Alright mama, you've been wanting to know what you REALLY NEED before you bring baby home, right? You're looking for the newborn essentials that you're going to actually, use, love, and thank your lucky stars that you had before you deliver.
I know exactly how you feel.
There are baby registry checklists all over the internet but you're not interested in the luxuries or the nice-to-haves at this point. You want to know what you're going to use for your newborn as soon as you get home with that little bundle of joy in your arms.
I've got you.
No fluff, no bull, these are the newborn essentials that you'll actually use in the first weeks home with your new baby.
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Don't get me wrong. The list of things I make sure that I have stocked up on before baby comes is much longer than this list.
There are wonderful baby products out there that you're going to want in your first year of mother hood. There are life-saving (ok, maybe just sanity-saving) must-have baby items that I would absolutely recommend for you to put on your baby registry.
But you know what? Mother to mother? Girl, although some of these baby products are a few of the best purchases I've ever made in my life, you honestly do not need them right away.
There is actually a much smaller list that you need to worry about having before you come home from the hospital with your little nugget.
Which Items are actually newborn essentials?
It can be difficult to figure out which baby items are honest-to-goodness newborn essentials when you are looking at a 3 page long list of baby products that are recommended for your baby registry.
It might not be clear right away what you need to put at the top of your list as non-negotiable newborn essentials.
Want to know what the true newborn essentials really are? Ready to find out what baby products you will get tons of use out of in the first weeks of your baby's life? Looking for the minimalist list of the best baby products you'll want when you bring your baby home? Here. We. Go.
Easy. So easy. This category, by far is the simplest part of getting together your newborn essentials checklist.
Funny thing is, this is usually what new moms stress about the most. They want to stock up on all of the baby clothes for every situation before the baby is born.
A newborn doesn't need much when it comes to clothes. Practicality is the most important thing when it comes to making sure you have what you need for your newborn baby. Here's the run down:
- 4-8 newborn T-Shirts – for a while, it is suggested that your baby wears T-Shirts instead of onesies to allow the umbilical cord to breathe until it falls off.
- 8-10 onesies – this is the newborn wardrobe staple that your baby will wear every day. Make sure you have size 0-3 month and not just newborn because your baby will probably be able to fit in both sizes right away (unless you've got a really tiny nugget on your hands)
- 8-10 pajamas – pajama sets for newborns are one-piece, long sleeve, pant onesies with a zipper or buttons up the entire front for easy access to the diaper in the middle of the night. Although they are intended to be slept in, newborn pajamas are always easy to leave on throughout the day to make newborn life a little easier.
- 4-7 pairs of socks or booties – Keep those baby toes warm even when baby isn't swaddled or in a pajama set.
- 1-3 newborn hats – Babies release a lot of their heat through their heads. Keeping a hat on them while they are awake is a good way to make sure their temperature is regulated.
- 4-8 bottoms – You might want to throw on some soft pants over the onesie when you take your baby out or when it's particularly cold in your house. This isn't an every-day newborn essential because truthfully, you're going to want as easy-access to your baby's diaper as possible and sometimes pants just get in the way. Still, having a few on hand for special occasions might be necessary.
- Only purchase cute, complicated outfits if they have a purpose. For example, if your baby is going to be born around a holiday or an event that you know you will be attending. Otherwise, there is no reason to invest in tiny fashion forward outfits that you'll probably never want to put them in.
Although a nursery itself is definitely not on my list of newborn essentials, there are some essential newborn items that fit in this category.
A flat sleeping surface
You're going to need some kind of flat surface to lay your baby to sleep…even if sleep is just 30 minutes at a time and a full night's sleep feels like a distant memory.
There are so many kinds of “bassinets“ out there for you to choose from. Here are some of the common options that I might recommend:
I am NOT saying that each of those things are newborn essentials that you need right away. Click through to see what type of sleep situation will work best for your family and your lifestyle and chose one or multiple that you feel you'll need right away.
