Baby Shopping Guide: What You Need & What You Don’t

baby clothes

By Nancy Da Silva

Almost from the instant that you learn you are pregnant, you become seized with panic. You look around your house and think about how unprepared you are for this new arrival. You still have months to make your house ready for your baby but all you can see is that right now, you have none of the things everyone says you’re supposed to have!

Baby stores bank on this panic. They’re a billion dollar industry because every pregnant woman has that exact same fear: they won’t be ready for the baby’s arrival if they don’t have this or that!

I’ve been to a few baby showers in my time and invariably at the end of each one the mother-to-be is barely visible underneath the deluge of baby clothes, baby toys, baby accessories, baby-phanelia of everything imaginable, and I’m left sitting there thinking, does a baby really need all this? Is pregnancy just an excuse to lose your mind at the mall?

The truth is yes and no. Yes, there are things your baby needs but may not need right now. No, that baby iPod is not one of them.

Do you have time to do all this shopping? If you’re going to be having a baby shower (or anticipating one), check and see if you can do your baby gift registering online. That’ll save you an extra step. If you’re having a shower, you won’t have to actually go down to the store and pick everything out but can browse from the comfort of your own home, on your own time.

First thing you need to do is to remove the term ‘baby-proof’ from your mind for at least a year after the baby’s born. If you have your baby and when you bring him home he can lift the toilet seat or crawl to the stairs…call Ellen DeGeneres and tell her you have a baby she can showcase on those ‘amazing kids’ segments on her show. Your baby’s physical accomplishments are limited to sleeping, crying, eating (and only liquids at that!), and relieving himself. He can’t even lift his head. He isn’t getting into anything unless you put him there.

So saving any baby-proofing until your baby is mobile, what are some of the other baby items that you don’t need before the baby is born, at all, and the items that you do need?

Car Seat

This one is obviously a given and probably one of the first things you should get. You’ll need to get the baby home after all. Don’t get one that can double as a toddler seat later because not only will it be more expensive, but these have been found to be not as comfortable and supportive for your baby.woman shopping for a car seat


You might be surprised but you don’t actually need a crib for your baby, at least not for his first few months. Many parents like to have the baby in their bedroom for quick access and their own comfort, so feel free to pick a bassinet instead and keep it in your bedroom.

Also, resist the urge to go for the extravagant lining and frills, though admittedly, they’re nice to look at, they’re unnecessary and will just drain your wallet. Some babies even go straight from the bassinet to a toddler bed. If you do prefer a crib, make sure to buy one made after 1986 because older cribs don’t adhere to federal safety standards and may have the bars spaced too widely or parts the baby could choke on. You can splurge on one that can be converted to a toddler bed as long as the mattress is good and comfortable. Make sure to check that the vinyl is strong and sealed well. Looking for piping instead of a simple heat seal.


Yes, your baby needs clothes. No, he doesn’t need every single onesie made in the history of the world, and he also doesn’t need clothes in larger sizes, at least not too many. If you come across a sale for something you simply can’t resist in a larger size, by all means, grab it but don’t waste your money or time buying the majority of your baby clothes in a bigger size. You want your baby to be comfortable and be in clothes that fit him, whatever month he’s at. Since he’s growing so rapidly, you can’t really predict if that oversized snowsuit you bought him will still be too big in the winter or will be too small as early as July.

mom folding baby clothes

Baby Care

Definitely in the necessity column are things you need to care for your baby: -baby tub -baby lotion -diapers (and by extension a diaper bag, you’ll be using it more often than your purse for at least the next two years so pick one you really like) -baby nail clippers -thermometer -baby wipes (feel free to buy these in bulk) -diaper rash cream

Stock up on a few of the things above any other things that you know you’ll be using in the day to day care of your baby.

Feeding Supplies

Save the sippy cups and plastic dinosaur spoons or Cinderella bowls for at least another year. Your baby is not going to come out of the womb with the ability to eat solid food. Depending on whether your breastfeeding or not, what you do need may vary: -Breast pump -bottles -breast milk storage bags -bottle brush -bottle nipples

When you start to prepare for your baby’s arrival, resist the urge to buy everything the stores bombard you with. You don’t need to buy everything with the word ‘baby’ attached to it. Pick it up and if you know you’ll be using it within the first few months, put it in your cart, if not, put it back on the shelf as something that can wait until later.