Getting the best new baby essentials for any baby can feel so complicated — special needs or not! Where to begin? There are countless versions of lists for parents to buy up for the Big Day when that soft little munchkin comes home from the hospital.
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The time leading up to my delivery date was too uncertain due to the high risk in my pregnancy, so I never got a baby shower when I had my daughter. I had a few donations from friends when they offloaded their stuff, which was great.
Since I mostly made my own purchases, what do I recommend?
When I got what I needed for her myself, I would have advised myself against getting clothes during the first year — Goodwill is sooo much easier and cheaper for that! Except stuff you WANT to see on your itty bitty, then definitely splurge on just those. My splurge outfits were usually Carters brand. Check to make sure the material is 100% cotton or other natural materials.
Disposable: Just get small diaper packs until you know what works best for baby’s skin. If I hadn’t done that, a lot of Pampers would have gone to waste since Aubby is allergic to them. Same thing for wipes (and for formula). The brands my sensitive-skin girly uses are Huggies Little Movers diapers and Seventh Generation wipes.
Reusable cloth: If you choose the cloth diapering route, there are so many options there, too! I’ve found I really like Cloth-eez Workhorses for Newborn, Sunbaby and BumGenius for the time between Newborn and One Size, and covers with bamboo soaker paddings wrapped with a cotton flour sack towel OR any WAHM (work at home mom) made cotton diaper paired with a cover for One Size.
Friends love to give baby blankets. I have no shortage of those, though I love having them. For safety reasons I recommend stiffer blankets, ones that aren’t so easy to get wrapped up in. Be sure they’re 100% cotton or other natural material!
Toys accumulate quickly, also, and is a top gift from others. Like clothes you WANT to see happen, I’d only focus on those items to start with. I just check to be extra sure small pieces won’t come off and that stuffy fur stays intact when tugged on.
However, in our journey to remove polyester items from our house because Aubby became allergic to them, 9 out of 10 stuffed animals had to go. I am still looking for replacements for other toys that are hard plastic. Meanwhile, I’m working to learn how to make stuffed animals using old baby outfits.
A bassinet was useful for Aubby over a crib starting out. Graco’s Travel Lite Crib was my family’s favorite. Then she didn’t like her crib until she’d basically outgrown her pack-n-play. I think babies like things that are “their size”, or it feels intimidating to them.
These days, Aubby sleeps on a crib mattress since she hasn’t yet outgrown that size. We are in the market for a natural-materials bed. When we have located that, I’ll update.
6. Car seat
A Britax car seat. This is my preferred brand based on reviews, and seemed to have the least amount of recalls. I loved the carrier one she started out in, and now I love her bigger Advance one she uses now. Be certain to select a car seat produced in the current or within the past year for optimum quality, as car seats have individual expirations of 6 years.
Unfortunately, I’m not aware of any chemical-safe car seat options, especially since they are all prepared with flame retardant, and adding any extras to cover a seat would void their warranties. As Aubby started having swelling reactions to her car seat material, my family has had luck putting her in long sleeves and long pants so she touches less skin to her car seat.
Sock-ons, if you intend socks to stay on. I really liked those. I was the only mom I knew who still had baby socks around until Aubby got older.
When I know of a gluten safe sock option, I’ll update.
8. Burp rags
Flour sack towels. These have been indispensable for burp-up, poop messes, when Aubs has been sick, good for road trips, and anything else in a pinch. Easy to wash, plain, cheap, absorbent, and 100% cotton.
CHEAP baby bottles. Somehow, that works. Try starting with Dr. Browns Starter Kit, Nuby, or Medela ones. Since glass bottles don’t have the right suction for anyone I know, plastic non-BPA/BPS ones may be better.
When I know of a gluten safe nipple butter, I’ll update.
If not bottle feeding, breastfeeding is totally an option, and I loved my nursing experience — for which I recommend Earth Mama Angel Baby nipple butter and Bamboobies Overnight nursing pads. My friend Joanne at Dare To Dream Soaps & More also makes a great nipple butter for nursing and can customize. We nursed for a year, and those were my two had-to-haves. HAD TO. They made it doable, and double for pumping.
When I know of a gluten safe nipple butter, I’ll update.
Speaking of pumping, I used a Medela Freestyle. I wasn’t blessed with another Medela, and wasn’t able to try a Spectra S2, either, since I fully breastfeed my second. Hospital grade pumps are ABSOLUTELY worth the pay, but the electric pump sent by insurance the second time around didn’t elicit a response from me. I ended up relying on a Haakaa milk catcher with additional support from a Lansinoh hand pump, which has been successful.
That’s all of my Best 11 New Baby Essentials list!
I don’t have a lot of frill on this list. I’d assembled a full cloth diapering set, but events around Aubby’s birth required my attention on making sure she ate well, so breastfeeding became my primary focus. Having a baby with global delays increased personal interaction over the need for excess supplies, so I purchased sparingly with an eye on development.
The list I’ve assembled here for you includes all of my favorite items for momming. So preferred, in fact, that I hoarded my selections in hopes of doing it all again with the same stuff (though I’m turning in the infant car seat to the Fire Department so it may be reused by someone in need before it expires, and I’ll replace that later).
I hope you find this list helpful! CONGRATS, Mama, I’m excited for you!