Congratulations, it’s almost time to meet your new baby!
The bad news?
You have a TON of work to do to get ready.
You have to:
- Design the nursery
- Baby proof the house
- And go shopping for all the baby essentials
But what exactly are the baby essentials you’ll need for a newborn?
If you’re like me, you don’t want a lot of fluff and explanation, just a straightforward list of everything you could possibly need as a new or first-time mom or dad.
Here is (almost) everything you’ll need on your shopping list for a newborn baby, with helpful pictures for the visually-inclined (I’m looking at you, fellow dads!).
(Note: Many of the images below will link over to Amazon and are affiliate links. Clicking them will take you over there to shop for the item.)
For the nursery
Let’s start in baby’s room.
Bassinet or cradle
I guess, technically, this one is more for your room.
You’ll probably want baby to sleep nearby so you can keep a close eye for those first few weeks. Bassinets and cradles are great, portable options for this.
Before long, baby will be ready to sleep on his or her own. You can get by with a bassinet for a few months or a pack ‘n play for longer, but at some point you’re going to want baby to have a permanent and nice-looking crib.
(No product link here, I figure you’ve probably thought of this one already!)
Don’t forget, most cribs don’t actually include the mattress! You’ll have to buy that separately.
(This is one point for buying a full-sized crib vs a mini crib: full-sized cribs all use the same size mattress.)
You’ll want to get a couple of these in colors or patterns that you like so you can swap them out easily. (Spoiler: They’re going to get dirty fast with bodily fluids you’d rather not think about.)
You HAVE to buy fitted crib sheets. Don’t try to use a twin sheet and tuck it tight. Any loose fabric at all could be dangerous for baby.
Swaddle blankets or sleep sack
Newborns and young babies sleep best when they’re swaddled tight. You can use a small newborn blanket for this if you’ve got great technique, but my wife and I had great success using sleep sacks with velcro flaps for a snug fit.
Nursing or rocking chair
Your first year at home with your baby, you’ll spend a ton of time in the nursery. Feeding, rocking, comforting, singing, reading, and maybe sleeping yourself!
Best get a comfy rocking chair you won’t mind sitting in a lot. If it has an ottoman or a recline feature, that’s even better.
Baby is going to need a lot of clothes (we’ll get to those in a minute!). A solid nursery dresser is a good place to store them, plus the top is great for changing and storing all the extras and accessories you’ll need.
You don’t have to get one with a built-in changing table (you’ll probably end up changing on the floor most of the time), but it’s a nice touch.
White noise machine or fan
You don’t need anything complicated here, but a little white noise in baby’s room will definitely help them sleep and soothe them. We used a simple tower fan for a little air flow and a white noise app on an old iPad, but you can also just buy a dedicated white noise machine.
Bonus points if it doubles as a night light.
A must-have! You’ll sleep better knowing you can hear and see whatever baby’s doing in the middle of the night or during naps.
Invest in a good one with two-way talk and a movable camera, it’ll last you well into the toddler years.
(Check out my guide to which baby monitors can’t be hacked.)
These can be a life-saver for a fussy baby that won’t sleep in the bassinet or crib. Something about the rocking motion just does wonders and often puts them right out.
This isn’t for the baby’s room, per se, but bouncers are an awesome option for around the house when you need somewhere safe and cozy to put baby.
We used to sit our daughter in here while we ate dinner and gently bounce her with our foot. She’d be happy for a long time that way!
There will be poop.
Oh, yes. There will be poop.
For most parents, a full-sized changing table isn’t really necessary. You’ll find 99% of the time it’s just easier to change your baby right on the floor.
At some point, you’ll start doing it right on the carpet, but in the early days, best to have an easy-to-use changing paid on hand.
Yep. You’ll need a lot of these.
Get as many boxes as you can afford and store. 2-3 boxes to start is pretty good.
Poor newborns’ skin is so sensitive, they’re bound to get diaper rash early and often (even if you’re pretty quick with the diaper changes).
Our favorite thing to keep on hand is gobs and gobs of Aquaphor, which has seemingly magical healing powers.
Baby wipes (unscented)
Another baby essential you can never have too many of. They’re a must for diaper changing, but also come in handy at meal-time, for spills, and to keep in your own bathroom.
Yes, this is a must! Unless you want your house to smell like poop 24/7.
