I agree that trying to keep the stuff down is good... however, if it's your first and people will be throwing showers and asking you to register places, you might as well register for stuff you need and want, otherwise people are going to be buying you stuff anyway (usually baby clothes in NB size that if you kids are anything like mine they'll never get a chance to wear before they grow out of them!) and you might as well get the stuff you need instead of then having to go out in 5 months and spend your own money on it. (also, I hate shopping, so I was very happy not to have to go buy a lot of stuff later on.)
My friends asked me for a list three years ago (my oldest is four) and this is what I put together for them. Obviously it will be too minimal for some people (no wipes warmer! no exersaucer!) BUT it will also be too much stuff for other people! Sorry it's really long (I'm long-winded when people ask me for advice) but maybe it will help you think of something you've forgotten!!
The Minimalist Baby – my idea of the essentials
This may seem like a long list, but I’ve elaborated on most of them. Plus, many are small items that will be kept in a cupboard or diaper bag. Also, maybe you will find you don’t need some of them. (I could very well have forgotten some as well. Feel free to ask if I forgot something or have just found that it isn’t worth having.)
Furniture, Sleeping Stuff and other bigger purchases:
o Somewhere for baby to sleep (we did co-sleeper for 3-6 months, then crib)
o Mattress for crib (co-sleepers and pack n plays come with their own mattresses)
o Car Seat – bucket seat w/base is essential for the Midwestern climate. Make sure it fits your car and is EASY to use. If it’s frustrating and doesn’t go in and out of your car smoothly in the store parking lot, it will be impossible with crying baby and winter clothes, etc. (We REALLY loved the Chicco we got – way better than anything else we tried) **the only thing on the list that you will absolutely need – because they don’t let you take home your baby from the hospital without it.**
o Jogging stroller/bike trailer/regular stroller – Chariot :o) (Cougar 1 is the type we got) (we are runners so this was essential for us) (you might also need a regular stroller or frame for car seat if you’re going to be traveling by air a lot) (*take note that the Chicco doesn’t fit most ‘standard’ stroller frames, but they make their own, of course.)
o Pack N Play (great for traveling, can also use instead of a crib once baby outgrows co-sleeper. If the places you’ll be visiting have a place for baby to sleep or you’re too far away to bring yours, you can probably skip this altogether!)
o Some sort of seat for baby in the house (bouncy, vibrating, etc.) (if you’re trying to be minimalist, you can probably skip the swing and just have a seat, but I have heard from some parents that a swing was the only thing that kept their kid from crying all day – something to keep in mind.) Also, someone gave us a vibrating seat that can then be converted into a rocking chair for a toddler so it can be in use longer. (Fisher Price, I think.) Just an idea. It's good to have somewhere they can sit during dinnertime if they're happy and content - makes them feel more like a real member of the family! :)
o Comfortable place to nurse/feed baby (Some people buy one of those nice padded gliders. I found our couches were plenty comfortable, though often it’s nice to have your feet elevated… see next item.) (Generally, I think rocking chairs/gliders are overrated (and expensive!) because most fussy babies aren’t soothed by rocking back and forth, they often need up and down motion, which means you’ll be standing and bouncing (or try sitting on your exercise ball and bouncing that way, helps work the abs a bit, too!)
o A way to elevate your feet while feeding the baby (makes things more comfortable. There are special nursing stools available, though probably something you have around the house would be just fine. I either used a small stepstool or our coffee table. (A plastic crate with a pillow on top would probably work fine, too.)
o High Chair (if you’re tight on space, look into booster seats that attach onto regular chairs instead.) (need at ~ 6 months) We have this and love it: http://www.stokke-highchair.com/en-us/tripp-trapp-highchair.aspx
o Dresser or a couple of drawers in a dresser for current sizes of clothes – top of dresser can be optionally used as changing table if you get a pad that fits it. (we don’t have a closet for Claire’s clothes and haven’t found we need one. We have one now and it’s nice for out of season clothes and boxes or other things like that.)
o Baby Monitor (only if you have a big house or baby will be upstairs while you’re downstairs, etc.)
o White Noise machine (Sound Machine) I got ours on Amazon. It was the only way Claire would sleep more than 15 min in her own bed for naps the first 2 months – and we’ve loved it for her ever since. I think it really helps signal to her that she should be sleeping, and also drowns out strange noises while traveling, etc.
