One of the first things I realized when we decided to open a baby shop was that things had changed quite a bit in the roughly thirty years since I was having babies. I set about getting re-educated on the "modern" way of doing things but also realized that some old tried and trues still apply. First thing to remember is that you don't need to buy the whole store! There are many manufacturers and baby stores making lots of money off of convincing new mothers that they need everything but the kitchen sink. Not true!
That said, the list of things new moms do need can be a bit overwhelming. Going to a large store and filling out a baby registry is a good option, but remember that it is the task of the sales person helping you with that is to, well, sell you things. You'll put some things on the list because it is cute and you really want it for your baby and that's okay. But to ensure that you get the things you really need, I recommend you keep the "cute, just because" list to a minimum. I can't tell you how many people we've had come into our little shop, ask after a gift registry for a new mom, and then buy something that isn't on it because they want to do something different. So, you might get a lot of those cute things anyway.
I've created a list based off what real moms shop for and what our customers have told me are the most useful for them. Peruse and consider the list, but remember that your needs might be different too. Every new mom has to find what works best for her and her family.
Diapers. You might wish to use cloth (reusable) diapers or might opt for disposables. Either way, people bringing diapers to your shower is something you want to see happening! Newborns go through diapers like nothing you've ever seen. For our first born, I got a case of disposables and 24 of the old Birdseye cloth diapers. Believe me, both got lots of use!
Which leads me to the second thing on the list, Burp Cloths. Cloth diapers weren't as easy back then and we gravitated toward the disposables. But the 24 cloth diapers did not go to waste. They made great burp cloths! These days, companies like Aden & Anais and Copper Pearl create wonderfully colorful and soft burp cloths to protect your clothing. I'm partial to the Aden & Anais that is shaped to contour to the shoulder and then converts to a bib for baby's use later. But I have to say, the Copper Pearl is sooo soft and I love their prints. Whichever style you choose, you're going to need plenty.
Swaddle Blankets: This is one item that I suggest splurging on (and it seems that every other list I read thought the same thing). Our customers love to give Aiden and Anais muslin swaddle blankets. They are breathable so baby does not overheat, large enough to easily swaddle baby, and can double as a car seat cover and nursing cover. But again, consider the Copper Pearl blankets. They are super soft and come in some really fun designs.
A Good Diaper Bag: You definitely want a bag to keep all of baby’s necessities in when you go out. This can either mean buying a diaper bag with specialized compartments, or re-purposing a bag that you already have! Daddies seem to prefer a backpack style bag and Moms love the hands free aspect of a backpack. Our favorite brand is Ju Ju Be. We've tried others but none seem to compare well. They have various price points but be warned, as with anything, you get what you pay for.
Sleep Sack: Many babies sleep better when swaddled, and having a good sleep sack makes a huge difference. Once they've learned to escape the swaddle blanket, a good sleep sack will keep them more secure, and allow for easy diaper changes in the middle of the night. Aden and Anais has a nice line of sleeping bags for baby, made from cotton muslin, roomy, yet snug enough. They come in a light weight, one layer style and a multi layer winter version.
Noise Machine: Babies love white noise and seem to sleep better with it. If you think about it, they are born being used to sound all around them. These make wonderful shower gifts.
Medical and Personal Care items: For your newborn, you'll need to have the basics like a thermometer, nail clippers, brush/comb. You will also want alcohol wipes/swabs (comes in very handy to tend to the umbilical cord if needed), baby Tylenol (you should have it in case you need it, you never know). Diaper rash cream, because you will inevitably need it. And lastly, you NEED a Nose Frida! I know it seems gross now but the first time your little one has a runny nose, it will be obvious why this is worth every penny. FridaBaby has several great products for baby care including a medicine dispenser and a thermometer that talks to your smart phone.
Toys & Teethers: New babies don't need many toys. and they can easily overrun your house, but as baby grows,they are great for keeping baby occupied and giving them something to help them developmentally. You should have a few select toys, ones that serve multiple purposes to get the most use out of them. And books are always a great idea! Also, after a few months your baby will start to teethe; it helps to have a teether for them to chew on so they don’t end up using your fingers all day. We have several to choose from including wood and silicone ones from LouLou Lollipop, but our favorite is the Toofeeze.
Clothes and Linens: Of course, you need to get clothes, but you don’t need to go overboard. Don’t get too many newborn clothes, they don’t wear then for that long! Gowns are great for the first few weeks because of the easy access for diaper changes. Here are a few thoughts on how much you actually need:
- Crib sheets- Three is probably the magic number here, one for the crib, one in the laundry, and one to spare.
- Onesies- For everyday 10-12 is required unless you want to do laundry frequently. Make sure you have a few long sleeves, but remember that you can always layer with a sweater if cold so err on the side of short sleeve unless you live in a really cold area.
- Bottoms- You may not need an exact ratio of bottoms to tops; most days if you are just around the house you won't even put pants on Baby.
- Footed pajamas– Plan on two a day. some prefer the snap up style while others seem to like the zipper kind.
- Hats– This depends on where you live and what time of year your baby is born. Knit hats are great for winter babies and for those who are in sunny climes, a sunhat of some description is a must.
- Mittens– They are rare, but thumbless mittens exist for the very small. As Baby gets a little older, mittens are the perfect choice and then, of course, gloves for the older child.
- Socks– Once again, it depends on where you live. In warmer months, they aren't necessary until baby is ready for shoes. In cooler climates, you might want to have a few pairs.
- Jackets– This depends on the time of year. It never hurts to always have one light weight sweater year round. In colder months you definitely need a jacket. Buying sweaters and jackets with hoods is a good idea since they help keep little heads warm without worrying about hats.
- You will need a place to change the baby. There are several excellent choices of changing pads that work just about anywhere. We've been admiring the Dock-A-Tot because it is such a versatile mat.
- There are also the more obvious things like cribs and car seats, carriers, and rockers. Shop carefully and google the ones you are interested in for any possible recalls.
It seems like a lot, but when you have the essentials, life with Baby goes so much smoother!