Simplify Baby Gear: The Shopping Guide

less baby stuff

This week I’m sharing for discussion some of the baby questions that I receive most often in my inbox. Today’s question is:

I’m expecting my first baby. I don’t have the space or desire for a house full of baby things. Could you give me your opinion about the “must haves” and what will help make life a bit easier?

When both of my children were babies, we lived in apartments, and though it would have been nice to do whatever I wanted for the nursery, looking back I’m kind of thankful that the apartment made us keep it simple in terms of baby stuff.

All of our decisions were made regarding usefulness, value, and storage.

First some general advice (and I’m skipping the part about buying used or borrowing since you know that already):

1. You don’t need it all at the beginning. For example, you don’t need the high chair right away. You don’t have to baby proof the house before your baby learns how to crawl. All babies are different, and you can wait and see what you need and then go find it on Craigslist, such as what I did with my baby swing (and maybe someone will offer you one in the meantime).

2. Choose gender-neutral colors for baby gear such as carriers, car seats, strollers, and high chairs to make it easier to use them for the next baby. Save the pinks and blues for clothing and blankets.

3. You don’t need to buy a lot of clothes. People will give them to you, and then you can see if you’re missing something. The way I store my baby clothes is to divide them by size so I can see what we have in the next size up.  I realized when I had too many outgrown baby clothes that we were buying too much in the first place.

4. Go for multipurpose items. Before you buy something, try to think if you already have something that will do the same job.

(But since hooded towels are so cute, you should get one of those anyway.)

At Home

Bouncer seat. The smallest, no-frills, travel-size version you can find so that you can pick it up and move it from room to room. You want to be able to move it into the bathroom so you can take a shower. I use an inexpensive Fisher Price bouncer seat.

A place to sleep. The baby stores display bedding sets with matching blankets and bumpers, but you just need a sheet. You’re not supposed to use the other bedding in a crib, so skip it and get a couple of sheets and a waterproof mattress liner instead.

Crib safety has changed. If you’re using an heirloom crib, make sure the slats are no more than 2 ⅜ inches apart (a soda can shouldn’t pass between them). All of the drop-side cribs were recalled a couple of years ago.

If you co-sleep, travel, or nurse your baby on your bed, a Swaddlebees mattress pad saves you from a lot of laundry. It has fleece on top and waterproof PUL underneath. Since it’s not a crib-fitted mattress pad, you can use it on top of your bed so that you won’t have to change all the sheets in case of leaks.

High chair. I didn’t have room for a traditional high chair. I used a space-saving high chair that strapped to one of our normal dining chairs. The Fisher-Price Booster Seat is good for at home and taking to Grandma’s house (for babies 6 months and up).

Diaper changes. Instead of a changing table, you can put a changing pad on top of a dresser or use a towel on the floor with a basket of supplies. We’ll talk about diapers in a different post.

On the Go

Baby carrier. I’ve used a sling, a Bjorn, and a Beco Butterfly II. I like them all, but the Beco Butterfly II is the most versatile and truly goes from small baby to toddler. With all carriers, you should practice a few times for you and your baby to get comfortable with them. It’s easier to take your baby to the grocery store in a carrier than to put the car seat in the grocery cart and arrange the groceries all around the baby.

Car seat. I like the kind of infant car seat with a carrier seat so you can bring your sleeping baby inside and to restaurants and other people’s houses. Optionally you can get a travel-system stroller or a lighter stroller frame and keep that in the trunk of the car.

For a stroller, make sure the handles are high enough to make it comfortable so you don’t have to stoop over to push it. I like lightweight umbrella strollers, and the Chicco Capri is durable and goes everywhere once babies can sit up. That’s the one we took to Europe. (I prefer it to the more expensive Maclaren strollers.)

Diaper Bag. Instead of bringing everything with us when we go places, I repurposed an insulated lunchbox as a small diaper bag. I usually keep it in the car with a few diapers, wipes, and an extra onesie, or I can throw it in a larger tote bag. It’s insulated for bottles, and the short handle makes it easy to hang on a stroller. My son will be able to use it as a lunchbox when he goes to school. (From Lands’ End or L.L.Bean)

Small Things

Bibs – soft ones for the teething and drooling stages and large, wipeable ones for feeding.

