Baby gear I consider must-haves!
-BLACK-OUT CURTAINS! Seriously the best thing I have! Mr.A sleeps until 9am sometimes because his room stays dark. It also helps greatly for nap time!
-Car Seat. This is kind of a duh moment since you can't leave the hospital without one, but I really love our Gracco Snugride infant seat! It was light weight and easy to use (the recent Gracco recall on buckles did not apply to infant seats) You can always just start with the convertible seat, but I think the convenience of the carrier is worth the money! Frankly, Mr. A was small enough to technically be in the infant seat past a year. He is on the small side, but some seats go up to 35 lbs! That's still nearly 8 lbs more for Mr.A! Now we use the Safety 1st Alpha Omega Elite convertible seat for Mr. C. It goes rear and forward facing so we should be able to use it until we switch to a booster seat in a few years. So far we love it and both boys haven't seemed to mind either. We also use the Evenflo Maestro Harnessed Booster Car Seat. We also really like this seat. The Safety 1st seat is great, but has low ratings for high-back booster seat use. As such, when Mr. C needed out of the infant seat we got the Evenflo for Mr. A because it has better ratings for seatbelt-use.
-Wipes/Diapers I have lots of reasons for going with disposable over cloth, so if you want cloth advice you'll have to go somewhere else... wipes I love the sams-brand wipes, $16-$20 depending on the day/sale for 1000 wipes! (10 packs of 100) 1.6-2 cents a wipe versus 3.6 cents for Huggies wipes !(depending on where you buy them and how you buy them) They are thick and soft!
We liked the Pampers Swadlers diapers until size 2, then we had blowout issues. We tried several and eventually switched to Huggies Snug-n-Dry for 2-3. Once we started solid food and the poop wasn't so runny we switched to the Sams club variety and have loved them! I bought all of them at Sams club and seemed to save money in the long run. Mr. A got a nasty rash with Luvs but we used them for a while with Mr. C. I also priced Parents Choice (Walmart) and for size 4 they are actually 2cents cheaper than Sams diapers... they seemed to work fine when I test ran them, so I may switch after I finish our current bag of Sams diapers, they recently changed them a bit and I don't like them as much now.
Random Tip: If you buy too many of a size/type, save them and use them with a later child, or make a diaper cake with them the next time you go to a baby shower/need a gift for a new mom! Cheap and you already have the supplies!
-Diaper Disposal ideally, a not-plastic can outside. If that isn't an option (which it wasn't for us due to the design of our apartment for a long time) I suggest a foot-operated, small, metal can with a lid. Lid to keep in smell, small so it gets emptied frequently, and foot-operated so it is hands-free. Honestly it won't stink too bad until the poop gets solid, then, I don't know, we never figured it out until we moved to a house. Now we just take the stinky ones straight out to the dumpster. Good luck!
-Crib/somewhere to sleep personal preference, put them in their own room early on if you have the room! Our experience was that when we slept in the same room as Mr. A we woke each other up all the time! You don't need a fancy crib, but do make sure it follows current standards (slat-spacing, no drop side, sturdy). I personally think the crib and car seat are the two things I would only purchase new (at the very least the mattress!). Consider your family planning when picking your crib. If you are planning on kids being 1-3yrs apart you probably won't need the convertible-toddler bed-crib. Unless of course you are planning to buy a second crib for the next kid.
I'm a fan of starting with the crib rather than bassinet to crib, plus one less thing I have to store!
We actually ended up buying a pack-n-play for Mr. C to sleep in for the first 6 months as it took a while for Mr. A to abandon the crib and move to the toddler bed.
-Several light blankets Layering makes life easy! If it's cold add more, if it is warm, take some off!
-Boppy somewhat useful for nursing, super useful for propping baby from floppy to learning to sit up! I rarely put Mr. A flat on his back, and his head never had a flat spot. I also noticed that he sat up before a lot of kids.
-Binkey! Up-front, not all babies are binkey babies, but if your kid is, they are invaluable! Along with that, a binkey leash! Seriously, will save your life!
-Clothes Keep it simple! to be honest, the first several weeks they wear PJs all day. and that's ok! I suggest the zipper kind, sooooo much easier than trying to get all those darn snaps lined up! (and seriously, buttons have NO place in baby clothes!!!)
For boys all you really need after the PJ stage are a couple pairs of pants, jeans, kahkis, or neutral colored whatever bottoms fit your fancy (4-5 depending on your laundry habits you may need more or be good with less) and shirts, 14-ish... assuming once a week laundry and two outfits a day, give or take...
Socks, tube socks are great (and they make them surprisingly small), crew cut/low cut socks are silly on babies, they will never stay on! you will loose socks, so don't spend a fortune on them, and always check for them when you leave a room
Shoes, I really wouldn't bother until they start to pull themselves to standing/start to walk, they outgrown them really fast so don't worry about it until they need them! Tie shoes are my favorite because they are harder for Baby/toddler to get off but do take more work. Sandals take about 30 seconds to get off. Consider buying second hand since they won't be in any size for long!
I like onsies until at least 1yr because they stay down, otherwise their shirt will always be at their armpits.
One piece PJs are easiest, especially if you have a wiggly sleeper like I do who is rarely under his blanket come morning!
One piece rompers in the summer are adorable and sooo easy!
