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Our baby is going to be born in a few months, what should we make sure we have before she gets here?

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Whatever you buy, keep the receipt in case you find you didn't need it in the end. Ideally, don't open the packaging either. –  JBRWilkinson Mar 29 '11 at 22:47
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Along with what JBRWilkinson said, make sure you know the return policy of the stores you are shopping at. Some stores only have a 30 day policy, so if you buy stuff you are not sure you will need more then a month before the baby is born, you may not be able to return it. –  Jason Mar 30 '11 at 13:40
    
Something nobody told me: Keep a lunch packed for the dad, and grab it with the mom's bag when it's time to go. He could be there for many, many hours, and the hospital doesn't feed the dads! –  Marc Dec 27 '13 at 18:01

12 Answers 12

up vote 14 down vote accepted
  • Diapers
  • A place for her to sleep
  • Carseat
  • Diapers
  • A place to change her diapers
  • Burp rags/receiving towels
  • Diapers
  • Baby wipes
  • Coffee
  • Diapers (in premie and new born)
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I would hold off on the carseat until you find out what size she is - some carseats don't have a 'little baby' insert, and others will be too small if she's a big bouncy baby. –  JBRWilkinson Mar 29 '11 at 22:48
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@JBRWilkinson, size considerations are important but you will need a carseat to take them home from the hospital which, depending on your locale, might be very quick - you might not have enough time to go and buy one while mother and child are in the hospital. Few if any 0-6 month seats will be too small for a newborn. –  Unsliced Mar 30 '11 at 12:06
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On holding off on the car seat (via @JBRWilkinson), hospitals in the UK won't let you take the baby home without seeing you've got a seat first. So you'd either need to buy one or have a friend who already owns one (most taxi companies can't/won't provide baby seats). –  Kevin Lloyd Mar 30 '11 at 12:08
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@Lloydie: In the US, many hospitals won't let parents take the baby home without seeing the car seat and running it's serial number for possible recalls. –  afrazier Mar 30 '11 at 13:36
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@tnorthcutt: I guess you have a very peculiar answer for How long should I wait before I permit my children to have access to caffeine?. –  Jaime Soto May 12 '11 at 20:52

A good question might be some things not to buy.

I'd avoid too many of the smaller clothes — you'll quickly find a shortage of the larger clothes when you need them and brand new smaller clothes unopened when the child has already outgrown them. Also, hard to predict what season your kid might be in for long sleeve sizes etc.

I'd avoid buying a dedicated changing table — we have used regular changing pads on a dresser and a trunk, and at the grandparents they just use a towel on the bed.

I'd avoid diaper pails with the fancy bags — we just used a simple one trapdoor one with ordinary kitchen bags.

Real shoes are basically pointless, I'd avoid wasting money on those until they can walk. The Robees are fine for crawlers. I wouldn't buy anything until you need it — who knows what season it will be when they are that size.

You will need a stroller, I would get one which works with the car seat. You'll use it heavily for the first two years, so you'll really get your money's worth out of that.

You'll want a bjorn, but not right away.

Assuming breast-feeding, you won't need bottles or anything like that for a while, but at some point you will need a breast pump and bottles. We never used a special bottle warmer or wipes warmer.

Also, a lot of stuff you may only use for 6 months to a year. Unless someone gives it to you, get it second-hand. Things like bouncers.

A rocking chair can definitely be good (we got one second hand).

Make sure in the baby's room you have a way to get subdued lighting with a dimmer or lamp or something. Maybe music. You can't tell what you'll really need on that front, so I wouldn't buy anything until you see what the kid is partial to.

Those various swings and bouncers can be good, but the newborns aren't going to really use them for a while (a couple months). We got a lot new and gave them away and got others second hand and gave them away.

