As I type this, I am nine months deep into my fourth pregnancy, so I have some experience with baby gear. Here’s my tried and true list of must-have baby items that I wouldn’t want to ‘mom’ without.
Pack & Play (with bassinet feature): I could sing the praises of the play-yard for an entire blog post. (In fact, I have.) But as a bassinet, the Pack & Play gives you way more bang for your buck than traditional models.
Crib: One that becomes a toddler bed is useful. Don’t buy the extra bed rails that ‘convert the crib to a full-sized bed.’ Everyone buys them, no ones uses them. Your crib will be completely destroyed long before your child is anywhere near ready for a full-sized bed.
Swaddles: The velcro kind. They are magic. You will think your baby hates it because they will fight and try to escape. But trust me, they are fighting you because they hate sleep and they know once you wrap them up in that baby straight jacket, sleep is inevitable.
A backpack style diaper bag: Or just a quality backpack. This is a personal preference, but I like having the option of being hands-free.
A lightweight infant car seat: You can’t leave the hospital without a car seat and trust me, they start to get really heavy once your bundle of joy starts packing on the pounds. Find the lightest model you can. You will thank me later.
A stroller: You want a stroller that will be compatible with your infant car seat, but will also see you through toddlerhood. Serious bonus points for something lightweight and compact with storage space. Don’t skimp on this. Invest in whatever stroller fits your needs and lifestyle. (For me it’s the Joovy Caboose Too Ultralight. I use this ultralight sit & stand/double stroller 90% of the time even when I only have one child with me. My single stroller looks on wistfully, wallowing in self-pity.)
Pro Tip: Skip the travel systems. They are usually heavy/bulky, and not built to last. Invest in a quality car seat and stroller. You will use them every single day.
A wearable baby carrier: I personally love soft structured carriers, like the Ergo or Tula. I find them to be easier to use, more supportive, and you can use them for years as your child grows. A soft, wrap-style carrier is also good investment as they tend to be more comfortable for infants. I like the ‘no wrap’ style such a Baby K’tan. This is one piece of baby gear where it can be helpful to have more than one.
Feeding your baby looks different for everyone, but I’m a fan of planning for every scenario.
For breastfeeding, you will need breasts and a good support system. Other things that will make your life easier include: a few nursing bras, one or two nursing covers (I love the poncho or scarf style ones), and a nursing pillow.
If breastfeeding is not in your plan, make sure to have a few different kinds of bottles ready for baby to try, a silicone bottle brush, and a large stainless steel pot you can use to sterilize everything.
Whatever your plan, make sure to get the free breast pump that you are legally entitled to through your insurance company and sign up online to get free formula samples and coupons from the major formula companies because babies are unpredictable and you just never know.
Highchair: You will want a highchair with a removable tray for once your little babe is ready to try solid food. One that can be used as a booster to sit at the big table is the best use of space and money.
Nice to haves:
A place to put your baby down that vibrates or swings: Some babies absolutely love a bouncer or swing and it’s nice to have a place to put baby down for a bit where they will be content. (Make sure baby is always strapped in and don’t let them snooze here unattended for their own safety.)
Video baby monitor: This is nice to have once baby is in their own room and will continue to be useful for years. (An audio one can work just fine too.)
Indoor/outdoor pack and play: We got this with our third kid but I wish we had it with our first. It is super easy and fast to set it up and contain your baby anywhere from the beach to your living room. My older kids like to use it as a tent. I use it constantly in my house to contain my toddler when I need to shower, make dinner, take out the trash, or literally any time I want him to be contained.