Even though babies come into this world without any possessions, their almost immediate list of “must-haves” can be overwhelming, particularly for first-time parents.
To help you cut that list down to a more manageable, simplified handful, here are some necessities that can make life easier for both of you during baby’s first exciting year.
The benefits of co-sleeping are well-documented. Research even shows that babies who sleep either in or next to their parents’ bed have a fourfold decrease in the chance of SIDS.1 Today’s alternatives to traditional cribs include co-sleepers that can be placed (some even attach) safely against your bed to keep your newborn within reach ─ making nighttime feedings and quick checks on baby easier for you. As your baby grows, many co-sleepers convert to a handy, go-anywhere, portable playpen that you can take to a friend’s house or on vacation. Stick with a few fitted sheets and a few blankets, and remember that pillows and sleep positioners are SIDS risks.2
A floor or a bed will do in a pinch for a quick change, but for everyday use, a changing table puts baby at the right height, and saves your back. Plus, purpose-built changing tables usually come with shelves or drawers to keep all of the necessities organized and within easy reach, including wipes, ointments, powders, diapers, and even some extra onesies in case of an occasional diaper failure.
Full-size high chairs are nice to have, but many people don’t have the room for these bulky items. Simpler options include a table-chair version that physically clips onto the table, or even a small booster seat that raises your toddler off a chair to a comfortable table height. Both give your baby a place at the table and space to eat on his own, and both can travel easily with you if you’re going out to eat, eliminating the need to use (and pre-clean) a sticky restaurant high chair.
A stroller is an essential for a baby and mom on the move. The many different stroller types can get confusing, so here are a few clarifications from American Baby on the jargon3 A full-size or single stroller is for one child and a double stroller holds two children. An umbrella stroller is a smaller, lightweight stroller that folds up easily and is usually for an older child (these don’t provide a lot of back support.). A travel system includes both a stroller and a car seat that work together, with the car seat snapping right into the stroller).
A jogging stroller has three big air-filled wheels to make it easier to push quickly and smoothly down the street, and includes a safety strap that fits around the jogger’s wrist. When shopping around, look for money-saving options. Get a stroller that lays flat for an infant but also adjusts to a sitting position for your child when he gets a little older or a double stroller that can accommodate both a toddler and an infant if you have more than one child.4
If you’re going somewhere that strollers can’t go, or where a stroller might bog you down, baby carriers make it easy to take baby with you, and give him a chance to nap, too. “Baby-wearing” gear for newborns and toddlers includes everything from wraps to slings to carriers, with sport and adventure versions that make them dad-friendly, too. It really comes down to a matter of preference, so be sure to research your many options.
While you won’t need these immediately, once your little one becomes more mobile (4 months+), baby-proofing is an important way to keep baby safe. Apart from recommendations that include moving cleaning products to higher cabinets and keeping sharp objects (knives, scissors) out of reach, other effective physical deterrents include:
Splashing in the water is an all-time favorite for most babies. Tub seats are a great help to both mom and baby. Many even grow with your baby and include a sling for infants, a cushion for support, and a structure for older children that allows them to splash safely as you watch (rather than bend) over them. Tub kneelers (sometimes called bath kneelers) are comfy, padded mats that cushion and protect your knees during baby’s bath time.
The information included in this article and on this site is for educational purposes only. It is not intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. You should always consult your healthcare provider to determine the appropriateness of the information for your own situation.