Here’s a non-answer for you: It totally depends on you and your kids.
My husband and I bike everywhere so a bakfiets was an essential piece of equipment.
My husband and kids are 95th percentile people so the largest carseats out there were a good buy for us.
We keep our house at about 55 degrees in the winter so we used a wipes warmer to prevent screaming when icey cold wipe hit warm baby bum.
I have a bad neck so a Mei Tai was a fabulous option (my friend loves her Bjorn but it kills my neck).
We co-slept so a crib was a non-issue.
Our son wouldn’t take a paci but our daughter is addicted so when he was a baby, a paci clip seemed like a worthless extravagance, but with her it is an absolute necessity. If I’m across town and I realize we left her paci and paci clip at home, I actually buy a new one. And I’m an enormous tightwad.
We’ve never used a diaper bag. If we’re only gone an hour or so, we take nothing with us. If we’re going to be gone longer, we use a backpack. Diaper bags are just a pain to deal with.
Neither of my kids would sit in either a swing or bouncy seat though I desperately wished they would. Half of my brothers wouldn’t sit in a swing/bouncy seat either and half would.
For me, a changing pad was a must. I know a lot of people who just use a bed/sofa/floor.
We don’t have room in our house for a huge high chair but we love our Fisher Price space saver high chair…it tips back and our babies both liked sitting in it while we cooked or did dishes and it became a high chair and then a booster seat for my son and is now doing it’s second round with my daughter.
I love the drying grass…but I work and pump and my baby has to be on a twice daily medication and loves pacifiers, so I dry a lot of bottles and nipples and pump parts and syringes and pacifiers. If I stayed home, didn’t pump or use bottles, had a baby who didn’t use a paci or take medication…the thing would be useless.
The giant strollers are evil. Get something that folds up easily and you can easily get in and out of your car. Because of my husband’s height, we had to do a lot of research to find something big enough for him and easy enough for me to lift. We like the Graco Ipo as a good middle ground. That said, we try to use it as little as possible. I see four year olds who refuse to walk anywhere. We prefer our kids to get places on their own feet when possible.
I love the Aden and Anais muslin blankets for everything…swaddling, nursing coverup, to put between a sweaty baby head and my arm to soak up the sweat, for throwing over my shoulder in case of surprise urp, for playing peak a boo. 🙂
We cloth diaper and have never, ever used a diaper sprayer or rinsed out diapers in the toilet. Maybe it’s because we do extended breastfeeding, but it’s just never been an issue. If we were rinsing diapers, I would definitely get a sprayer.
We didn’t really childproof but if you are planning on it, ask for the supplies on your registry. They can get expensive pretty quickly. We do have two baby gates so we can close off both doors to any room in the house. If you have stairs, a stair-safe baby gate is a must.
Never carry your baby in an infant car seat. As a physician, I have seen innumerable injuries from doing this.
Ask for lots of indestructible books (“chubby board books”). You will need these for the first couple years and it will keep you from going batty reading the same five over and over.
Nosefrida. Babies can’t blow their noses and those bulb suctions don’t work very well. When you have a sick kid, you’ll be glad you have it. 🙂 I couldn’t imagine parenting without one.
Don’t bother with “real” clothes for newborns except maybe a couple outfits for photos and 100th birthday parties of elderly relatives. You end up changing them so often it’s easier to just live in onesies and jammies. Ask for 3-6 month clothes as well as 0-3. You hit a wall a few months out when you run out of baby shower stuff if you don’t think to the future. It’s nice to have onesies and jammies up to 1 year if possible. This is the last time people will be showering you with excessive amounts of stuff so make it last!
Do whatever makes your life easier. If you have a baby who doesn’t sleep well, make yourself a cozy nest for night parenting. If you are going to pump your milk, get a Pumpease support so you’ll have your hands free. If your baby loves the swing, have one in each major living area of your house so you don’t have to carry it around.
Ask for diapers and specify exactly what you want. Whether you use cloth or disposable, you’ll need diapers. We asked for the first two sizes of cloth diapers and covers and didn’t have to pay for diapers until my son turned out to be a late potty trainer and needed one size bigger. We used the same diapers for my daughter but had to get new covers. So we’ve spent almost nothing on diapers. Pretty cool.
Ask for a carseat. You can’t leave the hospital without one so you know it will get used!
Don’t bother with a “complete nursery care kit” with all the clippers and suckers and combs and stuff. You won’t use most of it.
Ask for stuff for YOU. Nipple cream, body butter (something safe for babies since you’ll be doing lots of cuddling!), one of those neck packs you can put in the microwave or freezer, a breast pump if you’re going to pump, gift cards to your favorite restaurants, new slippers, whatever is going to make your life better and easier. That is stuff you KNOW will get used.
Sorry. I totally didn’t play by the rules. I was having so much fun I listed way too much. If you’ve read this far I apologize! 🙂