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It’s no secret babies need a lot of gear, and that gear can really add up. In fact, raising a child will likely cost close to $286,000. If you’re building your baby registry and are overwhelmed by the cost of baby gear and amount of items available, you’re not alone.
Luckily, we know a thing or two about what parents need to prepare for those first few months with a newborn. That's why we created our new parent essentials collection, so you can find the top baby items you and your tiny human actually need, without the hefty price tag.
Table of Contents
- Car Seat
- Bouncer or Swing
- Diaper Bag
- Changing Pads
- Nice-to-Have Baby Items
Top 9 Must-Have Baby Items
Cut through the clutter and get the gear that will actually support you and baby in the first few months. Curated by our in-house gear experts and seasoned parents, here’s our list of the best baby products you actually need.
1. Car Seat
A car seat is critical and will be needed from the first day you bring baby home to their toddler years.
We recommend choosing between the below:
- Infant Car Seat: Rear-facing and designed for baby's first year, this type of car seat is great for parents looking for something easy and light to take baby in and out of the car. Keep in mind that once your little one exceeds the weight limit, you’ll need a convertible car seat.
- Our recommendation: Maxi-Cosi Mico XP Infant Car Seat
- Convertible Car Seat: Unlike an infant car seat, a convertible car seat can be both rear and front-facing and is designed for children of various weight limits. While bulkier than the infant option, the biggest pro to this type of car seat is that it will grow with your child.
- Our recommendation: UPPAbaby KNOX Convertible Car Seat
- Travel System: Stroller travel systems are a car seat plus a base, aka a stroller that breaks up into a car seat. They're perfect for suburban families on the go—just pop out the car seat, fold the base and you’re on your way.
- Our recommendation: Maxi-Cosi Zelia2 Travel System
Size matters when it comes to car seats, so make sure yours will fit in your vehicle before making a purchase. You don’t want to buy one only to realize it won’t fit in your small Kia or behind the seat of your partner’s long legs.
Lastly, double-check the car seat is safe and has never been in a vehicle motor crash. At GoodBuy Gear, we sell open box and gently used car seats. All gently used car seats go through a proprietary 30-point safety inspection process called the GoodBuy ™ Car Seat Safety Check. Learn more about that process and what you can expect here.
Every new parent needs a nice set of wheels, but there isn’t a one-size-fits-all when it comes to strollers.
To narrow down the overwhelming amount of options available, consider the below:
- Where you live: Do you have to carry it up a four-story walk-up? Look for something light and foldable like a travel stroller. Do you need to push it on tough terrain? Look for something with thick, strong wheels such as an all-purpose stroller.
- Our recommendation: Joovy Kooper Stroller
- How you live: Will you be going on walks to the park, traveling to the grocery store, all of the above? If you’ll be outside a lot, look for a stroller with a basket and a shade to protect baby. If you’ll be running errands, consider a travel system (basically a stroller that breaks up into a car seat). If you're a runner, opt for a jogging stroller to take baby along with you.
- Our recommendation: UPPAbaby CRUZ V2 Stroller
- Size of your family: We know it’s baby #1 and it’s hard to even think about baby #2 right now, but if you know you’ll have another little one running around in the next few years, consider getting a double-stroller.
- Our recommendation: Mockingbird Single to Double Stroller
Your little one called the womb home for the last nine months and will likely want to be as close to you as possible when exploring the world for the first time. Having a baby carrier to strap your tiny human in while you’re cleaning or—let’s be honest—sipping wine, is key to survival as a new parent. This will allow you the freedom to use both hands. What a treat!
Pro Tip: Learn how to wear and use your carrier ahead of time. Carriers aren’t the easiest to figure out at first, and doing it with a crying baby can feel impossible.
We get it, every parent leaves baby on the floor or bed for a few minutes from time to time, but to provide a safe place to sleep and hang out, a bassinet is a must. They’re great for saving space compared to a bulky crib and keeping your little one close while you move from room to room.
If you have pets, get a raised bassinet with a sturdy base unless you want Fido in there with baby. If you’re looking for something a little techier, some bassinets come with fun features like built-in sounds or a nightlight.
5. Bouncer or Baby Swing
When it comes time to cook dinner, answer emails or take time for yourself (one can dream, right?), that’s where a bouncer chair or baby swing comes in. Built to strap baby in safely and keep them entertained, these are great for occupying your little one as you do chores around the house.
When shopping, look for options that can be easily stored and have toy bars as entertainment. The good news? They're great for travel so you can head to grandma's every day of the week.
