THINGS TO BUY FOR A NEW BABY
Parents should consult our list of local retailers for advice on where to shop, in addition to doing research online.
Baby Bargains: Secrets to Saving 20% to 50% on Baby Furniture, Equipment, Clothes, Toys, Maternity Wear and Much, Much More! by Alan Fields, Denise Fields.
"This book may be scary or overwhelming due to the sheer amount of stuff included in it for new parents. The authors rate baby products much like Consumer Reports rates products. Great as a reference, but do not assume you must have everything in there."
What to Expect: The First Year by Heidi Murkoff and Sharon Mazel
"What to Expect the First Year is more than you want to know and pretty helpful."
The Baby Book by Dr. Sears
"Dr. Sears Baby Book is the "Attachment Parenting" bible – good for alternative perspectives."
Your Baby's First Year by American Academy Of Pediatrics
"A useful, compact overall guide is the American Academy of Pediatrics Guide to the 1st Year of Life."
The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding by La Leche League
The Nursing Mother's Companion
Best Feeding by Suzanne Arms and Chloe Fisher
"If you're nursing, get a few nursing books ahead of time. Some good ones are The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding from La Leche League, The Nursing Mother's Companion, and Best Feeding. Again, these books are great for helping with the mechanics of breastfeeding. You may or may not agree with their opinions about the "politics" of breastfeeding versus formula feeding."
Other book suggestions can be found here.
Even if you don't drive a car, you'll most likely need a car seat for rides in other people's cars or in car services. Some car services rent cars with car seats (see the Car Services page), but you shouldn't depend on them to be safe or safely installed. For free advice on how to install a car seat, make an appointment to bring your seat (and your car if you have one) to one of New York City's DOT Child Car Seat Fitting Stations (Manhattan, 40 Worth Street, 212-442-7672; Brooklyn, Woodhull Hospital, 760 Broadway, 718-963-6858).
Choices of seats are infant car seat or convertible infant-to-toddler car seat. While the convertible infant-to-toddler car seat lasts longer, if you drive, an infant seat is recommended because it doubles as a baby carrier and snaps easily in and out of a base that you leave installed in the car and into a stroller. (You can install any car seat with or without a base in a car - the base makes it easier since you don't have to uninstall the base every time you remove the baby in the seat. However, if you're taking a car service, or installing your seat in someone else's car, you do not have to bring the base - you can strap in the seat itself.) Later, when the baby hits 20 pounds or 1 year old, you'll have to get a convertible seat or a toddler seat. These don't double as carriers.
Check Consumer Reports ratings for quality seats in each category.
You can use a formal diaper bag, or you can find a regular bag that suits your purposes. The best diaper bags have different compartments, including a pouch for a bottle. Waterproof lining is also a good idea. If you give birth in a hospital, you'll get the standard blue hospital diaper bag (which is ugly but functional).
There are good diaper bags and diaper backpacks. Popular ones are from the Gap, Lands End and Eddie Bauer.
What do you put in a diaper bag? A few diapers, wipes, bottles if you're bottle feeding, plastic bags to store dirty diapers until you find a good trash can, diaper rags for spit-up, a change of clothing for baby, personal items such as your wallet and cell phone.
- Nursing Pillow - My Brest Friend Inflatable Feeding Pillow – ideal for nursing, and much more comfortable than the Boppy pillow. The My Brest Friend pillow is inflatable, wraps around your waist and has lumbar support to make nursing comfortable. You can lay the baby on the pillow which gets the baby in the proper feeding position.
- Nursing Bras -- Buy a couple in the 8th or 9th month and make sure they're big enough for engorgement.
- Pump - If you plan to nurse and anticipate being away from your baby for more than a few hours, a pump is a necessity. Options are electric pumps and hand pumps. The most popular electric pumps are the Medela "Pump In Style" pumps. They're expensive but if you think you'll do any kind of regular pumping, in order to give the baby bottles of breast milk while you're out or at work, it's very convenient - particularly the double electric pumps. If you get a used one, you can get replacement parts at Neergard Pharmacy. A popular hand pump is the Avent "Isis" pump - many women swear by these and say they were just as effective or better than the electric pump. They're also less expensive.