When I had my first baby, we had the Halo bassinet by my bed, the Pack n' Play downstairs in the living room, and also ended up with a Co-Sleeper when we realized that the only way I could get any rest was if my son was in bed with me.
Depending on the type of sleep situation you've opted for, you're going to need a few extra newborn essentials.
If you are using a bassinet or other type of crib, make sure you get at least two sets of sheets and mattress pads that fit the mattress. You're baby might spit up or have a diaper blow out in the middle of the night when you are unable to wash the bedding between sleeps. Having a couple spares is necessary, for sure.
If you are using a co-sleeper, purchase a couple extra covers for the same reasons. You don't want to have to wash your one cover every time baby fluids end up all over the place in the middle of the night.
A Rocking Chair
Notice I didn't say a $1200 glider.
Although gliders and fancy rockers are nice to have, all you really need is something that helps you rock your baby to sleep.
Babies really do love the rocking motion and without a comfortable rocking chair, it might be especially difficult to get yourself comfortable while spending hours snuggling your new baby.
A baby monitor is a newborn essential right away. I don't want even one day to pass without me having access to watch my baby nap while I am eating lunch or caring for the rest of my family.
It's not always practical that you will be able to lay eyes on your baby 100% of the time. Instead, after you lay your baby down for a nap, you can check on your baby through an app on your phone or a portable monitor screen, depending on which monitor you choose.
No matter how you try, you're baby will not be potty trained for quite some time. 😉 Your newborn is going to go through around 8-10 diapers a day for a while. You're going to want to stock up on the newborn essentials surrounding all things diapering!
Diapering items will always be newborn essentials no matter which way you look at it. Here are a few things you'll need to keep the mess under control:
A Changing Station
Pay attention here. You DO NOT need a changing table. You only need a changing station.
A changing table is a piece of furniture that you use in a nursery to change your baby on. This piece of furniture is useless after your baby is out of diapers. I do not advocate for buying changing tables. It's completely unnecessary.
That being said, you're going to need a safe, clean place to change your baby.
A good changing station is:
- In a convenient location where you typically change baby's diaper or clothing
- Has everything you need within an arms reach (diapers, wipes, creams, and change of clothes)
The newborn essentials that I recommend for a functional changing station are:
- A dresser
- A water proof changing pad
- Changing pad covers
- Changing pad kit
- Waterproof changing pad liners
A Portable Changing Station
Girl. Listen. A portable changing station is at the top of my newborn essentials list. I didn't know how excited I would be about a place to change my baby's diaper until I became a mother. It's heavenly.
Use it on your bed. Use it on your sister's living room couch. Lie it on the disgusting changing table in a public restroom. Change your baby in the trunk of your car.
Yes. I have changed my newborn baby in all of those places. You will too.
Having a wipe-able place to put your dirty baby's butt when you are changing a diaper explosion is going to light up your world.
Fine, I'm exaggerating. But only a little.
Cloth or Disposable Diapers
I don't know anything about cloth diapers so I'm not even going to pretend like I have advice for you there. If you are choosing to go with cloth diapers, God's speed, my friend.
On the other hand, If you are choosing to use disposable diapers, I advise stocking up on newborn and size one diapers right away. If you know that you are going to have a fairly large baby, you can skip the newborn size all together and just have a giant stash of size ones.
Make sure you get some advice from your mom friends on what diapers worked for them. Sometimes the cutest diapers on the shelves are actually the worst when it comes to containing the mess.
I've always been a pampers girl, myself. These are my go-to diapers every single time.
Unscented Baby Wipes
You can't have too many wipes. Get all of the wipes. Stock the garage, keep them in your bathrooms, in your kitchen, in your car. Ok, it sounds like I'm kidding, but I'm totally not.
Over the course of your motherhood journey, baby wipes will be what you buy more than anything else.
Since you use them so much, it's probably pretty important to find ones that you love and are confident is safe for your new baby's sensitive skin. These are the ones I use on my sweet baby.
