Welcome to the Baby Gear Series! When you’re getting ready for a baby, long lists of “must haves” can be overwhelming. Here’s what you ACTUALLY need (and all the stuff you don’t). Click here for an introduction, links to the complete series, and a FREE baby gear checklist and e-book! You can also head back to Part Three or check out another feeding option (Nursing, Bottle Feeding, and Supplementing).
Technically, all you need to nurse is breastmilk (which is free-yay!). However, these things can really help you out. If you’re on a tight budget you can always wait and see what would help you most.
- 2-4 Nursing Bras. I’d recommend nursing bras for two reasons: one is that when your supply comes in your breasts are often larger than usual (so your pre-pregnancy bras might not fit), the other is that they have clips at the top for easy access. It is helpful to have both daytime bras and sleeping bras (for those midnight feedings). I would recommend waiting until your supply comes in to purchase them, since your size might change (you can always get your sleeping bras beforehand as they are more forgiving). Get it used? I suppose you could if it was barely worn before, but be careful that the elastic isn’t worn out. I’d get new if possible.
- Nursing Pads. Milk tends to leak. Nursing pads can protect your bra from stains and keep you from having to change it. You can get both cloth pads and disposable pads. I found that I got several disposables as samples from registries and the doctor/hospital. This got me through the beginning before I switched to my cloth pads (which I found to be more comfortable and more in line with our frugal, basically eco-friendly lifestyle). Get it used? I got my cloth pads used and they were great.
- 2-4 Nursing Tanks. Nursing tanks have an easy-access flap like a nursing bra. You can wear them around the house or under a loose (easy-access) blouse. Get it used? Sure!
- 1-2 Nursing Cover(s). It can be helpful to have a cover to nurse in public, for modesty’s sake (please don’t accuse me of breast-feeding shaming. I think breast feeding is natural and can be great for baby and mom. I don’t necessarily want my son to watch though- or expose myself in mixed company). You can get an actual nursing cover which is raised to give you both more space, or in a pinch you can use a receiving blanket. Get it used? Absolutely.
- Nursing Pillow. A nursing pillow can be great to provide support and help you hold your baby while you nurse. Unless you always nurse lying down, it will help a lot. I used a Boppy and it worked well. (They advertise that baby can lie in it or do tummy time on it later on, but Man Cub was never interested in that.) I also have several friends who recommend My Breast Friend as being even better (perhaps because it is single-purpose?) Get it used? I did; just be sure it’s thoroughly clean.
- Something for Sore Nipples. If you nurse, you will probably have sore nipples. Even if you don’t get any kind of infection, the beginning can be tough. Lanolin ointment is the most popular choice here, but I preferred coconut oil (you can get it at any grocery store. Coconut oil is naturally antibiotic, plus it smells really good (and doubles as lotion). Get it used? Erm, no. You don’t know if the previous user had an infection. You can get about a year’s worth of coconut oil for a couple of bucks.
- Breast Pump. If you are going to work or want Daddy or a sitter to take a turn, a breast pump enables you to give your baby breastmilk without you needing to be there. They also let you store milk (in the freezer) or “pump and dump”- if you are taking a medication that baby can’t have but want to go back to nursing later. Breast pumps can be electric or manual. I didn’t love my manual pump, but that may be due to my supply issues. I will try to get an electric next time. In the US, most insurances will give you a free pump. Talk to your doctor (OB) about how to get that set up. Get it used? It is not recommended (especially since you can get one for free through your insurance). If you need to get a used one, be sure to clean and sanitize thoroughly and maybe replace seals.
- Milk Storage. You can store expressed (pumped) breast milk in the freezer for several months. Of course, you can always just use a freezer Ziplock, but they make freezer bags specifically for breastmilk. Get it used? No. Also, don’t re-use disposable bags.
- 1-3 Bottle(s). Even if you’re planning to nurse, you’ll want 1-3 bottles on hand in case you want to share feeding duty or you need to supplement until your supply comes in. I was so thankful that we had a few bottles and a little formula on hand so that we were able to feed Man Cub even though I didn’t have enough milk. Get bottles with newborn nipples attached. You can get bigger sizes later if you need them. Get it used? Yep! Just wash, sanitize (in the dishwasher on hot), and make sure the nipples seal properly (don’t leak).
- Maybe: Supplements. There are a number of supplements out there marketed as helping with milk supply. I cannot speak from experience here, so I don’t want to recommend anything, but you can talk to your OB or your child’s pediatrician if you are interested. Get it used? Nope.
- 6+ Bibs. Babies are messy creatures. Whether you are nursing, bottle feeding, or feeding solids, food will not stay in the baby’s mouth. Fabric bibs (you can get multi-packs for cheap) will help catch little dribbles (and later on, drool when your little is teething). Get it used? Yep!
- 6+ Burp cloths. This may be the closest thing to a need on this list (unless you enjoy changing your clothes 15 times a day. After you feed, you’ll want to burp your child, and spit up happens (so much in that first month!) You can get actual burp cloths if you want, or you can do like we did and use a receiving blanket or cloth diapers. Get it used? Sure!
What We Used: