Many things puzzle expecting parents; like trying to figure out what the most essential things a newborn baby needs. There are copious amounts of online shopping guides and checklists, unsolicited advice from your friends and family, and a plethora of books. Unfortunately, a lot of these lists are not accurate, lack detail, or are sponsored by large corporations hoping you’ll purchase their unnecessary products. Who can you trust?
Below you’ll find a list of common baby items with an explanation on whether they are essential or if you can put off purchasing them. First, make sure you’ve read our baby checklist about how to prepare for a newborn, it’s geared toward getting your life in order before you bring home your little one. We’ve broken the list into two sections, items for the nursery and items for the baby. This list aims to be the definitive list of things you absolutely need, dispelling what you don’t, and discussing what you might want.
Items For The Nursery
For the first three months, you’re little baby most likely won’t be spending much time in their nursery aside from taking naps, if you’re lucky. They’ll be spending those first months sleeping in your bedroom and hanging out with you wherever you are. However, that doesn’t mean you don’t need some items for their nursery.
Pack ‘n Play
A pack n’ play fulfills two needs. First, the one we recommend comes with a removable bassinet which is perfect for sleeping and napping in those first few months. Keep in mind, the CDC does not recommend sleeping in the same bed with your newborn. The pack n’ play can easily be set up in your bedroom, the living room, or taken to the grandparents. Second, as your baby outgrows the included bassinet, your pack n’ play becomes the perfect safe space for your little one to play.
This no-frills pack n’ play is the same one I bought when my son was born. The bassinet is easily removable and the whole thing is foldable making it easy to throw in the trunk of your car. Your budget for the pack n’ play should be under $100, just make sure it comes with a removable bassinet.
You’re little one only needs a bath 2-3 times a week. They won’t be crawling around in the dirt or rolling on the floor for a few months. Actually, for the first few weeks, you’ll only be giving them a sponge bath, at least until the stump of their umbilical cord heals. However, you’ll still need a baby bathtub to wash them in the sink. Once they start sitting up, between 4 to 7 months old, you can switch to your conventional tub. Just like the pack n’ play you don’t want to go overboard on unnecessary features.
This just happens to be the exact one I used on my child. It’s fairly basic and fits conveniently in a standard kitchen sink. If you have a custom sink then I would recommend doing a little more research, but most major retailers, like Amazon, allow for returns. It’s better to order it now and try it out than to wait till you absolutely need to use it. You should not spend more than $25 on an infant tub.
Keeping a rocking chair in the nursery is a great idea. The reason I’m listing this as an essential item is that it can be used when feeding your baby and when you just need to sit and rock her to sleep. However, if you already have a chair that rocks or swings then skip this purchase. It doesn’t have to be kept in the nursery. Ours stayed in the bedroom when my baby first came home. Second, don’t spend a lot of money on this item. Check garage sales, thrift stores, or scratch and dent furniture stores first. Don’t spend $200 on those nursery rocking chairs you see in baby stores.
At the $150 price point, this is the absolute most you should be spending for a rocking chair to use with the baby. Generally, you can find an excellent wooden rocker like the one pictured for under $100. It’s up to you if you want to purchase cushions, but I would hold off until you need them.
For a newborn, I suggest getting only two types of blankets, receiving and swaddling. Receiving blankets are usually thin, 1-yard across and in length, and used for a multitude of tasks. Consider this your all-purpose blanket. It’s used to swaddle, place on the floor for baby to lay on, as a burping cloth, and anything else that you need it for. It is never used for sleeping unless you’ve swaddled your baby. Swaddling blankets are designed to make it easier for swaddling. Infants should never be covered with a loose blanket since it could cover their face during sleep.
We don’t have a specific recommendation for receiving blankets. They mostly come in two types of fabric: flannel and cotton. The type of fabric you choose depends on where you live and what time of year it is. I would start out with about four of these. Do not buy really nice designer ones, since you’ll be washing them constantly. Purchase more blankets as necessary.
Do you need to have a crib when your baby is born? No. You most likely won’t need a crib for the first couple of months since your little one will be sleeping in your room. However, you may get lucky and be able to lay them down to nap in a crib during the first month. There’s certainly nothing wrong with going ahead and purchasing a crib and getting it set up in the nursery.
It’s easy to end up spending a lot of money on a crib. These can go for hundreds of dollars. I recommend buying the same crib I used for my son. The Graco Freeport is sturdy, easy to assemble and can be converted into a toddler bed. There’s no reason to spend more than $150 on any crib. Don’t forget to purchase a crib mattress and a couple of fitted sheets.
Much like the crib, a dresser does not need to be purchased before the baby arrives but having it certainly helps. Dressers are great to store everything in, not just baby clothes.
