Are you expecting? Then this list is for you!
Our second child is due in just 13 weeks, and as I enter the third trimester I am checking things off my to-do and to-get lists before baby arrives. This time around is much different than with my first, however, because I know exactly what I will need–and just as importantly what I WON’T need–for baby. We are having another boy which also simplifies things, since we kept the majority of essentials from when Baby M was an infant. Still, there are a number of things we still have left to purchase for Baby #2. Since I’m beginning to get into that expectant-mom-frenzy of getting things prepared for the new baby, I thought I would post a newborn essentials checklist for those of you who are first time moms (or as a reference for experienced mamas) along with some tips about what worked or didn’t work well for us.
~ Of all the different types of infant clothing, we used these the most for the first 6 months. You really can’t have too many.
~ We especially love the footed button-up ones — the zippered ones can be bulky and fit weird.
~ Especially great for nighttime so you are not fumbling with zippers or buttons.
- Sleep Sacks
~ Great to use with onesies or gowns at night, for easy changing and safe warmth (rather than a blanket).
~ Especially those that button up the side or front — babies typically don’t like clothing put on over their heads.
~ Cotton/stretchy is best.
- Newborn Mittens
~ To prevent baby from scratching face and to keep his/her hands warm.
~ Carter’s and Child of Mine by Carter’s mittens are the best. Gerber’s are awful!
- Newborn Hats
- Receiving Blankets
~ You will use these for everything — swaddling, burp cloths, change mats, blankets, etc. You can never have too many!
~ Carter’s Wrap-Me-Up Receiving Blankets and Carter’s Swaddle Blankets are by far our favorite kinds. Larger, softer and better made than most brands.
- Summer Infant SwaddleMe Wraps
~ These provide a quicker, more secure wrap than regular receiving blankets. It’s nice to have a couple for nighttime especially.
- Cotton Bibs
~ For spit up and drool.
Tip #1: Let’s face it, newborns are typically pretty messy. Between their pee, poo and spit up, you may have to change their outfit several times a day. I can remember with Baby M that there were days when I changed his clothes 4-5 times, either because of diaper leaks or spit up. Changing his outfit 2-3 times a day was a general rule — and that was in addition to at least one clothing change during the night. Not all babies leak or spit up a whole lot, but keep in mind that you may very well need more than one or two outfits a day. And believe me, you won’t feel like doing laundry very often, especially at first!
Tip #2: Babies grow incredibly quickly during the first year. It may be tempting to buy clothing many sizes/seasons up if you find a good deal or want to prepare ahead of time, but keep in mind that you can’t predict exactly how big your baby will be or how fast he or she will grow. I was shocked when Baby M was wearing 6-9 Month clothing at only 3 months old. I had purchased ahead of time what I thought would be a year’s worth of clothing (sizes Newborn through 12 Months), only to watch him outgrow them all by the time he was just 6 months old. Your child may grow at a drastically different speed than Baby M did though, and maybe she or he really will fit into size 12 Month clothing at 1 year old. You just won’t know until you get there. So if you’re going to buy clothing several sizes up, try to avoid season-specific clothing and keep in mind that anything you buy won’t be worn for long! If in doubt about a size, size up, because they will grow into it (and then outgrow it) very quickly.
Tip #3: Invest in the essentials and don’t purchase too many cutesy “outfits” in sizes preemie, newborn or 0-3 months. During those first few weeks, you are basically in survival mode and probably won’t be taking baby out much to show him/her off. Easy clothing will be your best friend (sleepers, onesies, gowns, sleep sacks). Many of the tiny adorable outfits I had purchased before Baby M arrived sat completely unused because in the end I was just too tired to bother. This time around, the only special “outfits” I am purchasing for the first few months are a couple take-home outfits and a couple Christmas outfits. Other than that, everything is “easy clothing,” all the way up to 3-6 month size.
- Gerber Prefolds or Flats (for Burp Cloths)
~ These “cloth diapers” are by far the best burp cloths. Real “burp cloths” are far too small and are usually not very absorbent either. While the Gerber prefolds and flats are horrible for actual cloth diapers, they are perfect for burp cloths.
~ You can never have too many. 4-5 dozen even! We had some stashed in every room of the house and in the diaper bag and car.
~ Baby M only liked NUK pacifiers, but every baby is different. Buy one of several brands and see what baby likes before buying a bunch. Then you’ll want to get quite a few because they are so easy to lose, and you’ll want to have one or two handy with you wherever you are.
- Pacifier Clips
- Several Soft Blankets
~ For everything from snuggling with the baby, putting baby on the floor or bed (in case of spit up/leaks and for added softness), using in the car seat at restaurants, etc.
- Diaper Bag
- Soft-Bristle Baby Brush
~ I have this set by Summer Infant, very inexpensive and works wonderfully.
