Having your first baby is one of the most rewarding experiences we are privy to as mothers. You get a sense of what a machine your body is how patient you can be and the process of pregnancy is a great precursor to what kind of strength you possess as a woman.
It's also one of the most stressful and emotional times of our lives. Believe me, it's worth every second and I hate to be the one to tell you that the stress of motherhood never goes away. It's bound to happen when your heart is crawling around on the outside of your body.
There's so much to prepare for and you are probably thinking - what do I actually need to buy for my little one?
Not to worry, mommy. We'll break down your newborn baby essentials checklist here.
Okay, let's get this out of the way first. There is not a one-size-fits-all answer to this question and that's simply because some of us raise our little ones differently. That's okay. Let's start with the basic questions.
Do you plan on breastfeeding or bottle-feeding? Are you sticking with disposable diapers or cloth diapers? Are you actively avoiding pacifiers or are they going to be a part of your babe's arsenal?
All of these questions will determine what you will need for your individual child.
If you plan on nursing your kiddo, you will need a few essentials.
As a nursing mom myself, I promise this thing is a lifesaver. Breastfeeding is not just fun and games at the beginning. It can hurt and don't let anyone tell you different.
If you plan on working through your nursing time or are just in need of a little relief, a good breast pump is one of the best investments you'll make. It's less abrasive than your kid's sucking power. Seriously, how does such a tiny thing with virtually no strength get that kind of muscle?
This little numbing agent will be your best friend in the first few weeks of nursing. At no attempt at scaring you away because nursing is the most beautiful bonding experience you can imagine, it can cause cracking and even bleeding in the beginning. Believe me, it gets better and you'll be amazed at how quickly it becomes a necessity. You'll even begin predicting feeding times based on how your breasts feel... and fill. It's incredible. But, again, those suckers hurt in the beginning (pun intended). Lanolin oil is numbing and cooling and lovely and you'll want a hefty supply for that learning curve.
Listen up, ladies. You will leak and some days you'll think you're not going to and then it will get all over your maternity shirt and you'll want to cry because your emotions are firing. Keep nursing pads in your bra at all times during the nursing phase. It will save you some embarrassment and some money before you ruin your favorite bra.
There are about a million products on the market for nursing moms. It's worth the investment to get five or six nursing tops that make you feel pretty because the first few weeks after pregnancy will probably leave you feeling the least-sexy you ever have. So invest in yourself. The tops and a couple good nursing bras will make feedings in public and even at home a much easier process.
If you plan on bottle-feeding your baby, here are some items you will need.
There is a difference between regular formula and newborn formula. Be sure to keep the newborn formula stocked up. You may be tempted to get the six-pack liquid bottles that your little one can drink immediately but let me tell you, those will bankrupt you over the long haul. Save yourself a fortune by purchasing the powder formula and keep it stocked up. Buy in bulk. Seriously.
Your newborn will drink it up to 8-12 times a day. They're growing at an alarming rate and will need to drink a lot of it. As a side-note, you will also want a whole lot of nursing pads. Keep those handy for the first few months.
If you're not breastfeeding, your milk will stop naturally but it won't just go away immediately. Keep these in your bra until you're sure it's stopped.
Now that we've covered what you will need for your newborn, let's get to the fun stuff. What do I need for a newborn themselves?
Your newborn will be and will continue to be the most beautiful thing on God's green Earth but let's not dance around the bush here. Newborns have three modes: poop, sleep, eat... repeat. You'll need diapers. You will need a LOT of diapers. Stock up on about 300 newborn diapers and the wipes to match.
Yes, that's a whole lot and you'll be changing those about ten times a day. There are a lot of fun DIY ways to make wipes using paper towels that will save you a pretty penny but unless you plan on using cloth diapers (we salute you brave parents) then you'll need an entire arsenal of those things.
If you do plan on using cloth diapers, I would suggest stocking up on sensitive skin laundry detergent.
Even the best, cleanest parents will run into this issue. Our babies have incredibly sensitive skin and there are a lot of things that can make them get a little red in their swimsuit areas. Make sure you have a bottle of baby powder and a couple of tubes of diaper rash cream. These tend to last awhile so you won't need a ton of this stuff.
