Top 3 Baby Gear Wins and Fails (plus some homeschooling questions)

Every Monday, I answer a few of the questions that my readers send me. If you have a question you’d like me to answer in a future Q&A post, just leave me a comment here or email me (thefrugalgirl [at] gmail [dot] com) and put Q&A in the subject line. I look forward to hearing from you!

How do you store all the flash cards for Saxon math?? I’m trying to figure out a system where it’s easy for my son to find the set he needs to work on, without taking up too much space on a shelf (we do have very limited space where we live).

Also, what kind of art curriculum/program do you do with your kids? Right now I’ve got my son in art classes with a fantastic lady who teaches out of her home, but I’m curious if there might be something (simple-ish) I can do at home with him and my four year old as well.


I don’t do anything fancy with my flash cards at all! I have them divided into manageable portions bound with rubber bands for daily review, and each day, we pick a different grouping to review so that we’re always rotating through them all.

storing Saxon flash cards

As far as art goes, check out I Can Teach My Child for lots of great craft and art ideas for the younger crowd.

Also, Drawing with Children is a super popular drawing curriculum that many homeschoolers use. I bought it this year, but haven’t managed to find time during our homeschool week to get very far with it, so I plan to go through it this summer with Sonia and Zoe.

I am expecting my first child at the beginning of August, and can’t believe the lists of baby “essentials” I found. Could you think of maybe three things you couldn’t have done without when the kids were born, and three “fails”, ie. things you were told you needed, but in the end didn’t use that much? To me, the issue is not money as much as overbuying.


That’s so great you’re approaching this mindfully. There’s such a glut of baby stuff on the market, and you really can do without a lot of it. I’ll share my top three wins and fails, but do keep in mind that every parent is different and some people’s wins are other people’s fails and vice versa.

(Related and possibly helpful: I wrote up a post with my thoughts about what baby stuff is necessary and what isn’t.)

For this list, I’m operating under the assumption that you’re already going to have necessary stuff like a car seat and clothes.  ;)


Bouncy Seat

Caveat-we had a super simple vintage bouncy seat with no vibrations or batteries. The newer ones don’t seem to be nearly as good.  We used ours ALL the time, though.


If I couldn’t find a simple bouncer, I’d at least get a Bumbo.  You can’t use them when the baby is very small, but they’re GREAT once their muscles have developed a bit.


We used ours as a crib in Joshua’s early days, and regularly used it when we were at other people’s houses during naptime.  We just had a simple Graco pack and play and it held up great.

Baby Bathtub

I know you can get by without one, but goodness, it is SO much easier to bathe a small slippery baby if you have a little tub.  Mine was second hand and basic, but it got the job done for four kids!


Baby Monitor

Perhaps this is because we’ve never lived in a huge home, but I just never found this to be very useful.  We had a basic hand-me-down monitor, but I almost never used it.  I could always hear my babies crying at night or when they woke up from naps because you can only get so far away in a smallish house!

Nursing Bras

Perhaps they’ve improved over the years, but when I had my babies, the options were pretty much all lumpy, ugly, expensive, and not that much easier to use than a regular bra.  I gave them up after my first baby and never looked back.


This was fairly useless to use because we didn’t have a big house for our kids to maneuver around in and because we had too much carpet! If you have a spacious home with hardwoods, you might feel different, but for us, the walker was a waste of space.


Readers, I’m sure Genevieve would love to have your input as well!  What are your top baby gear wins and fails?
P.S. Third Day Naturals is having a Mother’s Day sale, so hop on over to buy something for your mama (or yourself!)

150-150 2014 Mothers Day sale (3)


  1. K.J. says

    I have to disagree with one item on your list. I definitely used and loved my nursing bras.

    One place I think many people spend WAY to much money is the nursery. They spend thousands on expensive furniture, overpriced bedding, etc. I found that my money was better spent on simple furniture (which worked wonderfully through three children) and bedding. Also many nursing mothers I knew bought glider and never used them. I had three babies in under three years, nursing each for about a year. I found the most useful thing to be a “lazy-boy” style recliner/rocker. I could nurse easily because of the large squishy armrests, rock if needed, put my feet up and rest if my babies were nursing in the night, and there was room to hold a toddler while nursing an infant.

    Just my two cents.

    • Sarah T says

      Yes! I got a recliner when I was pregnant with my second. I wished I had had it for nursing the first.

  2. says

    Huh, just goes to show how different things are for different people. The baby bathtub was a huge fail for us. Slippery baby kept slipping and it was just a huge hassle. In the end we used it maybe twice (once in the sink, once in the tub) and gave up. Instead we’d just bathe or shower with the baby when we bathed or showered. So much easier (and safer for us).

    The Pack N Play was a win for both babies. We didn’t have a bouncy seat, but the vibrating chair was popular. The baby monitor was a fail and unnecessary because we were never out of earshot. Walkers are dangerous and bad for development.

    With DC1 the sling was a necessity and the stroller completely useless. With DC2 it was the opposite.

    Needs: Cloth diapers for cleaning stuff up. Blankets and towels (and you’ll get lots of these from other people). Carseat. A little bit of clothing (and you’ll get lots of these from other people). A sleeper sack for sleeping in cooler weather. With DC2, she eventually needed a freezable teether.

  3. Karen. says

    My input for the second question:

    I second the bouncy seat. Mine does have both vibrate and noises, however. If you’ve got a baby who’s a stubborn or light napper, that vibrate can be a lifesaver. The noises I could do without.

    Also, I second the Bumbo. Get the tray to go with. Makes an excellent place to feed Baby before he/she has enough strength to sit in a high chair. And if you place the thing on the table, then you’re at eye level with the baby, and it’s a lot more fun.

    Although I agree fully with the baby tub, I’d almost go with a nursing pillow. I have a Boppy. It does so many things besides help with feeding (for me, the proper posture prevents headaches). You can use it as a sitting or reclining support for the child and it doesn’t scootch around like throw pillows and isn’t dangerously fluffy like bed pillows.

    I’d have to add a fourth. Love the floor gym.

    So, what don’t you need? Wipe warmer, bottle warmer, complicated electric baby-food maker (good grief, a simple food mill does the trick), diaper bucket that takes special liners … anything that looks like a novelty probably is! And for us, where we’re limited on space, I’ve got a changing pad attached to the top of a dresser instead of a separate changing table, and instead of getting a bassinet, we just used a crib right away.

    Good luck. :)

    • Meredith says

      It’s interesting what works for some and doesn’t for others. It can really depend on the child. My daughter was super sensitive to cold touches and when she woke up in the middle of the night for a diaper change, the cold wipes woke her up more so and she screamed. As soon as I got a wipe warmer, much to my frugal dismay, life changed. I think more than anything it’s wise to get just the bare necessities and then go from there based on your child. You can always buy things second hand.

      • Kristen says

        Yes! So, so true…and so obviously displayed in the comments. Everyone is a little different, and you’ve just got to do what works for you.

