We found out I was pregnant exactly two days before we moved out of our apartment and into my mother-in-law’s house. When our lease was up, we weren’t sure where we wanted to go, whether we wanted to stay in NJ or move, or if we had the money and means for a house, so we had decided the month before to simply move in with my MIL for a few months while we figured it out and saved up some money.
We ended up staying at her house until a month after Ryan was born, saving money for the down payment on our house in the mean time. Her house is a 3 bedroom home but one of them is used as a storage room, so we knew that if we were still there after Ryan was born, we would be roomies for a while. (which, after doing some research, I preferred anyway) In addition to that, we were looking for very small homes for when we did move out. For reference, the house we live in is under 600 square feet, two bedrooms, one bath. To that extent, the traditional registry lists of 800 onsies, a crib, a bassinet, a changing table, a pack and play, three swings, two bouncers, a highchair you won’t use for another 6 months, two carseats, a walker, and seven boxes of diapers in assorted sizes was just not going to work for us.
What we ended up with was what we, after a little research and no prior baby experience, saw as the bare minimum – baby needs for small spaces in the first few weeks. We bought the essentials, and they got us through the first 6 weeks or so. Yes, we had to go out and get more diapers, and we definitely learned a few things, like “get more than one type of wipe because your son has very sensitive skin”, but we made it through in tact.
Below is a comprehensive list of the bare essentials needed for a baby from weeks 0-6. This is perfect for families living in small spaces, families who want to space out their big baby purchases a bit for financial reasons, or for families who want to live a simpler lifestyle with only a few of the available bells and whistles.
–Pack and Play/Play yard. We bought an Ingenuity playard that came with a bassinet and changing table attachments. Honestly, this was our smartest buy. It’s washable, so you don’t need a bunch of sheets or anything, it takes you baby furniture ‘needs’ down from two large items to one, and then you’ll have a playard for whatever else you may need it for later.
–Bouncer. The only other place Ryan slept besides on me or in his bassinet was in his bouncer. This bouncer SAVED ME so many times. While we ate, we would put it up on top of our kitchen table, where we would either put on the vibrate and music settings while he napped or stared at the little mobile and we would talk to him. I used it to put him in while I went to the bathroom, brought it into the bathroom while I showered, and put him in it with the vibrate setting and bounced it with my foot in an effort to get him to sleep/stay asleep. We actually HAD a swing, but I am not including it in this list because it is HUGE, we rarely used it since the bouncer was 100x more convenient, and portable.
–Swaddler x3. For the first six weeks, do yourself a friggin’ favor and get a damn swaddler. I fought it, thinking I was too cool, but I got one as a gift and it changed my life. I was a pretty good swaddler, but when you’re tired and your baby pees through another blanket at 3 AM, you will want a fast solution. We used Summer Infant, but I’m pretty sure they’re all the same.
–Swaddle blanket x4. I caved to peer pressure and got a pack of Aden and Anais swaddle blankets, which I’m actually glad about. I liked the light blankets for covering the stroller from sun/wind/drizzle during the summer months, a stroller and bouncer blanket, and a light swaddle (a few times we double swaddled Ryan, which they did in the hospital, for a more secure swaddle when all the swaddlers were dirty) The smaller swaddle/receiving blankets (I got these as a gift) are no good after like, two weeks because of the size, so save yourself the money and space and return whichever ones you get.
–Car seat. I may get some flack for this since I’m writing a post about saving space and blah blah blah, but I really recommend getting an infant car seat, especially if you plan to go out with your baby a lot in the first 6 months. Unlike a convertible car seat, which can take you from bitty baby to booster seat, this car seat snaps into a base that stays in your car, so that the carrier can be carried around. This is great when your baby falls asleep in the car and you don’t want to wake him when you bring him into the house/put him into the stroller as well as carrying him around and into restaurants. We brought ours into the restaurant wherever we went and Ryan hung out on a chair until he was 8 or 9 months and eating with us. Ryan is 11 months and still rides in our Chicco Keyfit30, which is made for babies under 30 pounds. Also, don’t bother getting more than one base. It’s a waste of money and if needed, the bases are easily moved from one car to another, especially if the care has a LATCH system.
