The shopping checklists for baby essentials you might find online or in magazines often contain detailed lists of virtually everything you could imagine ever using for baby care. Instead of an exhaustive shopping list or registry suggestions, perhaps a summary of just the most important items a newborn baby needs would be more useful to help you prepare for your baby’s arrival.
Many of the furniture items included in a baby preparation list aren’t absolutely essential. For example, you could use a bed as a comfortable changing area for your baby, skipping a nonessential changing table. You don’t even need a dresser right away; a couple of stacking baskets could easily serve as storage for tiny undershirts and footed pajamas. You do need a crib or a bassinet for the baby, however. The American Academy of Pediatrics advises that a crib or bassinet placed in your bedroom is the safest place for a baby to sleep.
Babies don’t need an extensive wardrobe, and they have no sense of fashion. If you’re opting for a minimalist approach to baby items, purchase only the clothing your baby needs. Have about six one-piece sleepers, suggests the University of Maryland Medical Center. Gowns are another option that make diaper changes simple. Add six undershirts and a few socks or booties, and your baby now has the most essential clothing items to begin life. A few receiving blankets for swaddling -- just two or three -- also help keep a newborn cozy and comfortable.
You'll need to choose whether to diaper your baby with disposable or cloth diapers. For either option, plan to change your baby between eight and 10 times every 24-hour period. For cloth diapers, you also need diaper covers; the kind that snap or fasten over the diaper without pins is a convenient choice. For disposables, don't buy more than one box of newborn-sized diapers; your baby will outgrow them within weeks. You'll also want to purchase multiple packages of wipes for cleaning up messes during baby's diaper changes.
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends breastfeeding as the most beneficial food for a newborn. However, if you opt to feed your baby formula, choose the type of formula you want to use -- ready-to-eat, liquid concentrate or powder -- and buy some to get yourself started. Don't buy too much right away, though, because you can't be sure that any particular formula will agree with your baby. You'll also need multiple bottles, newborn-size nipples and a bottle brush for cleaning these accessories. The fewer bottles you buy, the more often you'll be cleaning them.
Big-box baby stores offer the latest and fanciest baby gear, but most of it is nonessential. The one piece of baby gear you must have, though, is a car seat. The car seat (also called an infant carrier) can also serve as a convenient place for your baby to sit when you need your hands free for a task. Other baby items you might consider essential, depending on your lifestyle, are a stroller, a baby carrier you strap to your front and a baby bathtub.