Soap – I use a gentle bar of pure olive oil soap for me, and that’s what I use for kids and babies too. Fewer bottles and products.

This type of nasal aspirator for a sick baby with congestion. I hope you won’t need it, but it works (drug free).

Rechargeable batteries.

Bottles even if you’re nursing. When my babies are about nine months old I teach them how to drink from a cup, so we get to skip the sippy cups.

Fewer toys for the first year. Babies think everything is amazing, especially your face. They need some teethers, but not too many toys. I could put my son on the floor, and he would watch the ceiling fan for twenty minutes.

gazing at the ceiling fan

Baby shower gifts are often blankets, baby clothes (especially onesies), and what you put on your gift registry. (I had a registry for my first child, but not the second.) I love the idea to give used children’s books instead of cards at a baby shower. If you receive too many of something at a baby shower, don’t feel reluctant to return or exchange some of it; it’s the thought that counts.

When I see a long baby registry, it’s hard to know if expectant parents want everything new or if they would be interested in something I already have. Spread the word if you are interested in passed-down baby stuff. (In yesterday’s post I mentioned asking indirectly for baby stuff, but do ask.)

And one more thing. Don’t buy too many stuffed animals. Let your child have a special stuffed animal best friend, instead of a bunch of acquaintances. If other people are buying all the stuffed animals, it’s nice to donate them if you have too many. (My kids choose which ones to donate. Read more about that here.)

This post contains affiliate links, and you can find more baby products I recommend in Small Notebook’s Amazon shop.

What do you think? What products would you recommend to new parents who don’t want to own a bunch of stuff?
About Rachel

I write about practical tips that will help you simplify at home. Connect with me on Pinterest and Twitter.


  1. We bought a Nosefrida (based on your rec a few years ago) and now my gift at every baby shower is a stack of my favorite board books and a nosefrida! :)
    Jessica @ Quirky Bookworm´s last post…What I’m Into: Early August Edition

  2. But never, ever Goodnight Moon. I got 3 copies of it. Surely I’m not alone? :) I tend to give more unusual board books – my recent favorite for girls is Pride and Prejudice, from the Baby Lit series.
    Jessica @ Quirky Bookworm´s last post…What I’m Into: Early August Edition

  3. Hey, wat a cute post. I don’t have children yet, but I’d love to have a couple of them one day :D
    MissVindicat´s last post…Those Who Wander

  4. I gave my sister a steam station iron, I think it was for her second son. I had one myself and I think it makes ironing and your life as a mother so much easier.
    Natacha´s last post…Nice neighbours are a blessing

    • My sister gave me an espresso machine as a baby shower gift. That was really the gift that kept on giving. Who doesn’t need great coffee with a newborn? :)
      Natacha: I’m impressed that you and your sister are dedicated iron-ers. I don’t iron and we don’t even own an iron. None of my clothes need it and we send my husband’s shirts out. I married a musician and told him from the beginning that I didn’t iron. A year ago he got a corporate job. He wasn’t keen to learn the skill himself so decided to send them out.
      Rachel´s last post…Thinner, Richer, Smarter: The Magic Bullet

      • Well…almost 10 years have passed since I gave her that iron (I think she still uses it though). My own family has grown since then and I have someone who helps me clean the home once a week. She also takes my clean laundry home and brings it back the next week. There isn’t a lot to iron, normally one hour every two weeks. I have to use a dryer since we have really hard water here in Luxembourg and all the clothes and especially the towels are extremely stiff when they come out of the washing machine. That’s why I fully dry my towels in the dryer. The other clothes are dried for 20 minutes or so, after that they are line dryed and can go back into the closet without ironing.
        We send out my husband’s shirts like you do.
        Natacha´s last post…Nice neighbours are a blessing

      • When we were first married and struggling to make ends meet, I would iron all my husband’s work shirts, until we realized that my time and energy was worth far more than the $1 per shirt we were saving.

        I didn’t mind ironing, but it took me a long time. After we factored in the cost of washing, electricity, etc., and considered the other things I could be doing with my time, it was a no brainer.

