Friday, September 7, 2012

What you really NEED for a new baby and my hospital packing list

My pregnancy will soon be coming to an end with baby #4 due in just five weeks (agh!). It's time for me to review my registries, and lists of things we need, and start packing for the hospital. It's tough to shop for a new baby, even for experienced mamas. There is so much out there and new contraptions are coming out all the time that are just so cute or look so useful. Here's my list of must haves, and then my list of wants- things that would be great and useful but not absolutely necessary, and then there are the things you really don't need at all. Admittedly there are probably some things on my list of must haves that others might say aren't needed. Everyone is different. Compare lists and make your own decisions. If you think of anything I missed, please leave me a comment and let me know!

Must Haves for a New Baby:

(Note: I've found that clothing and blankets are very popular gifts so don't buy too much! You'll likely end up with an over abundance of tiny clothes.)


  • Clothes: plan on about 3 outfits per day for as long as you prefer to go between washes. (Babies can be messy!) Keep most of it simple- onsies, sleep-n-plays, and gowns and don't get too much in newborn sizes because they grow so fast! Some bigger babies never fit a newborn size.
  • 2-4 sleep sacks
  • 4-7 socks and/or booties and mits so they can't scratch themselves with those itty bitty very sharp nails.
  • 2 small bibs- my first 2 weren't droolers so these were never used but I needed 3-4 a day for my 3rd
  • 2-4 knit hats
  • sweater or jacket appropriate for the season
  • small hangers
  • 10 receiving blankets or the new muslin/gauze swaddlers that everyone's raving about.(can double as burp cloths)
  • 10 burp clothes (I prefer the flat cloth diapers)
  • 2 thicker blankets


  • Crib and mattress (unless you plan to exclusively co-sleep)
  • Some kind of portable crib/co-sleeper/play yard/bassinet. (I recommend at least one of these so you can keep baby close.) There are some very cool portable pop-up versions available now.
  • 4 fitted crib sheets
  • 4 bassinet sheets
  • Water proof pads
  • Dresser
  • Contoured changing pad with 2 covers
  • Hamper


  • Breast pump. Even if you plan to bottle feed, you'll want a small manual pump (I have used and recommend either the Medela or Aveeno.) to relieve pressure in the first days.
  • Milk storage bags
  • Nursing bras and/or tanks (Target has good reasonably priced ones.)
  • Nursing cover- you can use anything from a receiving blanket to scarf. This time around I made a couple of  these ponchos out of beautiful brocade that can quadruple as car-seat, stroller and bassinet covers.
  • Re-usable nursing pads
  • Earth Mama Baby Angel Nipple Butter or Lanolin
  • The number for your local La Leche league or the hospital's breast feeding support- just in case
  • Bottles- If you plan to bottle feed or give pumped milk. Every baby prefers a different bottle so get one or two of several different styles before buying too many of any one. I like these and these.
    • Bottle brush, drying rack and dish washer rack
  • For later:
    • ice-cube trays for homemade baby food, or this.
    • spoons/sippy cups/plastic or other unbreakable bowls/plates (They will get thrown!)
    • space saver booster seat

Diapering, Bathing and First Aid:

  • Newborn and size one diapers
  • Wipes (regular or cloth)
  • Cloth diapers if you want to go that route- and there are many reasons to! But that's a whole other post. Minimum about 2 dozen pre-folds and 4 covers for every other day washing plus 2 good night-time AIOs with extra absorbency. (Fuzzy Buns is a good choice.) 
  • Cornstarch based powder
  • Diaper Cream (Be careful of the type if cloth diapering! With little man we rarely had to use it...instead we used powder regularly and when he did develop a rash, a homemade wipes solution cleared it right up. 1c. water mixed with a splash of olive oil and a few drops each of tea tree and lavender essential oils. Just spray it right on and wipe off with a soft cloth wipe then allow his bum to dry completely before diapering.)
  • Baby wash (I like California Baby)
  • Baby lotion (I like Shea Moisture Organic Raw Shea butter lotion available at Target)
  • Ear thermometer
  • Nail clippers
  • Gas drops
  • Motrin
  • Nasal aspirator
  • Comb and/or brush
  • Alcohol for the umbilical chord

The Rest:

