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When I was pregnant with my son I had this, at times, overwhelming fear that he would come and we would not have a single thing ready for him. How would I handle it if I went into labor before we had a crib? What about diapers? And wipes? Do I need a baby monitor right away? Or is that something I can snag through Amazon Prime after he comes? I found myself to be so wound up about something that I knew was unlikely to happen. Even if you’re not in a panic about delivering early, you can still get prepared early with a list of minimalist newborn essentials.
Chances are, you don’t plan on walking home after birthing a 6-10 (give or take) pound human being. So unless you’re doing a home delivery, you’re going to need a car seat, and the hospital or birthing center you deliver at is going to make sure that you have one before they let you leave with your baby. If you are going to be in a car owned by yourself or a friend or family member, it would be in your best interest to have the car seat installed in the car prior to giving birth.
Often times your local fire station will make sure the car seat is properly installed to give you added peace-of-mind. I’ll confess, our car seat had me bested and it was definitely not in securely when we took ours to get checked (before the baby came), so I was grateful to have a free resource available to not only correct the seat, but also to show me how to fix it! If you can’t find anyone local that advertises this service, check with your local fire station, your ob-gyn, or the hospital where you plan to deliver. They should all be able to help point you in the direct of someone who can help you free of charge.
If you plan on having a stroller, it will be much more useful to you to make sure that car seat either clips into your chosen stroller, or there is an adapter so that you can use the two together. I wouldn’t qualify a stroller as a newborn essential for a minimalist, but its still useful to have done the research ahead of time if you plan on using one.
Diapers and Wipes
In terms of minimalist essentials for your newborn, these items should be no-brainers. I don’t know if you’ve heard or not, but babies go through a lot of diapers and wipes. If you don’t have any before coming home from the hospital, most hospitals have some in your room that you can take with you. So, just like the items you can take from the hospital for mom, you can pack the diapers and wipes up with you when you leave the hospital as well. They won’t get you very far, so you really need to have some on hand for when you get home, but they should be able to get you through a day or two.
When you purchase wipes and diapers before your baby comes, make sure to select unscented items. Your baby’s skin will be tender, and won’t necessarily be prepared (or be very happy with) much, if any fragrance.
Hats and Mitts
Like the rest of us, newborns lose a lot of their heat from their heads. Unlike the rest of us, though, newborns are used to having their temperature regulated for them in the womb. Because your baby is still relying on you to help make sure his or her temperature is kept comfortable, having a hat available is important. You can probably get by with the hat they give you in the hospital, but I personally liked having a couple of extras so that I always had one available to place on Little Man’s head whether I was upstairs or down.
Mitts are great because, even though I had nail clippers handy in those first couple of days, I was way too scared to cut his nails. And his nails were long and sharp. Mitts will keep your baby from scratching up that new, delicate skin of theirs (and your skin too) while you work up the courage to trim their fingernails yourself.
General Hygiene Items
Speaking of nail clippers, I would highly recommend having a pair waiting for you at home after delivering your baby. Your baby’s fingernails start growing when you’re 12 weeks pregnant, so that’s a lot of time to grow some pretty impressive claws. Despite being a total chicken for several days and refusing to cut his nails out of fear of getting his skin, there are different brands of nail clippers out there that claim to make the task a little easier. The only pair I’ve ever used is from NailFrida and I recommend them to all of my friends. Little Man is 14 months old now and I can cut his nails while he’s squirming around on my lap and I have yet to cut him. That’s a win in my book.
Shampoo and baby wash are things you should also have handy. Most people recommend only washing your baby every couple of days at first since they can’t get themselves too dirty yet, so you don’t have to have a lot. But you should definitely have some. Also, for many dads, bathing their baby is a nice bonding experience, especially if the mother has breastfeeding as a special way to connect with the baby.
Swaddle and/or blanket
Your baby will most likely feel most comfortable and safe in those early days when they’re swaddled. You can purchase a swaddle for your little one, they often Velcro snuggly around the baby, or you can master the swaddle with a blanket. Both work effectively, and are especially useful when your baby is sleeping. Healthy baby’s often have a “startle reflex” which causes them throw their arms out. It often startles them awake. If you are able to keep your infant tightly swaddled, they are less likely to startle themselves awake. Also, bear in mind that they just came from pretty tight quarters (ie. your womb), so they like the warm, firm hold the swaddle provides.
Weather Appropriate Clothing
One of the things you can’t really bypass, even if you’re shooting to go minimalist with just the essentials for your newborn, is clothing. If you’re due to have your baby in July, you likely want to plan to dress your baby in warm weather clothing, rather than lots of long sleeves and sweatpants. Also, keep in mind that your baby may not be as big or as small as your doctor is predicting. For me, they though Little Man was going to be in the ballpark of 11 pounds, but he was 9 pounds 7 ounces instead. Thankfully I had a couple of different sizes I could dress him in, but it is always something to take into consideration.
A Safe Place to Sleep
In order to be prepared with the minimalist essentials for your newborn, you don’t need to have a fully decked out nursery with a crib in your child’s new room, as well as a bassinet in your own room. At first, anyway, you just need a safe place for your baby to sleep – somewhere that provides them with walls for protection, a firm (not soft) surface on which to sleep, and to be kept out potential harm’s way (such as pets or other children). A bassinet, pack-n-play, and crib are all great options. There are a lot of baby-safe options out there, but at the end of the day you do need somewhere that is safe and secure for your newborn to sleep.