A Diaper Genie is basically a fancy, tall trashcan that seals its contents in tight so the smell can’t seap out.
And don’t forget to order plenty of bag refills.
Your baby needs stuff to wear! Thankfully, things are pretty simple early on.
Here’s what you need to get started dressing a newborn.
(And don’t miss my tips on how to do laundry for a baby.)
A million onesies
These will be your bread and butter and what baby wears most of the time.
It’s not a bad idea to grab a pack of a couple of unisex onesies for boys and girls in different colors in addition to the cute designed ones you pick out. You’ll be going through several of these a day.
At night, baby might need something a little bit warmer (even though he or she will be swaddled up tight).
Pajamas are basically just onesies with legs and feet! You’ll need a half dozen of these or so to get started.
Plenty of socks
Babies have poor circulation, according to The Bump, and their feet can get cold easily. When they’re wearing a onesie, it’s a good idea to put socks on them, too.
Newborns have a terrible habit of involuntarily clawing up their face.
They don’t have much motor control at first, and their nails can be razor sharp. So they need to wear mittens early on to keep from scratching themselves too badly.
Hats or beanies
Your newborn probably won’t need to wear a hat around the house, but if you take baby outside (or if it gets cold), it’s a good idea to have some caps around to keep them warm.
Sweaters or jackets
Again, baby won’t need to wear this all the time, but if he or she ventures outside (especially in the cold), you’ll want something that can help create layers and warmth.
Food, Formula, Breastmilk & Feeding
Before baby can poop, he’s gotta eat!
Buckle up, you’re going to need a lot of stuff for mealtime.
Breast pump (if you’re breastfeeding)
If you decide to breastfeed, you’re definitely going to need a pump if you ever want to untether yourself from baby, or if you go back to work after maternity leave.
You might be able to get one from the hospital or your doctor as a rental, but you can also buy some really nice ones for home.
You’ll also need tons of these if you end up pumping or using formula. Every baby will be a little different in what style he or she likes, but most modern bottles are said to emulate breastfeeding pretty well and have great safety ratings.
We liked these Dr. Brown’s bottles when our daughter was young. Stock up!
Bottle sterilizer or bottle dishwasher bin
You’ve probably heard you don’t want to was used bottles in dirty dishwater, especially not when baby is young. They need to be fully sanitized.
You can get a steam sterilizer, but our favorite solution was to just use a dishwasher bin and wash them in bulk that way.
Sometimes these bottles will get really gunky and you may want to clean them out before sterilizing. So it comes in handy to have a long, bottle-safe brush to do the dirty work.
Bibs, bibs, lots of bibs!
It may not seem like newborn would need bibs or drool cloths, and they might not at first, but they’re helpful to have around for spit up, drool, and messy feedings.
Plus, they’ll come in handy as baby ventures into eating solid food.
Again, you’ll want a handful of these for dabbing milk off of baby’s face and protecting your clothes from spit up during burping.
High chair or booster chair
You won’t need this right away, but you probably will want baby to have a place to sit when he or she is around 4 months old.
That’s when babies can sit on their own and start to experiment with solid foods.
Standalone chairs are great but take up a lot of room. We did great with just a little booster.
Soon enough, you’ll need more like plates and cutlery, but you won’t have to worry about all of that for now.
You’ll have your hands full enough!
Bathtime & Bathing
Finally, a short category! You won’t need a whole lot for this at first.
Infant bath bin
You can truthfully bathe your baby in the sink when he or she is super little. But pretty quickly you’re going to want a baby tub or at least a back support you can put in your regular tub.
Shampoo / body wash combo for infants
Go with something gentle and unscented for your newborn, like this basic wash from Aquaphor.
You’ll need a handful of these, as well, and they should be extra soft and gentle for baby’s skin.
Hooded towels are great for after bathtime to keep baby’s little head warm.
A good one will be big enough that they can grow into it as an older baby and maybe even a toddler.
They won’t have much hair at first (usually!), but a gentle brush and comb will have you keep those wispy hairs neat and clean.
Comfort and/or Sleep
Newborns don’t need a whole lot except food, sleep, and their parents.
But there are a few things you might find helpful for keeping them entertained or soothed.
Not all parents want to use a pacifier, and that’s understandable. For us, though, it was a lifesaver and wasn’t that hard of a habit to kick.
