Baby M is hardly a baby anymore, so we're starting to pack up a lot of the baby stuff and bring out the toddler stuff. As I do this, I'm trying to keep only what we really liked and get rid of stuff that we didn't really use or didn't like. A lot of stuff is marketed as "must-have!" for babies, and most of that's not true. Further, much of it depends on the baby in question, and of course you can't predict that ahead of time. Most of this stuff is used for only a short period of time, and it's easy to talk yourself out of it when you're not sure what you'll use. Here's the stuff I absolutely loved:
* Infant car seat with stroller base. We're about to upgrade to a convertible car seat (Baby M will still be rear-facing for nearly a year, but she's almost outgrown the little clamshell seat). At first I was bummed that I didn't just get the convertible from the beginning and only have to buy one car seat, but then I remembered how often I just popped the little car seat into that stroller. Especially with all the extra gear we had to lug at first (oxygen tank, apnea monitor, feeding tube pump), there is no way we could have managed with taking her out of the car seat every time we went anywhere. You could also do a travel system, which is an infant car seat that fits into a stroller for a larger baby or toddler. The point is that in the early months, you should be able to get baby out of the car IN the car seat, instead of having to unstrap them every time.
* Moby wrap. I have two Moby wraps and I loved them to pieces. Baby M practically lived in them in her first weeks home - they mimicked the kangaroo care we'd been doing in the hospital and helped lull her to sleep. I thought I would do more babywearing, but she hated both the ring sling and the structured carrier we had, so that didn't really work out.
* Swing. The hospital frequently used a swing to calm Baby M when we weren't there, and we used it at home a lot as well. This is not a must for all babies, but it made such a difference for ours. We got a cheap one and Peanut hacked it so we could plug it into the wall instead of wasting batteries.
* Bottle warmer. This is a weird thing to like, but when Baby M was eating by mouth it really helped us develop a routine and provide white noise as she prepared to eat. We also kept a mini fridge in her room so we didn't have to mix up formula or run downstairs in the middle of the night.
* Changing table. I didn't have strong feelings about this until some new mothers-to-be that I know have told me what an unnecessary thing they think it is. As someone who has changed poopy diapers in the middle of the night for the last 14 months, I think it is SUPER necessary. It keeps all the supplies in one place, keeps little baby poops from squirting or rolling onto your bedding/floor/couch (and please, you are not going to find a towel in the middle of the night for a quick change) and is one more place to catch baby's projectile vomit (much more washable than the carpet!). +1 would use again.
* Baby tub. Ours comes with a sling for newborns and can face two directions to accommodate babies who can and cannot sit on their own. I gave Baby M a bath in the sink ONCE and it was nearly a disaster. Babies are slippery when wet! Best to have a safe place to put them while they're getting cleaned.
Parents, do you have any other great must-haves for the first year? Or did your experience totally differ from ours, and you think my stuff is a waste of money?