Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Taking your infant home with JaneMD - equipment

We were having our first child and we decided to register at the local Babies R Us. I had never personally entered Babies R Us because when all of my friends/family had babies, I typically did it all online.  My husband and I were greeted by an overly chipper saleswoman, given a laser gun, and a list of 'essentials.'

The list of essentials was over 300 items!  It was in four columns and many of the items listed on it were completely unnecessary and, in some cases, completely unsafe and associated with SIDS. The list included sleep positioners and sheet set with bumpers. They also listed bassinet, armoire, changing table, baby dresser, crib, toddler bed, rocking chair, carseat, travel system, snap and go, jogging stroller, umbrella stroller, swing, baby bath tub, bouncy chair, high chair, portable high chair, bumbo, wipe warmer, bottle warmer . . . I let my husband handle the laser gun, took a pen, and crossed out almost EVERYTHING on the list.

Listen carefully to this: Your baby does not care about any of that. Your new infant cares about three things. 1) eating 2) sleeping 3) being clean. Your job as a parent is to provide those 3 things in a safe manner for at least the first month of his/her life. 

It's not just Babies R Us that embraces this overly consumer driven birth of your child. Open any baby magazine and every page is full of ads.  Each ad exists to make you feel like a bad parent if you don't chose a nursery theme and buy each matching piece of bedding/toy/furniture that is shown in the picture. 3/4 of what they advertise is not even age appropriate for your first month. Your house will be overcrowded with that stuff while waiting to use it. Worse, when your child is old enough to show some preferences, it is possible he/she won't like certain objects that you so lovingly put together, let alone use three different baby swings.

Here is what you actually need to survive your first two weeks.
1) Diapers and wipes: newborn or size 1 depending on your baby's size. Knock yourself out if you want organic/cloth diapers. No data exists for the significant advantage of either. The hospital often sends you home with a few days supply.  You'll be able to tell if your energy level allows you to try to save money by washing cloth diapers in a few days.

2) Carseat: you must have this.  Make sure it is at an appropriate weight for your child. Get it installed by the fire department ahead of time to make sure it is at the correct angle and most ideal placement in your vehicle. Used carseats are not okay except in very defined circumstances (will discuss in future post) If you buy it at reputable store, the expensive 'safety' features are not that important. How it works in your stroller system is important though.

3) Bassinet/cosleeper:  It is recommended that the baby sleep in the room with you for at least 4 months.  He/she is going to need to feed every few hours so you might as well be close. Co-sleeper refers to the bassinet type thing you can strap/connect to the bed, not actually having the child sleep in bed with you. (BAD idea, will discuss bed safety in future post) A pack-n-play works great too.

4) Snap and go stroller: this is the cheapest stroller you can buy as your infant carseat snaps into it. No need for a jogger right now. You shouldn't be going far from home till the baby is around 6 weeks. His/her head control is pretty bad so nothing too high energy for travel. Check online to see which ones are interchangable. (My graco carseat fit just fine with my baby-trend snap and go)

5) Newborn/0-3 month clothes (prewashed): Your overjoyed family and friends have already purchased these for you. You probably won't need more than 2-3 outfits per day to deal with spitting up/pooping. Avoid overly complicated outfits with bells and whistles and remember your infant needs to be kept a 'one layer' warmer than you.  In other words, long sleeved rompers with covered feet are in, that cute newborn bikini you saw at The Children's Place is out.

6) Swaddle blanket and sheets: You only need 2 or 3 blankets to use as your swaddle for the baby to sleep in its back. Sleep sacks are fine too. Many bassinets/pack-n-plays don't come with sheets. Buy whichever cheap version is closest. Say no to the bumper, the large quilt, the handknitted personalized afgan blanket that looked so cute. Just keep the only thing in the crib to be the swaddled baby and NOTHING else. No cute plush stuffed animal.

7) Formula or breast feeding supplies with bottle brush: You will have to feed the baby, but you don't need anything more than 4 ounce size.  Most infants are taking 1-2 ounces at most. If your breastfeeding and are thinking about pumping, rent a hospital pump to see if it is for you. Don't get stuck with a $350 pump that you never use again.  Rentals are $40-70 a month.

8) Diaper bag with diaper pad: This will allow you to change your baby on any flat surface without feeling too gross. We changed our baby on an old dresser, never bought a changing table or a different pad. As long as the dirty tush is on the pad, it really is fine.

9) Vaseline: for the baby bottom, often given to you by the hospital. No need to buy eight different butt creams. If you want to purchase something with a zinc oxide base, go ahead.

Notice a few things that are NOT on the list. Baby monitor - how far away do you anticipate being in these first two weeks?  Bathtub/clothes - can't wash till cord falls off and a towel is a towel no matter what. Baby lotion - totally unnecessary and you are courting a skin reaction. Dry skin is normal. Any type of chair/bumbo/feeding apparatus - your child is too young for this. Pop your car seat out of the car if you want.

Really doctor? Yep. We bought a $30 bassinet from Walmart and he slept in it for 6 months in our room. Then he moved into a pack-n-play in our second bedroom that is essentially a walk-in closet. His changing table/dresser is in our office. He had breastmilk for 7.5 months, met all his milestones, and his mother fanatically followed the American Academy of Pediatrics recommendations for everything.

So when you go to register, ask for alot of gift cards and a few essential items. Don't get trapped in buying everything all at once and keep it age/stage appropriate as you figure out how you are going to survive some severe sleep deprivation.

Next up: Debt repayment budget and plan.


  1. Found your blog through Nomoreharvarddebt.com. I really enjoy it so far and look forward to reading more.

  2. Thank you SO much, Jane. I'm not a mummy yet but this is exactly the information I've been searching for. I found you through your comment on Mr MM and I look forward to more posts!

  3. Nice!!!! I like it....makes me feel way more at ease knowing that I don't need a whole lot of stuff when the time comes ;)

  4. We bought the minimum and surprise! Our sweet baby girl is meeting and exceeding her milestones! No walker or entertainer because we have a small apartment and are low on funds from both Mom & Dad reducing our work schedules at some point over the last 7 months... baby girl was crawling at 5.5 months and has been pulling herself up and climbing everything in sight since 6.5 months. I truly believe she'll be walking at 8 months as some people have told me... this girl just won't slow down. I credit her personality but then I realized the other day it probably has to do with the fact that we NEVER purchased a swing, walker or entertainer!! I haven't met anyone else who hasn't and everyone thinks I'm crazy. Still contemplating the walker, but now questioning if it would even be used for more than a month and if they are really good for them! (Teaches them to push rather than walk from what I've seen!)

    Thanks for the great article!