Parenting 101

Enjoy additional Parenting 101 articles:

bulletTeething Solutions
bulletMessy Toddler Mealtimes - Try these Tips
bulletIs Your Child's School Safe?
bulletRaising Respectful Children
bullet Keeping In Touch With Grandparents
bulletEssential Items for the New Mother
bulletBabysitter Checklist
bulletBlessing Book

Essential Items for the Expectant Mother

An expectant, first-time mother recently inquired at our Catholic Mom  Message Board about "must have" items and supplies for a new baby.  Here are a few of the wonderful suggestions shared by our wise Catholic Mom participants:


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When I had my sixth child, I had nothing for the baby. I gave all my baby stuff away after my fifth thinking I wouldn't be needing it anymore, besides, we were running out of room. The baby had no crib, no bassinet, no changing table. He slept with me, or on the couch or floor for naps and I changed him on the bed, couch or floor. I did get a walker though when he was maybe 6 months old. Of course I had to have a car seat. I breast fed so I didn't need to buy formula. I used disposable diapers but not the wipes. The smell makes me gag, even the non-scented. Besides, I never had any trouble with diaper rash by washing the baby's bottom with soap and water after bowel movements. I think many babies have problems with rashes because of the diaper wipes. Really, you needn't worry. You and your baby actually don't need as much as you think. This being your first though, you do need a crib or playpen to confine the baby at times. Of course I had many hands to help watch the baby. (Alexis)


T-shirts, jammies, socks, burpers (things baby can throw up on), receiving blankets, baby laundry soap, baby face cloths.  Those basics will get you by for three months. You don't really need anything else...and I am speaking from working experience. My youngest is now 4 mos old (she's the fourth baby).  (Little Mom)


I'd invest the 30 dollars in a baby sling; my daughter lived in hers til she was 3.  It's a wonderful tool for a breastfeeding mom, and allowed me to get my housework done (she'd sleep in it while I vacuumed). Also the phone call of your local La Leche League Leader; call her before the baby comes, and arm yourself with info. You won't need a pump unless you're planning on returning to work, so breastfeeding can be a real money saver. I also think cloth diapers are an amazing money saver but almost everyone finds that too radical (LOL). Like Sassy's little guy, my daughter has recieved nothing but compliments on her pleasant sunny nature. I happen to be of the opinion that the good Lord designed babies to be dependent on their mothers, and that our culture is in too big of a hurry to give our children to the world. I say, let them be babies when they're little, and they will face this world with more confidence, secure in your love for them. Dr. Sears' The Baby Book is my childcare Bible.  (Maryt)

How quickly I have forgotten. I wish I had gotten bassinets for my triplets esp. w/wheels to move around from room to room as needed! But I remember diapers, and wipes and diaper rash lotions being very important. Also, extra sheets that fit really snug on the mattress ( for safety) and onsies. Also a bouncer seat is a great idea esp. if it has the dangly baby toys. I put this soft baby safe mirror/book in the crib after they fell asleep and when they woke up, sometimes they'd look at it and stay occupied for a while before crying out. Of course, I think they must have been 5 months or so. If you are nursing, and you need a breast pump, then definitely rent a good one instead of buying one. I had a bottle sterilizer which was a Godsend considering the amount of bottles we had, but later, we got this handy plastic cont w/plastic lid that snapped on that you put all the nipples and bottles in and they stay in their in the dishwasher. I don't think I explained this well, but if you see it, it is worth the few bucks it cost to easily get the bottles sterilized. Take care.  (Marie)


So many of the suggestions by other moms are right on the money. If you do not know a lot of moms who have been breastfeeding and seen them in action a visit to LeLeche League or your hospital breastfeeding center is a must. The first couple of weeks are the most difficult but after that nursing is awesome and you can do it while you are sleeping - in bed - BONUS! These groups also help you meet other moms and can be of great support. In the next few weeks see if you can double up when making meals, freeze one and that way you'll have some extra prepared meals when baby arrives. Don't worry about spoiling a newborn. If baby is happy out of your arms - great! If not - just do what it takes. (sling/swing/daddy/mommy). Have fun! I'll say a prayer!  (Ash)


Thermometer, sleepers, lots of pillows if you are nursing, diapers and diaper rash meds. That's my top list. As long as you have a car seat. Make sure it fits well.  (Nancy)


A bouncy seat and/or a swing. Maggie Jo didn't always like to be held, so she spent a lot of time in those two items. The bouncy seat came in handy when we first started feeding her baby food, since she wasn't able to sit in her high chair yet. It sounds like you are going to nurse, so I would also recommend a good breast pump. These can be pretty expensive, but you can rent them (ask at the hospital). Do you have a "Once Upon A Child" or other store that sells gently used baby things? We have one here (Minnesota) & I bought almost all of Maggie's things there. It saved a ton of money! We still buy toys & clothes there.  (Lori)


My top 5 items are: 1. burp rags (cloth diapers) 2. soft music to play while you're feeding the baby 3. onesies (combo t-shirt & bottoms) 4. thermometer& vaseline 5. plenty of diapers & wipes. I always had a stash of diapers & wipes just in case...kept some in the car, my room, baby's room, stroller. Are you going to breast-feed? If so, some nursing pads for inside your bras--nursing bras. I recommend 3 of them-the one you're wearing, one on the line drying, and a clean one ready to wear. Some baby nail clippers & a tiny emery board would be good. Sounds like you have all the important things. How about a journal for yourself and the baby?  (Genny)


