This is my story of how I figured out what works for my newborn child and for myself. Maybe you can use it as your ultimate baby registry list, but I would just look at it as general guide to give you an idea of the different things that out there. There are no hard and fast rules with a new child. Every baby is different, and some things that work for me did not work for my friends.
The baby was due in July, and I was just entering my second trimester. I sort of had an idea of the basics of what I would need, but I was not sure about everything. I had a lot of questions on my mind. So the first thing I did was call all of my friends with kids and ask them. What do I need to buy? What do I need to do before the baby comes? What will I need after I leave the hospital? I just had a waterfall of questions for them. I decided after the baby was born that I would put together this list for all expecting parents to help them.
Since then, I have actually passed the list back to my original friends that I had barraged with all the questions. They asked me for help this time. I have also shared it with a number of other friends and co-workers. One friend who had twins said the list initially did not make sense, but after the babies were born, she said it all clicked and made perfect sense.
The thing is, when your a parent, your memory of what you did during the first months is usually very fuzzy. You do not remember the minute details because your getting so little sleep in those first few months.
I am going to break this list into three parts. The first part will be things you need before the baby is born. The second part will be things you need right after the baby is born. The third part will cover things you need in the first six months of the infants life.
Before the Baby is Born
I am going to get right into it. The one thing you will not have lots of once the baby is born is time. If you enjoy eating out, or taking a vacation once a year, do it now you will not regret it. Unless you have a parent of your own that is close by, you are going to be hard pressed for time. Even trying to go out to the store takes hours instead of minutes. You have to make sure the babies diaper is clean, you have to dress the baby, you have to put the baby in the car seat, you have to make sure you have the diaper bag packed, and there is a whole other checklist of things you need to do just to go to the store.
Wouldn’t it be nice if you did not have to go to the store for everything? Well my secret is called Amazon Prime Free Trial, and it saved me my sanity in the first month alone.
I happen to live close enough to New York that I can get my delivery the next day in some cases. There is also this other service that Amazon offers called Amazon mom, but i would not recommend enrolling in it until after the baby is born. Amazon mom gives you extra discounts on select baby products, but it is only for a limited time and not forever. If you start your Amazon mom before the baby is born, you will not be able to maximize your savings on diapers and the other baby discounts it offers.
I am going to be honest here, I don’t buy everything on Amazon Prime. I do buy the majority of my baby things on there because they carry more options and variety than local stores. I tend to shop around for diapers and wipes as Amazon does not always have the best price. The problem with shopping for diapers at pharmacies and grocery stores is that they do not always carry the brand you use or they do not have the size of the diaper you need. It can get frustrating going to 3 different stores to find the right diaper. After doing that a few times, paying an extra two dollars on Amazon is well worth the trouble just in time saved driving around.
Before you get too busy with everything, be sure to make your home safe for your newborn baby. Read my guide how to child proof your home
Your OBGYN might have suggested that you and your spouse take a few classes to learn how to change diapers and change the clothes of the baby. We did this, and it was great, but there is one skill you need to work a little bit more on. Knowing how to swaddle the baby in the first month is pure gold. I was lucky enough to stumble upon a 30 minute video The Happiest Baby on the Block that shows you a simple way to swaddle and soothe a baby. I would recommend that you and your spouse watch it about a month before the baby is born so it is fresh in your mind.
After watching the video, your going to need some swaddling cloths. I think I might have just gotten mine at a local baby store.
One of the biggest items on your list is a child’s car seat. There are tons of brands out there, and they have all sorts of features. What I did was go to a store and try them out. Most of the cars these days have two metal anchors for each passenger side in the back seat. Using the anchors for installation is the easiest way to install a car seat. For the babies first few years of their life, they will be in a car seat that is rear facing. For me there were three very important features I wanted in a car seat. First, I wanted it to be super easy to take the seat out so I could carry the seat out of the car without waking the baby up. The second feature I wanted was to easily be able to connect the car seat to my stroller. Yes, you can do this with certain strollers if there is a car seat adapter for your brand of car seat. The third feature I wanted was the ability to easily wash the cloth part of the seat. Babies do spit up, and you do not want them sitting in something with a sour milk smell. I ended up choosing a Chicco brand infant car seat you can get more details about the seat here. It was super easy to pop out of the car with a single latch. There was an adapter for the Uppa Baby stroller I chose, and cleaning the seat was pretty easy.
