What to Buy (And Not Buy) As A New Parent
Written by Patrice D'Agostino
Photography by Photographed by Sabrina Bot
Figuring out what to buy for your new baby can be the bane of your pregnancy existence. That might sound extreme, but as a new parent it is so hard to suss out what big-ticket items are necessities and which just have great marketing pitches. We’ve been there with the trial, error, and success of deciding what to buy and register for when having a new baby. So, in order to help out new mamas and papas who are going through this process for the first time, we’ve put together a list of those items we deem must-haves, and those you can probably do without. We’ve also included links to some of our favorite products, to boot. Of course, if you can get any of the below via handmedowns or Craigslist, may the frugal force be with you!
What to Buy:
Baby Carrier—As mamas (and papas) your hands are constantly occupied—especially in the early months—and having a carrier will give you the freedom to get things done. Also, babywearing is a great way to bond with your baby by keeping them close to you. The added bonus is the close proximity also helps to soothe and comfort your baby during tough times.
Our Picks: ErgoBaby Four Position 360 Baby Carrier, $159, Amazon. Solly Baby Wrap, $65, Solly Baby.
Stroller with Infant Car Seat Converter—It goes without saying that a stroller is an absolute must. However, having a stroller that also carries your infant carseat is essential for the early months of baby’s life. The infant carseat converter allows you to place the entire carseat onto the stroller securely and safely. This way, you can transport baby without having to take them out of the carseat to transfer them into the stroller seat. Also, stroller seats are designed for older children and most will not work well (or at all) to accommodate infants, making the converter attachment a definite must.
Our Picks: Stokke Scoot Stroller, $599, Stokke. Stokke Car Seat Adapters, $60, Bergdorf Goodman and Nordstrom. Bugaboo Bee 3 Stroller, $769, Amazon. Bugaboo Bee 3 Car Seat Adapater, $40.45, Amazon.
Bouncer/Baby Seat—Getting housework done, making food, taking a bathroom break, and other “me” time activities are very hard to perform with a new baby. Having a bouncer or vibrating chair that you can move from room to room is a great way to keep baby safely entertained, while you take care of yourself.
Our Picks: BabyBjorn Bouncer, $134.99, Amazon. Nuna Leaf Baby Bouncer, $219.95, Nordstrom. Stokke Steps Bouncer, $199, Stokke.
Nursing Pillow—If you plan on breastfeeding your baby, you’ll be spending countless hours doing so for the first few months while you and your babe work to establish a good flow. Nursing can, at times, be uncomfortable and put strain on your body after birth. A nursing support pillow helps to position baby comfortably while nursing and relieve any added strain on mama’s body. Some nursing pillows, like the Boppy, also work as great props to help baby sit up and see the world before they are able to sit up on their own.
Our Picks: My Brest Friend Breastfeeding Pillow, $43.96, Amazon. Boppy Nursing Pillow and Positioner, $39.99, Amazon.
White Noise Machine—At birth, babies are jolted into a very quiet and unfamiliar world. In the womb they are comforted by lots of ambient noises. A white noise machine will help to recreate this environment for baby while they fall asleep and will also help to keep them snoozing for a longer period of time. It’s quite miraculous how quickly turning on a white noise machine can calm a fussy baby right to sleep when nothing else seems to do the trick. Plus, it can work wonders for over-tired parents.
Our Picks: The First Years Sounds For Silence Nursery Sound Machine, $21.99, Amazon. Cloud b “Sleep Sheep” Sound Machine Soother, $49.95, Amazon.
Other Logical Must-Buys: A Crib and Bedding, Clothes, Diapers and Wipes, A Few Swaddles, A Couple Blankets, Bottles and Bottle Brush, and Baby-Safe Shampoo/Body Wash. See more here.
What To Buy On The Cheap Or Borrow:
Baby Swing—If you think your baby requires more motion than what the baby bouncer is providing, we suggest borrowing (or Craigslist-ing) a swing after you child has already arrived. These pieces take up a lot of room (not to mention, they’re usually eyesores), but they can also make for a very happy and peaceful baby, and can free up your hands from time to time. If you’ve tried everything and you’re still not getting any rest, a baby swing—even if it’s fugly—might be your savior.
