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If you have read my About Us page then you know my pregnancy was a surprise. I was not planning or even thinking about having a baby. So in the early stages of my pregnancy, I was totally overwhelmed with so many different emotions and concerns. The last thing I needed was to start thinking about all the baby gear I was going to need for my little one.
Car seats, strollers, carriers, oh my!
There is SO MUCH STUFF that you acquire when having a baby, besides the actual baby itself. Like seriously though, for such little creatures they come with a lot of stuff!
I remember going to BabiesRUs with my parents when I was around 6 months pregnant. It was the first time I actually went into a store to look around for baby stuff. I remember feeling so intimidated. I finally came to grips with how much baby gear I would need, then I became overwhelmed all over again when I realized how many choices are out there. Different types of car seats, strollers, bouncers. SO MANY OPTIONS! And there I was…overwhelmed once again.
So I decided to make a baby gear guide to help soon-to-be mama’s or new mama’s navigate the baby gear world. The one thing I want you to keep in mind is that everyone’s life is different. Every family will have different needs. What one person absolutely can’t live without, another person might not need at all. One thing is for sure, do not let anyone tell you what you do and don’t need. That is something only you and your family can decide. Letting other people add to your “must get” list can cause serious unnecessary stress. I know that from personal experience!
So do not stress! Read this guide and decide what you think will be most useful for your family and let the rest go.
I have divided this baby gear guide into 8 categories of baby gear:
Sleep Feed Bathe Travel Hold Relax Diaper Play
Some things to think about when deciding what you need:
How big is your home? Or how much space do you have?
Will you need more than one of something (i.e two vehicles might need two car seats)?
Do you have other children? Will you need more places to safely put the baby down when you need both hands?
Can certain things be multi-use?
What is your budget?
How will you be raising your child? Co-sleeping, baby wearing, etc?
Asking yourself these questions can be very helpful when deciding what you truly need and what you don’t. For me, I take the simpler route if at all possible. If I don’t really need it, then I don’t want to waste the money. Plus my house is on the smaller side, so I definitely don’t want waste space.
Also, keep in mind that some things you may not need right away. As your child gets older, you can always add to your baby gear as needed.
I was gifted a co-sleeper from one of my aunts. It’s the kind that goes on the bed with you but creates a barrier between you and the baby. This is a great option if you are co-sleeping, but you still want to be on the safer side. It gives guaranteed separation between you and the baby. However, I did not use the co-sleeper for Lily once. You can read about my co-sleeping journey here. I found bed sharing best for me and Lily. If you find you would rather bed share also than you don’t need a co-sleeper. Additionally, there is the DockATot. I don’t have one, but I know it’s what all the popular moms use (lol). If you want to be like all the cool moms, the DockATot is the way to go!
To me, a bassinet is like a combo crib/co-sleeper. This would be a good option if you want a crib but don’t have space. Or if you want something like a crib but smaller to put in your room or beside your bed. This is the bassinet I wanted to get before I decided to try the co-sleeper.
You obviously don’t need a crib if you have decided to co-sleep. I don’t have much to say about cribs because I went the co-sleeping route and this is not my area of expertise. But obviously, if you don’t have space, don’t feel like you need to get a crib. However, if Lily had her own room, I would definitely get a crib. Only because I think they make nurseries look cute. I realize that’s ridiculous. But it’s true!
One option for sleeping gear is nothing. That is exactly what I have. You won’t need anything either if you decide to bed share.
I absolutely love my Boppy pillow and definitely recommend getting one. I know most moms use the U-shaped pillow for nursing or even bottle feeding their baby. However, I think I used it for nursing maybe three times, if that. I found it really uncomfortable for me to get Lily into a good nursing position. However, I use it almost every day to prop Lily up. It actually has many uses such as propping, tummy time, and sitting. Because it’s small and has so many uses, I do recommend getting one if you can.
I was gifted this nursing cover before I had Lily. The idea is that you wear it like a scarf and then wrap it around you when it’s time to nurse. I had a difficult time using it to feed Lily on top of all the nursing struggles I had already. I find using a swaddling blanket to cover up much easier. Plus the fabric is thin and breathable so your poor baby doesn’t have to eat under a hot and heavy cover. Still, if you think something specifically designed for nursing will work better for you, then try some stuff out. See what works best!
Of course, you don’t need to get anything for feeding (well, besides bottles or a breast pump). If you don’t plan on using a boppy or designated nursing cover, skip this category and move on!
The baths that you place in the sink are better for smaller spaces and smaller babies. You just plop it in the sink and you’re good to go. Plus, it is more comfortable for them when they are small and floppy. The disadvantage of the sink bath is that your baby will grow out of it faster. But that might be fine if they are then strong enough and ready to move up to the full-size bath.