    • Frances in TX says

      While reading through the comments, I met the names of several items I didn’t recognize. (I’m way past my child-rearing years.) Anyway, Bumbo searching led me to this rather startling review:
      The guest writer is a pediatric physical therapist and has a basis for her opinion. I recommend reading this before purchasing a Bumbo.

      • Tarynkay says

        I do understand the developmental concerns regarding Bumbos and jumpers and the like, but I also think they are overstated. Most parents are using these “babysitters” for very brief periods- five minutes to take a shower, twenty minutes to make dinner, that kind of thing. A Bumbo on the floor is frankly much safer than wearing the baby while cooking. Most babies are not going to tolerate any sort of container for very long anyhow.

        My son was huge and his thighs never fit into a Bumbo. But the bouncy seat (which I loved) did not last very long b.c after just a few months, he started lunging forward or to the side and tipping it over. So we moved to a hand-me-down doorway jumper for those times when he needed to be safely contained for a few minutes.

        In any case, the best thing to do with large pieces of baby gear is to borrow it from a friend. There is a thrift store in town here that lets you rent items as well, I think that is brilliant.

  4. Mary G says

    The one thing I used more than anything else with my last baby (now 16!) was my Baby Bjorn carrier. There are probably even better options on the market now, but I’m not familiar with them. I walked virtually every day after my son was born, and even though he was never a heavy sleeper, he always seemed comfortable in this carrier. Also, I could slip him out and put him into his car seat, and slip him back in without waking him (not an easy thing with my son). I couldn’t use those large backpack carriers, which were way too large for my small frame. The other item that I used a lot and still use, though not for the same purpose, was a stick blender. I received one as a baby gift (a basic Cuisinart), and it’s still working well. I pureed single item foods frequently for him, which worked out very well. I also found it helpful to use a nursing pillow. A co-worker gave me a Boppy, which I ended up using a lot. I agree with the comments on the baby monitor. I used mine sparingly the first few days and then found it unhelpful.

    • says

      For those looking into a baby carrier, please know that the Baby Bjorn and other carriers that allow baby to face forward are not good for baby’s hips! When searching for a carrier, make sure you choose one that fully supports baby’s bottom, cradles their legs at least to the knee, and does not allow for a forward facing position. If you choose a wrap, make sure you educate yourself on the proper way to tie it! Carriers like Mei Tais, Ergos, Tulas, Kinderpacks, and woven wraps are a much safer option, and are well worth the money.

  5. says

    Definitely the vibrating seat…my grandson loves his. Also a white noise machine, they have small portable ones that are great, especially if you have a noisy toddler in the house while the baby is trying to nap. The boppy beanbag…so firm and he looks so cute lying in it! The monitor we use at my house since he naps in my bedroom and I wouldn’t hear him in the kitchen or other rooms, especially if I’m upstairs. All of these items we purchased for half price or less at Once Upon a Child. That’s the perfect place for “Grandmas house” items and fill-in items you didn’t receive as gifts.

  6. Dawn says

    I know it takes up some space, but I couldn’t have got through the colicky days without a swing. Between babies it was disassembled and stored in the attic, but it was truly a sanity-saver when there was a fussy baby and things that absolutely had to be done. The sound and the movement calmed them and bought me some precious time. Once they got older, they preferred the exersaucer or the “johnny jumper”, but those are only good once they get some upper body strength.

  7. Amy b says

    I almost agree with your list except I’d switch baby tub to fail and monitor to a must have!! We don’t have a huge house but out bedroom is far enough away and I’m a heavy enough sleeper I need it at night or if never wake up with our little one. And we just put a towel in the bottom of our tub for a little extra comfort and then put just enough water in the tub to get that wet and be able to wash him. I can’t say baby tubs are bad, just unnecessary.

    • Amy b says

      Oh and as far as white noise, if you have the money to spend go for it. We didn’t so we used a humidifier which made house and helped keep his noise moist – can be an issue for little ones. You could also you a small fan as long as it’s not blowing on him/her. These are multi-use things so you aren’t stuck with something expensive you won’t use down the road.

  8. Michelle says

    I would have to say the baby swing and excersaucer were great tools for me! Baby swings are great for fussy babies and the excersaucer in the bathroom was sometimes the only way to squeeze in a quick shower! I also used a baby carrier to wear them while getting work done!

  9. Lori says

    Re: homeschool art, I am NOT an artist by any means, but I try to do a simple, Charlotte-Mason-style art curriculum (and I use “curriculum” loosely). We pick an artist to focus on for 6 weeks or so (a lot of times my oldest will pick one–he saw a picture by Paul Klee he really liked, so that’s who we’re looking at right now) , look at their art online and in books, take a visit to the city museum if any of the artist’s work is there, and I print out coloring pages of their art online (which you can find for pretty much any artist, and there are also tutorials on how to make your own out of images of full-color artwork). Usually we’ll look at the art one day, and then another day they’ll color. I don’t have nearly enough art skills to teach them about drawing or painting or technical stuff, but I can at least manage a little art appreciation. ;)

  10. says

    An essential for me has been a stretchy wrap. My first (and now my second) spent lots and lots of time in the wrap. It kept crying time down and helped me do things around the house. Now it helps me interact with me toddler while holding my youngest as well. The pack’n’play has also been extremely useful for us (get one with a newborn bassinet, they are amazing!)

  11. Kristen says

    I highly recommend a good quality baby carrier. I have an ergo (purchased used) and it is fantastic. When the babies are little you put them in it to go shopping. Sometimes I couldn’t get them to sleep and I would put them in it and they would fall asleep. Also great when you can’t seem to get housework done. Pop in the baby and you can get it all done. And you can go hiking or other places strollers aren’t convenient. Bouncers, swings, jumpers are great but none of those worked for both kids.

    • Lori says

      I am super excited because I was talking to a friend on Saturday, who just bought an Ergo to carry her 1-1/2 year old on a trip they are taking to Mexico, but she doesn’t think she’ll use it much after that–he’s big so she doesn’t wear him much–so she’ll lend it to me after my baby is born this summer. My kids are so big that I usually don’t wear them much after they are about 6-8 months or so, so I haven’t been able to justify buying an Ergo.

      To the original baby gear question, I’d borrow stuff to try out whenever possible. Swings were a total fail with my first–as were bouncy seats, pack and plays, and pretty much anything that meant he wasn’t attached to me–but my second LOVED the swing and that was how I got cooking and exercising done after she was born. My first two weren’t too fond of the pack and play, but my youngest loved going in there and watching his older siblings play without getting into too much trouble. My daughter loved the Bumbo, but my youngest wasn’t a fan. For pricier stuff, I’d definitely see if you have a friend who would let you and/or your baby try it out for a bit, to see if it works for you.

