A good friend of mine who hasn't had any children yet, recently asked me what was absolutely necessary to buy when you're having your first baby. I had to laugh when I considered the question. I know how it feels as a first time parent, being bombarded at Babies R Us with that huge checklist of all that you "need" to register for, and thinking, how did we ever think we could afford to have children? this is going to cost us a fortune! It's an overwhelming feeling. You think you have to have at least one of everything on the list, plus a few extras "in case". No wonder we so often get the question, how can you afford all those children?? I chuckle to myself when asked that question, usually by someone with no children or with just one or two. Honestly when you have one or two, they seem expensive. By the time you get to four or five, they aren't as expensive. You learn that hand-me-down clothes from older siblings work just fine, a baby boy will survive if he has to sleep on pink crib sheets from time to time :), and you've already got all the other contraptions and car seats that can be reused. So what is truly necessary for the first time new baby who doesn't already have older siblings?
The answer to this question gets shorter with each child for me. I remember 12 years ago when I had my first child and fell prey to the pressure at Babies R Us to register for everything, to pick a nursery "theme" as soon as I knew the sex of the baby, to search far and wide for the perfect baby book in which to record every moment of the first year. Our tiny two bedroom townhouse had baby contraptions all over it. It looked like Babies R Us threw up in our living room. And our kitchen. And our bathroom. :) By baby #6, I'm pretty sure I didn't buy anything ahead of time except a new Moby. :)
1) Stroller: Unnecessary. For me, I have found that strollers are really just a pain in the butt. You can't take stairs with a stroller, they are big and bulky and you can't get in and out of buildings without a huge headache. It is so much easier to wear that baby everywhere that you go. Baby is more content because he is connected to Momma, and Momma has her hands free to do other things. She can take the stairs, get in and out of any size door just fine. Instead of a stroller, I would say invest in a couple of good baby carriers. I have three Moby wraps, a couple different slings, a Jeep carrier and a Beco carrier. My favorite for the first few months is the Moby, and after they can hold their head up well, I switch to the Beco. Both are easy on my back and WAY less stressful than carting a stroller around everywhere.
2) Nursery: Unnecessary. Again for me, our babies co-sleep with us for the first few months, after which they are usually in a bassinet or something in our room until they are no longer nursing through the night, at which point they go to a crib in another room. Our pediatrician wholeheartedly recommends this, as do many wise pediatricians who know that for successful nursing relationships, baby needs to be close to Momma through the night. Also, Momma gets more sleep this way. Just latch baby on and go right back to sleep. SO much easier than getting up, going to the kitchen to make a bottle, and having to get baby back to sleep in their own bed. Less expensive too. It just simplifies things. When they are about a year old, if you think they need a nursery, then you can do that. Our kids share rooms at our house, so when Bethany gets to that point, she will be in a room with Samuel across the hall. It is a light gray blue color, chosen not because Samuel is a boy but because it is soothing and will work for any gender child we have in the future. Keep it simple!
3) Baby swings, Baby bouncies, etc.: Just pick one. Your house can get overwhelmed quickly with baby gear if you get a zillion of these things. I would get one small, simple swing- the smaller and simpler the better so you can easily take it from room to room. Because sometimes you need to put baby down. As much as I love babywearing, I don't do it much when I'm cooking because baby could get burned. So when you're cooking, you need a spot for baby. Other than that, a blanket on the floor works just as well as all those contraptions.
4) Do invest in a good car seat. You want baby to be safe. This is a good place for investment.
5) Other peripherals, like baby books, baby bags, pacifiers, bottles, etc.: This is really up to you and how simple or complicated you want to go. When I had Rosemary, life was simple because I Moby wrapped her everywhere I went and since I was breastfeeding, all I needed to do was stick a couple of diapers and wipes in my Kavu purse. Moby and Kavu were all I needed. I do have an actual baby bag with Bethany because she shares a bag with Samuel, who is still in diapers and requires a juice cup and snacks. :) But this is another way that breastfeeding simplifies: I don't have to carry around a can of formula, bottled water and bottles. So the bag isn't nearly as heavy and bulky. We also don't do pacifiers, just a personal preference. I have read and researched and personally feel that babies need to suckle at the breast. Pacifiers disturb the natural rhythm that needs to take place between mother and baby to keep milk supply up and ensure baby gets the nutrients he/she needs. Just my personal feeling. Again, this simplifies things because pacifiers get expensive and are a pain when baby loses it in the night or throws it somewhere and you can't find it and they are screaming because they have learned to depend on it. That's a pain in the butt. However, I have two avid thumb suckers in my crew, so.
6) Clothes: of course necessary :), but not necessary to go overboard and spend a lot of money. We do thrift stores and hand me downs and I think that's smart. Kids grow so fast and dirty their clothes often. I don't want to have to keep them from playing in the dirt because they have a brand name outfit on. Get some other momma friends who you can swap baby clothes and maternity clothes with as you need them. This will save you a ton of money.
7) Diapers: I advise cloth, especially if you're planning to have more than one child. They are an investment up front, but if you can keep using them through several children, this will also save you a ton of money.
Did I cover everything? Anyone else out there have any input or advice for a new momma?