Newborn Necessities, Extras, and Secrets to Save Money

newborn must-haves items

NEWBORN MUSTHAVES 101: What you really need to have on hand when your little bundle of joy arrives

Being pregnant can be terrifying. You want to do the best for the baby who has not come yet and you want to be prepared, but have no idea what you actually need. There is plenty of marketing to further convince you that you will be a terrible parent if you don’t buy certain items. Don’t believe it! There are plenty of lists out there striving to be minimalistic, but I feel that many still over recommend items so I thought I would throw my two-sense out there.  I’ll tell you the most important products, products for breastfeeding, and finish with some some hacks to get by in those first few weeks without emptying your bank account upfront!

The Essentials

      • Onesies (these are a popular baby shower gift so you may not need to buy any):
        • (1) Until the umbilical cord falls off, it’s better to dress newborns in kimono shirts than onesies. The hospital sent us home with a few of these, but its nice to have a couple around in case they don’t.
        • (2) After the cord is off, we loved kimono (or crossover) onesies. These are shirt onesies that can be taken off without pulling them over the baby’s head). For the first few months of your little miracle’s life, they will have monster poop blowouts on a regular basis and its so much better to avoid the whole pull-the-shirt-over-the-head thing. Obviously we hadn’t anticipated this and had stocked up on all sorts of cute onesies that got stashed away, and ended up using a couple hand-me-downs from wise friends over and over again (we literally did laundry on a daily basis at first). I’d recommend having a handful of these in both newborn and 0-3 month sizes, because you can’t be sure which size will fit the baby better.
        • (3) A couple full body onesies are nice too, especially for once the umbilical cord falls off, and if its cold when the baby is born.
      • A couple pairs of soft comfortable pants. They should be easy to put on and off (i.e. baby denim is super cute but completely unnecessary).
      • Swaddle blankets. The hospital sent us home with some, but its great to have extra thin swaddle blankets of your own. Layering the swaddles was our secret to getting any sleep with a newborn at home, and choosing your own patterns means better photo ops. Some prefer swaddlers over fold-it-yourself blankets, like swaddleme; we like both systems, and out of convenience transitioned to the swaddleme’s exclusively after the first couple of months. Aden and Anais makes great all purpose large blankets that can initially be used for swaddling and then repurposed as nursing covers, burp clothes, stroller covers to protect the baby’s skin from the sun or support a nap, etc.

      • Changing pad. There is one thing I can guarantee even though I don’t know you or your baby: your baby will pee, and poop, a lot. Having a designated changing area is crucial for your sanity and your back. This doesn’t have to be a fancy changing dresser, it can be as simple as a cheap changing pad placed on top of an elevated surface (for example a dresser, desk, or table). It should be waterproof or have waterproof covers because your baby will pee and poop all the time, even on you while you are delicately trying to change their diaper. Once the baby gets a bit older, they will actually love being on the changing pad, and what starts as the most dreaded place in the apartment becomes the most beloved as they start cooing, smiling, giggling, and even dancing on their little pad. A big bonus if you can designate a little storage area nearby to keep diapers, wipes, and protectant lotion (Aquaphor Advanced Therapy Healing Ointment Skin Protectant 14 Ounce Jar is a nice preventive lotion to keep diaper rash far far away).
        • You know what’s also great?  Simply giving your baby’s bottom a couple minutes to air dry before putting on a new diaper.  This is a *free* way to avoid and treat diaper rash.  Its obviously difficult if you have an unhappy camper or other children in the house, but if you can sneak in some “naked time” your baby’s booty will thank you.
      • Diapers/wipes: Again your hospital may give you a small supply of these, but its nice to have some around. For the first couple of weeks its recommended to use only water based wipes (without soap).
      • Baby carrier. Little newborns are used to being in the womb. They love to be held and cuddled, and you will love to hold and cuddle them in return. But sometimes, you need to get things done. So when your baby has evening terrors for hours every night, every day, and wants to be held and bounced, or you are ravenous and fantasizing about eating a real meal, a carrier that frees your hands is a godsend. We loved the Boba Baby Wrap, Grey, which is perfect for tiny newborn size babies and is very soft, comfortable, and lightweight.