Bassinet—For the first few months of life, a cozy bassinet is often preferred over a crib. However, you might not need one. Some parents opt to co-sleep, while others put baby directly into the crib (in the parents’ room or baby’s own room), which means buying a bassinet at full-price might not be the way to go.
Our Picks: BabyBjorn Cradle, $278.53, Amazon. Stokke Sleepi Mini Crib (Which Turns Into A Full-Size Crib), $599, Amazon.
Where To Save:
Diaper Bag—Heavy diaper bags with tons of compartments aren’t really necessary to corral a few diapers, wipes, a bottle, and a toy or two. Depending on how long your outing is, throwing it all in a canvas bag or backpack works just as well.
Our Picks: Slowness Is Beauty Tote, $25, The Podolls. Fajllraven Kanken Daypack, $59.95, Amazon.
Changing Table—A changing table can take up extra space in your nursery or your home that can be used for something else. It’s easy to swap out the changing table by simply purchasing the baby changing pad and cover and securing it on top of a dresser. Another space-saving alternative is to purchase a changing tray to set on the top of baby’s crib. Or, hell, just change the kid on top of a blanket or towel on the floor, bed, or couch when the time arises.
Wipe Warmer—In our experience, we haven’t found that cold wipes bother baby as much as the idea of cold wipes bother new parents. If you need to warm wipes, you can simply cup them in your hands to heat them before applying them to baby’s bottom. This should do the trick and save you twenty bucks and a little space in the nursery.
Baby Food Maker—In theory these are great, but baby food making is so simple that having special equipment isn’t necessary. A steamer, standard blender, and/or a food processor are all you need to make your own baby food. It’s quite simple and there are many online tutorials to show you just how to make delicious meals for your little one with the kitchen equipment you already have.
Bottle Sterilizer—These are bulky and take up precious counter space. To sterilize baby’s bottles and feeding accessories we recommend resorting to the old-fashioned process of boiling all parts in hot water for a few minutes and setting aside to dry. Simple and very cost effective.
Breast Pump (If it’s covered!)—We’re not saying you don’t need one, just not to buy one with your own money if you don’t have to. Breast pumps are covered by insurance plans and are (usually) provided for free (or with a minimal co-payment). Contact your insurance provider to find out how to go about requesting your breast pump.
What Not To Buy (Right Away):
Highchairs—Obviously, your baby will need a highchair eventually, but it’s not an essential purchase if you’re just trying to cover yourself for the first months. It takes a while for your baby to be able to eat solids and support himself in a highchair. That said, once your baby is ready for his own seat at the table, we love modern versions that grow with your child, or the classic cheapie from Ikea.
Our Picks: Stokke Tripp Trapp, $249, Stokke. Antilop Highchair With Tray, $19.99, Ikea.
Baby Shoes—Keeping shoes and socks on little feet is not easy. It’s also not exciting to return home after an outing to realize your baby has lost a shoe. Especially a really adorable one! Above and beyond losing baby shoes, at a young age they don’t serve a practical purpose. Shoes with hard-soles are not ergonomically structured for the many movements your baby makes and can be awkward for them. We suggest sticking with socks, booties, and soft-soled moccasins for warmth and during the summer months just let those little pre-walking toes free.
Fancy Outfits—Babies grow tremendously fast and will outgrow most outfits before they have a chance to wear them. In the early months, your baby will be wrapped up in a swaddle so often, you’ll hardly get a glimpse at their outfits, anyways. Plus, it’s a no-brainer to say that babies are messy and often need several outfit changes in one day. Unless there is a special occasion that requires a fabulous ensemble, we suggest skipping fancy clothes and elaborate outfits for a few months (and possibly long-term!) and going for items that are comfy and can withstand diaper blowouts and lots of spit up.
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