Baby Stuff: What do we actually NEED?

Yesterday, at the mercado, we acquired our first baby supplies: three plain newborn-sized onesies.  I realized while we were out and about, that I really didn’t know what basic things we should have on hand already, when the baby arrives. I mean, obviously we’ll need some sort of diapering provision, a place for the baby to sleep, and some basic clothes, but…  beyond that I feel out of my depth. I’ve taken care of a newborn before, but he wasn’t MY newborn. Certainly, his parents had a lot of stuff for him, but most of it was unnecessary: toys, mobiles, nursery decor, cartloads of “soothing body wash” and baby lotions that we never even opened…

For me, for us, here in the tropics, in an efficiency apartment, without a car… what DO we need?  We plan to stay here for at least a month after the baby is born, to give us time to sort out all the tedious paperwork that goes with having a baby in a foreign country– passports, registering with the embassy, etc.– but beyond that…   I have no idea.  Maybe we’ll go back home to the states. Maybe we won’t. With such uncertainty, and also with the tiny apartment, I certainly don’t want to invest in anything huge and expensive. I mean, we could be moving halfway across the world when the baby is only a month old. Or not. Until we know…

The baby needs somewhere safe to sleep. I’d love to just have the baby sleep in our bed (seems soooo much easier than getting up three times a night to nurse– I often wake up in the night, and it’s a heck of a lot easier to go back to sleep if I haven’t actually gotten out of bed), but I’ve checked the guidelines and our bed is not safe. Too much space between the mattress and the headboard.  And since it’s a furnished apartment, we don’t really get a say in the large furniture. There is just not space to fit a crib, even if I did want one. So… maybe a bassinet or one of those Moses baskets I saw for sale in Cusco?

The baby will need clothes, but…  what kind, and how many? Temperatures in summer here range from about 65F to 80F, so in the immediate term, we don’t need any big fluffy pajamas or coats or anything, but… 65 is still kind of chill for a baby, so probably onesies aren’t quite enough either. What about hats? Do babies really need socks? If I’m doing laundry by hand and drying it on the line…  how much clothing do I need in order to have something clean and dry at all times?

Diapers… ack. I want to do the cloth diaper thing, but I don’t know how many I’ll need to buy/make, given our laundry situation.

Carriers: One thing I don’t need right away is a stroller. I see lots of moms with babies in our neighborhood, but hardly ever any strollers. I know it’s possible to do without. I really want a couple of those shawls like the Cusquenas carry their babies around in. I’m pretty sure I can get those in the city, even though they are not used much here. They’re sold more as “native handicrafts” than as baby accessories. We also don’t need a car seat, since we have no car. It’s not like you can use one of those on the bus, and horrifying as it would seem to most folks back home… nobody uses them in taxis either (it’d be a total waste of money and hauling effort, as most taxis lack seatbelts).

I know there are other things we wouldn’t want to be without, but what are they? How many do we need? And where in Lima can I find them?  We’ve got less than four months to figure it out.