    • says

      We love our baby carrier! We had an Ergo, then switched to a Toddler Tula when my son was about 18 months. It is a lifesaver. He loves being worn, and I love that it’s hands free and I don’t have to tote around a stroller. Still wearing my son at 21 months, and I’m 31 weeks pregnant!

  12. says

    -Baby monitor, it was useless to us because just like you, we could hear our baby’s cry
    -Baby wipe warmer, we only used this once,babies can survive without it.
    -Shopping cart baby cover-a regular and thicker blanket will do.

  13. Lisa says

    I definitely think the must-haves for a baby totally depend on the person and their home/lifestyle!

    I have an 11 month old son, so I have recently gone through all the ‘baby gear’ and personally I found the bouncy seat to be completely useless but I definitely would never have a baby without a swing and exersaucer!

    I found the pack and play as well as the baby bath very useful as well. I also had an Angelcare baby monitor (monitors movements and sound) and being a nervous first time mom this is the one item I would recommend to anyone! I would also have to say that nursing tank tops and a really great stroller are total lifesavers!

    Good luck to all the new mommies out there :)

  14. Celeste says

    I’ve never had a changing table and never wished for you! I have found it easier to change my babies on the bed or floor rather than to get an extra piece of furniture that you won’t keep forever. No nursing bras for me either. Regular have worked just fine.

  15. Lori says

    Oh, and without getting into too much baby sleep controversy, a must-have for us was a sleep nest. Basically, it’s a little container you can stick in your bed that will keep an infant contained. My kids stay in our bed until they are 5 or 6 months old, but we never had enough room for a cosleeper next to the bed and we’d both be really nervous with the baby just laying there. The sleep nest was the perfect solution for us, and we slept SO soundly after our second and third were born. My kids are big (8+ lbs at birth, 18-20+ at six months) and they still fit in there with no problem until about 6 months. It’s definitely not a must-have for everybody, but if you plan on cosleeping when they are newborns and would rest better with a little extra security, I’d recommend them.

    • says

      We got one with our second (though she outgrew it pretty quickly– she’s a big girl). Those first few weeks home were so much easier when we could just check to see she was ok without getting up or worrying about the baby just laying there.

    • Jenny says

      I don’t have a baby of my own, so I’m not buying a lot of stuff, but I babysit one all day while his mom goes to school.

      For putting him down for naps, I use a large cat bed, placed on our bed. I mostly do it so he can’t roll off the bed, but it is also really great if I want to nap when he is. The cat bed keeps him in place, and means that I can’t roll over onto him.

      I think it only cost a few dollars at a dollar store. My cats aren’t too happy when I put it back down for them smelling like baby, but other than that it works great for me. I’ve been doing this since he was 10 months old.

  16. Amanda says

    I’m going to have to say that the nursing bras are a must for me. I got them on a buy 3 get 1 sale at Motherhood. I cannot figure out how I’d nurse easily in my regular bras, but these are perfect.

    I also have to second all the comments about carriers. I use a moby for the newborn stage and an ergo after that. I have two under two, so I’m actually shopping forgot a second used ergo. Then my husband and I can each wear a baby when we are out and about.

    • says

      I agree about needing the nursing bras. Motherhood does have a cute selection in a bunch if different sizes. I grew four cup sizes with my first child and nursing bras were a must. My friends, who didn’t grow as much, swear by the nursing tank tops at target. I bought one but it never fit until I almost had weened my son. It was nice.

      In addition, I loved the bouncy seat. I bought one with the vibrating feature, but never used it.
      I really like the high chairs that sit on too of a regular chair. They are wonderful.
      I used the boppy pillow all the time but some if my friends didn’t like it.
      Oh, and I use my stroller all the time. I bought one that was super cheap and light and easy to carry. The infant seat clicked into it which was nice for the first three or four months he used that.
      A humidifier is nice. My son had bloody noses in the dry winter.
      Nail clippers, hair brush and comb, travel wipe container…

      Fails: bath, monitor, baby towels, baby CDs, noise machine, changing pad (I use an old towel on the top of an old dresser), most toys (my sons favorite toys are empty spice jars, my sifter, a ball, books, some blocks, and a set if measuring spoons and bowls).

      Maybes: exersaucer (someone gave me one, but it takes up a lot of floors pace – I use it in my sewing room to keep my son busy while I work on projects).
      I bought an ergo second hand when he was nine months to use for hiking and I use it quite often now when I go grocery shopping or am going somewhere I won’t be able to keep a close eye on him. It is super comfy (he weighs about 27 lbs now).
      Pack and play – I borrow one from a friend when we go on vacation.
      Cloth diapers – I have used several brands and the only ones that contain explosions are the bum genius. I love them!! And the 4.0 version had replaceable elastic so you can use them for multiple children. I made my own wet bag and diaper pail liner out if PUL.

  17. Emily says

    I disagree about nursing bras. I consider them a must have, much more comfortable than trying to maneuver a regular bra. There is decent priced bras to be found at Target. I also consider Undercover Momma shirts to be a must have. It is a tank with out straps that hooks onto your nursing bra and keeps your stomach covered, basically turns any shirt into a nursing shirt. If you are crafty, I have seen tutorials online for turning a regular tank top into a similar shirt. Moby wrap for carrying baby is a must as well, We used an exosaucer a lot but never really used the jump a roo when they were older. The floor gym for them to lay under is great for the first few months. With my first two babies I did make my own baby food but with my second two I switched to baby led weaning. So much simpler.

    • Lori says

      I’m unsure about nursing bras. I’m very well-endowed and get huge when nursing, but I find nursing bras kind of fiddly and think they give me a weird shape. They are great for me if I’m going to be doing a lot of nursing out of the house. However, with my youngest especially, I had two others at home, one of whom was only 16 months, so we really didn’t go out much. When I was home, I preferred to wear a regular bra and just slip one shoulder strap off and pull the cup down, since covering up wasn’t a huge issue.

      • Katie says

        It’s interesting to see everyone’s opinions on nursing bras! I only had one, and I found it fiddly too. Instead I bought a three pack of hanes camisole style bras (kind of like sports bras but with cami straps instead of the “racing back.” I could easily pull one side up for nursing while the other side stayed in place.

  18. Megyn says

    I have to echo the recommendations for a good baby carrier. I love the stretchy wraps for small babies, and a good soft structured carrier like the ergo for bigger babies and toddlers is a must! If I could choose only ONE baby item, this would be it, hands down. When you look at mothers in other cultures, who live free from all the “stuff” that we think is so necessary, you do at least see them using a strip of fabric to strap their baby to their back! Besides being so convenient, it is so beneficial to a baby’s development- physically, emotionally, socially – it is definitely a MUST HAVE!

  19. says

    Win: Soft structured baby carrier. We liked our first one (Action Baby Carrier brand) so much that when we had another baby sixteen months (!) later, we bought ANOTHER carrier (a Boba 3G–better for toddlers) so that we could go hiking as a family.

    Rock N Play sleeper. As easy to use as a bouncy seat, but safe enough for a newborn to sleep in all night.

