There are these things called “baby registries” that can be kind of overwhelming. They are also designed by big chain stores to create the sense that a new mom absolutely needs all sorts of gear, clothing, and toys filling up her home before the baby is ever even born.
And hey, in some ways, having some of this stuff can be nice.
It’s fun, later on down the line, to have a handful of special and interesting toys for your baby to explore and cherish (although it’s the things like that discarded grocery bag that will probably prove the most fascinating, in all truth).
It’s very nice to have a high-end stroller so you can get out and exercise in style as soon as you are ready postpartum. (I’d actually add that one to my personal list of absolute necessities – and it is one of the very first things I made sure to obtain during my first pregnancy, actually.)
But we have a feeling that what expectant or hopeful parents might really want to know is the bare minimum: What do they really and truly NEED in order to be ready to take care of that little bundle once the big day comes?
Drawing on my own experience after having two babies during the last handful of years, I’ve put together the basics for you here.
Check out these 15 things moms actually need to buy in the third trimester to prepare for the baby.
15 For Stashing (STANKY) Trash
You just can’t really use a regular old trashcan for diapers. They build up so quickly, and the smell can quickly become so overwhelmingly awful, that I just can’t see how you could make that work.
Diaper pales often have lids that have small portions that slide open, revealing a small opening into which you can drop the soiled diaper and wipes.
This means less of the stench inside escaping each time you open it.
Believe me, I know (unfortunately for my nose).
After shelling out for a cute and specialized diaper trashcan for my first baby, we figured we’d try an ordinary stainless-steel can with a closing lid for the second, and it sort of slowly wafted the smell of aging excrement all around the house each time that lid softly closed.
14 Somewhere To Sleep Soundly
Swings and rockers can be fun and even helpful; toys and books are delightful and educational; itty-bitty shoes can be irresistible. We get it. But if you are trying to focus first on what in the world you really need, what you likely can’t live without in the early weeks with a new baby, focus on what I might even call the number-one priority: a safe place for the baby to sleep.
This might be a bedside bassinet that swivels to your bedside. Perhaps it’s a crib that meets current safety standards and has a firm mattress with fitted sheets.
Maybe you prepare by having both, so that the baby can sleep in a bassinet at your bedside at first and then transition to an actual crib later.
Whatever it is that you choose, it just has to be a safe place for the baby to sleep free of any hazards.
13 A Secure Car Seat
One of your first important tasks as a parent, besides beginning to breastfeed and all that good stuff at the hospital, will be to safely get your brand-new child home.
What will you need in order to do this? A safe, non-expired car seat that fits your newborn son or daughter properly.
An infant car seat is for sure one of the very most important purchases for expectant parents to make during that final countdown to week 40 of pregnancy (or thereabouts).
Which one you go for will depend on your own needs. I chose a popular and well-rated one that clicked into the jogging stroller that we’d chosen.
Things to consider when choosing include the seat’s weight, how it will fit into your car, and how easy it will be to get it in and out of there.
12 Something For Swaddling
Baby blankets, believe it or not, are not just to have as cute keepsakes.
They’re also not for tucking around your child in his or her bed as you would an older child.
Nope, instead, the safe and often necessary way to use a blanket with a newborn is to swaddle them snuggly within it. This way, no loose blankets will be there to potentially interfere with the baby’s breathing (nothing should be in the crib with the baby at all, says the American Academy of Pediatrics).
And the reason such blankets are a necessity is that newborn babies need to be swaddled to feel comfortable and secure in those early times.
They’re used to being all cuddled up inside that nice warm womb, so being swaddled sort of helps to ease the transition, not to mention keep them at a comfortable temperature for sleeping.
Learn a couple swaddling folds, and / or get a couple specially designed swaddlers, which are sort of like little sacks you put your baby in before Velcro-ing them up
11 A Few Cute Little Caps
It seems like just another cute accessory, but it is actually very important. Newborns can’t regulate their own body temperatures as they’ll be able to when they are a bit older, so they really need some help keeping that precious body heat in at first.
You will notice that one of the first things that’s done after your baby is born is that a nurse will place a tiny knit cap on his or her little head.
