When our first son was born, from the moment we left the hospital, I was overwhelmed at all the "stuff" - the baby items that the child needed. Other than how much I hated changing dirty diapers, the quantity of the things that the baby required was my biggest surprise upon becoming a dad. I remember how often we would leave our little apartment with the baby and it took nearly 30 minutes to get him and his "stuff" ready to leave.
Many of the things a baby needs are also needs for her parents. They make life with baby a little easier, safer and more convenient. This list is designed to help an expectant father understand the essential items that help the baby be secure and help dad enjoy those first months of parenting.
1. Car Seat. This is the most essential item for your baby. Anytime you are in the car, the baby needs to be securely fastened in a car seat. The seat must be appropriately sized for your baby and must work in your car. Not all car seats are created equal. You may want to consider a seat that has a base that is left in the car with a detachable seat for the baby that you can easily carry around. But no baby can safely be without a car seat if you plan to move about in a car.
2. Baby Monitor. Unless you or your baby's mom plan to be in the same room with the baby 24/7, a baby monitor is an important piece of baby gear.
These also come in different varieties. Some simply pick up the sound in the baby's room and let you listen nearby. Others have cameras or motion detectors as well for improved monitoring.
3. Mobile. When the baby is in her crib or bassinette asleep, she will wake up and want her family. A mobile, which attaches to the baby's bed above her head, will give her something to look at during her pre-sleep or post-sleep period.
And every baby needs something to look at during her earliest weeks and months to help her learn to track moving objects.
4. Digital Camera. Just about every father I know wants a good digital camera to record those important moments in a baby's development, or just wants to have and/or post pictures of the cutest baby ever. Choosing a good digital camera with either lots of storage space or room for a high capacity memory card is an important thing to do even before the baby arrives.
5. Diaper Bag. A good quality diaper bag with all the important contents for a baby is an absolutely essential part of the baby's stuff. It will be your mobile command center any time you are away from home.
6. Video Camera. In addition to a digital camera, you will also want to record your baby's movements, sounds and her interaction with others. A video camera that is compact and convenient is a good investment, not just for the baby years but beyond as well.
7. Burp Cloths. Another big surprise I had as a new father was how much our baby spit up.
Constantly is the word, and always at the most inopportune time. A ready supply of burp cloths is important for dads and babies. Cloth diapers can serve this function well, and most baby supply stores have them for purchase. Don't get dressed without one.
8. Infant Health Book or Software. One of the greatest unknowns for new fathers is how to keep the baby healthy and knowing when to involve medical professionals. A good book on infant health or software or trusted websites with this information is critical to being a responsible father.
9. Stroller. It is easy for a new dad to feel trapped at home with the new baby and her mom. Particularly with your first one, your mobility is seriously impacted. A good quality stroller, with handles long enough that you can walk without bending over all the time, is an important item. And getting one that will serve you and your baby as she grows makes the relatively large investment a little more palatable.
10. Baby Swing. There will be lots of times when, as much as you love her, the baby and you will want a little space. A good battery operated baby swing will give you that space without making baby fussy. Again, there are lots of makes and models of swings. Some play music, others have mobiles, and some make the sounds of the womb. But whatever model you get, make sure it is stable and solidly built and assembled.
These essential items will help ease the transition into fatherhood and will help you and baby be safe, comfortable and secure.