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Thursday, October 18, 2018

The Real Baby Essentials- What We Used and What We Didn't

Becoming a first time parent can be overwhelming, especially when you are trying to figure out what you will need once baby arrives. While creating a registry can be fun, it can also be daunting. It's important to research, and I found that I was constantly doing everything I could in order to prepare me for motherhood, whether I watched documentaries or joined online sites. 

What Can You Do To Help Prepare Yourself?

The biggest thing that I did, nine years ago when I was pregnant with my first child was to find a helpful website.

Baby Gaga was by far, my favorite site. I was able to read blogs from other moms as well as be a part of a community that asked questions and connect with others who's due date was close to mine. was also a very good resource. It used to be very similar, but also had many differences.

I didn't take time to read books, mostly because I always had a difficult time staying focused when reading them. I don't know why I could research all day on the internet, but not books. It's the craziest thing. But, if you don't have problems with reading, here are some helpful books.

(This post contains Amazon Affiliate Links which means that if you buy from one of them, I will receive a commission at no extra cost to you.)

Another thing that I found very helpful was a dvd that I used for exercising while pregnant. I didn't really exercise with my first two, because I worked and was tired at the end of the day, but I did walk a lot with my youngest (I was working too, but it was a desk job so it was easier) and I did a workout video. It was surprisingly easy to do, and you felt the post workout aches the next day, but I felt like I was doing something good for myself.

What Do You Really Need For Baby?

      Ok, So here's the real reason for this post. What do you really need for your baby? In the picture below, I made a generic baby registry list, but not everything on the list is needed. It would be nice to have everything that you want, but if you're on a budget or going to be having a small baby shower, there are things on it that you can do without or use later.

     It's a very sweet idea to have a nursery for your child. In an ideal world, everyone would have one and it would get used right away. This is what my reality was.

     My husband and I were married right before our senior year of college. Towards the end of college, we discovered that I would be having a baby. We were super excited and thought that we'd have jobs as soon as we graduated and get a cute little house or apartment and we'd have a special room just for our baby.

That did not happen. What did happen was that we graduated with no jobs on the horizon and moved into my grandparent's and used their spare bedroom as our room. The baby was born a few months later and we ended up using a pack-n-play for him. We had a crib from the shower, but we didn't have it assembled because we were going to move into my parent's old house and have a room for him there. We eventually moved in with an adorable nursery room just for him.

When I found out that my daughter was coming a little over a year later, we made a room just for her, too. We transferred the crib to her room and let my son have a twin size bed (with a toddler bar so he wouldn't fall out) because he was climbing out of the crib when he was 18 months old.

You know what?!?! We never used the crib right away. So what do you really need?

Nursery Items- Yes and No

Crib- Yes, it's really nice to have a crib, but you're not going to use it right away if you ever want to sleep. Instead, what I recommend is getting a Pack-n-Play or something similar that has a hanging bassinet and maybe even a diaper changing area. If you have room for two, do two.

We had the one that we got for my son and then when we found out we were having a girl, we bought another one for a girl. We used the one that was my son's for the living room (it also had the changing station) and the girly one for my room. I originally wanted a co-sleeper station, but they were expensive at the time and the pack-n-play worked well for us.

This one even has a little area just for newborns. Once they get too big for that part, you can take it out and put them in the hanging bassinet, and when they get big enough that they can start to sit up, you can transfer them to their crib and use the next size down as a play-yard. My pack-n-play was my most used baby item.

Rocking Chair or Arm Chair- While these are nice, they are really uncomfortable. What I recommend is a nice recliner. What suited me best was one that was soft and had high/wide armrests. It made it easier and more comfortable to nurse the baby and when you have multiple children, it also makes room for your older children to snuggle with you and not feel left out.

I don't recommend actually buying one online, because your comfort is very important, especially when you're going to spend many hours nursing or just snuggling your baby.

Baby Monitor- This is something that I had during my first pregnancy, but it was something that I didn't need to have. I'm a very light sleeper and unless you sleep like you're hibernating, you're going to hear your baby cry. If you want to put it on your registry anyways, it could be very helpful, just read the instructions and make sure that you're getting one that can't be hacked. (Is that really a thing? I heard it was, but I don't really know for sure.)

