Having a baby? I know how overwhelming the baby registry checklist “must-haves” can be when you’re expecting your first.
I thought I tried really hard NOT to end up with a zillion things I didn’t need. (Because there really are a zillion things you don’t need.) But staring down the baby aisles of Target and Babies R Us (among others), I just felt dizzy, and ended up clicking that little clicky-registry gun way. too. many. times. (Then again, it might just have been because it was fun to click it. By the end of it, I was LOOKING for things we “might need” just so I could click it again. I think they do that on purpose.)
So, I’m gonna try to keep you from the same fate.
I’ve made a list, my own “baby registry checklist” informed by my rather recent hindsight, to keep it simple. I should admit- it’s kind of a radical list! Some might call me crazy, but I’m prepared. And of course you are free to add to it and change it however you see fit. My goal is not to prescribe how you should live your life with a newborn….It is just, hopefully, to shed some light on what has perhaps become uncommon experience: That having a baby can be a rather natural outflow of your life, albeit a major change, and does not require mountains of gear to pull off.
So, here, in my humble (and slightly-bent-toward-minimalism) opinion, is what you really need.
(And a few things you really don’t.)
What You Need:
- Crib/Co-Sleeper. This precious, tiny baby is going to need somewhere to sleep. Personally, I am a huge proponent of safe co-sleeping. It helps keep both you AND baby sleeping better, since Baby needs to be close to Mommy, and it makes nursing so much easier when you don’t have to get up and walk across the room or house for nighttime feedings. We absolutely loved the Arm’s Reach Co-Sleeper for the first months, and then when she was bigger, she came into bed with us. (On a personal note, our beautiful crib was wildly expensive, and has gone entirely unused. Kind of a bummer! But get what works for your family.)
- 6-8 sleeper onezies in size 0-3mos. Newborn sizes are typically pretty unnecessary. If your baby is premature, or just especially tiny, you may find it’s worth it to send someone on an errand to buy some Newborn clothes. Otherwise, chances are good your baby will fit 0-3 mos in a matter of a few short weeks, and you will be glad you didn’t waste any money on clothes he outgrew that fast. And buying all sleepers (jammies) at this stage is pure genius: No finding separate outfit pieces, no need for socks, and some of them even have the little turn-cuff “mittens” built right in for protecting their nails. Literally all-in-one. Can’t beat it.
- Diapers. When my girl turned a year (yes a YEAR), I started using cloth diapers with her, and I’ve seriously wished I could have been doing it all along. (We were living in a tiny house with an ancient washing machine, and let’s just say… my first trial of washing newborn poop-stained cloth diapers did not go well. We were buying disposables within the week.) So, I love cloth diapers. But cloth diapers aren’t for everyone, and since we have the option of disposable, if you’re on the fence about it, I’d recommend disposable for the first few months anyway. Save your time and energy for cuddling, sleeping, nursing, and eating.
- 3-4 swaddling blankets. A swaddled baby is a happy baby….It’s all about creating that “womb-like” environment as much as possible. My favorite were the Aiden & Anais bamboo swaddles, but there are so many to choose from. If the idea of swaddling overwhelms you, the velcro SwaddleMe options are very straightforward.
- 2-3 loose knit blankets. Great-Aunts and grandmas are the best sources for these! The loose yarn knit took away any fears of suffocation, and our girl just LOVED the soft blanket wrapped around her, so we got lots of use out of these.
- Baby-wearing wrap/carrier/sling. We bought a HAVA sling, but were so unfamiliar with all the benefits of babywearing or how to do it, that we also went all out and bought a car-seat convertible carrier, two strollers, and a playpen. The playpen has been used about as much as the crib (although, if you plan to travel a good bit, you will need SOME kind of “travel crib”….Note, though, that the above mentioned “co-sleeper” doubles as such for the early months, at least). You do need the carseat, of course. But baby-wearing is a huge secret to happy, healthy babies, and it’s so much simpler than all of that “gear.” (Plus, carrying your growing baby around from the beginning is great for maintaining milk supply, AND for shedding those baby-weight pounds easily.) I would venture to say, in hindsight, that you don’t need a stroller at all (see below), but that again can be a matter of preference. My favorite newborn wrap by far has been the Moby, and my favorite “bigger baby – t0-toddler” wrap is the Ergo. And trust me, we’d tried a lot of them.
