Gear. One word captures how your life will change with a baby. For the next twenty years or so, a big part of life will revolve around gear for your kid. To help you get started, in this post I walk through the gear we stocked up on before our little guy arrived.
I was new to the world of babies and didn’t know what to expect at first. I give credit to my wife for the planning and researching the best gear. The expense of preparing for your child might feel overwhelming, but it is manageable. With simple planning, you will be ready to hit the ground running.
Your little one will need comfortable clothes. But you don’t have to spend a fortune. The standard issue outfit for babies is the onesie. You’ll need a multitude of these. While you may wear only one outfit per day, your little one will go through multiple wardrobe changes in a 24 hour period. All it takes is one urination mishap. Don’t sweat though: there are many options for finding affordable onesies.
My two favorite brands are the Carter’s , available at Target, and the onesies from Old Navy. Primary, a startup that makes kids outfits in solid colors, offers another option. If you are branding and gender specific averse, and want a classy and colorful look for your kid, Primary is the way to go. Carter’s brand onesies range $8-$12, Old Navy onesies go for about $5.
One thing to keep in mind: you won’t know how big the baby is until he or she is born. Our guy came out on the smaller side. While we had several newborn onesies on hand, he needed the preemie size. Take note dad: in the first couple of weeks, plan on being the errand guy making rounds to Target, CVS and your local grocery store for situations such as these. Remember a plan is the point of departure. Your baby will also need pajama outfits for sleeping, including warm materials and lighter materials. How many of each will depend on the time of year and your local climate.
You will also need plenty of socks and hats. The hospital provided a couple of hats to keep our guy warm in the first couple of days. You will want at least two or three for your child to wear both when the weather is cool and for sleeping at night as needed.
But don’t panic. It will be easy to think you have to go overboard and have absolutely everything you need prior to when the baby shows up. Life doesn’t stop when baby arrives. It just shifts into high gear). You will find time to pick up extra clothing items later.
Your partner and mom to be will be excited to plan the nursery. Prior to married life, I can’t say I had ever thought about what I wanted my child’s nursery to look like. You likely feel the same way. Whether you have a dedicated room or just a corner in your bedroom, you will spend a significant amount of time in the months leading up to your child’s birth day preparing, organizing, and decorating your nursery.
When you think of a nursery, you likely think of a crib. We shopped primarily online and settled on one we liked from Target. In 2017 the American Academy of Pediatrics came out with updated guidance recommending that newborns sleep in the same bedroom with the parents as a wayto reduce Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS). In following this guidance we ended up with both a crib in the nursery and a Pack ‘N Play in our bedroom.
Think of a Pack ‘N Play as a lower cost portable travel crib with a few extras, such as a diaper change station and what I like to call a lounge chair. They typically are a bit smaller than a crib and so well suited to fit into a corner of your bedroom. They generally are lower cost than a crib, typically anywhere from $50-$80.
One of my biggest fears prior to baby was a lack of experience changing diapers. The thought of holding and calming a crying, screaming, fussy baby, while single handedly removing a diaper, dodging poop and pee, and then somehow cleaning the kid and getting the new diaper back on him seemed like a Sisyphean task. My experience with babies was almost nil. The first time I ever changed a diaper was in the hospital with my son.
But good news: If you share this anxiety, you can relax. In the first two weeks you will change more diapers than you every could imagine possible. You can expect anywhere from 8 – 12 diaper changes a day with your newborn. In two weeks, this can add up to over 150 diaper changes. This rapid acceleration in volume of diaper changes will boost your confidence in no time.
In one corner of either your nursery or dedicated diaper change area, you’ll need to set up a small diaper change station for yourself. My wife identified one from Ikea. Once you have a changing table arranged, and some sort of cart to hold all the necessary diaper changing accoutrements, you’ll need to stock up on supplies.
The key component of your diapering station is the changing table, pad and cover. We also acquired a diaper pail; I had heard of them but was not familiar with the concept. It is essentially a small trash can with an extra seal when it closes to lock noxious scents in, and a lever handle with a roll top that strategically delivers the used diaper into the trash bag. It spares you from having to lift a trash lid and let out the scents of everything within. It does fill up quickly, so if you don’t change it regularly you will end up having to lift the top and let those ugly fumes out.
Next on your list of diapering gear should be the various items to stock the diaper cart. The primary items here are diapers, wipes and diaper cream. We use Aquaphor, and also Baby petroleum jelly. When things were so crazy in the very beginning, we set up a subscribe and save via Amazon for diapers and wipes. I recommend this – and any strategies you can adopt to minimize the amount of stuff you have to haul home from the store.
Within a couple of days of coming home from the hospital, you’ll need to give your baby a bath. Similar to diaper changing, thinking about dousing your newborn in water to make them slippery can strike fear in the heart of any new dad. Your little one will need his own version of the standard items you need when you bathe: bathtub, shampoo, a couple of soft baby towels, and soft washcloths.
For bathing, the baby bathtub is key. Baby gear has improved since the days when your mom just put you in the sink. You can get specialty baby bathtubs that fit right in your bathtub at home.
Your child will need to eat like crazy. Newborns eat typically every 2 – 3 hours. Take a moment to think about how that plays out in a two hour period. For example, if your baby is born around 1:30 on a Friday afternoon, your first 24 hour feeding schedule could be: 2 p.m. (right after birth), 4 p.m., 6 p.m. 8 p.m. 10 p.m. and onwards.
Breastfeeding provides a wealth of health benefits for your child in the early months and years. The world of breastfeeding was new to me. For example, I didn’t realize though that breastfeeding can have health benefits for the mom too. These include triggering the uterus to return to its pre-baby size, helping prevent breast cancer, and giving a boost to your child’s immune system. For a more detailed overview of the benefits of breastfeeding, I recommend the American Academy of Pediatrics policy statement on breastfeeding.
The world of supplies needed for feeding a newborn was also new to me. You will need a few bottles, a breast pump if your spouse or partner is planning to breastfeed, milk storage bags, nursing pads, nipple cream, a dishwasher basket, a few bibs, burp cloths, and pacifiers.
Although your baby may feel like a small, fragile creature that you are terrified of taking out to their first doctor’s appointment, they do come with built in immune systems and are more rugged than they otherwise might appear. For example, I was quickly impressed by his strength in his legs and arms.
Still, inevitably your child will fall ill, so you will need to have a few key items on hand. The most essential is the baby thermometer. We ended up with two and they both work well. Baby thermometers today are able to take the temperature just with a simple scan of the forehead. Some other health items you will need to have on hand are a baby nail file, and a first aid kit. A final addition is having some small gauze and baby petroleum jelly on hand; if you have a boy a decided to have him circumcised you will need it for the first 1-2 weeks as he recovers.
At some point you will be ready to take your newborn out of the house. For this you will need a car seat and a stroller. After much research we chose the Nuna Pipa car seat and stroller combo. These can be pricey, so we compromised and got the car seat new but bought the matching stroller on craigslist. There are several features I love about the Nuna Pippa stroller and car seat: easy installation and green light verification to confirm securely installed.
Last but not least is the Poop Chart with pictures and graphics. This is something the hospital provided to us and I found immensely helpful. Once I saw it, I realized I had been nervous about this initial transition period.