In 2013, when I found out I was pregnant, a fastidious friend passed along a spreadsheet to me of all the baby essentials I’d need for the first six or so months. My secret skill is that I am a powerhouse Googler, so I ended up using my friend’s list as a jumping-off point to satisfy my need to obsessively research every possible thing on planet Earth. Now, two kids later, and as founder of a maternity company, I am waist-deep in mama/baby/parent stuff all day, every day. I’ll admit that I’ve probably gone deeper than most (sane) people are willing to go, and have since created my own Google doc that I email around to any friend of mine who I find out is pregnant. I’ve easily passed this on to 40 friends who have in turn passed it on to their friends in the sisterhood of the traveling spreadsheet fashion. I edited it once after the babe arrived, once more after babe No. 2, and then one more time after hearing from some of my best friends who had kids.
Even though this looks like a ton of stuff, you can absolutely survive with just onesies, diapers, wipes, a few swaddle blankets, and a car seat to start — the rest you can add as you go, or put on a registry and let friends and family treat you. (They want to! Trust me.) If some things look expensive, don’t worry; you can easily find a lot of the big-ticket items on Craigslist. (Local parent groups are also a great resource for lightly used UPPAbabys.) I’ve divided this into various categories, and will be publishing this in two parts. Below, you’ll find products for sleeping, changing, feeding and pumping, and transporting. The second installment will feature clothing, bathing and grooming, playing, first aid, and gadgets. One thing to note: Baby-having is a deeply personal experience, so what works wonders for one person may be totally useless for someone else, which is why I’ll also include some things that other people swear by but I didn’t find particularly useful.
This one is fairly small, rocks, and is easy to carry around the house. If we didn’t have a dog, we may have gone with a Moses basket or Pack ‘n Play instead. You can also skip right to the crib (more on that later) if you want, but I liked having the bassinet by my bed in the early days with a tiny new babe.
You don’t need a crib from the get-go; it becomes more of a necessity around the four- to six-month mark, depending on your baby’s size. I first saw the Sniglar during a pre-baby trip to Ikea and it’s actually quite handsome (and $70!). We’ve now converted kid No. 1’s into a toddler bed and plan to do the same for kid No. 2. The design is so popular that it’s sold out worldwide until February 2018. Here’s a similarly minimal alternative if you can’t wait to get your hands on the Sniglar.
Hypoallergenic, breathable, washable, and recyclable. My strategy was to save on the crib and spend on the mattress.
A mattress-pad cover in the event of a total crib soak-through or blowout.
Solid basic sheets. Organic and reasonably priced.
I didn’t use this with my first, who loved a regular swaddle. But we started to use this with our second when he got stronger and could break out of blankets. I’m no expert, but he seemed to derive comfort from the bean thing on his chest.
You don’t need to buy one until your baby can roll over and can’t be swaddled anymore. The Woolino is expensive, but it’s lined in a nice, soft merino wool that works in any season and fits until the kid is 2, instead of being sized for just a few months like most of the others.
To cut down on luggage, we put the kids in bed with us until they were able to move around (a.k.a. crawl off of the bed to their doom). We chose the Guava Lotus because it can be taken as carry-on on planes. We had the grandparents buy Graco Pack ‘n Plays, so we don’t have to take anything when we travel to their place, and if we’re staying in a hotel, we just request a crib.
These are good starter diapers because they’re ecolabel-certified, have no scent or weird pattern (my personal preference is for no pattern), are nice and high in the back, and are available on Amazon Prime. That said, you’ll probably experiment with diaper brands over the first year and what works can change depending on the stage you’re at or your child’s size. It’s recommended that you have 200 diapers on hand when the baby arrives. I thought that was crazy, but you’d be shocked how quickly you go through them.
I like that these are just water and a little grapefruit extract and work well. Lots of wipes out there have unpleasant scents.
This is the everyday stuff.
For clearing up the for-realsies diaper rash.
I had a regular changing pad with covers the first time around, and it can be exhausting to deal with the mess of the fabric-poop combo (you will be shocked how it manages to go everywhere in the beginning). This one easily wipes clean and cuts down on laundry. You can keep it on top of a dresser or on the floor, whatever works best with your set up.