Some babies are more prone to diaper rash than others. Stock up on some good quality diaper cream to have on hand in case your baby develops a rash or irritation in their diaper area. You don't want to wait until you really need it to get it. Having it on hand means treating the rash quickly and giving your child relief as soon as possible.
Grab a good one. That's the most important thing about this newborn essential. It's got to be good.
I learned the hard way that a shoulder strap diaper bag is the worst. A flimsy diaper bag is also awful. Be sure to get a diaper bag that will make your life easier, not harder.
- It's a backpack (Yessss)
- It's sturdy (no falling open and spilling everywhere the second I set it down)
- This one is large enough to carry all of my newborn essentials when traveling outside of my home.
There is so much baby gear to keep track of that you might forget that bathing items are also newborn essentials. There are a few things that you likely can't go without before you bring your baby home.
Baby Bath Support
You're going to either need a baby bathtub or a baby bath support in order to give your baby a bath in the beginning. I don't even want to imagine someone trying to bathe their tiny newborn in a full sized tub or bare-butt in the sink.
Instead, there are lots of options that you can choose from when deciding how to bathe your newborn:
Guess what? You don't need to buy baby soap, shampoo, and conditioner. You're going to be able to buy one bottle and be set for months.
Don't go over-board when stocking up on newborn bath soaps because you never know what soaps you're going to love and what soaps you're going to hate. Buy one at a time to test out what's your speed when it comes to baby soaps.
You won't need very many, but I do have to add this to my list of newborn essentials.
Although it's possible, you probably don't want to use your own bath towels for baby.
Instead, stock up on a few soft baby towels with a hood to keep your baby warm after a bath.
Can I tell you a secret? Bamboo washcloths are the best things that were ever invented when it comes to bathing a newborn. These bamboo baby washcloths are to die for. I love using them on my baby's soft skin in the bath and I don't worry about them irritating his sensitive skin.
For obvious reasons, you're going to want baby to have his/her own brush for their tiny, angel-soft head of hair. Trust me, you'll be using the baby brush for a very long time.
It is important to lather your baby up after bath time to keep dry, irritated skin at bay.
Choose a baby lotion that is gentle, fragrance-free, and as natural as possible for your baby's brand new skin.
This is a hard category. I don't know what your feeding situation is or is going to be within the first few weeks of your baby's life. Since I don't know exactly what your situation is, I'm just going to give some generalized advice that I think you'll be able to use no matter what.
Breastfeeding Newborn Essentials
If you are planning to breastfeed, bottles are not necessary at this point. Seriously. No need to have a bunch of bottles on stand-by just in case you aren't successful in breastfeeding. You're going to do great. Having bottles stocked up just gives you the temptation that new moms don't need when trying to stay motivated to breastfeed.
Instead, these are the things that you're going to need as soon as you come home with a breastfeeding baby:
If you would like a full list of Breastfeeding Essentials for your entire breastfeeding journey, check out the post I wrote after having breastfed my son for a full year.
Bottle Feeding Newborn Essentials
If you plan to bottle feed, don't stock your cabinet with too many bottles at first. I know mothers that went through every kind of bottle and nipple on the market before finally finding one that their baby liked. You never know what your baby is going to need until they are here. Buy a few standard bottles and go from there.
Here is some newborn essentials for the bottle-feeding mama:
Bottle feeding or breast feeding, it doesn't matter. Most babies spit up a little bit. On the other hand, some babies spit up A LOT.
I recommend getting large burp cloths to be prepared. None of those cute little shoulder burp cloths that hardly cover your tank top strap. Come. On. Seriously?
If you want to play it safe and take some advice from a mom who's been there, you can even use inexpensive receiving blankets in place of burp cloths. That is what we ended up doing when we realized that burp cloths were often useless when it came to catching large upchucks. It did the trick!
We will be using old, used swaddle blankets as burp cloths again with this baby. Lesson learned.
