The Baby Essentials You Need: Feeding, Care, and Cleaning (Pt. Two)

Published on 03/20/2023 · 15 min readBaby & Toddler Expert Robbie M. lists all the feeding, care, and cleaning essentials you'll need around the house for your little one!
Robbie M, Baby Expert
By Baby Expert Robbie M

Photo by Khoa Pham

A new little one in the house is going to require a lot of must-have items that you've likely never even thought of before your baby arrived! It can be hard to know what items you actually need, and what items are not necessities.

As a dad of a two-year-old, my wife and I have really narrowed down the can't-live-without items and the items you can skip over!

See below for a comprehensive list of the best baby essentials for feeding, care, and cleaning! Don't miss Part One of this series for nursery necessities and Part Three for outings and playtime!

What Will I Need Around the House?

While you may spend a good amount of time in the nursery, a majority of your baby’s life will happen in the rest of your home. We spent countless hours with our son on the floor of our living room and having the items listed below within arm’s reach made life so much easier. Having these objects around the house can make for an easier day; take a look at my necessities below.

Burp Cloths

Photo by Carrie Allen

Why Do I Need Burp Cloths? One item you cannot have too many of throughout your home is the burp cloth. When it comes to spit-ups, it’s not a question of if, but when. After having several shirts lovingly decorated by my son’s spit-up, I learned to always keep a burp cloth within arm’s reach. Be sure to look for clothes made of machine washable materials as burp cloths get a lot of use either as shields or towels. Soft muslin cotton is preferred.

Benefits:

  • Smaller pieces of cloth can be more easily washed than adult clothing
  • Low cost
  • Many color and size options available

Be Aware:

  • You can never have too many burp cloths; also consider having them in different locations around your home
  • Make sure you wash your burp cloths after use to ensure they don’t retain bacteria and other nasties

Portable Diaper Changing Station

Not every diaper change needs to happen in the nursery. My wife and I found that having portable diaper changing stations in the areas we spent the most time with our son was incredibly helpful. Our kit was built with a small divider unit with a handle; simply fill it with your diapers, diaper cream (and spatula applicator), a washable/packable changing pad, and wipes and you’re set for diaper changes anywhere.

Benefits:

  • When duty calls, you can be ready with a single kit within arms reach
  • Sometimes when number two’s become more than anyone asked for, being able to have a close place to change diapers is key

Be Aware:

  • Ensure you have multiple changing pads or easily-washable changing pads because messes will happen

Pacifiers

Photo by Sharon Mccutcheon

Not all babies will like pacifiers, but it’s always a good idea to have a few around in the event that they soothe your upset child. There are different sizes of pacifier nipples for children of various ages, and it’s not a bad idea to have a few sizes on deck to keep up with your baby's growth. We, along with our son love pacifiers with stuffed animals attached to the end, a functional yet cute option that can be tossed into the washer and dryer when cleaning is needed.

Things To Consider:

  • There are different sizes of pacifiers
  • Pacifiers with stuffed animals attached are harder to lose
  • Your child may prefer one type of pacifier over another, so get several to give your kiddo the chance to the find one they prefer

What Do I Need for Bathtime?

Do I Need A Baby Bathtub?

Photo by Shalev Cohen

Looking back at our old bathtimes, it’s hard to believe our son fit in the kitchen sink for his baths. The sink is an awesome spot to give your baby a bath as it’s at a convenient height, has access to easily-adjustable, temperature-controlled water, and drains nicely. Especially with small babies, it can be difficult to safely bathe them in a bathtub, so a baby bath is well worth the purchase.

Types of Bathtubs

Baby bathtubs come in a wide range of styles and constructions and can be anything from the classic metal tub, to an inflatable to-go bath, to a 3-in-1 style bath. The two main types of baby bathtubs are in-sink baby baths and in-tub baby baths.

Features to consider:

  • Materials: Baby baths are made out of several different types of materials. Some use soft, plush fabric and padding, some use different types of plastic, while others utilize silicone or other soft, synthetic materials. Make sure the material is supportive of your child pending which stage of infancy they are in and whether they need extra support for their head and neck. Another thing to consider is how easily or quickly the tub dries; plastic tubs tend to dry faster than fabric.
  • Portability: Some baby bathtubs can be inflated and deflated or rolled up for easy transport. Others have a more rigid structure and may be more difficult to pack and bring along for road trips.
  • Lifespan (how long it can be used): Like many baby products, your child will outgrow their baby bath. However, some baths will last longer than others. Sink baths tend to have the shortest window of time to be used whereas multi-use baths will last longer for your child.
  • Tech: Some baths are very simple, acting as a basin to hold water. Others have suspension, adaptability, and color-changing temperature-sensitive components. Another thing to consider is non-slip bottoms on the baby bath to ensure the bath doesn’t move while you clean your baby.

What Other Items Do I Need?

Lotion Post-bath lotion time was one of my wife's and my favorite times with our son. Baby’s skin is very soft and needs a little help to stay moisturized, so make sure you have some lotion on hand at all times (especially in the winter months). There are many options to choose from with various ingredients, scents, and sizes. In general, look for baby-labeled lotions as they tend to have gentler ingredients, fewer chemicals, and in general make your baby smell great. Pick whichever speaks the most to you and your family.

