A good friend of mine is having her first baby and asked for any advice I could give. So, I decided to do a little two-part series on the subject.
Let me start by saying I am in no way, shape or form an expert. But I'm happy to give my two cents. I'll start with a list of what to buy and what not to buy.
So, for starters, you'll need a crib. I wouldn't break the bank here. I'd look for one that's convertible to a toddler bed. I'd also go gender neutral if you're planning on having more kids. It's very tempting to think that you need to buy the best, but they outgrow it in no time. And then you have to buy a real bed that they'll keep for a lot longer. Some beds convert to full-size or twin beds, and maybe it's worth the money. I didn't do it that way. But I had twins, so it wouldn't have been practical for me anyway.
While we're on the topic of beds, make sure you have at least three crib sheets. You never know when you'll need an extra (or two)...
You also need a place to change diapers. I bought a nice dresser to match the crib and added a changing pad on top. Easy peasy. And when baby is out of diapers, you have a pretty dresser.
This little swing was a life-saver. It's the Boppy Rock-in-Comfort travel swing. It's inexpensive, can fit in your car and my kids loved it. You may also want a bouncy seat. They are great for colicky babies.
This Fisher Price booster seat is awesome. It's space saving, portable and will take your child through their preschool years.
Finally, get a good pack n play. You will use it when you travel, and you can use the bassinet in the first few weeks when baby sleeps in your room. It's also good practice to let your little one practice napping in it. Then when you're gone during nap time, it won't be so hard to get him down for a nap.
If you can, get a used full-size stroller, and buy a good umbrella stroller. They're portable and light. You'll use it often. Look for one that comes with a tray.
Absolutely DO NOT buy tons of toys. Keep in mind that the best toys are those that have been around forever and are not expensive. After hauling loads to the Goodwill, I've learned my lesson about buying things that last.
Well, that's about it for what to buy. Keep in mind that the lists from the store are made by people who want you to buy more stuff. And it's so tempting to want the best of everything, but it's not really necessary. So many things can be purchased used through Craigslist or local resale shops.
If you have any other advice, please share it in the comments section!