Some of the most easily forgotten newborn essentials are in this category. We all just imagine our newborn babies as perfect little angels that eat and poop and sleep all day. Reality is that babies need grooming and some extra care when they aren't feeling 100%.
You might need these things the first night home, or two weeks later. Either way, make sure you have these newborn essentials on hand for when the time comes.
Baby Snot Sucker
I'm a huge believer in the Nose Frida. If this is your first baby, you're probably grossed-out by the thought of sucking out your baby's snot and boogies with your mouth. If you're a second time mom, I'd bet that you know that you would do anything to relieve those symptoms for your baby. Even if it means sucking them out with your mouth. (Come on people, it's not what you think. Nothing actually gets in your mouth. There are filters!)
Don't worry, the Nose Freida is not the only option. You have these to choose from:
Thankfully, this is not an exclusive baby item. You might even have a perfectly good thermometer in your house already.
In my opinion, the only thermometer you need for your baby is a temporal thermometer like this one. If you don't like that option, you have others:
- Temporal Thermometers (I totally recommend)
- Tympanic Thermometers (difficult on babies)
- Axillary Thermometers
Baby Nail Clippers
Those suckers grow fast! I would buy a couple of these. One to stash in your diaper bag and another for the nursery.
When I was a new mom, I found myself clipping my baby's nails in the carseat all of the time. Why? Because he had fallen asleep in the car and clipping baby nails is so much easier when they aren't moving or fighting it! Diaper bag nail clippers for the win!
Travel baby gear
I'm pretty sure you're not going to be stationary at home for the entire newborn stage. Although I do recommend staying home-bound as much as you can tolerate for the first few weeks to get your rest and bond with baby, you're going to need to get out for a walk around the neighborhood or a visit to your mom's every once in a while.
You won't be able to leave the hospital without a carseat installed in your car. It's an obvious newborn essential product.
Here's the thing. You need to decide on one of the two options that you have:
- An Infant Carseat – This is the option I recommend. An infant carseat can be easily snapped into and out of the car. With this feature, you will be able to take your sleeping baby out of the car and easily transfer him to the stroller or bring him in the house without waking him. It's an absolute newborn essential that I would not dare go without.
- A Convertible Carseat – If you want to save some money, you can opt for the Convertible Carseat instead of the Infant Carseat. You're saving money because this carseat can be used for newborn babies facing backwards and toddlers facing forward. This kind of carseat will grow with your baby so that you don't have to buy a new seat when your baby starts to outgrow the infant position. The problem with a convertible carseat is that it cannot be removed easily from the car and it does not snap into a stroller. You'll have a hard time moving baby from the car to any other location if you chose a convertible carseat. Anyway, it's an option.
I recommend buying a Travel System. The travel system is a combination of a stroller and an infant carseat that fits with it. In my opinion, it's the way to go.
Whatever stroller you buy, make sure that has these features:
- Folds easily
- Can recline (almost) flat for naps
- Easy to steer/push
- Can hold a newborn carseat
I love having this baby carrier for when we are out and about and baby is craving closeness / wants to be held. Sometimes it's just easier to put baby in the carrier and walk around with him on your chest (or Dad's chest) instead of lugging around an entire stroller.
A carrier is better than a sling in instances such as walking around the mall, getting in and out quickly, or when Dad wants to help. A carrier is a simple “slip in” and “slip out” type device instead of a complicated wrapping maneuver that you have to master.
BABY PLAY TIME
Even newborn babies need some play time here and there. These are the newborn essentials that you'll need to entertain your new baby.
I know that holding your new baby is addicting and she smells so delicious that you never want to put her down but…you're going to want to put her down.
Every once in a while a nap in the swing is going to give you the break that you're craving.
You have options when it comes to choosing the right baby swing for you:
You really don't need much when it comes to toys as newborn essentials. Remember that a baby does not have control over his/her arms and is unable to do much with their hands.
A couple of simple toys that only require that they hold onto it will do the trick. Here are some that I recommend:
Tummy Time Mat
Tummy time is something you've got to get used to while you baby is still a newborn. It's true that most babies do not love tummy time and for a while it might be more of a chore than a fun activity.
