Here's my list of essentials for newborn (0-3 months) life in Germany.
Well that escalated quickly. I by no means intended for this to be my first post since wedding content, or even since adding to our family, but whatever gets me back to writing, right? Several friends in Germany are pregnant so I am fielding lots of questions about baby items, plus holiday sales are ON, so I thought it’s now or never on finally pulling together my list of product recommendations. I am by no means an expert on babies, but I do pride myself on product research and my online shopping savvy, so maybe this helps someone less enthused by product research and online shopping. Plus I relied heavily on the experience of seasoned mama friends like my bestie Shushu. I promise this also takes their advice into account.
Rules to Shop By
Before we dive into the the fun that is baby shopping, I’d like to lead in with a couple of rules I try to consider when buying things. It is easy to get excited about baby stuff before his or her arrival, but trust me you’ll want to buy even more things once they are here. Yes, much of the stuff is actually for mom and not for the baby, but a happy mom is a good mom so whatever makes you happy, right? Nevertheless to keep myself in check, I abide by five rules when it comes to shopping for baby things.
Don’t throw money at your problems. Or, don’t think products are always the solution. Some products are helpful, but often there is another solution to e.g. why your baby is fussy.
Mimimalist mindset. Start lean and decide what you need as you go. A lot of phases pass quickly, so be sure whatever your buying will have some longevity. If you do need something, generally you can have it in the next two days, so no need to buy it before baby comes. Your experience in the hospital will show you that you don’t need much. Just because something works for others, it may not work for you. Consider your family’s lifestyle and needs.
Start with the basics / don’t spoil your baby with luxury accessories. They say you can’t spoil a newborn, and this is true in the way it is intended: give your baby all the cuddles and contact naps you both please. However my recommendation is don’t spoil them with products: for example, don’t make it that they can only sleep when being rocked by a Snoo, or only in pitch black darkness, or only with the buzz with a sound machine, etc. Maybe they are good sleeper without all of this, but you won’t know if you start with all of these crutches that ultimately could create a dependency that leaves you inflexible.
You don’t need any toys the first 3 months. The play mat had covered us here. The interest in simple toys begins in month 4. In the first three months they are entertained by pretty much anything.
Hand-me-downs and bargain hunting. I welcomed all the hand-me-downs, particulay when it came to clothing. When looking to buy new (e.g. stroller, car seat), shop around and look for discount codes; whether it’s leveraging my Corporate Benefits account (10% off BabyWalz!) or just googling for promo codes, you never need to buy at full price.
With product recommendations, it is always important to take into account the recommender’s lifestyle and circumstances. What works for me, may not work for you. Thus I am noting some variables about Max and me to add context to my list of newborn baby essentials.
Exclusive pumping & bottle feeding
Loosely following Moms on Call
Prefer stroller and holding over baby wearing
Full-term (41 weeks)
Sleeps in his own room
Location: Living in a suburb of Munich, Germany
Getting Around: Driving own car 30%; Public transport or walking 70%
Laundry: washer and dryer, doing laundry every-other-day
Shopping List for 0-3 Month Babies
With the rules to shop by and circumstantial notes behind us, we are ready to rock. Here is way more information than you asked for because I am a nerd. I will list the generic items by category, and then the exact products I recommend in line with it (if I have one). I tried to be practical, but the fact of the matter is babies require a lot of stuff.
I know most new moms aren’t looking for more to do, but if you do want to do some reading I found these two books a breeze extremely helpful:
Moms on Call Basic Baby Care: 0-6 months. A friend of mine passed this book on to me, advising that the internet is a scary place and she found this quick reference guide trustworthy and helpful as a single source of truth. After following MoC I feel the same (thanks Megan!). After Max was back to birth weight, we were ready to start getting more sleep and remembered this book on the shelf. It provided easy tips to ensure Max was eating enough, while extending his nightime sleep stretches. Before we knew it Max was sleeping through the night consistently by 7 weeks of age. You can take it or leave it, but cherrypicking from their guidance was helpful for us.
Cribsheet. This book breaks down common parenting questions and concerns by addressing them with the the current data and research. For me Cribsheet utlimately helped me relax about a lot of the nuances of parenting and to ignore the BS on the internet where people are telling you that you’re a bad parent for e.g., teaching your baby to sleep or having a glass of wine when breastfeeding.
Instagram Accounts to Follow
@MomsonCall is the IG behind my recommended reading above. The Instagram has some helpful tips in line with their methodology.
@the.peaceful.sleeper is a licensed therapist, sleep trainer, and mom who gives away lots of free advice
@TakingCaraBabies. I am sharing because others I know love her program, thus mentioning it here in case MoC isn’t the best fit for you and you want to try a same-same-but-different approach.
