An Honest and Practical List of Big Ticket Baby “Essentials”

There is literally a product for EVERYTHING these days so I can’t blame new parents for feeling overwhelmed by all the choices. I am asked all the time “what baby items do I ACTUALLY need?”.  Before I start I would like to say there is a difference between a NEED and a WANT and I am a firm believer in making room in your budget for nonessential items that you love. I have written before about my passion for beautiful nurseries and adorable baby cloths but this post is not that!

So, here it is.. an honest and practical list of my personal thoughts on big ticket baby “essentials”.

  • A diaper genie: no, this is not just garbage can with a lid…I learned that the hard way. If you are super diligent about taking out the trash after every diaper (and I think you will find that would be a lot of trips to the dumpster) you might be able to survive without this item however it REALLY does control the odor making it worth every penny.
  • A swing/chair/momaroo: aka somewhere safe you can place your baby so you can cook, clean, shower, give your arms a break etc. Most babies really love these “moving chair” items. There is a huge range of these products available in a large range of prices. Most parents swear by whatever product they had, but honestly  if money is an issue a baby really doesn’t know the rocking movement is coming form a less expensive swing so they usually works just as well.
  • A crib and mattress: There are about a million choices for cribs; some of them even convert to grow with your child. My best advice is pick something you like and is within your budget. There isn’t a lot to say about this item, they are expensive but essential.
  • Crib Sheets: Speaking of cribs. You will need crib sheets and you should buy extra! Babies are messy- they spit up, have blow-outs and you don’t want to be washing your only set of sheets in the middle of the night.
  • Stroller/Car seat: This is a tough one because there are SOOOO many options. I personally researched this like crazy and still ended up with a jogger, a double stroller, a bike trailer stroller, 2 umbrella strollers and a fleet of various other push cars, bikes and scooters. The point is I am clearly not qualified to give advice! It is by far the most difficult baby purchase,  sales people will ask you major life questions like “how many kids do you want?”( um..going to start with having this one), “how close in age?” , “what kind of car will you be driving in 5 years”. Try not to get overwhelmed, get something you can lift in and out of a car and good luck picking better than I did!
  • A baby carrier: This item is making the list although it is not ALWAYS essential. With my first daughter I hardly ever used my baby carrier. She was very chill and was content to be plopped down anywhere and loved her stroller when we were out. Not all babies are this laid back and some moms swear their carriers are the only reason they ever got anything done for the first 4 months. When I had my second my eldest was only 20 months old and the carrier was a life saver! It allowed me to chase her around while keeping the baby close and safe; it became a second set of arms. If you are expecting your second I would 100% recommend a baby carrier.
  • A highchair: You will eventually want this item but you won’t be feeding your little one solids for at least 6 months and your views on what you want are likely to change drastically in that time. A lot of new parents make the mistake of registering for a fancy/large highchair only to desire a simple low profile grab and go chair by the time baby is ready to use it. I would suggest waiting on this item so 1) you don’t have to store it and 2) you have a better idea of what your needs might be.
  • Exersaucer/jolly jumper: This is an item you will want but again don’t need right away. This will essentially replace your swing (good thing because they both take up a lot of room). It will give you a safe place to plunk your little one to have some fun while you get a few things done. If you have a small space the jolly jumper takes up a lot less room but the Exersaucer is defiantly more convenient to get baby in and out of.
  • A Breast Pump: This is an item I highly recommend. Breastfeeding is not easy and this can be an amazing tool to help you in reach your feeding goals. It can also offer relief if you are engorged, stimulate supply or allow you to pump milk so someone else can feed the baby and give you a break. There are a variety of pumps and you have to decide what is right for you and what you’re planning on using it for. If you are planning on pumping often it is worth the money to buy a double electric pump, it saves a significant amount of time (something you might find you’re short of).

Shopping for your new baby can be totally overwhelming but don’t forget to try and have some fun with it. If you are not sure about an item…wait! The baby stores will all be there once your little one arrives and you have a better picture of what your needs are going to be. Lastly, remember at the end of the day the thing your baby needs most….is you.


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