Ah, baby gear!! Everyone gets ALL a twitter at the prospect of being able to shop for baby gear. Then the reality kick in and by the time baby is 6 months old, you're sending loads of unopened baby gear to someone else, or stashing them out in the garage because it proved to be something you didn't need at all! When I went to register for baby gear during this pregnancy, I saw the list of baby 'essentials' which spanned 4(YES! 4!!) freakin' pages! It was written by someone who has never had a child or was merely trying to insult mothers intelligence. Seriously, I know that most of those lists are padded by the stores to encourage moms to register for more, but this one was ridiculous!! Most baby 'needs' are really baby wants or baby conveniences or baby nice-to-haves! :) Now, I understand that the list of actual needs will be longer for a first time mom. They are starting from scratch. For subsequent kiddos, you should be able to shrink the list substantially!! Now, I'm sure there are lists of this manner EVERYWHERE! This list is just my opinion based on common sense and practicality!
1) A pair of boobies-self explanatory! :) Also, you can ditch the lanolin and just use some coconut or olive oil on your nipples if necessary. If you want to toss in some nursing pads for good measure, then my personal favorites are from Bamboobies!! If you are unable to nurse, then you will need to purchase bottles, nipples, a bottle brush and formula. When I was formula feeding, I had about 10 bottles. I would buy new size nipples as needed. I didn't get a bottle brush because I used bottles with disposable drop-in liners. I also had a steam sterilizer, but you can also get disposable sterlizer packs to use in the microwave if you are short on space. As far as formula goes, I really wish there were better options available than what is currently on the market. If you need to formula feed, apparently the best to use is ready to feed, then liquid concentrate, then powder. Please, do your research!
2) Diapers! Baby's gonna poop, so you are gonna need a way to catch it. Some mama's practice elimination communication and thats all fine and well. I've thought about it, but its just not a method I feel confident in using. So, I use diapers. I LOVE cloth diapers and have a beautiful stash of handmade diapers! I can't say enough good things about the benefits of cloth diapers and they really are so easy to use. However, when baby is teething or has a tummy virus, I'm always happy to pull out a pack of disposables! I also live in an area prone to natural disasters, so I try to have a pack or two of disposables on hand in the size currently needed. If you use disposables, then just go to the store, pick up a few packs, grab a box of wipes, and you're good to go for a few days! :) Also good to have on hand: Diaper Ointment! I LOVE A&D Diaper Rash Cream if you're using disposables. If you're using Cloth diapers you'll also need covers! For Little Viking I used wool or fleece longies in the winter, and wraps in the summer. Also, I liked to have flushable diaper liners(great if your little is NOT exclusively breast fed) and a good, cloth diaper friendly ointment. My particular favorite is CJ's BUTTer! Its a great product and is available for those with super sensitive skin or yeast issues. My personal favorites are the Monkey Farts and My Pixie Pie scents! If using cloth diapers and you're hoping to really get your money's worth out of them, it would also behoove you to purchase a cloth diaper friendly detergent. I make my own, but I know that if you look on ANY cloth diapering websites, there are several detergent options available.
3) Baby Carrier. Yes, a baby carrier. Wear your baby. I have a Mei-Tai, a ring sling, and two wraps. They are ALL great and each one is great depending on the activities you are doing. They allow me to get a LOT more done, without toting a burdensome stroller around. Also, my kids HATED strollers.
4)A car seat. You'll need a seat that will accomodate a newborn, rear facing, to the current requirements. I don't use the infant car seats very often, because its easier, in my opinion, to get babies out of convertible car seats if you're going to be wearing them. I didn't use a 'travel system' or anything like that beyond my first baby. They are just bulky and, since I make big babies, I had no use for the infant seat permanently beyond 6 months. I figured I might as well get my money's worth and purchase a good convertible seat that would last me to the point that my kiddos could transition to a booster. Regardless of what you opt for, this is the only requirement(to the best of my knowledge) that is required by law, and it is required to leave the hospital with your baby.
5)A place for baby to sleep. You'll have to sort out what you want as far as this goes, but you'll have to put baby to bed somewhere. Personally, we will let baby sleep with us OR in a bassinet(that I've used for all my kiddos...and it was free so I've gotten my money's worth!) or we also have a little cradle type rocker with an incline which can be very helpful if baby has reflux. Some people start out with a crib, some opt for a play yard and some people never purchase any kind of special bed for baby. Little Valkyrie slept with us, but also LOVED her crib. However, she was out of it before she was 2. She just didn't want to sleep in it anymore. Little Viking is a different story. He slept on me for ages. He would also sleep in the bed with me and I had his crib attached to the bed. Eventually, he wanted to just be in the crib, and have his own 'bed' so we let him. Of course, he's still in our room, but, even at 3, he refuses to stop sleeping in the crib, despite the fully assembled toy story rocketship toddler bed sitting right there! :P Oh well, no harm no foul! :) First time moms will need to get a crib(or whatever they are using), a mattress, some fitted sheets and a couple of waterproof mattress protectors. If co-sleeping, invest in a couple of good mattress protectors for your bed! Trust me.
6)Clothing. Baby needs something to wear. Now, since I wear my littles, if the weather is warm, I will just take them out in their diaper because they are going to be covered and I don't want them to overheat. At home, Its usually just a diaper in the summer as well. I can't say how much I LOVE side snap shirts for babies! Especially if you cloth diaper. Most onesies don't accomodate a fluffy butt, so you can just stick to side snap shirts and the diaper cover can serve as 'pants'! For this new little, its side snap shirts, skirties and leg warmers. Cheap, easy, and I've made most of the things she needs from leftover fabric. Well, except for the shirts! :)
Ok, so, thats it! I know some of you are thinking 'wait! What?! Hold on just a sec!!' However, honestly these are the essentials. Throw in a rectal thermometer and a humidifier and you're good to go. This is what you NEED. There are lots of other things you can get to make your life easier but, fundamentally, these are the basics. So, if you are on a tight budget and feel badly about all the things you don't have, rest assured that even at that you probably have more than you need!