Here in the United States we have a whole store - a warehouse-sized store - solely devoted to supplying parents with the things they need when the new baby arrives. The store has everything from clothing to cheap cloth diapers (usually relegated to "burp cloth") to high-end strollers and cribs (with all of the accessories: themed quilts, bumper pads and sheets sets, etc.). If it's made for baby, the store has it.
But that's just that one store. Other stores have whole aisles and/or sections devoted to stuff for babies.
"They" start 'em young, don't they?
When I was a poor college freshman and pregnant with my first child, I recall the lists I was given for my "layette" - those supplies parents will need when the baby is born.
Most layette clothing lists include:
8 Receiving Blankets
4 Footed Sleepers (Terri cloth)
3 Lightweight Night Gowns
2 Blanket Sleepers
4 Booties or Socks
4 Rompers (Long Sleeved)
1 Snowsuit or Bunting
1 Dozen Cloth Diapers (Burp cloths)
2 or more newborn size Pacifiers
That list represents over a $100 worth of clothes, some of which may be used only once or twice, or worse, are never used and are just wasted money. Depending on the size of one's newborn and the size of clothing one purchases for one's layette, some things may never be used. Three of my five children were over 9 lbs when they were born and wore newborn sizes for about five minutes.
And the above list is just for the clothes. There are other lists for furniture (which includes a stroller, a baby swing, a changing table and a rocking chair ?!?); feeding (some research suggests is better not to give a breastfed baby a bottle - ever!); diapering; bedding; bathing; and health care.
As I said, when my first child was born, I was a poor college student, and I didn't have the money for all of those things, but I was certain I needed them, because everything I read told me I did. Unfortunately, because I didn't have all of the supplies I needed, I was sure I was a lesser parent. It never occurred to me to wonder, at the time, about the skills of previous generations of parents who never would have had access to all of thos supplies.
During my second pregnancy, I started to ponder those questions, and by baby three, I started to come up with some answers.
Our consumer-driven society does a real disservice to parents, especially first-time parents, and after five children, I have a very different list.
My list of things to purchase would include:
1 copy of The Baby Book by William and Martha Sears
1 baby sling
2 dozen onesies (1/2 dozen newborn size and the rest the next size up)
6 footed sleepers
2 dozen cloth diapers with covers (and at this point, I'd probably make them myself)
4 or 5 half-sized quilts or fleece blankets (like couch throws)
... and a car seat, because we're still a car culture, and transporting a baby in a car is illegal without a car seat.
Most of the other stuff is just unneccessary and, at best, will be used only once or twice as baby grows, and at worst, end up as useless clutter.
If I had it to do over again, I would never buy another receving blanket, but I would take some old tee-shirts or old sheets and sew a couple of layers together in a 24" square to use as burp cloths and changing pads (on the floor or on the bed, because I never had nor ever needed a changing table), which is the only thing my receiving blankets were ever used for. I would also not bother with undershirts, night gowns, socks, rompers, bibs, blanket sleepers (unless the baby was born during the winter), or pacifiers.
If I had it to do over again, I'd never purchase one of those hooded baby bath towels. They're too thin, and they're shaped oddly and difficult to use one-handed, which in my experience is how they must be manipulated, because the other hand is holding the baby. If I were going to purchase new towels for baby, I'd simply purchase regular bath towels, which the baby won't outgrow. I never used those plastic baby tubs, either, although I did like the sponge that was placed in the bath tub. I think a better choice, though, would be to use a small wash tub (or a really large bowl) lined with a towel, or just bathe baby in the sink. Likewise, those expensive baby soaps (which are really detergent) aren't necessary. They're pleasant for Mom, because they smell pretty, but baby doesn't need them. Warm water infused with a drop or two of an essential oil (like lavendar) is adequate.
If I had it to do over again, I wouldn't purchase anything on the "health and baby care" list, except a thermometer. The other things on the list can get a new parent into trouble, like baby Acetominophen. If a newborn has a fever, it's something a lot more serious than Tylenol can fix.
And I would NEVER, not in a million years, use "petroleum jelly" on my newborn baby's skin. It's not that far removed from smearing Valvoline all over the baby's body - same base ingredient. Likewise for those chemical-laden baby lotions. For dry skin (often caused from too many baths with commercial baby soaps - ask me how I know ;), what's in the kitchen cabinet is better than any commercial baby lotion. Unrefined coconut oil or cold pressed virgin olive oil are much healthier choices for baby's tender skin.
Other things would be considered as the baby grew, and we discovered what we needed, but there is no reason, except for pressure from our consumer-driven society, to purchase several hundred dollars worth of stuff for a layette.
I'm sure someone noticed that I didn't have "crib" on the list of "would haves", and no, that was not an oversight. Deus Ex Machina and I co-slept with our three youngest, and if we had another child, we'd co-sleep with that one, too. The crib was occasionally used, as a storage place for extra blankets and pillows, but no one slept there.
We also never used a stroller or a playpen, a swing or a changing table. Bottles wouldn't make my list, because I know I would breastfeed.
Our society does a great disservice to young parents by making them believe that the typical "layette list" represents things that will be needed, when, in fact, most of the items listed are useful, to a degree, but definitely not necessary, especially in the first few weeks of baby's life.
What a newborn actually needs is very simple: food, dry diapers, and a warm body against which to snuggle. None of those things need to be purchased in a store.