    Velcro swaddle wraps. I was swaddle-challenged and just.could.not manage to swaddle with a blanket.

    Fails: Safety 1st Onboard 35 car seat. Way, way too large and doesn’t fit any good double strollers. I wound up using my sister’s Baby Trend car seat for my second.

    Jumperoo. My kids never took to it. (First one liked his Johnny Jump Up, though.)

    Too many sippy cups. When your kid is really ready for a sippy cup, he’ll drink from pretty much any cup, and before that, he won’t. No need to buy 8,000 different kinds.

    Everyone is going to have different likes and fails–my best advice is to pay attention to the reasons and see which ones sound most like you :-).

  20. Beth says

    We LOVED the exisaucer (this is the one we had
    Our son came to us through adoption and some days this was about the only way I got a shower! He LOVED it. In fact, he still asks about it and he is 4 1/2! This one was a little complicated to put together, but well made, and still looks brand new.
    Also, this baby carrier was fantastic. (you can find these other places than BRU, but just happened to find the link there). This is a little on the pricy side, well made and sturdy. We have used it, and at least two of our friends have borrowed it (one for more than one child) and it still looks brand new. (Ours is all black, and I do have to say that was a pain, it showed every. single. piece. of. lint. )

  21. Rebecca says

    Coming from a first time mom with four month old, here’s my opinion. Also I should caveat by saying I’m very much against stuff to have stuff so we avoided getting lots of things like an infant car seat (we just bought a convertible car seat) and a stroller (because honestly it’s easier to carrier them in a carrier than a stroller and they like it more!). Also, wait on toys, exersaucers, high chairs, etc. You never know what your baby will like or what your friends will have and decide to gift to you :)

    Also, spend this time reading about babies (not just pregnancy). Some great ones are the Womanly Art of Breastfeeding, Dr. Sears Baby Book, Your Best Birth, watch The Business of Being Born, (for later) Baby Led Weaning, and Natural Baby Care.

    Win: (Obviously you need a car seat and some clothes :) plus diapers and wipes. We used cloth diapers/wipes which meant we needed a few different things but I highly recommend them!)

    Baby carrier- I highly recommend getting a soft structured carrier like an Ergo/Boba 4G or get a ring sling. A ring sling is FABULOUS from infancy (from the moment they are born) all the way up until toddler stage. I have spent more money on carriers and we use them all. Another fabulous one is the Infantino Mei Tie. Inexpensive and fabulous. If you are interested there are tons of great Facebook groups about Babywearing- the ladies on there are super helpful!

    Baby bouncer seat- similar to the one posted. If no other reason than this is how I was able (and still able) to take showers! I find that you get use from day one up until they are able to sit on their own- which is 7/8 months for some babies.

    Nursing supplies- I know this is a category but hey it’s important. Get a nursing cover- it will make you feel more comfortable especially in the early days when you are needing to nurse in public. I’m all for women breastfeeding wherever they are but as a first time mom it can be daunting to feel like the world is staring at your chest (they aren’t)! Nursing pillow- get the boppy or the Dr. Browns Gia. Theses also double as tummy time pillows, and places to lay a baby (before they can roll over) while you go to the bathroom or get a drink of water. Nursing bras- they don’t have to be explicitly nursing bras but honestly the nursing bras are great. I have an inexpensive set from JcPenney and I have 6! I use them every day. Nursing pads- get Bamboobies. Even if you don’t leak a ton, you’ll want them for piece of mind. Nipple cream- either Mother Love or Earth Baby Angel Mama. Both are recommended by lactation consultants. Breast pump- if you are working at all get a double electric (either Ameda or Madela) and get it while you are pregnant. They look bizarre (and they are) but if you plan on breastfeeding for the long haul while working you’ll need it. If you are going back to work get the Simple Wishes hands free bra for said double pump. Just trust me on this. And something free- find a La Leche league meeting or breastfeeding support group in your area. This will be a LIFESAVER in the first few weeks.

    (And a four bonus one- a smart phone/tablet- you will become great friends with Dr. Google and if you are nursing will have lots of sitting time. This is a great time to read a book, check Facebook, send an email, check to Google to make sure whatever is happening is ‘normal,’ etc. with one hand. Plus this is how I kept in touch with all my mommy friends- it made the first few weeks more than just doable but enjoyable!)

    Bathtub- you don’t need one. Shower with your baby and then when they are older sit in the bathtub with them. And you don’t need to wash your baby often at all- honestly. They just need a little washcloth with water to get ‘clean.’

    Wipe Warmers, bottle cleaners, anything specifically targeted at babies etc. – you don’t need anything like this and you won’t use it. For example, baby laundry detergent, don’t buy it. Buy the most natural kind you can (Molly’s Suds is a great one) and use it for the whole family. Wipe warmers? Don’t need it. Bottle cleaners- you have one, it’s called a dishwasher :)

    Complicated toys- your baby won’t even be interested in toys (outside of you!) for the first 3-4 months. Then the best toys are ones that don’t make noises, aren’t button pushes or things that do one thing. Stick to rings, stackable blocks, books (anything by Sandra Boyton is a great thing), a blanket with a fun pattern, and balls that they can grab and pick up.

    Just one other tip- this isn’t for the baby but for you. You won’t fit into any of your clothes for a few months and this can be tough. Buy a pair of yoga/workout pants (the ones from Costco are great because they have a panel that makes you feel thinner!) and just wear those with some flowy tops. Honestly, you’ll look better and feel better than trying to squeeze into something :)

    And because apparently I’m on a roll today- when your baby gets old enough to start eating food look into Baby Led Weaning- skip the purees and more equipment.

    I honestly believe babies in the first few months want nothing but to be held (why you need a carrier), fed (nursing supplies) and loved. They are happy to be in nothing more than a diaper held by mom. The more stuff you have the more stressed out you’ll be because you won’t use it, it will be in the way and makes your house harder to clean.

    Good luck and enjoy!

  22. Betsy says

    With our first baby, we had so much stuff! Now, with our fourth, I have got the list down to only what we really use.
    If you are nursing, there is no substitute for a good pump. My Medela has made it through four babies, and it is still going strong.
    I too had problems with nursing bras. Then, I discovered nursing tanks. Mine are from Target, and I LOVE them.
    Several mamas have already mentioned slings. I have a peanut shell and an ergo. I have used both many many many times.
    All babies are different. I had one that was a champion pooper. He needed lots of clothes and sheets. I had one that drooled like a maniac. Bibs. Billions of bibs. And one that spit up a dozen times a day. Burp cloths. And more clothes for me. These are all things that you can buy more of easily, only if you need them.
    Finally, find another couple mamas and swap. I am presently borrowing a friend’s walker, and she has my jumparoo. And when my son refused a bottle, I was able to borrow several different brands to try with him.
    Enjoy your new little one. Everyone says it goes fast. They are sure right!