6. Diaper Bag
You’re officially a new parent when you swap out your designer purse for a convenient diaper bag. From bottles and pacifiers to an extra pair of clothes when baby throws up on themselves at the grocery store, a diaper bag is meant to hold everything you need to make travel with a newborn doable.
Our gear experts say that the best diaper bags come with several compartments for storage and will fit in your stroller basket. If you can’t find one that will fit in your basket, backpack diaper bags are a great option.
During those first few weeks, you’ll want to do everything in your power to not only help baby sleep, but to keep them asleep. That’s where a swaddle comes in.
Swaddle blankets are designed to mimic the feeling of being in the womb to help your little one sleep more comfortably. Swaddles also help muffle the Moro Reflex (also known as the startle reflex). This is an involuntary reflex all newborns have where they kick their arms and legs in the air when they are startled by a loud sound or dream. Swaddling your baby will reduce the likelihood of them waking themselves up, meaning you’ll get more sleep too. Anything helps, right?
Because every baby is different (some will like their hands up, others will like them down) our team recommends buying 3-5 different swaddle options to be prepared.
Like swaddles, newborn babies like options. To avoid your little one throwing a temper tantrum in the middle of your dinner while bottle-feeding, arm yourself with a baby bottle bundle. Bottle bundles come with several different options so you don’t have to make a large investment up front to find the bottle your cute (but, picky!) tiny human prefers.
9. Changing Pads
You’ll be surprised how many diapers your little one will go through, so it’s important to have a dedicated routine when it comes to diaper changes. Whether you plan to change baby on a dresser, an actual changing table or your brand new couch (we don’t judge), you’ll need to have changing pads handy.
While changing pads may seem unnecessary, our seasoned parents agree that they’re a must-have. To avoid getting baby poop on your favorite blanket, get a changing pad that is waterproof, easy to clean and comfortable for your little one to lay on. If you’re looking for on-the-go options, check out our list of the best portable changing pads.
Nice-to-Have Baby Items
While these items aren’t absolutely necessary, they will make your journey as a new parent a little bit easier.
Loungers are great for supervised playtime and travel. They’re basically a comfortable spot for your baby to rest while you do other things. Aside from the big benefit of giving your arms and back a break, they keep your baby in place so they don’t wander off to eat old cheerios from under the couch.
The best baby loungers are lightweight and comfortable. However, you’ll only use them for the first few months before you start doing tummy time. If you don’t want to spend the money on a lounger, you don’t have to—a blanket will also do.
2. Sound Machine
We get it. During those first few months, you’ll want to do everything—and we mean everything—you can to support baby’s sleep schedule (which also means supporting your own sleep schedule). Sound machines can play white noise to help lull your little one to sleep by drowning out outside noise and mimicking the familiar sounds from inside mom's tummy.
If you live in the city, in a loud apartment complex or are afraid of the Thursday morning garbage truck waking your tiny human, you may need a sound machine more than others. However, not every baby is into sound machines. So, we recommend getting an affordable version to start. If you end up wanting to upgrade, you can always sell it back to us.
3. Diaper Pail
Do you need a diaper pail? No. Are you gonna want one when the smell of baby poop consumes your household? Yes.
Diaper pails keep the stink of diapers contained, so you don’t have to breathe through your mouth or run to the outside trash every time diaper duty rolls around. While not necessary, you won’t be mad you bought one. Plus, you can use it as a regular trash can once the diaper days are over.
4. Baby Monitor
If you live in a small space with thin walls or you plan to have baby sleep in the same room as you, you don’t really need a baby monitor. However, if you want eyes on your child 24/7, you might want one. Baby monitors are great for checking in on your little one while you roam around the house or garden.
Also, you may find that once baby is born, every noise sounds like a cry. To quickly check it’s not your overly tired mind playing tricks on you, a baby monitor really comes in handy.
While shopping for your new baby and putting together a registry is exciting, it can quickly become overwhelming with the amount of information out there. Most of the time, first-time parents end up with a lot of things they don’t actually need or end up not using. So, we created this list of those must-have products we found the most helpful in order to help you shop consignment confidently.
Created by parents, for parents, we believe that you shouldn’t have to pay a fortune for the best quality baby gear for your little one. That’s why we offer all of the top-quality baby items you need to welcome your little one into the world, without the high price point.
Looking for even more recommendations? If you're having a little one in the winter, check out our guide to winter newborn essentials or save time and energy by reading our list of the best baby items to buy used or taking our Gear Finder quiz. You’ll receive personalized product suggestions on the spot.