Let me be honest here. I was never one of those perfect moms you see out at the park that make motherhood look completely effortless. You know who I’m talking about – the freshly showered, perfectly pony-tailed, fresh-faced moms with the blissfully silent, perfectly clean baby in tow, probably wrapped around them in some fashionable sling.
Apparently those kind of moms do, in fact, exist.
Me? I’m not one of them. I’m the mom hiding in the corner with the toddler who has the sloppy, lopsided pig tails and a milk mustache while she is hanging from my leg.
I know I’m a great, fun mom, but having a baby didn’t exactly come naturally to me. I learned everything the hard way, because the truth is having a baby is ridiculously hard! It’s not all baby powder and sweet baby smiles (at least not all of the time.)
What I did learn quickly enough as a new mom is that you don’t need the majority of the stuff that people tell you you need.
I’m not sure very many moms can resist the temptation of filling their baby registries with loads of insanely soft outfits and tiny shoes. It’s all so sweet and cute — I get it!
It’s every mom’s right to register for those things, but what you will realize when you open your umpteenth pair of baby booties is that you don’t actually need the majority of it. (Especially those baby booties — your baby will never wear them.)
If you’re wondering what items you do need, you’ve come to the right place. Here’s my list of 10 must have baby items.
When I was in the hospital with my newborn, I wondered why people always say taking care of a newborn is so hard. This is so easy, I thought to myself.
In my post-labor haze, I clearly didn’t consider all of the nurses taking care of me and my baby, escorting me to the bathroom, cleaning me, and bringing me food. What can I say? I was naive, and still apparently coming off of my delivery drugs.
On our first night home, I didn’t have large enough swaddlers for my newborn (I used what I thought were nicely sized thin blankets), and I paid dearly for that when I was up every hour on the hour.
Don’t learn the hard way like I did! Newborns like to be swaddled tightly, and you will need large swaddlers to do this.
2. Nice Bottles
You get what you pay for when you’re purchasing baby bottles, and many of them are pretty expensive for a reason. The problem is you have to have so many of them, it adds up quickly. Trust me, you don’t want to be disinfecting and cleaning a dirty baby bottle when you have a screaming, hungry baby in your arms. You need to stock up.
I tried the cheap ones at first and I got what I paid for — plastic, poor quality baby bottles that my baby struggled to drink out of. I ended up paying a lot of money first on cheap bottles, and then on nice bottles, which means I spent far more money than I should have.
Whether you go for cloth or disposables, your baby will tear through these so quickly! Seriously, they are little pooping machines, and I started stocking up before I even gave birth.
4. A Car Seat
This is one of the items you’ll probably do the most research on to ensure your baby’s safety. You don’t have to buy the fanciest or most expensive model. Do a little research on safety features, and choose a modestly-priced car seat based on your budget. Your baby will need a toddler-sized car seat before you know it!
5. A Crib
Repeat after me: you don’t need a bassinet or fancy co-sleeper, just a crib. Ours was a hand-me-down from a friend, which saved us at least $500. I know there’s a stigma with getting a used crib, but as long as you make sure the model hasn’t been recalled, then there’s nothing unsafe about it. You can save big bucks if you find one to borrow from a friend of family member.
6. A Stroller
Having a stroller will make getting around with baby much easier. I would opt for one with slightly larger wheels if it’s an option. Walk with it in the store first to make sure there is enough room for your feet to move.
7. A Bouncy Seat
There will probably be many times you’ll be alone with your baby. The only way for you to take a shower (or simply go to the bathroom) without leaving your infant to fend for itself is to drag that bouncy seat into the bathroom with you.
As a new mom, you “do what you gotta do,” and you’ll eventually be sticking your head out of the shower with a head full of shampoo just to coo at your little baby in the middle of the bathroom floor, bouncing away happily (and sometimes not so happily). Such is your season of life!
8. A Breast Pump
If you choose to breast feed, you’ll probably need a breast pump. Even if you’re planning on staying home with your baby, there will be times when you’ll be away from your baby and need to pump.
Breast pumps aren’t cheap, but they are worth every penny since your breast milk is worth gold to your baby.
9. A Baby Monitor
Believe me, you’ll wake up in the middle of the night and panic, wondering if your baby is breathing. I turned my baby monitor up to super-sonic level so many times just to hear my baby’s soft breathing.
I kept it up so high that one night, I woke up because I heard her teddy bear fall off her bed and hit the carpet.
10. Safety Gates, Cabinet Latches, and Outlet Covers
Once those little babies turn into little crawlers and walkers, they are everywhere! Seriously, nothing is safe, and you’ll live a year or two with nothing small or breakable in your house from your waist down. They will quickly train you on what little fingers can manage to grab onto!
Try to leave the cute, but worthless baby goods off your registry (don’t worry, you’ll still receive plenty of those gifts from well-meaning friends and family), and try to work on gathering the items you’ll actually need. It will absolutely save you money!
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What’s on your list of must-have baby items?