Hierarchy of needs

10 things you do and don’t need before baby arrives

You probably know you need a car seat, spit cloths, diapers and a few changes of clothes for the first few days of having a new baby. I’d add zip-up onesies and waterproof changing pads to that. But the lists of things new parents are told they “need” can get obnoxious, not to mention intimidating and expensive. I’ve tried to narrow it down to a few things that may not be necessary in a survivalist sense but are nice to have, and then a few things you really don’t need in these first few weeks, if ever.

Not necessary, but nice

1. Bouncer. It’s nice to set baby down for a second to, say, go to the restroom once in awhile. This way, they’re secure and can sit up a bit before having the muscles to do so.

2. Baby video monitor. Peace of mind comes from seeing, as well as hearing, your little one to make sure her nose and mouth are uncovered (and not facedown on the mattress). Just don’t watch the damned thing all night. Word of warning: It’s a little creepy to see your husband’s arm on the screen, reaching into her crib when you’re not expecting it.

3. Wipe warmer. How would you like someone to put a cold cloth on your butt every time you went to the bathroom? I may get called out on this one, but baby will cry less with this.

4. Baby carrier or wrap. Without these, few parents could get much of anything done. Dinner? Forget it. Walk the dog? Yeah, right. There are so many styles—front-carrying, back-carrying, wraps, straps or clasps—for different types of parent and baby temperaments.

5. Swaddle blanket with snaps or Velcro fasteners, like a Miracle Blanket or Kiddopotamus, so baby won’t kick and punch out of it. They really do sleep better when swaddled.

Things you don’t need yet, if ever

1. Newborn clothes. They’re usually too small, or the baby will outgrow them within a week. Get no smaller than size 0-3.

2. Diaper pail. The marketers of Diaper Genie and the like are brilliant, getting parents to buy these glorified trash cans, which you can only line with special Diaper Genie trash bag rings at more than $5 a pop. A regular, lidded trash can is a more sensible option. Disclaimer: I was given a Diaper Genie, and it works great, but my in-laws keep us stocked with the trash bag rings.

3. High chair. You may want this later, but they can’t sit up for months, and when they do, you may decide you’d rather get a less expensive, portable strap-on chair with tray rather than a full high chair.

4. Breastfeeding pillow. These crescent-shaped pillows help give your arm a rest when feeding the baby, either with breast or bottle, but a regular, medium-sized pillow would suffice.

5. Crib comforter. You’re not even supposed to put a blanket on babies for the first few months to prevent SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome). Save it for later. By the way, a surplus of blankets will likely come your way from friends and family once the baby is born.