        I do own an iron, but try to get away with as little ironing as possible. Kudos to you, Natacha. I’m in awe of anyone who irons on a regular basis.

  5. Hannah S says:

    Oh how I wish I would have been given advice like this for my first daughter. This time three years ago I was anxiously awaiting the arrival of our daughter with TWO dressers and a closet bursting with clothes and blankets, two closetmaid cubeicals bursting with toys and odds and ends, and every single baby gadget that the Babies R Us registry consultant recommended. Three years later and I am pregnant with baby girl number two and things are MUCH different. We moved to a more minimalist lifestyle and life is so much easier. I have (kindly) threatened the grandmas and the aunts to not go overboard with the baby buying. Now most of her clothes fit in a very small closet and I have one closetmaid cubeical (borrowed from her sister since we pared down most of her stuff) that actually looks pretty bare. The biggest difference this time around is how laid back I feel. With my first daughter I would walk into her room and feel almost panicked because of the amount of stuff. Weeks before her arrival I was spending precious time organizing her stuff. This time…I am relaxing and getting some much needed rest. I try to pass on this advice to other new moms. Less reallly is more when it comes to baby stuff :-)

  6. I don’t have anything new to add to the list, but wanted to second a couple of your recommendations:

    With our daughter, we had a plastic booster seat that could collapse for travel instead of a high chair. I figured we’d need the booster anyway. I wasn’t crazy about it, because food got stuck in all the cracks, but still liked the idea of not having a high chair. I’ve got one of these for this time around. Hopefully it’s a better item. If stuck on the high chair idea, I think the really plain Ikea high chair is small.

    I also want to reiterate that you do not need nearly as many clothes as you think! I went through my daughter’s clothes and realized that we only really used four or five outfits that were our favourites. You end up doing laundry every 2 or 3 days anyway, so your favourites are never in the hamper long. I’m trying to remember this even now as my daughter is 5…going through her stuff for this fall, I realized I had purchased seven (yes, seven) pairs of pants for her on sale since last winter. It goes without saying that she doesn’t need seven pairs of pants. Time for me to stay out of the kids’ clothing sections!

    With this in mind, our tiny new son has three onesies and three rompers. He has two long-sleeve shirts and a church outfit including a pair of shorts he can wear with other stuff during the week. He has four sleepers. That’s it, and I love it. I wish I’d been so spartan with the girl. We’ve returned or consigned almost everything we got from people, because it’s all onesies and sleepers, and he just doesn’t need more of that stuff.

    • Just to add: I made a rule for myself this time around that everything my kids wear has to fit in one dresser drawer only. This frees up the rest of the dresser for storage and is a good way to keep tabs on how much they have.

  7. I agree with most everything that you said. I however did really like having a baby bath. Especially with your first child giving baths can be a bit scary with their fragile little necks. Letting them lay down in the baby bath made it more relaxing and easier for me. Also my daughter loves stuffed animals. I never really thought of them as good gifts but they are always her favorite go to toy. But I would agree not to buy too many, some kids just don’t enjoy stuffed animals, wait to see what your little one is into. Thanks for sharing!
    Jen at a place 2 call home´s last post…A little break

  8. This post was very helpful since we are in the process of adopting and the child may be anywhere from infant to four years old. I’m ready to start buying, but your past couple of posts have reminded me that others may give us what we need and/or we can use Craig’s List when the time gets closer. Thanks for your practical tips. I love hearing what you have to say!

    • Two of our kids were adopted at the age of 6 months. I used my sister’s infant car seat (Maxi Cosi). Babies normally need another car seat at the age of 9 months, so it would have been a waste of money to buy a new one.
      And depending on where you adopt from, I would even recommend you to only buy a small quantity of clothes for the first couple of days. An adopted child is often so much smaller than a biological child. We adopted from South Africa, so we also had the change of season. We bought part of our baby clothes in a South-African super market and we gave most of them to a cleaning lady with a baby when we left, because we went from spring to autumn the first time we adopted and the other way around the second time. The second time we were in Johannesburg, we knew it was our last child. We packed our suitcases to the limit with all the clothes my baby daughter had outgrown as well as toys and stuffed animals that had been given to us, and we gave them to somebody who needed them much more than we did!
      Enjoy this beautiful adventure called adoption!! The day you see your child for the first time is going to be so very special. I still get tears in my eyes when I think of the moment they were put in my arms.
      Good luck.
      Natacha´s last post…Nice neighbours are a blessing

  9. As our daughter was the first grandchild on both sides of the family and we were in seminary and had received lots of hand-me-downs I still have hardly bought our kiddo any clothes and she’s almost three.

