What does a baby really need?

Posted by Barbara F. Meltz  November 13, 2009 06:00 AM

E-mail this article

Invalid E-mail address
Invalid E-mail address

Sending your article

Hey, Yes I'm 16 and I'm 8 months pregnant. What does a baby really need?
From: Latrice, Shreveport, LA

Hi Latrice,

The truth is, a baby doesn't need much at first, especially if you are breast feeding which, by the way, is one of the best gifts you can give your child because it helps keep him or her healthy and it helps you develop a wonderful bond with your infant. Once you get the hang of it, it's also a whole lot easier than dealing with formula.

You also need a place for the baby to sleep. Something small works best in the beginning, a bassinet, or a cradle, because babies feel safer when they feel contained; it's one reason why knowing how to swaddle a baby (see below, for receiving blankets) is important.

If you are going to take the baby in a car, you need an infant car seat. This could be your single most expensive purchase. Avoid used car seats (you don't know if the seat has been in an accident) and be sure to get professional help in learning how to use it properly.

As far as clothes go, in the beginning, you need:

* Three or four receiving blankets, the kind you can swaddle your baby in;
* Newborn diapers, either disposable or cloth;
* Six to 8- onesies (those little one piece-outfits that have snaps between the legs);
* 4 to 6 pairs of infant socks;
* baby cap or hat.
* Infant sleep wear, including sheets and infant blanket.

As far as baby toys, the best toy for infants is you -- your face, your voice, your skin. Infants are very sensory oriented, they love to hold your fingers and and they love to look at you, especially when you talk to them and make expressive faces.

As you can see, my list is relatively small and won't cost a fortune. Sure, you can add to this list and get pretty extensive, but for basics, this should do it.

Am I forgetting some necessities? What can't you live without, all you new moms out there?


I answer a question from a reader every weekday. If you want help with
some aspect of child-rearing, just write to me here.

This blog is not written or edited by Boston.com or the Boston Globe.
The author is solely responsible for the content.

E-mail this article

Invalid E-mail address
Invalid E-mail address

Sending your article

29 comments so far...
  1. Depending on the season and where you live, you may need more warm clothing than just onesies (and you can't use the onesies on a newborn until the cord stump falls off). I honestly never used onesies - they were too much of a hassle. I didn't really use socks until they were older, either. My kids were winter babies, and wore the terrycloth one-piece outfits with feet most of the time. I also really liked the 'sleeping bag' sleepwear - basically a bag with arms and a big zipper. You can't use it in the car, but it makes life a LOT easier around the house. Babies also need enough outerwear/blankets to stay warm when you take them out (if nothing else, you are visiting the pediatrician frequently in those first months). If you arent' taking the baby in a car, you probably need a stroller, but you can buy one used. Just make sure there are no recalls and that the seat fully reclines if you aren't using it with a carseat. If you do have an infant carseat (most hospitals won't let you leave without one), one of those snap frames is an inexpensive and convenient way to go.
    Most of all, you need support from family and friends, particularly as a teenage mom. Good luck.

    Posted by akmom November 13, 09 06:52 AM
  1. Barbara - I would caution against your breast feeding comment. Breast feeding doesn't always succeed, even when you do everything right. Be prepared with formula just in case. It happened to us and I was heartbroken because of the expectations I had and the words of women all around, like yours above. But the lactation nurse I had also said that, sometimes, even when you do everything the right way, milk can dry up. Not always, but it happened in my case. And yes, I pumped. And nursed. And pumped. And nursed. And ate the right diet. Within a month, it was all over with and I was left having to buy fomrula. I wish I had been better prepared for that contingency.

    Not all babies like to be swaddled either. Ours was one of them. She tolerated it for less than a month and that was the end of it.

    Latrice, get a porta-crib to start. They're small enough for newborns and more practical down the road for travel. A bassinet is a waste of money.

    That being said, the rest was spot on. Onesies, a cap, socks, bedding (avoid crib bumpers), a car seat and a crib and you're good to go.

    Posted by Phe November 13, 09 07:46 AM
  1. You need a friend. Someone to talk to, someone who will let you cry on his or her shoulder, someone to hold the baby while you take a nap and, hopefully, finish high school. Best of luck.

    Posted by RH November 13, 09 07:47 AM
  1. A newborn may only need a very few things, but toys and other stimulation will be needed fairly quickly. As for toys, keep it simple, and stick to things that will 'grow' with your child. A simple set of wooden blocks is an investment that your child will enjoy for YEARS - first they'll just hold them, feel their smoothness, investigate the different shapes, then enjoy knocking down your towers, then enjoy building their own. Same goes for a ball - nice to look at, then hold, then play with.

    Another good investment is a playpen, like a 'Pack and Play' that has a bassinet, and sometimes, a changing table component. As baby outgrows the bassinet, he or she may be able to sleep in the larger play area, and will definitely be happily contained in there (with blocks and ball!) while you try to get something done, until 12-18 months of age.

    A lot of moms will say that the 'bouncy seat' or the infant swing were lifesavers in calming a fussy little one, but the truth is that you never know what your baby will prefer. Try visiting second-hand shops for these things if you think you need them, even see if baby can try them out in the shop. The book "Baby Bargains" was of great help to me as I tried to figure out where to spend my money.

    If you're pinching pennies, trying not to amass too much stuff, consider how long baby will use a given toy or piece of equipment before you decide to buy!

