It’s not nearly as much as you think.
Many adoption agencies discourage hopeful parents from buying any newborn gear prior to the baby’s birth. It can be extraordinarily painful to walk past an empty nursery day after day as you wait to be matched. I also discourage waiting parents from prepping, but for very different reasons. 1. Baby gear is constantly changing and no matter what you buy now, you’ll want the new version by the time your baby is born. And 2. If your baby happens to pop out prematurely, there will be specific things you need to buy and others that you won’t be able to use. (Did you know that preemies can’t be rocked? Good luck returning that custom glider and ottoman, Mama.)
On the flip side, non-adoptive moms are encouraged to buy hundreds of things that they absolutely do not need. That high chair is just going to collect dust for months before your kid is big enough to sit in it, and if you’re anything like me, you’ll find one that you like better by the time they’re ready for it.
I am proof that you need next to nothing to bring a baby home from the hospital. Below is a list of the essentials, all of which can be purchased on one trip to the store. Feel free to splurge on a crib if you must, but I promise you’ll have plenty of time to shop for one while your baby sleeps next to your bed those first few weeks (or months). If you’re a hopeful adoptive parent, send this list to your families and friends so they’re ready to shop when you get the call! And if you’re a biological mom short on storage space, don’t feel compelled to over prep. This list will get you started.
I’m a huge fan of Pampers for so many reasons, but I encourage you to resist the urge to stock up on any one brand prior to trying them. You never how you baby’s skin will react or how a certain brand will (or won’t) fit. Start with two packages and go from there.
Grab a couple of different brands in case one causes a reaction. You can shop our favorite here.
Disposable Changing Pads
For parents who don’t have a nursery or changing table set up. Speaking of which, I highly recommend this changing pad.
For bottle-fed babies, these are my favorites. But again, don’t buy too many in case they prefer a different style.
These were my favorites, and you can never have too many. Six years later, they make my favorite cleaning cloths.
If you have a preemie, be sure to check the minimum weigh limit on the seat you choose. We used this one for Levon.
Nothing smells better than baby body wash, but be sure to grab a hypoallergenic brand like this one in case your little one has sensitive skin like mine.
Don’t panic if you don’t have a nursery or bassinet set up. The 4moms breeze plus makes the perfect temporary crib and changing station, and it’s something you’ll continue to use even after your nursery is up and running.
In case you’re new to babies, they live in jammies. No need to splurge on tiny leather jackets just yet. Also from Target.
Jessica Butler is the co-founder of Raise, stepmother of two, and adoptive mother of one. Prior to Raise, she was a writer on USA’s "In Plain Sight" and TNT’s "The Last Ship." She and her husband, writer/producer Warren Bell, co-created the Nick at Nite series "Instant Mom," based on her life as a stepmother. She lives in Los Angeles with her husband and six-year-old son, Levon.