I received this stand alone bath as a gift. And to be honest, I only used it once when Lily was a newborn. It was not very comfortable for her small fragile body. So Lily showered with me up until she was around 5 months old. At that point, she was too strong and slippery for me to holdher safely in the shower. So I started bathing her in the stand alone bath and she loves it! Plus, I love how it has a temperature gauge, so I always know if the water is too hot or cold. However, I found that the disadvantages of stand-alone baths are that they are big and not easy to store or maneuver. So if you don’t have a lot of space, this might not be the best option for you.
This is obviously not an item you can choose to forgo. Your precious little baby is going to require a car seat because, you know, the law and stuff. Which one is the question! You basically have 2 options:
Infant car seats are meant for small babies. Most of them hold children up to 35 lbs or so. Which means you probably will only get about 1 year’s worth of use, if that. The advantages are the fact that infant car seats hook up to a base, which means you can keep your baby strapped in and move them from place to place without having to take them out of the seat. Also, most infant car seats are compatible with travel systems, so you can click them into a stroller base.
On the other hand, convertible car seats will last a lot longer. Most convertible car seats are made for children 4-100 pounds. Which means you can use the same car seat well into toddlerhood. The disadvantages are the fact that they are one solid piece. They don’t separate from the base and you can’t click them into a stroller.
I chose to go with this infant car seat. I’m a very paranoid person and the infant car seats seemed more protective and comfortable for newborns. I not only loved how well it worked, but it was also really cute!
However, I wish I would have chosen a convertible car seat. Lily is only 6 months old (16 lbs) and already seems to be getting too big for her infant car seat and I’m looking around for car seat upgrades. So you really have to decide whether or not it would benefit you to get a car seat that will last longer or if it’s possible for you to invest in two car seats within a year.
This is definitely one of those instances where you have to evaluate your lifestyle to decide what you really need. Do you travel a lot and need something lightweight and easy maneuver? Are you a runner and need something with durable tires? Do you have a car seat that is part of a travel system like I talked about earlier? Evaluate your lifestyle and see which single stroller has the most features you need. Unless you really want more than one stroller, there really is no reason you should need multiple strollers.
I chose the Chicco Urban Stroller. Purely because I loved how it resembled an old-fashioned baby carriage and wasn’t super expensive. However, had I really taken the time to access my lifestyle, I may have picked a stroller that was more durable, better for long walks, or that my car seat fit into. My advice, don’t get distracted by looks like I did! Really take the time to research what will work best for you in the long run.
I registered for a diaper bag that was almost $100. That may not seem like a lot to some people, but to me, that’s a bit steep for a diaper bag. But I figured someone else would be buying it, so I might as well put it on my list. Well, nobody got it for me. Which I am actually happy about. Because as much as I like all the bells and whistles, I definitely didn’t need them. I ended up using an old leather tote bag that I already had. It was very functional. So I recycled and saved money! Now I am not saying you shouldn’t buy a nice diaper bag. If you really want one, get one! Just know that you definitely do not NEED a fancy diaper bag.
Babywearing is not only trendy these days, it’s very convenient. When you need to get things done and have a clingy baby, just strap them to your chest and off you go! One option is a soft wrap. It’s basically a giant piece of fabric you wrap around yourself. And when I say giant…I mean ginormous! The soft wrap and I had a rough start. The size of the wrap was very intimidating and I got really frustrated trying to figure it out. But once I went on YouTube and found a helpful instructional video, I fell in love with it. It’s the best option for newborns. It allows you to put them snuggly to your chest, so they have the support they can’t give themselves.
While I was shunning the soft wrap in the beginning, I bought a Baby Bjorn structured carrier. I loved it because it was simple to put on. Its simplicity is probably the one thing that separates it from the soft wrap. It takes literally 5 seconds to put on. So if you want to baby wear without the confusion and complexity of the soft wrap, this is your best option. (But give the soft wrap a chance, it’s not too bad once you get used to wrapping it correctly.)
I can’t say much about slings because I don’t own one. Which pretty much means it’s not a necessity and more of a personal choice. Especially while your baby is still small and more fragile. I often see older children in slings. If I end up trying one, I’ll give you an update.
Well, I tried a wrap and now I can’t live without it! It is the best option for older babies in my opinion. Lily is now 15 months old and she loves it too. They are cute, comfy, and easy to use once you get the hang of it. My favorite brand for slings is WildBird!
Since I live with my family I was so sure I wouldn’t need any kind of bouncer. I had it in my mind that I would never need to put Lily down on her own. I thought there would always be someone willing to hold her! Well, I was really wrong. I’m alone in my house about 75% of the time and having a bouncer has been a lifesaver. I chose this 4Moms bouncer because it was no fuse and simple. I keep it in the bathroom so I can shower and pee. And that is pretty much all I use it for.