–Car seat caddy. We opted to not get a travel system since we wanted to pick out a jogging stroller at a later date and in addition didn’t want to have the bulk of a traditional stroller. (just yet, at least) Instead we got a small and compact stroller caddy that was compatible with our car seat. There are cheaper, more universal brands of caddy’s but for some reason I can’t remember (I think Alex just felt weird about the generic version, he can be weird about that type of thing) we got the Chicco brand one.
–A diaper bag. Honestly, I hesitate to even write this since most won’t be going out for some time and they’re kind of big (take up space!), but if you get a nice, big diaper bag, you can also use it as a hospital bag, so it’s not that much of a waste. I got this one as a Christmas gift, but a nice, large tote bag would also work. Diaper bags do have nice baby-friendly additions that normal bags won’t have. (a TON of pockets, wipeable, a removable changing pad, insulated and waterproof spots for bottles and sippys, and the ability to clip on to the stroller.) But if you think you won’t leave your house too much or at all, skip this for now.
–A Carrier. I’ve talked about my love for our Ergo many, many times. I love how comfortable it is, how neutral the colors are, and how easy it is to put on. I put Ryan in in when he was only a few weeks old using the newborn insert, and non stop until 6-7 months when we went to any store until he was able to sit in the cart comfortably. If you’re nursing, learning to nurse in that carrier will be a LIFE CHANGER. Life changer, guys. Anyway, now we use it for the occasional trip and more recently, naps when life gets hard. There are so many other carriers for different prices and styles so do some research and chose one that will work for you and your family. I actually want to try a wrap or sling carrier with number two, but I know I’ll rely on our Ergo just as much as I did with Ryan.
THIS MAY ALL BE VERY CONTROVERSIAL. I KNOW BABY CLOTHES ARE THE CUTEST. TRUST ME. I KNOW. This is just what I did. Yes, I returned a lot of gifts. Yes, I kept it really simple. But to be honest, all of my dreams of dressing up my newborn baby in button downs, skinny jeans and cabby hats flew out the window the third night of waking up every 2 hours. But to each her own. Also, all of the clothes below are newborn. Ryan was tiny and fit into NB clothes for the first 6 weeks before going into 0-3. I suggest washing half your newborn clothes and holding onto the rest (and receipts, if you have them) until after baby. That way you don’t waste a bunch of clothes. Also wash the full amount of 0-3 clothes as a precautionary measure. If you don’t need them right away, at least they’ll be clean for the next stage which comes quicker than you’ll know.
–Onesies x10. Honestly, the only reason this number is even so high is because our laundry room was down two flights of stairs at my MIL’s and in a dangerous and smelly basement so I had to wait for Alex to come home to take the heavy basket down and up or I got lightheaded. You could definitely get by with 5 or 6. We got one pack of white, short sleeve onesies, and 2 packs of printed ones as gifts. My suggestion would be to wash one pack, and hold on to the others in case your kid is big so you can return them.
–Pants x2-4. If you can, get ones with feet since socks are stupid on babies and never ever stay on. We didn’t need too many pants since Ryan was born at the beginning of summer, but if your baby is due in colder months, think about getting closer to 4 pairs.
–Sleepers x3. These are great for bed time so you’re not stuck taking off swaddle/pants/onesie snaps/diaper seventeen times. Also, stick to zippers, because you will soon learn that the most snaps an outfit has, the more you’ll regret it and the less you’ll use it. You can thank me later.
-Hats x3. Okay, so here’s my tip: Before you leave the hospital, ask for extra hats. You will never find a hat that fits better than the one from the hospital. We left with about 7, because someone gave us this tip before Ryan came and we hoarded them. Little baby hats are mad adorbs, but they don’t stay on, so they suck. Convenience is key the first 6 weeks, people.
For the booty.
-Case of diapers x2. We bought one case of NB diapers and one small pack, as well as one small pack of size 1. We opened the small pack of NB’s and brought a few to the hospital (very happy I did, because they use size 1’s at the hospital and they were so huge on him that he peed through everything) and kept the receipt for the case. No, one case is not enough. People are going to ask you what to bring after baby. Now is not the time to be coy. Ask them to bring over a case of diapers. Once your baby is here, you will know to ask for either NB size or size 1. Yes, you can stock up for years on diapers to save money, but small spaces means less stocking up.
