Here is my opinion for what it's worth:
Crib or playpen- bassinets don't last long (6m?)
Car seat- stroller optional based on how often you go out....check 2nd hand shops as you can get nice stuff for less $$
Highchair nice but pain to clean- bumbos cheaper and effective and useful other places
Baby bathtub is necessary- new babies are super slippery when wet
Clothes- while there are super cute clothes out there and it's hard to resist they out grow them very quickly so once you have 10-12 outfits move on to next size....most the time they'll be in onesies and sleepers anyhow.
Diapers and wipes- they spend less time in smallest sizes and more in largest...be prepared to change baby 8-10x a day at first
Toys....i hate toys, lol....they multiply when you aren't looking and half will never be played with. Ask people to buy other items that are needed and not so easy to come by. A baby doesn't need more than 6-8 small handheld toys for first 6m. Always phase old toys when bringing in new ones.
Here's my list....I definitely made some mistakes, so maybe my advice will help:
1) Rolling bassinet---I loved mine..even though I only used it for about five months, I was able to roll him all over the house and even outside like a homeless person's cart...totally invaluable to me. I also used it to let him sleep in our room. That thing was a lifesaver.
2) I agree with the above poster...you don't need a highchair. I have one of those seats that attach to a chair and adjusts based on your child's age. It works just fine and was half the price.
3) Wish I would have invested in a good, comfortable chair for the nursery. I cheaped out and use a rickety rocking chair from my parents...very creaky and not very comfortable.
4) A good quality travel system (car seat that attached to the stroller). It's so incredibly handy. After about seven months, you'll want a stroller with rubber wheels to handle more rugged terrain, most likely. We just bought one from Target and LOVE it.
5) Sleepers with ZIPPERS! I hardly dressed the baby in anything else for the first few months...I had all kinds of adorable, complicated outfits that went to waste. And snaps are a hassle...It still amazes me how fast babies grow out of things. Zippers, zippers, zippers! Don't buy too much stuff for when they are older, either. Baby sizes often do not match how fast they grow. And don't "save" your favorite baby outfits for special occasions LOL! Again, they grow so fast!
6) A good baby carrier. I love, love, love mine...I have a Becco Gemini, but you will find people have their preferences. I still haul my little guy around in mine and he's almost 10 months old. This one will allow you to front carry, inward face carry, and carry on your back (my husband does this).I wish I would have started doing this when he was even younger.
7) Baby bathtub for sure...I still use mine.
8) Toys....yeah, you can wait. Around two months, you can introduce a few things they will want to bat their little paws at. I was totally against buying Sophie the Giraffe on principle because it was a $20+ toy: however, it was a lifesaver when he started to teethe. That giraffe has magical powers. A few plush toys will do it and you can introduce more as you go as your baby gets older.
9) Batteries...you will not believe how many you go through with various contraptions.
10) Some music you can easily pull up ala iTunes. This was invaluable to us...we downloaded some lullabys and things of that nature that worked in a pinch...in the car, in various rooms, etc. I guess this isn't an "essential," but it really came in handy for us.
11) Bouncy chair. This helped out a lot when our baby reached around two months...he loved it, made it possible for me to take a shower, etc. He never took to a swing...
12) Playpen. You don't need one of the fancy ones with the diaper changer, bassinet attachment (our mistake!) Just a plain and simple one will do the trick. Very handy when they can start sitting up on their own.
13) A good quality breast pump if you plan to breastfeed. I used the Medela In Style and loved it. While I was never able to breastfeed exclusively, it allowed me to supplement as much as I could.
14) A Costco membership LOL! I used their formula (so much cheaper!), they also have an online diaper delivery service for free and their prices are good.
15) A huge supply of "All Free and Clear" detergent. Dreft smells wonderful, but is very expensive. This way you can wash your clothes with the baby's clothes as well.
Hope this helps...good luck! It's an exciting time.
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