    We have the exact same baby seat and booster seat. Someone gave me a hard time about the booster seat, convinced I’d want a high chair but I’ve never once wished I had something different. I love that I could pick it up and take it to someone’s house easily and that it took up so little space.
    Steph´s last post…Don’t Wait for Perfection

  10. I appreciate your advice. I had a Chicco Capri, too, and LOVED it. Hands down my favorite stroller (we went through 4 different ones because some were hand-me-downs).

    I used a sling for my second child and wished I would have had it for my first too. It was the Hotsling and it went up to 35 lbs., but by then, my boy was not interested in the sling. It folds up so compactly that I could take it everywhere as a carry/nap option.
    Margo, Thrift at Home´s last post…Happy Photos From the Past

  11. Great suggestions. Will be passing on to my expectant first-baby friends!
    Kristin´s last post…Essentials Only Month: the finish line is near

  12. Alexandria says:

    Good List.

    I picked up some frugal baby book when I Was first pregnant, and was so bored with it. Ha! It just seemed to me it was all kind of obvious frugal stuff. The same frugal rules apply to everything. Good rule of thumbs – buy a lot of things used and don’t buy stuff “just because everyone else did.” I never understood monster strollers, changing tables, diaper genies and bottle warmers.

    Oh – and if I had a dollar for every person who told me they needed a bigger car because the carseat was too big. OMG – so buy a smaller carseat!! We had a compact car and a small sedan and so picked out a top-of-the-line carseat that was noted to fit more easily in smaller cars. I already mentioned strollers but I always preferred small and light strollers than the monstrosities that most moms had. One baby and a small car is *just fine!* Don’t back yourself into a corner buy buying the largest baby gear possible. ;)

  13. Morning Sunshine says:

    I had a highchair for my first. I hated it – it was so big, and my kitchen was so small. And it was a PAIN to clean. By #2, we had discovered the Fisher Price collapsable booster seat. it sat on a kitchen chair, the tray could go in the dishwasher, we could take it easily to grandma’s, church functions, and the park.

    As far as blankets go, I have to recommend a set of these – they are big enough to swaddle even larger babies and light enough that I do not fear I am overheating them. I thoroughly wish I had found these BEFORE #5, and I am considering buying packs of these to divide and give as baby gifts, along with a copy of this book here:
    Everything else, I agree wholeheartedly with Rachel. Babies do NOT need a whole lot of stuff.

    • Morning Sunshine says:

      oh, and I forgot – we had strollers. 3 of them. an umbrella stroller, the newborn baby stroller, and a sit-n-stand for when I had 2.

      We have had no strollers for the last 3. I wear the pre-walker when we go out. I make the toddlers and pre-schoolers walk on our walks (makes him/her more tired and willing to take a nap later). Also, I figure it instills a habit of walking in our age of sitting. If we are going somewhere that a stroller would be useful – zoo, etc., I rent one, or a wagon. Sure, I could buy a stroller for the cost of 2 rentals, but then I would have to store it in the meantime.

      I have only missed having a stroller ONCE in the past 6 years. the car needed some all-day work, so we were hanging out in town for the day, using the bus to do our errands. So I called a friend and borrowed one. I think it was almost more work to get it on and off the bus than it was worth!

  14. I found that having two waterproof mattress pads for the crib a must. That way there was a clean one ready to put on whenever there was a diaper leak. I did the same thing when my toddlers moved to bigger beds. I finally stopped keeping an extra waterproof mattress pad when they were night time potty trained. I found that not having an extra one at the ready meant having an unprotected mattress while the dirty one was washed and dried and since leaks and accidents tended to happen at night when they needed to get right back into bed, it was a problem. Having the extra kept that problem from happening.

