When I was pregnant with my first baby I basically declined from any and all baby gear. I had no idea what I was going to need and I didn't want to fall into the baby-stuff-trap. Just check Craigslist and you'll see what I mean - parents buy all this stuff, most of it made of plastic, and then they have to turn around in six months and get rid of it. Six months! Babies are infants for a mere six months.

Now that I'm just on the other side of having had two infants I'm putting together my list of essential non-essentials. This all the stuff you need after you've acquired all the stuff you need.

Babies need a place to sleep, something to catch the pee and poop, and milk. That's about it. I kid you not. But those are all very personal decisions that are tied into your parenting style and lifestyle, and so I won't cover those. This is the list of extras that make things a bit easier and won't overwhelm you with their obsolescence once the six months is up.

Aden + Anais Swaddle Blankets

Invite me to your baby shower and you will receive two of these. They are not to be missed. Great for swaddling, blanketing, car seats, sun protection, and the list goes on. They are breathable and lightweight to keep the baby warm in cold weather or cool in warm weather. They are large and can be easily tied down or tied to something or a toy tied to them to keep it close. Trust me, I'll say it again, these are not to be left out of your registry or arsenal. My first child still uses her A+A blankets, so this is a worth-the-investment item.

Pro tip: Scope your mama-to-be's registry for crib bedding and choose the set that matches those colors/patterns best. (Trust me, she'll notice the effort!)

Buy: New
Longevity: Infinite

OXO Candela

It is so hard to see in the dark while trying to latch a newborn or change a diaper, but yes, duh, turn on the light! But now you've woken everyone up and the baby is screaming and the light is too bright! Hence, the Candela. OXO is a dear favorite company of mine, and Candelas come in all shapes and sizes. Just get one. You can thank me later.

Buy: New (the rechargeable batteries go bad)
Longevity: into and beyond toddlerhood

Leachco Podster

This is an item I did not have with Baby One, but one I wished I'd had. Baby Two took so many naps in this thing in her first few months. It keeps babies upright (preventing reflux) and in place. It gives you "somewhere" to put the baby other than laying flat and is so easy to move from room to room. I no longer use it with her now that she prefers sitting up over reclining, so it has a really short lifespan, but it was essential in those first few months. Anything that aides in sleep? ESSENTIAL.

Buy: New (hard to find used)
Longevity: 2 months


I am a huge fan of babywearing and so there will be no stroller on this list. Strollers are evil. The end. Wear your baby until you cannot wear her anymore and then buy a stroller. You, your milk supply, and your baby will benefit greatly. I don't really prefer one carrier over another - they're all great - and all bodies are different, so find the one (or ones!) that work for you. I will say that the Ergo is great. You can share it with your partner (vs sized carriers), you can adjust it to fit whichever baby you're wearing, it has nice airflow, it goes from front to back, it can carry an infant, etc.

If you're really curious about babywearing, join a resource that has a "library" so you can try out different carriers before choosing.

Buy: Used
Longevity: 3+ years

Baby Björn Babysitter and Toybar

I didn't have a bouncy seat for my first baby, but first babies can get away without having a bouncy seat. It's not the bouncy part that matters, it's the putting the baby down so you have two hands part that matters. I knew this bit would be essential for Baby Two, so I found the only seat on the market that doesn't take batteries, doesn't vibrate, doesn't beep, boop, or sing. This is it. It's not ugly, it bounces ever so slightly when the baby kicks (or you can rock it with your foot), it reclines if need-be, and it is very easy to wash the cover, because you WILL wash the cover. Several times. (I now see they sell extra covers which is genius, but probably not necessary.) This is a first-six-months item as once babies can sit up on their own, they cannot use this chair (or any other chair like this).

Pro tip: I thought the toybar was dumb, but my used chair came with one, and I am SO GLAD it did. It's mildly entertaining, but also quite useful, developmentally, since a first milestone is reaching for an object. This gives them plenty of time for practice.

Buy: Used
Longevity: 6 months


If you invite my cousin to your baby shower, she will give you one of these, that's how I got mine. These are great because they are multi-purpose, which, it seems, is my game. Unlike other nursing pillows, you can use these for the baby later to aide in sitting up or tummy time. All good things. Maybe get an extra cover for quick changes when it becomes soaked in leaky milk.

Buy: New or Used
Longevity: Six months

Infant Gowns

Infant gowns. Never will there be any item of clothing that you will appreciate more than the gown. I am linking to L'oved Baby specifically because I like the design of this particular gown and the fact that it comes in pleasant, neutral colors. This gown can actually slip up over the baby's feet rather than trying to get it over their head. (I swear to you, you have never done anything more ridiculous than dress an infant.) And then the bottom can be shimmied up for a quick diaper change without undressing the entire baby. And if soiled, you just whip it right back down over their bodies and slip on another. Once they quit all that constant, never-ending pee and poop parade, put them in all those cute clothes you got at your shower.

Buy: New or Used and as many as you can afford
Longevity: One month (in newborn size)