    Posted by matthew'smom November 13, 09 08:23 AM
  1. For everything except the car seat, go to a thrift store or 2nd hand store. For the car seat or other new items, stores like Target & Walmart are less expensive than baby stores. Shop around if you can.

    Until the umbilical cord stump falls off, you can't really use the onesies because the fabric will rub. 2 or 3 infant t-shirts (no snap between the legs) plus the one the hospital will send your infant home with should be enough. You can continue to use these after the stump falls off & therefore reduce the number of onesies you buy.

    For the sleepwear, I highly recommend gowns instead of PJs. So much easier to just pull up & pull back down for those bleary-eyed middle-of-the-night diaper changes than having to deal with snaps all down the legs. (Assuming it is chilly enough that you feel the need for sleepwear under then swaddling.)

    You'll also need something to use as spit cloths, to put on your shoulder when you burp your baby. Hand towels work well & you probably already have them. Cloth diapers also work well for this.

    A bottle of baby wash/shampoo - don't need to by separate soap & shampoo - many brands have a combo product. No need to buy special towels. You can use regular wash cloths, but if you can afford it, a couple of baby wash cloths (less bulk) would be useful.

    While a stroller is not a necessity at first, you may want one eventually. Car seats are heavy to carry around and taking walks is a great way to get your baby to nap (plus good exercise). If you're getting a car seat, a stroller frame that the car seat snaps onto is a relatively inexpensive option, plus no need to transfer baby from car seat to stroller. Snap-N-Go is one brand, but there are others.

    BTW, no need to buy special (and expensive) laundry detergent that you'll see in the baby products aisle. Use your regular detergent, but if you can, buy the dye-free, fragrance-free version.

    FYI, the infant blanket that Barbara recommends is for tummy time or extra warmth in the infant seat, not for when the infant is sleeping in the bassinet or crib. The sleepwear + hat + swaddling will keep the baby warm enough then.

    Posted by Mom of One November 13, 09 08:37 AM
  1. What nice advice, RH! And spot on from Barbara -- a new born does NOT need much!

    Possibly not "must haves" for everyone but they were for me: a baby tub for bathing (not every day) and a sling (I used a cuddly wrap) for carrying my newborn with me -- I preferred this to sticking them in their car seats all the time.

    Barbara is right on. What I wish she had said is you DON'T need about 90 percent of the stuff they try to sell you. For example, you don't NEED a special changing table, Winnie the Pooh curtains, a bassinet, or a fancy stroller. There's nothing wrong with these things but they are more for the parents than for the kid. And since every baby is different, over time you will learn from your baby what else she needs.

    Posted by anita November 13, 09 09:09 AM
  1. Barbara -- I'm going to assume that as the LW is 16, she is not overflowing with money. In that case, a bassinet or cradle is not a good recommendation. They last 2 months, and then the baby has outgrown the bassinet or cradle -- so that it is no longer safe to use -- and then this new mom needs to buy a crib. She will save money going with a crib from the start, and babies are *fine* in cribs. Also, for what it is worth, cradles and bassinets are not covered by the same safety regs as cribs, and so it can be a little harder to find a cradle/bassinet that you *know* is going to be safe.

    Best to buy a crib that was made after 2000 - if you use anything earlier, you should check: there should be no missing or broken hardware or slats.
    Slats should be no more than 23/8" apart
    Corner posts should not be higher than 1/16".
    There should be no design cutouts in the headboard or footboard.
    The paint should be lead-free (so if it is an antique crib, you will need to strip the paint and repaint it).

    Posted by jlen November 13, 09 10:44 AM
  1. And also -- the infant blanket that Barbara suggests should not be used in the crib. The only thing that should be in the crib is a fitted sheet and baby. Blankets in a crib with a newborn are a suffocation hazard (check with the American Academy of Pediatrics on that one -- they say no blanket in the crib!). But a blanket can be good to use on the floor, for baby to play on her tummy.

    Posted by jlen November 13, 09 10:59 AM
  1. The breastfeeding comment annoyed, saddened and angered me beyond belief. My husband and I spent HUNDREDS and HUNDREDS of dollars (close to one thousand) on FOUR different lactation consultants when I had terrible difficulty breastfeeding. I was not physically able to breastfeed, and felt very depressed and horribly guilty because of comments like Barbara's. Every piece of literature on newborn babies states that breastfeeding is best, but I think having an emotionally stable, loving, caring mother is THE most important thing a baby needs. Mothers who are unable to breastfeed do not need any more guilt than is already upon them! Babies need to eat--it doesn't matter how it happens. The day I switched to formula, I held my daughter, cuddled and sang to her for the first time--I was now truly happy and emotionally available to her. Barbara needs to rethink her words--and she owes us moms who were unable to breastfeed a HUGE apology. WE DON'T NEED ANY MORE GUILT! I am DONE reading Barbara's columns!

    Posted by Lauren November 13, 09 11:43 AM
  1. A sling or a wrap to carry your baby close to you will probably be much more useful (and much cheaper) than the kind of heavy stroller required for a newborn. You can not only use a sling to carry the baby outside, but you can also carry him or her in the sling around the house, keeping your hands free.

    I would also strongly recommend Lanolin. You can buy it over-the-counter in any drugstore. It is a cream that helps keep your nipples soft so that they will not be hurt when the baby breastfeeds. I could not have lived without it my first couple of months with a newborn!