  15. I agree with pretty much everything on this list…except for “bottles even if nursing”.

    Firstly, I must have got a MILLION bottles as gifts before baby was born (I gave away a giant bag full of them when moving to a different house).

    Then I was too frazzled to do anything bottle-related while establishing breastfeeding…by the time I decided I should try them my baby was 5 months old and couldn’t care less about them (not that I pushed it very hard…maybe if circumstances were different).

    If planning to nurse but not returning to work very soon after I would probably recommend getting a good basic manual pump (I liked my Avent Isis) – they usually come with a bottle anyway. And if you need more you can always get extra ones later. Or just not get bottles and buy them when necessary (unless living in remote location..)
    Evs´s last post…August roll and picture. This time life is straightforward! :)

    • I didn’t use bottles with my second, but I still had a couple of them available in case of unexpected emergencies. I didn’t want to be the only option if something happened.

    • this was my comment too. I stay home with my kiddos (now with 3, 3 and under) and I must have 10+ bottles. I thought I needed them all. If you are planning to nurse, have 1 bottle. Not only will you not need them while you are home, even if nursing doesn’t work out for you, there is no guarantee that your babe is going to like what you pick out. For lil man #3 I have one bottle that we keep for when I’m out. If I’m out for more than one feeding, the babysitter washes the bottle. Not ideal, but it is honestly so rare that I’m gone for that long, its not a big deal

      • hentrain mansbury says:

        There isn’t one right answer here, but as a new nursing mom, having a few bottles on hand was a huge relief. I still love having a couple of bottles of frozen milk as an insurance policy, in case my supply is a bit low and junior is still hungry at the end of the day (which has happened a few times) and also this has allowed us to get out and leave junior with a sitter and with grandparents every once in a while from a very early age. This system required 4 bottles, I use glass ones, partly for health concerns, partly because, just like a prefold diaper, it is durable baby gear.

  16. My suggestion with any baby, whether it’s your first or your tenth, is to borrow some of the big things for the house that someone may have stashed in their storage – particularly a swing. Those things take a lot of space, especially in a small apartment living room, so make sure your baby actually responds well to it before possibly forking out the money to buy the item yourself. Some kids like swings so much that they sleep in them, other kids last less than 5 minutes. You never know until you try it.

    Also – this is a big ticket furniture item – but get the best rocking chair you can find. If you can’t afford much, use gift cash for it or get some well-off relative to buy it for you. We went cheap and it was okay for the first year. Just okay – never wonderful, and has gone downhill fast. I’ve been kicking myself for a long time over that stupid decision. GET A GOOD ROCKER.
    treen´s last post…cradle makeover

  17. I cant say enough about the bouncy seat! Ours had the vibration button and we used it all the time! Could bring it to any room or to gramma’s house and our daughter even took full 2 hour naps in it on a regular basis! Plus, its so much easier to store than the swing now that she is a toddler and we wait for the right time to have another child!

  18. -prepared with
    2 packs short sleeve body suits, 1 pack long sleeve, 3 pants, diapers, wipes, 1 pack swaddling blankets, baby pack, a&d ointment, bouncy seat, travel system, 1 waterproof mattress pad
    -didn’t get
    crib, bottles, high chair, swing, diaper bags etc.
    -because we
    nursed to glass cup (22 mo), coslept (2.5 years), already use sensitive skin soaps and detergents, used a big tote for a diaper bag, already had waterproof/anti-allergen mattress covers

    it’s not like the old days. if we need something we can usually buy it cheaply and immediately.

    -eventually bought
    healthy booster seat (amazing), two huuuge carseats (evenflow triumph because they were SOO comfy- i sat in it!) and two big booster seats, all worth it imo.