@ProfEmilyOster (Author of Cribsheet). Emily does helpful Q&As and often addresses major headlines and newly released studies.
Instagram accounts to unfollow: any making you question your parenting approach. You know what’s best for your child! Don’t let some internet rando convince you otherwise.
Apps to Download
Huckleberry. Carly recommended this app and if you are type A like us, you will love having this to track all the baby things. The free version covers my needs, which are helping me ensure that Max is getting 1) enough to eat and 2) enough sleep, while also visualizing his typical day.
Full-sized stroller (Kombikinderwagen). You need a stroller (and eventually more than one). It is very important to consider your lifestyle here, but with the European streets and our family doing so much by foot and public transport, I recommend a full-sized solution with bassinet like the Uppababy Vista V2. Why did we choose it? 1) recommended by tons of my mom friends in the USA, 2) largest underneath storage basket among competitors, 3) bassinet is sleep-approved, which we used for travel and as his bed when he was sleeping in our room, and 4) frame supports two seats if needed. An extra bonus was the newborn insert, which allowed us to move him from the bassinet to the seat sooner, which Max was happy about because he could see more. All of the major brands will fit your needs, the differences are ultimately minor, so you will ultimately choose the one that fits your personal style. The most popular brands you’ll see in Germany are the Cybex Priam, Joolz Geo and Bugaboo Fox.
Car seat. If you have a car, or rent one often, you’ll need a car seat. For us it was important to have the IsoFix base and to not have to buy another one in a year, so we opted for the Maxi-Cosi Mica Pro Eco i-Size. A lot of people go for the baby car seat (Babyschale), which can be used up to 8-9kg / 17-19lbs, but we just don’t drive enough to justify needing that functionality. If we did, I definitely would’ve gone for the Doona.
Mirror. Since babies are rear-facing, you’ll want a mirror so you can see them when driving solo.
Diaper bag. Just make sure it has two hooks to clip to your stroller. I recommend something large and weatherproof. I love my Dagne Dover diaper bag.
Diaper bag stroller clips. One less thing to carry is forever a future plus. We leave our diaper bag clipped to the stroller and loaded up and ready-to-go the at all times. This heavily reduces the mental load of leaving home because everything is already in there. My diaper bag came with clips, but ultimately bought these in addition because they don’t slip on the push handle.
Portable changing pad. My diaper bag came with one, but you’ll find a large selection portable changing pads wherever you shop baby things. You don’t need all the bells and whistles, just a pad anything that is easy to fold and wipe clean will do.
Baby carrier. Some parents love carrying their babies. Some babies need to be carried all the time. We are not either of those, but ultimately it’s still useful to have a baby carrier. We mostly leave ours in the car to use it when running errands and need our hands free. I received this Baby Björn as a hand-me-down from a friend. My mommy and me class love both The Rookie and the Ergobaby.
Lunch box and cool packs. Since we exclusively bottle feed, and (fortunately) Max enjoys his milk cold, a coolbox with ice packs quickly became our must-have-at-all-times accessory, a perfect solution for when out and about. We can pack three ready-to-drink bottles in our Hydroflask lunchbox, which allows us hours out of the house. If we need more, we typically use the premixed/ready-to-drink formula.
Crib. We decided for a full on crib that also converts to a child’s bed. We did not purchase a(n additional) bassinet (see why on stroller above) or cradle. This is again a lifestyle choice, but we prioritized sleep for all of us, which meant moving Max to his own room early. We all love his crib.
Crib Mattress. Your top priority should be that it is breathable. We would have loved a Newton Baby, but they aren’t sold in Europe, so we went for this one as a second best option.
Crib sheets (2x). I doubt I need to explain the various reasons to buy two. There are tons of cute varieties to fit your nursery theme.
Waterproof mattress cover. See reason for two crib sheets above. I think it is worth it to prolong the life of your mattress and keep things clean as possible.
2-in-1 Nightlight and Sound Machine. You want both: A nightlight to keep low light in case of nighttime diaper changes and a sound machine for white noise. The latter maybe you don’t need (see rule 3), but we like to use it to help differentiate nighttime sleep from daytime sleep. I would have loved to buy the US-popular Hatch, but here is a good copycat.
Crib thermometer. This helps follow safe sleep practices. I love this tiny one, which we just stuck to Max’s crib.
