As you prepare to bring your new baby home, you may be wondering, “What does a baby really need in the first few weeks at home?” The answer is simple: not much. Of course, if you consult a baby registry suggestion list or ask a baby gear store, it may appear that your baby requires everything under the sun! Some parents want all of the cool baby products and gadgets that can make life with their child easier. However, for minimalists, budget-conscious parents, or new parents who are feeling overwhelmed, sticking to the basics is acceptable. We guarantee that your baby will not notice the difference. Having said that, having the following items on hand will help you get through the first few days and weeks saving you from make any last minute run to the store.
Layette and clothing
Although you may want to show off your baby in a few cute outfits, your baby doesn’t need anything fancy in those first few weeks, so stick to simple, plain, budget-friendly clothing. It’s best not to buy too many newborn clothes because your baby will outgrow them quickly. At the same time, you will be changing outfits frequently because newborn clothing gets messy quickly. Consider how frequently you intend to do laundry and what the weather will be like when your baby is born when making these purchases. Most doctors still advise newborns to wear hats outside during their first few weeks of life.
Although diapers are an obvious newborn necessity, choosing the best type of diaper for your baby can be confusing and stressful—who knew?! If you’re debating whether to use cloth diapers or disposables, keep in mind that both have advantages and disadvantages, and doing what works best for your family and lifestyle is always the best option. However, many families use a combination of cloth and disposable, so you can experiment with both and see which you prefer. Newborns can go through 8 to 10 diapers per day, so keep plenty of them on hand. Also, keep in mind that they will outgrow the newborn size in a matter of weeks, so don’t overbuy.
Doctors recommend giving your baby a sponge bath for the first week or two, until the umbilical cord falls off. After that, you don’t need to bathe your baby every day; three times a week or so should suffice.
Bathing your baby too frequently can cause their skin to dry out or irritate. Don’t worry, there will be plenty of opportunities to do some “spot cleaning” in between baths between spit-ups and diaper changes. You can keep your purchases to a minimum here. However, because baby skin can be very sensitive, you should use newborn-friendly soap and lotion. Many of us bathe our babies in baby bathtubs, but using the kitchen sink is fine as long as it has recently been cleaned.
Grooming and First Aid
You don’t need to stock your cabinets with a plethora of baby grooming products or a full-fledged first aid kit at first. You will undoubtedly require a method for trimming those baby nails (they grow so quickly!). You should also be able to take your baby’s temperature and clean snot out of their nose if necessary. At first, babies can be very stuffy! You can wait until your baby is a little older before purchasing baby pain relief medicine, as it is not recommended that newborns receive OTC pain relief medicine until after 3-6 months of age, depending on the medicine and doctor recommendations.
Bedding and Sleeping Preferences
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that your newborn sleep in the same room as you for the first 6-12 months of life, regardless of the bed you choose for him or her (crib, cradle, bassinet, co-sleeper). Furthermore, bumpers, blankets, pillows, and soft toys should not be used in baby beds. What a way to go minimalist! Diapers are pretty absorbent these days, so you shouldn’t have to clean up too many messes in the middle of the night. Still, make sure your mattress is waterproofed and that you have extra sheets on hand for bedding changes. Keep a baby monitor nearby as well, as you’ll want to keep an eye on your (hopefully sleeping!) baby when you leave the room.
If you’re breastfeeding, you don’t need much more than your breasts—and the contact information for a good lactation consultant or breastfeeding support group in case you run into a problem (as we almost all do at some point).
If you intend to breastfeed, talk to your doctor about formula brands and types, as well as how much formula to have on hand when you bring your baby home. You’ll need a lot of burp cloths no matter how you feed your baby. Believe us. If you intend to bottle-feed, make sure you have a few extra bottles on hand to avoid having to wash them in the middle of the night. A bottle brush is required, but you can wait to see if a bottle drying rack or bottle washing dishwasher basket is required. Breastfeeding mothers don’t require much, but they will require a few useful tools such as nursing pads and nipple cream—as well as a breast pump in case you need to pump for your newborn.
Furniture and equipment
Contrary to popular belief, the only furniture your newborn requires is a place to sleep and a place to store their clothes. Many of us choose much more—a changing table, dresser, nursery gliders, toy bin, bouncy seat, baby swing, and so on—and decorating the baby’s room can be a highlight. You can, however, postpone those purchases until your baby is older and you have a better idea of what they truly require. You will need a way to transport your baby. Car seats are required, and hospitals will not release you unless you have a properly installed car seat in your vehicle.
That’s all! See, it wasn’t as intimidating as you anticipated, was it? While there are many baby products on the market that make a parent’s life easier, the truth is that the majority of them are wants rather than needs. And, while it may be tempting to buy every gadget on the market, keep in mind that your baby mostly needs a loving and attentive parent and will be just as content with the essentials. Fill your registry with these baby essentials and anything else you find and like. Remember that you can always add more baby clothes and other products to your registry, or simply shop for the extras after your baby arrives.