  19. I agree with the comment about the usefulness of a baby bath tub. We were able to bath our baby on the counter without sqautting over the tub and it made bathing a lot easier. I also do feel that a diaper changing area is necessary. I wasn’t going to get a change table and then my friend gave me her table. I’ve used it every day for over two years. My sister has a change pad set up on her dresser and that works well too. I guess I’m just not into squatting on the floor :-)

    If you have a super pooper ( like my son) its nice to have a diaper genie. I stock up on refills when they go on rock bottom sale prices once or twice a year

  20. Nice, succinct list.

    I have to agree with a few other people on the baby bath. When we had our baby our sink was narrow and deep and we didn’t have a bathtub, so we had to use a baby bath on the dining/kitchen table. Now we have a bath, I use the prima euro bath and wish I had had this all along! It helps my 1 year old sit up safely, and I was okay with my hubby giving her a bath whereas before he was too nervous with her swishing around in the big bathtub. The eurobath has two sides–one for infant that cradles them and the other that helps them sit up and not tip over or slide into the water. I sound like an advertisement…but honestly wish I had gotten this bath day 1! I can see us using it for another 6 months (baby is 1) at least.

    And a small wet bag for dirty clothes or cloth diapers while out and about is awesome…the planet wise ones really do keep in all the smell!
    Kait Palmer´s last post…Cake Smash…or Sampling

  21. YOU ARE A GENIUS! i love the tip about the lunchbag as a mini-diaper bag (i always wondered why parents think they need to cart around three pieces of luggage every time they take baby out…) i am definitely planning to have a minimalist baby, since we live in a little downtown toronto apartment with no room (and really no desire) for a huge change table, high chair, dresser full of extra clothes, and bins full of toys no one plays with. great advice!!
    meg´s last post…august intentions + on living intentionally.

  22. I second this. My number one of advice for first time baby shopping: don’t browse baby catalogues. You’ll be convinced you need things you never knew existed.

    Like most moms I wanted to do everything right and I didn’t know a lot about babies, so I was a perfect target for clever marketing. I didn’t need most of what they said I did. Babies outgrow things so quickly. Each stage, especially the early ones, is so short. (although when you’re waking up to nurse every couple of hours it doesn’t seem like it at the moment!)

    Sure, you want to be prepared with the basics, but every parent (and child) is different. Save your money so you can buy what you need when you realize you really need it.
    Bridget´s last post…How Motorcycling is Like Marriage

  23. This is perfect!!! This is exactly the post I’ve been looking for!

    I keep trying to tell everyone in my life that when we have kids, we don’t want a ton of stuff. Their reply: “Well, you’ll change your mind. Kids need a LOT!”

    I agree that kids need a lot…of love, of care, of attention. Not baby wipe warmers and exosaucers. If those things work for you, that’s great, but it doesn’t mean they are a must-have for everyone.

    Thank you so much for this post! I feel so validated right now!
    Jennie´s last post…The Pain of Infertility

  24. I agree that apartment living makes you think harder about your choices. We’re expecting #2 around Christmas, still live in our little two bedroom, and other than needing a bed for our oldest (since baby will need the crib), we really don’t need–or want–much. It also helps that this one’s a girl, too: hello hand-me-downs!
    Michelle´s last post…The bar…it moves!

  25. Cre8tive Minxy says:

    Great advice! My own children are all grown up but oh how I remember the early days. With my oldest we didn’t buy much but since she was the 1st grandchild on both sides EVERYONE we knew gave us boxes and bags of hand-me-downs. Leaving the house meant packing her suitcase (diaper bag!) with changes of clothes, toys, emergency medical supplies, etc. Seriously it was half the nursery! By the time #2 came along (a son) I had downsized the diaper bag but still carried a lot. Then came #3 (another girl) – with 2 in diapers I couldn’t deal with the big diaper bag. I switched to a big tote bag, slipped my wallet inside, wet wipes, diapers, sippy cup and called it good. When the youngest (boy #2) came along it was disposable bottle liners, diapers & wet wipes in the car glove box. Baggie of formula & bottle in tote bag with wallet. And we were off! Wish I’d started that with the oldest.