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I think this is a very good list. I would also recommend a boppy especially if you breastfeed. It is very versatile. We used ours for many things the ones I found it most useful for were breastfeeding in a chair and our little guy had acid re flux issues so he slept in it for awhile. I actually got more use out of this then the bouncer. The wipe warmer we tried. It dried out our wipes. –  Kim Mar 30 '11 at 0:21
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@Kim Our boppy got a lot less use than we thought. Also the various slings got far less use than the bjorn. –  Cade Roux Mar 30 '11 at 0:24
    
For a changing table, I bought a 3-Drawer IKEA Malm dresser, and put a contoured pad on top. It was exactly the right height. And now my boys are using it as a dresser. –  Chris Cudmore Apr 26 '11 at 16:07
    
+1 for buying baby item second hand. Many times you can get new or practically new items at consignment stores since babies fo through "infant" items so quickly. –  Rachel Apr 10 '12 at 1:00

Diapers, car-seat, onesies, burp cloth, wipes. That's it.

Steal a few swaddle blankets from the hospital (they'll usually give them to you for free). Don't buy needless furniture: change diapers on the bed, or the ground (you don't need to waste money on furniture that will only last 6–8 months). Breastfeed so you don't have to buy formula.

Forget everything else, because you can buy it when you need it.

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+1 I think 'buy it when you need it' is the best advice we got. Not only can you spread out the costs, but it gives you more time to find deals, hand-me-downs, etc. –  David Mar 30 '11 at 6:16
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@David - Yes, and you get so many clothes as gifts, that buying a bunch of outfits is almost worthless. Newborns grow so fast, that you'll end up with outfits that still have tags on them that they've outgrown if you're not careful. –  Javid Jamae Mar 30 '11 at 6:36
    
Where does the baby sleep? –  Ze'ev Felsen Oct 25 '13 at 0:52
    
@Ze'evFelsen We coslept with all of our kids for the first 12-18 months, so we didn't need a crib immediately. But we had a crib and a toddler bed we used later on. –  Javid Jamae Oct 25 '13 at 18:54

Another strange thing that I wish I had the foresight to buy earlier are "Pool noodles". They are logs of some kind of high density foam plastic, and are commonly used to secure car seats. Properly securing a car seat is more difficult than the instruction manuals lead you to believe. You can also use rolled up towels, but pool noodles work better for some reason.

It's an even better idea to find a fire department or similar institution that provides car seat installation inspections.

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I wouldn't rely on these to secure a car seat. Most places will let you try car seats in your car to ensure they can fit securely. In fact most modern seats and cars (at least in the UK) are isofix compliant. childcarseats.org.uk/standards/isofix.htm –  Rory Alsop Apr 7 '11 at 22:11
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Rory, the contours of seats almost never match the contours of baby carseats, and you are supposed to fill those gaps with something. Carseat manuals recommend towels, but many car safety programs in the US use these noodle things. Besides, a British carseat is probably made out of solid stainless steel and can be welded on. –  deadprogrammer Apr 9 '11 at 4:27
    
I've never heard of noodles for car seats! But it makes sense. As for isofix, do note that it's not a cure-all. One still has to make sure things are proper. Where our kids grew up, you could also go to any fire station and they'd come out and thoroughly inspect the installation of the car seat for you for free. –  DA01 Dec 1 '11 at 17:49

Buy a wall-mounted hospital-style sanitizer dispenser or two. I have two PURELL NXT brand dispensers and use them a good deal. In a rush somewhat sanitized hands are better than nothing.

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One popular item is a baby monitor. However, most cordless home phone systems have a built-in room monitor feature that you can use to the same effect. I found that it was much more convenient than the baby monitors as it was a lot easier to move a handset from room to room. Not to mention saving money.

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+1 for the cordless phone trick for home. You still may want to have a baby monitor for when you travel. –  milesmeow Aug 3 '13 at 10:21

General rule: If you find yourself asking whether or not you need something, you don't need it.

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My wife put together a list, you can find that content at http://notepad.cc/babystuff

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I'm a bit surprised that no one has so far stated one of the obvious things you'll need — clothing, and lots of it (yes, people will give you clothing as gifts, but not all of them will be for when you need them, and you don't want to rely on other people's gifts, especially if they give the gifts late).

Babies will puke up on their own clothing. Babies will also grow out of their clothing very quickly. You'll want to make sure you have clothing for newborns and size 3–6 months for starters. You can also get bigger clothing, but newborn clothing is essential.

What types of clothing should you get?