Nonetheless, you're going to need to do it.
In order to get the most of your tummy time, you don't need a whole lot.
You can go a few routes when preparing for tummy time with your newborn.
- Just a blanket and a toy- You can use any old blanket to lay down on the floor and encourage baby to lift and control their head. Just put an intriguing toy in front of them and you've got you're very own tummy time mat. Ta da!
- An activity gym – We opted for an activity gym for my first baby and I will do the same again with my second. With an activity gym, you can lie baby on their tummy and then back onto their back with entertainment on both sides. It was a newborn essential for us, no doubt.
- A Boppy Pillow- If you already chose to invest in a good nursing pillow to assist you with feeding your newborn, then you already have a great tool to help you with tummy time. Just prop baby up on the boppy pillow with his/her arms over the pillow and chest resting on it.
As long as you have a safe place for you and your baby to do tummy time together without baby getting dog hair in her mouth or bonking her forehead straight onto the tile floor, you're in good shape.
Your baby may not understand what you're saying (or he might 🤔) but you should be reading to him nonetheless.
Reading to your baby can start as early as in the womb, but at the very least, in the newborn stage.
Just because baby can't focus on the pages or pick out his favorite story yet, doesn't mean he is not learning. He is soaking it in and learning more than you can imagine at this point.
These are some great book ideas to introduce to your newborn right away:
Comfort is e.v.e.r.y.t.h.i.n.g when it comes to newborn care. All a newborn really wants is to be comfortable. If you can make them comfortable, you can make them happy.
I know, I know, some moms don't swaddle their babies and they do just fine. Some moms even claim that their babies didn't like to be swaddled. This is mind-boggling to me! For the most part, the majority of babies that I interact with do well with swaddling. If your baby is not that baby, then hey, good for you. One less thing to do in the bedtime routine.
For now, the advice that I am giving you is this: find the right swaddle and change your life as a new mom.
I'm pretty sure I bought every swaddle on the market when I was learning how to care for my fussy baby the first time around. I'm not even kidding, I think I have tried every swaddle…ever.
There are serious duds that did nothing for my baby's comfort at all and then there were miracle workers that made my baby stop fussing right when I put it on.
By the way, I'm an advocate for buying an actual swaddle. Not a swaddle blanket. Let me repeat…buy a swaddle.
Have I told you the story about how I got a baby sling for my baby shower and never opened it for the first three months of my baby's life? Did I also tell you the part where when I finally opened it I was kicking myself for weeks for not opening it sooner?
You've heard the term “game changer”? This is that.
Babies love to be held close. They also love to be carried around because holding them while sitting on the couch binge-watching your favorite Netflix series does nothing for them.
A sling will allow you to continue on with your day-to-day activities, chores, and lifestyle (minus a shower) while still holding your baby.
Get the sling. You will not regret it.
Other Newborn Essentials I couldn't live without
Ok, so some things are just a matter of opinion. These are the things that although the mom next door may not have needed them, I absolutely would not have a baby without preparing my home with these newborn essentials.
Some people never use white noise for their babies. Other people (me) can't live without it, even from day one.
Babies have constant white noise in the womb and are used to some ambient sounds as they sleep. I found that white noise was extremely helpful in keeping my baby asleep longer at night, even in the very beginning.
This is the white noise that I used when my son was a baby and I'm still using it for him today!
I'm sorry but I'm not sorry. I use pacifiers for my babies.
I also exclusively breastfed my son for a year.
Pacifiers are not typically a problem when it comes to exclusively breastfeeding your baby. As long as you wait to introduce a pacifier until after your baby has established a good latch, you'll be fine.
My son was a very fussy baby at first. He had infant acid reflux that caused him a lot of pain and discomfort and sucking was something that he needed to help him feel better.
This time around, I will certainly have pacifiers on hand as soon as I bring baby home so that if I feel that I need a break in being a human pacifier, I can get some relief.
