When I was pregnant, I read a million and one lists of What You Must Have and What You Totally Don’t Need. I cribbed together a fairly detailed spreadsheet, delicately titled “Shit We Need”. We were gifted/handed down the vast majority of what we needed, plus a bunch extra, so as we received things, I’d colour code the cells and add the information to the thank you card tab. (Yeah, I’m that person.) The list was fairly comprehensive, from the big ticket items like the car seat and crib, to small things like washable breast pads and baby socks. I won’t go in to all the details, because, as I said, there are a million and one resources for that kind of thing on the net. But I will list the 5 things that Baby J needed/loved the most. It will be interesting to see if the list is the same for hypothetical future second child.
1) Baby Log. The best $5 I spent in the last year, no question. After the first month of so, when J’s habits started to become apparent, I downloaded every free baby tracking app that would work on my old iTouch. I picked the one that I liked best, imaginatively called Baby Log, bought the full version, and tracked that baby every single day until she was 11.5 months old. Which, on paper, is crazy OCD, but in reality was wonderful. J lives by a clock in her head, and as soon as I figured out what her preferred schedule was, especially in terms of napping, my life became so much easier. I knew she would want a nap 2 hours after she woke up, and the app kept count so I didn’t have to remember. As she got older, the waking times changed slightly, but with the app, it was easy to see and adjust and not have to think too much. It also tracked what side I started nursing on, so I didn’t have to remember that either, and during the 1-poop-a-week phase, we could easily track that too. I know, I know, but with this baby, who lives by her own clock it was the most wonderful thing to have. I’m not that OCD or clock following myself, but she is, and this was worth it’s weight in gold coins.
2) Swaddling/Sleep Sacks. J enjoyed being swaddled from the beginning, albeit with one arm free for finger sucking. When she was too strong for swaddling, we switched over to sleep sacks. We keep our house on the cool side, and she’s now a very mobile sleeper, and this keeps her warm and cosy and makes it slightly tougher for her to cruise around the crib.
3) Stuffed animals. This was a surprise to me, and points to other people for providing them. J LOVES stuffed animals. Like, open-mouthed-making-out-with-them love. It’s adorable. There’s now something cuddly in every toy bin in the house. If she’s upset, just hand her a stuffed penguin and watch her cuddle him to happiness.
4) Bumbo seat. J wanted to sit up from a young age and watch the world. The Bumbo made that possible. We still use it every day, when we eat dinner in the basement, on the couch, watching tv. (Yeah, yeah, I know, but at least we’re eating homemade food together as a family. And she tends to ignore the tv except to dance to the music.) Sure, she can flip her way out of it now, and we only use it with one of us sitting with her at all times, but it helps corral her during dinner, and it’s easier to use in the basement than the high chair in the dining room where we eat breakfast and lunch.
5) Bassinet. Our bedroom is on the main floor, and the nursery is upstairs. She slept in a bassinet in our room until she was 7 months old. Co-sleeping didn’t work for us, going upstairs 5 times a night wasn’t going to work for us. The bassinet was perfect. It was on a stand, so I didn’t have to bend much, which would have been impossible after the c-section anyway. Even after she moved upstairs to her crib, she’d still occasionally have naps in it. I know a lot of people say not to bother with them, but it was perfect for J, for a very long time.
Sure, we needed a bunch of other things: strollers, diapers, clothing, a baby bath tub (oddly essential for a very short period, especially for shaky new parents), a swing, bouncy seat, high chair, baby fingernail clipper, etc. But those are mostly generic needs (though swing vs seat is pretty baby specific. J liked both…). I’d say that the 5 above were pretty key.
As for what we didn’t need? J hated carriers and wraps from almost the beginning, so the 3 different kinds I bought got very little use. J rarely spit up so all the nice homemade burp clothes people made for me barely got used. We barely used the 3 bottles I bought – even when we’d go out, she’d basically just wait for me to return before eating much. There are a dozen unused sippy cups of various styles in my kitchen, purchased before I tried a cup with a straw, which she handles like a champ. (Yes. Can’t use a sippy cup, has no problems with straws. I was surprised too.) We have been given a lot of toys, and some of them have not been played with at all. (Unlike the duplo, which she is still officially too young for, but she adores taking blocks apart and using the blocks to make noises.)
Babies. They have funny personality quirks and opinions just like real people!