- Infant Nail Clippers
~ I also have the Summer Infant nail clipper set and it works great!
- Q-Tips and/or Cotton Swabs
- Nasal Aspirator
~ I like the one made by Green Sprouts.
- Infant Thermometer
- Infant Tylenol (in case of fever)
- Baby Washcloths
~ I actually prefer cloth wipes for washcloths because they are thicker and less flimsy.
- Hooded Baby Towels
- Sassy Soft Touch Rinsing Cup
~ Maybe not quite an essential, but we’ve used ours for every bath since Baby M was born!
- Baby Soap / Shampoo
- Breast Pump
~ Even if you don’t plan to use bottles (we never ended up using any with Baby M), breast pumps are important because you may need one to relieve engorgement at some point (especially during the first couple weeks) and may also need it to help clear a clogged duct. It’s a good idea to have one on hand!
~ If you plan to use the pump regularly, buy an electric. The Medela Pump-in-Style is the most popular. If you only want to use it occasionally (maybe once a week) for a bottle-full or just to help with engorgement, you’ll be fine with a manual pump. I used the Medela Harmony manual pump when Baby M was breastfed and it served its purpose well.
- Milk Storage Containers (if you plan to pump and save/freeze)
~ Whether or not you plan to pump and bottle-feed, it’s a good idea to have a couple bottles on hand — especially those that mimic breastfeeding. We have the BreastFlow bottles and I like that they are so similar to breastfeeding. I’ve also heard great things about the Playtex Drop-Ins because of how easy they are to use!
- Bottle Brush
- Nursing Bras
~ Get one or two to try out at first, then buy several once you know what you like.
- Nursing Pads
~ For disposables, the Lansinoh nursing pads are great! For cloth, these Organic Cotton Nursing Pads are soft and absorbent.
- Soothies Gel Pads
~ These are incredibly helpful during the first couple weeks and well worth getting!
- Lanolin Cream
~ I especially loved the Lansinoh cream.
- Nursing Pillow(s)
~ I am putting this in here because most moms use them and love them for nursing. Personally, I like Boppy Pillows and I love Leachco Pillows even more, but I don’t like either of them for nursing. I find them uncomfortable to wrap around my midsection, a little difficult to balance baby on, and overall I much prefer just a regular pillow or two (with a waterproof cover and receiving blanket on top). You’ll have to see what works for you, but regardless nursing pillows are great to have. I used mine for propping Baby M up for naps, tummy time, or to help him sit unassisted later on. I like the Leachco ones particularly because they are softer and wider than Boppy pillows and have the added strap so baby can lay securely in them.
- Bed Rest Pillow
~ These are great for breastfeeding in bed, saves your back! I have a Brentwood Corduroy one and it’s really nice.
- Bottle Brush
- Infant Car Seat
~ You can technically get away with just buying a convertible car seat, which will fit a LOT longer, but infant car seats are really handy to use those first few months because you can remove the car seat from the base and carry baby inside (stores, restaurants, etc) in the car seat. Infants sleep a lot and there’s nothing worse than having to wake a sleeping baby to get him or her out of the car seat. It also saves time buckling/unbuckling and is much less hassle.
~ We had a Graco Snugride infant car seat with Baby M and were NOT impressed. It was so heavy, and Baby M outgrew the straps by the time he was 2 months old. I have heard excellent things about the Chicco KeyFit infant car seat and would love to get one of those for Baby #2.
- Extra Car Seat Base (optional)
~ If you drive more than one car on a regular basis, it’s handy to have an extra infant car seat base so you don’t have to uninstall and reinstall the base over and over again.
- Car Mirror
~ The BearView Infant Mirror is awesome!
~ In particular, it’s great to get a stroller that works as a travel system with an infant car seat. The car seat simply snaps onto the stroller, and off you go. After baby has outgrown the car seat, you can then use the stroller as a regular stroller without the car seat.
~ We have a Graco stroller and have really enjoyed it. I am not sure yet what kind of double stroller we will get for Baby M and Baby #2, but I have been drooling over the Britax B-Agile Double Stroller. It looks AMAZING. They make a Britax Infant Car Seat Adapter Frame that allows you to attach any kind of infant car seat to the B-Agile stroller (if you don’t own a Britax infant car seat), which means I could still get my Chicco KeyFit carseat (or just stick with the Graco Snugride we already have) and use it with the Britax double stroller. Pretty cool.
~ Especially if you will be breastfeeding, but even if you formula feed, it is really nice to have baby close to you at night during those first few months when they are up all hours needing your attention. Save yourself the extra hassle and buy a co-sleeper of some kind so you can sleep with baby within arm’s reach.