Blankets- You're not really supposed to use blankets on top of your baby because they can ensnare your child. What's recommended is to put your baby into a sleeper and then swaddle them. My first two babies were winter babies. I usually put them into a onesie, footie pajama, and then swaddled them.

With swaddles, though, as your child gets bigger, they'll need to have different sizes. You can learn how to swaddle with a blanket, usually they teach you your first night in the hospital, but I always found these easier to use while my husband preferred swaddling in a receiving blanket.

Baby Gear

Strollers- What I recommend for this is that you ask or get a dual stroller/travel system. One that is a stroller and has an infant car seat. They usually come with a car seat base so you can put that in your car and transfer them from car to stroller without a hitch. (Please do not put your baby seat on top of a shopping cart btw- they should always be put in the basket of a shopping cart)

The reason I suggest this instead of just the car seat is that you're going to eventually need bigger car seat for your child and if your kids are like mine, they are going to outgrow this infant carrier by the time they are a year old or sooner. Until they outgrow their infant car seat, you'll have plenty of time to research convertible car seats for your child that will grow with them.

High Chair- This is one item that you don't need to get right away. Your baby won't be ready for a high chair until they start to eat baby food and that's recommended to do at the earliest, six months old. We ended up having my mother-in-law find a nice one at a rummage sale and it has held up forever. In fact, it's in our basement, right now collecting dust until my niece comes to visit.

Baby Swing or Bouncer- This is a must have! I've never had one of the fancy hundreds of dollars swings, but a simple one worked just fine. My kids either went to sleep after being breast or bottle fed and wouldn't fall asleep with me putting them down or rocking them. The swing was awesome for this and the bouncer helped settle them down.

If you could find a swing or bouncer with a bigger seat, trust me, that would be awesome! If your kids are like mine, they were always in the 90% in height (even though my husband and I are 5'7 and 5'4) and so it was good that we had the bigger swings so they could fit into them for a while longer than these newborn size seat nowadays.

Baby Carrier- This one isn't listed in the list, but a baby wearer could be a lifesaver, especially if you have multiple children. I tried one with my second child, but it wasn't the right fit. However, when my last child was born, I needed my hands to chase after the younger two. We ended up buying a Snuggie backpack, but a friend of mine suggested that I get something with a wider bottom to support my baby's hips, so here are the baby wearers that I thought would fit that recommendation, although I haven't tried them, for myself.

Bath Items

Since we didn't get into our house before my first born came into the world, we spend most of his time bathing him with wash clothes in the diaper changer in the pack-n-play. When it was time for a real bath, we used the sink in my grandma's kitchen because her bathtub had a sliding door and it hurt to lean over to bath the baby in the bath tub. Once we moved, we used a little bath tub with a foam frog to hold my son into place. It was the worst.

It's nice to have something because it's cute, but a lot of times, it can be messy and hard to store a baby bath tub. I suggest just filling your normal bath tub- if you have one- with just a little bit of warm water and wash your baby in that. Babies are slippery so hold on!

If you don't have a bath tub or a big sink, go ahead and get a tub. The adjustable ones are great.


If you're going to breastfeed, great, I did too! It's wonderfully cheap, but also consider supplementing with formula or pumping. You'll be glad you did because then someone else can feed the baby and let you nap.

Breast Pump- Many insurance companies will pay for a breast pump for you. If you get to choose, choose a double breast pump. It's faster and you get more milk.

This is the brand that I used the second time around and it was used with my last one, too. It was amazing and works fantastically.

Manual Breast Pump- However, sometimes you need to pump when you're out and don't have access to an outlet. In those cases, I found it faster to actually sit in the car, covered up, and use a single manual pump. My babies liked to eat and would take so much longer than the pump, so if we were out shopping, I let my husband go ahead with the kids while I pumped so I didn't miss out on too much.

This is the same one that I used and it was amazing. It took longer than the electronic one, but the easy pump handle made it so much easier to use than the first single manual pump I had with my first born which felt like I was using a balloon pump because I had to hold the pump to my breast and then push and pull it in and out, like a balloon pump. It was terrible. Use something like this one!