You will need clothes for the baby when you are leaving the hospital to come home. Also, you will need a hat. I love the beanie hats the hospitals use as they are easy to put on, so see if you can get a few of those from the hospital. You will probably want to get a thermometer to take the babies temp, and something called a nasal aspirator bulb that will let you suck out excess saliva or things in the nose.
The first month is really hard, so don’t try to do too much. Do only the bare minimum. I only let certain people come and visit if they were capable of changing a diaper. Everyone else is a baby tourist and they will get in your way or mess up the babies sleeping schedule. Make sure that anyone you let hold your baby, washes their hands first. If they are smokers, make sure then have not smoked or do not smell of smoke as this can cause breathing issues for the baby. If it is close to flu season you will want to avoid having people over that are sick. The babies immune system will not even be developed for at least 8 weeks, so try to avoid going to stores/malls before then. For the first month, the ability of the baby to regulate body temperature is lacking so you have to be careful when changing or bathing as the baby can get really cold. A digital bath water thermometer like this one is very handy.
Baby crib, all cribs made in the US have to meet the same safety standards so you do not need to spend a lot on a crib . I bought one from bed bath for $140. The baby does not even use it right now except to stay in and play ( I put pipe insulators on the railings and secured them with zip ties, so that the baby would not bang her head. There is a mesh net that goes around the crib that you should get so the baby does not suffocate or get their legs or arms stuck. A friend of mine lost his little girl to suffocation because he did not have a mesh net, and the baby got stuck against a non-breathable side. Be very careful about getting bedding that is not breathable or using a bassinet because a baby can suffocate if they get stuck when they are young and cannot turn over.
Changing table, I got a really nice one from Bellini that we used heavily for the first month, but now we just use these washable underpads that we can lay on the bed or on a couch. We use these washable pads as a buffer to when the baby is sleeping on the bed so if the diaper leaks, the leak will not go into the mattress. These pads are also good when the mother first gets back from the hospital as most have bleeding till things heal. I bought 4 of these so I can always have a clean one.
Wash clothes: for washing the baby, and also for daily washing of the face ( if you keep their face clean they will not get rashes on cheeks ). I found one cloth I liked. There are a lot out there, but many feel too rough for a babies skin. Here are the clothes that I prefer as they are made of organic material.
Diapers: huggies little snugglers size n to start, they have the cutout for the cord. Buy an extra box of the next size up so you are not scrambling when its time to transition to a larger size. I found that diapers.com/walmart has a better price than amazon and will give you free shipping. Be careful of diapers that claim to keep baby dry for 12 hours and use gell compound to absorb. There is bacteria in urine that still sits on the diaper, if you use these 12 hour diapers you risk giving the baby, especially girls a urinary track infection. Try to change the diaper as soon as possible. But be prepared the first month or two, they like to go to the bathroom a second or third time when changing so you can use 3-4 diapers at a time. Note, diapers get more expensive as the size of the diaper increases due to cost of material ( Update, the best possible price I was able to get on the diapers I like was at Costco. Always do the per diaper calculation. )
Wipes: initially, we used cotton balls in warm water for the first month as it is more delicate. After that we used noodle and boo wipes. These are the softest wipes out there with very little chemicals. The down side is that they are very expensive, and shipping is slower than most places. I now use Earths Best wipes I bought the holder from huggies and I just buy the 432 refill boxes online from Walmart or Amazon. I usually pre-rinse the wipes with warm water to get some of the additive out and also make the wipes warm to the skin.
Diaper cream: we initially used petrolatum which is a white petroleum jelly that was what Greenwich hospital gave us. Now we use Baby Aquaphor which has 41% petrolatum, it is less heavy and easier to spread. Be careful using too much diaper creams, you can actually create a different kind of rash, we only use a very light amount.
Baby shampoo and soap: we use the shampoo + body wash 2 in 1 from noodle and boo. It has less chemicals than the Johnson and Johnson brand.
