And here is the last installment of the “Best of: Baby Stuff”.
So here we go!
Opinions highly vary on what is “necessary” gear when you have a baby. A lot depends on your lifestyle, your individual child, and how much room you have. That full travel system stroller that is imperative as a mode of transportation for a city dweller may almost never be used by a rural mom who has to drive everywhere-and uses a shopping cart when she gets here. The variables are so great that it is difficult to generalize to what the frugal necessities are for “everyone”.
When it comes down to it, a baby simply needs to be loved, safe, warm and fed. You could add clean and entertained into that.
The loved is the easiest part. I just dare you not to love a newborn. All that soft skin and tiny fingers.
And the rest? Lets face it. A baby could care less what their room looks like, or how stylish their clothing is. The requirement is to be warm and safe! For clothing this means that if budget and space are tight (as they are for Allysmonami-the original question asker) then you can do fine with used clothes, hand me downs etc. Actually, anyone can do fine with used clothes-but if you are simply concerned with warmth and not style you can get things for practically (or actually) free. Buddy wore “free” pink blanket sleepers for the first year of his life. Buying less clothing costs less and takes up less space, but means you have to do laundry more frequently. With a newborn, I would suggest keeping your laundry days to a minimum and having a few more clothes. Baby clothing is small-it doesn’t take up much space. and with spitup and the infamous “blowouts” you’ll need a bit of extra anyway.
For sleep needs, all you need is a firm soft surface when they are small. Honestly, as hokey as it sounds a drawer or a rectangular laundry basket with a thin blanket in the bottom really is fine when they are small. I would prefer that over the one-use-wonder of a basinette.
Personally, I found one of those port-a-cribs with a combination basinette/changing table to be useful. We used it as a basinett when they were small (with the handy changing table right there for middle of the night changes) and then when they got a bit older and were moved into their own cribs we moved it downstairs for changing and for a safe place to lay them down for a nap. Later on we used it as a playpen to contain them when they were mobile and we needed to be somewhere (like the bathroom or shower) for a few minutes. It was also used as a travel crib when we visited Nana etc until each of them was about 3. The cons are of course that it takes up quite a bit of room and can be pricey new (although you may be able to borrow or buy one used)
Eventually you will want some sort of crib. If you decide to go used, you need to do your research on crib safety recommendations. The matching bedding thing really is a crock – one that I freely admit that I fell for it with Princess. Crib bumpers are somewhat useful for a time, but not absolutely necessary. I frequently see them widowed at thriftstores. And don’t even get me started on those crib quilts! They are useless-too small and ornamental to be used. Trust me, you’ll get more use out of receiving blankets etc.
What you really need is a few good crib sheets (trust me, one is not enough) and something waterproof to put between the sheet and the mattress (I loved the ultimate crib sheet because it was flat-I still use it in Buddy’s twin bed as a layer between his sheet and matress-just in case. You can’t do that with a contoured fitted sheet.)
For diapering I chose to have a changing table-mostly to put the kiddos at a comfortable height. However, there is nothing special needed for changing. A towel on the floor or a bed does fine. You do want to put something down under the child though, just in case of leakage. A small box or basket with all your diapering supplies (wipes, diapers, ointment or whatnot) is nice-you can carry it to wherever you are going to do the job. You can have one set upstairs and one down if you want! There are plenty of containers at your local dollar store that work for this-or you could literally use an old shoebox for free.
For entertainment the jury is out. Both of mine loved the swing-but I have friends whose children hated them. If you can, borrow a swing. That way you can see if your child likes it or not-if they like it, it can be a lifesaver! Plus, since it is big and bulky, it is nice to be able to give it back when you are done.
Ditto on the whole “exersaucer” thing. I liked being able to put them in there watching TV while I took a super quick shower. But they are really, really big. And pretty darn expensive. So you may want to borrow or do without. A bouncy seat is also a limited use item (since they outgrow it) but it is a great way to keep them contained in a sitting position (which offers them more to look at). A carseat carrier could be used inside in the same way though.
Another entertainment thing that mine really liked were the baby Einstein videos. Not the animated series on Disney Channel-but the originals that play classical music and show various toys. Those things were like tranquilizers, or maybe hypnotists for my kids. I could pop them in front of that for almost 20 minutes and they would be enthralled. Again, before you think about buying them, borrow them from a friend or the library to see if your baby likes them.