If you have or have had babies and have dealt with multiple personalities, needs, wants, and temperaments then odds are good that you won't completely agree with this post. I rarely to never agree with baby/maternity must-haves lists but I'm one of the crazies that (maybe because our main floor isn't carpeted? or maybe because I'm a high maintenance nut) considers the Bumbo to be a can't-live-without and I love having a changing table. Gasp.
Fancy Bottles: I know a lot of people choose and are able to breastfeed exclusively (which goes without typing that this is ideal but obviously not an option for every mom) and have no need for bottles but if you do, especially in the early months, I would personally caution very much against throwing a lot of lettuce at complicated bottle systems. Because of my thyroid treatment we had to start bottle feeding Julia full-time at just 8 weeks old and it took awhile to find the magic bullet (and now we realize that she is just a little bit tongue tied which may have contributed to the problem) but we eventually settled on the cheapity cheap packs of bottles from Target with this nipple . We had the fancy vent/flow/bent angle bottles and the bottles with the bags and those were not only a huge pain with their multiple tops/bottoms/sizes etc etc etc but also just didn't work and were the cause of a lot of middle of the night curses from both parental units as she tried to choke down the milk from the "slow flow" bottles. Sebastian took a cheap bottle with the cheap nipple it came with like a champ pretty early on - probably because he was starving and a boy and huge. I know we were totally spoiled and don't anticipate that happening ever again.
Diaper Bag: Okay, maybe I just haven't found thee bag (and to be honest ... I stumbled on this site last week and can't bring myself to close the window ... quite yet) but even when the kids were really young and required bottles and all the other high maintenancy things that infants need for their outings ... I've found that throwing everything in my (somewhat roomy) purse works just as well. The cheapy bottles come with lids to avoid spills and I've never had a baby complain about their pacifier being kept in a non-pacifier specific pocket in a non-baby specific baby. Call me vain but I'm already toting a baby or two, probably a spit up stain or four, and maybe a bit of a weary expression and I'm happy to not haul yet another baby-esque thing around town (town being the regular grocery store, Target, Costco, the hospital cafeteria, and Mass -- my oyster).
Special Swaddling blankets: Both Sebastian and Julia were born right before the cold weather set in and they definitely enjoyed their fair share of swaddles and we found the large squares of hemmed flannel worked just fine. However, someone did give me a special swaddle blanket for this baby and I'll be surprised if I don't love it. But ... we obviously survived two infantdoms with the old fashioned blankets. Here is an especially awesome tutorial on how to swaddle.
Diaper Genie: More of a hassle than it's worth. I run with a complicated system of grocery bags and (depending on how much of a break I need from the pant soilers and the outside temperature) a leisurely walk out to the big trashcan. If Sebastian loves the kitchen trashcan as much as he does ... I can only imagine the affair he would try to get away with with a Genie. I'm happy I'll never know.
Bumbo Tray: Maybe I'm the only sucker that thought it was a good idea but it is a ginorm pain to snap on and snap off which is enough of a deterrent for me. I thought we could get away with not having a high chair but Julia's thighs swelled just enough to laugh that notion right out the window and we are now proud owners of a traditional high chair that has gotten a lot of use and is probably really gross as Sebastian is a master food squirreller.
Breast Pump: I'm not not not not saying that these aren't vital to the feeding of lots of babies but pumps are expensive and in my experience, renting a heavy duty one from the hospital for a fraction of the cost of buying a brand new one and making sure that pumping works for you (I won't punish you with a novella of the nightmare it was for me) is a smart way to go. And I know a lot of people can get by with a little hand held pump as well. Maybe you'll end up buying and loving a fancy system but the investment is worth looking into before you take the expensive plunge. UPDATE: I bought this manual breast pump when Theo was born because I was dying and the lactation consultants would not return my whimpering voicemails and I highly recommend it to provide super necessary relief in the early days!!
Almost Anything New: Okay, with the huge exception of bottles, pacifiers, etc you really can find a lot of gear (that will only get a few months of use anyway) secondhand. My mom found a Baby Bjorn for nine dollars at a secondhand store that isn't the fanciest/lightweight/prettiest model but it has worked perfectly for the first few months of both kids' earth dwellings. Maybe it grosses a lot of people out but I find the vast majority of the kids clothes at thrift stores. We've received tons of clothes as gifts but Sebastian rarely rocks anything brand new (many thanks to generous Caroline!!). He seems to be in a new size every few weeks anyway so it doesn't feel like a huge waste if he only wears the pair of pants that set me back $3.00 twice in his life. And my kids last about 3 weeks in the newborn clothing but maybe you don't birth beasts like I do.
Baby Nail Clippers: Fine. Maybe I'm getting too nitty gritty here but I hate baby nail clippers. I think they make them dull on purpose so that they are safer but they require multiple tries before the nail is actually cleanly cut and cause a lot of crying from both baby and baby mama ... it might sound nuts but using a toenail clipper works best ... you can get the whole nail with one (precise!!) clip and there won't be any hangnails leftover to scratch etc.
Baby Shoes: I know they are super cute but I guarantee that as soon as that baby learns how to kick (pretty much immediately) you're going to lose one and then have one very cute and very useless collection of 1/2 pairs of shoes. Maybe our kids look trashy in just socks (that also get lost) and maybe I just need to invest in some shoes that are impervious to kicks but I've purchased and lost lots and lots of super cute shoes. No more. Stopping the madness with bebe #3.
I could keep going with the newborn mittens (glorified socks), and the wipe warmer, and baby washcloths, and and and and I won't. Like I said, this post is potentially 100% moot to you and even my future self as I'm only two babies in. This next Patton might be an entirely different needy story.
I'm sure I'm missing a lot of stuff .... fill a novice in, will you? Maybe next time I'll make a list of actual essentials which might take to infinity .... and beyond.