But what does a baby ACTUALLY need?
Have you ever walked into the baby section of a store? It's SO overwhelming! Somehow you are supposed to know what brand of diapers will fit best and how many to get in each size. Or how many outfits to get in each size (and why does one brand's "3 Month" sleeper seem like the same size as another brand's "Newborn" sleeper?!). And that's not even the big purchases that one friend swore saved her sanity but another friend said was the biggest waste of money ever. Seriously, does your baby really need a $900 crib that doesn't even include a mattress? Don't other countries send new parents a box for their baby to sleep in? (Yes, they do. It's totally a thing!)
But with 457 bouncy chair options and elevendy-billion swing options (you know this is the real number if you have ever looked at newborn swings), how are you supposed to know what a baby actually needs and what's the best?!
Let's break it down to the basic must haves to survive life with a newborn. Simply put, baby must have diapers (even most families who EC still have some diapers), wipes, clothes, a carseat if you ever get in a personal vehicle, and a safe place to sleep/be put down. That's it. It can be as simple as a dozen cloth diapers, wipes, 6 onesies, and co-sleeping, to a stockpile of disposable diapers and wipes, 12 outfits a day for the first 6 months of life, a crib, a packnplay, a bouncy seat, a swing, and 6 other fancy seats/beds.
Here's what I have learned after parenting four babies, and helping countless others through this phase of life. Some of the "stuff" is as much for your sanity as it is for baby's development. But the real kicker- babies want to be held! They want to be snuggled against you, feeling the rise and fall of your chest and listening to your heartbeat. And babies get heavy fast. We had thousands of dollars worth of baby "must-have" items with my oldest. The latest in comforting movement and music (that made me want to crawl up the walls if I had to listen for one. more. minute!). It all sat collecting dust and dog hair as we tripped over it in the living room, kitchen, and bedrooms. Where was the only place he was happy? In a carrier, on my chest. Realizing this and researching to learn that wearing is good for his development and not going to hurt him, I suddenly was able to eat food or grocery shop with TWO hands. This is huge people! Two hands and a not screaming happy baby!
When baby two came we ditched all of the dust covered "stuff", and got a small travel swing that could be easily moved around the house when I needed to put baby down safely (mommy had to shower after all. You know, once a week). He stayed in the carrier where my breathing regulated his breathing, and my heartbeat soothed him. It also meant he was up high where big brother couldn't keep poking him in the eye excitedly shouting "Baby EYE!!!!" (no permanent damage was done, older siblings are greeeeeat). We kept that travel swing, and the carrier for baby 3, and again for baby 4.
Don't be overwhelmed by all the choices. Start with the bare minimum, ask for gift cards as shower presents, and make sure you have a good carrier waiting to snuggle that sweet little one. You can always get the latest and greatest seats with (hopefully less annoying) music if it's needed.