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As if pregnancy isn’t overwhelming enough, the choices first (and second and third…!) time moms and dads face is both exhilarating and a little daunting. Do babies really need their wipes warmed? What about all those rattles and other sensory toys? Those are all “nice to haves”—the bonuses you might be happy to get as a gift because you aren’t sure you really want to spend the money on it yourself. What are the baby gear essentials? What does a newborn really need apart from diapers, feeding gear and comfy clothing? We are here to give you the 7 top baby gear picks, in no particular order.
This first one seems rather obvious but it’s obvious for a reason. Sure, you could probably have your child live in a drawer for a few weeks but eventually you’ll really want something safe, secure and flexible to grow with your child. We highly recommend convertible cribs. What is a convertible crib? It’s a bed that starts out as a crib, converts into a toddler bed with, and then without, safety rails and finally a twin size bed. Quite honestly, a convertible crib can last into your child’s early teens. Make sure you choose a neutral color that will grow with your child. Crib mattresses are usually in the $100-$150 range. We highly recommend you spend the extra $30-50 for a good quality mattress—those growing bones need good support.
- Crib bedding
Again, this one seems logical but it’s important to purchase bedding that is specifically manufactured for baby cribs. Fitted sheets are important because if it’s not tightly fitted around the edges, it could pose a strangling or choking hazard if the edges become loose. The sheets and blankets are also an important consideration due to size. The crib sized blankets and sheets are made to fit neatly into a crib. Even a twin sized blanket is too large for a baby’s crib and again, it could pose a hazard to your baby’s health. We highly recommend purchasing crib bedding manufactured specifically for your crib dimensions.
- Nursery furniture
I kept reminding myself not to buy too many 0-3 month outfits while I was pregnant. But they are absolutely irresistible, right? I’m here to remind you that all those 0-3month outfits are pretty useless. Go ahead, splurge on one or two for a photo shoot but no more than that. If your baby is a summer baby, he or she will be living in onesies. If your baby is born in the winter, he or she will be wearing sleepers all day and all night. Fall or spring? A variation of onesies and sleepers. But the inevitable will happen and you will buy/receive/inherit way too many outfits. No 6 month old needs 5 pairs of shoes! And so, a good quality furniture set is essential and it will last years (probably as long as the convertible crib). After all, you need a place to store all those cute outfits. The nursery furniture doesn’t have to match the crib, nor does it even have to be a completely brand new set. However, opting for a new set will ensure that your child has many, many years to enjoy his or her furniture.
If you’re looking for some nursery design inspiration, check out our Nursery Room Ideas page!
- Baby monitor
This one is a very personal choice but as a mother of two, I promise you I could never have slept soundly without one. As a new mom, it’s hard not to stress out over every little peep your newborn makes. I was so exhausted I feared that I would mistakenly sleep through my baby’s hunger cues. A good baby monitor will last you through several years and several kids. They are, relative to the amount of peace of mind they offer, very inexpensive. If you want to really treat yourself, and if you have the extra budget space, you could always go for the fancy video monitor.
For more information on monitors and other technology products for your baby, check out our Baby Tech Reviews!
- Car seat
Your child’s safety is most important and we recommend you buy new car seats for your children. Furthermore, we highly advise that you heed the expiration dates on your child’s car seats. In many states, you can’t leave the hospital without a child properly restrained in a car seat. If you own a vehicle, or if your child will be traveling with someone who drives, it’s imperative that your purchase a car seat.
- Stroller or carrier
You can choose either or both but unless you plan on staying home for the next year, you’ll need to transport your child. The car seat is essential for travel within the car but the bucket seat is bulky when walking with it. You’ll need a solution that fits with your lifestyle. Some people swear by carriers and some can’t live without their stroller. The right choice is completely up to you. As a mom of two young children, I have a double stroller, a baby carrier and two baby hiking backpacks! If this is your first child and you plan on having more than one child, I highly recommend you purchase a double stroller to begin with. You’ll have extra storage space while you have one child and you’ll save yourself the expense of buying a second double stroller once you have the second child. Tandem strollers are easy to steer and simple to get through doorways. The side by side strollers are meant to be small enough to glide through standard doorways but if you are a frequent mall walker/shopper, I recommend the tandem as it’s easier to get through aisles in department stores and through tighter corners.
- Baby swing or vibrating chair
You don’t absolutely need a baby swing or a vibrating chair. If you “wear” your baby, you won’t need one at all but if you’d like a break and the crib isn’t doing it for your child, the soothing vibrations and calm music of a swing or bouncy chair are sure to quiet the screams. The swing/chair was a lifesaver for my colicky child. We certainly don’t recommend that you allow your child to sleep in the swing or chair through the night but the occasional nap for baby (and hopefully you!) is certainly worth the price of those contraptions. Make sure that the fabric is removable and machine washable!
Most importantly: enjoy this time of discovery. You are, or will be, a fabulous parent!
Don’t forget to check out our Baby Gear Essentials Guide! We update it weekly with the top selling products and best deals on the internet.