Pregnant?! Yay! SO exciting. It seems like you need to get a million things for baby. And while you may need to get quite a few things…I really suggest scaling your list back. You can always get more things later, and the reality is, you don’t always know what you need until you need it! Everyone is different, but here’s my story.
I wanted to be totally prepared for baby. Completely set up, everything already figured out, washed and ready to go. So funny right?! After having a baby, it’s a total joke! We had a dresser and crib that were solid wood (no formaldehyde or other yucky things), an organic crib mattress, and about 12 crib sheets. And you know what? She never slept in it! I had drawers full of clothes for her, WAY more than we needed. We had 2 strollers – and a baby that wouldn’t tolerate being in one at all! (Eventually, the jogging stroller worked out.) While it may seem hard to believe, there really are just a few things you NEED to have in the beginning.
A car seat. While all of them meet the same safety standards, there are differences in design, materials (flame retardants etc), overall dimensions, and height/weight limits. Suggestions for consideration – go for low or no flame retardants, and a high rear facing weight limit. I’m also a fan of the seats that work from birth to age 5 or so. The Diono Rainier fits all of these well, there are others too. Initially we started with an Orbit Baby and then an Orbit Toddler seat. They’re really nice, and the infant seat on the rotating stroller base is great, if your baby will tolerate a stroller. If I could pick again, I would just get the Diono Rainier to start. While it’s not a great option for taking your seat out and about, I rarely did this anyway.
A diaper system. Whether it’s cloth diapers at home, a diaper service, or disposables, get a game plan. I loved cloth diapering but acknowledge it’s not for everyone. For us, the environmental issues as well as diaper ingredient concerns made this decision really simple. Estimates for the number of diapers used from birth-36 months are about 7000. 7000 diapers! Now granted, many children are done with diapers before this, but many aren’t as well. Anecdotally cloth diapered babies tend to transition out of diapers sooner, and that was our experience as well. We were half and half after about 16 months and then completely done by 22 months.
A good wrap or soft structured carrier. Or a few:) I can’t speak highly enough of babywearing. There are so many different options. For new babies and new babywearers, the K’Tan is a great option. It’s very easy to use and comfortable. It’s best for just the first couple of months, and is sized, so mom and dad may need different ones. A woven wrap is an excellent choice and can be used well into toddlerhood, however does have a little bit of a learning curve. A soft structured carrier (like an Ergo or a Tula) is easy to use and can be adjusted for different sized parents (one size fits most).
- Why wear your baby? From Babywearing International: Babywearing is the practice of keeping your baby or toddler close and connected to you as you engage in daily activities through the use of one of a variety of types of baby carriers. It is a traditional practice in many cultures that is not widely used by modern industrialized societies, but it nonetheless has many benefits for both children and caregivers. Babywearing promotes bonding, supports breastfeeding, can help combat postpartum depression, makes caregiving easier, and can be a lifesaver for parents of high-needs children. Carried babies sleep, feed, and grow better. One study found that carried 6-week-olds cried 43% less than other children.
- Instructions and tips for safe baby wearing can be found at Babywearing International.
- muslin baby blankets – aden + anais or similar. Great for layering, protecting baby from sun and more. The aden + anais dream blanket really is amazing for something slightly thicker but still breathable.
- organic onesies and pajamas – Especially for new babies and for sleeping at night.
- glass baby bottles – the LifeFactory ones are nice. Unfortunately BPA-free plastic isn’t safe either…plastic baby bottles, toys and other items contain endocrine disrupting chemicals that can alter your baby’s normal hormone function
- burp cloths – not something to skimp on. Some babies just spit a lot, for months. If you’re cloth diapering, diapers can double as burp cloths.
- safe baby bath products – skip the Johnson & Johnson, Aveeno and similar. These products have petrochemical derived ingredients, preservatives, artificial fragrances and other things best avoided for new babies. California Baby, Honest Baby Co, Earth Mama Angel Baby, and Everyday Shea are some brands with products that are cleaner and safer options.
Beyond that? You’ll figure it out. Really:) Babies need their parents…not 12 crib sheets.