You will need baby shampoo, baby body wash and baby lotion. I would also suggest some bath towels and washcloths for your little one's sensitive skin but gentleness with non-newborn bath wear will do just fine.
Many moms like to get an actual baby bath to put in your bathroom but I was fine bathing my little one in the sink until she could sit up on her own. If you prefer the bath, it's a nice little extra but ultimately non-essential. However, you're going to face the dreaded blow-outs so prepare the bleach after a sink bath.
These usually include a nose sucker (although the Nosefrida is the best one on the market and I highly recommend it), a thermometer, baby nail clippers and a medicine dropper. Be sure to keep one of these on you at all times. Baby nails get incredibly sharp and you will want to clear your little one's nose the second they start sounding miserable because they can't breathe. This is a must for your diaper bag and I even bought a second one for home.
This is just a soft-bristle brush for gentleness on your little guy or gal's head during these first few months.
Your babies have very touchy skin so keep it hypoallergenic and soft.
Unless you live in a big city and plan on taking the subway everywhere, a car seat is a must-have.
This is a great place to put baby when you're working, reading, bathing, doing dishes or whatever else you'll be hurrying to get done before baby wakes up. My little girl would only sleep in her glider because it rocked her to sleep. An essential.
Walking is a wonderful way to get back into shape after baby and keeping your endorphins up when those pesky post-mom blues hit. Do yourself a favor and get you and your little one out of the house. Strollers make outdoor excursions so much easier.
If you need to get anything done, this is a great little accessory to have. It can prop baby up (under supervision) and can act as an arm to feed your little one if you're running around. Yes, of course, we love feeding our babies while holding them but even you'll need a break every once in awhile and it will free up a hand while nursing.
A baby bassinet is essential for your newborn to sleep. There are several types on the market that make co-sleeping or bed sharing easier on both parent and child. You will eventually need to upgrade to a full-sized crib after your baby exceeds the weight limit or starts to roll over.
You will upgrade your infant to a crib after bassinet. You will need a crib mattress and some fitted sheets to go with it. Be sure to keep only one blanket with your baby as a safety precaution.
Be sure to check safety labels on additional bedding accessories such as baby bumpers and extras inside the bassinet or crib.
If you ever plan on going anywhere, you will need to carry your baby's whole life with you for the first few months. This subsides after a little while but you'll need a decent bag to organize in frantic moments of a starving, screaming child or baby blow-out.
Okay, you can never have too many onesies. It's true. Your baby will go through these like crazy and dress them in the type with the tiny mittens on top. They tend to scratch themselves with their sharp little nails when they're trying to figure out what the heck is on their face. You will probably be okay with about ten of these but you will need to get your washer firing for about the first three months.
You'll want some warm pajamas and a few lighter options for your child. They're little but use your best judgment on temperature.
These little snappy things can keep the laundry to a minimum so stock up on about 8 of these.
You won't need any shoes. Newborn shoes are some of the cutest things in existence so, by all means, grab them if you want them but until your kid starts walking, they aren't needed. Make sure to keep your little one's feet warm in the colder weather and beware, you will lose almost all of these.
You will be taught how to swaddle your baby at the hospital. This is basically wrapping your child up like a burrito so they can't move around too much while they're asleep. It also makes them feel very safe right after coming out of mom's womb.
Avoid spit-up on you and your little one and get a handful of burp cloths. You will come in handy to keeping your clothes clean.
You will be just fine with three or four bottles but you'll need to obsessively clean them. If you can manage, six was my magic number on bottle feeding. You will also need a bottle brush to keep them clean.
My baby was never interested in these and it saved us the hassle of weaning her off of them. However, it's adorable and the sucking motion can be very therapeutic to the growing little one. If you want them, go ahead and grab a few of these too.
This list may seem overwhelming but if you start accumulating early and buy a few items at a time, you will be amazed how quickly you'll have a nursery ready to go.
If you plan on having a baby shower, ask people to go in together on the big items. It's okay to be bold. Anyone with a child understands how stressful the buying experience can be so don't be afraid to ask for help if they're offering. All of that stress goes away the minute you lay eyes on your little one so, take a few deep breaths, try to get some sleep tonight (believe me, I know the feeling) and get excited about that little bundle of joy.
Congratulations and happy shopping!