There are so many things that new parents have to think about, that it can be overwhelming. Planning can take away some of that stress, but don't let the "experts" and the stores intimidate you into thinking you need things when you really don't.
Of course you need clothes, blankets, a crib and diapers etc., but beyond that, these are the things that have been the biggest HELPS to me.
God...you will be praying a lot and you'll need someone to talk to at 1:00 a.m.
A terrific husband...I don't know how single parents do it. I guess you do what you have to do, and it's certainly possible, but I would not be sane today without Richard!
Amazing family and friends...these are priceless....especially when you haven't slept or showered in days and you need some adult conversation or someone to tell you, you will get through the hard times and what your feeling is normal.
A second hand store (Craig's list or yard sales)....everyone WANTS the newest, latest, greatest, but you also need to shop smart. Safety should be your first concern, so I wouldn't get a used car seat, but strollers are certainly one of those expensive things that you can pick up second hand. You also need to be aware of the recall list for things like cribs. We have a great store here in Albuquerque, OTHER MOTHERS, that takes in and sells gently used clothes, furniture and toys and gives you a credit. In the three years I've been going there, I only actually paid for things the first year. Since then I have always had a credit. Yard sales are great places to find baby clothes and toys too. I won't lie and say I never bought clothes brand new, but I was able to spend a little more on a cute Christmas vest outfit (...and I didn't feel guilty about it....) because I had saved so much on other things. Books have always been one of my guilty pleasures and Sam has tons of them, but every year our local library has a "BAG FOR A BUCK" sale and it supports the local library system as well. If you are lucky enough like me to have a large family with many, many children, sharing things back and forth can also save you a bundle.
Mylicon Gas Drops...this saved me many a day when all my son was able to do was cry and I had no idea why....WHO KNEW....most of the time it's a tummy ache.
Child locks on every door, drawer, toilet and cupboard...we put these on initially before Sam was even born (had to because of the adoption) and never saw the importance of them until Sam was about 3 years old. That is when we woke up one morning and: the dog was out front without a leash looking back in the door, there was a mess of butt paste, toothpaste and shampoo smeared on the bathroom floor and (don't send me any nasty comments) knives were lined up from smallest to biggest on the kitchen counter.
A wipe warmer...makes changing so much nicer.
A bottle warmer...much easier to deal with at 2:00 a.m. when the stove or the microwave.
A boppy pillow...so many uses even for those not nursing.
Baby Tylenol/Ibuprofen...Sam was a very healthy little baby, but since you can't give little ones much in the way of medicine, it is always important to have these on hand for fevers or teething.
A vibrating chair...Sam slept in his for the first 3 months of his life and they are cheap and easily transported. Every baby is different, of course, but we had an expensive swing and Sam didn't really like it. We ended up selling it on Craig's List after about a year.
A monitor...don't invest in the video ones, in my opinion, they are overkill and make new Moms and Dads a little paranoid. I do recommend a long range one, so that you can take a nice break outside in the sun.
A pack-n-play...this was a life saver too and we used it up until a few months ago and Sam is 3 years old now.
A good babysitter/nanny (I don't believe in public daycare for babies...that being said...this fall my (almost 4 year old) will start preschool 2 days a week.)...our nanny, Penny, has been with us since Sam was 3 months old and is a gift from God. If you have the option of using a family member that should be your first choice. If you don't have to work, outside the home, you still need one. Every parent needs a break and there will always be things that you will need to go to, like the dentist, where you won't necessarily want to take your kids. It's very important to build a good relationship with this person. You are trusting your child's well being to them. We bought an extra car seat for Penny and also gave her a letter (with Sam's insurance card) stating that she could take Sam to the hospital if necessary. I am already at work, by the time Penny comes in the morning so, Richard does the morning shift and fills Penny in on anything she needs to know. When I get home in the afternoon, Penny and I always have a conversation about how the day went.
Have I forgotten anything? Leave a comment sharing what has saved your life and you can't imagine living without, while raising your little ones.