Monday, February 15, 2010

Necessary Baby Items

*** This is a blog about items needed for children. Please feel free to skip if this is too much for you on your personal infertility journey.
I had a blog question that I thought was very interesting. Here was the question.I don't know if you have this out there on your blog or not and I have just missed it. But, I know you say you like questions from your readers. For people that are going to be new parents, do you have any suggestions for necessary baby items to purchase? I know you try to be "wise" with your money and I would imagine could help people with what they don't need to buy. If you ever get around to the question, it would be great! Love your blog!I did a post before Isaac was born asking for help with what we needed to take to pick him up. In other words, what things would we need during week one of his life. However, this doesn't really answer the question from this reader.She is right. I am pretty frugal. And I also don't like a clutter. That being said, I decided to compile a list of things that I believe are absolutely necessary/possibly necessary/and not necessary for having a baby. Obviously this is just my opinion. If you disagree, feel free to share your differing viewpoint in the comments. Mandatory Baby Items:
  • Bed. I'd recommend a crib or pack-n-play. I don't think a bassinet is needed. If you just use a pack-n-play you can move it from room to room (if your doors are wide enough like at my house) just like a bassinet. If they stay in it long term (like Elijah has) you can pad it with some foam to make it more like a mattress.
  • Pack-n-play. While a crib is not mandatory if you have a pack-n-play, I do think that a pack-n-play is pretty mandatory. If you go anywhere with baby where he/she will need to take a nap, you will want it. If you want to pull baby into your room when company is there. If you stay in a hotel (although you can often get one at hotels upon request.) I bought one of these used on Craig's List for $15. It looked brand new. Just make sure the person isn't a smoker when buying it.
  • Secondary baby holder. By this I mean either a swing or a vibrating chair. I don't think you need both, but I do think you need something that you can put the baby in to help "soothe" them and give you a break. Some babies like swings. Some like the chairs. You can definitely get these secondhand online or at a consignment shop. Or you could borrow one from a friend. You will only use these for the first few months of life so I don't think buying a new one is needed.
  • Car seat. Obviously mandatory. A tip? The infant seats are very easy to find secondhand* since kids don't use them that long. The bigger seats are not because kids really wear them out. (We ended up buying these new.) You can get an infant seat that goes up to 30 pounds I think. Our's was 22. This can help you avoid making a second car seat purchase sooner than you are ready.
  • Stroller. You will need some sort of stroller. If you jog or walk a lot, consider getting a jogger that doubles as a stroller. I love the BOB but they are expensive and definitely my splurge item. (If you are going to run with a jogger, I think a front wheel that is not fixed is a must.) The BOB does allow you to buy an extra piece that will fit an infant seat as well which is unlike any other joggers I have seen. While the strollers that allow the car seat to click in are very nice, I have many friends who saved money by just buying a cheap frame type stroller for those first few months and then going with an umbrella stroller or something else of a cheaper and simpler nature later. Also, you can get these secondhand for sure. We bought our double stroller in nearly new condition for $50 on Craig's List. Regular strollers are SO much harder to push although I always had a lightweight one that I could keep in the car that my Graco carseat could pop into.
  • Boppy. These can be used for breastfeeding, propping the baby up, tummy time, and for protection when baby first starts to sit up. I would definitely get a boppy. I would either get a new one or if you buy one secondhand or borrow one, buy your own cover. These are not expensive but so versatile they are worth it.
  • Highchair / booster seat. You will need something to feed the kiddo in, but you don't have to go very high-tech in this area. Highchairs are great but so are seats that strap to chairs. Also, when baby is really little, you can feed them in their vibrating chair if they have one. I bought two booster seats from a friend's yard sale for $2.50 each! As long as the seat has a strap, it will work.
  • Bottles. We used Avent and really loved them. Hint: try to not heat up formula from the get-go. Our kids took it room temperature or even cold. This will help you avoid having to buy any of those heat-on-the-go packs for the bottles.
  • First-aid kit. By this I mean something with a nail clipper, syringe, one of those nose squeegee thingies, a thermometer, those types of things. All the things that you don't think you'd use often but you end up really needing.
  • Diaper bag. Any kind will do. I've tried many different types of bags, and truthfully, never found one that I loved. If anyone has a suggestion for a good one, please add it in the comments.
Little things you need:
  • Burp cloths. These are wonderful.
  • Bibs. A dozen or so should be plenty.
  • Bath soap.
  • Baby spoons / baby bowls with lids.
  • Lotion.
  • Some baby hangers.
  • A few blankets (although these usually come in as gifts.)
  • A few crib sheets.
  • Diaper cream. (Big debate as to which is best. I have found that Desitin heals best. Balmax is the second best in the healing category. The "Butt paste" is good but I don't find it helps with really bad rashes.)
  • Socks. Always good to have on hand. Here's my favorites for staying on and cuteness.
Things that are nice but probably not mandatory:
  • Changing table. While convenient, I know many people who don't have a changing table. You can set up a station on a guestroom bed, a table or just buy a changing table pad and put it on a dresser. If you decide you want a changing table, I would definitely look second-hand. I would also consider just buying an old dresser or bookshelf and converting it. You can do it a lot cheaper that way.
  • Dressers. Quite honestly, I hang up nearly ALL of my kids clothes. Even their pants. That way I can see it all and don't have to go digging through. One little dresser or some plastic drawers can do the job.
  • Playmat. These could almost be put on the mandatory list. We used them a TON.
  • Monitor. I actually do not think a monitor is mandatory if your house is not that big or if it is not that solid. Our house is a fortress so you can't hear from room to room. In that case, I think a monitor is helpful. If you decide to get one, I think something low-end works just as well as the high-end.
  • Noisemaker. I am a big fan of these for travelling and even at home. Here's the one we have based on a recommendation from my friend Jaime. Actually, we have two of them. I think something that provides white noise is very helpful especially when away from home.
  • Rocker/Glider. I don't think you have to have one of these. But some sort of rocking chair is nice. If you have a recliner, use that. If you have anything that rocks, use it. Don't buy something new.
  • Baby carrier. Like a bjorn or sling. Some people live and die by these. I didn't use them much mainly because I was very pregnant with Elijah while raising Isaac.
Things I would NOT buy (at least not new):
  • Toys. Wait until your child reaches a stage that they need a certain age-group of toys. Chances are you will have accumulated some from friends getting rid of their's. You can buy toys very cheap at consignment shops as well. We have not bought a single toy. And you would not know it front seeing how many we hvae.
  • Clothes. As tempting as it is, I just do not buy new clothes. People are constantly passing things down. They also love to give clothes as gifts. In addition, depending on what stage your child is, they may never need thick pajamas at 3 months old. Yard sales and consignment shops for clothes. I also ONLY hit the clearance racks for clothes unless I really need something.
  • Bumbo. Bumbos are really great. Don't get me wrong. But your child will use it for such a small window (5 months old to 9 months old if you are lucky.) My friends here just passed these around amongst each other. Try to borrow one for that small window.
  • Books. Get them when you see what your kids are interested in. Ask for them as gifts. Or hit a used book store. These seem to breed in my house and people are constantly getting rid of their old books.
  • Infant bathtub. As much as I loved our tub, you really don't need it. There are a lot of other cheaper options. When I was at other people's houses, I would just put a towel down in the tub and put a very thin layer of water in the tub. As they can sit up, they won't use the infant tub anymore anyways.
  • Baby shoes. While stylish, your child doesn't need to wear shoes until they are walking, and even then doctors say to let them walk in bare feet more as they are learning. I wouldn't buy any until they are walking or if you really want some, go used. Young babies don't go through them.
Okay, so that is my list. I know I am missing stuff. So help me out folks. Post a comment with something I forgot and I will add it to my list and then post this blog on the side of the page. I think this is something that new moms can definitely use. Don't take the "what you should register for" list from Target and go with that. They'll have you buying the whole store!

