These are the things you should have for those first few weeks home with your baby (in my humble opinion). And some things you might want to have in the house when the baby is born. If I’ve missed something — let me know!
Layette and Diapering
- You’ll need diapers! Buy size newborn diapers / cloth diapers / wrap covers or set up diaper service. Compare your options. A newborn normally needs 10-12 diapers per day. An older baby will use only 6-8. Cloth diapers will save you a lot of money, and there are a lot of fabulous options out there now that are practically as easy as disposables. The moms at our Center mostly favor the BumGenius diapers. Since cloth diapers cost a little more up front and make up for it in huge savings later, they are an ideal thing to request on your gift registry!
- Baby wipes and/or extra baby size washcloths. Avoid skin irritants, and consider using warm water instead of commercial wipes, which may contain preservatives and fragrance, to clean your baby during those first sensitive days.
- Diaper pail. Consider that each disposable plastic bag that you use will end up in a landfill for a long time — so choose a diaper pail that minimizes the use of these bags, and consider a washable cloth diaper pail liner instead.
- Burp cloths or extra flat cotton diapers. These protect your clothes from spit-up, and also protect your baby’s tender skin from your own clothing (especially if yours have any dry-cleaning chemicals!). You’ll want to have a bunch handy.
- Gowns, Sleepsacks, kimonos or newborn sleepers (4-6). When you’re home, a baby gown is perfect for comfort and ease of diaper changes. A one-piece outfit with well-placed snaps is another sensible alternative. Keep it simple and comfy at first, and minimize the effort of buttons and other time-consuming dressing options.
- Receiving blankets (3-4) and swaddling blankets (2-4). For swaddling, holding, changing, playing. You will appreciate having a bunch, as these will need to be washed often, and get lost more often than you’d think! One of the most popular are Aden and Anais brand,which are very large but lightweight and breathable, made of muslin or bamboo. Swaddle blankets are very handy when you are out, as they can severe as a nursing coverup, a changing pad, a sun shade, a stroller cover, or a play mat.
- Crib size quilt or comforter and lighter-weight crib blankets
Avoid thick blankets in your baby’s sleeping area, but heavier blankets can be perfect for covering baby’s legs in the stroller, or for the crib as your baby gets older, and may become your baby’s “lovie” to take to preschool and beyond. You’ll need more than one in case they get wet, and new babies are known to spit up quite frequently!
- Newborn socks or booties (4-6 pair). Find ones that baby can’t kick off during the night, to keep her little feet warm. Many families rely on sleepsacks or footed outfits, which certainly works well, but also you will need at least a few pairs of socks for keeping feet warm at night or when you venture outside. Another idea is Babylegs which are leg warmers in an amazing array of colors and patterns.
- Newborn cap (1-2). New babies have trouble maintaining their body temperature, and a lightweight hat can help keep their temperature stable, especially at night.
- Cloth wipes or wash cloths (6-12). You will use these a ton, so get good ones. Wash cloths will be used later for cleaning baby’s face and hands after meals.
- T-shirts or all-in-ones (4-6). You could be going through two of these a day at first, so stock up based on how often you want to do laundry.
- Sweaters or a bunting (1-2)depending upon season
Baby Care Products
- Natural baby shampoo/body wash. Water is often fine to clean little babies, but for when you want to suds up, use a product without harsh ingredients or synthetic fragrances. Did you know “no more tears” means a product has an numbing agent so your baby doesn’t feel the soap stinging her eyes? Instead, choose something truly mild, so you don’t need such chemicals.
- Diaper cream. Choose a product that is natural and doesn’t contain petroleum derivatives. Those actually leach natural moisture from the skin and damage cloth diapers, if you have them.
- Baby nail clippers or safety scissors. Keep baby’s nails short to keep him from scratching himself (or you!). At the beginning, many parents find their baby’s nails are so paper-thin they can gently bite them off, but you’ll need clippers or scissors if you’re squeamish and for later on.
- Natural baby oil or lotion. Again, use something containing a food-grade oil, not mineral oil (which is a petroleum derivative). Calendula is great for sensitive baby skin, especially if prone to rashes or eczema.
- Baby brush and comb. Your baby might not need them for a while, but go ahead an register for one. Besides, but a fine-tooth comb comes in handy for cradle cap.
- A baby bath or insert to bathe baby in tub or sink. At the beginning, a spongebath on a warm towel can work, but you will appreciate having a baby bath when you want to give baby a real bath. If your baby hates her bath, take her in the tub with you!