Baby Cam. A friend (Hi Ivana) asked about baby cams and I replied with a novel. To try and keep this short, there are a few considerations: 1) Do you want a screen with it or to use existing advices? 2) Do you want to see it from anywhere? Then you need a WiFi camera. 3) Do you have an existing home security system you want to link it to? 4) Price, including does it have local storage or do you have to pay a cloud subscription?. There are all sorts of fancy cameras out there, but we prioritized point 3 and 4, where local storage was very important to me. We went with Eufy and also would have for a non-WiFi option.
Swaddles. For good sleep you’ll want to swaddle your baby. There are several ways to swaddle, but our cute cloth swaddle blankets quickly found other uses because it’s not as easy as it looks. Max is a hands up sleeper and we loved the LoveToDream Swaddle Up because we could simply zip him in and he could be snug and cozy while still being free to move a little.
Sleep sacks. You’ll need a sleep sack once your baby starts to roll (which may not be in the first three months). We moved Max to his sleep sack right at 12 weeks. We love the Woolino ones because they are year-round due to their Merino wool composition.
Changing table. Some moms told me I don’t need this to which I must say, doch! . I love having a station with everything you need and at the right height to change him when we are home (which let’s be real is most of the time). It has tons of storage also makes for easy dressing and after-bath oiling. I also like that the one we chose doesn’t look like a changing table.
Changing pad. You need a padded, easy-to-clean spot to place atop the the aforementioned changing table. I still can’t believe I spent €100 on a changing pad, but it was the best option we found: Leander Matty.
Diapers. Stock up by buying in bulk, you will use them (5-10/day). I’ve tested Pampers, BabyLove (DM), LillyDoo, MamaBear (Amazon), BabyDream (Rossmann), and let me just state the Amazon ones are actually really good and at the right price point (plus you don’t have to go out and buy them). We also use Pampers, whichever are cheaper at the moment.
Diaper bin. You’ll want a bin by the changing station that can lock in the smell. Many of them have their own proprietary cartridges for bag refills, which I hate the idea of and instead went for an option where we could use normal trash bags. It fills up faster than you can imagine, but also starts to smell quickly, so either way you’d want to empty it regularly.
Diaper rash cream (Wundschutzcream). This is your every day diaper cream. I don’t have a favorite because I’ve only tried one, but the drug store varieties really only work preventatively.
Wipes. You want the purest wipe possible, such as WaterWipes. However we both despise how the WaterWipes don’t fan out of the packet, so each individual one is hard to grab. Instead we prefer the Pamper’s equivalent, which properly fan out of the package. Something only parents could be passionate about.
It is so easy to go overboard with clothes because all the tiny things and patterns make your ovaries nearly explode. However you really don’t need much if you keep your laundry machine running like we do. 85% of our clothing stash consists of hand-me-downs, but when I just can't help myself I love to browse H&M, C&A and Carter’s for sweet and affordable options in Germany. Buttons are cute, but you’ll love a zipper closure. Find out if your child goes crazy pulling things over their heads, before you choose your clothing types. Max doesn’t mind so we love the ones we can just pull over his head and button at the diaper. Here’s what I would get in size 0-3 months:
1x Sun Hat
8x Drool Bibs
Bath seat. My midwife told me I don’t need one, and while you probably don’t need one, it made me feel more confident knowing he has support and stabilization in the water. We prefer bathing in the tub over the sink, just because we don’t use our bathtubs, so it is much cleaner option than our kitchen sink.
Bath thermometer. You’ll want the temperature around 38C/100F so it’s helpful to have something telling you it’s at the right level.
Things it might look like I forgot, but indeed did not:
Towel & bath rags. You can buy a cute baby bath towel, but we had several gifted to us so we probably should and you could use a normal towel as well.
Soap. We started using it once he turned 3 months. This was recommended by my midwife, since babies’ skin is sensitive and still hardening the first weeks out of the womb.
Bottles. If you want to bottle feed in any capacity, you’ll want bottles on hand. The smaller sizes (up to 120ml/4 oz) are perfect for the first months. We are on the Dr. Brown’s bandwagon and started with these. Important to note is the nipple size of whatever bottle you choose. The sizes determine the the flow, and you’ll need to determine what is right for your baby. If you are using Dr. Brown’s size 1 should suit the first 3 months.
Pump. After only 5 days of breastfeeding, I already knew we would end up exclusively pumping and I ordered one immediately. On day 6, this pump arrived and it was just what we needed without shelling out too much money. Whatever pump you decide, I definitely recommend an electric and portable one, so you don’t need to be plugged into a wall somewhere to use it.
Storage containers with adapter. If you are exclusively pumping, you’ll need more storage. I loved these containers that come with an adapter for my pump, so I could pump directly into the contains and then put them directly in the fridge. They can also be multi-purposed for baby food later.
