His exact question was "what is indispensable?" Well, I've become a bit of a minimalist about all this "parenting equipment" over the past for years. So here's some indispensables for first-time parents.
- Sleep. Find as much as you can whenever possible.
- Patience. When you are starting to lose it (you will), bring in back-up!
- Love. Lots and lots.
Stuff you need right away
- Car seat: You need with a "base" and a "carrier" that fits in it. The base is nice if you have two cars -- you get two bases, but only one car seat. Don't bother with the "car seat / stroller" system. They are bulky and your baby grows out of this first car seat after 12 months, but the stroller lasts a lot longer.
- Stroller: Choices are more about design and style than function. I recommend one that is LIGHT and EASY TO FOLD. You can also get one that is just a frame to hold the car seat for the first year. I liked this, then passed it onto the next new parent.
- Crib: Again, the differences are mostly about style more than function. The biggest functional difference is ones that "transform" later into toddler or full size beds. This is nice ONLY if you are only planning to have one child -- and you really, really like the crib design (so much that you want to keep it for years).
- Crib mobile: Get one that mechanically moves and has sound (that you like). Babies love the white noise and movement.
- Bassinet: Your infant will be sleeping in the same room with you for at least the first 1-3 months. The bassinet should fit next to your bed. You can get a co-sleeper instead, but I recommend a bassinet. I had to get a co-sleeper with my son because he would not sleep unless he could see me. Silly little boy!
- Baby (high) chair: We did NOT have a high chair for either kid. Instead, we bought a foldable chair that could be put in one of our kitchen chairs. High chairs take up a LOT of space. But, they are great if you spend a lot of time in the kitchen and want the baby to hang out with you.
- Baby swing and/or bouncy: This is where your baby can "sit" during the day when you are not holding them! Most babies love them. I recommend something that is small-ish with sounds that you like (you'll have to hear it a lot!). Also, it's nice to have one that is portable for trips.
- Blankets: Newborns love to be swaddled, so you need lots of baby blankets (they get dirty). I recommend ones that are super-stretchy and on the large side so that swaddling is easier.
- Clothes: Even though you are bound to buy tons of cute clothes (have fun! It's lots of FUN!), don't forget to buy lots of onsies and sleepers. You will not be dressing your kid to the nines every day.
- Baby bath/seat: I bought this freaking huge baby bath tub, but -- hey -- you can bathe a baby in the sink if you need to!
I am not going to start any mommy wars here, so here's just a glimpse of the hot topics related to baby equipment that you'll have to think about.
- Feeding supplies: I will not enter the great "breastfeeding vs. formula" debate here, but each has its own supplies. But let me add one thing: the two are NOT mutually exclusive despite what you might read!
- Pacifiers: I had pacifier babies, and I thought they were great, but others disagree.
- Diapers: Cloth vs. disposable. Each has its own supplies!
- Wraps vs. Baby Bjorn vs. nothing: Lots of people like to "wear" their babies, and think it's the best thing ever. I bought wraps and the Bjorn and several other things and hated them all. So did my babies. Seems like a personal thing!
This is stuff we found to be very handy, but I don't think it's a necessity for everyone.
- Car seat "coat": if you are having a winter baby, we liked this. It's so hard to get an infant into a winter coat! Instead, this puts the "coat" on the car seat, and then you stick the baby in the car seat. Much easier.
- Pack n play: We really liked having a pack n play. We set it up on the first floor, and used it for daytime napping. Also great for grandma's house. But, if this doesn't fit your needs (or your space), then it's just one extra thing.
- Boppy: The U shaped pillow that can be used for holding the baby.
These items are just not needed for newborns, so why buy them before you have the baby around? It's just more stuff to store! Wait until that little one is here. You'll have more opinions about what you like, what your baby likes, and how much tolerance for "stuff" you have.
- Exersaucers -- newborns are too small for these, and they take up a LOT of space. You'll know when you might want one, and if your baby might like it, so buy it then. You'll be more experienced with your baby and know what will work.
- Bumbo -- that's the molded seat. Again, newborns are too small. Some parents love the bumbo, some thought they were a waste.
- Baby monitors: You'll probably end up getting one (we all do), but I'll tell you now that you WILL be able to hear your baby unless you live in a mansion. I do have some moms who like them when they have older babies, and want to do gardening outside while baby naps inside.
- Baby gyms -- These are just expensive blankets with toys hanging from above! Nothing wrong with them, just not needed. Give your baby a blanket and a rattle.
- Bibs: You will need some, but some babies are drooly, some spit up and others are just generally messy. Before you invest in one kind of bib, find out what kind of baby you have.
- Non-infant car seats: Wait until the baby is bigger, then you'll know what kind of car seat you will want. There is a lot of variation, and the size of your baby will affect which one you pick.
- Food feeding supplies: Babies do not eat any "food" until 6 months. Just wait. You'll have more of an opinion by then!