Nursing Bra- I didn't have a nursing bra with my first child. I lived in a smaller town with no maternity clothes and it was awful. I in order to feed him, I had to pull my bra up or undo it completely to be comfortable. A nursing bra helps immensely and you can buy them online, now if you can't find them in stores.

Nipple Shield-  This is an amazing tool, especially for a first time breast feeding mom. My oldest didn't latch properly, but the nipple shield helped him to learn and also made it easier to and less painful for him to eat.

I had never heard of these before, but when we took my son back to the hospital to get his bilirubin checked, the nurse have me one to try out. It's almost like a suction cup for your nipple. Once it's on, the nipple gets pulled into it and it helps shape it so it's easiest to feed from.

Bottles- You're going to need more than you think if you try them at all. Unless you're Mary Poppins, bottles are going to disappear from your house. They roll under the bed and the couch or get dragged off and put in some magical place to never appear again. I recommend having many.

Burp Clothes- Um... You can never have too many. Babies spit up and drool.... a lot. We actually did away with burp clothes for my daughter because she had a more sensitive stomach and started using receiving blankets. We never really used the receiving blankets as blankets, so this solved our over abundance problem. Receiving blankets are big and can hold lots of spit up and drool. Use receiving blankets.

Baby Clothes

If you have a baby, you're probably going to have to decide how you want to live. My grandma had an upstairs laundry room in the first floor bathroom. It was very easy to do laundry when clothes got soiled... and they did all all of the time. Once we moved into our house, the laundry was in the basement. I wasn't willing to do several loads a day, so I was glad to buy all new and used outfits for my daughter.

Here's what I recommend-

Onesies, babies poop. A lot... and sometimes it runs up the back. If you have them in that super cute outfit that your Aunt Frieda got for them and they aren't wearing a onesie under it, you can call it ruined. I don't know what it is about baby poop, but even with stain remover and good laundry detergent, it's hard to get out. Onesies can help stop the poop from reaching the cute outfit. Get a onesie.

Also, get them (onsies) in every size because your baby will grow!

Speaking of Poo- You're going to want a diaper pail. I know there's speculation about this, but we have big dogs that like to eat dirty diapers. We throw them away in the garbage can now because our diaper pail didn't make the move, but they can open the lid on the trash can.... half eaten diapers= gross.

Baby Gowns- I never wanted my little boy to be in a baby gown because I thought the seemed feminine. After a couple months of struggling with footie pajamas, I realized just how wrong I was. A baby gown has no buttons. It's just a super long onesie that has an opening at the bottom. Since babies usually bend their little legs, you don't have to worry too much about a foot slipping out and getting cold. They are really nice for bed time because you put it on your baby and wrap them in a swaddle and then they're happy and you're even more happy when it comes time to change them in the middle of the night because you just have to pull the gown up and don't need to struggle with buttons or zippers.

Baby Mittens- Are really nice because they keep your baby from scratching their face. Since I had two winter babies, I was lucky because many of the long sleeve outfits had a flap on the sleeve that flipped over and covered their little hands.

Unfortunately, these get lost easily. Same thing with socks.

Baby Bunting and Outdoor Coats- If you have to be outside, have your baby wear something warm. If you are in the car, try to go with something that's warm like fleece, but not fluffy like a bunting. Your baby may be warm in them, but they won't be safe in the car seat because the seat belt can't be strapped over their chest correctly. There should be no slack and when force is applied to your baby's coat, the air rushes out and creates more slack than it should and the baby can actually be injured or even fall out of the seat. Instead, try a fleece coat or put a blanket over them. If your car has heat, they'll be warm enough.


You don't know me, so I understand if you don't want to take my recommendations. As a parent, it's your responsibility to research the products that you use for your baby. As a mother of three older children, these are the recommendations that I have learned on my own when raising my kids.

Talk to other moms! My youngest is four years old, now, so guidelines and styles have changed since he was a baby. Search your stores and have fun during this time.