  23. Amanda says

    Here’s my baby gear wins and fails:
    Bouncer–agreed. We live in a two story house, so we have one for each floor
    Bath cushion–I found a tub more difficult than a little pillow thing that keeps them from sliding around
    Exersaucer–essential for the stage when they are bored by the bouncer but too little to play indecently on the floor
    Carrier–I use a front carrier when they are little and one of those big structured back carriers when they get bigger. I find this much easier than lugging around the car seat or a stroller
    Cloth diapers–so much money saved and such a smaller environmental impact
    Stroller (see carriers above)
    Bassinet–we cosleep with infants and then our nursery and crib are just steps away
    Nursing bras–I agree with Kristen. My other gripe is that they fold down, so mine was always soaked after a feeding

      • Dawn says

        Laughing! I read that sentence over and over trying to figure out what playing indecently on the floor meant. So funny….thanks for clarifying or I’d still be wondering. Sounds like something I would say–just ask my kids :)

  24. meresu says

    The best nursing bras I ever owned were the cotton 2-pk from walmart for $17 and for me an absolute must have. Avoid underwire at all costs they can cause milk ducts to clog, ouch!

  25. Beth says

    Nursing bras and video monitor were musts for me. The video monitor was absolutely worth the price for the peace of mind it gave me. And I definitely depended on the baby bathtub. And the bouncy seat. (The simpler, the better.) And the pack-n-play. (I kept the pack-n-play downstairs and mine had a built-in changing table, which I loved.) I also highly recommend the Miracle Blanket for swaddling. Like many people here, what worked for baby #1 didn’t for baby #2 and vice versa. The Ergo was awesome for baby 2 (And a friend of mine used hers for her daughter up until she was 3! She often carried her on her back.) Baby 1 didn’t like any kind of sling, but the Baby Bjorn was great once he could face outward. For big items that take up space (like swing, high chair, exersaucer) that you might not end up using, try to borrow or buy at yard sales. For furniture, just get or use a regular dresser for a changing table–no need to get a special changing table. (As long as the dresser is at a comfortable height.) Get a changing pad with multiple covers (at least 3). Good luck!

    • Lori says

      I loved the Miracle Blanket! Again, my first never went for swaddling–that kid did not like anything other than non-stop mommy–but my other two loved being swaddled, especially their first two months, and the Miracle Blanket worked very well for that, because I’m super uncoordinated and couldn’t get the hang of swaddling them in a regular blanket.

  26. Maria says

    I highly recommend the book Baby Bargains for parents considering what baby gear to buy. They do recommend specific gear and brands but more importantly they lead you through the decision making process of why you might need a certain item and which particular product would be best for you (i.e. someone who uses public transportation might need a smaller stroller that folds easily). The recommendations are not always the cheapest option because they do place a lot of emphasis on usefulness and quality.

    I read an older version of the book from the library and found it to extremely helpful. Here’s a link to a current version:

    Personally, the bouncy seat and swing were wins for both children. The Bundle Me carseat cover was a win for the winter baby. I almost never used the baby monitor – small house/light sleeper.

  27. Kris says

    For Genevieve–

    Each baby and family is different, so bear that in mind!

    Wins for us: I used the carseat to prop my babies up in the house and would not have wanted a bouncy seat–it would have been redundant for us. If you live in a cold climate, do yourself a favor and get a carseat cover–ours was elasticized, slipped quickly and easily over the carseat, and had a “window” by the baby’s face which could be velcro-ed shut when carrying baby in the blowy snow to my destination. My son loved the infant swing, my daughter, not so much, but oh, if it works, it will give you a little peace when all else fails for soothing your baby. The pack-n-play is helpful if you have to travel (buy the special-made crib sheet). Also, when you consider a nursing bra, take into consideration your body build–I am large-chested and became somewhat miserably huge while nursing and I had to have the support. My guess is that those who didn’t like nursing bras are smaller-busted women. I much preferred the washable fabric nursing pads to the disposable paper ones–the disposables tended to slip and bunch up in my bra whereas the fabric ones stayed put and did what they were supposed to do. I also loved the baby bathtub. I would add in an umbrella stroller as it packs up smaller and is easier to maneuver in some environments than a standard stroller, especially as baby gets bigger. We skipped the changing table and had a contoured foam changing pad-thing (not sure of the name) on top of a dresser which worked well for us. I preferred the booster-seat-with-a-tray rather than the high chair–it took up less room (our house is small) and it was easier for me to reach to feed my babies than the high chair was. Some sort of soft rocker chair for nursing and soothing the baby (or is it mom that needs soothing??) is good. We did not get a bassinet but I kinda wish we would have, as I think our babies would have slept better in a cozier environment. The Boppy is a must-have. The Baby Bjorn was helpful but it depends on your lifestyle whether or not that will work for you. Now that I am beyond that stage in life, I have seen blankets which can be fastened around mom and baby while baby nurses–that is a nice idea as sometimes total privacy is hard to find (and my babies were experts at pulling the blanket off). When your baby is bigger and if he/she constantly overflows his diaper, you can buy diaper liners online which look like maxi-pads that fit inside the regular diaper. It helped us get through the night without needing extra changes.

    I only found that baby monitors were useful if I was outside shoveling snow or doing yardwork while my baby napped. I recently saw a warning about baby monitors with video–I don’t remember the particulars, but I think if you link the monitor with the internet, weirdos can hack into it and watch your baby and talk to your baby (I believe it was on ABC’s Good Morning America recently) so personally, I’d be very hesitant about this.

    Hope that’s not too much information! Such an exciting time for you! Best wishes.

  28. KimN says

    I agree that you don’t need much for a new baby. My top 3 (not including the obvious ones like carseat, clothes, etc.)

    1. Bouncy seat for sure. We never used a swing but all 3 kids used a simple bouncy seat. It saw a lot of use and was a life saver. We had a Bumbo too but 2 of my kids HATED it and the 3rd loved it but could tip the thing over easily (and she is my teeny tiny failure to thrive baby).

    2. Although this isn’t for a newborn I think it still qualifies…a high chair that clips on to a kitchen chair (rather than a free standing high chair). Our kitchen is very small so we don’t have room for a large chair. When the kids were very small and just starting solids, I would put the chair on the floor with the tray and feed them. Plus they could play in it while I cooked or did dishes. Now my two youngest 2 and 4 y/o still use them as booster seats. We just pull them right up to the table and ditched the tray. Also, they were very portable for travel, family dinners, etc.

    3. Here is where I have to disagree with Kristen. I find a baby monitor a must. We have a 2 story house with kids on both floors. Plus, I sleep like a rock so if I don’t have a monitor blasting next to my pillow…forget it.

    The baby bath tub was a fail for us. I found it very cumbersome. I preferred the large yellow bear sponges that Toys r Us sold. You lay them right in the bottom of the tub and then lay baby on it so they don’t slip. Plus it was easier to store since it was so small.

