Bryce and I were the first of our close friends to have a baby. After Lewie was born it seemed like everyone we knew was pregnant, which meant I fielded a ton of questions about what to buy and what to skip.
There are whole websites dedicated to this question with detailed reviews and comparisons. This is not that. Instead it’s just a a few tips on simplifying your registry and buying ethically when you can, plus some things we liked in the first year of Lew’s life.
Hope you find it helpful!
TIP 1 // BEG, BORROW, BUY USED
I’ve found that most things in the first year we used for about three months before Lew was too big or simply uninterested. So we bought a lot of bigger items off Craigslist and then either gifted them to our friends with babies or resold them on Craigslist. It does take a bit more planning to buy used, but start by searching now, either online or local children’s consignment shops. We were also able to borrow items from friends, like my breast pump. I just replaced all the parts so instead of it costing my $300 it cost $30. Some other great things to buy used or borrow:
We also got our infant carseat used from a friend. When buying used, make sure the carseat has never been in a crash, recalled and that it hasn’t expired. The Car Seat Lady has some great tips about buying used carseats and how to recycle old carseats.
TIP 2 // RETURN THOSE BABY CLOTHES
Our family generously threw us a baby shower and the number one gift we received: baby clothes. I understand–they’re so tiny and cute, but there was just no way that Lewie could ever wear all those clothes so we returned them all but a few favorites. But, some items I found helpful in the newborn months were:
Onesies with mitten cuffs / Because babies have the sharpest nails
Kimono-style onesies / This helps protect their umbilical cord in the first days
Footie pants / Because socks will simply not stay on
Infant Gowns / Makes nighttime diaper changes infinitely easier
Zip-up rompers / <=== that one was my absolute favorite, bye bye buttons
TIP 3 // SKIP SOME STUFF
There are a lot of lists out that saying what you NEED. Take all those lists, even this one, as helpful advice, not as truth. We were living in a one bedroom apartment for the first year with Lewie, so space was a huge consideration when we were planing. Also lots of extra stuff stresses me out so we tried to be streamlined, but also realistic. Take your personal style, preferences and space into consideration before buying. Some things we opted out of:
Diaper pail / any old trash can will do
Changing table or pad / we put a blanket on the bed
Bottle warmer / just use stovetop or some babies will take their bottles cold
Baby monitor / when he cries, we can hear
Bottle drying rack / just a regular drying rack works fine
Some things we could have skipped:
Wipe warmer / if you want, simply warm on your arm for a second
Diaper bag / my diaper bag is great but really any old bag or backpack will do
Forehead thermometer / it never gives an accurate reading
Hooded bath towels / they’re cute but unnecessary
And now here are some things that I did find helpful, plus some of my favorite brands.
Bassinet and/or Crib
A bassinet is optional. You can always just start with a crib or pack-n-play. We bought this bassinet off Craigslist and loved it. Another bassinet I think is amazing is the Moba Bassinet. It has handles to easily move from room to room, plus you can repurpose the bassinet for storage. Made in the UK from responsibly sourced materials.
I also have friends that love the DockATot. These are really great if you plan on traveling a lot or co-sleeping. They also make toy arches that attach so it doubles as a play mat. Plus, they are made in Europe!
Once the baby grows out of the bassinet, you’ll need some sort of crib. We bought our crib new, but now this is definitely an item I wish I had bought used! I’m always seeing lovely cribs for sell on Craigslist. Like the carseat, just double-check they haven’t been recalled before buying used.
Mattress, Sheets & Swaddles
For a mattress, firmer is apparently better for babies, like this Sealy one. As for sheets, we have two, but three is probably better. There has been a few times that both sheets are dirty. Winter Water Factory makes cute ones from organic cotton made in the USA. Also, if you know anyone who can sew I think it would be so sweet to have sheets made out of vintage fabric.
Oh and swaddles are great for newborns! I like the muslin swaddles for multiple uses, like using as a carseat cover, or throwing in the diaper bag to use as as a light blanket or nursing cover. These Green Sprout Swaddles are made from organic muslim cotton.
This is the category where people go a bit crazy. We were completely against all this “stuff” before Lewie was born, you know jumpers or rockers or activity centers, but thankfully someone gifted us a baby swing, which was a lifesaver, and has since been used by two more babies. Again, this is a good used or borrowed item. We also found a play gym to be helpful. Finn & Emma makes a beautiful one. And Etsy has a lot of handmade options too.
As for toys, the options are endless. I’m a total sucker for beautiful babies toys, but obviously this is not a need, especially when they’re infants. But it can be fun to pick out a couple heirloom toys that will last a few children, or even longer! Favorite shop for fair-trade and eco-friendly toys is Wild Dill.
Lew was half breastfed, half formula-fed from the beginning so we had the stuff for both. If you plan on breastfeeding, you’ll probably want a pump. Electric pumps are nice, but pricey. However my friend got her’s paid for by her insurance and I borrowed a friends and then replaced all the parts so there are ways to get one inexpensively.