*A pediatrician reader commmented: I would just caution with all the baby products you get, used or new, to make sure they have a good safety record and that they have not been recalled. You can search for recalls on your products or sign up for e-mails regarding recalls of children's products on Also, if buying a car seat used, be sure to look at the manufacture date. A car seat that is 6 years or more past the manufacture date should no longer be used (the plastic starts to break down and is not as strong in a crash, so it is not longer safest for protecting your precious cargo). Also ask if it has ever been in a crash. If a car seat has been through a moderate to severe impact crash, then it should not be used anymore either.


Jess said...

We did not have or need a pnp. BUT we had a cosleeper, and for us (we're lazy) that was the way to go until the kids could go into cribs.

I would call a swing necessary. More necessary than a vibrator/bouncer, though we used both (but had kids close in age).

Because we live in rural nowhere, and do not really have sidewalks, the travel system stroller was a waste of money for us. We got a Combi stroller (ended up getting 2) later and it would have been sufficient. Our kids never slept to take them places in the carseat and we woudln't have used it often enough to warrant the big stroller anyhow.

Corona (this is a "horse care" item but is sold in the pharmacy at places like walmart, stop looking at me!) ointment is great for diaper issues. It's lanolin.

We didn't have a dresser to use as a changer, and did buy a changer. Delta had a Jenny Lind one on sale that was like $50 and we still use it (kids are 2 and 2.5). We keep two kids worth of clothes in bins on its two shelves...for us, it has DEFINITELY been worth it.

How on earth do you not buy new clothes? I guess you can pass down some of yours because you have b-b instead of g-b, but? Still! We definitely do not have enough friends and family to give us clothes, I guess. We buy 99% of their things! But ON always has sales if you pay attention.

