There is so much marketing aimed at new mothers these days. Makes you think how new parents (and babies) survived all those years with out the latest swing or gadget. Eight years ago I had twins and thought I needed every baby gadget on the market. Since then my husband and I have had 12 foster children, most of which were babies. When our princess made her appearance, I bought very little. You start to realize that all that stuff just clutters your house.
What you really do NEED
1. A crib. One of two things I would buy new.
2. A car seat. The other thing to buy new. Research which has the best safety rating, I was surprised. Also, buy neutral.
3. Baby clothing. Many people will buy you the tiny stuff, so buy a little bigger.
4. Diapers. When I was home on maternity leave, I used cloth diapers. I still have a huge stash for when life is not so busy. It is remarkably easy to cloth diaper a breast fed baby. Find some one who can teach you!!! I found Mulberry Street Diaper Company in Lancaster. They are wonderful and offer a cloth diapering class.
What you really DON'T NEED
1. Baby towels. Regular towels work just fine and last longer. Although regular towels won't make a cape for your 2 year old!
2. Baby bath tub. This is nice, but not at all needed. After your baby outgrows it, the bathtub takes up tons of space.
3. A bedding set. These are so expensive and the bumper is not recommended anymore. I bought the sheets and made the blanket and dust ruffle. But, you really don't need a dust ruffle.
4. Baby blankets. Ok you need these, but you will receive so many as gifts.
5. Brand new things. The crib and the car seat should probably be new, but for everything else buy used. Try hand me downs, garage sales, craigslist and consignment sales like Just Between Friends.
Things that are nice to have
1. Swing. All my babies like the swing.
2. Car seat and stroller combo. It is nice to not have to wake a sleeping baby to get them out of the car seat.
3. Changing table. When the boys where born, my dad made a changing table. With the princess, I just use a dresser.
4. Bouncer/Walker. They keep a baby entertained and out of trouble, but they are not required.
5. A rocking chair. This is especially nice when having contractions.