-Wipes, 2 types. We found out quickly that the Huggies Naturals we were planning on using gave Ryan a terrible rash, so we had to switch to Pampers Sensitive. Do yourself a favor and don’t commit to one kind of wipe. Get 2 of those 3-pack wipes and save yourself the stress. Yes, you will need more than 3 pack of wipes for 6 weeks, but you can either go out and get them when you’re getting cabin fever, or ask someone to bring them over. Believe it or not, people want to help you out, they just need direction.
–Butt ointment. Get one tube of this and be done. Tip: slather it on allllllll over to get that gross meconium poo off easier. Your welcome.
(optional: a Diaper Genie. We didn’t buy one and used a normal small trash can taken out daily until my mom came over one day with one. I really am glad we have it, but I don’t now if we would if someone hadn’t actually bought it. It does take up space, but now that the poos are bigger and smellier, I’m glad I have the smell barrier. ALSO we got the basic one, not the fancy step one.)
–Bottle x2. Please note, this is a perspective of a mother who was planning on breastfeeding and breastfed exclusively. We received 2 different brands of bottles as samples when registering and shopping for maternity clothes, so I was comfortable with just that. If you plan to bottle feed, you may need more bottles, a bottle cleaner, etc.
–Formula x2. Again, I got these as free samples when registering for Similac StrongMoms and Gerber from our hospital. I donated them when we didn’t need or use them. I would suggest grabbing 2 brands incase your baby favors one over the other. Also, grab some from the hospital.
–A pump. I got this pump through my insurance and it’s great. As I’ve talked about before, Ryan never took to a bottle, but it’s great for me for building supply, building a freezer stash, and helping with engorgement on days when Ryan doesn’t nurse as much.
–Nursing Pillow. I used a Boppy. If you do, get 2 covers. Just trust me on this one. I liked the Boppy, but I will say, it did lose it’s shape and there was a gap between me and the babe. I think I’ll probably try another brand next time, but who knows. Anyway, this isn’t 100 percent necessary (a pillow will do as well) but when you’re tired and just learning, sometimes the ease is worth it.
–Pacifier. Ryan used a pacifier for about 4 or 5 weeks, before completely rejecting it. Those were a good 4 or 5 weeks though. If you are planning on using a pacifier, I would plan on getting 2 brands, in case your child doesn’t like one. We dug these adorable Wubbanubbas since the weight of the pet helped keep it in place.
–Nipple pads. Grab a big box of these, even if you don’t plan on breastfeeding. Your shirts and bras will thank you. A lot of people like these Lansinoh ones, but I got these random Johnson and Johnson ones and LOVED them. I felt like they fit a billion times better with less slipping around. ALSO some people use resuable ones, but I hated them. Try a few and see what works for you. If you plan on nursing you’ll be using them a lot.
–Nipple Butter x1. Don’t be silly and get more than one bottle or container of this. Honestly, I wish I hadn’t gotten the one I had since the hospital gave me another. Both containers are still mostly full, but I was glad to have it when I needed it, so don’t skip this one if you plan on breastfeeding.
–Ice pack. I had Alex go out and buy this when my milk first came in. Everyone told me that my boobs would hurt when my milk came in, and yeah, they kind of did and it was for sure uncomfortable, but my biggest things was how HOT they were! The skin seriously felt like really bad sun burn. Anyway, keep these in your freezer for those moments. SO awesome. Or by pass buying all of these seperately and get this Breastfeeding starter set.
Here’s the thing guys- in my experience, babies, especially newborns, don’t need much. A set of boobs, some diapers, and a place to sleep, and they’re good. Having a baby in a small space doesn’t have to be a daunting task. You don’t have to get ALL THE THINGS for your baby right away. Just because the baby store registry or your bump month group forum tells you need four different strollers, eight carriers, and a wardrobe worthy of North West in order for you to be a fit and prepare parent, does not mean you need to spend your life savings or fill your house with nothing but baby stuff.
So tell me – what were your essentials for the first 6 weeks? Did you get all of your baby buys all at once, or did you space it out? Let me know in the comments!