However, hand pumps are another great easy option that I didn’t discover till later. These are nice if you’re not trying to pump multiple times a day. Next time, I’ll probably skip the electric pump and just do a hand pump. They’re just a lot simpler and more discreet. This one looks really simple to use.
This list is really endless, but here are some things I didn’t need.
Breastmilk Storage Bags / I found that these bags would often leak if I was pumping straight into the bag, so I just pumped into a bottle. If I wanted to freeze I then transferred the milk to regular old ziplock bags.
Nursing Scarf / A muslim swaddle works just as well.
Nursing Bras / I wore these in the beginning but it was just easier for me to wear a sports bra or bralette than try to unhook the bra with a screaming infant.
Nursing Pillow / Some people swear by their nursing pillows, I found that a regular pillow worked just as well. And once I mastered the side nurse, I basically never nursed sitting up again.
Quick Clean Micro Steam Bags / These are bags that you put all your pumping accessories into and then steam in the microwave to get it all clean. Instead I just put everything in a bag that I placed in the refrigerator between pumps and then cleaned it all at the end of the day.
Ok so besides a pump, the things I did need was nipple cream, the gentlest nursing pads you can find, and someplace to store extra milk. Get bottles that match your pump so you can pump straight into the bottle then either store in the fridge/ freezer or put a nipple on it and feed straight to your baby, like these. Also I personally like the larger size because I would often pump 6-8 oz on my morning pump so the little bottles were annoying because I would have to stop half-way through to attach a new bottle.
Bottles & Brush
We went through a few bottles before we landed on LifeFactory bottles. I love that you can change the tops so they switch from bottles to sippy cups to regular cups. And the glass is so durable! These things have been dropped countless times over the last year and have never broken. And a bottle brush is very handy!
In the beginning we used disposable diapers, but now that we have a washer, I’m transitioning to cloth diapers and I honestly wish we were able to cloth diapers from the beginning. It’s cheaper and better for the environment. Lewie often gets terrible diaper rash so we’ve tried almost every diaper out there.
Disposable Diapers & Wipes
As far as disposable the gentlest, yet still absorbent I’ve found is Seventh Generation. As for wipes, I kind of hate them all. They’re either too thin, or too thick, or give Lewie rashes, or get stuck together. If I had to choose, Water Wipes are gentlest, but pricy. And if you’re an Amazon Prime member, their wipes are cheap and unscented. But if Lewie has a rash we just use water and a washcloth.
For cloth diapering I bought some used pocket diapers off Kidizen and then some cotton pre-folds with two diaper covers. Cloth diapering sounds super confusing because there are so many options, but it actually much simpler than I thought once you understand the terms and actually start using the products. I’m planning on doing another post on transitioning to cloth diapering, but if you want more information now, Green Mountain Diapers has lots of useful resources.
Carseat & Stroller
Obviously you need a carseat, and probably a stroller, but these are such personal decisions. We loved having an infant carseat in the beginning that could attach to our stroller or just easily bring inside, as opposed to starting with a convertible carseat. Babies always fall asleep in the car and there is nothing worse than having to wake up your baby to transfer them.
For a stroller we have two, a basic umbrella stroller and then a bigger stroller we can hike with. If you’re confused about the different kinds of carseats and strollers and want some good, practical information about which one is best for you (and your car!) check out Sophie’s List for Carseats and Sophie’s List for Strollers.
I don’t know of any specific company that is making eco-friendly carseats and strollers, but since everyone who has a baby needs a carseat and stroller, these are great second-hand items, especially because at the end of the day they are going to be covered in puke, so why waste thousands of dollars?
Baby carriers are another items that depends greatly on your baby so I would recommend borrowing a few from friends with kids to see what your baby prefers. Lew was never super into being carried, but we still got some use out of carriers in the very beginning. All my carriers were donated to me, which is amazing! I got the most use out of the Ergo for longer walks and a ring sling for shorter errands. I have friends that also swear by the Solly Baby Wrap Carrier. Made in the US with environmentally friendly dyes.
Tub & Shampoo
We had a tiny sink so we got this baby bathtub, which worked really well until about four months. We’ve since then handed this tub onto a friend. After Lew outgrew the baby bathtub, we just transitioned him to the regular tub with a towel laid down.
As for shampoo and body care but there is a lot of great organic and gentle products out there. We’re currently using Everyday Shea, made with fair-trade certified shea butter.
Other helpful first aid things — saline drops, Frida Nose Sucker , rectal thermometer, baby acetaminophen, and we swore by gripe water when Lewie had the hiccups, which was a lot. And lastly, pacifers! Don’t buy a bunch of one kind though because most likely your baby will have a preference.
Phew. I think that it’s! Let me know if I missed your favorite baby necessity in the comments!