I want to start off by stressing that I HIGHLY encourage you to try and find these items second-hand or in a local shop. The Bay Area has several fantastic resources for new families and keeping these businesses alive is important. One added bonus of making a trip out to one of these shops is the chance to get advice from experts, as well as find out about upcoming events and classes to help you prepare for your birth and the early months of parenting. Amazon just can't compete with that.
Having said all that, I recognize that most folks do the bulk of their shopping online. I see this time and time again -- I am visiting a family during a particularly rough day and when I see them again a few days later, suddenly there's a stack ceiling high of Amazon boxes. More often than not, the items in those boxes are useless in getting through whatever tough moment with baby or breastfeeding or hormonal changes that are taking place. Babies change day-to-day and week-to-week, and the money spent in your digital shopping cart would likely be much better spent on a few hours of postpartum care with a doula or a visit from a housekeeper. This list is an overview of the items I do see as being beneficial for the majority of my clients in the first few months, though all of them aren't going to be necessary for your particular family.
When parents ask me what they need to have before baby arrives, I always say, "A basket, something to carry your baby in, and a well-stocked fridge." I'm not being flippant. That is all it takes to take care of yourself and your baby at the most basic level. Everything else is luxury and too much is actually often harmful. We massively overstimulate our babies, stress about safety ratings of things we don't even need to have, and create an excess of waste and confusion in buying too many things for our babes. In almost 15 years of working with families in various settings, I've seen baby care products increase quadruple-fold, but am not seeing happier families or new parenting get any easier.
Patience and support are the main ingredients in getting through this challenging time. Some of these things might help ease stress a bit, or at least temporarily, but ultimately, beyond the basic items, having a loving, optimistic, supportive, and knowledgeable set of extra hands a few hours a week is money much better spent.
One rule might be this : If it plugs in, you don't need it.
Below these links, I've included some family-centered local resources to check out before making an online purchase. I've also included some items I strongly advise against, though ultimately I feel to each their own. You are the primary care providers for your child and as such, you can pick and choose whatever you want to purchase, regardless of my recommendations for or against an item. These are just suggestions from a well traveled peanut gallery.
I also haven't put any breast pumps on the list since it's best you go through your insurance to get it fully covered. You can get help with that process through this link.
Full Disclaimer : I do get a kickback from your purchases made on Amazon through the links below. It would be great for you to click directly from my site and help me out a bit, but if you'd rather, it would be awesome to also try using Amazon Smile and bookmarking the Homeless Prenatal Program, which helps drive several thousand more dollars in donations to this incredible organization every year. --THANKS!