby item, but an awesome kitchen device that shortens cooking time and that I anticipate being a life-saver this time around. I reviewed it here, but this electric pressure cooker allows you to prepare and cook food in a short amount of time (like stews and roasts in under an hour) which is a major plus when you don’t have free hands thanks to a newborn.
What baby items do you use and recommend? Share in the comments below!