Our daughter was absolutely obsessed with these gum-drop style pacifiers as a baby. And you’ll definitely lose them, so I’d get a few.
Lovey or blanket
Half blanket, half stuffed animal, loveys truly make the world go round for babies and toddlers.
Remember, don’t put anything in the crib with them at night! But as soon as they’re able to properly use their hands, they’ll absolutely love cuddling a lovey.
My daughter carried her hippo lovey everywhere with her for 3 straight years. (Buy back ups!)
Infant-friendly toys (rattles, etc.)
They won’t need anything when you first bring them home, but pretty quickly you’ll want to have a few newborn and infant-safe toys for your baby to play with.
Rattles, teethers, and other soft, chewable, or noise-making toys are great to have around.
Optional, but a good idea. If not for the baby, you’ll at least want some light to guide you toward the crib in the middle of the night!
You don’t need anything fancy here, just get a pack of smart (only turn on when it’s dark) nightlights you can keep in and around the nursery.
Travel & Getting Out of the House
If you ever plan on leaving the house (which you’ll be desperate to do), you’ll need a few pieces of gear.
Stroller / Car Seat / Infant Carrier / Travel System
This is an obvious one so I won’t spend too much time on it.
You’ll want a fully reclining stroller for a newborn, a carrier, and a car seat. The best thing to do at this age is go with a full travel system from a trusted brand like Graco, Britax, Evenflo, and more.
(That means that the infant carrier clicks easily into the stroller and car seat for easy transport.)
When you go out with a baby, it kind of feels like you need to bring the whole house with you. Diapers, cream, changing pad, wipes, toys, milk/formula, extra bottles, bibs, extra clothes… it goes on and on!
You’ll need a reliable diaper bag to hold all of it (sorry, your regular purse isn’t going to cut it).
Sunshade for car window
Don’t forget this!
When the sun comes in through the car window and lands directly on baby, it can be really harsh. Harmful sunburn is the worst outcome, a fussy child is the best. You’ll definitely want a shade to block those UV rays.
Travel crib or pack ‘ n play
You’d be surprised to know that babies can sleep in basically anything flat and solid, including a cardboard box. So you don’t need a super fancy travel crib, just something that’s lightweight and easy to pack.
We used an older version of this one for a long time and absolutely loved it.
Don’t worry, you won’t need too many medical supplies around the house. When newborn babies are in trouble, it’s usually best to get advice right from the doctor (and go there whenever there’s any doubt).
But there are a few things you’ll want to keep around, just in case.
Thermometer (rectal or forehead)
Fevers in newborn babies are a really big deal, so you’ll want to stay on top of this whenever you fear baby might be sick.
We used a simple rectal thermometer like this one for a quick, gentle reading. Eventually, you can graduate to a forehead or underarm thermometer.
You shouldn’t give this to a newborn without the instruction of a doctor, but it’s really helpful to have around in case of a fever that can be treated at home. (We had a really tough run with ear infection fevers for a while ourselves.)
(Again, don’t use it for newborns without talking to a doctor first!)
Remember, those nails get sharp and babies will often cut themselves accidentally. Keep them trimmed with a pair of baby-safe clippers.
Booger sucker, aspirator, or NoseFrida
Um, can you say “lifesaver?”
Turns out, babies get all kinds of gunk and congestion clogged up in their nose, and as mom and dad, you’re lucky enough to be the ones to get it out.
The NoseFrida looks and sounds disgusting (it’s literally a hose that you suck the snot out with), but take it from me, the ooey gooey will never come anywhere close to getting into your mouth, and this thing works like magic.
Don’t forget about these!
You can push this off until after the baby comes (it would be a little weird to send them out before!), but it might be a good idea to nail down the design and vendor you like.
I love what they’re doing over on Minted for birth announcements.
Their designs are amazing, done by real independent artists, and they have some really cool options like post-card announcements (no envelope necessary), booklets, and magnets.
Whew, that was a lot of stuff!
Thankfully, I think that about covers it.
I’m sure you’ve given a lot of thought to the crib, the stroller, the car seat, and the cute outfits you want your baby to wear, but hopefully, this shopping list has reminded you of a few smaller things you hadn’t thought of.
Speaking of… have I forgotten anything? What else should be on the list for new moms and dads? Let me know in the comments below.
Hope this helped, and good luck parents!