    As far as the breastfeeding comments above, I don't think that Barbara had any intentions of saying that those who cannot breastfeed (for whatever reasons) are bad parents. The fact is that some women cannot breastfeed and it is a very rough thing to have to come to terms with. However, this doesn't mean that breastfeeding isn't incredibly beneficial. It is the best, and least expensive, way to feed your baby, if you are able to do it. And most women can do it, although it sometimes takes several weeks to get used to.

    Posted by Vivian November 13, 09 12:45 PM
  1. Building on other peoples comments, friends / support system is crucial. So many of my friends and I have traded clothes, baby equipment (strollers, bouncy seats and swings) and experiences that all of it was invaluable. Newborns grow so quickly that there is little wear and tear on some of these items.

    WIth regard to bottles vs. breast milk, I also take exception to the author's comments. While it was true many years ago that breast milk was best, advances in formula production has made it a healthy GUILT free option. Infants utilize their mothers immune system for 6 months after birth whether or not they are breast fed. Do what works for you and don't listen to what anyone says to the contrary because what is MOST important is a Mother who loves and cares for their child. Being emotionally available to your child and providing them with a safe secure environment to grow up is the BEST gift you can ever give them.

    Posted by Michael's Mom November 13, 09 12:48 PM
  1. Lauren - I hear ya, because I am in the same boat myself. Sometimes I wish Barbara chimed in here on posts the way that Lyla Alphonse does on hers when someone gets as upset as you sound. BUT, even though I ended up in your camp and suffered from enormous guilt, I'm going to defend Barbara.

    Breastfeeding being the best thing is something that we learn from extensive reading and excellent prenatal and pediatric care. And it's not always easy for women like ME - a middle class married woman with loads of support all around me. Dareisay that the likelihood that a sixteen year old would succeed without encouragement and education is even lower? Maybe even a LOT lower?

    It might be prejudiced for me to say this, but I suppose my judgemental mentality leads me to believe that Latrice from Shreveport, LA may not receive the same level of care and advice that, say I received at Newton Wellesley hospital given that she's writing to Barbara in Boston. Although I do think that makes her very, very smart. If Barbara's advice is the only advice she receives about how to feed her baby, maybe she'll at least investigate the option of breastfeeding and give it more than a quick chance.

    Posted by RH November 13, 09 12:49 PM
  1. I don't see the problem with Barbara recommending trying to breastfeed. The hysterical responses from some posters saying they are so offended by that recommendation are flabbergasting. This girl in Louisiana asked for advice, not to hear emotional baggage from other mothers who weren't able to breastfeed. It's not in this girl's best interest for people to flood the internet with their negative experiences about it because it undermines her confidence. Let's focus on giving this young woman the confidence to try it if she so chooses without undercutting it before the baby is even born.

    Posted by Kate J November 13, 09 01:13 PM
  1. A Pack 'n' Play is much more useful than a cradle or bassinet and can be used for a much longer time--I know people who have used theirs for 2 years ir more. I used onesies on my twins from the time they left the hospital--it wasn't a problem as far as the umbilical stump goes. I agree with the others re: breastfeeding. If it works, I'm sure it's wonderful, but I was so stressed-out and guilt-ridden and sleep-deprived that none of that bonding was happening. My twins had latching problems and we were all frustrated and unhappy. I now pump almost exclusively, supplementing with formula as needed and it's been great for us. Not to mention that I'm not the only person who can feed the babies! Look for "gear" and clothes at consignment stores and tag sales. Also contact your local "Mothers of Twins" clubs. Many have tag sales as fundraisers. I have hardly bought any new clothes for my kids and it's a great way to save money. Most hospitals will not let you leave without a car seat so that is not optional. Even if they will let you leave without it, presumably you will need to go somewhere in a car with the baby at some point. It can also double as a bouncy seat or rocker if needed. Good luck to you!

    Posted by Daisy75 November 13, 09 01:24 PM
  1. It's a bit unfair to take a comment that breastfeeding is best and take away from that a personal attack on those unable. Some might consider your comments about spending hundreds of dollars on consultants (while noble) to be insensitive to those not able to afford that (16 year olds for example).

    Posted by HSJ November 13, 09 01:43 PM
  1. Barabra does not owe anyone an apology for stating the truth. Just because a few mothers have problems breastfeeding, doesn't mean it isn't best. No one tries to make you feel guilty, but you. Barbara is not wrong - it is the best gift you can give to your child and the most unbelievably close experience. It is a lot easier than bottles. It is natural. There have always been people who couldn't or wouldn't - so what?!? If a young mother wants to know how to save a lot of money with a baby - don't use formula.

    Posted by Mastermou November 13, 09 01:49 PM
  1. Touchy much? So is no one even supposed to SAY the words "breast feeding" anymore, in order to avoid the tender emotions of moms who tried but couldn't? Look, NO ONE feels anything but empathy for a mom who has given it her very best try but couldn't breast feed her baby; the blame you're feeling is coming from YOU. Barbara was giving advice to a specific person who is part of a demographic that has a near zero percent rate of breast feeding, so her encouragement and reinforcement was spot-on.

    And to Latrice: I'd just say just to be very cautious about not getting caught up in what advertisers and even your friends may claim a baby needs (we all need less stuff than we think we do!). Far and away, the most important thing a baby needs is a healthy, engaged, happy mama. Good luck honey!