We also thought the tub was needed, but we bathed the kids at the same time so the tub kept the younger one safe. And of course we kind of NEEDED the tub for Ava because she was premature and swaddle-bathed for a while.

The one toy I would get is a play mat. That's really all you NEED for a while (and ppl will get you things too) because it has a few dangly toys and can entertain baby for a while.

We used/use the crap out of our dishwasher basket (prince lionheart on Amazon). At first for nipples and bottle part and now for sippy cup parts.

I hear the zip top sheets are fabulous. We didn't have them, though. THOUGH...I reccomend at least one extra sheet. And a waterproof pad.

SwaddleMe blankets. We loved them. And both our kids slept through the night well. I really believe it was at least in part due to this.

A set of plastic bowls/cups with lids is good. Use them right away for taking some formula with you on outings, and later for snacks. And feeding.

A diaper bag. Though some hospitals give these through formula companies usually.

We just used a children's lullabye cd and a regular cd player for the kid' white noise.

Nuks. At least for a while. IMO! And the little clips to keep them on their clothes. Who wants to wash them all the time or hunt for them every 15 min? Though we only used them till they could snack on puffs(aka be distracted with something) we USED THEM.

depending on where you are and when baby is being born, a carseat cover might be needed.

Leina said...

Thanks for the info! I liked this post Wen :) You got me excited now! And thanks for the book too, if I didn't email you and tell you it arrived already!?

Lisa Cronk said...

I would just caution with all the baby products you get, used or new, to make sure they have a good safety record and that they have not been recalled. You can search for recalls on your products or sign up for e-mails regarding recalls of children's products on

Also, I would caution against putting additional padding in a crib or pack and play, as infants can get entrapped and suffocate in padding, pillows, or blankets that are not made for the specific product. In other words, use what came with it or get something else.

Also, if buying a car seat used, be sure to look at the manufacture date. A car seat that is 6 years or more past the manufacture date should no longer be used (the plastic starts to break down and is not as strong in a crash, so it is not longer safest for protecting your precious cargo). Also ask if it has ever been in a crash. If a car seat has been through a moderate to severe impact crash, then it should not be used anymore either.

In terms of butt cream - I always recommend Triple Paste to all my patients. I love it!
Some babies may have allergic reactions or contact dermatitis with lanolin products (as recommended by Jess's comment), so just be aware of that.

I agree that you totally don't need all the stuff on the list that registries have for you. Just get the essentials. And if you're not sure...just get things bit by bit as you go when the need arises.

: ) Lisa

Wendi Kitsteiner said...

Lisa, thank you for your post. For those of you who read the blog but don't know, Lisa is a doctor so I would DEFINITELY listen to what she is saying. She is a pediatrician especially so what she is saying is gold.

Rachel and Hans said...

I think it's so interesting how everyone (and everyone's babies) are so different! For instance, we LOVE Butt Paste! I don't think Kaia has ever had a true "diaper rash" b/c the moment I see a hint of red, a little Butt Paste takes it right away. And...I have also heard not to buy carseats secondhand since you don't know where they have been. I supposed if you are buying from a friend, that wouldn't be as much of an issue.

For us, the Bumbo was a necessity! Kaia loves (has since she was 3 months old) to sit in it on our bathroom counter while I'm drying my hair/putting on makeup. In fact, she would probably sit there all day and smile at herself if we let her!

And she has never taken a "nuk", so no need for us to have those.

Great post especially b/c you can totally tell that there is no "right answer" or "must have" for everyone. It's fun to see what everyone loved at their house!

Anonymous said...

Really, the only thing a baby needs the first week is sleepers, diapers, a crib/place to sleep, a few large receiving blankets and mommy (formula and bottles if you're not nursing). As they get older you'll need a few more things. But, really, a baby can get by with very little.

Just an FYI with the car seats - the manufacturers date is stamped on the back of the car seat on the plastic. And if you have an expired carseat the only thing you can do with it is throw it away. I have an infant seat that I wasn't able to sell before it expired and it kills me to have to throw it away. It's like new! But, in the garbage it will go. If you have to throw away an expired car seat please try to make it unusable so that no one will pull it from the trash. Cut the belts, break it some how. I also strongly encourage everyone with a child to take a carseat class no matter how young or old your children are. It's amazing what I didn't know even after reading all the literature on carseat safety.

My recommendation with strollers is to get a jogger. To me that was necessary. They roll so much better and can go on every road surface - especially sand. We loved our jogger.

Eventually you'll need some kind of highchair. I strongly recommend getting some kind of booster instead. They make boosters that look and work like highchairs. They take up much less room. And then you don't have to spend the money on a booster when they outgrow the highchair.

