What You’ll Need (and Won’t Need) for Your New Baby

A Cincinnati Children’s pediatrician shares five must-have gear items for infants and five things parents can live without.

Illustration by Valéry Goulet

Mary Carol Burkhardt, M.D., a primary care pediatrician at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center, shares five must-have gear items for infants and five things parents can live without.


  1. Stroller or Baby Carrier Getting outside is good for both baby and parents’ health. “Know your environment and get a good quality carrier or stroller, whichever is more practical,” Burkhardt suggests.
  2. Bulb Syringe or Nasal Aspirator Most infants will come down with a cold or respiratory virus at some point, and a bulb syringe or nasal aspirator helps give babies relief from congestion.
  1. Thermometer “You don’t want to wait until it’s 3 a.m. and you think your baby has a fever,” Burkhardt says. An accurate thermometer is essential, especially for newborns under 2 months old.
  2. Pack ’n Play or Convertible Crib Burkhardt recommends investing in a Pack ’n Play because it’s portable and guarantees baby will have a safe place to sleep.
  1. Books Even if they’re just being chewed on, early exposure to books is critical. “90 percent of kids’ brain development happens within the first five years,” Burkhardt explains. So the more books you have around, the better.


  1. Electronic Toys Save your money on singing and light-up toys. “Kids are going to learn a lot more from simple toys and people talking to them than fancy gadgets marketed to ‘make your baby smart,’ ” Burkhardt says.
  2. Shoes Baby shoes, while adorable, aren’t necessary. And when it comes to learning how to walk, Burkhardt says, “the natural foot is the best shoe.”
  3. Crib Bedding Sets Crib bedding sets often include heavy quilts and crib bumpers that can be dangerous to infants. Remember, babies should sleep alone, on their backs, on a firm sleep surface, like a crib. Get rid of that extra bedding.
  4. Baby Wipe Warmers “These are kind of silly; babies can handle a cold wipe,” Burkhardt says.
  1. Swings, Bouncers, and Jumpers Babies developmentally outgrow swings, bouncers, and jumpers within two to three months, quickly turning them into basement clutter. Burkhardt suggests you can save money by borrowing these items instead.


Body Temperature-Adjusting PJs Hutch Baby’s eco-friendly pajamas adjust to babies’ body temperatures.

Multi-Use Teether, Bath, and Building Blocks Hutch Baby’s brightly colored silicone building blocks are a popular BPA-free teether and bath toy.

Magnetic Footies These are one of The Spotted Goose’s best-loved items because they don’t require zipping or snapping, making them easy to put on, especially in the middle of the night.

High Contrast Cards Wee Gallery’s black-and-white high contrast cards, sold at The Spotted Goose, are a popular developmental toy for infants.

Widgeon Coats Described as the “perfect all-year jacket,” Castle House’s Widgeon Coats are car seat-safe, durable, and easy to monogram, which also makes them popular gifts.

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