- CFS Storage bags or Gerber bags for breast milk
- Formula - you may or may not choose to use formula and you can speak with hospital staff and your doctor about it. If you plan on formula feeding you can seek out samples ahead of time online so that you have a few brands to try when you come home with your infant.
- 4 to 6 4-ounce bottles. Plastic. Use standard bottles such as Evenflo, Gerber or Medela (the kind that come with a pump). These work with most standard nipples. Later on you'll probably experiment with different nipples, and you may end up buying Avent, Playtex, Dr. Brown or Gerber New Traditions bottles, which are irregular. Don't buy these ahead of time.
- A variety of different nipples to try – At first you'll probably use whatever nipples come with the bottles you buy. If you're baby's picky, you may need to experiment.
- 1 bottle brush
- 1 nipple brush
- A few packages of disposable nursing breast pads. Recommended: Gerber ultra-thin - they don't itch like some other brands. You may not need them after a while.
- Some nipple cream -- Lansinoh or any other pure lanolin cream. You may or may not need this.
- Electric Bottle Warmer – not a necessary purchase, but it makes bottle warming fast and easy, since bottles cannot be warmed in a microwave.
- Bassinet, Moses Basket, or Co-Sleeper - Many parents start with baby in the bedroom, and there are many free-standing bassinet or moses basket options to keep baby close to the bed. The only disadvantage to these is that the parent must climb out of bed in order to feed the baby, where other products let you reach over easily and pick the baby up. Some parents forego these products and co-sleep with their children. One product for safe co-sleeping with an infant is called a Snuggle Nest. This fits between the parents in bed and has a protective boundary around the baby to prevent rolling accidents. The Arms Reach Co-Sleeper is also a popular product. This acts as an extension of your bed - it's a large bassinet that sits flush against your bed with three raised sides, and the fourth side open and level with your mattress. The co-sleeper is attached to your bed with belts under your mattress, so that there are no gaps between your bed and the baby's mattress. This option makes it easy to roll over and grab baby for nursing. However, it is large, and often difficult to climb out of bed around the co-sleeper. While some people keep their babies in the co-sleeper for long periods of time, it's primarily useful for the first 3 or 4 months until the child can sit up on his or her own. It converts to a "play yard" but the conversion process is not very user friendly, and very few babies enjoy being confined in play yards anyway. A third option is to invest in a play yard with a bassinet. Most manufacturers have their versions of them, but the most popular is the Graco Pack N Play. They have a play yard with a bassinet feature, as well as a changing pad. The Pack N Play easily collapses and is convenient for traveling. The bassinet can be used for the first three months or so next to the parents' bed, and children are often happy sleeping at the bottom of the play yard for up to three years. The only disadvantage of the Pack N Play is that its bassinet isn't as firm a sleeping platform as the Arms Reach Co-Sleeper or other bassinets, so some babies not sleep as restfully in it. A final option is to set up the crib next to the parents' bed, and leave the side rail down. Depending on the height of your crib and bed, you might be able to reach over and grab baby without having to get up. There are also ways to attach the crib to the bed so it doesn't move away from your mattress.
- Crib – Co-sleepers may not need a crib. Otherwise, most parents transition to a crib after two to six months. Consult Baby Bargains for good cribs and choose a crib that matches your style and your price range. Used cribs are not recommended for safety reasons, but if you do decide on a used crib, Baby Bargains has some good advice about how to check to make sure that the one you use is safe.
- Crib mattress – Baby Bargains also has good advice on this. A 150 coil mattress is recommended, as well as certain name brands. Foam mattresses generally do not hold up as well as coil mattresses.
- At least two rubber backed waterproof pads or sheet savers – these are good both for under the crib/bassinet sheets and for on top of the changing pad. That way you wash the pad and not the sheet each time.
- 3 crib sheets and bassinet sheets (fitted and flat) - There are plenty of crib sheet sets out there in all price ranges. Bassinets take smaller sheets, and there are separate sheets made for Pack N Plays. Pack N Play sheets fit the Arms Reach Co-Sleeper.
