There are 5 million lists out there with suggestions of what you do and do not need for a new baby. The most important thing to look at when checking out these lists is who is writing it. With so many voices out there, it's tough to know whose advice to take. I'm definitely not saying that my advice is the best out there but I will say that if you are here, chances are good that we at least have similar aesthetic preferences and that we probably have pretty similar ideas on parenting and child care. That said, if you like Cub Shrub then this might be the best list out there for you! :)
What should newborns wear?
How to dress a newborn is 100% up to the preferences of the parents. Some will dress their babies in a jeans and a sweater on day one. Though I love kid fashion, I am on the total opposite team when it comes to dressing a newborn. Comfort and convenience are key. Cute is good too, but secondary. Personally, I say skip the separates! For the first couple of months, at least, you will probably not see my kid in anything but a comfy and practical romper or gown. Here are my favorites:
Bamboo Bundlers from Kyte Baby
I think this style is just the smartest out there for easy diaper changes and easy on/off!
Lou Lou Knotted Gowns
A similar idea- these gowns knot at the bottom instead of having a panel with a snap. Both styles are so adorable and practical!
Magnetic Rompers from Magnetic Me
These rompers close with a series of magnets rather than traditional snaps or zippers. They are super fast and easy to get on/off and come in a ton of great fabrics and patterns.
Do I need a swing AND a baby bouncer?
In my opinion, the baby swing is for tiny babies and the bouncer is for when they are just a little bit older (a month or two). The swing is a huge and short lived piece of equipment and as such I would suggest that you ask a mom friend if they have one you can borrow (chances are they only used it for a month or two and now it's taking up a ton of room in their basement!). The bouncer has a longer life so if you are choosing between the two, I would spend my money here and I highly recommend the Baby Bjorn model! The difference between this $200 one and the $30 one at Target is that it responds to the slightest movement from baby. In my experience, the cheaper ones take a lot of pressure to move at all, making them useful for a much shorter amount of time. Also the Baby Bjorn one is so much better looking (just LOOK at that yellow one!!).
What is a swaddle blanket and do I need one?
You use a swaddle blanket to wrap up babies nice and tight to make them feel comforted. Some babies are never into that. Most babies are. You can swaddle until your baby starts to roll over on their own (around 4 months, generally). Look for blankets that are generously sized (47" squared is perfect) and made from a breathable material. I love muslin swaddles because they are incredibly breathable That makes them good for keeping baby cool when they are wrapped up but also great because if the baby breaks free from the swaddle (this happens all the time- sometimes it means you need to be wrapping tighter, sometimes it just means you have a Houdini baby) the fabric can cover their faces- with muslin you don't need to worry about them not being able to breath in that case.
What about gear? How do a choose a stroller and a car seat?
I spent MONTHS looking at strollers! I finally settled on one and bought it.. then moved on to car seats, spent months on that, chose one and realized that it wasn't compatible with the stroller I bought. So my recommendation here is unless you live in a city where you don't drive much, look at the stroller AND the infant car seat as a travel system instead of seeing them as individual pieces. I don't think you need the bassinet piece that is offered with most strollers- in most cases you will be traveling somewhere in your car, then getting the stroller out of the car to use it and it will be much easier to just click that carseat (which already contains the baby) into the stroller frame rather than removing the baby from the carseat and putting them in some special newborn seat you bought for the stroller. That said, there ARE carseats that will accommodate kids from birth up to like 10 years, but I recommend getting the infant car seat just because then you don't have to buy the infant attachments for your stroller and you don't have to wake your baby every time you get out of the car.
In case you are curious- with Emma, I had a Stokke Xploy stroller (that I found for a song on Craigslist). I liked it well enough but it doesn't fold up well (you have to remove the seat first which is a giant pain) and I constantly got remarks from people about how it looked more like a spaceship than a stroller which was obnoxious. Also it was only compatible with one American infant car seat and I had to buy the pricey conversion kit to make it work for that. Honestly I would just use it again if I still had it but, of course, I sold most of our baby stuff about a year ago! For kid #2 I think I am going to get the Uppababy Cruz. It's light, folds small easily, will work with the infant car seat I already have (with a conversion kit) and there is a standing board attachment for it for Emma who will be 5 when this one comes along. (She hasn't used a stroller in years but is now saying that she would prefer that I get a stroller with two seats. Not happening.)