You’ll be able to use this one while you’re in the hospital, and then you’ll want to have one or two ready for your journey home as well as for the early days.
Think soft, cotton, stretchy, and not too big when purchasing a few little hats to help keep your newborn warm.
Side note: You’ll also likely need a little sun hat for when you take your tiny son or daughter outdoors.
10 Garments For Breastfeeding
The third trimester of pregnancy – or even early – is an absolutely great time to begin shopping around for a new wardrobe staple: the nursing bra.
While you could skip bras as your breasts grew bigger and fuller, I wouldn’t, because what would provide your sore chest with comfort and support?
Also, what would then hold your nursing pads (see next item!) in place if you begin to leak colostrum at the end of pregnancy and when your milk comes in after the baby is born?
Regular bras, particularly the ones you already own, are likely quickly becoming too small or otherwise uncomfortable or impractical.
Plus, the clip-down or pull-aside function of most specialized nursing bras make them a breastfeeding mama’s best friend. It’s all about ease and comfort.
I’d recommend buying one or two types, trying them out, and then investing in some more once the baby comes and you’re sure of which ones work best for you.
9 A Huge Stash Of Diapers
Word to the wise:
If someone crafts you a giant “cake” made entirely of baby’s diapers for your shower, keep each and every one of them.
And in fact, an experienced and thoughtful mom, if crafting such a cake, would probably be sure to include at least one tier made up of size 1 diapers.
Not every baby even wears the newborn size, and the rate of growth at this age is so astoundingly fast that even if your little one does wear the littlest size, it will be a matter of weeks before the larger size is needed. (You’ll know because the diapers won’t do their, well, containment job so well anymore or they’ll simply be harder to put on.)
Stock up on this essential, without a doubt, as you prepare to bring home baby. You might even use something like a dozen each day.
8 The Comfiest Clothes (For Mom & Baby)
It’s not like expectant moms are trying to be impractical when they buy or register for so many adorable or fancy baby clothes. It’s just that if they’ve never cared for a newborn before, they probably don’t know that all that really matters is that the clothes you have are comfortable for the baby and very, very easy for you to get on and off (even if you are extremely sleep deprived, the clothes are covered in poop, and it’s the fifth time you’ve done this in as many hours).
A handful of pajamas would be the most basic necessity, I’d say. While you will likely end up leaving your newborn in these footed zip- or snap-up wonders all the time for warmth, comfort, and ease, you might go beyond this to have, also, some onesies, socks, and pants (although truly these are mainly useful at an older age).
If you have to have that size newborn or 0-3 month dress, go for it, but don’t go overboard with the ultra-stylish stuff you’ll use maybe once before it’s outgrown.
7 Not Just Size NB
Baby clothes sizing can be a bit confusing to the uninitiated. Soon, though, you realize that NB stands for “newborn” – and you might, from there, go ahead and assume that you should then purchase and register for this size of clothing for your baby, who will, after all, be newly born.
Not all babies ever fit into this size.
Some brands make the NB size much smaller than others, too. Even babies you do wear the itty-bitty size will very, very quickly outgrow it.
This is why you shouldn’t stock up on only the newborn size. Have the essentials on hand, sure, and then go up to at least 0-3 months for some other staples, such as pajamas, onesies, and a few pants and pairs of socks.
Another fun tip is to leave the tags on some items so that some of it can be returned if the size is never needed.
6 A Machine Meant For Milking
I didn’t know this prior to the birth of my first baby. I planned to breastfeed exclusively – I’d made up my mind.
And so I didn’t understand at all that it would be so crucial to have an electric breast pump already by the time my baby was born.
Although I really didn’t end up needing to use bottles with my first child, boy, did I need a pump during the early weeks, as most women do.
It helps to stimulate the production of milk since a newborn is still learning to latch and feed in the first few days.
Then, it’s crucial to relieve engorgement (when the boobs get huge and heavy with milk, and it can be really, really uncomfortable).
This is not to mention the fact that you’ll likely want to express some milk this way a few months down the line to mix with the baby’s first solid foods.
