Hi there Maizy!
My first babe is due in July and here's what I've put together so far. Of course, I won't know if it's essential or not until after s/he is here, and will likely forget some things and have to run out for them, but here's my list as I'm nesting
I'm also a single mom, living in a 1BD apartment, and will be on a tight budget.... frills are not my style. I've collected these things before getting pregnant and throughout my pregnancy.... spreading out the $ damage... whenever I had a "baby hunger", I went shopping - but mostly at my trusty neighborhood 2nd hand store, Once Apon A Child.
Changing Table - I have a bad back, tons of cloth diapers and find them so much easier than changing diapers on the floor all bent over. A changing pad, but NOT a changing pad cover - I intend to wipe down the pad after each change. I bought a used one, sanded it down and painted it to match a quilt I got as a baby gift using paints I bought at Joanne's Crafts & Fabrics. It's beautiful, if I do say so myself, LOL>
Cloth diapers - prefolds mostly and wool covers (most natural fabric for covers that exists and I think the nicest). I did splurge on the covers. One package of newborn disposables because I do NOT want meconium on my nice cloth diapers, yuck. I do have a few fitteds and a few AIO's. Check out the diapering forum here for excellent advice!
Homemade cloth diaper wipes & homemade diaper wipe solution/ butt wash in a basket right next to the table and in a spray bottle. I also have some watered down Bac-Out wash in a spray bottle to spray on poopy diapers. Why spend money on storebought stuff that is alot of alcohol most likely? I know exactly what is in mine.
Tide Free or All Free & Clear detergent for my cloth diapers. Euclan wool wash. Liquid lanolin to re-waterproof my wool covers. Bac-Out as mentioned above.
Several slings. I have two 2nd hand Maya wraps and I am sewing a couple more in fabrics that I like - denim and natural cream colored cotton fabrics.
A bunch of nice, colorful infant toys that the folks who attended my Blessingway & baby shower gave me. Some nice wood toys. Eventually, when babe is older, I'll invest in some nice wood blocks, a pile of Legos (even though they are plastic, they will encourage open-ended imaginative play), dolls of all sorts (colors, genders etc), homemade playdough, art supplies, toys like that. Who needs all the noisy plastic cr*p? I have already told everyone that I do not want toys that are plastic, require batteries, are Disney associated or are gender specific. Well, I can try
I keep the toys in a sturdy reed basket in the living room for babe to help him/herself to.
Some board books, some nice books, also in a basket. But I think I'll really appreciate my library card the most! I bought some "classics" and "favorites" because I'm a reader and *I* wanted them, lol.
Baby shampoo from California Baby. Be careful with infant products, they absorbe through the skin so much more than adults. I'm only planning on the best quality, hopefully organic products, even if they cost more. I make my own rash cream out of olive oil, beeswax and essential oil. I'll look for Mustella brand sunscreens later on. Trader Joes unscented lotion & creme.
Clothing - I shop primarily 2nd hand. Baby clothing is practically new at some 2nd hand stores - it's not like babies wear down their clothing, like preschoolers do. I also buy receiving blankets 2nd hand. Why spend $5 a blanket when I can get them for $1? And there is the added benefit that they have been washed at least a few times, so they are already "broken in" and softer. Wash in your own detergent before dressing your babe in them. I have bought mostly 3 - 6 month onsies, since cloth diapered babies have big butts. One piece outfits so babe isn't cut in half by tight elastic. Lots of overalls for fall & winter in gender-neutral denim. Sun hats for this summer. Socks that all look alike so I don't have to waste time matching miniature socks out of the dryer. A bunch of 2nd hand gowns for those first few weeks. I will get a sleep sack for this winter, instead of using blankets - much safer imo. But really, a few basics and I think it'll be fine.
A good carseat. I am a carseat safety freak. I bought a very good infant seat, and can't wait to get a Britax for Christmas when my babe is around 6 months old. Splurge here. Safety and comfort count. My old car may look like doodoo, but my carseats don't
Are you co-sleeping? Or using a crib? I'm using a crib jammed between my bed and the wall (I have a bad back so I must use pillows to prop myself - not a safe sleeping place for a babe). I'm using a 2nd hand-me-down crib & mattress, so there is no "offgassing" to either of them.... yet the crib is new enough to be safe (slat width etc) and sturdy. I'm using an organic crib bumper. I think a moses basket would be cool, but not essential at all. I may buy those plastic rail protectors to save baby teeth from teething on the wood crib side.
A rocking chair/glider. I think this will be wonderful! *I* sure like it, and right NOW babe likes it
S/he always wakes up when I rock (not exactly what I intended but kinda fun, for now).
A boppy pillow - just to help me in those first important months of breastfeeding while we get the rhythm down. Why not get all the help you can?
A cheap bathrobe to wear to discourage visitors from staying too long if I get tired or they are annoying post partum
NOT white! I'm tie-dying mine in dark blues. Hehehhehehehe....
A second-hand baby bath tub. I think my sink is gross, so I will use a bath. I think I'll also use it as a seat for babe when little, so as not to have to get a bouncy seat, which seems redundant. Or maybe one of those foam pads.
I do admit I have a swing. As a single mom, I KNOW I cannot cook dinner while carrying a baby. Too dangerous and I'm sure it'd take twice as long.
A few sealing dishes, like tupperware, for future crackers & cereal snacks.
A backpack diaper bag. I know there are tons of strap diaper bags, but in my experience, they fall off your shoulder and WHACK your babe! Backpack bags are easier on your body, too, and are just as nice and easy to find stuff in. Plus, they are usually better made AND can be used until the kid is a preschooler and not look dorky or baby-ish. I am getting the "High Performance Backpack Diaper Bag" for $80 at One Step Ahead (http://onestepahead.com
). It looks awesome and they have good quality stuff.
I am getting a stroller as a gift. It's a portable one that rolls up really tight that I can use for traveling. I expect to use the sling for most of the 1st year, though. This is toddler business.
Health & Safety Stuff - snot sucker (the bulb syringe), syrup of Ipecac, a digital and a rectal thermometer, nail clippers, a brush, a comb, some Hyland's homeopathic medicines, 2 baby Tylenols (one for home & one for diaper backpack).
I am a laundrymat user due to apartment living, but I am also buying a Pressure Handwasher from Lehman's - http://www.lehmans.com
- so I can wash outfits as needed, rinse out poopy diapers so I don't have to do two washes at the laundrymat, and take care of alot of my post partum ickies at home (using cloth pads). The Handwasher is $50. I suppose it's extravagent, but I will appreciate it alot!
Um, that's all I can think of for now! I'm really having fun getting things ready for the baby, without going overboard or wasting my money on extravagances that I likely won't use. Once I have the essentials, I'll wait until after the babe is born to see if I want/need anything else. After all, all a newborn wants is a dry diaper, a full belly and to be snuggled. Everything else is frosting on the cake
Good luck, mama and have fun with your future little one!!!