Hand soap: seventh generation free and clear foaming soap. We use this to wash pacifiers as it does not leave any strong smells on the pacifier.
Bottle washing soap: seventh generation free and clear dish soap. Again this does not leave any odor on the bottles or rubber pieces.
Bottles: Born Free glass bottles. These are free from all plastic chemicals and you can swap out different rate of flow nipples as the baby grows.
Bottle warmer / Bottle cooler : Born makes a really good bottle warmer. It also comes with a travel cool which I use to pack the night bottles in ice so I do not have to run down stairs.
Bottle brush: Dr Browns bottle brush ( make sure you buy two as they do not last too long and you will need a backup )
Bottle / Pacifier sterilizer: Cuisinart Baby Sterilizer is the one I got or your could go with a Philips which is also popular. I use it twice a day. It is super simple to use.
Diaper trashcan : I use the diaper genie elite for only diapers that have #2 in them. For everything else I use regular trash can.
Diaper bag: My wife uses a large handbag for this, but I guess you can use anything. We have a portable changing pad that folds up with room to hold diaper cream, diapers, and it has a small roll of plastic bags which is nice if you need to bag up a dirty diaper.
Drying Rack: it is good to have a bottle drying rack if you are using bottles.
Clothes: initially, the onesies ( body suits ) are very useful. I have found the common brands like gerber to be poor quality. The snaps have broken off on first use and the overall design makes them hard to change. You want to try to changed the baby without disturbing them and be able to do it as quick as you can. If you are getting hung up on bad snaps or bad design, it makes it hard to change and you are going to be changing a lot of diapers every day. It is worth spending a little more for some things. If you make a single purchase on www.petit-bateau.us they send you a 20-25% off coupon you can use on next purchase. I did this and loaded up on the second order. These are really good for body suits.
Mittens: babies have very sharp nails and they can scratch their face really easily. The stores in the US tend not to carry mittens for babies, so I had to order them here online. Just be careful when putting them on to make sure that the fingers do not get caught in the elastic band. If you can feel the entire hand then you are good. You will probably need to get a finger nail kit too so you can trim/file the finger nails.
Laundy soap: soaps used to wash baby clothes are important as a babies skin is more sensitive to chemicals. I use the seventh generation laundy soaps. Both free and clear and citrus. You will be doing laundry daily so make sure to have an extra jug as going out to the store is hard once the kids are here.
Safety thermometer for water temp: when washing the baby, there is a certain temperature range the water has to be. I bought one of these and I use it to get the correct range
Face cream: cetaphil cream is what our pediatrician recommended for the babies cheeks. We use it every day, it cuts down on dryness
Stroller: I went with the Uppa Baby Vista. Strollers can be expensive, but I wanted something that was sturdy, and this one has some solid aluminum parts. It has all the bells and whistles, it comes with the toddler attachment so you can keep using it when the baby grows. I was also able to get an adapter for the infant car seat. All the other strollers I tested were made of cheap plastic parts.
Car seat: I went with the infant car seat by Chicco. I found it was the easiest to take the seat out or put it in. The installation is really easy too if you have anchors in your vehicle.
I also have a Britax seat because my 3 yo niece was visiting. All seats have to be rear facing till they are 2 years old. The problem with Britax is it has a short frame so if your baby happens to be in 90th percentile for length, then they are going to feel a little crunched. I have not come up with a good solution to this issue yet. I have to do some more testing.
Books: There were two books I liked so far
What to expect the first year: it give you the milestones and what to expect each month. This was a big help the first few months. ( Thanks Geoff )
Experiments with Babies: you do these little tests to see how far along their cognitive development is
Food: at some point 5-6 months your pediatrician will talk about starting solid food. We started with some rice flour cereal. There is an organic brand out there that is really good that Whole Foods sells in a can with a bright green lid. We also picked up the BabyCook Pro so we could make our own food. If you try any of the canned stuff it usually has a sour taste because they add ascorbic acid ( Vitamin C ) to it as a preservative. Most babies do not like sour stuff or sharp tastes when they are first starting out. So we decided to make our own. You can just look at the different stage jars to see what you can could for the appropriate age.