Every time I teach a baby Basics class, I get the same question: What do I really NEED? when the baby comes home. Well, not everything on the gift registry and not all the stuff your mom brings over ( keep it anyway ). I am reminded of times when babies spent a few nights in a dresser drawer and the changing table was the floor. The bathtub was the kitchen sink. And already, we are going back to cloth diapers!! The pendulum swings again.
So in answer to the burning question, I have composed a list of absolute essentials and then as you see what you'd like and what you REALLY need, you can go out and get the rest.
Immediate Baby Essential Layette Items:
Clothing: hats, gowns, undershirts, booties or very small socks. In numbers enough so that you aren’t washing constantly. Usually 0-3 months about a dozen of each. Onesies are hard to manipulate for frequent changes on a newborn. Have a few, if you must but gowns and sacks are easier. Bibs and a lot of cloth diapers for burp cloths.
For bath and bed and general care:
Receiving blankets and swaddlers, if you wish to swaddle. Towels, hooded are nice, washcloths, baby soap, and baby tub and diaper rash ointment, Vaseline, nail clippers (the ones with a white hand grip are best), BD digital thermometer, diapers and pins if using cloth, with rubber pants too. Baby cleaning wipes. Nasal aspirator from the hospital and all the blue plastic covered pads you can take from the hospital too. Cotton gauze squares.
Crib, mattress and waterproof pad for it, changing pad or table, and sheets for both. Covered can for diapers.
Breast pump and/or bottles with bottle brush and drying rack.
CARSEAT, installed correctly before baby comes home from hospital. A stroller is very nice, as is a swing and a bassinet or pack-n-play, especially if you live in a two-story house. A diaper bag is better than a shopping bag.
These are bare essentials and you will add and find your own preferences. Don’t over do it. You will try lots of items and outgrow clothing and even equipment faster than you know.
So, there you are. And don't forget the CD of SHHHHHH ( white noise ). I like the idea ( per Harvey Karp, M.D. ) of calming that baby through the most difficult fourth trimester. Remember: Swaddle, Shush, Side-lie, Swing and Suck. You can't feed a screaming baby and you can't spoil a newborn with love, only too much "Stuff".