  29. Cheri says

    Since I was blessed with a larger milk factory, a nursing bra was essential even when I slept. I you are so endowed get a fitting and buy at least two that you love. And the waterproof pads that get tucked within. Then you will get at least some quality sleep:)

  30. says

    Our three biggest baby gear wins were a bouncer (ours had music and vibration, but we never replaced the batteries), cloth diapers instead of disposables (seriously. Never had a blowout, never run out of diapers, and never have to pay for disposables. My husband even curses at disposables now on the very rare occasion we do use them for a trip or something), and coconut oil (works for diaper rash, as a lotion, for chapped lips, for sore nipples… everything). I’m going to add a fourth and say our Ergo baby carrier. Fussy baby? Wear them. Need to get chores done? Wear them. It’s much better for the baby, and much nicer for Mom and Dad. Just make sure you get an ergonomic one that fully supports the baby’s whole butt, not a crotch dangler. Our three fails were the baby bathtub, the pack-and-play (it was easier to wear them), and those stupid little baby washcloths. I’ve sucked them up in the vacuum a lot and they’re EXACTLY THE SAME AS REGULAR WASHCLOTHS.

  31. says

    Our wins – the pack n play (I got the smaller travel sized one with a bassinet, and my 2 year old is still using it). A walker was the best $40 I spent, but we have a one story house and tile floor everywhere. I got the Fisher Price infant to toddler rocker (which has vibrate, but I rarely used it) because of the longevity. We used it for feeding before our girls could sit in the high chair. They loved it and could sleep in it when very small. My favorite stroller ended up being my frame stroller. Easy for traveling and SOOOO much lighter than my bulky Chicco stroller. Though I did use the Chicco one when they got too big to lug in the baby seat.

    Both my children hated swings. I thought it would be a must, but no, they never wanted it. Never had a diaper genie, wipes warmer, or the fancy all in one baby food machines. I also never used my baby monitor.

    Luckily, I had family to pass along my hand me downs too, so even the things I didn’t use got some use.

  32. says

    I second the bouncy chair and the pack-and-play (at least if you do a good amount of traveling and family visiting). We never used a baby bath tub. When they were tiny it was sponge washing and sometimes the sink. Once they were sitting up well on their own, we transitioned to the real tub. We had not problems there.

    We do use a monitor quite a bit. Our home is good sized and the main bedrooms are downstairs, but most of our living is done upstairs. The monitor is handy. But I don’t think video and all that is necessary. Something with audio and a good range, so you can be outside working in the yard or whatever and still hear the baby.

    I have to say nursing bras were a necessity for me, but like Kristen, my sister didn’t need them. I think this depends on your size. My sister is very petite, as is Kristen, however I am not. Spending a little bit of money on a couple of really good nursing bras was worth it for me with both my boys.

    Also, we loved having a walker. Like Kristen mentioned though, we had a large tiled space (the kitchen and eating area). During a certain age the walker was invaluable because I could pop the baby in there while I cooked and chopped and he was happy, content, and moving but contained. Love it.

  33. Lydia says

    Loving reading these comments, takes me back to baby days. :) How different we all are! Just goes to show that we need to end the mommy wars. :)

    My fab four:
    Baby Bjorn, because I wasn’t bright enough to figure out a moby, or maybe my body type wasn’t right for it!
    5 set monitor for when I had two toddlers and a baby – ears in three rooms, awesome.
    Walker – we had loads of tile and this was a hit!
    Bottle dry rack – I had to bottle feed, this was wonderful

    Breast pumps – like I said, couldn’t nurse…flop – ha ha
    Crib sets – they’re just decoration, not necessary. Just get multiple crib sheets and an extra mattress pad
    Baby bath tub – only used them once or twice with each kid, towel in the bottom of the tub, with very little water was perfect
    Potty Chairs – they hated them. They liked me helping them sit on the big potty better every time.

  34. Yardley says

    Nursing bras are a must. Never could have breastfed comfortably without them.
    A good pump also a must have if you ever plan to leave your child with someone else.
    Wrap or soft carrier. Moby or ERO. I bought both used and are great!!! Wrap is most comfortable for me when very little. I had 2 c-sections and the ERO and other carriers were very uncomfortable.
    A bouncy seat or swing is a must have. Somewhere to put them that is safe especially when you have older kids around.
    Both my kids love the floor activity gym
    Pack and play – still use regularly when we travel youngest is 2. I never used it as a baby unless traveling.

    boppy pillow not very comfortable for when I was nursing
    diaper genie – really I just took out the trash!! Then for number 2 switched to cloth
    Johnny jump up

    Exersaucer – geriatric but very short lived as my kids walked early and then they were bored of it
    Bath tub- we used ours but also found it easier to just shower with kids as soon as they were not tiny babies so it was very short used.

    The nice thing about baby stuff is someone is always trying to get rid of their stuff so see of you can buy used or borrow.

    Best of LUCK!!!!

  35. Angie says

    Must haves: sling, sling, and sling. Can you tell I loved my sling. I know there has been some controversy regarding them in the last few years but as long as you are thoughtful about the possible risks and are careful they are wonderful.
    Misses: changing table (never used it with any of my three), infant carrier (we used the carrier car seat in the car but never carried it into the store. they are soooo heavy and the sling held them close to my chest and worked great), and most of the other baby gizmos at the store.
    Babies need love, food, and a safe place to sleep. They don’t care if you are using fancy burp cloths or cut up flannel (my favorite), name brand pretty diapers or cloth, baby wipes or a wet cloth (perfect for wet diapers, again pieces of flannel). Keep it simple. They grow so fast that the expensive baby gadget will be in the rummage sale next year!

  36. Angela says

    Ashley – in regards to the Saxon flashcards, you can always convert them to Quizlet flashcards online. Quizlet flashcards are easy to access and use on the computer and even easier on a tablet.

    Genevieve – It definitely IS odd what some people find a must have and others find useless. While some have announced a wet wipe warmer as useless, I found it EXTREMELY necessary with my baby boy, and useless with my girl. You always hear stories of the “surprise stream” when changing the boys, that leaves you with an unexpected shower….this happens when something cold touches that area like cold air or a cold wipe, so if you’re having a boy, my #1 vote is a wet wipe warmer. And for either sex, a bouncey seat, a boppy and a bath hammock. The bath hammock keeps them from slipping around. I found that when I tried to shower with my babies, as someone suggested, they got very slippery from the soap which made it difficult and dangerous trying to hold to them. I had a couple of close calls before giving up on that method. Having them in the tub with me worked well but personally, I don’t like sitting in my own dirty water much less having my baby sit in my lap while I wash them with my dirty water. Useless – Diaper Genie…. of any kind. I bought a Camco RV wall mounted trash can, mounted it to the end of my changing table (a dresser) and lined it with grocery bags. #1 diapers went in that can and got emptied daily. #2 diapers went straight outside to the outside can. And if I could, I’d do the environmentally conscientious thing and dump the diaper contents into the toilet before throwing away the diaper, but for obvious reasons (content consistency..I know, ewwwww) ….that didn’t always work.