Side note to this one: Your pump should very likely be covered by your insurance, so hopefully it’s not something you literally have to “buy,” just order with a prescription from your OB.
5 The All-Essential Wet Wipes
It would be sort of an understatement for me to tell you that you’ll need to have some baby wipes on hand by the time your baby is born.
You see, I’d say that more accurately, you’ll need a bulk supply of baby wipes.
The environmentally conscious among us may choose to attempt things such as rinsing with warm water or wiping with a soft washcloth when things get messing during a diaper change, but for practical reasons, wipes are often considered quite necessary.
One of the most awesome things a favorite uncle in our family has ever done (and he’s done a lot of awesome things) is to leave a bulk supply of baby wipes by our front door one day shortly after our first baby was born. As a parent himself, he knew we’d be using them quickly!
Go with unscented ones, which are less likely to cause irritation (as is included at TheBump.com).
4 Creamy Goodness
If you want to prepare practically for the arrival of the newest addition to your family, it’s probably wise to acknowledge, first and foremost, that a good deal of the focus will need to be on looking after that sweet little baby’s brand-new little butt.
That’s just the way it is.
They go a lot, and it’s all into diapers, and so there is a lot (and I mean a LOT) of time, effort, and cleanup required.
We’ve been over the diapers, we’ve discussed the wipes, and now let’s be sure to cover that in the use of all of these wipes, a newborn’s backside can quite easily become quite irritated.
To soothe irritation and to prevent and treat diaper rash (especially with all those liquid-y poos in the newborn days!), some diaper cream will be a necessity for most modern parents.
Just be sure to apply it only to clean, dry skin, or you might make the situation worse.
3 To Light The Way
To be honest, the only reason I bought a nightlight before my first baby was born was that it matched the bedding and other nursery décor that I had lovingly picked out.
It was just too cute to pass up.
What I didn’t consider is just how crucial it would be.
You are up something like every two hours in the night with a newborn, and during this time, the diaper must be changed, and sometimes the clothing, as well, whether due to pee, poop, spit-up, or your own breast milk soiling it (or at least dampening it and making it quickly cold).
The more lights you turn on, the more you’ll wake up yourself, your partner, and your baby, and the whole idea is to sort of begin to help a newborn learn that nights are for sleeping.
To avoid both blinding yourself with the overhead light and keeping it so dark that you can’t see what you’re doing or run into things, a nightlight is a must.
I actually found two to be completely crucial: one for our room and one for the nursery.
2 The Bare Bath Necessities
Let’s start with a list of things that are sort of fun or convenient to have, though not entirely necessary: a few hooded baby towels, a soft plastic cover for the faucet in the tub, a pitcher for rinsing the suds off during bath time, and a specialized infant bathtub that can be inserted into the larger tub or even used separately. Oh, and those infant toothbrushes to rub the gums can be nice.
All of these can be very nifty, indeed, and none of them are very expensive items (especially compared to some of the other necessities you’ll find yourself buying).
However, because this list is about the absolute necessities that new parents will actually NEED, let’s break it down to the very most basic toiletries.
You’ll need baby wash for your little one’s tender new skin, a few very soft wash cloths, and probably a soft-bristled hair brush.
If need be, you can probably just wash your little one in the sink. (I was apparently bathed in a large mixing bowl as a baby.)
1 Pads = Pals
If within the first week postpartum you don’t want to have to be running out to the store – again – or scrounging around on the Internet, it’s probably wise to go ahead and get some breast pads now, in the third and final trimester of pregnancy.
And let’s actually take it a bit further than that. I went ahead and ordered a bulk pack of disposable ones, thinking that they were obviously the way to go, only to find that (for me, anyway) they were not. When I tried using them during the first few weeks after my first baby was born, I found them scratchy and so uncomfortable on my very sensitive (because I’d just started breastfeeding) nipples.
I had to go back to the drawing board and buy some softer cloth ones that could be machine washed, and I still have and love them three years later.
If you don’t use these, you may wake up with wet sheets or find your shirt soaked through when your breasts leak milk in the early weeks or months.