It comes the day when you see the pregnancy test positive, and uh oh, you are going to be a mother! You can’t avoid thinking of all the things you need to buy, the nursery, painting, boy or girl. Then your heart starts palpitating and your head starts spinning nonstop. It is true that as a first-time parent, you have zero ideas of what is REALLY needed. There is a multi-million dollar industry out there and you can spend thousands of dollars just to get started. But don’t worry, here is a minimalist breakdown of the things you do need for your first baby, the ones you don’t or are good to have.
Things that you need for your first baby
My biggest advice is to ask around with friends to get their no longer used first baby items still in good condition. You will be extremely surprised by all the money you are going to save this way. Second-best advice is to look at Facebook Marketplace for used items; you may save half or more of the retail price.
1. Ask around with friends.
2. Look at Facebook Marketplace (Craigslist or Kjiji).
3. Buy it new: Check out Amazon or Walmart first.
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Here is the list of the things to look for:
- Cloth diapers. Please consider this one and think about not generating hundreds of pounds of garbage that will end up in a landfill or the ocean. Cloth diapers are easy to wash and use, plus you save a lot of money in the long run! Most importantly, it is better for your baby’s skin and the environment! Take a look at my post How to Wash Cloth Diapers.
- Recommended brand: Alvababy Pocket Diapers
- Biodegradable diapers. If washing diapers is not for you, even after you tried, you can choose disposable diapers which most of their components are biodegradable. Regular brands (non-biodegradable) are cheaper, but if you don’t have the time or patience for cloth diapers and can afford to pay a little bit more for an environmentally friendly diaper, buy biodegradable ones.
- Recommended brand: Little Feet by LaChance
- Diaper Cream. Babies do #2 several times a day. Sometimes it can start irritating their skin and the diaper cream avoids a bad rash. If using cloth diapers, avoid the contact of regular diaper cream into the diaper fabric because it would clog the surface and avoid absorption. A natural alternative for diaper cream for cloth diapers is to use coconut oil.
- Recommended brand: Sudocream
- Detergent. It does not necessarily need to be a baby detergent. As long as it is suitable for sensitive skin, no dyes or perfumes.
- Recommended brand: Tru Earth Eco Strips
- Onesies. Your baby can use onesies for as long as you want. They are comfortable and keep your baby warm. Get the ones with zippers instead of snaps, it is a pain to do 20 of those at 3 am half asleep! Buy neutral colours so you can re-use them for your next baby 🙂 Remember that babies grow extremely fast, and the newborn size may fit them for only a couple of weeks. Get around 10 and do a load of laundry a week. Add other baby clothes and blankets to the load to save energy.
- Recommended brand: Simple Joys by Carter’s
- Sleep Sack. It is risky for babies to sleep with a loose blanket. A sleep sack keeps them warm and you have no worry about them pulling a blanket in their face at night.
- Recommended brand: Halo Innovations Sleepsack
- Blankets. You can use them to cover your baby while on a car ride or in the stroller, put it in your shoulder while burping, wash and clean your baby’s face, swaddle, etc. Choose a soft fabric.
- Recommended brand: Simple Joys by Carter’s Baby 7-Pack Flannel Receiving Blankets
- Baby Monitor. No need to get the fancy ones. You can get a good/new one with a camera for less than $100. You would feel more comfortable while your baby naps.
- Bottles. If for any reason, breastfeeding is not happening, you would need a clean bottle for every feeding. If your baby eats every 3 hrs, then you need at least 8 if you plan to wash them once a day. Use good regular dish soap, no need to spend your money on specialized baby soap, just rinse them very well with warm water. Do buy a good sturdy bottle brush as some of them may bend easily.
- Recommended brand: Philips Avent Anti-colic Baby Bottles and Philips Avent Bottle Brush.
- Formula. Unless your baby has special allergies or intolerance, get the brand that you can afford. Most formulas are safe. I like Enfamil, it has worked for me and other moms.
- Recommended brand: Enfamil A+ Infant Formula
- Bathtub. Do not spend too much money on this one. Remember that your baby grows really fast and as soon as she starts crawling, it will be challenging to keep her inside the tub and will transition to the bathtub very fast. A zero-cost alternative is to use a thin blanket to lay down your baby on the bottom of your regular bathtub.Recommended brand: Angelcare Baby Bath Support or Boon Soak 3-Stage Bathtub
- Nail Clippers. Baby nails grow super fast. If you don’t clip them then your baby will scratch his face and you would feel awful.
- Recommended brand: Safety 1st Complete Nail Care Set
- Comb. In case your newborn needs it. You don’t want to use your own hairbrush and pass along dandruff. Just saying.
- Recommended brand: Nuby Comb and Brush Set
- Body Wash. Bath time is challenging at the beginning. Babies are not used to them! Use a mild, no tear, hypoallergenic and pediatrician recommended head to toe soap. Avoid changing brands on any that touches your baby’s skin, including diapers, body wash, detergent, etc.
- Recommended brand: Aveeno Baby Body Wash and Shampoo
- Moisturizer. Baby skin is so sensitive. Use a reputable brand and make sure is dermatologically tested.
- Recommended brand: Aveeno Baby Lotion
- Car seat and stroller. Some car seats can be used in your car with a base and then be attached to a stroller. They are super convenient and flexible. Sometimes cheaper than the big brands. Recommended brand: Graco Pace Click Connect Travel System
But, what about other things? Yes, they are useful but they are not necessary, you can find an alternative with something you already have at home. Baby targeted products are sometimes more expensive than regular items.
Things that you don’t really need for your first baby, but could be nice to have.
- Towel. Yes, babies in hoodies are so cute. Pick one towel from the ones you have at home, wash it with detergent and use it only for your baby. You may need an additional towel to wash your baby’s bum.
- Formula Maker. This could be expensive. A cheaper way to make your baby’s bottle is to warm up the water in a small pot and then add the formula powder, it takes less than 1 minute. If you have a bit of cash, you can get a bottle warmer for less than $20.
- Diaper Bag. A $10 backpack would do the trick. Pick one that has a lot of pockets to keep your items organized. This way your partner won’t feel awkward carrying it.
- Change pad. Use a small thin blanket instead. It will be softer and nicer while your baby lies down. There is a chance that your baby may do #1 or #2 but you can always roll it and put it back in your backpack to wash at home.
- Formula Dispenser. Add the formula to an empty and clean bottle instead. Bring an extra bottle with water only. Mix it well and shake it.
- Wet Bag. You can use this to add your dirty cloth diapers to your backpack while on the go. You can find them for less than $5 on Amazon. While this is nice to have, you can re-use a regular plastic bag. It will do the trick.
- Wipes. To avoid single-use wipes, you can get 20 or so cheap face cloths from the dollar store. Use warm water from the tap whenever changing a messy diaper. Wash them with your cloth diapers. Remember that now you can get biodegradable ones if you can afford them.
- Hat. You would need it only while your baby is outside. Hats can overheat your baby while sleeping, making them sweat, get wet and then cold.
Being a first-time mom is not easy. Just do the best you can and ask for advice or help. You would do great! It is challenging but extremely rewarding.