Again, this is where you need to access your life. Will you have help? Will you need multiple bouncers in different rooms? What is a necessity and what would just be nice to have for convenience? Another thing, don’t feel bad if you can’t afford one of those fancy bouncers. You know the ones that mimic the motions of the womb, smell like breast milk, and have a surround sound string quartet playing lullabies? Mine is supposed to vibrate, but I never even put the batteries in and it works just fine.
A swing is basically a different version of a bouncer. A place to safely put your baby when you can’t hold them. I know a lot of moms use swings to soothe or put their baby to sleep. I am fortunate enough that I am never too busy to hold my baby while she’s sleeping. But some moms might need a swing to pacify their baby if they have other responsibilities such as other children. This is an instance where space might be an issue because swings are usually more cumbersome than bouncers. Once again, you do not need a swing at all. But if you have space and want one, then go ahead and get one!
I don’t recommend this one, but it’s still an option. If you have somewhere to safely put your baby down when you need two hands than you don’t need a bouncer or a swing. But I really recommend having at least one place to put your baby down when you need both of your hands. People might think this is weird, but I actually use my stroller. Because of the type of stroller it is, it’s basically like a bassinet on wheels. I keep my stroller open in the house and stroll it to wherever I am. For example, I’ll roll it in the kitchen when I am making food or the laundry room when I’m doing a load switch and need two hands. That might not work for everybody, but it just shows that something can have multiple uses and you don’t have to break the bank buying bundles of baby gear.
Poop stinks. That’s a fact. But newborn baby poo? Not so much. I’ve never had a diaper genie for my now 6-month-old breastfed baby. I just use a plain wastebasket for my diaper disposal needs. Will I need a diaper genie when Lily gets older and has real poop? Maybe. But don’t freak out if you don’t have a diaper genie for your new baby. That’s a bridge you can cross when you get there. If you happen to receive one as a gift, then cool! But it’s not a necessity in the early days.
I did register for a wipe warmer. It was a really cool one that lit up when you opened the top. To be honest, I was really disappointed when I didn’t get one. I had it on my list of things I still needed to get after my baby shower, but because Lily came a little early I never had a chance to go get it. Then when I was busy taking care of a new baby I completely forgot about it. My point is that if you have one, nice! But if you don’t…holding the wipe in between your hands and blowing a little hot air on it will do the trick. Plus it’s free. And your baby’s butt will never know the difference.
One option is to get nothing for your diapering needs. I am sure back in the old days they survived just fine without a diaper genie and wipe warmer. So if you are gifted those items than wonderful! But don’t stress out about getting those items if you don’t have them. There are alternative solutions and stress is so unnecessary!
No baby NEEDS special play items. Putting a blanket on the floor works just as well as a designated play mat. However, baby play mats and baby playthings, in general, are specially designed to enhance a babies cognitive and physical growth. The colors, designs, fabrics, materials and sounds are all chosen to help babies safely learn. Play mats are great for small babies when they can’t yet hold themselves up or are just beginning tummy time. It is a great place for them to explore their bodies and begin to build more muscle. Still, if for some reason you can’t get a play mat you can always use a blanket.
You know those round things that babies sit in that are surrounded by toys? Is there a technical name for those? I’m not sure. Anyway…this is not something you need to get right away, but it is not really something you can re-create on your own. What is great about these is the fact that it helps your baby learn to use their core strength, arms, and legs. Not to mention it entertains them when you need a break! I got this play bouncer for Lily when she was almost 4 months old and she loves it!
I remember my parents having a door swing for my siblings and me when we were growing up. It is obviously not a necessity. But depending on how much space you have, it can be a good option if you don’t have enough space for a play bouncer. You just need enough space to store it and then put it up when you’re using it and bam! I am going to get one for Lily to hang on my bedroom door because my room isn’t big enough to house the play bouncer I keep downstairs.
Of course, you really don’t need to get any play items at all, especially while your baby is still small. However, there are many advantages to having play items for your baby. Like stimulating their senses, helping them build cognitive skills, building their strength, and entertaining them. If anything I would say just delay buying any play items until your baby can actually use them. And definitely, don’t worry about getting them before your baby is born!
So there it is!
A baby gear guide to help you decide what you need and what you don’t. I hope that was helpful. I also hope that it helped you realize that you can take some things off of your list. You don’t need your house to be filled wall-to-wall with baby gear! Unless you have space and want all those extras. Take the time to really evaluate your lifestyle and decide what you absolutely need to help you function day to day and what you can live without. And remember simple and minimal isn’t a bad thing!
Any thoughts? Let me know in the comments below!