Girls, I really don't know.... but I would say that keeping it simple is still ideal!
-Stroller This one is debatable, and if nothing else the type of stroller is what would make it a necessity vs could live without. We have a couple of strollers, a 'travel system' stroller, an umbrella stroller, and a double.
The 'big' stroller matches our car seat and the car seat clips in, which is one of my favorite features. I also love the size (easier for my husband to push) and the basket underneath, and the general amount of stuff I have been able to pile on over the last couple of years. I don't love the size, it does fold up easily and relatively small, but it was a stretch in our last car, and still takes a lot of space in our bigger car.
The 'small' stroller (umbrella style) is great for other reasons. We have the cheap-walmart variety. Once your child can hold up his/her head this works great (many don't lean back). The small size makes this stroller extremely convenient, the biggest down-side is that there is no storage and it is shorter, so less convenient for my husband to push.
If you're planning on multiple children very close together, don't spend too much on a 'big' stroller, I am finding that now I have a double, but have this nice stroller that I don't know what to do with. A stroller is definitely something to buy second hand, you can save $100 or more easily!
Also, I would like one of the nicer umbrella style strollers that leans back and has a basket. We'll see.
My double is a Phil & Ted double-decker stroller. I highly recommend them, but as a matter of price, they are really expensive! I was gifted mine and love it! If you can afford it, or find a good deal, these are fantastic strollers. They fold up relatively small considering that they are double strollers and because the kids are stacked instead of side-by-side or one-in front-of the-other you don't feel like you're driving a limo or tank around!
Baby gear I love (but could live without... I guess...)
-Changing Table This Barely makes this list, I would almost call it a necessity... at least for me! We have diapers and wipes on top, all of their clothes on the middle shelf, and all of their sheets and blankets, etc on the bottom. Everything is right there when I need it. No worrying about needing something on the other side of the room! I also keep the Sams club-size box of wipes near by. I love the convenience of having it all right there always! We also have a changing pad I made that is plastic-y so anytime there is a mess I can clean it off really easy!
-Baby Jungle-gym thingy... you know the things they lay under and play with the dangly toys, yeah, those things
-Swing somewhere for the baby to be that moves. I'm not picky on the style, as long as it lays back
-Baby carrier amazing how 'wearing' your baby can calm them on nasty teething days! I like the backpack-style best, like Baby Bjorne (buy used! they are expensive! (kid-to-kid)) or tot tenders. I've never tried the wrap style, but they seem good enough. I would never use a sling though, they just seem bad for the baby and not very safe.
-Glider/Rocker I almost forgot this! I have a rocker. It squeaks. A lot. I would LOVE a glider, I used one this summer in NM and loved the smooth, simple motion. However our rocker is nice too. I didn't use the rocker until about 12 mo old, I don't know why, I just didn't. But it is nice for rocking Mr. A to sleep when he has a nightmare. Update: We have a glider now! it squeaks too, but not too bad.
-Toys Keep it simple! seriously, the Sophie giraffe-chew-toy-thingy... yeah, not worth the money! Toys don't need to be backed by research or whatever... some of Mr. A's favorite toys have been the cheap ones I have found. Plastic keys ($2) stuffed animals, rattles, etc. General rules to follow, *Easy to clean! (dishwasher or washing machine!) *colorful *simple to play with. That's it! Easy-Peasy :)
-High Chair take your pick on the variety, but I have used it to finish eating early on (buckled Mr. A into the 5-point harness and being with us at the table) I still stick Mr. C in it to play with cookie cutters or utensils while I'm cooking, or finger paints, and of course for meals/snacks. Ours has a tray and a part that pops off the tray to make rinsing/cleaning super easy. The chair also comes off the legs which is fantastic for cleaning out the inevitable leftovers in the seat. The chair also leans back and has a five point harness system that has come in handy from time to time. We even attached it to a chair for a while as a booster seat with straps :) There are lots of types though. Just make sure it is as easy as possible to clean! it will always be dirty :)
-Dishes/silverware Cheap plastic stuff... nothing fancy, I don't really think the suction-cup-plates are worth it/necessary, but Mr. A didn't throw them very often either.
-Sippie cups we love the nubby cups, Mr. A seemed to like the soft nipple, which is great unless/until they are a chewer. The other thing we liked is a camelback water bottle, again, an issue when they chew Mr. A chewed through a couple of bites. (bonus, they have a lifetime warranty on their products!) Now we have two different hard-nipple cups we like. You want to make sure they won't leak, and remember, the more parts there are, the more likely for something to break or get lost!
Most important, YOU are your childs Mommy! YOU know your child best! If YOU think something is wrong, call the Dr! Most offices have nurses on call 24/7. Most of the time they will tell you there is nothing to worry about, but don't worry about it! I call ALL the time!
You WILL get advice CONSTANTLY! Smile and nod and move on... easier said than done, I know, just ask my husband...
Finally, If you nurse, awesome! If you use formula, awesome! your baby is getting fed! If you use disposable diapers, sweet! If you decide on cloth diapers, sweet! If you deliver 'natural,' congrats! If you choose an epidural, congrats! You have a baby now! Don't judge yourself for your choices, don't judge others, and don't let others judgment bug you!
Most of all, Congrats on the huge changes your life will be making soon! Have fun!!!