Going into motherhood had a rough start for me, but I’m so grateful to past me for making the decisions and plans that I did to help make everything easier to manage long-term.
I haven’t spoken about this before, but I was laid off during my 6th month of pregnancy, and by month 5 I was already on pre-partum depression watch. We went from dreaming big to basics and survival going into 2018. We weren’t blindsided since we had a hunch the department would be closed a month leading, but the blow was still a bit much to handle.
Luckily, my experience made me realize that so much of the stuff new mothers register for is pointless! One-fifth of the stuff I registered for is now in storage in hopes that future baby #2 might get some use out of it.
I’m sharing with you today my essentials-only baby gear list for when you’re trying to stick to a minimalist approach on parenthood. This is a great post if you’re like me who: needs to keep it all as low cost and small square footage as possible, needs just the essentials, and/or has no idea how babies work or what they need because they had virtually no exposure and didn’t babysit while growing up.
Sleeping & Changing
Graco Pack ‘n Play Day2Dream
I didn’t have this playard, but I highly recommended the purchase of this newer model to our friends whose daughter is 6 months younger than Miles and they LOVE IT. The bassinet is elevated making it MUCH easier on your back in those first few months of reach in and out for your newborn. The playard also makes for a great transition bed when baby outgrows the bassinet but isn’t quite ready to be in their crib yet. However, I do have friends and family that have kept their littles in the playard up into the toddler years quite comfortably. If you plan on doing that, make the investment here.
If the cost is concerning, keep in mind that you will be using this for YEARS to come and that there are always ways to save. Graco’s site has a 20% coupon when you sign up for emails, sites like Honey and Ebates are a thing, and Amazon often has it for 7% off retail for one of the colors. Are you lucky enough to still be pregnant during Black Friday or Cyber Monday? Shop during big sales like them or holiday weekends such as President’s Day and 4th of July.
If you need to save money and don’t mind bending down to grab baby, we used the Graco Pack ‘n Play Nearby Napper (the previous model) and it worked just fine for us. Our bed at the time was much lower to the ground and so it wasn’t really a big deal.
Do you or someone you know have a Costco membership? Get all your diapers and wipes there when they go on sale. Even if you don’t have a Costco near you, buy in bulk what and where you can. If you are on a strict budget, ask for diapers at your baby shower and do a fun little game. If you and your partner don’t have history of reactions to diapers, this can be even better for you. We stuck to Huggies and Luvs diapers and Huggies Costco wipes up until a couple sizes ago. Miles was finally able to switch around to all the companies which made taking small leftover packs from family easier! Want to stock pile as much as you can? Here’s the rule of thumb I followed and it worked perfectly for me. This was the system I used for my baby shower registration and was what I stock-piled before giving birth.
- Newborn: 2 small jumbo packs (you can bypass this if you hoard all the diapers at the hospital and/or have a baby over 8 lbs; buy 1 to start and buy the second as you go)
- Size 1: 5 boxes Costco packs (192/box) – I ended up with 1 box unused which I’ve used as parts for diaper cakes I’ve gifted to friends along with other items
- Size 2: 5 boxes Costco packs (174/box)
- Size 3: 4 boxes Costco packs (198/box)
- Size 4: 3 boxes Costco packs (180/box)
- Size 5: 2 boxes Costco packs (150/box)
The box quantity goes smaller after size 3 because changing frequencies lessen, and recommended weight on diapers means virtually nothing. Miles should still be able to fit in size 4, but they’re too tight around his poor tummy, so he’s in size 5 on the tightest setting. Recommended weight is just that: recommended. It’s not law. Many stores will let you return diapers (open and unopened), so if you are buying to stock up be sure to look into and follow changes to return policies. If you’re planning on trying for multiple kids, I read that diapers can last up to 5-7 years if properly stored.
Be sure to grab yourself a Diaper Genie (with a foot pedal or without) and a ton of refills. I recommend the Target Up&Up brand because it’s cheaper. I do not recommend the Amazon brand. The set I got was thick and didn’t pull out of the ring easily and was generally just a pain.
Also, I recommend investing in a wipes warmer. The Munchkin line (with mister or without) also doubles as a nightlight which is great for middle of the night changing/feeding or helping Little feel safe in the dark. The mister has a softer light on it which is great for if light carries too easily in your home and you have an alert baby. The regular version has a much brighter light that is great if you have a resilient baby and a lot of space to fill in light or have a darker room to work with. It’s not “spoiling your baby”. When was the last time you wiped your warm butt in the middle of winter with a freezing wipe? Yeah, you’d probably be screaming and crying and kicking, too. It’s not an absolute necessity, but definitely something I recommend registering for if you can.
I’ll be doing a more detailed breakdown of how I built Miles’ wardrobe next week, but the tl;dr is to buy 2 weeks worth of clothing for each size. The thought it to keep it minimal and have enough for 1 week of actually worn clothing with extras in case of blow outs. I recommend 14 day outfits (onesies or 2-piece outfits), 14 footed pjs, 1-2 shoes, and depending on the weather for that particular size, 1 winter coat and 2-4 sweaters/hoodies, 2-4 summer and winter hats, and a pack of socks. Check back next week for my MUCH more detailed post about how to build a great closet. It truly was my saving grace during this hard learning period in my life.
