Baby needs


  • Originally written March 2008.
  • Updated 8/5/09 - added intro, header for books and Mother Goose.
  • Update 11/30/09 - baby name site, rearranging, reformatted a bit.
  • Update 8/24/14 - Minor grammar edits, fixed a couple typos, added some whitespace.
  • About this page

    When my good friend Diego was due to have a daughter, I wrote this page for him based on experiences with Anna. Since then, I've sent it to a few other people, so I figured I'd best add an explanation up front. This is bluntly worded, includes some cussing and is biased by my preferences. That said, enjoy and please send me mail if you have any comments!


    Naming the kid will take more time than you think. Make some of it amusing by trying the baby name voyager, which shows popularity of names since the 1800s. Cool stuff.


    If you're like us, you'll want to get at least somewhat prepared. this series is the best I've found:


    Stuff you need

    First off, you need to make a place for changing. You'll do this a few thousand times, so it's important. We went with a cheap Ikea chest of drawers and a changing pad on top. Make sure and get some slip-on covers so you have a spare while the other(s) are in the wash.

    Table and pad

    Nearby you'll want a diaper pail. You want it to be airtight and easy to change, there are two major types. We went with the diaper champ and like it. You can use generic bags, which is easier and cheaper, but its less airtight and thus smellier than than the other brand.

    Ze genie

    One non-obvious thing you'll want isauto-on LED nightlights. Put 'em everywhere, as you'll be up at all hours stumbling around in a haze of fatigue. This way, you can see what you're doing and even change diapers without turning on the lights.

    Auto-on LED

    I also tried push-on lights above the changing table, so-so effectiveness. This one is a little too bright:


    Moving on to the contents of the baby dresser. We put diapers, wipes, ointment and incontinence pads in the top drawer where they're easy to grab. The pads are useful the first few months when both you and the baby are likely to make messy errors - just roll up and toss. Later on, the errors diminish and you can go back to just a washable cover.

    Main stuff
    In the second drawer, medicinals:
    1. Acetominophen is now a complete no-no except in emergencies. Seems to cause autoimmune diseases like asthma later in life.
    2. Ibuprofen is now the go-to drug for fevers and such.
    3. Simethicone anti-gas, a godsend at times. After we learned how well it works, we got some for me as well in the adult version.
    4. Lotion (Cetaphil brand, dermatologist friend recommended)
    5. Knife for opening all those goddamn blister packs
    6. Baby Q-tips, really nice to have
    7. Orajel swabs for teething (started early at 4 months)
    8. Nail clipper
    9. Temporal thermometer - more expensive, but you don't have to stuff it up their ass while they scream. Put that way, it's cheap. Ear thermometers are a lose, as ear infections make them more sensitive, meaning that they scream if you try to take their temperature.
    10. Ear/nose bulb
    11. Sunblock - not needed early on, no sun for six months
    Spares and stock - it's a bad idea to run out, but don't overstock because they grow so fast.


    We like Pampers Baby-Dry diapers and Huggies wipes, worked best for us.

    Don't even think about skipping the rubber ducky:
    You're the one!

    This isan infant tub, you put it in the sink or tub and position the kid in 1 of 3 ways depending on age. It is magnificent, we use it every night.


    Stores up against the wall in the corner:

    A baby monitor is useful when you get to the stage of them sleeping alone. This Graco is reasonable, digital and didn't hose my WiFi:


    Make sure and turn it off when not in use, as they're common and you probably don't want to broadcast your bedroom to the neighborhood.

    When s/he gets old enough to support their head, you'll be carrying them. A lot. This pack from REI works well for me:

    Deuter pack

    happy anna

    and early on she was comfortable in this sling from Premaxx:

    my sling

    Three strollers:

    stroller array

    The leftmost (Combi Savvy, from Susan) is preferred nowadays,the middle carries the carseat (Chris likes it for carrying the carseat and uses it at work.) and was good early on. The right is a jogging stroller from a co-worker, not sure if I like it yet. It's large. These days the Savvy is preferred:


    Chris likes this sling from

    They spend a lot of time 'playing', which early on is mostly just lying on their back looking dazed. This Tiny Love Gymini works well for that:

    Play mat

    Action shot:

    in use

    Graco Carseat, covered in previous email:

    To get them to sleep, apowered swing is wonderful. Works better than you'd think:


    There's also a bouncy chair, also popular. Not sure which one is ours, it was a gift from a neighbor.

    bouncy chair

    You're gonna end up with lots of small toys. These stackable boxes from the Container store work OK for getting them off the floor:


    This one might surprise you, but consider the Roomba 560. Ours is programmed to run Tu/Thurs/Sat, and does a fine job. It's a cheap way to keep the floors clean, is fun to watch, and makes Mom happy. ;)

    Diaper bag and related

    We're using a Lands' End canvas bag that was a gift from Grandma. Good size, washable, reasonable pockets, tough, easy to fill and empty. On top is the All Important Skip-Hop portable changing pad.