- Bumper for crib - soft padding around the crib is optional. Some parents worry about baby suffocating in the padding, but they are very popular as part of bedroom sets. You may wait until the baby is older to use the bumper.
- Mobile or activity arch for crib – everyone seems to have the Tiny Love mobile, which the baby loves. This is only good for 5 months until the baby sits up. Other options are arches with hanging toys. You could also hang a stationary mobile from the ceiling so high that the baby can't reach it.
- Contoured Changing Table Pad and at least two changing pad covers.
- Changing Table - This piece of furniture is optional. Many people just put the changing pad on top of a normal dresser or even on the floor or bed.
- Baby dresser – You can get baby furniture or just use any normal adult dresser that will have a longer life as furniture later anywhere in the house.
- Baby Monitor – good to have if your baby's in her own room out of hearing. Fisher Price monitors are highly rated but there are many good options.
- Diaper pail - Popular models are the Diaper Genie and Diaper Depot. Diaper Genie requires special supplies (bags) which can get pricey over time. Diaper Depot is a good alternative since it uses regular trash bags.
- Diapers -- If you're using disposable diapers, you'll need to buy a package of newborn size and a pack of size 1's before the baby is born. Get mega or jumbo packs. Don't open either package – depending on the baby's size at birth, you may have to return the newborns. If you're using cloth diapers, you should consult with a diaper service prior to your baby's birth.
- Wipes – until the baby's almost a month, you'll probably just use water and a cloth, since the wipes cause diaper rash on the tiny ones' skin. You can use Johnson & Johnson's medical cleaners with water for the first few weeks. Once they poop less often, you can use commercial wipes – most popular are Huggies, Pampers and Mustela.
- You won't believe the amount of adorable clothing you'll get as gifts. The only clothing I'd buy is one or two preemie sized outfits for the first day or two, and the basics listed below.
- A pack or two of plain white onesie T-shirts that snap on the bottom -- Size 6 months – these are the greatest.
- A pack of receiving blankets
- A few packs of cloth diapers to use as burping cloths and for cleaning up lots of messes.
- A few baby socks
- Summer babies: One or two sun hats with flaps (Flapdoodles or Flaphappy are good). One warm hat for cool evenings.
- Winter babies: A snow suit to keep the baby warm outside. You should also consider a "stroller bag" such as the Nano Bag to keep the baby extra warm in a stroller or car seat. The padded sling is also extra insulation against the cold. You'll also need winter hats for baby and a few fleece outfits with feet.
- A couple of long sleeve sleepers with feet
- Baby bath tub *or* bathing sponge that sits in sink. The baby bathtub is good for a few months because it keeps the baby's head upright, and you can get one made by Safety 1st for $10 or so. The baby sponge is much more convenient and takes up less space but it doesn't support the neck. You'll want one of these even if you use the tub, for later. The sponge comes in the shape of a teddy bear and is pretty inexpensive.
- 2 or 3 hooded bath towels
- Just a pack or two of washcloths -- you can actually just use your hands
- Mild liquid baby soap for washing both hair and body
- Alcohol prep pads for cord cleaning
- Rectal thermometer
- Infant Tylenol or Motrin
- Baby nail clippers
- Nasal aspirator
- A couple of pacifiers to try -- make sure they're newborn sized. Most babies take them, but some do not. Some parents also prefer not to use them.
- Bouncer seat or swing -- Bouncer seats and swings are good ways to pacify cranky infants, and also options for confining your baby temporarily while you do other things (like shower!). A popular bouncer seat is the Fisher Price Kick N Play. This item is good for only about four or five months, but at the beginning it's a live saver. It vibrates and calms most babies, often to sleep. The music and light show on the toy bar is a little obnoxious, but the babies love it at about 2 months when they discover kicking and batting toys. Then they lose interest!
- Activity mat - It's good to have an activity mat - baby lies on the mat on the floor and looks up at toys dangling from arches suspended above the mats. The mats are decorated with all kinds of visually stimulating pictures. Popular brands are Tiny Love Gymini and Lamaze.