  • Onesies — these are a kind of shirt you button under the waist.
  • Shirts, pants and socks. You want to make sure your baby is properly clothed, especially because they cannot regulate their own temperature for starters.
  • Coats & caps, especially if you live in cold weather climates (and even if you live in Florida, it's been known to snow there a few times during the winter.
  • Pyjama outfits — sort of like onesies, but they cover the whole body from the neck down.

For baby clothing, give them a quick wash in the washer to get rid of any residue it may have from sitting on a shelf.

Another thing you may want to consider getting is a hot water bottle and a cloth cover for it. I don't know if they have them in America (I'm assuming they do, but I haven't actively shopped for them when I was there), but essentially you want something you can put on your baby's crib to keep the sheet warm when the baby is not there. The key here, though, is warm — not hot.

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I wouldn't say this was an absolute necessity, but I absolutely love having a video baby monitor. It makes me feel so much better since I can just glance at it and see how baby is doing. I really use it now (around 6-18 months) a lot more than right after birth since he's sleeping in his own room now.

To expand on tnorthcutt's answer:

  • Diapers — baby may outgrow newborn very quickly.
  • A place for her to sleep — a hammock type sleeper that can go beside your bed is great for the first few months. After that, you'll need a crib.
  • Carseat
  • A place to change her diapers — I like having the changing table, but as many others have said, it isn't essential.
  • Burp rags/receiving towels
  • Baby wipes, butt paste, hand sanitizer

Clothes — babies grow so fast. The first size that seemed to last more than a week for us was 3–6 months, but our baby was big. They will outgrow the newborn sizes fast, so just make sure that you have 6 or so onesies in the small sizes and get more as you need, if you don't get plenty as gifts.

Pajamas — I recommend looking for pajamas that zip instead of snap. Trying to match all the snaps down the front and legs of snap pajamas in the middle of the night is no fun. Also, babies can pretty much live in their pajamas for a while.

A carrier — I liked the Moby Wrap. It is difficult to figure out, but very comfortable with a little one.

If you don't have a church or other group or family planning to brign you meals, I would start stashing restaurant gift cards to get to-go meals. Or start pre-cooking casseroles that you can just stick in the oven.

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+1 for parental food planning –  Ze'ev Felsen Oct 25 '13 at 0:57

This may sound silly, it is not precisely for your baby but it will help you during those last months where your belly is getting really big. I bought my wife a very cheap plastic hand reacher and she used it a lot to pick up clothes or any stuff from the floor or from the washing machine/dryer (whenever I wasn't around, obviously). It saves you the pain of kneeling down or doing too much effort to reach things which could make your baby uncomfortable.

Hand Reacher

The other gadget we found extremely useful was the itzbeen. It is a multi-purpose timer that costs around 17-20 dollars and helps you keep track of when was the last time you fed your baby, changed diapers, or fell asleep. It also lets you set alarms for each category and it is very easy to use, it also has a very bright built-in lamp which helps you find your way to your baby at night. This thing is very small and ergonomic and it has a clip you can attach it to your pants or any clothes.

Itzbeen

I know as parents we want to save as much as we can so you may find some app for your smartphone that does the same thing for much smaller price. We bought this one 'cause we don't have smart phones and our ipad is too big to carry it it around. So this pocket-size thing was the way to go. It is important to mention that my wife's and my own memory got very affected by sleep deprivation during the first weeks of our baby so you may need an aid there.

Finally, I would avoid buying a bassinet. Even though there are some very nice ones their real use-span is just a few weeks. Instead I would recommend buying a good and affordable multi-purpose pack-and-play like this Napper and Changer form Graco. We had one of those and put it right next to our bed and it was very useful to sleep and change the baby, you just push a button and turn the napper into a changer, then when they grow older you can use as a normal play yard. So instead of paying $100+ in the bassinet + $100+ in the play yard + changer you only pay half and it is a great product to transition between baby sleeping in parent's room and sleeping in his/her own room.

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+1 for the itzbeen - not essential but convenient. –  Torben Gundtofte-Bruun Sep 10 '12 at 18:13

Noone mentioned breast pads - which may be useful if you're breastfeeding. My wife uses about 2 pairs per day.

A few blankets scattered around the house really helps making sure the baby has a clean and comfortable place to lay. We have 4 of those, but I guess 3 would be sufficient.

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