    This holds diapers, wipes, and is an absolute requirement. Carry it everywhere, no joke. You can change a baby anywhere with this thing:

    Promo image
    Another useful thing is this small plastic bag dispenser. We got it at Target for under $3, and keep it clipped to the keyring holder in the diaper bag. You use it when you get a messy diaper while out and about; contains the mess and smell. Highly recommended. (Can't find a URL, sorry)
    Bag holder

    Bottles, nursing and related

    For nursing, two things made a big difference here. First off, a support pillow to hold the kid, with the awkward name of 'My Brest Friend'. (No picture, you pervert!)
    Secondly, the Medala nipple shields saved a great deal of pain all around. Ask your MD first, but try 'em if the kids is abusing the goods. There are several breast pumps, we have tried two. Get the PJ's Comfort Junior breast pump and carrying case: (For some reason, women don't want to carry a bag around that says 'breast pump' on it. Go figure.) The PJs bag is a nice backpack:


    Factory image:

    Comfort JR
    There is also the Medela pump; spend the extra and get one of the two. A cheap pump is misery incarnate.

    We don't have a dishwasher, and you do wash a lot of bottles. We got the Avent iQ 24 sterilizer, you still have to handwash but this sterilizes in 6 minutes flat. Wonderful, worth considering because its so much faster and more effifient than a dishwasher:

    It's just a boiler with microcontroller, so get a jug of distilled water with a valve to you can easily dispense water for boiling. Otherwise you get scale and crud on the heating element. (It comes with a measuring cup, takes 90ml so a jug lasts months). I put ours on top of the fridge; out of the way but trivial to dispense from.


    A drying rack is cheap and helpful:

    We like the Dr Browns bottles; the flow valve minimizes back pressure so they can drink easier. This is supposed to reduce ear problems, as they don't have to suck as hard as the bottle empties. So far, so good here anyway.

    Chris discovered that this stuff really helps. I make her a pot every morning, and she usually has some in the afternoons as well:

    And she'll need a big box ofthese fine products. Spend the extra for Lansinoh brand, and note that they are asymmetric front-to-back.



    We are still wrestling with this one. We started out with a Graco travel lite, with the idea that it'd be next ot the bed and she'd sleep there. Hah! It ended up next to my desk as a playpen we can keep in sight. Still useful, though. Chris's brother and wife like the Arm's Reach co-sleeper, that's probably a better idea than the Graco.


    Early on, they should sleep on their back and like to be cozy. You can use rolled-up blankets,the baby boppy and we highly recommend a set of the Miracle Blanket. Swaddling really helps for the first few months, even if it does feel weird.

    rolled up

    baby boppy

    Now, we're using a regular crib where I left one side off. It's up against the side of the bed with a towel rolled into the gap, so she can safely transit. That way, she'll nurse to sleep and Chris can then slide her over into the crib. A work in progress.


    Here's a a detail of the gap filler:
    gap fill

    Favorite toys

    Bright colors, varied textures, and easy to grab. These are perennial favorites. Most are Haba-brand.
    Wiggle worm: (Can't find a URL, sorry)

    Wiggle worm



    Anything with a mirror and music is good:


    (Yeah, I was holding Anna while I wrote this and took the pictures)


    The simple wooden ring is so popular we call it 'the one true ring.' Yeah, I know. The other thing is supposed to be a bib clip, but she loves it as a toy.

    more toys

    Interestingly, the painted wood toys with simple connections are the favorites. This plastic sphere also has its moments too. Personally, it looks like an aquatic mine to me, but who cares what I think, eh? Mostly Haba.

    More favorites

    For the father

    You cannot possibly be expected to cope without a 30" LCD:

    Size matters

    (and the iPhone is perfect for reading Google RSS feeds while the kids naps, plays or otherwise requires half-attention.)

    Don't forget a waterproof watch, at least 100m. It'll get doused a few times! Make sure its readable in the dark, too. Heck, you deserve this for becoming a father!
    RGM 300
    (Sorta just kidding.)

    There's also the excellent guy-oriented book:

    Meta and misc

    By far the most useful thing I've done in all of this was to try Amazon Prime. You can get damn near anything, the reviews help in the product selection, and it arrives fast. Prices are good to excellent, and it saves a shitload of time you'll need for the kid.

    Cameras and camcorders

    We bought a fancy camcorder, but you might be better served with the Flip instead (Amazon link)

    Books, CDs and DVDs

    Early on, this CD worked pretty well as background noise for sleeping:

    She will love cloth books, which have texture and can be chewed. This one is the favorite:
    fuzzy bee

    My mom (with six kids) says I've erred in forgetting the Mother Goose:
    The very first thing I bought for babies was an excellent Mother Goose book. You can read them and sing them from day one and it is amazing how much they learn and what fun they can have. Educationally it's nothing but great.
    So here you go.