Wednesday, 15 January 2014

What to Buy for Baby

Since so many of my friends are just now having their first or second child and I'm a few years ahead in the child-rearing game - and out of the baby end of it altogether - I've put together this little list (as requested) to help new and expecting parents figure out what they need and narrow down the options of baby gear available.

As tempting as it may be to go out and buy the biggest and best of every single item baby store registries tell you infants need, the reality is that they just don't need all that much - and that they'll outgrow all of it within a year. Far more practical is to buy the basics for Baby - a safe, sturdy two hundred dollar crib, for example, rather than the fancy seven hundred dollar one - and splurge instead on items that will last through his childhood, like a good solid dresser, or items that will get a lot of wear and tear, like a heavy-duty stroller.

Here are the must-haves for Baby:


Crib - No need to go crazy with the fanciest convertible crib you can find; Baby won't be in it that long and it makes much more sense to invest that money in the big-boy bed he'll be using for years.
Waterproof mattress pads
Crib sheets 
Dresser - Pick out a good, solid piece that will grow with your child; don't necessarily match it to the crib as that crib will be gone before you know it.
Change table - I think change tables are a waste of money and space; the reality is that most of the time you will be changing Baby's diaper on the couch or your bed or wherever you happen to be. I had one - I used it sometimes for my first, rarely for my second, and got rid of it before my third was born because it was such a waste of space. If you must have a designated changing surface, consider purchasing an attachment for your dresser that can be removed once the diaper-changing years are over.
Nursing chair - You will need a comfortable chair to sit in to nurse, but consider your options. Look at what you already have - maybe one of your living room armchairs could serve double duty in the nursery for that first year; otherwise, consider purchasing a chair you can see using in another room in your home once it's no longer needed in Baby's room. Those nursing gliders look like just that and nothing else - you will never be able to use that expensive piece of furniture in another room and it will end up filling up a corner of your garage.
Diaper pail - This may seem like an automatic purchase (hide that dirty diaper smell? Yes please!) but it's actually not necessary. Any pail with a lid that secures will do the same thing. We had the Diaper Genie for our oldest two boys but gave it away on one of our moves. We hadn't yet purchased a new one when Baby was born and improvised with an empty plastic box we'd purchased cat litter in - and realized that it worked just as well as any diaper pail without the expensive refills every couple of days. We've saved over fifteen hundred dollars in Diaper Genie refills since Baby was born!
Monitor - Personal choice, but I think those video monitors are both completely unnecessary and incredibly creepy. We've always just used a normal audio one with multiple receivers.
Lamp / night light

As you're planning out your nursery decor, try to remember how many of those items are only going to be in that room for a very short period of time - if you coordinate your drapery, bedding, mobile, bedside lamp and wall decor in a specific theme most of those will be gone in a few short months and what's left will look pretty stupid. Far better is to decorate in an easily interchangeable colour scheme accessorized with a couple of themed items that can grow with your baby as he moves into his toddler and childhood years.


Bassinet - Since an infant is in a bassinet for three months at the most (my younger two were big boys and outgrew their bassinet by six weeks old) consider how fancy it really needs to be before you invest. Putting your money toward a better crib makes more sense; investing most heavily in a big boy bed makes the most sense.
Playard - if it's going to stay set up in your family room, consider getting something smaller profile and less offensively ugly (Eddie Bauer makes some gorgeous neutral ones, which will drive you significantly less crazy than staring at a bunny or Pooh print every day.)
Ikea Antilop High Chair:
High Chair - I don't think high chairs need to be as elaborately large, padded, stuffed, and baby-pattern-printed as they are. (Baby is sitting in it. He doesn't see the cartoony animals printed all over it. You will, though. Every day. In the middle of your kitchen and dining room.) We always used the Ikea Antilop one - small, compact, low-profile, easy to assemble and disassemble, dishwasher-safe parts, and inoffensively white with stainless steel. Perfect.
Safety gates
Bouncer or rocker or swing  - you don't need all three! Two would do - one seat for each level of the house that can be moved from room to room.
Exerciser or jumper - you don't need both!

As you're buying baby items for your home, try to remember that these items will be taking up space in your living room, dining room, kitchen, wherever for a while. Consider the size and profile of some of these items - baby gear takes up an awful lot of space considering how small babies themselves are, sometimes unnecessarily. Also put some thought into what they look like - you'll be staring at whatever pattern you choose for months!
Graco Quattro Tour Travel System:


Car seat / stroller system - Here's where I'd recommend investing as much money as you can. Buy the absolute best car seat / stroller system that you can afford - look for safety, durability, ease of use and convenience. These are items you will be using every day - they need to stand up to the kind of use they'll be getting. Check customer reviews and ask other moms - get the absolute best stroller system you can find. I really liked the Graco Quattro Travel System, which we used for all three kids, and a good three-wheeled jogging stroller is a must if you do a lot of outdoor walking, hiking and field tripping.
Car mirror
Snugli Comfort Baby Carrier:
Carrier - I used the Snugli for all three of my boys, simply because it's what I started with and I liked it. I have also heard great things from other moms about the BabyBjorn and ErgoBaby carriers. The Snugli was safe and strong, comfortable for Baby and Mommy, and took us through countless shopping trips, hundreds of days at the zoo and full weeks at Walt Disney World over the course of three babies and many years.
Diaper bag - I had a proper diaper bag when my first son was a baby but scrapped it for my next two - even the nice-looking ones are not that pretty, and I found that I preferred carrying around a single large purse with multiple compartments. As a first time mom, you think you need to bring everything Baby owns to leave the house - after a while you realize a couple of diapers, a package of wipes and a receiving blanket stuffed into your purse will do.

Clothing (first 3 months)

12 onesies
12 sleepers
4 caps
4 bibs
4 socks / booties
4 scratch mitts


Breast pump
Nursing pillow
Nursing pads

(I've assumed Mom will be breastfeeding; if Baby will be formula fed, obviously this list will include many more items. I can't offer advice on these items as I never bottle fed any of my babies.)

Baby Care

12 receiving blankets
12 washcloths
4 hooded towels
nasal aspirator
nail clippers


  1. Went to the what not to buy for baby link but can't comment on the post. How come?

    1. I know, others have mentioned that too and I don't know why. The first year or more of posts don't have a comment section, and I haven't been able to figure out how to change that. Sorry!