    Posted by amyyfaith November 13, 09 02:57 PM
  1. First off, I formula fed, and I don't care what anyone else thinks of that!! But, if you breast feed, it will save you money (about $100+ a month), and you probably want to stay in touch with a lactation consultant to make sure the baby is eating enough.
    1) Get sleep sacks for when the baby is a tad older.
    2) Lots of warm clothes for winter ( all pants or outfits should have snaps on the inseams, getting a newborn through 12 month old in and out of regular pants for diaper changes will make you crazy)
    3) something to keep them warm outside in the winter. Sounds like the baby will be here in time for the holidays.
    4) a tough shell to deal with the mommy war junk.
    5) the thing listed in the article
    -try not to buy everything ahead of time, wait and see what you think she needs, or a lot might go to waste.
    Our daughter just wanted to be held the first few months, no toys were really much interest until she was 3-4 months. We found the vibrating chair to be very useful, she hated the swing, but one or the other may help when you need to shower or eat.

    Posted by lala November 13, 09 03:30 PM
  1. I'll stick with the NY Times from now on :) Thanks, Ladies, for your support!

    Posted by Lauren November 13, 09 09:36 PM
  1. A few people touched on this, but one big thing missing here is what do YOU need Latrice. You baby needs you more than anything else, and so you will need to take care of you. So try to plan for someone to help you get sleep a night or 2 a week. Find friends or family you trust so you can take a break from your for a few hours each day. Maintaining your sanity will make you a better mom. Best of luck, we are all pulling for you.

    Posted by Sally B November 14, 09 06:18 AM
  1. I lived in Louisiana. It can get darned cold there. Baby will need warm clothing, and warm outerwear, for late Dec. - late March.// Baby needs cloth mittens, to keep scratches from baby's face.// ALWAYS have a car seat, even if you don't have a car (and all parts of Louisiana except New Orleans are notorious for lousy public transportation) - you may be in a friend's car, or in a taxi. Here in Mass., I wasn't allowed to take baby home without a car seat, even though I went home by taxi.// Stroller needs special baby-head pillow, to keep neck and head steady. It's shaped like a half moon.// And to Lauren - don't worry about the breat-feeding comments. I didn't (medical reasons) and my baby. Thank God, turned out just fine - a bright, healthy, happy child. Sheesh, breast-feeding has become a cult the past couple of decades.// My baby hated being swaddled, but babies do need weather-appropriate clothing and the cloth mittens.// Babies need ... YOU.

    Posted by reindeergirl November 14, 09 08:01 PM
  1. I COMPLETELY agree with Lauren's comment that "having an emotionally stable, loving, caring mother is THE most important thing a baby needs." It is also the best gift you can give to both the baby and yourself - what's best for mom is best for the baby.

    Posted by Evan's mom November 14, 09 09:56 PM
  1. You need someone to adopt the baby so that you will have a chance at a good life. Please consider it.

    Posted by I_was_adopted November 16, 09 08:41 AM
  1. I_was_Adopted: You know, I was also adopted. And when I was 19, I had a child I gave up for adoption. But your comment was cold, callous and remarkably (or not) lacking in any information or backbone of support in any way, shape or form.

    This girl has made a choice. She chose to keep her chld. Would adoption have been a "better" choice for her? Only she knows that. That wasn't what she asked though.

    That being said, if you're going to hand out a drive by instead of anything meaningful by way of assistance, you could at least bang a u-turn and point her in the direction of resources and support groups that may be available in her area.

    Posted by Phe November 16, 09 12:26 PM
  1. Hey, Lauren: with that "it's all about me" attitude, we had already figured out you were a New Yorker!

    Posted by Just_cos November 16, 09 12:39 PM
  1. I am sure this won't be looked at in the best light, but I am going to say it anyway. Babies, and humans as a result, have survived for thousands of years without baby formula. It's not even available everywhere on the globe today. I have been there, I honestly get how hard it is. I tried but after a few months started to supplement with formula for a few more months. I still understand what is best for the baby. Maybe I live a sheltered life, but I was never once made to feel inadequate for buying baby formula. As long as you keep your baby's best interest at heart, you will be fine. There are enough things to feel guilty about it as it!


    Posted by HSJ November 16, 09 01:20 PM
  1. i agree with jlen...a crib is best. A bassinett is a poor choice for alot oe people...they do grow out of them very fast. It IS A WASTE OF MONEY!
    I TOO get highly annoyed when people push the breastfeeding on people. Listen everyone, it is NOT successful for everyone...I love how people say how easy it is and how there is no excuse for not breastfeeding. Well yes there are reasons but one is called PERSONAL CHOICE. My advice is to NEVER allow anyone to make you feel guilty if you decide not to breastfeed. I would recommend trying it but if it doesn't work then it doesn't work. There is no debate it is better but it is NOT as easy as people think it is. Not for many people anywya. I had problems too. I did with my first for a little while then switched due to problems but with my second child, I didn't want to have a repeat so I bottle fed. Guess what? there is nothing wrong with that. Back to the subject at hand. YOu are pretty young. BE the best mom you can be and give lots of love and be willing to take good advice from smart loving parents that have been there.