Bubblebath salts for mom when she finally gets to take a long bath without worrying about who's watching the baby.  A neck pillow for those nights you will spend in the rocking chair when baby just can't seem to settle in.  A touch to turn on low watt night lamp for those nights you have to get up in the middle of the night and you just can't seem to find anything. Thermometer....rectal.  (Sassy)

I'm someone who has to think everything through, especially when it comes to spending money. I was militant that I wasn't going to buy stuff till I knew Logan needed it, which in my case had to be after he was born because I knew nothing about babies.  Here's what I found you absolutely must have for a baby when they come home.

a car seat - in CA, they wont let you leave the hospital without one

a place for baby to sleep - our space is limited and I refuse to pay $400 for an expensive wood crib he will only be in for a year or so. We went with a Graco 4-way pack and play. It's a bed, bassinet, changing table and playpen all in one and costs about $120. He's doing fine with it at seven months. I wouldn't count on it being very portable though. It's inconvenient to take apart.

a couple of extra sheets for the baby bed in case of leaks

I'm not sure what they are called, but they make waterproof pads that are covered in flannel. They are wonderful!!! I got two, one I put under Logan's sheet for leaks and one I cut up into nursing pads.

onesies - as far as I can see, these are the greatest invention in baby clothes. They don't pull up like t-shirts. They are inexpensive when you buy the carters 3 paks. And they hold the diaper in place

some warmer rompers with feet in them - it seems to me impossible to keep socks on a baby.

a couple of warm blankets

diapers - Walmart has a brand called White Cloud. They are less expensive than Pampers or Huggies, and *they work*. (Trust me: this is one thing I *would* pay more for it was necessary to prevent leaks.) As for baby wipes, I see why people want them, but Logan's skin was extremely allergic to all brands, so on the doctor's orders we use warm damp paper towels. So, if you are looking to save money, you could do that.

small items - alcohol for his navel, nursing pads, Purelan 100 or Lansinoh (this will help with cracking and soreness from nursing and the baby can taste it without problems), desitin or a generic like it (your best friend in preventing diaper rash). You can get some special baby wash, but again our pediatrician said plain old Dove bar soap and it works just fine.

If you have a little extra money, I would buy a bouncy seat, preferably one that will vibrate. It was the greatest thing for getting Logan to sleep. He'd snooze there for hours, and I could keep him with me wherever I was in the house. And when he's awake, he could sit there and watch what was going on.

I wouldn't buy a bath tub. I wasted money on one, but the kitchen sink works best of all. It's the right height and it's an area designed to have water splashed about.

This stuff will get you through the first week or two. Then, you'll have a baby and will know for yourself what your baby needs. And you will be out shopping and back in the world. (I was surprised by that, anyway.) So, you don't have to have it all now.  My two-cents worth. (Leigh Anne)


Re: gadgets. I have 3 kids, the youngest being 16 mths. - the first one I had the crib, the swing, the bouncy seat, etc. By the 2nd and 3rd I discovered I did not need all that stuff. The crib did come in handy, b/c we used it sidecarred to our bed - meaning we removed one rail, pushed it up to the side of our bed (you should fasten the legs to your bed frame if you don't have a wall to push it against) and that gave a little more room in the cosleeping arrangement.

I agree that the sling is priceless. Definitely hook yourself up w/ one - they are avail. in Target, etc., but there are even nicer ones on the net, the Maya Wrap is good, the OTSBH (over the shoulder baby holder) is nice (avail. through LLL), and a ton of work-at-home-mom made ones as well.

I 2nd the rec. for cloth diapers. I absolutely adore cloth diapering. It is so much cheaper, and there is just nothing like soft cotton on a baby's bum. So much nicer than the chemical-filled disp., IMO. There are a ton of options out there, and washing really does not take much time at all.

Re: nursing - you might find it helpful to alter your thoughts from "giving it a try" to "I'm going to nurse". Your body was made to do this and it will! I whole-heartedly agree w/ the suggestions to get in touch w/ LLL *before* the baby comes. Maybe even have an LC lined up. Also I agree that a pump is unnecessary unless you are going back to work. The baby is the best pump there is, and the best way to an ample supply and a healthy growing baby is to nurse nurse nurse, every hr. is not unusual for a newborn.

Re: "spoiling" the baby. You will undoubtedly hear much more of the same thing you're being told by well-meaning family members. Unfortunately it is inaccurate. Your instincts are right-on - lots of holding and loving makes those little baby brains and emotions just explode w/ growth. You *cannot* spoil an infant. Seriously. They do not use crying to manipulate - they use it b/c they have no other way to communicate their genuine needs. Babies were designed to be "dependant" upon their moms - that's why we're the moms! I can tell you that in my exp., I "detachment" parented my first baby - used all the gadgets, let her "cry it out" to sleep, etc. She was my most clingy child. My next 2 I carried in the sling a lot, breastfed/feed, and they are much more secure as toddlers than my first was. I truly believe that trying to force them to become independent as babies has a backfiring effect and only makes them more insecure. Holding them lots, picking them up when they cry, nursing their booboos away, sends them the signal that you will be there no matter what, so they feel more secure to venture away a bit as they get older. Anyway, do you know any high schoolers who still sleep w/ their parents?

And last but not least, lest you come away thinking I'm not quite opinionated enough on the subject of babies, lol, I would highly highly recommend that you use these last 6 (or 8) wks. to read The Thinking Woman's Guide to a Better Birth by Henci Goer (it's avail. at amazon, etc.).    (Misha)