Absolute Basics

Find out which baby gear is essential and how to buy the four most important items, then indulge in a few choice luxuries.


There are as many places to shop as there are baby products to buy, and those miles of aisles (not to mention all those websites) can be more than a little intimidating—especially if you’ve never done this before. To help, we’ve compiled checklists, product recommendations and a guide to what to buy and when.

Probably the most important necessities are what we call “The Big Four”: a car seat, a carrier, a stroller and a safe place for your baby to sleep. Baby-products expert Sandy Jones, co-author of Great Expectations: Your All-in-One Resource for Pregnancy & Childbirth (Sterling Publishing, 2004), provides some helpful hints for planning these purchases. For the rest of the guide, we’ve pared down the fluff to tell you what you really need. And of course, there’s always room for a carefully chosen luxury or two, so you’ll find a few of those as well. Happy (and smart) shopping.

{0-3 months}

first days home

A comfortable breastfeeding pillow The Boppy

Luxe, $35, is indispensable: It supports your baby while

saving your back and neck. Others we love Big V Maternity

& Beyond Pillow, $60; My Brest Friend Nursing Pillow, $39.

An excellent infant car seat The rear-facing Britax Companion Car Seat, $170, securely holds your 4- to 22-pound baby. Others we love Baby Trend Latch-Loc, $90; Graco SnugRide, $100; Safety 1st Designer, $80.

A convenient nursing top The comfortable Glamourmom Nursing Bra Tank, $39, lets you breastfeed discreetly. Others we love Mimi Maternity Velvet Nursing Shirt, $58; Motherwear Drop-Cup Nursing Camisole, $29.

A simple first toy The Alternative Baby Wooden Rattle, $14, is crafted from lovely cherry wood and has a nontoxic finish. Others we love Haba Flori, $12; Manhattan Toy Skwish, $15; Sassy Circle Rattle, $4.

Great bottles The Playtex Premium Nurser Bottle, $4, features a NaturaLatch silicone nipple. Others we love Avent Natural Feeding Bottle, $5; Gerber ComfortHold Bottle, $3; Tigex MultiFlow Bottle, $5.

A speedy breast pump The Medela Pump In Style Advanced, $349, helps you achieve maximum milk flow fast. Others we love Avent Isis Manual Pump, $50; Playtex Embrace Breast Pump System, $299.

A stylish diaper bag A sleek design makes the Skip Hop Expo, $68, a basic bag that mom or dad will love. Others we love Combi Urban Sling, $50; JJ Cole Essentials Bag, $30; Kelty K.I.D.S. Diaper Daypack, $60.

An easy-to-use basic stroller With the Inglesina Zippy 2005 1/2, $299, you can just lock in your infant car seat with the straps provided. Others we love Baby Trend Snap ’N Go, $50; Maclaren Techno XT, $300; Peg Perego Pliko P3 MT, $310; Graco Snug Rider Infant Car Seat Frame, $60.

Diapers that don’t leak The fold-down waistband on Huggies Newborn Diapers, 40/$11, protects the infant’s sensitive umbilical cord area. Others we love Pampers Newborn Swaddlers, 40/$10; Seventh Generation Chlorine-Free Diapers, 46/$12.

Gentle skin soothers For a soap-free cleanser, try Aveeno Essential Moisture Bath, $4, with oatmeal, milk and soy ingredients. Others we love Baby Magic Botanicals Baby Lotion, $3; Johnson’s Softwash Gentle Cleansing Cloths, $5.

A cozy carrier The stylish BabyBjörn Baby Carrier Active, $120, lets your baby face in or out. Others we love JJ Cole Premaxx, $50; New Native Sling 100% Cotton Baby Carrier, $40.

A comfortable nursing bra Super-soft fabric makes the Medela Light Support Bra, $30, a great choice for sore breasts. Others we love Bravado Designs Supreme Nursing Bra, $50; Motherwear Smooth Support Lace-Trim Bra, $24.

A sanity-saving seat Bouncer seats, such as the Fisher-Price Baby Papasan Infant Seat, $50, give baby a safe, fun place to rest. Others we love Baby Einstein Discover & Play Piano Baby Bouncer, $40; Maclaren Folding Baby Rocker, $70.

{4-6 months}

the next steps

Fun bath toys This cute Baby Einstein Bath Puppet, $5, makes bath time playtime. Others we love Munchkin Sea Squirts, $5; The First Years Soft Ducky, $2; Tiny Love Froggle, $20.