~ With Baby M, we went back and forth from using an Arm’s Reach Co-sleeper and a Bright Starts Ingenuity Playard, both of which worked pretty well. My only issue with them is that Baby M did not like to sleep flat and needed to be propped up with a pillow to sleep comfortably. So this time, instead of the co-sleeper, we are using a Fisher Price Rock n’ Play Sleeper. These receive excellent reviews and I am really excited to see how it works for us. It is a whole lot smaller than a bulky co-sleeper and is shaped so that baby will be propped up significantly. Of course we may still end up using the co-sleeper or playard later on once baby outgrows the rock ‘n play, if we aren’t ready to transition him to the crib.
- Touch Lamp (if Co-Sleeping)
~ This is something I longed to have when Baby M was sleeping in our room those first several months. The click from our nightstand lamp, as quiet as it was, woke him up or caused him to rustle almost every time we turned the lamp off or on. The lamp was also fairly bright and it would have been nice to have something a little dimmer, but brighter than a nightlight, for the first few weeks when I was up all hours of the night off and on to check on him, change him, nurse him, soothe him, etc. So, my solution, a 3-way touch lamp! I found one at Amazon and love it. The lowest setting is perfect for dim lighting, and the lamp turns on and off without any noise whatsoever.
~ This is not necessarily a “newborn” essential, because you may likely co-sleep with baby in the room with you for the first few months. We didn’t end up actually using our crib until Baby M was 6 months old, because until then he was in the co-sleeper or playard in our room for naps and bedtime. But you may want to put baby right in the crib and that’s fine too!
~ If you do end up getting a crib to use right away, you will need a crib mattress, crib sheets (get at least 2), mattress protector (I love the Carter’s Waterproof one), and Breathable Mesh Bumper. If you get a crib bedding set, keep in mind that the regular bumper isn’t really safe to use (I don’t even know why they sell them anymore), and you won’t use the crib quilt until baby is much older. Oh, and the bed skirts look nice when the crib is at the highest position, but are often too long to use after the crib has been lowered — and they are annoying to keep straight anyway every time you change the crib sheets. Just something to keep in mind.
~ We have the Bright Starts Ingenuity Bouncer that actually gently bobs up and down rather than simply vibrating, and I really liked that one. It was so handy that I hope to get an additional one for when Baby #2 arrives. Any time you need to put baby down (use the bathroom, wash your hands, take a shower, do the dishes, etc) bouncers are really useful because they provide a safe place to strap baby into and also entertain them a little bit too. Unlike an exersaucer or jumperoo (which you won’t need until baby is 3-4 months old), you can use bouncers right from birth, and they are easy to move from room to room.
~ These are a life-saver for many parents! Not all babies enjoy them, but many of them love to swing and will happily sit or sleep in them anytime. We used ours every day from the time Baby M was about a month old until he was 5-6 months old. He absolutely loved it and oftentimes it was the only thing that calmed his crying or got him to sleep (or gave me a 15 minute break!).
~ We have a Bright Starts Ingenuity Swing and I can’t recommend it enough. It is so quiet and smooth, plays really nice music and other sounds, and best of all it doesn’t drink up batteries like most swings. I think we changed the batteries once or twice, total, in the 5 months that we used it every day. I liked that we didn’t need to have it plugged in either so that we could put it anywhere in the room. It’s a nice swing also because it adjusts so that baby can swing back-to-front or side-to-side.
- Baby Monitor
~ If you’re going to use a monitor, I would highly recommend a video monitor! We started out with a regular sound monitor but eventually switched to a Motorola Wireless Video Monitor and I can’t recommend it enough! It has given me so much more peace of mind to actually be able to “check” on baby without having to go in the room.
- Dresser, Shelf, Baby Hangers or Other Storage (for Clothes and Accessories)
- Clothes Hamper(s)
~ It’s great to have one next to the changing table, and one in the bedroom with you is handy too!
- Infant Bathtub
~ My very favorites are the Summer Infant mesh bathtub that you can put in the sink or regular tub, and the PRIMO Infant Bath Seat that you can set in the regular bathtub. I can’t stand infant bathtubs that you actually fill up and then have to wash out and drain. Infants can be messy in the tub and it’s much easier if you can just “hose them off” essentially! And not have to worry about rinsing a whole baby tub out afterwards.
- Baby Carrier(s)
~ I’ve tried many different styles and brands of baby carriers, and my very favorite for newborns and infants is the Boba Wrap! I like it even better than the ever-popular Moby Wrap because it is much more breathable, comfy and stretchy. In fact, I like it so much that I have two of them! (You can read my review of the Boba Wrap here).
- Rocking Chair or Glider (for rocking, soothing and nursing baby)
- Baby Toys
~ For the first 2-3 months, toys aren’t exactly necessary, but there are a few kinds that Baby M did seem to enjoy even in the newborn stage. Including: A play mat (with toys that hang overhead), a Fisher-Price Ocean Wonders Soothe and Glow Seahorse, a PlaySkool Lullaby Gloworm, and a few small soft rattles (particularly any that crinkle). He actually still plays with the Seahorse and Gloworm at 2 years old, so those were good buys!