Towels

Photo by Sean Roy

You’ll want two or three hooded baby towels to help dry your little one off after a bath. I prefer towels with ears…they’re so much cuter! Make sure you go for the softest towels you can find as babies have very sensitive skin. Another thing to consider is the size of the towel; while adult towels work for babies, a toddler or baby-sized towel is so much easier to swaddle your little one.

Medicine Cabinet Essentials

Along with needing help getting clean and staying groomed, babies will sometimes need extra help when they’re not feeling the best. Along with a basic first aid kit, there are a few baby-specific essentials that will help with your infant’s health and hygiene needs.

I intentionally made this option specific; this was one of the few items that my wife and I used and continue to use almost religiously. Included in the basics kit are:

  • Nail clippers and nail file
  • Nasal aspirator
  • Windi Gaspasser
  • Cradle cap brush

Nail Clippers and Nail File: Why do you need baby-specific clippers or nail files?

Babies have very small fingers, toes, and nails. Baby-specific nail clippers and files have smaller clipping surfaces to help make more accurate and safe clips. Some baby-clippers and files have certain safety features that make accidental nics less-likely, such as a viewing window through the top of the clipper as featured in the Frida SnipperClipper. Others act as an electric file, oscillating or rotating at a gentle speed to allow your baby’s nails to be trimmed without fussing.

Nasal Aspirator: What Is It and Why Do Babies Need One?

When babies have a stuffy nose, they are unable to clear it themselves. Nasal aspirators allow parents to help suck out the baby’s congestion (yes, it’s weird, but not gross, I promise). This allows them to breathe more clearly, and makes eating and sleeping much easier. Bulb syringes are one option for getting this job done, but aspirators like the NoseFrida are another. This is a really effective tool for clearing a baby's snotty nose.

What in the World Is a Gaspasser?

At some point in your newborn’s life, you’ll encounter a time with relentless crying. You’ll try everything and your baby won’t be happy until you remember: the gaspasser. Babies have very sensitive stomachs and digestive systems; something as simple as a change in formula can result in backups. A gaspasser is a device which is inserted into your baby’s bottom and helps them relieve gas and other constipation naturally. My wife and I used the Fridababy Windi, which helped “relieve” our son from several days of constipation (it really works…look up a few reviews). I have heard several similar experiences from other friends who are parents; just make sure you have extra diapers handy as this thing really works.

Cradle Cap Kit

After a month or two, you may discover that your baby has dandruff-looking flakes on his or her scalp; this condition is called cradle cap. With a specific brush or scrubber, you can help minimize or get rid of the cradle cap in the bathtub. For us, the DermaFrida worked flawlessly in removing the cradle cap from our baby’s head with the aid of baby soap and shampoo and is the continued scrubber of choice for bath time.

Baby Thermometer

Photo by Nenad Stojkovic

When your child catches a cold, one of the best ways to monitor their status, and help judge if they’re doing better, is a baby thermometer. Some of the ways thermometers can accurately determine a baby’s temperature are by oral, rectal, and forehead scanning, and through infrared (contactless) measurements. At the end of the day, any thermometer will do, so just go with the right one for you. Find one for a price that fits your budget, has the features you’re looking for and, most importantly, is easy to use on a fussy child.

Things to consider:

  • Forehead scan thermometers are the least invasive and easiest to use with upset children
  • Oral and rectal thermometers tend to be more accurate
  • Some thermometers are even non-contact, meaning you can take your little one’s temperature while they sleep
  • Digital thermometers have a digital reading for more precision

What Will I Need Around the Kitchen?

Before babies even learn to crawl or walk, they will be taking over your kitchen. This space can quickly become consumed by all the additional utensils and tableware babies will need, the prep for their meals, and the clean-up afterwards! For several months, we had a constant flow of bottles on our countertop drying rack—it’s an unstoppable fact of life. However, with a few essentials, you can bring order to this chaos and make things a little easier.

Baby Bottles

Photo by Lucy Wolski

Regardless of whether you’re breastfeeding or formula-feeding your child, at some point bottles will be the main method of feeding. Baby bottles come in plastic, silicone, glass, and stainless steel options, and in various shapes and sizes. The nipples also come in a variety of sizes and with different flow rates. Bottle shape is important in packing factors, whether that’s in your cupboard or in a diaper bag; make sure whatever you pick will fit nicely into your living spaces.

Another thing to consider with choosing a bottle is how easy it will be to clean; some bottles have lots of intricate features and nooks/crannies that make cleaning a nightmare. Lastly, there are a plethora of different nipples available for most bottles. These have different shapes, flow rates for different aged kids, and some even feature anti-colic features which can help fussy and gassy babies.

