Walking through the baby section of any store will make a parent feel overwhelmed and bombarded. There are tons of baby tools, supplies, and gadgets. Figuring out what is a must have item and what isn't is something that is hard to do for many first time moms. In times when many budgets are tight, knowing what you need, what will be useful, and what is just plain luxury (or waste) can be very helpful. But most articles on the topic are really based on people's specificpreferences , so where do you find useful and helpful information? Here. What you need, what you don't need, and what might be helpful to you!

The first must have item on your list is a rear facing car seat. This is what your little one will use for the first year as he or she rides around in the car. You can choose a model with a baby carrier or one that later becomes a front facing car seat for your one year old. Either way you should choose one that is less then five years old and has never been in a car accident. It is important that you know the history of your car seat should you choose to get an old one because accidents can cause small cracks and soft spots, many of which aren't visible. This damage can make the car seat dangerous in a car accident. So, either choose a new car seat or one you know where it has come from and you know how old it is.

In addition to a car seat you will want a diaper bag. You want one that is big enough to hold diapers, wipes, creams, toys, and bottles, but isn't so big that it will be hard to carry along. It is also a good idea to get a travel case for wipes. This is a smaller box that will make it easier to put into a bag. Another great thing to have when you travel or go out on the town is a folding diaper changing pad. These are small and easily fit into your diaper bag. They make it easy to change your baby without a mess anywhere you go.

You must have a location for your baby to sleep. There are a few different options including a bassinet that can be moved where ever you desire your baby to sleep, a crib, a 3-in-1 crib which can later be turned into a toddler bed and then a full size bed, a portable crib which is smaller and easier to move then its full sized counterpart, or a co-sleeper which is a baby bed that attaches to the parents bed making a safe co-sleeping habitat. Having a safe place for the baby to sleep is important and co-sleeping in the parent's bed can be dangerous so should be carefully studied before doing so.

In addition to the actual bed you will need to have a few fitted sheets that fit the bed of your choice. A waterproof pad can also be helpful on the days when diapers leak. You will also want appropriate blankets. Receiving blankets are good when the baby is small and can be used to swaddle the baby. Larger blankets can also be used in a similar fashion. It isn't safe to simply tuck a baby in because blankets can present a SIDS risk. You can also use swaddling blankets which are designed for easily wrapping a baby up or a sleeping sack (sometimes called a wearable blanket) which are zipped on much like a large wearable bag and will keep the baby warm.

*While other bedding is often tempting including matching sets with comforters, blankets, sheets, and crib bumpers all soft materials should be kept out of the sleeping area because they increase the risk of SIDS. This should include pillows and stuffed animals as well as bedding and especially crib bumpers!

The supplies you need for feeding are going to depend on what type of feeding you choose to do. You can add additional items later as you decide it is needed.

  • Breastfeeding- For breastfeeding there is no necessary equipment. You can breastfeed without spending any additional money. However there are several helpful tools that make it a lot easier. These include nursing bras and tops which make it easier to feed, covers which make it more discrete to feed in public, a nursing pillow which makes it more comfortable to feed, and pumping supplies which allow others to feed the baby while you are away. If you are going to pump breast milk you will need a breast pump, breast milk storage containers or bags, a few bottles and nipples, and a bottle and nipple brush.
  • Bottle feeding- You will need formula, several bottles (often 8-12 will make it a lot easier on you) with nipples, and a bottle and nipple brush.
  • Feeding solids- Feeding of solids begins between 4 and 6 months. Before this time you don't need to buy the supplies to feed your little one solid foods. However, once you get to that point you will want to have a high chair or booster that will support a young baby. You will also want spoons at the minimum and may want to consider special bowls, travel containers, and a food processor for making your own baby foods.

As with feeding you have some choices to make regarding diapering. You will need to decide if you are going to use cloth diapers or disposable ones. Each has their own benefits and disadvantages. For more information you can see this article: Choosing Between Cloth and Disposable Diapers. No matter which type of diaper you choose you will probably want a changing table. This can be an actual changing table, a dresser, or even a desk at the appropriate height. It works best if there is a fair amount of storage provided with whatever you choose to use. Top the hard surface with a pad.
  • Cloth diapers- You will need at least one dozen cloth diapers in the style of your choice. It is even better if you can have two dozen which will make laundry less of a chore. If you are not going with an All In One cloth diaper (which includes a water proof barrier on each diaper) then you will also want at least four diaper covers (six to eight would be better). In addition to the diapers you will want a diaper pail (most recommend a dry diaper pail with baking soda), wipes (either cloth or disposable), corn starch based baby powder, and possibly a diaper rash cream such as Desitin. You will probably also want to have rubbing alcohol and cotton swabs available for taking care of the umbilical cord until it falls off.
  • Disposable diapers- You will need diapers (buying them by the case is often a good idea and will same you money), wipes, a place to put them (many recommend a diaper pail with special bags and a filter system to help eliminate odors, but a small trash can that is emptied often works just as well), corn starch based baby powder, and a diaper rash cream (babies who are in disposable diapers are more likely to get diaper rashes then those in cloth diapers). You will also want rubbing alcohol and cotton swabs to take care for the umbilical cord till it falls off.