Milk freezer bags. If there’s more than you can drink, you’ll want to freeze your breast milk in bags that lay flat for later. Some babies reject the taste, so before you fill up your freezer, I would test giving your baby some to see if they will drink it.
Drying rack. We hand wash all of the above and thus it was very handy to have a cute drying rack by the sink.
Baby blankets. You will probably get a few gifted to you, but IMHO you cannot have enough baby blankets. They all come in handy in their own ways, whether keeping warm, keeping a surface clean from spit up, or providing the baby a soft surface to lay wherever you may be. The absolute cutest, high quality ones I have found though (US-only) are the personalized options on BaubleBar.
Burp cloths. Your baby will spit up and burp clothes save the day. We have them anywhere Max is. Max also just loves rubbing his like a lovey. I enjoy the classic Muslin cloths (note: they do need a first wash).
Pacifier. Your baby may nor may not take a pacifier, but you’ll want to have some around to try. We love the Wubbanubs, which are attached to a classic Soothie, because it is a built-in lovey attached and they are thus harder to lose.
Clothing hangers. If you want to hang up any of the baby clothes, you’ll want some fun-sized hangers. I always prefer hanging so you can see all of your options.
Thermometer. You'll want to be able to check baby's temperature in case of any concerns. In Germany they (hospital, midwife, etc.) will tell you to do it old school and stick a digital body thermometer up their butt for an accurate reading, but call me crazy I don't want to do that, so I prefer an ear thermometer.
Nail clippers. In the beginning the nails are too soft to cut, but around 10 weeks they’ll be ready for a trim. We went for a classic clipper which does the job, but I’ve heard the electric ones are great too.
Nasal aspirator (snot snucker). "It ain't much, but it's honest work." Those little baby noses are tiny so your finger isn't going to do the trick. We have the Nose Frida and this is a job I like to delegate to dad.
Baby “By Month”. I love doing the monthly photos, and opted for a letterboard so that I could customize the message. There are also so many cute blankets, signs, and cards out there though. I recommend browsing Etsy for the latter.
Somehow no one mentioned to me upfront that you will always want/need somewhere to “sit” your baby in your home. It’s nice to have a dedicated spot in each room you spend significant time in, if even just a blanket on the floor.
These are the three lounging spots we have for Max:
Baby lounger. I had seen these all over my friends’ homes and Instagram, yet somehow thought I wouldn’t need one. Our sweet neighbors offered us their Dock-a-Tot and I honestly don’t know what we would have done without it. Max naps (supervised) in this and it is our go-to safe spot to place him when we need our hands free.
Play mat. It doesn’t take long for babies to gain interest in a play mat, plus even if they aren’t interested yet they’re perfect for tummy time. Everyone will tell you they prefer the bright colors but we prefer not to have eye sores in our living room, so we went with this one and Max is perfectly content on it for a solid hour. This one from Lovevery also looks great. The play mat is the only way we ever manage to cook meals.
Baby rocker / bouncer (Wippe). Another place for baby to sit, but with incline and motion this time. We keep it in our office for when we need to be at the desk.
Preface: I am not about this Teetrinken culture in Germany. If my baby is hurting I want a solution that will quickly take effect and thus I’m going straight to the pharmacy (or using one of the delivery apps like First-A). Here are a couple of over-the-counter items good to have on hand.
Gas and bloating medication. When my baby’s gas is out of control, we use Sab-Simplex.
Diaper rash cream with Nystatin. Unlike the Wundschutzcreme for preveentinng a diaper rash, if you already have a diaper rash you’ll need something over-the-counter, i.e. containing Nystatin, to get rid of it.
Anything else you need, your pediatrician (Kinderarzt) should have you covered.
In preparation for your new arrival, don’t forget about yourself! You can take some things from the hospital, which I highly recommend, but you will still need some things at home..
Pads. This is the ugly part of postpartum. Take as many of the huge ones from the hospital as you can. After the first week or two, some extra absorbent nighttime period pads should work will suffice.
Nursing pads. If you are breastfeeding, you’ll want some of these inserts for when you do re-enter society and don’t want to leak through your clothes.
Nipple shields. These can help reduce the pain and help the latch in the initial phase of breastfeeding. For some like us, it is hard to transition off the nipple shield.
Nipple cream with Lanolin. This will help the pain from breastfeeding or pumping.
Comfy clothes. Ladies use this as your excuse to go buy some stretchy new athleisure at Lululemon or wherever your heart desires.
Well that wraps it up! See you just need a couple of things 😉 The good news is once you are initially set up, the shopping necessity greatly reduces and the items become more fun. What do you think of the list? What were your must haves in the first 0-3 months?