  • Car seat (either convertible or an infant carrier with an extra base if you have more than one vehicle)
  • Piddle pad for the car seat (babies are messy!)
  • Carrier- whether it's a homemade sling, wrap, mai tai, Moby or Ergo, there will be times when you are at the grocery store and baby just wants to be held, or nursed. Some kind of carrier is invaluable in these situations.
  • Some kind of swing and/or bouncy seat. I just ran across this the other day and I think it would be an excellent multiple use choice but I don't have one so can't attest to that 100%. Little man slept in his swing for the first 2 months.
  • Stroller- not to be confused with a huge fancy travel system. Just a nice simple umbrella stroller, as long as it has a 5-point harness and reclines, will do fine. I have this one and love it.
  • Lidded trash can for a diaper pail
  • Monitor
  • Diaper bag or tote preferably with lots of pockets
  • Night light for the nursery- for night-time feedings, etc. You never want to turn on the overheads and totally wake everyone up!
  • Free and clear laundry detergent and blue dawn dish soap for stains
  • Rear view mirror so you can check baby while driving

Things that would be great but aren't necessarily absolutely needed:

  • Wet bags- little draw string water proof bags to keep handy in the diaper bag for soiled clothes. A must if cloth diapering though.
  • Memory Book
  • Crib Mobile- some kind of crib toy is nice to sooth baby. Here's one that fits on a pack-n-play or car-seat. This is the one I've been wanting.
  • Pack-n-play- goes under the bassinet/portable crib category mentioned earlier. They do come in handy for containing an older baby when needed- if he'll stay in it without screaming. My first 2 did, 3rd wasn't having any of it...
  • Moses basket- great for portability and super, super cute but definitely not absolutely necessary
  • Excersaucer or walker (but you don't need it until they're a little older...)
  • Activity Gym- I made one based on this tutorial but with a simple square mat. (Post about that still to come...) This looks like an excellent, cost effective and space saving option.
  • Glider/Rocker- not absolutely necessary but very nice to have! I highly recommend a super plush upholstered version that you can nap in with baby, especially when baby is sick...
  • Boppy or other nursing pillow. I didn't have one with the first two and found the one I had with the 3rd to not work well. He kind of laid in the crack between it and my body and was too low. But other moms swear by them.
  • Baby tub- really nice for the first 3-5 months or so- after that we just bath in the kitchen sink or regular tub, which works in a pinch for younger babies too.
  • Car seat protector- this fits under the baby's seat and protects the car's upholstery. It might save you some extra cleaning. I've never used one though.
  • Toys- don't need them until baby starts grasping. I am a sucker for anything made by Green Sprouts, Plan or Haba.
  • Safety gear (outlet plugs, gates, door latches, etc)- you will need them, but not until baby is mobile- around 4 months
  • Nosefrida I haven't used one through 3 babies so I left it on the want list, but have been hearing very good things and definitely plan to try it this time around. Update: I was a little unsure once I figured out how this is used, but it works very well! Way better than the standard bulb syringe. 
  • Muslin or cotton gauze swaddle blankets- again, this is a fairly new product that I haven't tried out yet but people are raving about. Update: Love these!
  • A good camera to take pictures of your new little one.
  • A big stainless steal insulated water bottle for mom.
  • Music and lullaby CDs- I love to sing along when putting baby down for the night.
  • Fresh food feeders- the man who invented these is a genius.
  • Nursing necklaces- fun for mom and baby :)
Here's a great Amazon list to check out...
Here's a great one as well as other good advice for the more minimalist, or natural minded mom from Code Name Mama, "As long as you have a breast and some way to hold the baby, you’re usually going to be ok." I love her list of practical things to "register" for instead. 

Things you really don't need at all:
  • Changing table- use a contoured changing pad on the top of a dresser and use the top drawer to organize diapers, wipes, creams, etc.
  • Wipes warmer
  • Bottle sanitizer
  • Pacifiers- big no no if breast feeding, especially in the beginning if baby's having trouble learning how to latch on. Later, well, some like 'em, some don't. None of my boys have used them. Little man did a bit at first but quickly decided he preferred the real thing. If you decide you need some, this is my personal favorite.
  • Baby wash cloths and hooded towels- cute, but you can use regular ones.
  • Diaper genie- they don't work well and are kind of a pain. Just use a lidded trash can and take it out every couple of days.
  • Diapering organizers- use the top drawer of the dresser. Or any basket or caddy will do if you want something mobile.
  • Crib bumper and comforter set. They look nice in the nursery, but they're for mom, not the baby. You can't use the thick comforter for him and now they say bumpers aren't entirely safe either.
  • High chair- they take up too much space. Get a booster seat such as this one. If you have the space however, this convertible chair would be a good option that could be used for years. 
  • Travel System- too big and bulky and really won't get used all that much. At least the one I had with my first baby didn't. As soon as he was big enough I got a $10 umbrella stroller and exclusively used that.