  26. these are great suggestions. my son is about to turn one and i still haven’t bought even one article of clothing for him…or toys!

    i think it’s important to note that babies and mamas are all different. i was SO EXCITED to use carriers, but my son hated them. i had three carriers handed down to me, he hated all of them. so, for me, the carriers were a waste.

    we also had a bumbo. my son never fit in it (he’s chubby!) but i know some people LOVE them and use them for a LOT.

    if you’re having a baby, definitely get different opinions.
    can’t say it enough: all babies and mamas are different!
    Amanda K.´s last post…Turf wars

  27. HUGELY helpful! Thanks! :-)

    We’ve got almost everything we need already (I’m 35 weeks pregnant), but this definitely helped me make some last minute decisions and confirmed some I had already made!
    Sarah´s last post…The Affordable Healthcare Act and Me: A Third Trimester Addendum

  28. Love the suggestions and thoughts! I like the use of the baby bath. Those babiess get slippery and it’s nice for them to lay there and relax and enjoy that bath (don’t we all?). I thought about pacifiers. If you end up using a pacifier, don’t rush out and get 20 of the same kind becuase your baby might not like the style of it. It tooks us four different styles with our second child. I really thought we could get away with not having one, but turned out she really wanted one and finally found the one for her. Once you find it, buy several. It’s amazing how they get lost, especially when they get to be more mobile and cordintated with their hands. Who likes to look for a pacifier at 2 in the morning with little sleep and finally find it behind the crib on the ground? Ah, memories.

    I also loved, loved, loved, the co-sleeper, I ended up having 2 c-sections and this came in very handy for the first couple of months. I loved that the kids were able to be right next to me sleeping and I could wheel the co-sleeper around anywhere in the house. It was also very easy to pack up and travel with us. I always kept both sides up on the co-sleeper though.

    And the bumbo! Once their necks are strong enough, the bumbo opens up a whole new viewing point for them. Both kids loved it!


  29. Joyfulmomof6 says:

    Somehow in our society, the “less is more” idea makes other people uncomfortable.

    I have come to the conclusion after 6 children of my own and hosting baby showers that most people are going to buy what THEY want you to have instead of what you want or need.
    Last month we hosted a baby shower at church for my dear friend who was having her 8th child. We asked her what she would like (or even if she wanted a shower; she was okay with that) and she said that the only thing they needed was diapers and wipes.
    So I wrote a cute little poem on the invitation:
    “With 7 other blessings
    They have all that they need.
    So instead of leaving you guessing,
    Diapers and wipes would be welcome indeed.”

    And some people STILL gave them baby clothes!

    So graciously take the excess and donate what you don’t want/need to the Crisis pregnancy center.
    Like another commenter aptly said, babies need alot of love, not stuff.

  30. Penguinlady says:

    We have 10 mo old twins, and I agree with your main gear list. We have tried not to buy a ton, because we need 2 of almost everything. For cribs, though, we got the travel pack & play because they are compact (smaller than regular crib; can fit 2 in a very small bedroom easily) and they move great (fold down into a duffel bag). I’m really glad we got those for our first year.

    I also would like to put a shout out for consignment shops or parent sales. Don’t buy full price if you don’t have to!

  31. With our first shower upcoming, I was literally on the phone with my mom last week being critiqued for putting too little on my registry (there were 50 -!- items, and they were all essentials, like the nasal aspirator or cloth diapers.)

    I was surprised, since she also values not bringing a bunch of stuff into the home, but she finally just said, “People like gifting the other stuff,” meaning clothes, books, toys, etc.

    I’m figuring I’ll just say a huge thank you and return things afterwards…

  32. I agree with your list for the most part. If, by chance, you think you might have a really fast growing baby like I did, you might skip the bouncy seat and go for a something like the Fisher Price Newborn-to-Toddler Rocker. My son had our (borrowed) bouncer bent to the ground before he was two months old. So I got that rocker and it worked great. I folds down for storage and at 2.5 he can still use it. It might not be the right thing for everyone, but for those of us have have huge children that could eat a growth chart for breakfast, they it’s a much better use of your money and space than a bouncy seat.
    Amanda´s last post…A few self-observations