Linens, Blankets, and Towels, etc.:
o Sheet for where the baby is sleeping (2)
o Mattress cover for crib mattress (if you’re using a crib) (probably 1, though if you’re baby ends up puking a lot or leaking diapers a lot you might want to go get another one.)
o Bumper for crib – we actually don’t have this because I was a little paranoid about suffocation, but I’ve heard they make a mesh one that basically keeps stuff from falling out of the crib (i.e. a pacifier) If your little one ends up using a pacifier at night this would be great! (**Later we ended up getting a mesh one and really have liked it because otherwise she would lose her pacifiers onto the floor and cry in the middle of the night – several times.)
o Blankets: swaddling blanket, floor blankets (1-2), misc. newborn blankets (2-3), blanket for covering car seat in winter, thinner blanket for blocking sun in car in summer (don’t worry, you’ll probably be given 3x this many blankets.)
o A nursing pillow like Boppy or My Breast Friend. Most lactation consultants think the “My Breast Friend” is better for nursing and the Boppy is better later for the baby to play on. Or just a plain bed pillow or two (or even a throw pillow, if your baby is a neat eater.) This reminds me: bring extra bed pillows to the hospital with you – one or two. You probably won’t want or need them during the actual birth, but afterwards they’re very handy because hospital pillows are usually flat and uncomfortable. (Also bring the nursing pillow you want to try so you can practice using it.)
o Burp rags – either get cheap cloth diapers, or it works just as well to cut up old T-shirts (non-printed parts) into pieces and either sew edges so they don’t fray or don’t worry about it and throw away when they’re really ratty. (you’ll probably need lots, depending on how much your baby spits up – maybe 10-20)
o Baby washcloths (4-6)
o Baby towels (with hoods) – these are nice because they’re less rough than adult towels and the hoods are nice too, but they’re not essential (1-2)
o Changing pad covers (2)
o Extra washcloths for cleaning baby’s face and hands and high chair after eating (we just bought the cheapest ones from Target, you’ll probably want ~20 of them.) These were great and saved us wasting lots of paper towels.
In one end…
o Bottles – the number will depend on how often the baby will be getting a bottle and the type will partly depend on if you’re breastfeeding or formula feeding (some types are made to fit with the breast pumps, others have bigger openings to make mixing of powdered formula easier.) (Medela brand are great and it’s nice to pump into them and then serve it in the same bottle.)
o Nipples – make sure you get newborn flow (I think Medela just has one type, they worked fine for Claire the whole time she took a bottle)
o Small manual breast pump if you’re going to breastfeed and not going back to work right away (Medela brand, Harmony, ~$30)
o Double electric breast pump if you’re breastfeeding and going back to work right away (Medela Advanced Pump-in-Style) (though I wouldn’t buy this before baby because if you are having a problem breastfeeding sometimes the doctor tells you to buy one and then your insurance will sometimes pay for it. You’ll want it by the time the baby’s 2 weeks old regardless.)
o 1 package breast milk storage freezer bags (more if you’re going back to work.)
o Bottle Brush (with nipple cleaning end)
o Baby spoons (at least 4)
o Plastic baby bowls (2-3) (for when baby starts feeding her/himself? We haven’t gotten to that stage yet, so we just use normal dishes because Claire doesn’t hold the bowl. Later – we ended up getting one special ‘baby’ bowl that has a suction cup thingy to stick to the table! Definitely recommend that for when they first start feeding themselves! You might want two or three if you don’t want to hand wash after every meal like we did.)
o Sippy cups or shot glasses for baby to drink water out of and eventually juice and milk
o Bibs for drool (just thin, small, cotton ones) (4-6)
o Bibs for “solid” food (3-5, depending on how often you want to wash them) There are some out there with long sleeves attached which are awesome for beginning eaters. Later, the Baby Bjorn harder plastic ones are the BEST.