You will only get about 3 months with each array of clothing, and I personally think that a minimalist baby closet is the way to go. I built Miles a capsule closet and will be sharing how I incorporate gifted clothing that doesn’t fit the schema into it as well. If you’re a lucky parent, you will probably have people in your life who gift you clothing or you’ll be able to take advantage of those sweet, sweet Black Friday deals. Are you a sale shopper? Old Navy, Carter’s and Gap have amazing deals and these clothes hold up. In a pinch and need something now? Walmart and Target are my favorite.
Feeding, & Nursing
If you have health insurance, I recommend applying for a breast pump. Many will provide a basic one for free with bottles. If you can’t get one, I recommend trying to buy even a hand pump if you can. I am not an advocate against formula. A fed baby is the BEST baby. Don’t ever let anyone tell you different. However, formula is gonna run you about $1k a month if you have use it so be prepared that it is not a cheap alternative. If you can, pump and store. Even if you don’t store, there will be days when your Little protests a feeding and 4 hours later you’ll wish you had a means of relief.
If you’re looking into a set of bottles, I recommend getting the Avent Anti-Colic bottle set. The colic struggle is real and it’s soul-crushing, so if you can do anything to avoid it you should.
But one day, before you’re ready, baby is gonna start eating solids and drinking out of a cup. Grab a set of spoons, a set of bowls, a sippy cup with a nip-like spout, a 360 sippy cup, and a set of small utensils for when baby can handle more food.
Looking to make your own food? I’m working on that post, too. That’ll be coming in 2 weeks. I’ve made all of Miles food with the exception of his introduction to fruits and veggies, which I bought the 2-packs of purees for. Many stores now carry these 8-packs where its 1 of each of the starter foods to introduce your baby to. After that, I made a froze all his food and it saved a TON of money on.
Lastly, you need something for them to sit in while you feed them. Mine is unfortunately no longer available, but if I was still in the market for one I would get this Graco Floor2Table 7-in-1. I’m a HUGE fan of products that are going to last me as long as possible. It makes me feel like I’m actually getting my money’s worth. And, it gives you the ability to use it for TWO KIDS AT THE SAME TIME! End up with #2 sooner than you thought? Now you’re that much more covered long term!
The Graco Fast Action SE Travel System is the only other major cost investment I swear by and wholeheartedly recommend over and over again. Even if you can’t get this particular Travel System, get one of them from the Graco Click Connect family. A base is installed in the car (1 included with each car seat and available for additional purchases) making the car seat easy to dock and release when baby is asleep. It clicks into the stroller and off you go. I got this particular model due to its weight, basket storage and top storage. I have back issues and knew that we would one day be taking this to Disneyland and other small trips. Having a deep basket really helps.
Miles didn’t really get into using a pacifier, but we did get him to use were similar to these Avent ones, but a different pattern. Get a couple just in case, but don’t stalk up in case your baby doesn’t take to them. Most places won’t let you return these. We ended up with a total of 10 pacis that are almost new, and a friend of ours had to completely replace all the ones they bought for another brand because their baby didn’t like them as much. Every baby is different!
As I’ve already said, I am all for grow-with-me products. The more use we can get out of the things we buy, the better. This 3-in-1 bathtub by Summer Infant is amazing, and I am so stoked my mom managed to find one for me! This tub gives you a newborn seat, a small tub for as they’re learning to sit up before transitioning to the regular tub, and a step stool for when they’re ready to sit on a toilet and/or use the sink. While Miles isn’t quite ready for the step stool, we have it close by for when the time is right!
Walking & Rolling
Two keep points of development are rolling over and walking. There are tons of products out there than can really help with this development, so it’s really up to your price point as to which one to get. All walkers help your baby learn to move forward and backward, and all gym mats help work to help baby with rolling over. Be sware when shopping that not all walkers move baby around the house and that some are stationary. We were gifted this Skip Hop gym and this Disney walker, but I’ve picked out these cute, low-budget options that are effective, cute and perfect to use. This Baby Trend walker has enough space for baby to enjoy snacks or meals while having enough to hold their attention. The Bright Starts Safari gym has a cute pattern and detachable toys (which are great for car seat and stroller fun).
This is where the costs really start to rack up, but these are important for baby’s development and your sanity. Stick to 2-4 toys for each age group. One trick that Mike and I try is letting Miles play with the toy in store while we’re shopping. Sometimes will give him 2 or 3. Whatever holds his focus is the toy we take home. Every child is different so I encourage you to really learn your child and just see what’s in store! Most of his toys were found by one of our moms or I at Marshall’s and Ross. These stores can be great options for cutting costs. Here’s a very quick list of toys we’ve gotten Miles over the past year that have held up (and still hold his interest)!
- Skip Hop® Silver Lining Cloud Rattle Moon Stroller Baby Toy
- Fisher-Price Laugh and Learn Smart Phone – mom hack: get a Pop Socket to go on the back of the phone. This works especially great if you have one on your phone.
- Fisher-Price Laugh and Learn Game and Learn Controller
- LeapFrog Learn & Groove Musical Table
- VTech Tummy Time Discovery Pillow
- Fisher-Price Double Poppin’ Dino
Experienced mamas: let me know if there’s essentials you think are missing from this list in the comments down below! And let me know below what products from this list you bought and used. Let’s get a conversation going in the comments below, because that’s how you can best find out what products work and what don’t!