  33. One big necessity (well, unless you do EC…) is diapers :) I have two crib mattress pads and two crib sheets, and both are on the crib so that in the event of a middle of the night change, you already have the bed made below the set you take off. But we co-sleep, so I’ve never needed to try this out :) We never bought or needed a bouncer (because we had a swing) or bottles (just breastfed), and I just use a larger purse to be able to fit a couple of diapers, a wet bag, and some wipes. We also didn’t get a stroller until my daughter was a year old, and that was only because I found the one I wanted cheap on Craigslist :) She’s only been in it a handful of times, since she’s usually in a carrier (pouch sling and Beco Gemini are my favorites), but it’ll be useful when #2 gets here. I definitely think people shouldn’t bother with changing tables– I’m not a dresser person (I like to be able to see everything) so we got a desk to use as a changing table now, and eventually it can be used as a desk. Same price ballpark, but more useful than a dedicated changing table in the long run. And I’m glad all the bibs we have were gifts; I would have felt bad to have spent money on the things, since we never use them. All they do is prevent drool/food from getting on one small part of the shirt, so we just don’t bother. Most meals require a clothing change, bib or not.

  34. Totally agree about the soft toys. I am sure ours breed in the toy box. Even though we regularly donate bags of them to charity shops we never seem to have less.

  35. I agree with everything, except the carrier car seat.

    I was a marsupial mom. I could never understand why a woman would put an 8lb baby in a 20 lb carrier and kill her arm in the awkward carrying process. To get more use out of your car seat, buy one that the child can grow into. Ours hold 5lb-50lb and are still in use at the ages of 4 and 2. I do recommend buying the most comfortable stroller for you to push rather than the cheapest. I’m tall and loved my Gracco single. I now use a Jeep double jogger.
    MW´s last post…How to survive a renovation

  36. Enjoyed your post here because it is so true! While I personally would differ on s couple of items, that’s a matter of preference and lifestyle. The basic principle of seeing what you already own/use that could serve in place of a specialty baby item is excellent. And what you must buy, look for it second hand or see if you can borrow from a friend. Among several families in our church, we have 2 solid maternity wardrobes, baby accessories for about 3 kids, and 4 baby wardrobes (2 boy/2 girl). We each replace the few items that wear out while we use a size of clothing and pitch in to replace/repair bigger items. We all save a lot of money and nothing goes to waste!

  37. I am not going to have children, but still find this advice really, really good! I’ll be sure to pass it along to friends and family who are having kids.

  38. I don’t have any little ones at my house but enjoyed reading your post and seeing the photos of your adorable kids. Such cute baby pictures of Tom.
    Donna´s last post…Ragged Edges Quilt and New Back Idea

  39. I really didnt want to spend a lot on bedding, didn’t see the point of matching sheet sets, so we bought generic plain sheets and blankets and a quilt for the cotbed from a favourite design. When not needed on the bed it decorated the chair, got used as a playmat and as a blanket for my feet during middle of the night feeds. It’s had a lot of uses.
    We have been through several boosters and a couple of highchairs, and found the best solution was the cheapest ikea highchair, it can sit up to the table, the legs come off to store and the whole thing can be washed down in the shower or dishwasher.
    Re bottles – it is worth getting a small steriliser that usually comes with a bottle or two just in case, you can use the steriliser for teethers and early spoons if nothing else. We gave away our electric steriliser after our first, but bought a microwave one for no2.

  40. Thank you so much Rachel for this post.
    We are expecting our first child, living in an apartment with a student-doctor budget (and loans!). This just emphasizes the choices we have made so far. Your simple wisdom is appreciated.

  41. Oh my goodness, what a perfect list! I have a ten week old son, and we co-sleep, so we haven’t needed a nursery. The bouncer seat is one of the few things we’ve added– it’s so good to have a place to put him that isn’t the floor.

    We are pretty minimal, and your list pretty much sums up what we have. The only thing I would add is, as sweet as it is, we have been given about a hundred hand-knit blankets, most made of acrylic yarn. Not terribly useful. We have used quite a few flannel receiving blankets though!

    I have given away nearly all the stuffed animals we’ve been given, as I know they will multiply as soon as he’s old enough to hold onto them.

    It’s so good to read a list like this! So many peers are getting so. much. stuff. and sometimes I feel pressure to give into keeping/”needing” more stuff. Thank you!
    Eliz. K´s last post…48.