There are a few things that are absolutely essential and others that are optional…
When you are expecting a baby, you can get overwhelmed by all the baby products available especially if he or she is your first. Therefore, it is good to know what you will really need to avoid wasting money on things you will not use.
A word of warning regarding some baby products
Some traditional baby products may actually be harmful for your baby and you need to be alert to this. One example is baby powder that can cause breathing problems when inhaled by the baby. This is particularly serious in talc based products that are hard to keep out of the air when being used. If you decide to use baby powder make sure that you put it first on your hands, away from your baby, and apply it carefully avoiding accumulation of powder that can also irritate the skin.
During the first year
The products that you will need for your baby during the first year of life are everything from clothing, feeding, hygiene products, and gear for when you need to move your baby around. Clothes should be soft, warm and comfortable for daily wear and allow your baby to move freely. You should buy a variety of sizes and not many newborn clothes since babies grow fast and some even go directly to 3 months clothes. Avoid clothing with zippers and buttons, since these are harder to take off and put on, and strings or ribbons that can be choking hazards. As for shoes you will not need hard soled shoes in the first months until your baby is good at walking since they can delay development.
From diapers to shampoo
Hygiene products are everything from diapers to shampoo and you should know a few things before buying them. You can plan ahead how many diapers your baby will need and start to stock them during pregnancy, especially when they are on sale. In the first months, babies go through ten to twelve diapers a day. Wipes are not all made the same, you should pay attention to the ingredients and you can even make your own, just be prepared to go through a lot of them and buy in advance.
It will be useful to have a diaper cream or petroleum jelly to avoid rashes. As for a changing table, this is not an essential item, you can buy instead a changing pad or towel to be able to change your baby even when you go out. It is also helpful to have a designated place for when you are at home, it can be a bed, a table or even the floor. A diaper bag is essential when you are out of home because you need everything on hand. When bath time comes a baby bathtub will make things easier and you should use a gentle baby wash or shampoo that is mild enough on your baby skin. When you finish bathing him, hooded terry cloth towels will be a good help to keep him warm and dry and you might want to apply a baby lotion since babies tend to have dry skin.
Move your baby around
Baby gear can be hard to decide on, there are many options and some are really expensive or sometimes not appropriate. Choosing a baby carrier can be difficult with all the options available nowadays. You just have to make sure that you choose something secure that will hold your baby in place and is easily cleaned. A stroller is also essential to go on walks with your baby, they should have protections from the sun and the wind, be foldable so you can transport it in your car and comfortable enough for your baby until he is old enough to walk on his own. All the other specs depend a lot on where, when and how much you will use it. It is mandatory to get a car seat, preferably a new one that adjusts to the latest regulations. They actually have five-year expiring dates that you can check.
Feeding your baby
Feeding supplies will help you during nursing and in the transition to solid foods. You can buy a nursing pillow to keep you more comfortable and your baby better supported when you are breastfeeding him. You should also buy accessories for yourself while you are breastfeeding like disposable breast pads to keep your shirts dry and ointments and gel packs to help relieve the pain from cracked nipples and sore breasts. You will also need to keep a few burp cloths in hand at all times to catch spit-up after your baby eats, remember to always carry at least a couple of backup ones in the diaper bag.
Baby bottles will start at 4 ounces and go to 8 ounces when your baby starts to drink more. You will need around six to twelve bottles and nipples in order to have some clean ones all the time. If you plan on storing breast milk you will have to buy more bottles or milk bags according to the volume you need to store. Bottles can be made of plastic or glass. Plastic bottles are safer if they are phthalates and bisphenol A free since there is some proof that these chemicals can be harmful for human health. You will also need a couple of bottle brushes to help in the cleaning of the baby bottles.
Breast pumps will be necessary if you want to keep breastfeeding your baby when you go back to work, if you want to maximize you milk supply, or simply if you need to relieve the pain from engorged breasts. They can be manual or electric and the choice depends on how much you will need it.
Between four to six months your baby will start needing solid foods. In order to feed him it is important to keep your baby sitting straight to help him swallow. A high chair or a seat that hooks to the table is the better option since it supports your baby and keeps him from falling off. It is important that you choose a portable model that is easy to clean. Other eating accessories are bowls that stick to the table, baby spoons made of soft plastic, sippy cups for easy drinking and bibs that are waterproof or quick drying to keep your baby clean.
Entertainment and soothing
For entertainment and soothing your baby you will probably need pacifiers, although some babies do not like them. A bouncy seat is a good option to keep your baby entertained and help him develop strong muscles. A play mat gives visual stimulation and a safe place for your baby to play. As for toys do not buy a lot of them since your baby can get overwhelmed, also make sure that they are age appropriate and do not pose choking hazards.
Night time and sleeping
As for sleeping you will need a crib and a mattress that has to be sturdy and have slats that are not too far apart. For bedding you will only need three to five crib sheets. Avoid pillows, blankets or quilts that can increase the risk of SIDS. Wearable and swaddling blankets are the best option and can be made of fleece or cotton if you need to keep your baby warm at night.
As soon as your child starts getting mobile you will have to child proof you home. The essential safety equipment is safety gates for stairs, outlet covers, latches for your cupboard and drawers, toilet seat locks, and baby monitors. There are some other essentials when you have a baby including a first-aid kit, a bulb syringe to clean his nose, a digital thermometer, baby nail clippers, a soft baby brush, and a baby-friendly laundry detergent.