    Posted by jadee November 17, 09 11:42 AM
  1. Latrice,

    Your baby will need a patient and loving mother. The material things you can acquire from family and friends. Taking care of an infant is extremely stressful and tiring, but it is the most rewarding task a person can ever experience. Please take care of your physical and mental health and reach out for help when you need it.

    www.quigal.com

    Posted by Carmen November 17, 09 08:27 PM
  1. It's November. The baby will need some warmer clothing if you plan on ever leaving your home. Pants, coat/sweater, there is the kind that you can put in the car seat carrier and zip up and go.

    I also like my front carrier and a stroller/car seat carrier.

    Posted by geocool November 18, 09 04:43 PM
 
29 comments so far...
  1. Depending on the season and where you live, you may need more warm clothing than just onesies (and you can't use the onesies on a newborn until the cord stump falls off). I honestly never used onesies - they were too much of a hassle. I didn't really use socks until they were older, either. My kids were winter babies, and wore the terrycloth one-piece outfits with feet most of the time. I also really liked the 'sleeping bag' sleepwear - basically a bag with arms and a big zipper. You can't use it in the car, but it makes life a LOT easier around the house. Babies also need enough outerwear/blankets to stay warm when you take them out (if nothing else, you are visiting the pediatrician frequently in those first months). If you arent' taking the baby in a car, you probably need a stroller, but you can buy one used. Just make sure there are no recalls and that the seat fully reclines if you aren't using it with a carseat. If you do have an infant carseat (most hospitals won't let you leave without one), one of those snap frames is an inexpensive and convenient way to go.
    Most of all, you need support from family and friends, particularly as a teenage mom. Good luck.

    Posted by akmom November 13, 09 06:52 AM
  1. Barbara - I would caution against your breast feeding comment. Breast feeding doesn't always succeed, even when you do everything right. Be prepared with formula just in case. It happened to us and I was heartbroken because of the expectations I had and the words of women all around, like yours above. But the lactation nurse I had also said that, sometimes, even when you do everything the right way, milk can dry up. Not always, but it happened in my case. And yes, I pumped. And nursed. And pumped. And nursed. And ate the right diet. Within a month, it was all over with and I was left having to buy fomrula. I wish I had been better prepared for that contingency.

    Not all babies like to be swaddled either. Ours was one of them. She tolerated it for less than a month and that was the end of it.

    Latrice, get a porta-crib to start. They're small enough for newborns and more practical down the road for travel. A bassinet is a waste of money.

    That being said, the rest was spot on. Onesies, a cap, socks, bedding (avoid crib bumpers), a car seat and a crib and you're good to go.

    Posted by Phe November 13, 09 07:46 AM
  1. You need a friend. Someone to talk to, someone who will let you cry on his or her shoulder, someone to hold the baby while you take a nap and, hopefully, finish high school. Best of luck.

    Posted by RH November 13, 09 07:47 AM
  1. A newborn may only need a very few things, but toys and other stimulation will be needed fairly quickly. As for toys, keep it simple, and stick to things that will 'grow' with your child. A simple set of wooden blocks is an investment that your child will enjoy for YEARS - first they'll just hold them, feel their smoothness, investigate the different shapes, then enjoy knocking down your towers, then enjoy building their own. Same goes for a ball - nice to look at, then hold, then play with.

    Another good investment is a playpen, like a 'Pack and Play' that has a bassinet, and sometimes, a changing table component. As baby outgrows the bassinet, he or she may be able to sleep in the larger play area, and will definitely be happily contained in there (with blocks and ball!) while you try to get something done, until 12-18 months of age.

    A lot of moms will say that the 'bouncy seat' or the infant swing were lifesavers in calming a fussy little one, but the truth is that you never know what your baby will prefer. Try visiting second-hand shops for these things if you think you need them, even see if baby can try them out in the shop. The book "Baby Bargains" was of great help to me as I tried to figure out where to spend my money.

    If you're pinching pennies, trying not to amass too much stuff, consider how long baby will use a given toy or piece of equipment before you decide to buy!

    Posted by matthew'smom November 13, 09 08:23 AM
  1. For everything except the car seat, go to a thrift store or 2nd hand store. For the car seat or other new items, stores like Target & Walmart are less expensive than baby stores. Shop around if you can.

    Until the umbilical cord stump falls off, you can't really use the onesies because the fabric will rub. 2 or 3 infant t-shirts (no snap between the legs) plus the one the hospital will send your infant home with should be enough. You can continue to use these after the stump falls off & therefore reduce the number of onesies you buy.

    For the sleepwear, I highly recommend gowns instead of PJs. So much easier to just pull up & pull back down for those bleary-eyed middle-of-the-night diaper changes than having to deal with snaps all down the legs. (Assuming it is chilly enough that you feel the need for sleepwear under then swaddling.)

    You'll also need something to use as spit cloths, to put on your shoulder when you burp your baby. Hand towels work well & you probably already have them. Cloth diapers also work well for this.

    A bottle of baby wash/shampoo - don't need to by separate soap & shampoo - many brands have a combo product. No need to buy special towels. You can use regular wash cloths, but if you can afford it, a couple of baby wash cloths (less bulk) would be useful.

    While a stroller is not a necessity at first, you may want one eventually. Car seats are heavy to carry around and taking walks is a great way to get your baby to nap (plus good exercise). If you're getting a car seat, a stroller frame that the car seat snaps onto is a relatively inexpensive option, plus no need to transfer baby from car seat to stroller. Snap-N-Go is one brand, but there are others.