… And out the other…
o Changing pad (and covers – see linens section)
o Diapers – 1 package of Newborn size, even if you’re going to use cloth, just in case or for trips. Don’t buy too many of one size or brand because your baby may grow out of them before you finish or you might want to experiment with different brands and see what fits your baby best.
o Cloth Diapers – if you’re interested in using cloth, I’d love to tell you more about this. I really love using cloth diapers! :o) What you will need depends on whether you will be using a diaper service or washing them yourself. (washing them yourself is definitely the cheapest diapering option and not as bad as you’d think, the service or disposables are probably similar in price, though I haven’t priced different services or brands of diapers extensively because we’re washing our own.)
o Small garbage can for wipes, other trash, etc. in baby’s room (or at the baby changing station)
o A garbage can that seals well for the diapers (either cloth or disposable) or a Diaper Genie (for disposable only) – can get pricy because you have to buy their special refills each time. (I really like the metal garbage can we got from Target (online.) It has a hard plastic liner that is super easy to take out and clean. And most importantly, it seals tightly so you can’t smell stuff that’s inside.
o Refillable wipes container/box
o Lots of wipes (usually perfume-free, alcohol-free is a pretty safe bet for not reacting with your baby’s sensitive skin.)
o Can do reusable cloth wipes if you’re washing your own cloth diapers, otherwise it doesn’t really make sense. (ask me more if you’re interested.)
Keeping Baby Happy
o Pacifiers – newborn (buy a package of two different brands (or often you’ll get a free sample of one type in the mail or when making a purchase at Motherhood Maternity or something like that), because you won’t know what type your baby might like. Also, sterilize them before the baby is born because when the baby’s old enough to try them and you want to try them… there’s a good chance the baby will be screaming. Not exactly when you want to have to boil them for 10 minutes and then wait for them to cool!! :o)
o Toys – a good way to minimize the number of toys you need is to only have out part of them at one time, then rotate them every few days with the ones hidden away and they’ll seem new again and entertain the baby longer, plus you won’t have as many on the floor at one time. (baby won’t really need any toys til ~2 months)
o Bin or basket or cardboard box to hold toys
o Potential “lovies” – you’ll probably be given several small blankets or toys that might end up as a lovey. Or s/he’ll attach to your old t-shirt or something.
o Books – babies are often able to start paying attention to books being read to them at around 2-3 months old! Claire loves books by Sandra Boynton, and “I am a Bunny” by Risom is still one of her favorite books at 7 months.
Going Out with Baby
o Front pack and/or ring sling and/or wrap – this is one that you’ll never know exactly what you and your baby are going to like until you try different options/brands. If you’re not given a few as gifts or find them at garage sales, borrow different types from friends and see what works for you. I can elaborate on these if you want!
o Diaper Bag – doesn’t have to be an actual diaper bag. We use an old backpack because we like being able to put it over both shoulders if we want. You will need a small changing pad (we got one from an old diaper bag hand-me-down) and the bag should have several pockets/divisions.
o Small container for disposable wipes for diaper bag
o Small container of hand sanitizer for diaper bag
o Extra pacifier for diaper bag (once you know what brand your baby likes)
o A Bundle-Me – I admit this is the least-essential item on the list, but for winter babies this is super nice (it’s a fleece lining for your car seat so you don’t have to put baby in and out of snowsuit or load on blankets when you go out in winter.) If you are having a late spring/early summer baby you probably don’t need this.