For burb clothes, don't go buy the cute, expensive ones. First of all they're not very absorbant, and secondly, they're expensive. Get the Gerber or generic cloth diapers. You get 8 in a pkg. And they give you good shoulder coverage.

With shoes I agree and disagree. My boys didn't wear shoes until they were walking either. But, it really depends on the child. If your child will keep socks on his/her feet during the colder months then you'll be able to get by without shoes. If your child crawls out of sock (especially in the winter) then I recommend the Target brand of Robeez. They're really more like slippers. But definitely check garage sales/ebay for them. (I do in-home daycare and the kids are constantly losing socks so I strongly suggest that the parents buy some kind of slipper or generic version of Robeez).

I wasn't ever able to not buy new clothes either. My main reason is that I have twins and I dressed them alike (still do and they're almost 6). I did hit the mom's of multiple sales for a few years, but the older the boys got the fewer matching/coordinating outfits I could find. We did get a lot as gifts too, so I mainly had to buy jammies.


Anonymous said...

I found this posted 9/09 so I would check out your local stores and see if they are still doing this program or not: Babies R’ Us has a trade in program for old car seats, where you get a 20% off coupon towards another car seat of your choice or other baby gear.

Washington State and Oregon also have recycling programs for car seats, at least the plastic part of them.

Car Seat Recycling Programs

Colorado Children's Automobile Safety Foundation (CCASF)

Started in 2002 by Bill Flinchbaugh, the CCASF's car seat recycling program has grown steadily each year. In 2008, the center recycled over 4,000 expired, damaged, or abandoned car seats. Utilizing the court system's pool of mandated volunteers, Bill collects, deconstructs, and sorts the car seats for recycling at a local recycle center. To learn more about the program, contact Bill at 303-931-3443 or

Car Seat Installation Check & Recycling Events in Portland, OR

Legacy Health System in Portland regularly holds car seat safety checks, which also include a drop off site for car seat recycling. If you don't make it to one of their safety events, Legacy has an open cart drop off in the city where you can bring your car seats anytime. For more information, contact Tom Badrick, Sustainability Coordinator for Legacy Health System at

Safe, Sound & Green: Car Seat Safety Checks and Recycling Drives in Seattle

In 2008, Safe Kids King County and other organizations sponsored Seattle's first ever car seat recycling drive. Due to its popularity, the safety check was also offered in April, 2009. These events are usually staged at IKEA Seattle. Visit IKEA Seattle's homepage (under community) to check for upcoming events.

Recycle Utah's Car Seat Recycle Events

Recycle Utah in Park City sponsored its first car seat recycling event in 2008. Volunteers were on hand to disassemble the car seats for recycling, saving the straps for reuse at a local bag manufacturer. If you live in the Park City area, call 435-729-0554 or visit to ask about upcoming car seat recycling events.


Colorado Children's Automobile Safety Foundation -

Read more:

AW said...

I personally recommend putting soft-soled shoes on babys as soon as they're crawling. (We used and still use Robeez.) Later once your little one starts to walk, shoes are not an "odd" feeling on their feet. They're used to it. Trust me when I say them getting used to shoes before they start walking is a HUGE benefit!

I think I'm seconding at least one other commentor with this...

I HIGHLY recommend you do not buy car seats used. In the state of Texas, it's necessary to replace car seats if it's in an accident, no matter how minor. The car seat weakens with almost any impact and the chances of something going wrong are actually pretty high. I don't think the cost savings is worth the safety of my monkeys.

AW said...

Oh another thing that has been AWESOME for us...

The Baby Bjorn potty chair.

We've purchased several and this is the absolute best. It only has two parts. The seat, which has a very high back, and the potty part, which has a very high pee guard (a must for boys!). SUPER easy to clean, small enough to take on the road, low enough to the ground for petite toddlers, and comes in a large variety of colors. (We keep one in the trunk with a box of Clorox wipes and plastic bags for those just-in-case moments on the road.)

The only downfall that I could see is that it only seems to be available at boutique stores or Amazon. It costs $27, but we purchased other potties that were the same price for not nearly the convenience and durability. We've loved it! More importantly, our toddler loves it, thus more willing to use it when we ask.

The Mac's House said...

Oh I so agree with Monkey Momma on the baby Bjorn potty chair. Actually my daughter is older almost 23 years old and we had this when she was little. We could go anywhere for an entire day and not have to worry about where we were going to find a potty, just pick it up and take it with you. What a great product. Now that I have a granddaughter in the house we also have 2 one upstairs and one downstairs. Most kiddos aren't too keen on sitting on that huge potty when they start potty training too scarey, don't blame them either. :) So these are perfect.....

We did find these sold at Babies R Us stores where we purchased ours.

TAV said...

Sooo glad you wrote this post! I am feeling quite lost and brainstorming at 9w :) Praying for you and the move!