Plastic Bottles Benefits:

  • Cheaper than glass
  • Harder to break
  • Lightweight
  • Easily available in many retail locations
  • Available in a wide variety of size and shape options

Be Aware:

  • Not as easy to clean
  • Can potentially leach chemicals that could be be passed on to baby
  • Need replacing more quickly

Silicone Bottles Benefits:

  • Lightweight
  • Soft, easy for baby to hold
  • No concerns about leaching chemicals that could be being passed to baby
  • Unbreakable and scratch-resistant
  • Easy to clean
  • Resistant to staining

Be Aware:

  • More expensive
  • Not easily available in retail locations

Glass Bottles Benefits:

  • Easier to clean than plastic bottles
  • No concerns about leaching chemicals that could be being passed to baby
  • Can be sterilized through boiling
  • Longer lifespan

Be Aware:

  • Heavier
  • Typically more expensive than plastic bottles
  • Less durable than plastic, can break if dropped

Steel Bottles Benefits:

  • Easier to clean than plastic bottles
  • Very sturdy and durable
  • Longer lifespan
  • Works well with both hot and cold

Be Aware:

  • More expensive
  • Not transparent, makes it difficult to gauge how much milk has been ingested
  • Not suitable for use with juices
  • Can be heavier than other types of bottles

How to Choose Baby Bottles With all the options available, it’s possible that your child may only gravitate to one type of bottle. So, before investing heavily in a full set, consider getting a few types at first until you find one that your baby likes best. After trying several other brands, we learned our son liked the Comotomo bottles best. They are intended to simulate breastfeeding, and the silicone construction makes them soft and squeezable. We also found them very easy to warm and wash. This was our experience, and each baby is different, but these are the types of details you’ll want to consider when choosing baby bottles.

Bottle Drying Rack

One of the tasks I found myself doing most often was washing bottles. As fun as it might be individually drying each of the half-dozen bottles, I preferred to set them on a drying rack. One fun option is the Boon Lawn Countertop Drying Rack, which is not only functional but looks cute. Some bottle drying racks even come with bottle brushes, which are a nice added feature considering the many hundreds of times you'll need to clean bottles.

Things to consider:

  • Rack capacity (for larger items and smaller loose pieces)
  • Counter space available for drying rack
  • Rack will need regular sterilization
  • Whether or not it is dishwasher-safe

Bottle Warmer

A bottle warmer is more of a “nice-to-have” item, but it does give you the freedom to multitask. While their baby formula or breast milk warms up, you'll be able to tend to your baby, or just relish a few minutes for yourself. There are many bottle warmer options available, so look for one that is best for your family and your wallet.

Things to consider when buying a bottle warmer:

  • Ease of use
  • Bottle capacity
  • Features (e.g. precise temperatures, defrosting, auto-off)
  • Size/compatibility with available counter space

High Chair

Photo by Rickey Hutchinson

Once your child transitions to solid foods, a high chair will become a necessity. Babies require a high chair as it keeps them strapped in and supports their little bodies. High chairs also typically have a feeding surface (the tray) within reach for your little one. Like other products, there’s a wide variety of choices for high chairs featuring different materials, tray types and sizes, and levels of convertibility from full chair to booster. Booster chairs are helpful if you want to use existing dining furniture and or if space is limited in your home. Convertible high chairs are nice as they grow with your child, allowing you to only need one chair for all stages of development.

My wife and I actually have two high chairs; one for everyday use around the house and one for road trips. The Ingenuity Baby Base 2-in-1 Feeding and Floor Seat has gone with us on every trip away from our home and was even used for a time with our son when he was little enough to sit on flat surfaces with this seat.

Things to consider when looking for a high chair:

  • Size range (height and weight) of children it can safely accommodate
  • How easily it can be wiped down or cleaned
  • Does it have removable and washable parts (for either dishwasher or laundry)?
  • The type of materials: wood tends to be more robust and lasts longer than plastic
  • A secondary booster high chair is a nice option to have for travel

Feeding Bibs

Photo by Jason Sung

How do I keep my baby clean(ish) during meals? Bibs. Lots of bibs. They are the go to method to try your best to keep your kids clean. The latest and greatest bib technology has brought easily cleanable and wipeable silicon bibs, complete with a small pocket to catch food that misses your baby’s mouth. The Oxo Tot Rollup Bib and BabyBjorn Bib have all of these features, plus can be rolled up for easy storage and transportation. Other bibs are machine washable, but we’ve found the silicon ones are the easiest to rinse and dry for the next use.

Benefits:

  • Pocket bibs catch food
  • Silicone bibs are easily wiped down and can be rolled up for storage
  • Cloth bibs are absorbent
  • Come in any styles and colors
  • Smock bibs offer more coverage

Be Aware:

  • Bibs will try their best, but won’t catch everything
  • Smooth wipeable surface also allows food to slide off and onto the floor easily
  • Consider buying adjustable bibs that can accommodate baby’s growth
  • The best way to keep your baby clean is to supervise with an eagle eye

Wrapping It Up

Hopefully, this guide helped you narrow down your list of must-haves for your little one! Make sure to check out Part One of this series for nursery necessities and Part Three for outings and playtime! If you still have questions on anything on this list, any specific items not on this list, or want to chat through baby and toddler essentials, reach out to a Curated Baby and Toddler Expert today for free, personalized advice!

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