Last, some tips for saving money where you can:

  • Buy USED. Consignment sales, yard sales, thrift stores, craigslist. Babies rarely wear out their things before they outgrow them and there is nothing wrong with putting it to good use.
  • First buy what you NEED, then what you WANT.
  • Wait until after your shower to buy ANYTHING. 
  • Take your time and look for sales. Make a list!
  • Ask your friends if they have items you can buy or maybe even borrow for free.
  • Save baby's things to use next time. 
  • Don't forget to check etsy and local craft sales! You'll find beautiful one of a kind hand made items, sometimes for very cheap, and support a small business owner too!

The Hospital Bags:

So, now you've got all the stuff and are all ready to meet your new little one. If you are giving birth in a hospital or birth center you'll want to bring some things with you. You'll likely be in the hospital for 2 days after a vaginal delivery, or 3 (I think) for a c-section. I (try to) pack light, so here are the essentials, in my opinion...

For Baby:

The hospital will provide basic clothing, receiving blankets, pacifiers, diapers, wipes, Vaseline, alcohol wipes and other essentials for the baby during your stay. Make sure you load up on the "freebies" before you head home. (You'll likely be charged for them either way...)

  • A couple of gowns/outfits if you want baby to have his own.
  • A going home outfit (This doesn't have to be anything fancy unless you're planning a welcome home party, which I do not recommend. Everyone's going to be tired.) Make sure the legs are separate- no gowns- for the car seat to buckle.
  • 2 pair socks and mittens Update: I was unaware of the current recommendations- mittens and hats are no longer allowed because they are believed to be a SIDS risk. 
  • Hand sanitizer (homemade here) for mom after numerous diaper changes and siblings when they come to see the baby.
  • Comb and baby nail clippers- not always necessary but they don't take much room just in case.
  • Plastic bag or wet bag for bringing home soiled clothes
  • An installed car seat- the hospital will inspect it before they let you leave
  • A heavier blanket to tuck around baby in the car if it's going to be cold on the way home.
  • If you want, your baby book for foot prints
For Mom:
  • Picture ID, insurance card and any necessary hospital paperwork
  • Your birth plan if you have one
  • Sports bra for the birthing tub
  • Things to help you relax- classical music, lavender eye pillows, Hypnobabies tracks...
  • Snacks (My hospital's cafeteria food is barely edible.)
  • 2 nursing bras and/or tanks
  • Underwear (dark is good)
  • Flip flops for the shower, socks, slippers
  • 2 sets of comfy, loose fitting pj's. (I like yoga pants with a rolled waist and a nursing tank but consider a gown since nurses will be checking you for awhile and easy access is key.)
  • Going home outfit- again, keep it loose and comfy.
  • List of phone numbers for family to notify when baby arrives
  • Personal toiletries- chapstick, toothbrush, toothpaste, lotion, shampoo, conditioner, body wash, deodorant, hair ties, make-up, hairbrush, blow dryer, glasses/contacts, regular human size maxi pads, etc
  • Nipple cream or lanolin and nursing pads in case your milk comes in before you head home.
  • Camera!!
  • IPod/IPad/Laptop
  • Chargers/Extra Batteries
  • Cell Phone
  • A (dark colored) full size towel for the shower. You might not get more than a hand towel from the hospital.
  • Your own pillow if you're picky about that sort of thing. The hospital's will probably be hard and flat. Remember to bring it home with you!
  • Probiotics! In case you end up with a c-section or deliver in triage, (clears throat here...) and they decide to give you a round of "preventative" antibiotics this will help stave off yeast and thrush infections. I highly recommend either Dr. Mercola's Complete Probiotics (He has a kid pack too for those who, like me, can't swallow pills.) or Inner Eco coconut water kefir which is available at whole foods.
  • New Mama Bottom Spray 
  • Optional but fun: Sibling, New Dad, and Nurses Gifts. (Post coming soon...)
Now I'm heading over to Amazon to buy the rest of my "must haves", then time to start packing! Baby has dropped already over the last couple of days (Little man didn't drop until during labor and he was born exactly two hours after my water broke and 30 minutes after we arrived at the hospital.) so we MAY be looking at a slightly early birth, but no one can predict these things until they are happening. Prayers please that he doesn't arrive on the side of the road! I hope I can finish all my Pinterest baby projects before he shows up...

This post has been included in the Homestead Barnhop and Teach me Tuesday.