    • Comfortable mommy outfits: Don’t burn your maternity clothes as soon as you deliver! You’ll want to be comfortable so you can focus on your newest addition.  If you are still pregnant and considering breastfeeding, try to invest in maternity clothes that also double as nursing clothes.
    • A place for the baby to sleep: Decide which sleeping strategy you’d like to follow, i.e. crib, bassinet, cosleeper, etc, and invest in it before the baby arrives.  For our first baby we had a classic cheap crib and that was fine.  We had to leave it in the States when we moved to France, so this time we bought a cosleeper so I won’t have to get out of bed a million times at night to breastfeed, but the baby still has their own mattress, and it doubles as a travel crib.
    • A couple of slow flow nipple baby bottles: Even if you are planning to exclusively breastfeed these can come in very handy. Breastfeeding is hard and many women encounter obstacles, especially at the beginning. If you are one of the lucky ones who smoothly and gracefully is able to feed your child instantly, great, but there is nothing more terrifying than being awake at 4 in the morning with a 2 day old who is screaming, and wondering if your child is getting enough nutrition. You may have to pump to provide breastmilk, or supplement, and having the equipment available is just one less thing to think about during a very stressful time. If you don’t end up using the bottles at the beginning, you will likely use them in a few months when going back to work or starting to engage in the outside world again so no waste there.
    • Baby bathtub: Not a must-have for when you first come home, but chances are you will need this.  Some people like to use their sink, but if you have any concerns about your sink being small, cleanliness concerns, or holding up the baby by yourself while washing at the same time, a baby bathtub is a great investment.  Bath-time can be one of the most exciting activities for your developing baby, so why not make it a great carefree experience?  We loved this one because it has a newborn insert for extra support that can be removed and the tub itself is huge so it lasts until your child is ready for an adult size tub.

Breast feeding must-haves

  • If you decide to breastfeed having the following will make your life much easier:
      • Nursing bras: You are about to be a human cow. Set up yourself to be as comfortable as possible, and wear clothes and undergarments that easily lend to quick breastfeeding.
      • Nipple ointment: Forget lanolin, there are better options. Seriously I started with lanolin but it didn’t help and is so thick it can cause infection.  Simple kitchen olive oil is all natural, edible, and very useful. If you prefer a formulated ointment, Motherlove Nipple Cream Certified Organic Salve for Sore Cracked Nursing Nipples, 1 great.  You can apply with a q-tip so your fingers are not constantly greasy.
      • Nursing pads: Ugh, the leakage and soreness are so frustrating! At first I used disposables but they irritated my skin so I switched to washable bamboo pads which were insanely soft and comfortable.
      • Breast pump: You don’t need this right at the time of delivery, but it can save you from the headache of picking among many options after the baby arrives. I personally loved the Spectra Baby USA Double/Single Breast Pump with Rechargeable Battery, 3.3 Pound, it is a hospital grade pump that optimizes your milk production and is super quiet so you can multitask while pumping. Bonus is that it can run by battery or be plugged in, so its easy to use when traveling or at work.  Many mothers love the Medela Pump In Style Advanced Breastpump Starter which is more widely covered by insurance and may work faster for some.  Please note your insurance should pay for your breast pump, it should not be an expense for you!!


    Newborn Hacks

    • While a nursing pillow often makes this list, just using regular pillows or your pregnancy pillows for support should work just as well. If you do get a nursing pillow the Boppy Nursing Pillow and Positioner, Peaceful Jungle is great because you can repurpose it as a cushion or support system for your baby as they grow and start practicing tummy time and and sitting.
    • Bottles can be warmed by submerging milk in warm water, rather than investing in a special bottle warmer.  Just placed the bottle in a bowl filled with warm water.
    • Burp clothes: any towels, washclothes, or clean clothes will do.  Or just use swaddle blankets.
    • Baby towels: these are stinking cute, but you don’t technically need them.  Create a comfy drying area near your bathing area by placing a clean towel on top of a folded blanket so your little angel has a cushy place to lie down after a bath.  Dry with the towel or use a separate smaller towel to pat dry.
    • If you use bottles right away, you can sterilize them at any time by submerging in boiling water.  You also can air dry them on a clean towel placed on the counter.  (Our dishwasher warped them and left residues so we hand washed)
    • You don’t need to go crazy buying toys and books at the beginning.  A newborn can’t appreciate them, and you may get a ton as gifts.  The first objects a baby will appreciate, after your boobs, are black and white images, rattles, and mobiles.  This can take weeks to months so these items are definitely not prehospital necessities.
    • Don’t forget about yourself mama!  After this pregnancy I’ll be taking care of the myself the French way.  This means eating like the French, exercising like the French, and stealing their beauty secrets.  I’ll also be participating in rééducation perinéale (perineal and abdominal re-education), a specifically French postpartum routine to get your body back.  Don’t worry, I’ll share all the details once I get there!!

Hope this helps!  Here are some items we really loved, even though some were a splurge!  We will be reusing many of them too so I’m telling myself they were investment purchases!

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