The arrival of a new baby is an exciting, life-changing experience.
The road ahead is sure to be one with many twists and turns, and to get ready for the unexpected, it pays to be prepared with the things you’ll need as you usher your new, tiny little human into life in this world.
But, what do you really need? Is it absolutely necessary to buy everything in the ‘baby things’ aisle, or are there some items you can forego?
For new parents, there are a few baby essentials that are going to be absolutely critical to providing proper care for your bundle of joy. And, there are some things that can be considered ‘nice-to-have’.
In this newborn checklist, we’re breaking down the basics for you all in one place. Tick all of these on your shopping list, and you’ll be sufficiently prepared to parent like a pro!
This checklist includes all of the baby bare necessities in the following categories:
Baby’s first year is going to call for clothing that suits the seasons. This means t-shirts, onesies, pajamas, and more.
Generally speaking, it’ll be a good idea to shop for articles of clothing that are deemed ‘0-1 years’ or ‘infant’ in size. While you can count on your baby growing significantly in the first twelve months, you shouldn’t have to worry about him or her outgrowing their first outfits until at least six months have passed.
Look for clothing that is all-cotton or as close to it as possible. Polyester blends can be easier on the pocketbook (and even better-fitting), but they can also irritate baby’s skin in some cases.
To make sure you’re ready to keep your newborn snug, cozy, and comfortable, shop for:
- 4-6 infant t-shirts
- 6-8 short-sleeved onesies
- 4-6 long-sleeved onesies
- 4-8 pajama sets
- 6-8 pairs of socks
- 2 pairs soft booties (optional before baby walks)
- 4-6 pairs stretch cotton pants
- 2-4 cotton sweaters or Henley sweatshirts
- 2 knit caps
- A sun hat
- 2-3 pairs no-scratch mittens
- 4-5 seasonally appropriate outfits for going out and about
- Infant snowsuit and/or bunting (if you plan to go out in the cold)
- Mild soap for laundry
Modern nurseries are a far cry from what our parents and grandparents used to raise us.
Even with developments in technology that can help new parents, some ‘tried and true’ basics are needed for a safe, welcoming, and nurturing baby nursery.
At the very least, you’ll need:
- A place for baby to sleep
- Storage for baby’s clothes and other items
- A place to change diapers
If you’re pressed for space, you can probably nix the niceties like a white noise machine or humidifier. However, they can go a long way in making baby more comfortable.
To outfit your new nursery, you’ll want to shop for:
- Crib and mattress or co-sleeper/bassinet
- A baby mobile
- Glider/rocking chair and footrest
- Hamper (ideally with a removable, washable liner)
- Baby monitor with receiver, or baby monitor camera
- Changing table
- Humidifier or vaporizer (optional)
- White noise machine and/or music player (optional)
It’s impossible to adequately prepare for the arrival of a new baby without giving thoughtful consideration to how you’ll manage diapers.
Some choices include reusable cloth diapers, disposable diapers, or a combination of the two. Cloth diapers can be a fantastic money-saver, but they require the extra effort of
additional cleaning and laundering, which might not be worth the dollars you save.
Let’s not forget about hybrid diapers (yes, this is a thing)! Some modern diapers are reusable, flushable, and compostable.
Remember, too, that baby wipes also come in a wide variety of options. You’ll need to choose between pre-moistened or dry, disposable or reusable cloth, and bulk or grab-and-go. Ideally, a balanced mix of all of these is best, as situations will call for all of them at some point.
Keeping baby clean is an around-the-clock effort. So, however many diapers or wipes you think you’ll go through, add 25% to it.
To cover all of your bases, be sure to get:
- 2 or more changing table pads
- 2-4 changing pad covers
- 2-4 simple grasping toys (for distraction during changes)
- Dirty diaper receptacle
- Diaper rash ointment
- Wipes or cotton cloths
- Small thermos to hold warm water (for cleaning babies younger than 6 weeks)
- Plastic wipes holder
- Diaper bag (make sure this is washable)
- 2-4 packages of newborn or ‘size 1’ diapers
- 12-18 cloth diaper covers (if using cloth or disposable inserts)
- 24-48 (or more) prefold cloth diapers and covers
No newborn baby needs checklist would be complete with a rundown of the feeding essentials.
There’s a lot to consider when it comes to feeding. And, it’s a good idea to consult with your pediatrician to determine a plan for optimal nutrition.
One of the most important decisions you’ll need to make centers around using formula vs breastfeeding. If you do choose formula, you’ll want to be 100% comfortable with the ingredients that are included in most pre-packaged brands.
If you’ll be opting for extended breastfeeding, it will help to have a strategy in place for managing your baby’s transition to a bottle. For many new mothers, breastfeeding will continue into the toddler stage, which will require an ample supply of nursing bras and tank tops!
As you make your way down your baby needs list, don’t forget these feeding items:
- Nursing pillow
- 6-8 burp cloths
- 2-6 bottles equipped with newborn nipples
- Bottle brush
- Insulated bottle holder for diaper bag
- 2-4 Nursing bras and/or tank tops
- Nursing pads for bras
- Lanolin nipple cream
- Breast pump
- Milk storage bags or bottles
- 4-6 bibs
- High Chair
Bathing and Wellness Essentials
In days of old, it was common for babies to be washed in portable basins or even buckets.
