the domestic tales of four sisters

The Ultimate Baby Essentials List

You may have been following my “Ultimate Lists” so far. Here’s the newest edition! (Up next: The Ultimate Labor Prep List. And yes … I will cover what I recommend you pack in your hospital bag. Which is apparently a BIG deal!)

Haven’t read the previous two and you’re expecting a baby? Check them out!

The Ultimate Postpartum Recovery List
The Ultimate Baby Gear List (For Small Spaces)


As I write this our one year old is upstairs whimpering and yelling at me because I did the unthinkable … I took her binky. Since she was nine months the binky has resided in the bed and was only used during naps and bedtime. Well, today, it met the trashcan. Never to be seen again. This is our first naptime sans binky, and let me tell you, I’m glad I’m doing it at 27 weeks pregnant instead of 37 weeks pregnant. I’d be in labor right now. I cannot handle children crying. It is the one noise that makes me truly, truly sad and stress out.

Moving forward (and hoping the anger over the monitor stops … ) I cannot believe that I am 27 weeks pregnant. I could have a baby anytime (Lord willing I don’t!), but I could have a healthy baby within 10 weeks. *insert panicked hysteria here* Each time I have a doctor’s appointment they’re really good about reminding me how the time is dwindling down. I think they all enjoy the fact that I have a one year old at home and they’re waiting to see how I handle my husband working 7AM-9PM each day with a newborn and one year old running around. Psh … I’ll show them.

I might not be showered, but I’ll show them.

It’s not quite “crunch” time here, but we are getting close!

Baby “Essentials” is a relative term. I know many people who have many different items on their list for “essentials.” This is MY list and you may find that these things work with you. It’s difficult to truly know what your baby will want prior to them making their arrival, which is why I really stuck to the basics. Surprisingly, she didn’t require much more than the basics. I was happy, because I didn’t need to buy anything else. 🙂

Because I chose to bottle and breastfeed I made sure I did purchase a few bottles before she was born. I also knew I was going to provide a binky. I had no latch issues or nipple confusion with my daughter. In regards to bottles or binkies – totally your call.

I’ll definitely mention why I think these items are “essential” and you can’t go without them! You should note, however, that portions of this list only applies to newborn through 4 months. Here we go!


 “The Ultimate Baby Essentials List”

1) Breast Pump & Pumping Essentials 

Many, many people will debate this with me. They’ll say that you should exclusively nurse and all of that jazz. I say that the best possible place that you can find ANY information on pumping while breastfeeding is As always you can talk to a lactation consultant.

My daughter never, ever “drained” me while I nursed her. (I had supply issues anyway – despite best effort to increase it.) This resulted in some seriously sore boobs and unevenness and whoa. Just not a good time for anyone. No way in the world would I ever want to breastfeed without a pump nearby. What I liked to do (since I was sitting down breasfeeding anyway) was to attach her to one side and pump the other side. When she decided she was done (which varied every single time) I would pump out what was left – if any. Early on, when my supply was just coming in and showing promise (ha!), the pumping SAVED me. My daughter DID NOT establish a latch until she was over two weeks old. I tried in the hospital and a few times at home and I was just unsuccessful. I resorted to pumping and bottle feeding. I’m hoping with this baby that I’m a little more successful breastfeeding and pumping – but only time will tell. 🙂

To avoid any discomfort and to help build up a little stock of breastmilk, I highly recommend you have a pump. I’m not saying you should be an exclusive pumper or an exclusive breastfeeder – totally your call. I am saying, either way, I highly recommend you have SOME form of pump on hand to help you out – especially in those early days when the milk is coming in and the baby’s stomach is still only the size of a ping pong ball!

I, of course, LOVE my Medela pump. And I don’t think I’ve ever heard anyone bash Medela pumps. Then again, I’m sure I could get on Amazon reviews for about 10 minutes and find a few. I do have a double pump (this one), but many have said this swing (singular) pump is amazing as well. Plus, it’s a little cheaper.

As I mentioned in my postpartum post – definitely have multiple cones and bottles if you do plan on pumping frequently. Will save you the hassle of having to wash frequently!

