A first time mama-to-be recently asked me for a list of must-haves. Here's what I've come up with.
1. Stroller -- I've been so many years out of the loop now, that I have no idea what's out there. For starting out, especially if you don't have a car and plan on taking cabs, I highly recommend getting a Snap 'N Go (see here for a comparison of different carseat carrier models). That option will last you about a year. If you want to have a non-carseat options, then you sorta can't go wrong, though, with a Baby Jogger City Mini. If you plan on having another kid in the next two years, then I highly recommend getting one of the Phil & Ted strollers -- then, when #2 comes along, you can just buy the P&T doubles add-on kit (not that we've already pushing for #2 or anything...).
2. Swaddles -- I recommend getting at least two of these. I prefer the Kiddopotamus Swaddle over the Summer Infant one.
|Beco Butterfly II Carrier|
3. Baby carrier(s) -- I recommend getting one cozy, stretchy wrap (like this one) and one soft structured one. I'm really happy with the Beco Butterfly, but I think I'd be happier with an Ergo. I think the Beco is a little easier to get baby in and out of, but it looks like older babiess have a bit more upper body mobility with the Ergo. You can tell by looking at the two carriers how the Beco goes up higher than the Ergo, blocking off the babies arms. The result is that the babies arms (in the Beco) are forced to go by her sides or around you -- the latter of course is very sweet, and I love cuddling my baby in it, but I think an older baby may want to move her arms a bit more, eat a cracker, etc.)
4. Breastfeeding stuff -- Nursing is hard work. While it comes naturally to some, others need STUFF to help them ease into it. In the long run, breastfeeding is definitely your cheaper option, but it may be worth your while to invest in some start-up gear.
The First Years Spinning Drying Rack is great). In terms of bottle recommendations, each baby is different: Start with something basic like the Avent bottle and then decide from there. Our first baby (bottle fed from day 1) loved her MAM bottles. Our second (still breastfeeding at almost a year) still refuses them all! (See my post here that compares Avent and MAM bottles, but again, keep in mind that each baby's mouth and sucking style is different.)
6. Swing or bouncy seat -- It's nice to be able to put the baby down someplace other than a crib (though this is not as much an essential as the others). If space is limited, then I recommend one of two options: the Fisher-Price Open Top Take-Along Rainforest Swing or the Fisher-Price Infant to Toddler Rocker. Both are excellent.
7. Crib/Bassinet/Co-Sleeper -- I don't judge. Choose what's best for you and your family.