    BTW, no need to buy special (and expensive) laundry detergent that you'll see in the baby products aisle. Use your regular detergent, but if you can, buy the dye-free, fragrance-free version.

    FYI, the infant blanket that Barbara recommends is for tummy time or extra warmth in the infant seat, not for when the infant is sleeping in the bassinet or crib. The sleepwear + hat + swaddling will keep the baby warm enough then.

    Posted by Mom of One November 13, 09 08:37 AM
  1. What nice advice, RH! And spot on from Barbara -- a new born does NOT need much!

    Possibly not "must haves" for everyone but they were for me: a baby tub for bathing (not every day) and a sling (I used a cuddly wrap) for carrying my newborn with me -- I preferred this to sticking them in their car seats all the time.

    Barbara is right on. What I wish she had said is you DON'T need about 90 percent of the stuff they try to sell you. For example, you don't NEED a special changing table, Winnie the Pooh curtains, a bassinet, or a fancy stroller. There's nothing wrong with these things but they are more for the parents than for the kid. And since every baby is different, over time you will learn from your baby what else she needs.

    Posted by anita November 13, 09 09:09 AM
  1. Barbara -- I'm going to assume that as the LW is 16, she is not overflowing with money. In that case, a bassinet or cradle is not a good recommendation. They last 2 months, and then the baby has outgrown the bassinet or cradle -- so that it is no longer safe to use -- and then this new mom needs to buy a crib. She will save money going with a crib from the start, and babies are *fine* in cribs. Also, for what it is worth, cradles and bassinets are not covered by the same safety regs as cribs, and so it can be a little harder to find a cradle/bassinet that you *know* is going to be safe.

    Best to buy a crib that was made after 2000 - if you use anything earlier, you should check: there should be no missing or broken hardware or slats.
    Slats should be no more than 23/8" apart
    Corner posts should not be higher than 1/16".
    There should be no design cutouts in the headboard or footboard.
    The paint should be lead-free (so if it is an antique crib, you will need to strip the paint and repaint it).

    Posted by jlen November 13, 09 10:44 AM
  1. And also -- the infant blanket that Barbara suggests should not be used in the crib. The only thing that should be in the crib is a fitted sheet and baby. Blankets in a crib with a newborn are a suffocation hazard (check with the American Academy of Pediatrics on that one -- they say no blanket in the crib!). But a blanket can be good to use on the floor, for baby to play on her tummy.

    Posted by jlen November 13, 09 10:59 AM
  1. The breastfeeding comment annoyed, saddened and angered me beyond belief. My husband and I spent HUNDREDS and HUNDREDS of dollars (close to one thousand) on FOUR different lactation consultants when I had terrible difficulty breastfeeding. I was not physically able to breastfeed, and felt very depressed and horribly guilty because of comments like Barbara's. Every piece of literature on newborn babies states that breastfeeding is best, but I think having an emotionally stable, loving, caring mother is THE most important thing a baby needs. Mothers who are unable to breastfeed do not need any more guilt than is already upon them! Babies need to eat--it doesn't matter how it happens. The day I switched to formula, I held my daughter, cuddled and sang to her for the first time--I was now truly happy and emotionally available to her. Barbara needs to rethink her words--and she owes us moms who were unable to breastfeed a HUGE apology. WE DON'T NEED ANY MORE GUILT! I am DONE reading Barbara's columns!

    Posted by Lauren November 13, 09 11:43 AM
  1. A sling or a wrap to carry your baby close to you will probably be much more useful (and much cheaper) than the kind of heavy stroller required for a newborn. You can not only use a sling to carry the baby outside, but you can also carry him or her in the sling around the house, keeping your hands free.

    I would also strongly recommend Lanolin. You can buy it over-the-counter in any drugstore. It is a cream that helps keep your nipples soft so that they will not be hurt when the baby breastfeeds. I could not have lived without it my first couple of months with a newborn!

    As far as the breastfeeding comments above, I don't think that Barbara had any intentions of saying that those who cannot breastfeed (for whatever reasons) are bad parents. The fact is that some women cannot breastfeed and it is a very rough thing to have to come to terms with. However, this doesn't mean that breastfeeding isn't incredibly beneficial. It is the best, and least expensive, way to feed your baby, if you are able to do it. And most women can do it, although it sometimes takes several weeks to get used to.

    Posted by Vivian November 13, 09 12:45 PM
  1. Building on other peoples comments, friends / support system is crucial. So many of my friends and I have traded clothes, baby equipment (strollers, bouncy seats and swings) and experiences that all of it was invaluable. Newborns grow so quickly that there is little wear and tear on some of these items.

    WIth regard to bottles vs. breast milk, I also take exception to the author's comments. While it was true many years ago that breast milk was best, advances in formula production has made it a healthy GUILT free option. Infants utilize their mothers immune system for 6 months after birth whether or not they are breast fed. Do what works for you and don't listen to what anyone says to the contrary because what is MOST important is a Mother who loves and cares for their child. Being emotionally available to your child and providing them with a safe secure environment to grow up is the BEST gift you can ever give them.

    Posted by Michael's Mom November 13, 09 12:48 PM
  1. Lauren - I hear ya, because I am in the same boat myself. Sometimes I wish Barbara chimed in here on posts the way that Lyla Alphonse does on hers when someone gets as upset as you sound. BUT, even though I ended up in your camp and suffered from enormous guilt, I'm going to defend Barbara.

