When you’re having your first baby, it’s overwhelming to think about all the stuff that babies need. Fun, too — but there is just so much of it! These days, families have tons of clothes, bottles, breast pumps, special feeding dishes and spoons, cups, cribs, play yards, bassinets, car seats, bouncer seats, exersaucers, Jumperoos, swings, play gyms, and so much more. Do we really need all of it? Or are there things we can truly do without?
I believe that our baby obsession comes from our “stuff culture.” We want as much as possible for our special little baby, including the perfect nursery set, super cute outfits (complete with matching shoes for newborns), tons of “baby holders” (I’ll be writing more on what I think of those in a couple weeks), and more. We think babies are so expensive — and if you really buy all this stuff, and buy much of it new, they sure are. But it really doesn’t have to be this way. There are a few essential items that you do need, some that are merely nice to have, and others that are absolutely frivolous and unnecessary.
- A car seat (infant, if you like; or convertible so it will last your baby a lot longer)
- A crib or other place for baby to sleep (just one is fine, you don’t really need a crib, bassinet, play yard, co-sleeper, etc.)
- Diapers (I prefer cloth, but you’ll need something)
- Clothes (basic onesies, sleepers, shirts and pants; you don’t need the fancy, expensive outfits)
- Small first aid kit (Gripe Water, saline solution, tweezers, nail clippers, hair brush, arnica salve, bandages, gauze, thermometer)
- Blankets (just a few small, soft ones; you really don’t need a dozen)
- Crib sheets (3 – 4 plain ones)
- Wrap or sling (a way to carry baby hands-free)
- Diaper bag (something to carry baby’s things on the go)
- Booster/high-chair combo
Nice to Have
- Bassinet/co-sleeper (to make the early weeks easier)
- “Outfit” clothes, nice clothes
- Play gym
- Extra baby slings (one for car/one for house; different styles for different ages/parents)
- Changing Table
- High chair
- Safe baby feeding equipment (cups, spoons, bowls, etc.)
- Breast pump (may be a need in certain cases)
- Bottles (may be a need in certain cases)
- Rocking chair/glider
- Matching nursery bedding
- Brand new nursery furniture
- Nursery decorations
- Most toys
- Stuffed animals
- Fancy quilts
- Expensive special occasion outfits
- Shoes (until they are walking outside)
- Baby “intelligence” DVDs
As for the “frivolous” list, it’s not that you should never have those things. But if you are looking to have a baby on a budget, buy first from the “necessary” list, then from the “nice” list. Things on the “frivolous” list are best bought last, or even given as gifts. We do have nice quilts (handmade by family) and a few other things that we truly found unnecessary which were just given to us.
It’s just important that you don’t think you somehow can’t welcome your baby home without a perfectly decorated, coordinating nursery! Or special “baby holders” or toys, etc. You simply don’t need those things. As for the DVDs, babies should not watch TV. Babies who do watch (even the “smart baby” type DVDs) actually talk less than their non-TV-watching counterparts. Babies need live, real human interaction, not movies. Don’t bother! The same goes for a lot of unnecessary classes intended to make your baby smart.
For me, personally, I loved having onesies, cloth diapers, a Moby wrap, a Mei Tai (when they were older), a crib, a bassinet, crib sheets (I sewed several), bumpers (they helped Daniel feel cozy and sleep better when he was older), a changing table, a play gym (with Bekah only), a bouncer (the only baby-holder my kids actually ever sat in), my high-chair-booster combo, strollers, their Britax Marathon car seats…. There really wasn’t much more.
I did decorate the nurseries a tiny bit (some wall hangings, their names). I didn’t specially paint them. I did not buy matching bedding sets (or any bedding sets). They have quilts from their grandmothers, handmade. Bekah’s dresser is the one I used as a kid, which my parents got for $10 at a garage sale over 25 years ago. Daniel’s is one we just had in the guest room (now his room). I didn’t buy special lamps. I didn’t buy an exersaucer or Jumperoo (was given both free, but wouldn’t have bought — am giving them away now as my kids did not like them). More and more, I find I really need less and less!
What are your favorite baby items? What did you find completely unnecessary?