  37. Karen says

    Best thing EVER was a sleepy wrap (or moby wrap or whatever brand). You can hold your baby in the wrap and still have your arms free!!! Amazing! You can get things done! You can hold your baby in the grocery store! You can snuggle with the little one while getting dinner ready. This is the BEST!

    Secondly, nursing pillow. It’s just soooo much easier to nurse with one than with a regular pillow. Especially with the first baby. And with a newborn. And when they are older and learning how to sit, you can use the pillow to prop them up a little bit to keep them from falling over.

    Speaking of sitting up, I would say no to the bumbo seat. I have read that it is not good for the baby’s development.

    With our first, I would also say that an exercise ball was huge. She needed movement and bouncing to calm her down and I lived on that thing. I’d hold her in my arms and bounce and bounce and bounce. With the second one, not so much. So it depends on the baby. I would say that for some, a swing or an exercise ball or something that calms them with movement could hypothetically be a lifesaver. But not all babies are going to need that kind of thing. My second baby is much calmer and never needed to be bounced or rocked to sleep. So maybe wait to see what your child will be like before you buy a lot of soothing apparatus.

  38. Christine says

    The pack and play is a must. I really liked my monitor too. We have a small house, but I just liked to know that I could hear right in the room. If you are using disposable diapers I would skip the dirty diaper holder. I think they smell no matter what you do. We just ended up throwing the bad diapers in the trash outside. I agree that you don’t need to spend tons on nursery decorations. The glider/rocker was a good purchase.

  39. Sarah says

    We only used our baby bathtub twice, because #1 hated it and would only take baths with one of us (preferably me, so he could nurse), and that turned out to be easier for us with #2 anyway.
    Neither baby cared much for baby toys, they enjoyed our stuff, and board books, older toddler toys (blocks, cars, duplos) way more.
    A crib turned out to be pointless for us, both babies spent so little time there. The mattresses for cribs are so hard because of sids worries that our kids could never sleep well on them, and we could never get them to stay asleep setting them down. They were much happier with our bed or regular beds of their own.
    A play yard with a bassinet was a great thing for us to have, because it gave us another place to set the baby in our long house, and a familiar bed when visiting.
    A basic swing was also helpful. We kept it in the bathroom for showers and such, and another way to soothe baby.
    I don’t know what I would do without baby carriers. I used a sling and a moby wrap when they were tiny and an ergo from around 6 months. Strollers just sit around, but I use the ergo every day.
    Nursing bras must have gotten better, I wear one all the time, and it’s way better than trying to nurse with a regular bra. I’ve found bravado bras very comfy. You may or may not need nursing pads, but if you do, getting the reusable cotton ones is definitely worth it.

  40. Gwen says

    Wow my “must have” baby things were totally different. It is SO true that what works for one family doesn’t necessarily work for another. For me, the things I loved and used a lot were:

    – My Beco Butterfly baby carrier. Wearing my babies was SO great to get a few things done and have them happy and close to me.
    – When they were little a baby seat/bouncer WAS handy as I could bring them into the bathroom and put them in the seat while I took a shower. That did help although I’m not sure it was a “must have” as maybe something else might have worked but the Bumbo was a total fail for us. Neither kiddo could use it safely when they couldn’t sit up, and when they could sit up, they’d just fall out of it. Completely a useless waste of money for us and felt very unsafe/unsupportive.
    – Nursing bras were a Godsend here. I LOVE my Bravado Body Silk Seamless nursing bra. That thing is SO comfy I may wear it after I’m done nursing! It changes in size as your breasts change (i.e. more full, less full with milk) and the straps and body are SO comfy. All other bras have felt like I was being strangled by an octopus but this one is so great I bought it in 3 colors! :) They weren’t cheap but they have been SO worth it!
    – I love our baby monitor. Yes, I may have been able to hear the kids without it, but I like that I can get out of bed and hear if they wake right away, especially since we have a sound machine playing ocean waves. Sometimes I could go in and nurse back to sleep without having them wake fully up, but if they did… they’d come out of bed. I don’t think I’d want one of those fancy angel-care monitors though or video monitors. What I’ve got was simple and cheap and does the job.
    – Car seats and rear-facing as long as possible for the safety benefits
    – Teething toys (but what one kid likes, the other might not)
    – We liked the floor gym too that another poster commented. Used it quite a bit to put baby down and let them explore and look at things (and grab on to teething toys)

    Waste of money:
    – Crib. 2 kids and both ended up co-sleeping so the crib essentially got no use. I tried to use it. I did. But neither kiddo was happy sleeping away from mama and I preferred to cosleep and get some sleep and not have to get out of bed to nurse my babies. Best decision I ever made for my sanity! :)
    – Double stroller. I used it maybe a few times but could have probably gotten by with one stroller and baby carrier/ring sling or something else. Just hoping we get some money back and glad we bought it second hand.
    – Baby bathtub. We thankfully borrowed one. And used it maybe 3 times? Babies cried in the baby tub, in the sink, etc. But both kids LOVED when I’d get in the tub with them. No tears whatsoever when I just got into the tub and had a bath with the baby. It is a lot longer to do this, of course, and not for everyone but it removed the tears in our household and that was essential to reduce all of our stress levels.
    – I would agree that a baby walker is a waste of money and time. Our kids didn’t use them to walk and were probably better off just learning and practicing on their own anyway. Probably a lot safer too! ;)
    – Pack n Play. Didn’t use a crib. Didn’t use the pack n play either. Thankfully we didn’t buy one but had one given to us.

    And I second all the lovely ladies who have suggested that you try and borrow things (or buy second hand) as what works for some doesn’t work at all for others and there are SO many good second hand things and baby swaps that you should be able to get things cheaper. REALLY wish I had known that before spending (i.e. wasting) money on some of the baby stuff we got. And, our first loved the exersaucer and jolly jumper, but the second one didn’t really get into either one and wanted to be wherever I was.

  41. says

    Oh, this is so funny! Some of the top-listed ones are my “never-buys” and the bottom of the list is a must-buy! No wonder this is so hard for women to figure out. :)

    I am pretty anti-baby gear (more like anti-spend-unnecessary money to the Baby Empire) but with my second I got an unexpected gift of a Fisher Price Rock & Play Sleeper. PURE BABY SLEEP MAGIC. My first was so hard to sleep, my second was so cozy in it and slept like a champ. We used it instead of the pack-n-play (never used that). I also didn’t use a baby tub (no space to store it) and instead used a giant sponge you can get at Babies R Us for like $6. And nursing bras have definitely gotten better – even in just the 4 years between my two.

    I also wrote a post on the top things mamas shouldn’t buy BEFORE baby comes – just in case it might be helpful!