2) Gowns, Onesies, Socks, and PJs

I know, the newborn sweatervests are adorable. I get it. I’ve been there. Truth is those cute little outfits aren’t that practical when your baby is requiring about 10+ diaper changes a day. Plus, just a warning, a blow out is inevitable. You can try to avoid it all you want but eventually YOU WILL be cleaning up a massive blown out poopy diaper. It will be a nightmare for all parties involved. So please, please listen to me when I say …

Buy gowns, onesies, socks, and PJs. I mean, by all means, have a cute outfits in store for pictures but newborns truly don’t need to be all dolled up. They sleep, eat, burp, poop. 🙂

The beautiful thing about gowns is the don’t have buttons, snaps, or zippers. You can slip them over the head or I always slid them up over her body. As far as PJs – they’re just comfy. I’m not lying when I tell you that my daughter lived in gowns and PJs for the first 5 months of her life. I just didn’t feel right putting her in the cute little outfits when we were just hanging out around the house. And she STILL only wears PJs or sweatpants around the house.

Socks have always been an argument for certain moms. For me – we live in Wyoming, it’s cold, my kid is wearing socks. That’s your call. Just keep them away from your black labrador retriever. Because … apparently labs can’t resist eating baby socks and the smell of dirty diapers.

And of course, buy onesies. Lots of onesies.

White ones are best because you can bleach them to get the stains out.

3) Bottles, Binkies, and Sanitizing Bags

If you are planning on being an exclusive pumper – move to #4. If you are like me and preferred the pumping/formula/bottle feeding route – hang out here for a few minutes before progressing. 🙂

I did purchase bottles prior to my little one coming out. I did some research on the best bottles for nursed babies and I landed on Playtex Ventaires and Drop-Ins. My daughter didn’t have gas issues with either and guzzled them right down. This time, however, I am switching out the Ventaires for Avent. I will stick with the Drop-ins as well, but the truth is I’m not a huge fan of all of the parts that go with the Playtex Ventaires. Just a personal preference. As far as performance with my baby – I was not disappointed. I’ve just grown tired of sending Ventaire parts through the garbage disposal once or twice a week!

Playtex has recently revamped their bottle line making the nipples more “breast-like” which is wonderful for the nursed babies. Definitely check into these!

I wouldn’t recommend buying a slew of bottles prior to the birth of your baby, but I do recommend having at least 2 or 3 of the same type. Most bottles come in packages of 2 or 3, and if the baby likes them then you are not suffering with washing one bottle each time you need to use it until you can get to the store to get more. I had 6 bottles when my daughter was born, once I realized that the Playtex bottles worked perfectly for her we went out and bought more.

Note about Nipples: Buy “slow flow” for right now. Babies progress differently. My daughter did not make the leap to fast flow nipples until almost 6/7 months. I think (in my unprofessional opinion) this helped avoid lazy nursing. She was used to working to get her milk out of the bottle that it wasn’t a big shock when she had to work to get it out of me. Definitely something to keep in mind for those of you who nurse & bottlefeed! (Which, by the way, IS possible!)

Binkies. Don’t plan on using them? Skip down a few sentences and get to the sanitizing bags section. If you do plan on using the binky/pacifier – I have no input. While my daughter used one (clearly) it took me 3 different brands and attempts to get her to land on one she liked. Without a doubt I recommend that you have a pack of these pacifiers on hand for the first few weeks. Unfortunately, this is truly trial and error.

Note about Binkies: In the hospital I hid binkies in my bra. My daytime nurse scared me. I was a brand new mom and uncertain how to make my voice heard, because she was the nurse and I was just … the stupid new mom. When I mentioned my plans to pump exclusively she didn’t really care for my decision. Again, just doing her job and I didn’t know how to make myself heard without looking like a complete moron. She did NOT want me to give the baby a binky, but my baby did NOT want to nurse. I had been awake for 48 hours straight and I needed something to soothe my child. The binky happened. This time around I know how to make my voice heard and there will be no binky bra hiding and shame when I give him one. I don’t know what hospital protocol is for binky provision these days … so just make sure you have some on hand in case you choose to go that route.

Sanitizing bags are a LIFESAVER. Let me break this down for you … There was some “naysaying” by a certain mother in law claiming that I should ALWAYS boil bottle parts and binkies. Each time I used a sanitizing bag in her presence I heard about it. So this is the part where I say that my kid has only been sick ONCE in her whole first year … AFTER she was no longer drinking bottles. Yeah. Kids are funny that way.

Point is … Sanitizing bags work. Don’t waste a huge portion of your day boiling bottles and binkies and your pump parts. You’ll want to die. And THIS is one of the things that people will throw at you when they discredit your decision to pump/formula/bottle feed. “You have to clean bottles it’s just a hassle!” Not anymore. Because the people at baby item making companies came up with all of these wonderful tools that cater to women like us. And IT’S AWESOME.

