Car seats: Imagine four grown adults hovering around a plastic car seat staring blankly like a bunch of cavemen confronting a television for the first time. I used to say that you had to be a rocket scientist to figure out how to install a car seat until one of my patients, who worked for NASA, threw in the towel. And just like asking for directions, any father would rather spend eight hours trying to install this simple device than ask for help. When we went to buy our first car seat, the car we drove to the store wasn't the car we'd be installing the car seat in. So the staff couldn't help us with the installation. No problem, I thought. I'll just watch as the store manager gives me a quick demonstration and then I'll do it when I get home. After the half-hour demo, I was well-schooled in all the possible ins and outs, dos and don'ts of proper car seat installation. I felt like a pro. I got home, unpacked the box, and went to work. An hour later, after unproductively fiddling around with the thing, I was drenched in sweat. I pulled out the directions and tried to follow them. No luck. I called in the expert: my wife. She reread the instructions and relayed directions to me to no avail. I called the store, and after trying out a couple of their helpful tips, I got in the car, drove back to the store, and had the store manager install the car seat for me. Note to self: when you buy a car seat, drive to the store in the car into which you'll install the car seat.
Common Sense Bottom Line Unless one or both of you is an engineer or car mechanic, go to a car seat installation center at your local police station, fire department, car dealership, or baby supply store and have a pro do it. Then drive home with a smile on your face knowing your child will be sitting safely in a properly installed car seat.
Diaper bag: In the diaper bag make sure to have diapers, wipes, diaper cream, plastic bags for dirty diapers, a changing pad, and a change of clothes. I also recommend that you keep a little bin full of the same supplies on every floor or in every major room of your house so that you can quickly tend to a dirty diaper.
___ Swaddling blanket
Clothing: You are going to buy and receive lots of "cute" outfits for your newborn. These are more for you than for your baby. My daughter had a bigger wardrobe before she was born than I've ever had in my life. She had so many dresses with layers of lace I remember asking my wife how many balls she was planning to attend in the first year of her life. Remember, you are going to be hungry and sleep deprived, and all you'll want to do is change that diaper and go back to sleep. Going through layers of clothing will not help your stress level, so keep it simple.
Common Sense Bottom Line I recommend investing in lots of onesies. My daughter wore them almost exclusively for the first four months. These all-in-one garments are inexpensive, easy to wash, save time for you, are comfortable for your baby . . . and cute!
___ Changing table with a pad/soft rug or mat
___ Gauze/baby wipes
___ Diaper cream