- Car seat. Call me crazy, but I wish we could just do away with dangerous roads and highways and never have to strap our babies in these things. But since that’s really not a great idea, I’m ever-so-grateful for the constantly re-engineered carseats that keep our babes safe. As I mentioned above, in hind sight, I do not think I would recommend getting a “Carrier” infant carseat, since baby-wearing is my preferred method of transportation outside the automobile. It is much more financially economical to buy a 5-100lb 3-in-1 convertible carseat that will grow with your child and be the only one you’ll ever need. That links to the one we bought, and have so far enjoyed.
- Bottles and pumps, if pumping or formula feeding. On this one, I would just say don’t buy more than 3-4 of any one kind until you see which kind of bottle your baby will take. Each baby is different, so be prepared for some trial and error. I am and was a SAHM, so I never needed to invest in an automatic pump for breastfeeding, but I was grateful to have an inexpensive hand pump (like this one) and 4 bottles, so that I could provide milk to my mom or mother-in-law if me and the hubby wanted to escape for a little bit longer of a date.
- Lots and lots of food, if you’re nursing. I was entirely unprepared for how insanely hungry breastfeeding made me. Apparently, it burns 1000 extra calories a day, so you should plan to eat at least 500 extra. If you’re like me, that’s like the best news you’ve heard all year. But I’m serious when I say you’d better be prepared to buy way more groceries than you ever thought you’d need.
- The knowledge that you have permission to nurse on demand, keep your baby close, and rest when you need to. ‘Nuff said.:)
- Nice relatives or a maid service. You will (and should) be busy holding, nursing, cuddling, and cooing over your baby for the first few weeks (er, years….) So if you can, ask for help. If you can afford it, schedule and pay the help. But some way, somehow, make space in your life for you to REST, and hold your precious baby at least 98% of the day. 😉
And Now…..A Few Things You Really Don’t Need:
- Toys. You’ll get them anyway. From every friend and family member you ever had. But even if you didn’t, you’d never need them. It’s the gospel truth that babies will always prefer mundane, everyday items like wooden spoons, tupperware, chip clips, shoes, and dust bunnies to those expertly engineered toys designed just for them. Yes, some of them are insanely cute, but save your dollars. You just. don’t. need. them.
- A Stroller. Possibly a bold declaration, but I’m standing behind it. You’re welcome to get one, because they can be very nice for long walks. But we’ve probably used ours more often as the bag carrier while I wear the baby for our walk. And since that has so many benefits for both you and your baby, if you’re really wanting a minimal, low-cost layette, you really can skip the stroller.
- 9,456 bibs. Or any bibs, probably, as long as you have some kitchen towels or rags. Again, you may get a zillion of these as gifts anyway, but I’d argue that you really don’t need them. Baby drool, puke, and food will soak through them, or miss them altogether and get on their clothes anyway, and they will just end up being more laundry. Tuck a rag in their collar while their eating or drooling a lot, if you want, and save your space and your money for better things. (They are, however, fairly inexpensive. So if you like them, get some. I’d just say to go for snapping ones rather than Velcro, because Velcro gets rough in the wash and can start causing red marks on the back of baby’s neck.)
- “Baby” towels and washrags. Those little hooded towels are unbelievably adorable, so if you can’t resist, I understand. But you don’t need them. If you have regular bath towels, and regular washrags, they work on babies too.
I think that about sums it up. This list is it for at least the beginning. The first few weeks or months. By the end of that time period, you’ll have a better idea of how your life as parents is going to look. You may have decided you do want some more things. Eventually you’ll need to get some bigger clothes, more diapers, gentle baby soap, etc. And the beauty of it is, you’ll be much more prepared, and much less overwhelmed, to know what you want and need by then.
But for now, if the goal is simplicity, I’ve got you covered.