So, you're about to become a dad for the first time. It's both exciting and terrifying, knowing that your life is going to change forever. Having a plan is one of the ways you can cope with all of the big feelings that impending parenthood can stir up in you. Preparing for the baby can be a lot of fun, especially if you enjoy finding the "best" products or finding a bargain. The big issue is what exactly you need to get for a newborn baby. If you listen to everyone around you, there are so many things that are supposedly essential. But what do you really need at the beginning, when your baby is little more than an eating, sleeping, pooping potato?
A Car Seat
One of the first things you're going to have to do is take your baby home. If you're driving, which most people will be, you need a car seat. In fact, some hospitals won't let you leave unless you can show that you have an approved car seat. Buying something like a car seat can seem tricky at first, but it could be easier than choosing some other products. If you ignore all of the branding, it really comes down to safety, size, and other practical factors. You need a car seat that's right for your baby's size and weight and that hopefully, they can grow into for at least a few months. Babies need to be in rear-facing seats at first and, ideally, should stay rear-facing for as long as possible.
Stroller and Baby Carrier
When you're not driving, you need other ways to carry your baby around. A stroller is ideal when you're walking, particularly when your baby gets heavy enough that carrying might not be the best idea. It also gives you a way to carry other stuff and you can get strollers designed for activities like jogging. You should think about how and when you're going to use a stroller before you buy one so that you can buy one that's suited to your needs. Another option for getting around with your baby is a baby carrier or sling. Wearing your baby is a pretty handy option, leaving your hands free and even making it possible to do things like go hiking with your baby on your front or back.
If you're looking at baby furniture to add to a nursery or other places in your home, deciding just what is and isn't needed is tough. But one thing to keep in mind is that it's likely you won't need a lot of it, at least not at first. You could buy a crib, but there's no point just yet if your baby will spend the first few months in a bassinet. A bassinet takes up a lot less space and can be moved around more easily. You only have to worry about buying a bassinet mattress and bedding to go with it. Another piece of furniture you might not need is a changing table. A changing mat will do just as well, and you can place it on any surface. Plus, it's portable so you can easily take it with you when you're out and about.
There are few things that a newborn baby really needs, but clothes are definitely something you can't go without. And you're going to need a lot more than you think. It's not that you need to have a wide choice of outfits, but that you could potentially make it through a few sets of clothes every day. You never know what might happen and whether your baby will need a complete change. The best thing to do is to start with a range of plain onesies. A few layers, depending on the season, will ensure your baby stays warm. While it's good to stock up on clothes, avoid going overboard too. Babies grow fast, and you'll soon be moving up to the next size. Buying second-hand clothes can save a lot of money.
Bottles and Accessories
If you're bottle-feeding, either exclusively or together with breastfeeding, you'll need to get some bottles and a few other items. There's a range of options available for bottles, with different materials, shapes, and even nipple shapes and sizes. Deciding which bottles to get requires you to think about a few factors, from the ease of cleaning to how easy they are to hold. If you're not sure where to start, looking for recommendations can help you to find a product to start with. Along with bottles, a few accessories will come in handy. Spare nipples and a bottle brush will be useful and, of course, you need to stock up on formula.
If you're breastfeeding, you might also find a breast pump, milk storage bags, and nipple pads useful. And whether you and your partner are planning on nursing or bottle-feeding, it's always handy to have some burp cloths or muslins within reach.
Diaper and Bathing Essentials
One thing that you definitely need to buy is diapers. Get ready to make your way through a lot of them. However, you might not want to buy any (or at least, too many) before your baby is born. You can't be sure what size your baby will need or how long you will need that particular size. So if you do buy some diapers, consider getting a sample pack with a few different sizes or limiting the numbers you purchase. You can choose disposable diapers or you might explore the option of cloth diapers.
Along with diapers, wipes are a must, and you'll want some diaper cream too. A diaper bag makes it easy to carry your baby's things around, but you don't necessarily need to buy a fancy diaper bag. A backpack or messenger bag could work just as well.
Bathing items should be on your shopping list too. You don't necessarily need a baby bathtub, but it can be useful. Baby shampoo and soap ensure you have gentle products to use on your baby's sensitive skin. Baby lotion will help to keep your baby's skin soft and hydrated. A couple of soft baby towels will also help you to get set up. Nail clippers or a nail file can be added to these supplies too, helping you keep your baby's nails short.
A few items to keep your baby healthy and look after your baby if they get sick will give you peace of mind. A baby thermometer is good to have to hand and can come in a few different designs to take temperatures in different ways. A small first aid kit will give you some essential items for taking care of minor problems at home. You might find that a cradle cap brush is another item that comes in handy for your newborn. While not strictly a health item, a few pacifiers are an optional purchase that will help to soothe your baby when they're ill and at other times too.
Tech fans might start to get excited when they see what sort of baby tech is available, especially if you're not that interested in the other baby items. But before you spend a lot of money on gadgets for your newborn, you need to think about what you really need. A baby monitor is generally accepted as an essential item. It makes it easy to keep watch over your baby when you're not in the same room. If you want to get really fancy, you could consider a video monitor so you can see your baby at the same time. Even fancier, you could consider a wearable baby monitor. However, a standard baby monitor is probably the only item you could consider essential.
Things for Parents
When you've got everything that your baby needs, it's worth thinking about what you might need too. What about when you're up doing a nighttime feed? Your baby might have plenty of changes of clothes, but do you have enough outfits that you can change several times a day if necessary? Stocking up on pre-prepared meals or making sure you have a couple of takeout apps on your phone will help you in the first few days and weeks. Want to be able to take it in turns to get some peace and quiet? A pair of noise-canceling headphones will allow you to relax.
Finding the time to take care of yourself and your home when you have a newborn can be tough. Consider setting up the delivery of groceries and other essentials so you don't have to go shopping. Make sure you've got some personal care products available, even if they include wipes so you can have a quick clean. You might even consider a robot vacuum cleaner to clean up after you, or maybe a cleaning service to help out at the beginning.
There are plenty of things that aren't really necessary when you become a new parent. Stick to the essentials and you can avoid wasting money and space.