Baby Must Haves: What You Really Need to Buy for Your Newborn26 June 2023 | Before Your Baby is Born | By Lisa H
Did you know that on average, new parents in Germany spend around €3000 on the “basic” items and equipment for their baby? As the due date approaches, many expecting couples get busy making lists and purchasing items for the new baby. But what do you actually need and what can wait till after the infant is born?
Many people with older kids and many birth professionals will tell you “All the baby needs is you, some diapers, a hat and maybe a blanket.” But that of course is not what you want to hear when you’re in the midst of the urge to nest – at least I didn’t want to hear that ;)
Now that we have done it twice, I would largely agree that in the early weeks a baby really doesn’t need all that much and certainly, not everything needs to be new.
I recruited doula Keatyn Jayne to help me make the ultimate list of what new parents do and don’t need. Keatyn is a birth and postpartum doula in Berlin. She has a passion for helping parents feel empowered and educated to birth and bring up their infants in a way that feels best for them. She is also a trained infant sleep educator. You can learn more about her work at www.birthandbeyond-berlin.com.
So here are our recommendations for what to buy for the baby:
Clothes for the baby
4-6 baby onesies (Kimono style (called Wickelbody in German) are great so you don’t have to pull them over the baby’s head!) It can be helpful to just have a couple in the newborn size, and then once your baby is born and you know their size you can order more.
1-2 Thin, cotton hats plus a warmer one for winter babies
4-6 pairs of pants or tights
2 pairs of warm socks
4-6 tops (Kimono style are great again)
1-2 warm jackets or suits for winter babies (Walkanzüge made from wool are fantastic, if expensive)
2 sleeping sacks (the Alvi 3-part sleep sacks were great for us, if expensive)
A comfy baby blanket
6-8 burp cloths (if you get a couple of oversized ones you can also use them for swaddling and later on be used as a thin summer blanket, for building caves etc.)
For sleeping and other furniture
A baby crib or bedside sleeper (Beistellbett in German) with a firm mattress from a smoke-free home (if getting second hand) – see Keatyn's controversial opinion on baby cribs in our follow-on article "What You DON'T Need to Buy For Your Newborn"
2-3 fitted sheets (very important that they fit snug)
2 water resistant fitted sheets or Molton cloths
Baby monitor as needed
Stuffed animal that plays lullabies and/or a soft toy
A chest of drawers or similar for the baby clothes
Baby care and changing station
Changing station (for example on top of the dresser or the washing machine)
Changing pads: 1 padded one plus thin ones (disposable or washable, such as old towels)
Diapers (cloth or conventional) – Just buy a pack or two to start, as you never know if that size will fit your baby and/or if the brand will cause a rash or sensitivity. Or, you can check out Windeltestbox and get diapers from the 12 most popular brands in Germany sent to your house.
Wet wipes and/or cotton wash cloths
Diaper rash cream
A heating lamp for the changing table (if needed)
Baby bath tub (there are even foldable ones for parents with small apartments) and a water thermometer if you don’t feel comfortable gauging the temperature by hand
Baby nail scissors or a spinning nail file, which is very gentle and some parents find it less daunting than scissors
Baby (rectal) thermometer
Soft baby hair brush (if your baby is born with a lot of hair)
2-3 hooded baby bath towels (cotton)
A soft and comfy play mat (called Krabbeldecke in German)
A moses basket or stroller with a detachable bassinet – having a portable, safe, firm, flat space to set the baby down is really important. If you need to answer the door, use the toilet, make a coffee… you can’t always do everything with one arm! And babies can roll/move quicker than you might expect, so a couch is not always a good spot. Flat, firm (but not rock hard) surfaces are always the best for the baby's developing brain and body.
On the go
Rain cover for the stroller and footmuff for the colder days
Fitted sheet for the stroller mattress
Baby car seat if you have a car - best to get these first hand, as second hand car seats could have damage or be old, and thus no longer safe
Diaper bag (Windeltasche – by this I mean just a small bag to fit 2-3 diapers, an on-the-go changing pad, small lotion, etc. like this one from Lässig)
For the parent/s
Milk Collection Cups: if you are leaking a lot of milk between feeds, these cups will collect it for you. You can also use cloth/disposable pads to soak up the milk…but you would be surprised how quickly those dribbles add up and you can use that milk to feed or bathe your baby. You can also use a Haakaa pump to collect a little between feeds.
Silver Nipple Protectors : great for breastfeeding. These bad boys keep your nipples protected between feeds. The silver is antibacterial, so it also helps with healing cracked/blistered nipples.
(Also see our recommended list of postpartum products, which includes the above mentioned nursing pads and nipple protectors).
As you can see, this is still quite a lot of stuff but you don’t need to buy everything new – in fact, for clothes, secondhand can be even better as any chemicals will have already been washed out and can’t irritate the baby skin anymore. Likewise, lighter colors are better for baby skin than darker colors.
Make sure to buy baby clothes made from natural materials, such as cotton or wool. Onesies made from a mix of wool and silk are wonderful in the beginning because they are super soft, they help the baby regulate their body temperature and are also very hygienic (meaning less time you need to spend washing clothes!).
Last but not least, a word on sustainability:
There’s also great ways to easily substitute some of the many disposable baby items with more sustainable options – you don’t need to use cloth diapers to care for the environment (although this is certainly one of the ways to save on throwaway articles). For example, instead of wet wipes, use a soft washcloth and some water. Instead of disposable changing pads, use old towels that you can wash. Visit your local baby store to find out more information on any of these items. We will cover more tips like this in another article, so stay tuned!
Are you overwhelmed by the sheer amount of information, brands and models? Here's a guide on how to choose the right stroller for Berlin city dwellers.