Walking into the baby shops can be overwhelming. You actually need quite a lot of stuff for babies. But just think how much stuff you have. I bet your closets, drawers, and bathrooms are chock full of stuff. Your baby won't need that much, but there are a few specialty items you will have to get. Here are my top ten recommendations:
1. Baby nail clippers and a foam nail file (found in adult section of the drugstore). Clippers leave nails too sharp so it is good to file them. And toenails are best filed because they are hard to cut. Baby scissors are always too big for nails--good for hair though.
2. Muslin squares/burp cloths. You will use several every day for quite a few months. So buy lots, Cheap white ones will do. Buy a dozen if not two .
3. Flannel blankets, knit blankets, every kind of blanket. You will get through a few of these each day too, because babies spit up and they smell sour quite quickly.
4. Clothes---well, this will depend on your washing. If you have your own washing machine and can use it regularly, then you will need fewer clothes. If you need to go to the laundromat weekly, then you will need more. Babies only need sleepsuits, onesies, and a couple of sweaters and hats for the first three months. You can put your baby is special outfits, but you don't need to. If it is summer, then your baby will live in the onesies during the day and a sleepsuit at night. I love handmedowns. They grow out of clothes so quickly! If you are buying things I suggest that you wait until your child is born. Most people who have given me things have given me a pile of stuff with the tags still on they never used because it was the wrong size, season, or surplus to requirements.
5. Toiletries---You should not use any lotions, soaps, or wipes on babies until they are three months old. So in the beginning you need cotton balls and a little bowl for warm water to wash your baby. If your baby has dry skin you can use a little bit of coconut oil or light olive oil on their skin. After that, try for the mildest, gentlest products. I prefer organic, paraben free products. They don't use much, so even a bottle of organic baby soap is economical. Babies "should" be washed with a washcloth daily and bathed twice a week until they are crawling. You can clean their eye area with cotton and boiled-then-cooled water every day. Their ears clean themselves. I don't use lotion on kids until they are three or so. Even after that, olive oil still works nicely.
6. Somewhere to sleep. In the UK, it is recommended that your baby sleeps in your room in a cot (crib) for at least 6 months. Babies like the comfort of being near people and hate the quiet. You do not need a cradle or small cot by the bed, but they can be handy. My son slept in my bed for the first year or so. My daughter likes her cot well enough and I do feel this is the safer option. Buy three sheets for your cots/cradles, etc. And a few blankets or sleeping bags. Babies should not have duvets, pillows or toys in their beds. There is a lot of debate about bumpers. I didn't use them, but you may want to research that a bit before you decide.
7. Changing table. Some people just use a changing mat downstairs. Or the bed. I find a changing table is better for your back. And considering how much poo and pee ends up on my changing mat, I would never change a baby on a carpet or bedspread! NEVER leave a baby on a changing table EVER!!!
8. Bottles and breast pump. I loved Tommee Tippee, but only have four bottles since I breastfed my son. I will need to pump quite a bit since I will going back to work when my daughter is 6 months old. Their manual pump is quite comfortable, but an electric one is useful if you need to pump quite often. They have covers which fit their bottles, so you can pump milk straight into the bottle, pop the cover on and freeze it. Make sure to label it though! Check out your local guidelines for how long you can store breastmilk in the fridge and freezer. (They change the rules frequently). I cannot advocate the use of any formula because I haven't used any and I believe any powdered milk product to be bad for any one's health. (Check out more about this at the Healthy Home Economist.) You can sterilise bottles, etc in a pot of boiling water, but a steriliser is really handy. And you can take it with you if you work or travel.
9. Toys. You will only need some teething keys or things like that until the baby is about four months old. Then some rings which link together and attach to the bouncy chair bar and car seats are really great. Babies can chew on them and not lose them. Check to see if they can be sterilised though.
10. If you believe in using conventional medicine, then you will also need to have on hand some infant paracetamol and ibuprofen. And some spoons or dispensers. In the UK these products have guidelines on how to use them, and sometimes doctors will advise you how to use them outside of these guidelines. You might also want to get some allergy medicine. Again, you won't be able to use it until the package says you can, but when your child is having an allergic reaction to something you won't have time to run out and buy it. The only other item I have in my repertoire is the one I use the most: saline nasal drops. They are great for clearing out blocked noses. Generic brands of all of these are exactly the same as the name brand versions (by law), and you can save yourself some money here. The name brand items may have a different flavour, packaging or spoon with it.