After you’ve washed your bottles toss the parts into the bag, throw in a few ounces of water, and microwave. The steam does the sanitizing for you. And yeah, don’t freak out, your bottles are BPA free as are the bags. Don’t be afraid of the microwave.

Here’s Medela’s and Munchkin’s. I can only account for those two brands as they are the only ones I use. But seriously … Plastic bag with a hole in it … We’re not talking NASA crap here.

4) Blankets

You’ve probably been gifted a lot of these. Because my daughter was a January baby I had her bundled up for a good while, but basically you need 1 soft blanket and 1 swaddle blanket. Have backups on the swaddles just in case you need to wash one and the baby needs a good swaddle to sleep.

Or she’s a one year old who believes good sleep coexists around some stupid soft pink blankie and REFUSES to nap if it is in the dryer.

Here’s our two favorites! Aden & Anais Swaddle Blankets and Circo Knit Blanket.

I should mention that the Circo Knit Blanket is a “two-timer” in our family. Danielle’s oldest still has hers (at 8 years old) and though its a little worse for wear (with giant holes and very well loved) she loves it. My daughter has followed suit and has her very own knit blanket. It is very soft, easy to clean, and if your child doesn’t have a fascination with picking at things (Danielle…) it should hold up well over the years.

Aden & Anais blankets are not cheap. If you have a sewing machine (I don’t. Hint MOM Hint.) you can make your own relatively cheap using this tutorial and this fabric. As always, check out Etsy.

5) Diapers, Wipes, and Creams

Hey you who is currently working on your baby registry! Take your little price gun and walk down the diaper aisle. Register for that crap! Are you planning on cloth diapering? REGISTER FOR THAT CRAP! Don’t register for stupid toys that the kid won’t even be able to grasp for another few months. When your mother and mother in law ask you what you need? “DIAPERS!” When they keep asking you what you need? “DIAPERS AND WIPES! AND CREAMS! OH MY!”

Diapers are MONEY SUCKERS. Sure, you can cloth diaper and save a few bones. Go on with your bad self. Do your research, look into it. Lord knows I have (and considered it). We settled on disposable, and either way … diapers are expensive. Startup cost for cloth diapers? Expensive. Overall cost of disposable? Expensive.

My kid’s hiney only agrees with Pampers, Luvs, and Target Brand diapers. Trust me … many diaper rash breakouts later we’ve landed on the 3. And now Luvs has size 1! AWESOME.

Everyone told me that I wouldn’t use newborn diapers very long and to not “stock up” on them. But Danielle said the exact opposite. She didn’t have enough newborn and had to go and purchase more afterwards. Your newborn goes through a lot of diapers.

When my daughter came home from the hospital we had a pack of these Pampers Swaddlers Sensitive ready to go. We actually used 2 boxes of these. Newborn diapers usually fit babies up to 10 pounds. My daughter was only 7 pounds, so we were in these for a while.

Wipes. Danielle and I argue about this. I like good ole Walmart & Target brand sensitive wipes. They’re cheap and they work just as well. She calls them “crap” and only likes Huggies. Whatever.

Definitely have some wipes on hand. Don’t overthink this though. Buy sensitive of whatever you get for your newborn to be safe. (A good rule of thumb for all products you will put on a baby.)

If you are using cloth diapers you may want to skip to the next section now. From what I’ve gathered “creams” are a big no-no for cloth diapering. If you’re using disposable here’s what I use (why) and what I like (why).

Boudreaux’s Butt Paste – Natural: Desitin and other products like it DESTROYED my child’s butt. She’s only had a few diaper rashes (thank you child for pooping in the middle of the night and not waking to let me know it happened…) and when I tried using Desitin or Triple Paste it just made it worse. I purchased this and though I’ve had the same bottle this whole time, it works like a charm!

A+D Ointment: I apply this after each diaper change just as a barrier. Especially at night! It protects that bottom and bonus – I’ve found it works great for soothing her super dry skin that will occasionally flare up.

6) Humidifier (Noise Machine: Optional)

If you live in a drier climate (like Wyoming) you want a COOL MIST humidifier. Be certain to follow the manufacturer’s directions. We just bought a Sunbeam one at Walmart and I honestly can’t even remember what model number it is or anything. It was a hasty purchase. Your baby will sleep MUCH better and wake up less stuffy, less dried out, and have softer skin. (And no chapped lips!) This quiet noise of the humidifier will also help them to sleep better.