The thing that shocked me about baby gear once Emma was born was how short lived it all was. I spent SO MUCH TIME researching this stuff and by a year we were done with the swing, the bouncer, the infant car seat and even the stroller for the most part. So my suggestion is, yes, put a little time into researching this stuff but don't go crazy! It doesn't matter as much as you think it does right now.
How do I choose a baby carrier?
There are three basic types of baby carriers:
- Ring slings that go over one shoulder like Sakura Bloom
- Structured front carriers that attach almost like a backpack such as Baby Bjorn
- Wrap carriers like Solly and Moby
I think each of these have a place and a purpose. I had a ring sling and a baby bjorn with Emma, but I have already purchased a Solly wrap carrier for this second baby. I loved the Baby Bjorn for front facing exploration.. going on walks, visits to the conservatory, etc. I liked that she was free to move her arms and legs and she could see everything. I liked the ring sling for times when Em was being clingy and needed to feel comforted. We used it a lot when she was teething and mostly just wore it around the house. That said, both of those were great for when she was a little bit older but I didn't like either for when she was tiny. I like that the wrap carriers securely snuggle the baby right up to you while distributing the weight across your entire torso. SO my official suggestion is to have a wrap carrier for the newborn phase then once your baby can hold their head up on their own you might want to check out the other options. At that point you will be able to take your baby with you and try some things out at a shop that can offer knowledgeable support about the products and help you make the best decision for you! Our friends at Never Grow Up have a huge variety of carrier options and they can help with tips and tricks to make sure you feel comfortable in what you choose!
The differences between pacifiers can be kind of confusing but there are really only a couple of variables between all of them.
- Material- generally plastic or rubber
- Nipple shape (the part that the baby actually sucks on)- rounded (like a real nipple) or orthodontic (flat on one side)
- Shield shape (the part that stays outside the mouth)- rounded or butterfly
Some babies will never take to a pacifier, but if you offer one kind and it gets rejected, try changing one or all of the variables above. Emma loved her Wubbanub which was a rounded, silicon pacifier attached to a small stuffed animal. These are nice for small babies as the animal can lay on their chest and if the pacifier gets spit out it stays nearby. Once kids are a little older and able to search around a bit for a missing pacifier in their crib, these are great because it gives them something a little larger to find.
With baby #2, I am going to start out by offering a one piece, natural rubber model from Natursutten. I like the idea of using rubber over plastic (for both safety and the environment), but I will be honest and say my main motivation here is that these are just so hearbreakingly adorable in a baby's mouth! These are available in the two different nipple shapes and the two different shield shapes so hopefully we can find one that he will agree with.
What about all the other stuff?
For some reason I felt like I needed to have everything that I could ever need for Emma before I brought her home from the hospital. Like online shopping didn't exist and I would never be able to leave the house again. It's so important to remember that you don't need to have it all figured out ahead of time! You need some clothes, diapers and wipes, bottles (if you aren't breastfeeding), a couple of swaddle blankets, a car seat, and a place to lay the kid down. Don't sweat anything else. MAYBE your baby would benefit from a wipe warmer but maybe they will just be totally fine with cold wipes like most everyone else and it won't be an issue, so just wait and see! If an issue arises, ask other parents for advice- they might suggest a gadget that will make your life way easier and that is the time you can purchase that kind of thing. If you don't really know many other parents, join a local facebook group (or if you live in Columbus, come to some of our free events!). There is never a shortage of people around who have been through whatever you are going through and would love to help! Also, that contact email at the bottom of our website (email@example.com) is me. Feel free to reach out about whatever any time. I don't have that many answers but I am connected to an amazing network of parents and professionals who do!