People that are not yet parents always give me a side-eye when I say that Colic Calm is a newborn essential that I stock up on before the baby is even born. No, my son never had colic. Yes, we used colic calm.
Colic Calm is better than gripe water. If you heard that gripe water doesn't work, OR if you've already stocked up on a different brand of gripe water, I strongly suggest that you reconsider.
Colic calm is good for SO MANY THINGS. Every baby gets gas. Many babies have digestion problems. MY BABY had infant acid reflux. Colic calm was the only thing that made my sweet boy feel better in the middle of the night when he was suffering from his tummy problems.
If you have already invested in a swing, you might feel that it would be frivolous to also include a bouncer in your newborn essentials checklist. That might be true.
Our generation of mothers definitely goes overboard with all of the baby devises. We have something for every situation. I get it if you don't want to have excessive baby devises all around your house.
A swing is often used to calm the baby or get the baby to sleep. On the other hand, a bouncer is a safe place to put baby when you don't necessarily need him to nap. I used this bouncer all of the time when I was doing the dishes, blow drying my hair, taking a shower, folding laundry, etc. The baby was able to be propped up, with a couple fun things to look at and still be able to see me.
The bouncer was a game changer for us. For our household, it's an absolute newborn essential.
So, you don't want your baby to actually sleep with anything in their sleep space at this point in time. BUT you can absolutely make use of a lovey. I actually recommend it.
We were huge fans of the lovey when my baby was little.
What you can do while your baby is still a newborn is just always have the lovey with you (in your bra or in the nook of your arm) while you rock baby to sleep. It will become a sleep association that helps baby sleep easier when you bring the lovey out.
The use of a lovey was instrumental in getting our baby to sleep well when he was young.
Try it and see how it works for you.
I used a wipe warmer. If you are going to use a wipe warmer at all, the newborn stage is probably when you're going to need it the most.
Although there is nothing that is going to make your baby love diaper changes, I think having warm wipes as opposed to cold, straight out of the package ones makes it a little bit better. Especially in the middle of the night.
Although it is not an obvious newborn essential item, it can be essential depending on who you're talking to. The decision is yours.
Back Seat Mirror
Although this is not technically a newborn essential since you can absolutely go without it, I couldn't live without mine.
I love to glance back at my baby in the back seat and see that he is perfectly pink (aka: breathing) and also know if he is sleeping or awake. It's a convenience that I have been spoiled with and I wouldn't go back.
Car Seat Cover / Nursing cover
This item is multi-functional which is an automatic win in my book.
The reason that this item might be a newborn essential is because it is useful in so many ways.
The first way that you will use this cover is over the car seat when you are in the car or when your baby's car seat is attached to the stroller. The cover keeps weather and sun off of your baby to keep them comfortable during your travels.
The second way that you might get a lot of use out of this cover is if you are breastfeeding. It's dual purpose is a nursing cover that you can just slip over you and your baby to get some privacy while you nurse in public.
Newborn essentials checklist
Alright, now you have the bare-bones list of what you actually need for a newborn baby.
If you're ready to think of everything and really buckle down to get all the goods that will make your life easier with a newborn. Don't fret. I have come up with a comprehensive list of everything that you are going to need for your baby's first year.
First, check out this post and then download the Free Printable Baby Registry Checklist to make sure you have all of the things you're going to love having when you're deep in the throws of early motherhood.
Can you think of any other newborn essentials that I missed? Let me know in the comments!
What To Read Next:
- Expect The Unexpected: Preparing Moms For The Newborn Stage
- Immediate Care of Newborns: 10 Things Every Parent Needs To Know About Their Baby at Birth
- Understanding The Fourth Trimester – Before You Let It Slip Away
- How to Create A Postpartum Recovery Kit That Every New Mom Wishes She Had After Delivery
- Breastfeeding 101: What You Need To Know About Breastfeeding Your Newborn
- 21 of The Best Breastfeeding Essentials For Nursing Moms