  42. Sarah says

    Mine are almost 3 and almost 1
    Nursing bras and cotton nursing pads if you plan to breastfeed – I like bravado bras
    Baby carriers – sling for newborn, ergo with a rolled up towel under bum around 4 months, without towel around 6 months thru 2 years
    Baby monitor – it’s hard to hear anything in another room in our house
    Swing with music – ours was a basic hand-me-down that lost it’s toy bar, but it was the only place I could ever set either alert newborn down long enough to pee, and sometimes they even fell asleep in it. I expect any swing/bouncy seat/etc would do fine for most babies.
    Swaddle blanket and sleepsacks
    Boudreaux’s butt paste for diaper rashes
    Play pen with bassinet
    Board books and various children’s books
    Basic first aid/what to do if your kid is sick book – may be available for free through your government, there’s one included in a new parent kit in California, we use it a lot!

    Strollers – used some, probably not enough to justify the space needed for more than an umbrella stroller, but the standard umbrella stroller is too short for me to use comfortably, and not great for newborns
    Moby type wrap carriers – comfortable, portable, versatile, baby loves it, way too hot in the summer, tricky to put on, hubs never figured it out

    Infant insert for ergo – way too hot, babies never liked it
    Boppy as a nursing pillow – too small for my ample midsection, nevermind postpartum – still great for baby to play on.
    Baby bathtub – neither kid liked it, didn’t fit our sink, was easier to take a bath with the baby
    Playmat – neither kid wanted to be set down, ever
    Baby towels and bathrobes – too small and too complicated – a normal bath towel works better
    Baby toys – our stuff and older kid toys were way more fun. Many kitchen tools make great baby toys. Exceptions: stacking cups, o ball, music table
    Receiving blankets – these were too small for my second at birth (9lbs), not much use for the first (5lbs) but we were given tons of them
    Any baby clothes that aren’t super basic – summer babies live in onesies, and maybe some pants and/or socks. Swaddle blanket+onesie=all the pjs my newborns needed
    Large amount of any size or kind of diaper until you know what actually works for you and your baby, and for the smaller sizes, how big your baby is going to be
    Crib – the mattress is so hard, and the side so high that I can’t get a sleeping baby into it, and the baby doesn’t sleep well in it anyway. Also, don’t buy a crib with an attached changing table, as the table is tiny and you probably can’t use the crib without it. We ended up co-sleeping and then using twin mattresses on the floor, which also let me nurse the baby in its own bed.

  43. Ashes says

    I’ll weigh in.
    #1 Must Have: Changing pad clutch- This was a changing pad that folded up to contain 1-2 diapers and a refillable case for travel wipes, it had a wipeable inner surface. I used it to change the baby on the floor when I was at our house or visiting friends, and it was a godsend when traveling. If we had to stop for a change I didn’t need to carry the whole diaper bag it.
    Swing- This is hit or miss, babies love them or hate them, but ours loved hers. I have heard there have since been stricter regulations about how long you can use them, but Jd napped in hers all the time 5 years ago.
    Chair highchair- If you have a big family you might not be able to spare the chair, but we loved our highchair that strapped on a regular chair instead of a free standing model. It took up less space, was easy to bring to relatives’ houses and doubled as a booster when she grew older.

    Exersaucer- The time for using this is limited, and it’s bulky and expensive. I’m glad we borrowed instead of bought.
    Changing Table- No one uses these. You think you will, but you won’t. I didn’t bother with one, my sister who swore she’d used her second-hand changing table is currently using it… as a dresser.
    Playpen- We used this as a crib when visiting Nana, but eventually it was sent to live at Nana’s because we didn’t get any use out if it at home, ever. Maybe more useful for a 2 child family?

  44. says

    I couldn’t live without my soothing motions glider. I had 4 boys, my oldest is 6. They were all very close in age and this glider kept them sleeping through the night! I was a life saver. It’s made by fisher price. You’ll love it. I also agree, the nursing bras never helped me! Congrats on your new little one.

  45. Amy says

    My 3 items would be 1. Carrier or sling (I’d go for an ergo or similar so you can use it past the baby age, great for outings). Both my children were fussy and needed to be upright to sleep a lot of the time and this allowed me to prepare dinner or get out of the house.
    2. Cloth nappies. The newer kinds are easy to use and wash and we saved thousands.
    3. A swing or bouncer. Somewhere you can put baby down safely for a minute. My children used to sit in it while I had a quick shower. We had one with a toy bar and it was fairly cheap and used everyday.
    Things I didn’t spend much on were a cot / change table etc. We were given a cot and just bought a new mattress but we hardly used it because we co-slept early on and both my two were in beds early as they were climbers. For a change table I just used a regular chest of drawers with a mat on top. I mainly changed them on a bed anyway and they kept using the drawers past baby age.

  46. Laura says

    A word on walkers- the American academy of pediatrics recommend you don’t use them. They can delay when a child learns to walk and there are some safety concerns

    We had a vibrating chair that our baby loved, that thing could sooth him like nothing else. We got a fisher price infant to toddler rocker so he was also able to us it longer then a regular bouncer

  47. Genevieve says

    Thank you so much for addressing my question, Kristen! I really appreciate it. I also went and read your 2009 post. Helpful indeed!

    Thanks also to all of your readers who took the time to answer – most of them in great detail. I know all mamas (and babies!) are different, but it’s interesting to read other (more experienced) ladies’ opinions. Some of them got me thinking and helped me get a better idea of where I stand.

    Keep up the good work… have a nice day… :)

  48. says

    As others have said about baby gear, it’s amazing to see how some people’s baby gear regrets are other people’s must-haves. Because it all depends so much from one person/baby to the next, I’d recommend getting as much stuff secondhand as possible. Buying secondhand, going to baby gear swaps, getting hand-me-downs, and borrowing from friends saves money and lets you try out gear without the waste (packaging, shipping from China, etc.) that comes from buying new. When I was pregnant with my first, I created a website where parents can incorporate secondhand and new gear into their gift registries ( If you ask to borrow some things, it also keeps track of who gave what and if they want it back or not.

    I’ve tried on numerous occasions to write a post on the site to help people decide what baby gear to ask for, but I’ve never been able to finish the post (although it’s had several re-writes), because so much really “just depends” on the family and each individual baby.

  49. Josie says

    I actually disagree with a few of these!

    I loved my nursing bras. I have large breasts so have to wear underwire bras normally, which are VERY bad for nursing mothers. I lived in my nursing bras, even at night, for ages. It was a happy day when I could start wearing normal bras though!

    We also used baby moniters for years. My husband is a heavy sleeper and I sleep very lightly, so he would not wake up and i would wake up with every little noise. We also sleep with our doors shut, so hearing the kids could be a problem.

    We only used our portacot on a handful of occasions – if we were out and the baby needed a sleep, they would sleep in the pram or on someone’s bed.

    To my list of essentials I would add a change table, or at least a change mat on a surface at waist height. Your back will thank you.

    Good luck with parenthood!

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