The Essentials Only Guide to Baby Gear: birth to six months

In honor of some soon-to-be mothers I've been thinking about recently, especially my lovely cousin Pryor and the adorable Sarah of Oh My Soul, today I'm going to share with you my guide to baby gear for the first six months (check back later this week for my recommendations for six to twelve months Update: here they are!).

Just the essentials. Everything you need, nothing you don't.

My Baby Shower!
Somehow the husband got wrangled in.

When I was pregnant with my first, my mom and I spent almost a whole day wandering around a giant Babies-R-Us, wondering how in the world I was supposed to know which of the 14 billion things on the shelves were the things I needed for my baby. I got to the point where I was just kind of randomly zapping things with my registry zapper and hoping for the best.

I think that's how I ended up with two Diaper Genies but not a single diaper in my house. Thank goodness they sent us home with some from the hospital.

And let me take just a moment here to mention that the diaper genie is NOT going to be on this list. That thing is five kinds of gross.

You can just tie diapers in plastic grocery bags and toss them in the regular trash (what we used to do) or get a dedicated trash can with a lid (which is what we have now) and put it in the garage. Then when you have changed a stinky diaper you shout "Incoming!" and throw it at the nearest kid, who then has to catch it and take it to the can. That's how we do it anyway.

I feel like I've gotten a bit far afield. Let me begin again...

Once we got past two kids, I realized that a level of minimalism was going to be necessary for survival. And more than that I realized that babies DON'T NEED ALL THAT STUFF. I don't need all that stuff. All that stuff wasn't helping me. All it did was make babies seem expensive and inconvenient and really, really heavy.

The more kids I have the less stuff I need. So here I am to share what our babies use in their first year (0-6 months today, 6-12 months later this week). This is pretty much it. I replace things every three babies or as needed. (Clicking on the links will take you to Amazon*.)


1. Nursing cover
with a rigid neckline, so you can peek at baby. I nursed three babies before these were invented and I can tell you that without one it's pretty much 50/50 whether I'm going to end up embarrassing myself in public.

2. Fabric Sling Carrier
I didn't get one of these until my fourth, but she pretty much lived in it for nine months. I could nurse in it, she slept in it. She was happy and I had my hands. Not as comfortable as the other carrier I recommend, but better for nursing and easier to throw in a purse.

3. Nursing Pillow I prefer the kind with a clip belt, so that if I need to get up for something I can walk around like an aircraft carrier with the baby on my flight deck. Also, it has a pocket for the remote.

4. Glider and Ottoman
I have probably spent years of my life in this thing by now. We had to have the cushions re-covered after Bobby. He was a spitter.

5. Portable Changing Pad (or two or three) We don't have a changing table, we just use a waterproof pad on the bed or the floor. We have one drawer in our TV cabinet in the living room and one drawer in our bedside table dedicated to diapering.

6. Swaddling Blanket
Even if your baby sleeps with you (ours do), a swaddling blanket is nice because it keeps her from punching herself (and others) awake in the night.

7. Infant Bath Seat
This is the one we have. (Note: can't find it on Amazon currently). It's pretty bare-bones compared with some that are available, but it serves its purpose, which is to keep the baby's head out of the water for you, so you have a hand free to wash her.

8. Hooded Bath Towel
The only thing my newborns hate more than taking a bath is getting out of the bath. They get so cold, but a hooded towel helps. If you get a big one now, you won't have to get another one for him when he's a toddler.

9. Infant Car Seat / Stroller System This allows you to take the car seat out of the car and wheel it around in the stroller. I used it a lot with my first few kids, but I mostly just take the baby out of the car seat and put him in the sling with my last couple. Still, you need a car seat AND you need a stroller, so they might as well be cooperative.

10. Stroller Toy Arch My babies really like looking at this thing.

11. ERGO Baby Carrier
Pretty pricey, but totally worth it. This carrier is really, really comfortable when compared with ALL the others I've used. Can be used as a front carrier or a backpack. There's an infant insert, but I've never felt I needed it.

12. Bumbo Baby Seat with play tray. I LOVE this seat. Right around three months or so, my babies like to watch stuff, but can't sit up in a highchair yet. But they can sit up in this. We only NEED it for 3 or 4 months, until baby can sit up on his own. But it is SO nice to be able to put the baby down for a minute here and there that, for me, it's totally worth it.

Things other people love that don't work for me include: the Moby Wrap Baby Carrier, swings (including the fancy kind that swing any which way), diaper bags (I just use my purse), those buzzy chairs, and co-sleepers (my sleeping babies are not put-down-able). For my parenting book recommendations, see this post.

So, what do you think? Do you have this gear, do you like it? What did I miss?

* Full disclosure on the Amazon links: clicking on a title from any of my posts will take you to Amazon, if you buy that title (or anything else) after clicking through my blog I get a (very small) percentage.