Due to their small size and comparatively small skin surface area, babies don’t need a significant time investment to properly bathe. And, it often won’t require drawing a full bath in the bathtub or committing to an hour-long activity to keep your baby clean and comfortable.
Specially designed infant tubs and hammocks can make bathtime much easier for both of you. And, many can be found at a bargain at thrift stores or yard sales (just be sure to sanitize them!).
Baby items needed for bathing include:
- 2-3 hooded towels (optional)
- 2 packs of washcloths
- Cotton swabs
- Baby shampoo
- Baby body wash
- Infant bathing tub
- Baby nail clippers
- Soft brush
- Digital thermometer
- Bulb nasal aspirator or NoseFrida
- 4-6 pacifiers (if applicable)
Linens and Sleep Essentials
Nothing soothes the soul like a soundly sleeping baby.
To create a comfortable, warm, and snuggly place for baby to snooze, you’ll want to include plenty of padding, soft cloth, and at least one waterproof liner. Blankets should range in weight and thickness to suit the indoor temperature, and there should never be so much bedding that it could disrupt baby’s regular breathing.
Also, swaddling fabric and sleep sacks will do a great job of keeping your baby warm.
As you shop for all the newborn stuff you’ll need, be sure to read the safety disclaimers that are printed on sleep products made especially for newborns.
Be sure to include these sleep-related items on your newborn baby checklist:
- 4 receiving blankets
- 2-4 cotton blankets
- 2 swaddlers (optional)
- 1-2 wearable blankets (sleep sacks)
- Cradle, bassinet, or co-sleeper with cotton sheets
- 2 crib mattress pads
- 2 waterproof liners (one for the bassinet or co-sleeper and one for the crib)
Baby Things for ‘On the Go’
In the days and weeks after first bringing your baby home, you’ll have more and more opportunities to get out and start exploring the world with your newborn.
No matter where you go or what you do with your baby, you’ll need to be equipped with everything you might need for ‘baby duties’ while out-and-about. After all, everything your baby needs at home, he or she will also need on-the-go!
Convenient, compact newborn baby items are often manufactured for the expressed purpose of being portable. Take advantage of all of these handy, time-saving products designed for easy, intuitive use any time your baby is away from home.
Be sure your list of newborn needs is complete with the following ‘on-the-go’ items:
- Rear-facing infant car seat with head support padding
- Sun shields for car windows
- Mirror to see baby from the front seat
- Pack N’ Play portable bed
- Travel bag
- Wet bag (if using cloth diapers)
- Sling, soft front carrier, or wrap
As your little one starts interacting with the world, they’re going to express interest in everything in their environment (and we mean everything).
Every manner of stimulation is going to be a new discovery. This goes for sight, sound, smell, taste, and touch.
Baby’s playtime is made more fulfilling and enjoyable when colorful, high-contrast, and tactile objects are abundant.
This is an important time in the beginning of your child’s cognitive development. To help your baby get the most out of playtime, be sure to add these items to your list of things you need for a new baby:
- Bouncy seat
- Baby books
- Smartphone with camera
- Baby music CDs or MP3s
- Playmat with attached toys
- Squishy baby ball or Oball
- Bright, high-contrast (black, white, red, green) art prints, mobile, and books
Rounding Out Your Baby Items List
As you make progress through your essential baby items list, it can be easy to forget that you will need some things, too!
Remember not to neglect yourself. You’re going to be more available to meet the needs of your baby when you have what you need to stay comfortable, collected, and attentive.
So, go ahead and splurge on an ultra-comfy pair of shoes or a well-made, spacious handbag. Don’t cut corners when shopping for basic needs for yourself!
Frequently Asked Questions
Some of the newborn baby basics in the clothing category will include:
- Mittens (for outings)
- A few baby beanies
- All-cotton pajamas
- Long-sleeve sweatshirts
Don’t forget that when shopping for baby clothing, there are great deals to be had at second-hand retail stores or baby consignment stores.
A newborn baby checklist needs to have at least seven categories:
- Nursery items
- Hygiene and personal care
To make life easier for mom and dad, it can help to add some ‘on-the-go’ convenience items, as well.
In a word, yes. Everything on this list can be considered essential for parents of a new baby. Consider how different your baby’s life would be without any one of the things on this list, and you’ll realize just how critical all of them truly are!
Newborn babies will often awaken and cry for a multitude of reasons. Sometimes, it will be hunger. Other times, it may be because a diaper change is needed. And then sometimes, the baby just needs to be held and comforted.
Over time, you will develop an intuition about what your baby needs to sleep throughout the night. Don’t get discouraged if this doesn’t come immediately.
Infants have absolutely zero sense of danger, and they are completely vulnerable to any and all risks in their environment. They also grow increasingly curious as they develop, which makes their crib their ‘experimentation zone’.
For these reasons, it’s important to only have the bare necessities in the crib.
If you plan on feeding your stored breast milk to your baby within a week, it’s fine to store it in bottles or bags in your refrigerator. Alternatively, breast milk can be frozen in specially designed bags for up to six months.
When you’re on-the-go, breast milk can be placed into a cooler with freezer packs and will be good for up to 24 hours.
Download a printable version of our checklist.