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  2. We're expecting #4 as well. I'm only in week 12, so I've got awhile before I have to start packing... or, unpacking as the case may be, since I've got SO many things left from the first three!

    To the "take to the hospital list" for me, I added Food and Water last time. Our hospital has lovely medical care but awful, awful food. The water tastes like it came straight from the pool, too. I have to have c-sections, so I took a four-day supply of food for me and hubby, and we were so very glad to have it.

    I also take pacifiers to the hospital. My first wanted to nurse 24/7, and I didn't know any better... and ended up with the WORST cracked, sore nipples. Once he got a 'binkie', he was a much happier boy. It never affected his latch. My second didn't want it, and the third didn't need it. But I take them anyway, just in case I have another 'barracuda', as my first was named by the nurses!

    AMEN on the travel system. I had one for my first, and it was such a pain. Having a frame that the car seat can attach to, and later, an umbrella stroller, is The Way To Go. Especially when you have older kids that want to push the baby (and can do it safely) - it keeps everyone occupied and doesn't take up the whole trunk. Or require help to get it in and out of the trunk, especially just post-c-section.

    My favorite shower gift for close friends is a 'nursing basket'. I get some sort of lidded hatbox and fill it with nursing pads, lanolin, cloth diapers and a book on breastfeeding. (If they've said they're going to nurse.) When it's the first baby, they generally give me confused looks.. and once the baby's been home a month, I generally get a call or email saying something along the lines of "OH, I thought you were nuts, but this was the BEST present..."


    1. Thanks for your comments and congrats on #4!! I can't believe we're at 37 weeks. He dropped yesterday. #3 didn't until I went into labor 2 days past due so we're getting really excited to meet him! I totally agree with all of your comments. I've been telling Muscle Man that he'll need to bring me at least some of my meals because the hospital's food is terrible. I don't remember having trouble with the water but I've gotten used to drinking filtered water at home and often have to ask for lemon at restaurants to cover up the chlorine taste. So we'll see... My third was a barracuda like your first. The hospital provided paci's though. And I love your nursing basket idea for a shower gift!! Congrats again and here's hoping for a smooth and easy pregnancy for you!

  3. He he - there's nothing like having a nurse walk in and look at all the jars on the table (unopened applesauce, dried pears, nuts, oats), and watch their jaws drop.

    I had this hilarious ongoing debate with the "nutrition specialist". She called to ask what I'd be eating with #3, post-surgery. I told her... chicken soup, beef barley soup, stew, sourdough bread, applesauce, rice, etc. etc... and her response was "Ok, I think we can accomodate that." I replied that they didn't have to - that was what I was BRINGING. She'd bring up (or send up) a tray of food and check later to see what I'd eaten. Nada! Of course, if you don't eat the hospital food, they can't calculate your caloric and nutritonal intake, so it just completely messes with their system.

    At one point, she showed up with breakfast (Wonderbread, mushy instant oatmeal, fruit cocktail in heavy syrup with Cool Whip), and walked in on me eating my homemade sourdough with my maple butter (all organic). Her: "What's wrong with our bread?", Me: "Would you eat THAT if you had THIS?"

    Later, the same day, a friend from India brought me her vegetarian pulav (to die for!). The nutritionist brought white minute rice. Her: "What's wrong with WHITE RICE?" Me (inhaling the aroma of all the lovely (not-hot) spices in the pulav, which had filled the room and drifted down the hallway): "But this is so much BETTER..."

    Our hospital is a "Breast-feeding Friendly Hospital" - which, on the plus side, means they encourage, educate for and support breastfeeding and won't let formula companies push formula on new moms before they get nursing down pat. On the downside, it means they don't give out binkies. With #3, I had this figured out and took my own. About 2 AM, one nurse comes in, sees the binkie laying next to baby in the bassinet, and says, "Just to warn you - I don't have any problem with pacifiers and I think the hospital policy is dumb. But there is a lactation nurse on this round that is a binkie Nazi, and when she makes her rounds she's going to give you a hard time about that if she sees it."

    Well, I love a good debate and hadn't had the chance to argue with anyone medical for a good 12 hours, so I was up for it. About fifteen minutes later, Ms. Binkie Nazi meanders in. She sees me nursing my baby (with no difficulties), sees the binkie in the bassinet, takes one look at my face... and just meanders on back out again. And I was just spoiling for a good fight. *sigh* Oh, well! :)

    Blessings with your #4! If you dropped, you're getting close!

    1. You are too funny! Way to stick to your guns lol!! But you've made me hungry for some wonderful Indian food. ;)

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