- Disposable Diapers
~ If this is your first baby, you won’t know what kind of diaper you prefer (or what works best for you) until you try them, so don’t stock up!
~ Get a pack of Newborn and a pack of Size 1 to start out with, perhaps in a couple different brands to see which you like best. We prefer Huggies but I know a lot of mamas like Pampers, Luvs or other brands.
~ Even if you are planning to cloth diaper, there is certainly no harm in having a pack of disposables on hand just in case. Cloth is extra work and sometimes recovery from birth can be more challenging than expected so it’s always best to be prepared to make things as easy as possible.
- Cloth Diapers
~ Keep in mind that most one-size cloth diapers do not really start fitting at birth, but rather at 10-12 lbs. In our experience most one-size cloth diapers leaked out the legs even if they fit around the waist, until Baby M “chubbed up” a bit at 1-2 months old. I didn’t really “like” the fit on any one-size diapers until he was 3 months old.
~ Newborn cloth diapers are great for the first month or two! I will be writing a review of my favorite newborn cloth diaper styles in a few weeks, so stay tuned.
~ You will want at least 2 dozen cloth diapers, but preferably 3 dozen to make it easier (less time spent doing laundry, and less chance of running out too). Newborns tend to average 12 diaper changes per day (that’s once every 2 hours). Sometimes they need to be changed more often than that. I can’t count how many times I changed Baby M as a newborn only to have him dirty the diaper in the next 5 minutes. Having extra is always a good idea.
- Disposable or Cloth Wipes
- Wipes Container and/or Warmer
- Cloth Diaper Detergent (if you plan to cloth diaper)
~ We’ve always just used Tide Free & Gentle (the powder, not the liquid), but you can get special cloth diaper detergent if you want.
- Diaper Cream
~ We have tried basically every brand on the market, and our very favorite is A+D Diaper Rash Cream. We just use liners if using with cloth diapers. All the cloth diaper safe creams I have tried have never really been strong enough to prevent/cure diaper rash. Of course lots of people have different experiences so you will just have to find out what works for you!
- Diaper Pail(s)
~ In my opinion, “real” diaper pails (like the Diaper Genie) are expensive and wasteful. We use a large Hefty trash can with a foot pedal and flip-top lid, and it works great with either regular kitchen trash bags (for disposables) or reusable pail liners (for cloth). It really doesn’t stink any more than regular diaper pails and you can always sprinkle some baking soda in to help.
~ If you are using cloth diapers and disposable wipes, be sure to get one pail for each.
- Diaper Pail Trash Bags and/or Reusable Pail Liners
~ For sposies, I love the Glad ForceFlex Febreze kitchen trash bags. They help reduce the odor a little.
~ For cloth, my favorite pail liners (of all time) are Leslie’s Boutique Pail Liners. They are SO well made. Get 2 so you always have one clean.
- Wet Bags
~ These are nice to have in your diaper bag whether you are cloth diapering or not. They are of course great for cloth diapers (clean or dirty), but are also perfect for soiled clothes and burp cloths, wet swimsuits, etc.
- Disposable Diaper Sacks
~ If you’re using disposable diapers (or even just wipes), these are handy for the diaper bag. When you’re out and there’s no trash can in site (or you don’t want to leave a dirty diaper in your friend’s kitchen trash), it’s nice to have a little bag to slip the diaper into, seal the stink in, and take it home to dispose of it.
- Changing Table
~ Some people don’t find these necessary, but I definitely do! Changing baby on the floor or bed hurts my back and I can’t imagine doing it all the time.
- Changing Pad
- Changing Pad Covers
~ Get 2 so you always have one clean.
~ We like the terry cloth ones best as they are very absorbent (like towels).
- Changing Pad Cover Liners
~ These are absorbent/waterproof liners that you lay on top of the changing pad cover so you don’t have to change the actual changing pad cover each and every time baby wets it with pee, poo or spit up (a million times a day). Very, very handy. I still use them with my 2 year old.
~ Boppy makes some but I actually made my own, and they are larger and better in my opinion — not to mention cheaper. I purchased several Carters Keep Me Dry Waterproof Flannel Crib Pads and cut them each into 4 pieces (so I get 4 liners out of each crib pad). I layer several liners at once on top of the changing pad cover, so each time baby wets or dirties it I can just slip it out from underneath them and there is a fresh one already there. I only have to wash the actual changing pad cover about once every week or two (instead of every day or two!).
If you have any more suggestions for essential newborn items (or products you simply loved), or tips for new moms, please feel free to comment below!