One fun way to do this is to start a baby registry. My husband and I went and did that through Target and Walmart. Back then, we were able to use a scan gun and it was SOOO much fun.... of course, that was nine years ago.  Now you can do your own registries online and that makes it so much easier to price shop, too.

If you're going to be a first time parent, you can start your registry, now!

If you're already a mom, what are things that you recommend? What do you agree with my list? What do you disagree with? Please share with any new mommy friends that you have to see more posts like this!

To download the list that's been revised and print, click this link Baby Registry List


  1. This is a good basic list to get ready for baby. Most new moms are clue less about what to buy.

  2. This is great! I just typed a whole bunch of stuff and it got deleted when I accidentally pressed outside of box. :( I agree two pack and plays!

  3. i'm not a mom but i have experience with 9 siblings and 26 nieces and nephews. i would agree with this list.

  4. I will recommend it to my sister in law as she is pregnant it will be helpful for her Thanks for sharing

  5. My mother also read your list and she entirely agrees with your post! I'll share it with the tons of mothers I know!

  6. Great list of products for the new baby !! No new baby here :)

  7. I'm not a mom but I'm pretty sure that being a mom is a full time job and a pretty exhausting one hahaha I'm glad that you put all in just one place (this post) for the mommas out there. This should definitely be of help. Thank you for sharing girl!


    1. Thank you! I hope I can really help someone who needs it!

  8. This is such a thorough post about what you need for your baby! I loved those days getting all things "Baby" for my son and daughter :-)

    1. We did so, well for my first two, but slacked for my third. He didn't get an all new bedroom makeover with a theme like the others did.

  9. As a first time mommy I can admit we bought so many things which we didn't use or used it once/twice

    1. We got so many clothes for my son at his shower tha tht he grew out of before we got to use them, that when my daughter was born, we got fewer clothes for her. I ended up going shopping the day after I got home from the hospital to buy more clothes because she went through them all. She was my projectile barf and poop up the back of her outfit baby.

  10. They have so many great books for expecting mothers. i didn't realize they had some great one's for expecting fathers. I wish I had seen this before my daughter was born. I would have loved reading them.

  11. I think that for a very long time, men were expected to not care about this type of thing, but now someone's realised that "Hey, maybe men want to know more about raising babies, too!"

  12. Even though I don't have kids of my own, I know a rocking chair is a must. I've helped many mothers once their children were born and the chair was a lifesaver.

    1. I had a rocker with a rocking ottoman and it was great, but when it came to feeding the baby, the recliner was best, especially one with wide arm rests.

  13. Having a checklist for baby items is really helpful. There are so many thinks you absolutely need and some you might not.

    1. later. were many things that we never used. It was such a waste.

  14. Now that's exactly what I needed. Being a new mum to a baby girl myself. Thanks for sharing. Such an organized and useful checklist. 🙂

  15. Helpful post! I don't have children myself, but will share this post with a few of my friends who do. I am sure they’ll find it very useful x

  16. such a helpful post for first time moms. I remember I bought so many useless things

  17. Thank you for this fabulous post. I have a question. For a new parent that is researching the best baby products to buy, which product will you recommend as the must-have before every other product? Thank you.

  18. I don't think that there is one specific item that I would say is required above all, but I would say that it's important for babies needs to be met. However, if I had to choose, I think the most important thing is for baby to have a separate place to sleep.

    I know there are parents who like to cosleep with their kids, and I have certainly fallen asleep with baby a time or two, but it is possible to roll on them and not know. If you have a spouse or partner who sleeps very soundly, they may not notice if they rolled on baby and that is a possibility that could be avoidable.

    So, depending on your preferences, there are cosleepers where baby sleeps in a sleeper off the side of your bed, pack n plays, bassinets, and so many other options.


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About Me

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Hello! My name is Brittany and I'm a writer, obviously. As a stay-at-home mom, there are many things that I have to figure out in order to run a house that appears to be more sane than insane. It's not easy to be a parent and I hope that this blog is able to encourage other moms out there to live life happily and to understand that there can be mishaps along the way, but those mishaps don't define you and anything can be overcome with perseverance and will.

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