For baby #1, we had a big baby shower and got loads of stuff that I had carefully researched beforehand. And we bought even more stuff and got it all set up months in advance.
For baby #2, we bought a bunch of used stuff at a rummage sale about a month before our due date.
And as I was wondering out loud whether we had forgotten anything to a mom-friend with 3 kids she responded with "You don't really NEED anything, do you?"
And I realized, she's right! (sort of)
All you need for the baby is:
1. A carseat (if you have a car)
2. Diapers (although this, you don't even really need right away - the hospital gives you some!)
But seriously, there have definitely been some things we needed more than others.
Things we're glad we got:
1. Baby carrier (our favorites were the Moby and the Ergo)
2. Crib (and the book, "Happy Sleep Habits, Happy Child" which helps you get the baby to sleep in said crib)
3. Stroller (we got the kind you can pop the carseat into, and another one just for jogging - both were invaluable)
4. Video monitor (especially if you have a kid that has the uncanny ability to hurt themselves in any situation)
5. Pacifier (our babies would have been the end of us without this)
6. Swaddle (we liked the Miracle Swaddle for our bear-fighting baby #1 and the Kiddapodamus for our more mellow #2)
7. Breastpump - in Kansas, insurance now covers this! Yay!
Things we got but didn't need:
1. Coat - these shouldn't go on a baby that's strapped in to their car seat, and if you mostly drive everywhere then you'll never use it. INSTEAD you can get a carseat cover, or a carseat/stroller sleeping bag. Or if you're not feeling very fancy just use blankets.
2. Wipe warmer. A friend loaned us theirs to try. Not only did our baby not notice or care, but it had a little light on it that we eventually realized was waking our baby up at night! No thank you wipe warmer!!
3. Uncomfortable/cumbersome/ill-fitting/off-season clothes. And later, clothes that seemed perfect when purchased, that my kid just didn't like for some unknown reason. Unless you know you'll love it, buy used! SO much cheaper.
4. Shopping cart cover - we ended up with this somehow and never, ever used it. I could barely remember to bring the stuff I actually needed when I went out, much less this. And as a microbiologist I must say I don't think there are any more germs on a shopping cart than on all the other things my baby touches - which is pretty much everything.
5. Baby shoes - they just fall off! instead, get the little socks that look like shoes. So cute!!!
Things we got and didn't need but totally loved anyway:
1. Baby legs - those baby legwarmer thingies. Totally unnecessary but cute!
2. Bumbo chair/baby swing/rock-n-play - you can just set the baby on the couch or floor, but these things are quite handy.
3. Baby towel - obviously, you can use any old towel but the little monkey and duck towels are SO CUTE!!
4. A million extra bottles for the breast pump. Somehow I never had enough!
5. Changing table - you can talk yourself out of spending the $$ on it but then you get one and are so glad you did. And this is another one you can often buy used.
6. Bottle warmer - you think you can live without it and you can, but it really is nice.
7. Boppy pillow - I love mine so much I use it even when I don't have a baby around (like right now, to prop up my laptop). And I have taken it with me on many trips. But you can clearly just use a pillow.
I've mentioned this several times but can't say it enough: buying used is often way better - especially when you're not sure what you really need!