About a week ago a mother-to-be asked the question, “What do I have to buy before my baby arrives?”

I would like to think that I am a bit of an expert on baby gear.  I have an infant now, and a toddler, and now officially have a larger than average American family.  (As an aside, have you ever noticed how any family with one more child than your own, suddenly becomes a “large” family?)

My Mom Made That: 5 Essential Items for Every Newborn

I considered what I would buy for a while, but I didn’t want to rely upon my wisdom and expertise alone, so I consulted with two blogger friends.  Both of whom have babies close in age to the Peanut.  Both of whom also have “larger than average” American families. (There are nine kiddos between the 3 of us!) Both of whom rock that Mommy thing in their own amazing ways.  Both of whom rock that Blogger thing in ways that impress me.  And, most importantly, both of whom are lovely, thoughtful people!

Nancy over at Small Things with Love is a blogger who discusses Motherhood, the Catholic Family, Crafts and Embroidery.

Shot of Nancy From Small Things with Love

Erin over at DIY on the Cheap is a DIY superstar, has stunning home decor tutorials, and a lot of great crafting projects.

Head Shot of Erin from DIY On The Cheap

I highly recommend that you check their blogs out.

So, I asked them both the following question:

“Assuming that you had NO baby gear with the exception of a crib, car seat, stroller, diapers, wipes and basic clothing, what would you HAVE to buy to survive the first 3 months.”

Between the Three of Us, 5 Categories of Items Emerged:

1) A Baby-Wearing Device:  For the mother-to-be, watching an experienced baby wearer is a bit mesmerizing!  Last year at Haven, I watched a mother wrap her itty-bitty newborn in a Moby wrap (affiliate link), and I had to try it.  The Moby was one of the few pieces of gear that I bought brand new just for the Peanut.

My Mom Made That: 5 Essential Items for Every Newborn

(Click to see item.)

Once I got the Moby Wrap on, I didn’t know where it had been all my life!  Baby wearing is life changing  because it frees up your hands.  You can do light cleaning and cooking while wearing your baby.

Nancy said that she preferred to use the ErgoBaby Carrier (affiliate link).  However, there are so many amazing baby wearing wraps, slings and carriers out there.  If you are interested in testing one out, or learning about the different varieties, a good place to start is Baby Wearing International.

My Mom Made That: 5 Essential Items for Every Newborn (BabyWearing International Logo)

2) Swaddlers:  Both Erin and I feel like these are must-have items.  However, we selected different brands.  I’m wild about the Woombie (affiliate link), and still use the “Big Baby” version with the Peanut.

My Mom Made That: 5 Essential Items for Every Newborn

(Click to see item.)

Erin shared that she prefers to use the Love to Swaddle Up swaddled, which I had never heard of before.  Unlike the Woombie, the babies arms are swaddled upward.  The theory is that this is the baby’s more natural sleeping position.  Erin swears by this type of swaddler.

My Mom Made That: 5 Essential Items for Every Newborn

3) A Rocking Chair or Glider:  Mamas need to rock their babies.  They just do.  Recently I was standing in line at the store without any kids.  (A true rarity!)  I must have been unintentionally rocking because the woman behind me smiled and said, “You have a baby at home.”  I looked surprised and nodded.  She said, “I can tell.  You have that Mama Sway while you are standing.  Mama’s have to keep moving to keep the baby happy.”  That is SO true.  Babies love being rocked and swayed and snuggled.  Having a comfy chair that allows you to do this is a must.

My Mom Made That: 5 Essential Items for Every Newborn

4) Something for Co-Sleeping:  First of all, let me define “co-sleeping”– sharing the same room with your baby.  It’s generally encouraged during the newborn period because co-sleeping in the same room as your infant reduces the risk of SIDS. (Here is a great handout about room-sharing and SIDS from a nonprofit in Australia.)

There are lots of different kinds of co-sleepers.  From the kind that you put directly in your bed, to the kind that act as a “side-car” next to you bed. The one advantage of having a co-sleeper is your ability to get it very close to your bedside.  This means you can pat the baby without getting out of bed, and have an easier time feeding the baby during the night.  They are great for everyone’s sleep!

My Mom Made That: 5 Essential Items for Every Newborn

(Click to see item. NB: Child was not left to sleep unattended with lots of blankets on him.)

Now, I used the Fisher-Price Rock ‘N Play (affiliate link) for this purpose because it was the perfect height, and was at a slight angle to assist with both the Peanut’s and the Monkey’s acid reflux.  Erin also said that the Rock ‘N Play was one of her essential items, but also shared that she used a co-sleeper.

5) Nursing Supplies: There was some variability on this topic amongst us, but there seemed to be consensus that if one is to breastfeed, some gear is required.  Nancy shared with me that the Boppy Pillow is an essential tool for surviving the newborn period.  I agree that it’s an amazing tool for the first few months, and then I tend to get lazy about using it, and switch to a regular pillow.

If you are planning on nursing in public, you might decide that you’d like to invest in a few nursing tops.  Nancy and I both have done this.  I’m a big fan of the Milk Nursingwear brand. I also recommend a good nursing shawl.  I have one that I picked up 12 years ago when the Big One was an infant. I confess I’m rather attached to it.  However, you can make your own by following Nancy’s tutorial here.

My Mom Made That: Image Originally From Do Small Things with Love, DIY Nursing Cover


The remaining items were things we individually said we would need:

  • Swing versus Bouncy Seat?  Erin said that all three of her boys loved a bouncy seat.  It was a must have for all 3 of her boys.  Now only one of mine did.  My other two LIVED in their swing.  The point here is that babies may prefer a swing, a bouncy seat, or both.  It’s hard to predict what your own child will like, as every baby is different.  Personally, I would recommend that you pick these items up at a consignment sale for that very reason.  AND if you have a baby that loves his swing like my Littles do, invest in a swing that has a AC adapter.  (Yes, they cost more up front, but I promise you that there will ultimately be savings due to battery usage!)
  • Something for Cognitive Stimulation: Nancy said that her newborns love their mobiles.  There are baby-centered mobiles and nursery-centered mobiles out there.  Try to focus on finding one that is baby-centered, and will help your little one develop her vision, rather than one that just looks cute in the nursery.  The Monkey and the Peanut loved the one that I got, (affiliate link) and I loved being able to change the images as the babies matured.

My Mom Made That: 5 Essential Items for Every Newborn

(Click to see item. NB: The baby was not left unattended with toys in the crib.)

  • Child Safety: Erin said that she had to have a baby monitor.  I haven’t ever used one much, but I can see how they are lifesavers for some families.  In general, we have room shared until I stopped worrying as much.  However, if you have a big house and you can’t hear what is going on your Little One’s room, you might want to look into a good video baby monitor.

My Mom Made That: 5 Essential Items for Every Newborn

  • Baby Bathtub: This made my list because I think little babies are just too darn slippery.  I worry about them sliding and bumping their heads on the faucet if I bathe them in the sink.  I worry about dropping them in the big tub.  Thus, I have found that a good plastic baby bathtub is a necessary item for the newborn period in my house.

At the end of all of this, it was really amazing how few items the three of us felt were absolutely necessary for our survival during the first few months of the newborn period.  However, new mothers often feel like they must buy everything!  In reality, babies need a lot less gear than we think.   Mainly, they need love and lots of snuggles.

That being said, Did I miss any of your “must haves?”