When we were in the licensing process of becoming foster parents, I did TONS of research on versatile, gender neutral baby and kid gear. I shared some of my favorites here (and I should note, after 11 months with three kids using these items, I still stand behind everything, especially the stroller! The only item we never ended up getting was the IKEA Kura bed). I also learned through trial and error which things were necessary for our lifestyle and which things really didn’t matter.
This time around, planning is MUCH easier. We have a pretty good idea of when the baby will be here, we (will) know the gender, we know we’ll have a newborn baby, and we know it’s just one baby. We also have the advantage of 9 months to mentally and physically prepare, verses the 3 hours notice we received to prepare for 3 children ages infant to 4 years. I really want to take a minimalist approach to baby gear to avoid ending up with tons of baby stuff we don’t need or use. Also, I am completely ok with, and actually prefer, gender neutral baby items and gear. That’s right, I’m not a fan of pink flower patterns, blue or green jungle patterns, etc. I prefer grays, whites/creams, blacks, and some occasional lime green for boy or girl.
So here is what my list of newborn essentials looks like:
1. Pack N Play with Bassinet and Changing Table Combo
We LOVED our pack n play for little M, and definitely got our money’s worth of use out of it in the 11 months he was with us. I am planning to breastfeed this baby, and to make life easier we are going to set up our pack n play bassinet in our bedroom (which is on the first floor of our house) and will have him/her sleep in there as long as possible. I love that this one also has a changing table and lots of storage for diapers and wipes and burp cloths- all in one piece of furniture that will fit nicely tucked into a corner of our room. Bonus, the design is pretty (not obnoxiously patterned) and gender neutral! See all product information here.
2. Convertible 5-70 pound Car Seat
I am a huge fan of convertible car seats. M and D both had the same one, and A could have been in the same one, but to make three fit in our backseat we got her a 5 point harness booster. My original reason for getting a convertible car seat was not knowing the age/weight of the children we would have in our home. This time, we know we are starting out with a newborn and could get an infant car seat, but I just don’t feel there are any benefits. First of all, the cost. Even with a tiny baby, an infant car seat at best lasts about a year. A convertible car seat will last from the time the baby comes home from the hospital to the time they outgrow it or it expires (usually 5 years), which saves money having to buy a convertible later on. Second, I am a tiny girl. I am not going to be able to lug around even a light weight infant car seat with a baby in it, plus a diaper bag, for any amount of time. It will be much easier for me to transfer the baby from car seat to infant carrier for our outings, with the added bonus of being able to hold my baby. Third, the main benefit I have heard from other parents of infant car seats is the ability to leave your baby in the car seat if they are sleeping, so they can stay asleep while running errands. The problem with this is that it’s dangerous. Car seats are meant to keep babies safe while in the car; they are not intended to be used for naps or for any extended period of time outside of the car as it can restrict their airways and cause suffocation (if you haven’t seen the recent articles about the dangers, please google it!). We sent our other car seats along with A, D, and M when they left our home, so this is the one we will be buying for Baby S.
3. Ergobaby Original Carrier with Infant Insert and Teething Pads
A good baby carrier is definitely a must for me. Without an infant car seat, before the baby can sit up on his/her own in the stroller I will be using this for every outing. Since M was already 7 months when he was placed with us, I did not buy a baby carrier, and it is one of my biggest regrets! I borrowed a wrap and a carrier for a few months before he outgrew them, and it was great! He could be held and soothed while my hands were free to cook or play with the girls. I have gotten a lot of recommendations for the ergo carrier because of it’s durability and that it has hip support for babies (unlike some other popular carriers, such as the bjorn carriers). I am considering a Moby wrap too, but for now just the Ergo and teething pads are on my must have list. More product info here and here.
4. Miracle Blanket Baby Swaddler
I am planning on purchasing two or three of these to start off with, and am hoping that is enough to last through our laundry rotation. I love the idea of swaddling wraps like this, because I do not trust myself to safely or effectively swaddle with a blanket in the early, tired weeks with a newborn. Maybe I’m just lazy, but this just seems so much easier, and is guaranteed not to come undone if baby wiggles around. These are some of the more expensive swaddlers, but I have found them to be the best reviewed for keeping baby snug and secure, unlike other similar swaddles with lots of extra room at the bottom. I’ll have to see how these work out for us and let you know. :) More product info here.
5. Jeep Single Jogging Stroller and Accessories
I LOVED our jeep double stroller, and was probably a little too excited when I found the single, jogger stroller version of it! I love the colors and that it was light weight and durable. This one has the same features, and a few more, which is exactly what we need. We probably won’t use it for the first few months so this could technically wait and not be on this list, but since it is an eventual need I am including it here. I am also purchasing a few accessories made especially for jeep jogger strollers: stroller hooks for bags/extra storage, a weather/rain shield, and a bug net. More product info here.
6. Burts Bees Fragrance Free Baby Bath Products
I am a big fan of Burts Bees in general, so I was SO excited when I discovered they had a whole line of baby products, including surprisingly hard to find fragrance free baby bath and diaper items! I used all of these on M and D, who both had very sensitive skin and never had any problems with dryness, diaper rash, or weird smells. I will definitely be using these for Baby S. The whole line is available at Target and Amazon.com.
So, that’s my list for now. Of course we will need diapers, burp cloths, and some other things, but these are the big essentials we will have around before August. Feel free to share your must have newborn items as well!