- Baby carrier (sling, wrap or pack carrier). Check out our carrier recommendations to choose one appropriate to your baby’s age. For the newborn period, a ring sling is super comfortable. But by the first birthday, you’ll be better served by moving to a buckle carrier like Ergo or Beco, to last you up to age 3.
- Infant car seat (You have to have one to leave the hospital!). I like the Britax car seats, they always rank well in independent ratings, such as Consumer Reports.
- Stroller or carriage
- Bouncer seat or swing. Great to have somewhere to lay your baby where he can see you eating dinner, cooking, etc.
- Diaper bag. Pick one to match your style, not your nursery decor!
Furniture and Accessories
- Co-sleeper (have to bring it in from the US) or bassinet or cradle or crib. A crib is often used from birth to age 2, but they take up a lot of space that a newborn just doesn’t need, so many families begin with a bassinet for the first few months before switching to the crib. It is usually easy to fit a bassinet into the parents’ bedroom for the short term, and we advise you do so because it makes those night feedings and nighttime diaper changes easier.
- Mattress, waterproof pads, at least two sheets and other bedding
- A rocking chair or glider is a must have for long hours of nursing and calming baby – and the parents!
- Changing table or other safe changing area
- Mobile for the crib and/or changing area
- A Changing Pad is handy at home and while you’re out
- A sports bottle for mom to get her much-needed water!
- Nursing pillow.
- Washable or disposable nursing pads
- Some modified lanolin or other soothing cream product to soothe sore nipples (a pack of Soothies gel pads is also a great idea!)
- Nursing bras Before the birth, get 2 well-fitting quality nursing bras plus a sleep bra — you can get more bras if you need to when your milk comes in, and after you know your postpartum size for sure
- If you are not planning on breastfeeding you need a pump for breastmilk and you’ll need to to find a quality electric or manual breast pump or rent one, and of course you’ll need a supply of milk storage bottles or bags. Don’t buy one unless you decide you need one after the baby is born. They are expensive and unnecessary in most cases.
- Bottles for breastfed babies drinking pumped milk – depending on your plans for pumping and storing milk, you will need some number of bottles for feeding that milk back to the baby. The number of bottles varies based on your circumstances, and be aware that nursing babies might be picky about bottle types, so perhaps get just 1-2 bottles in each of a few brands .
- For bottle feeding, start with 4oz bottles, stage 1 nipples, and a bottle brush for cleaning. A full-time bottlefed newborn will need about 10 bottles per day. Plan to buy at least a dozen bottles and nipples to account for washing and drying time. Bottles should be BPA-free and dishwasher safe. You can also air dry on a standard dish drying rack.
New Mother Care
- Postpartum refreshing sitz herb spray
- For the first days postpartum, some disposable underwear and a big box of extra-long maxi pads for locchia
- Nursing nightgown or comfy pajamas
- Some comfy, flattering nursing tops and/or a nursing shawl so you feel comfortable nursing when you have visitors or go outside.
- Especially for c-section mamas, a postpartum support belt and scar healing cream
Health and Safety
- Digital thermometer. Best to get one that works both under the arm and rectally. Ear and forehead thermometers are easy to use as well, but rectal tempatures are the most accurate and we reccomend keeping this type of thermometer on hand because even a mild fever can be dangerous for a newborn.
- Nasal aspirator. To keep that little nose from getting plugged. New babies can’t easily breathe through their mouths, and it’ll be a while before you can say “blow!”
- Infant acetaminophen drop (Tylenol or generic). For treating fever or for immunizations with your doctor’s recommendation
- Baby monitor. Crucial for letting you get things done around the house and yard without worries during naptime.
- Night light. Having a low light near where the baby sleeps helps you check on the baby during the night, and having one in the changing area allows for unstimulating nighttime changes.
Other Good Ideas
- Pick out birth announcements and get the address list together before the baby comes, if possible
- Hire your Birth Doula
- Take a Prenatal Class.
- Make a Belly Cast
- Keep a journal to remember this amazing time!
- Stock up on groceries so you don’t have to go to the store. Especially look for easy foods. Make some meals in advance and freeze them.
- Line up friends and family who will bring meals after the baby is born (and a good friend to coordinate)
- Schedule friends or family who will come help you out at home, or hire a postpartum doula to help. Find people who will be truly hands-on useful, not the kind of guests who expect a relaxing visit and think that you or the baby are their entertainment.