    Breastfeeding being the best thing is something that we learn from extensive reading and excellent prenatal and pediatric care. And it's not always easy for women like ME - a middle class married woman with loads of support all around me. Dareisay that the likelihood that a sixteen year old would succeed without encouragement and education is even lower? Maybe even a LOT lower?

    It might be prejudiced for me to say this, but I suppose my judgemental mentality leads me to believe that Latrice from Shreveport, LA may not receive the same level of care and advice that, say I received at Newton Wellesley hospital given that she's writing to Barbara in Boston. Although I do think that makes her very, very smart. If Barbara's advice is the only advice she receives about how to feed her baby, maybe she'll at least investigate the option of breastfeeding and give it more than a quick chance.

    Posted by RH November 13, 09 12:49 PM
  1. I don't see the problem with Barbara recommending trying to breastfeed. The hysterical responses from some posters saying they are so offended by that recommendation are flabbergasting. This girl in Louisiana asked for advice, not to hear emotional baggage from other mothers who weren't able to breastfeed. It's not in this girl's best interest for people to flood the internet with their negative experiences about it because it undermines her confidence. Let's focus on giving this young woman the confidence to try it if she so chooses without undercutting it before the baby is even born.

    Posted by Kate J November 13, 09 01:13 PM
  1. A Pack 'n' Play is much more useful than a cradle or bassinet and can be used for a much longer time--I know people who have used theirs for 2 years ir more. I used onesies on my twins from the time they left the hospital--it wasn't a problem as far as the umbilical stump goes. I agree with the others re: breastfeeding. If it works, I'm sure it's wonderful, but I was so stressed-out and guilt-ridden and sleep-deprived that none of that bonding was happening. My twins had latching problems and we were all frustrated and unhappy. I now pump almost exclusively, supplementing with formula as needed and it's been great for us. Not to mention that I'm not the only person who can feed the babies! Look for "gear" and clothes at consignment stores and tag sales. Also contact your local "Mothers of Twins" clubs. Many have tag sales as fundraisers. I have hardly bought any new clothes for my kids and it's a great way to save money. Most hospitals will not let you leave without a car seat so that is not optional. Even if they will let you leave without it, presumably you will need to go somewhere in a car with the baby at some point. It can also double as a bouncy seat or rocker if needed. Good luck to you!

    Posted by Daisy75 November 13, 09 01:24 PM
  1. It's a bit unfair to take a comment that breastfeeding is best and take away from that a personal attack on those unable. Some might consider your comments about spending hundreds of dollars on consultants (while noble) to be insensitive to those not able to afford that (16 year olds for example).

    Posted by HSJ November 13, 09 01:43 PM
  1. Barabra does not owe anyone an apology for stating the truth. Just because a few mothers have problems breastfeeding, doesn't mean it isn't best. No one tries to make you feel guilty, but you. Barbara is not wrong - it is the best gift you can give to your child and the most unbelievably close experience. It is a lot easier than bottles. It is natural. There have always been people who couldn't or wouldn't - so what?!? If a young mother wants to know how to save a lot of money with a baby - don't use formula.

    Posted by Mastermou November 13, 09 01:49 PM
  1. Touchy much? So is no one even supposed to SAY the words "breast feeding" anymore, in order to avoid the tender emotions of moms who tried but couldn't? Look, NO ONE feels anything but empathy for a mom who has given it her very best try but couldn't breast feed her baby; the blame you're feeling is coming from YOU. Barbara was giving advice to a specific person who is part of a demographic that has a near zero percent rate of breast feeding, so her encouragement and reinforcement was spot-on.

    And to Latrice: I'd just say just to be very cautious about not getting caught up in what advertisers and even your friends may claim a baby needs (we all need less stuff than we think we do!). Far and away, the most important thing a baby needs is a healthy, engaged, happy mama. Good luck honey!

    Posted by amyyfaith November 13, 09 02:57 PM
  1. First off, I formula fed, and I don't care what anyone else thinks of that!! But, if you breast feed, it will save you money (about $100+ a month), and you probably want to stay in touch with a lactation consultant to make sure the baby is eating enough.
    1) Get sleep sacks for when the baby is a tad older.
    2) Lots of warm clothes for winter ( all pants or outfits should have snaps on the inseams, getting a newborn through 12 month old in and out of regular pants for diaper changes will make you crazy)
    3) something to keep them warm outside in the winter. Sounds like the baby will be here in time for the holidays.
    4) a tough shell to deal with the mommy war junk.
    5) the thing listed in the article
    -try not to buy everything ahead of time, wait and see what you think she needs, or a lot might go to waste.
    Our daughter just wanted to be held the first few months, no toys were really much interest until she was 3-4 months. We found the vibrating chair to be very useful, she hated the swing, but one or the other may help when you need to shower or eat.

    Posted by lala November 13, 09 03:30 PM
  1. I'll stick with the NY Times from now on :) Thanks, Ladies, for your support!

    Posted by Lauren November 13, 09 09:36 PM
  1. A few people touched on this, but one big thing missing here is what do YOU need Latrice. You baby needs you more than anything else, and so you will need to take care of you. So try to plan for someone to help you get sleep a night or 2 a week. Find friends or family you trust so you can take a break from your for a few hours each day. Maintaining your sanity will make you a better mom. Best of luck, we are all pulling for you.