Keeping Baby Neat and Clean
o Baby bath tub with back rest (some people prefer to take a bath with their baby when s/he is tiny and skip the baby tub)
o Baby soap (Johnson’s Head-To-Toe Baby wash (No-More Tears) is the classic baby wash (and probably the source of ‘baby scent’)
o Speaking of baby scents, you don’t need special laundry detergent for baby clothes. But it is good to wash them in perfume-free and dye-free detergent. (Dreft detergent, marketed for baby clothes is actually full of perfumes and also is completely overpriced.) Also, as long as you use a perfume-free, dye-free detergent on your clothes too, you can wash all family clothes together and not wash a special load of laundry for the baby clothes. (also, don’t use very much detergent, saves money and rinses out of the clothes better.)
o Small laundry basket or hamper (or small crate or cardboard box or bin) for dirty clothes in the baby’s room (or wherever you usually change her/his clothes)
o Don’t buy special baby lotion - most have too many perfumes in them and are mostly water so it doesn’t work that long anyway. If needed, doctors often recommend Aquaphor, which is mostly vaseline. For Claire’s eczema the MUCH cheaper Vaseline worked just as well as the expensive Aquaphor.
o For you: Lansinoh (brand) lanolin - for sore nipples or I also found it was great for cracked, dry, painful hands (from washing my hands 10x per day after diaper changes in the early days (in the dry winter weather you have to be extra careful!!).
Health and Safety
o Baby gate(s) to block off stairs and/or places you want off limits.
o Outlet covers (need at around 6-9 months)
o Cabinet locks (need at around 8-12 months probably)
o Infant Tylenol and Infant Ibuprofen (dye-free is good so it doesn’t stain if the baby spits it up) Always good to have on hand in case the doctor’s office recommends giving some to a sick baby… in the middle of the night or anytime when you’d have to go by yourself with sick, crying baby to the store and buy some. Doesn’t sound like fun. Have these on hand before the baby is even born.
o A and D (or other brand) zinc oxide cream for diaper rashes
o Thermometer (for underarm or rectal use)
o Blue suction bulb thingy for sucking out snot from baby’s nose
o Nail Clippers (Safety 1stBrand makes one with a bigger handle so it’s easier to hang onto when you’re clipping those microscopic nails.)
o Thin little cotton mits to cover baby’s hands when they’re newborn so they can’t scratch their face. (often the doctor doesn’t want you to cut baby’s nails until the baby is 2 weeks old or so because they’re not completely detached from the skin, but they’re still sharp so you need something to cover them.)
o Plastic bins or boxes for sizes of clothes baby is not currently wearing.
o Clothes – I wouldn’t worry about this. Gifts and/or hand-me-downs often take care of it, at least for the first 6-9 months. (don’t buy too much ahead of that age/size because it’s harder to estimate how big your child will be at certain ages and therefore what season of clothes you’ll be needing!) You’ll probably want at least 10 onesies and 10 footed pjs/outfits/sleepers in the 0-3 month size so you aren’t doing laundry every day. Socks are good to have in case your house is cold and s/he needs more on the feet. (3-6 pairs, thinner socks usually stay on better, for some reason.) Also, a hat or two is good if your place is cold and your baby likes them. Usually the hospital will send you home with at least one. (St. Mary’s gives you a thin knit one as soon as the baby is born and then a hand-knitted one (from a volunteer) after the baby’s first bath.) You don’t need shoes for a long time, til they’re walking outside. (~10-14 months) Those leather, completely flexible shoes are really nice once it gets colder for inside the house or they start crawling (Roobies or something is the brand name, but they some at Target that are okay too, they just don’t last quite as long.)
o Going Home Outfit – I wish we had prepared better on this. I didn’t really realize how TINY she would seem! The 0-3 month size outfit was swimming on her, and she was 8lb 5oz at birth! Next time I’d have picked out a special cute newborn size outfit for the pictures. :o) (unless you’re expecting a 10lb baby, in which case the 0-3 month size should be fine!) Other than the going home outfit, don’t spend at lot of money on clothes in the newborn size because they’ll be grown out of that size often before you remember to pull them out and use them. Plus, people will give you some anyway! :o)