A perfect lightweight stroller The Maclaren Volo Stroller, $100, is ideal for traveling. Others we love Chicco Caddy Umbrella, $50; Combi City Savvy, $100.

A versatile bathtub Use The First Years Tub-to-Seat Bath Complete, $25, in the sink or on a countertop for your infant, then convert it to a tub seat when your baby can sit up. Others we love Primo EuroBath, $30; Summer Infant Newborn-to-Toddler Folding Tub, $18.

A well-built crib The solid-wood Delta Luv Chesapeake Crib, $300, converts for 3 other uses. Others we love Bellini Isabella, $599; Child Craft Canterbury, $299; Baby’s Dream Infinity, $299–$329.

{7-12 months}

growing up

Babyproofing essentials The Eddie Bauer Wood Swing Gate, $90, keeps little ones out of rooms they shouldn’t be in. Others we love Safety 1st One-Touch Cabinet & Drawer Latch, 4/$4; KidCo G60 Elongate, $90; Summer Infant Safe & Secure Sliding Door Lock With Alarm, $5.

Clever toys The lively tunes and fun sounds of the Fisher-Price Roll-a-Rounds Jungle Friends Treehouse, $25, will captivate your baby. Others we love Brio Pull-Along Engine, $13; IQ Baby Giggle Peek-N-See Book, $3; Manhattan Toy Big Top Sounds, $30.

A safe convertible car seat The Evenflo Triumph DLX, $150, works as a rear-facing seat for infants up to 30 pounds and as a forward-facing seat for babies 20–40 pounds. Others we love Cosco Alpha Omega Elite, $160; Safety 1st Intera Convertible Car Seat, $140.

Fun “feed me!” products The Gerber Training Plate, $3, and Lil’ Dipper Feeding Utensil, 2/$4, will help your little one get the hang of feeding herself. Others we love Evenflo SipRite 2-in-1 Trainer Cup, $4; KidCo Natural Feeding Set (includes food mill, freezer trays, feeding guide and more), $60; The First Years Smart Serve Suction Bowl, $4; Tigex Thumbole Plate, $6.

A versatile highchair The contemporary, solid beechwood Kettler Futura, $150, grows with your baby, thanks to an adjustable seat, footrest, backrest and feeding tray. Others we love Eddie Bauer Wood High Chair, $100; One Step Ahead Euro II Highchair, $100; Peg Perego Prima Pappa Rocking High Chair, $180.

{the luxe life} Splurge! By Colleen Moriarty

Lounge act The ultimate in cozy comfort, the Baby CZ Cashmere Layette Set, $210, comes with a sweater, pants and a hat. Others we love Larucci Tie Knit Romper, $80, and Knit Hat, $30; Tea Collection Eternal Layette Chinese Jacket, $48, and Pants, $32.

Cool rider The Bugaboo Cameleon, $879, lives up to its name: It can be configured several different ways to make getting around to the park or the beach and even

dining at a restaurant a breeze. Others we love Inglesina Classic Pram, $568; Peg Perego Giovanne, $599; Stokke Xplory, $749.

Wrap stars Bundle your baby in a Lucky Jade Cashmere Blanket, $48–$250; it’s as soft as a newborn’s skin. Available in mini and regular sizes. Others we love Barefoot Dreams Cozy Chic Receiving Blanket, $56; Pottery Barn Kids Chamois Blanket, $29.

Take a hike Hit the trail with the Kelty K.I.D.S. Tour, $100. Adding to your comfort: padded shoulder straps, a mesh back panel and an adjustable waist belt. Others we love Deuter USA KangaKid Backpack, $129; REI Tagalong Child Carrier, $99; Sherpani Rumba SuperLight, $150.

Bottoms up Take the chill and tears out of diaper changes with Prince Lionheart’s Ultimate Wipes Warmer, $22. It comes with an “Ever-Fresh pillow” to keep wipes moist and prevent browning. Others we love Dex Products Travel Wipe Warmer, $17; Munchkin Deluxe Wipe Warmer, $20.

Play station A play mat extraordinaire, Haba Dream Meadow, $169, has built-in toys that squeak, rustle, crinkle and twirl. Others we love Evenflo Exersaucer SmartSteps, $99; Graco Baby Einstein Discover & Play Activity Center, $80; Tiny Love Gymini Total Playground, $70.

Off-roading Take baby along as you get your body back. The BOB Revolution Stroller, $359, has a suspension system that provides 3 inches of cushioning to minimize bouncing. Others we love Dreamer Design Manhattan, $300; Phil&Teds e3 Buggy, $379.