Don’t have or need a humidifier? Noise machine. I assure you, just a little bit of constant noise truly helps your little one fall asleep. You won’t be sorry.

7) Diaper Bag

“DUH!” No but seriously. Diaper bag. Make sure it has lots of pockets and compartments, has a lining, and preferably something your husband won’t be embarrassed to carry. 🙂

Before you leave the house always make sure you have burp cloths, wipes, diapers, cream, an extra change of clothes, extra blanket, extra binky, and a little first aid kit.

If you bottle feed – definitely, definitely make sure you have a bottle stashed in there too. Better safe than sorry, right?

8) Toiletries

Currently there is a huge angry debate against Johnson & Johnson. People SCREAMING about how “DARE” they put this and that in your child’s body wash. Yada, yada. Now to those of you who are “crunchy” to the core and wash your own body in your own homemade hemp soap – go ahead and scream like a banshee. But to those of you who have your shower walls lined with “whatever is cheapest” shampoo and conditioner and body washes – simma downa now.

And by the way … I don’t see some program out there helping moms who can’t afford to purchase the “less dangerous but always more expensive” baby products for their children. And please, please, PLEASE don’t be one of those people who claim if she can’t afford to purchase the “right” soap for her baby than maybe she can’t afford to have a child in the first place. Not cool, bro. Not cool.

Not going to lie … I put Johnson & Johnson in my kid’s bath water. She is washed with Mustela shampoo and soap. Lotioned with Mustela. But the occasional smear of Johnson & Johnson.

You know what is cool about being a parent? The decision is yours. I love Mustela products! It’s not even because they boast paraben/phosphate/yourmommafree products. It’s because my kid’s skin AGREES with it. And I know what many will say, “That’s because it doesn’t have all the junk in it!” Incorrect. I’ve used and tried many products that don’t contain the junk (to the sadness of our bank account) and honestly? The crunchy and free of all the things stuff doesn’t out perform in most cases! Mustela smells good, it is good to my kid’s super sensitive skin, and I love it.

The end.

See? It’s super cool being a mom. I can decide what I want without your input. Best part? I have done my research. So do your research. But just remember … it’s about what YOUR baby needs.

Here’s what I had on hand for her homecoming & first bath:

Mustela Newborn Foam Shampoo 

Mustela Hydra-Bebe Body Lotion

Mustela No-Rinse Cleansing Fluid (For those smelly moments prior to the first bath.)

Mustela Dermo-Cleansing Gel

Johnson & Johnson Bedtime Baby Bath

Note: I bought the cute towel sets for my baby and well … I’m not a huge fan. I would just use your regular towels and washcloths.

9) Immunization Card

Man, two controversial topics right in a row! If you choose not to vaccinate and you’re loudly and disrespectfully argumentative about it – your comments will not be approved. I’m all for healthy debate – go for it. But don’t be mean. Not cool.

If you (like us) have elected to vaccinate your children, definitely make sure you have up to date record cards that you keep in your wallet. The place that we get our immunizations done provides me with a card that they update for me each time we go. Some places may not do this, so try to keep them written down and on hand. This might not seem essential right away, but baby’s first immunization is as a newborn in the hospital. So you want that updated right then. That way if any emergencies do arrive and you end up in the hospital when they nurses ask, “Is she up to date on her vaccinations?” you can quickly hand her the card and they have everything they need to know.

10) Soft (Age Appropriate) Toys

When I had my daughter I was sitting with a fellow marine wife. I made a funny face at my daughter who smiled and then went back to sleep. The whole moment made my day. The fellow marine wife (who was having a bad day) chose to remind me that a) she probably can’t even see me and b) newborns don’t smile, it’s probably gas.

Thanks for that. I guess?

Truth is, yeah they can’t see that well and they’re like little old men. Doesn’t mean you can’t have brightly colored little rattles and toys to entertain them with and get those senses working. I wouldn’t invest a leg and an arm on these, but definitely have a small bag of them available for those moments when your baby is actually awake and you can entertain them.

Here’s what I had!

Sophie the Giraffe


More Rattles

Play Gym

Alright, that was another long one. 🙂

Apologies! Hopefully this helps someone somewhere. I’m off to make some Tandy Cake to document for the blog. What’s Tandy Cake you ask?

Well … you must not be from Pennsylvania.

You’ll find out soon!

Happy Monday, Friends!


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