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!
A Place to Deal with Diapers and Clothes
- Changing Table. Wanna know a secret? This is actually not a need. You do need somewhere to change baby (yes, technically you can use the floor, but do your back a favor and use a raised surface. If you’re short on cash, space, or both you can just use a dresser with a changing pad on top. You’ll need a space for storing diapers, clothes, and other things anyway. If you do want a designated changing table, that’s absolutely fine. I’d recommend one with drawers or doors (or both). I know the open shelving is convenient while you’re changing 10 diapers a day, but that phase goes by so fast (no, it doesn’t feel like it at the time, but afterwards I promise you’ll see the time was so short). You know what phase lasts longer? The toddler-getting-into-every-little-thing-phase. If you get a dresser or changing table with drawers, and put a basket with a few necessities (diapers, wipes, rash cream) on top of it for easy access you can keep curious hands out of it later. Of course you can get open shelves and use baskets, but you’ll be doing a bit more cleanup later. This table even has a hamper built in and can convert from open shelves to drawers. Get it used? Absolutely (as long as it’s in good condition)! We actually got a dresser-style changing table from our priest. Since it’s a hand-me-down, I couldn’t get a link to it but this one is similar (also pictured below). It is nice and basic and will be used in Man Cub’s room long after we are out of the diaper phase.
- Changing Pad. Okay, technically this is not a necessity either, but it’s very helpful. A contoured changing pad provides a comfy place for your baby to lay while you change a diaper (which you will spend an astonishing percentage of your life doing that first year), while providing “walls” on either side to help contain a squirmy baby. Even with a changing pad (even the kind with straps), changing table roll off is a real and ever present danger so NEVER EVER leave your baby unattended on a table. Leave one hand on your baby while you change him/her because babies and toddlers mover FAST. You don’t need to use the strap (I don’t because Man Cub loathes being changed can it adds an extra 15 seconds to the torturous process), just keep your hand on the baby! Get it used? I would be sure that the waterproof liner is intact and it hasn’t been owned by a smoker (because, again, smoke leeches into fabrics), but go ahead!
- Dresser. Babies wear clothes (how’s that for profound?). Seriously, though, between spit up and diaper leaks, you’ll end up changing those tiny outfits a lot, so you’ll need a place to store them all. Since our changing table has drawers we use it for a dresser. If you want to use your dresser as a changing table, you can add a changing table kit to help keep the pad on. Get it used? As long as it’s in good condition, go for it!
- Hamper. Remember all those clothes you have a store? You’ll also have to wash them (so much!). You can get a nice one that will go with your kid’s décor as they get older, or you can do like I did and pick up a cheap little plastic one ( I can’t even find a link but you can get a small one for a buck or two at Walmart or Target. There’s a picture of the kind I’m talking about below). You can even use the mesh pop-up kind. It doesn’t need to be fancy. Get it used? Sure! Just wash it if you can and check for mold if you can’t.
- You Probably Don’t Need:
- Changing Pad Cover. We actually have a couple of these. I bring them out for company sometimes, but I don’t use them on a regular basis. The changing pad will be waterproof and wipeable. A cover looks cute, so get one if you want it, but it’s not a need.
- Clothing Hangers. For the most part, baby clothes can be folded and put in a dresser. You may want a couple of hangers if you have nice outfits. I like these with clips for pants.
Here’s what we use:
Things to Make it Cozy (optional but highly recommended)
- Glider/Rocking Chair and Footrest. If you’re planning on nursing, you will be spending a lot of time sitting with your little one. For that matter, even if you will be bottle feeding, you’ll be spending a lot of time sitting and feeding. Especially after surviving the marathon that is labor, a comfy place to sit can be a lifesaver! We are past the bottle phase, but Man Cub and I still love sitting in our glider for books and cuddles. A footrest is handy for all those times chasing a small person. Curious about rocking chair vs. glider? A glider moves in a back-and-forth gliding motion as opposed to rocking back-and-forth (and up-and-down a bit). Shocking, I know. More specifically, in my limited experience, a glider moves easier and has better back support. We got a nice one and love it! I use it several times a day and it will last for subsequent siblings (no, that’s not a hint). (The picture below is similar to ours [I couldn’t find ours], but with a handy pocket and actually cheaper than ours was). Get it used? Be sure it’s bug- and smoke- free (and comfy) first!
- Night Light. This is definitely optional, but I recommend it for two reasons. In the beginning, you won’t need it to ward away scary dreams, but newborns are notorious for getting their parents up all night (little torturers), and a night light can help keep you from bumping your shin on the crib, changing table, or wall (maybe that last one only applies if you’re a super-klutz like me). Later on, they do help keep away bad dreams IF your child can self-soothe and the light doesn’t keep them up longer. Once they are older (6 months or more, sleeping through the night), if you notice your baby staying up to play, try taking it away for a while. If they start getting scared during the night (by then you’ll know by the cry), try giving the night light back. A night light is another fun way you can decorate (like Man Cub’s light, below [it is not currently available, so the link when you click on the title or here is not the one I use- it just looks cute)! Get it used? You definitely can if it still works, but honestly they are pretty cheap already so I don’t know how much you’d save. As with anything that goes in baby’s room, make sure there are no small pieces that can break off and be a choking hazard.
- Lamp. A small lamp can be very useful for late night changing (if you have a blowout and a night light won’t do it but you don’t want to wake the baby all the way up with a big light… for some reason, once Man Cub is awake he wants to play- even at 3am), reading while you nurse, or slowly getting things quiet at night (we turn on a desk lamp to change Man Cub, read, and pray to get the room darker but not so dark I diaper him backwards. It’s happened). Get it used? Just watch those small pieces!
- Noise Canceller/White Noise Machine. While people often tip-toe around newborns, it’s actually pretty noisy in the womb. A white noise machine can mimic the womb and make baby feel at home. If you need an air purifier, a noisy one can double as a noise machine. If you can’t afford one, try a free app or simply leaving the window open. I used to do all my laundry during Man Cub’s naps because the whishing of the washing machine soothed him. Vacuuming also helps with nap time. Get it used? If it’s clean.
- You Probably Don’t Need: Expensive Décor. There are so many ways you can decorate for less. We did get cute coat racks and picture frames (another fun splurge), but other than that Man Cub’s decorations are the decorations from our baby shower and the letters that spell his name (which I made out of cardboard and wrapping paper). Keep it simple and your theme broad (either a color scheme or something flexible. Man Cub’s room is cartoon jungle. Most of it isn’t from the same store, but it all goes together). You can find free printables online from bloggers like Carly at Mommy on Purpose and put them in cheap frames.
Here’s what we use:
And there you have it! There’s the rest of baby gear for the nursery. Subscribe to get the rest of the list as I write it (plus a ton of freebies!).
Let me know: What did you use and love? What collected dust?
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