    Posted by Sally B November 14, 09 06:18 AM
  1. I lived in Louisiana. It can get darned cold there. Baby will need warm clothing, and warm outerwear, for late Dec. - late March.// Baby needs cloth mittens, to keep scratches from baby's face.// ALWAYS have a car seat, even if you don't have a car (and all parts of Louisiana except New Orleans are notorious for lousy public transportation) - you may be in a friend's car, or in a taxi. Here in Mass., I wasn't allowed to take baby home without a car seat, even though I went home by taxi.// Stroller needs special baby-head pillow, to keep neck and head steady. It's shaped like a half moon.// And to Lauren - don't worry about the breat-feeding comments. I didn't (medical reasons) and my baby. Thank God, turned out just fine - a bright, healthy, happy child. Sheesh, breast-feeding has become a cult the past couple of decades.// My baby hated being swaddled, but babies do need weather-appropriate clothing and the cloth mittens.// Babies need ... YOU.

    Posted by reindeergirl November 14, 09 08:01 PM
  1. I COMPLETELY agree with Lauren's comment that "having an emotionally stable, loving, caring mother is THE most important thing a baby needs." It is also the best gift you can give to both the baby and yourself - what's best for mom is best for the baby.

    Posted by Evan's mom November 14, 09 09:56 PM
  1. You need someone to adopt the baby so that you will have a chance at a good life. Please consider it.

    Posted by I_was_adopted November 16, 09 08:41 AM
  1. I_was_Adopted: You know, I was also adopted. And when I was 19, I had a child I gave up for adoption. But your comment was cold, callous and remarkably (or not) lacking in any information or backbone of support in any way, shape or form.

    This girl has made a choice. She chose to keep her chld. Would adoption have been a "better" choice for her? Only she knows that. That wasn't what she asked though.

    That being said, if you're going to hand out a drive by instead of anything meaningful by way of assistance, you could at least bang a u-turn and point her in the direction of resources and support groups that may be available in her area.

    Posted by Phe November 16, 09 12:26 PM
  1. Hey, Lauren: with that "it's all about me" attitude, we had already figured out you were a New Yorker!

    Posted by Just_cos November 16, 09 12:39 PM
  1. I am sure this won't be looked at in the best light, but I am going to say it anyway. Babies, and humans as a result, have survived for thousands of years without baby formula. It's not even available everywhere on the globe today. I have been there, I honestly get how hard it is. I tried but after a few months started to supplement with formula for a few more months. I still understand what is best for the baby. Maybe I live a sheltered life, but I was never once made to feel inadequate for buying baby formula. As long as you keep your baby's best interest at heart, you will be fine. There are enough things to feel guilty about it as it!


    Posted by HSJ November 16, 09 01:20 PM
  1. i agree with jlen...a crib is best. A bassinett is a poor choice for alot oe people...they do grow out of them very fast. It IS A WASTE OF MONEY!
    I TOO get highly annoyed when people push the breastfeeding on people. Listen everyone, it is NOT successful for everyone...I love how people say how easy it is and how there is no excuse for not breastfeeding. Well yes there are reasons but one is called PERSONAL CHOICE. My advice is to NEVER allow anyone to make you feel guilty if you decide not to breastfeed. I would recommend trying it but if it doesn't work then it doesn't work. There is no debate it is better but it is NOT as easy as people think it is. Not for many people anywya. I had problems too. I did with my first for a little while then switched due to problems but with my second child, I didn't want to have a repeat so I bottle fed. Guess what? there is nothing wrong with that. Back to the subject at hand. YOu are pretty young. BE the best mom you can be and give lots of love and be willing to take good advice from smart loving parents that have been there.

    Posted by jadee November 17, 09 11:42 AM
  1. Latrice,

    Your baby will need a patient and loving mother. The material things you can acquire from family and friends. Taking care of an infant is extremely stressful and tiring, but it is the most rewarding task a person can ever experience. Please take care of your physical and mental health and reach out for help when you need it.

    www.quigal.com

    Posted by Carmen November 17, 09 08:27 PM
  1. It's November. The baby will need some warmer clothing if you plan on ever leaving your home. Pants, coat/sweater, there is the kind that you can put in the car seat carrier and zip up and go.

    I also like my front carrier and a stroller/car seat carrier.

    Posted by geocool November 18, 09 04:43 PM
add your comment
Required
Required (will not be published)

This blogger might want to review your comment before posting it.

About the author

Barbara F. Meltz is a freelance writer, parenting consultant, and author of "Put Yourself in Their Shoes: Understanding How Your Children See the World." She won several awards for her weekly "Child Caring" column in the Globe, including the 2008 American Psychological Association Print Excellence award. Barbara is available as a speaker for parent groups.

Submit a question for Barbara's Mailbag


Ask Barbara a question

Barbara answers questions on a wide range of topics, including autism, breastfeeding, bullying, discipline, divorce, kindergarten, potty training, sleep, tantrums, and much, much more.

Send your questions to her at:
meltzbarbara (at) gmail.com.
Please include your name and hometown.

Child in Mind

Moms
All parenting discussions
Discussions

High needs/fussy baby

memes98 writes "My 10.5 month old DS has been fussy ever since he was born, but I am getting very frustrated because I thought he would be much better by now...has anyone else been through this?"

More community voices

Child in Mind

Corner Kicks

Dirty Old Boston

Mortal Matters

On Deck

TEDx Beacon Street

RSS feed


click here to subscribe to
Child Caring

archives