Many people highly recommend a baby bath tub. These are inexpensive and can be an easy way to wash your baby as they fit over the sink, can be used in the bath tub, or even placed on the changing table. I, however, didn't like my baby bath tub and found it difficult to store, a pain to use, and found it easier to bathe the baby in a small amount of water in the tub, with me in the tub, or in the sink. Either way, you will want to have a bathing the baby plan. You will also need thin wash cloths. They don't have to be "baby" ones which are more expensive the grown up ones, but they should be thin so that you can wash all of the cracks and crevices of the baby easily. You will also need a baby soap (I highly recommend Johnson's head to to body wash that allows you to use it as a body wash and a shampoo), lotion, and baby oil.

There are tons of clothing items that tempt us into spending a lot of money. However, we don't need all of those items. Clothing your baby can be fairly basic and you can add to the outfits and fancy dresses that your baby has later (this is often a good way to make sure you have items that fit should you have a small or large baby).
  • Warm weather newborns- If your baby is born in warm weather then he or she will need 5-8 shirts or onesies, a large package of socks, and either two good swaddling blankets (that can be used with a onesie or shirt) or 3-5 sleep and plays or lightweight sleeping gowns. Anything more then that is wonderful, but not necessary.
  • Cold weather newborns- If your baby is born in cold weather he or she will need 5-8 shirts or onesies, 2-3 long sleeve shirts or sweaters, 1-2 pairs of pants, 3-5 sleep and plays or sleeping gowns, a newborn hat, and a good blanket for sleeping with such as a sleeping sack or a swaddling blanket.
  • Additional- While not necessary additional clothes do make life easier. You won't have to do laundry as often, you can have variety, and you can have outfits to wear on special occasions (church, play dates, visits to friends and family).

There are many luxuries that can make your life as a parent easier. What you choose to get and which ones are most important to you are all dependent on many different factors. Choose carefully so as to stick within any budget that you may have. Here are just a few things to consider.
  • Stroller and or baby carrier- Often times getting your baby around can be quite a chore. If you will be doing a lot of walking or visiting the mall then a stroller and or a baby carrier or sling can be very helpful. The advantage of the carrier or sling over that of the stroller is that they are more easily stored and they can be used around the house for hands free work that often comforts the baby. They are also less expensive then most strollers.
  • Swing and or bouncy seat- Often a safe place to put the baby is desirable. Two good options are swings and bouncy seats. Both can be expensive and it isn't always guaranteed that your baby will like the one that you choose. My son didn't like bouncy chairs much and loved his swing. His sister on the other hand only likes the swing every now and again and sometimes gets very mad at it.
  • Play mats- Entertaining a baby can sometimes be a lot of work. A play mat can be very useful as the baby grows more and more curious and gets ready to play. There are many different types offering a wide range of play options. Choosing one with one or more positions is often a good idea and will help you get the most for your money.
  • Toys- Toys are also useful. It will be awhile before your baby will actually begin to play, but they will enjoy looking at things and toys made to attach to car seats, strollers, and cribs are all very good. A mobile for over the crib or bassinet can also be a good thing.
  • Bottle rack, sterilizing bags, or a bottle sterilizer- Keeping things clean and organized can be hard, especially with lots of little parts. A bottle rack and sterilizing bags (which are put into the microwave) or a bottle sterilizer can give you a place to put bottle items and a way to sterilize them easily without boiling water and causing a great deal of hassle.
  • Bottle warmer- While definitely an item that falls into the luxury items category a bottle warmer has great advantages. Whether you are breastfeeding and will occasionally be serving pumped milk or you are going to be bottle feeding a bottle warmer can make it easy to serve warmed bottles, to warm up milk or formula that was refrigerated, and to save you time, effort, and sleep (for the middle of the night feedings).
There are a great number of other items you may want to consider, however these are the ones that I have found to be the most useful (at least to me). They have made my life easier and are likely to do the same for you.

Don't Need.
There are few items I would automatically put into the "don't need" category, but those that I do, I do for a good reason. These are items that serve little purpose or are more work then they are worth.
  • Wipe warmers- The purpose of wipe warmers is to make sure that the wipes are nice and warm rather then cold for your baby. However, this doesn't really do much good. If your baby dislikes the wipes it will be whether they are warm or cold. This is one item that you should consider skipping.
  • Diaper pail or "Diaper Genie"- These are trash cans with special bags and filters. The purpose is to smell better then a regular trash can. It is true that if you leave your diapers in there a long time then you will have a better smelling room (at least till you take the bag out). However, these are expensive, continuously expensive, and aren't worth it. A small trash can will do and you can simply take the bag out regularly for a clean smelling room. Toss in a little baking soda and you are all set.

Carefully make a list of the things you will need. Here are a lot of suggestions and things to consider. From this you can build up your list and prepare for your baby. Congratulations and good luck.