Baby Essentials: 5 Must-Have Baby Items for New Parents

Preparing for a new baby requires purchasing baby gear. Learn which must-have baby items are worth the splurge and will make your life easier.

In addition to emotionally preparing for a baby, new parents need to stock up on baby gear. Warning: visiting a baby supply store can result in confusion and a major hit to your wallet. Sure, you know you need diapers, baby clothes, a crib or co-sleeper, and a car seat, but you probably weren’t prepared for the thousands of other baby items marketed to new parents.

So, how do you sort out the “must-haves,” from the “nice to haves,” from the “don’t need ever” items? Over time you’ll get a feel for what baby items you can’t live without and what to pass over. For now, you can start with this expert-recommended list of top five baby essentials.

Five Must-Have Baby Items

  1. A baby stroller. Strollers range in price from under $100 to well over $600, and come with a plethora of options. But what do you really need? Think about your lifestyle. If you primarily use the stroller to walk or run in your neighborhood, a jogging stroller is a good choice. If you’re loading the stroller in and out of the car, a compact, lightweight stroller might work better. Many parents swear by a travel system stroller during the first year, which is a car seat and stroller combo that snaps in and out and comes with an infant car seat. If your baby falls asleep in the car, no problem. Just move the car seat from the car to the stroller and you’re ready to go. Also worth considering is a versatile stroller that converts to a toddler stroller as your baby gets older.
  2. Swaddlers. Newborn infants feel more secure when they’re swaddled and may even sleep better. Lightweight cotton swaddlers with Velcro enclosures make it easy to quickly and gently swaddle your baby. The Velcro ensures that the wrap doesn’t open, keeping baby snugly comfortable. Some parents prefer traditional swaddling blankets. Look for swaddling blankets made from soft, breathable cotton.
  3. A baby carrier. From wraps to traditional carriers to hiking backpacks, you’ll find numerous choices for baby carriers. Baby wraps are great for carrying young babies, while many parents prefer traditional carriers as babies get older — and heavier — because they provide more support. If possible, try the baby carrier on at the store (with your baby in it) before you buy it; and if your budget allows, purchase a wrap and a traditional baby carrier. Look for a carrier with adjustable, padded straps that distribute your baby’s weight evenly. Carriers should be machine-washable and allow your baby to sit in multiple positions. A zippered pocket to hold car keys and other essentials is an added perk. Most importantly, the baby carrier should fit your body. Some carriers may be too long if you’re petite.
  4. A breast pump or feeding system. For breastfeeding moms, a high-quality, electric breast pump is worth the expense, especially if you need to pump breast milk frequently. Look for one that’s easy-to-clean and designed for comfort and efficiency. Whether you breastfeed or use formula, you may also need a set of baby bottles. Try bottles that have a soft, breast-like nipple and a wide opening for easy cleaning.
  5. Hook-on portable high chair. Your baby will probably start eating solid foods between six and eight months and you’re going to need a place for him or her to sit. Full-size baby high chairs take up a lot of room in the kitchen and they’re cumbersome to clean. How about a hook-on portable high chair instead? These chairs typically have bars that attach to a kitchen table or straps that attach to a kitchen chair. They’re usually lightweight and can be tossed in the kitchen sink for quick cleaning. Your baby can sit with the family at the table, and a portable high chair is easy to take along when you travel or go out to eat. Choose a portable high chair with safety and durability in mind. The chair should fasten securely to a table or chair and have safety straps to secure your baby. Most hook-on portable high chairs are designed for children under 35 pounds, while booster seats can safely be used with toddlers.

There you have it: five baby essentials selected with safety, comfort, and quality in mind. These are the baby items that you’ll likely use over and over again and recommend to your friends. Gather basic layette items, such as simple cotton clothing, crib sheets, and burp cloths, as well as a few high-quality books and toys, and you’ll be ready for your little one with the baby gear you need.

More on Baby Products:

  • If you’re expecting, you’re probably aware of the more obvious baby products that promise to make your life easier. But you probably haven’t thought of everything. Here are some less common baby products you should register for.
  • If you’re a first-time parent, you’re probably receiving a lot of advice on which baby products you should be putting on your registry. But even though they may come with good intentions, some of these items might not be as necessary as you think. Here are the ten baby products you might not actually need.
  • With so many books and toys lining the shelves of stores everywhere, it can be challenging to find educational pieces that will help your children develop appropriately. Here are some ideas for educational baby toys and books that you should keep in mind.
  • It might seem like having your first child made you a professional when it comes to baby gear, but a second baby can bring a whole new set of challenges. Here are our recommendations for infant products that you should buy for your second child.

Written by: Bright Horizons Education Team

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