Buying a dresser doesn’t need to cost a small fortune. My son has the Sauder Parklane Transitional 4-Drawer Chest. It took us about two hours to assemble without much difficulty. Sauder products are generally sturdy and hold up better than something like Ikea. Personally, I would try to buy something they can grow with, but keep it under $100.
A swing can be a wonderful way to soothe your baby while you’re doing chores or need to simply take a break. My son had to sleep in one for the first few months due to some acid reflux. I recommend buying one early on, but it’s not something you necessarily need on day one.
I like this swing because it’s a battery powered rocker. You place your baby in it, turn it on, and hopefully your little one drifts off to sleep. Yes, it’s perfectly ok to place newborns in it, just remember: no blankets.
A baby monitor will give you a lot of peace of mind during the night and when the baby is napping. I don’t know anyone that didn’t own one. However, it’s totally acceptable to simply buy an audio-only one instead of one with video. That’s a personal choice for you to decide.
You probably won’t need a pump the first month or so, but you’ll eventually want to have a breast pump. Good news, your insurance should provide one free of charge. Make sure to contact them and ask.
Before you purchase a breast pump check with your insurance to see what they will give you. You might luck out and get a great one. If not, the Lansinoh Signature Breast Pump is a great electric pump for the price. However, you should consider a manual pump and the Lansinoh sells a great one of those as well.
Essential Items For Newborn Babies
Babies do not need a lot for those first three months. They mostly sleep, eat, and create dirty diapers. Try to keep this is mind as you register for a baby shower. You’ll want to encourage your gift givers to buy clothes with sizes 6 months and up. Stuffed animals are a big no-no. Don’t worry, their first three months flies by. Soon they’ll be rolling or crawling around and you can buy them all the fun things.
There are two routes you can go with diapers. You can use disposable ones or washable cloth ones. The choice is up to you. In the long run, both will end up costing about the same, between having to run the laundry every day with the cloth ones or buying a box of disposables every couple weeks.
Using Cloth Diapers
Disposable diapers vary greatly in quality and price. Unfortunately, I’ve found that the name brand cheap diapers are exactly that – cheap. They frequently leak and left my little one with a rash. With disposables, you get what you pay for. The two brands that I used on my baby were Earth’s Best and Honest Company. The best thing you can do is buy a variety of newborn size diapers and figure out which brand works best for your baby. Keep in mind, you can always switch brands later on.
You’re probably familiar with wipes as they have many different uses. There are generally two types of wipes, disposable and cloth. I can’t recommend using cloth ones enough. Certainly, you’ll need disposable ones when on the road, but for home use, you definitely should invest in cloth wipes. Cloth wipes can be used to wipe butts, clean faces, and be used as a washcloth. Plus, they are reusable. Consider purchasing two-12 packs of the Babygoal Reusable Baby Wipes and give them a try.
When wiping your baby’s bum you’ll want to either run the cloth under warm water or purchase a Wipe Warmer.
There are several types of clothes you could purchase for your newborn. A lot of it depends on the current season and your geographical location.
Also known as snapsuits, rompers, and one-pieces have three snaps at the bottom of the crotch that allows for easy access when changing a diaper. These are great for warm days and can be paired with leggings for cooler ones. We feature a bunch of onesies on here for boys and girls. However, for newborns, I recommend buying cheaper ones. A baby grows quickly until about 6 months, and sometimes infants start out at almost a 6-month size. I recommend having about three to six newborn-sized onesies on hand.
No matter what the temperature is, sleepers are what your little one is going to be wearing overnight. I recommend two types of sleepers for a newborn. Either the classic footie sleeper with a zipper. Or the sleeper gown which has an elastic band at the bottom. I think buying about 4 sleepers should get you through the newborn stage. It’s all trial an error though. The golden rule is to not go overboard with your clothing purchases, at least until after your baby is born. I know that’s not what you want to hear, but it’s the best honest advice I can give.
If there’s one thing you should really invest in, it’s the car seat. The most important feature is safety. I think a lot of car seats are safe as long as they are properly installed and you’re following the set guidelines from the CDC. However, when considering comfort and ease of use, the gap widens on what to look for in a car seat. Trying to find a seat that easily fits a newborn just makes things even more complicated. The good news is that you can buy special inserts to help support your newborn’s head if they are a little small for the car seat.
I love the Graco 4Ever 4-in-1 Convertible car seat due to the fact that it will be the only seat you need to purchase until your child can simply sit in the back seat with just a seatbelt. The Graco eventually turns into a booster once your child is much older. Another great feature is that you can remove the cover and throw it in the laundry. Sure, it’s pricey, but I feel like it’s well worth the money.
Personally, I feel like this is where parents get ripped off the most. Strollers range from $15 to over $1,000. Sound ridiculous? I agree. Unless you plan on jogging or exploring a hiking trail with your infant, there’s no reason to spend more than $100-$120 on a stroller. Seriously, all you want in a stroller is wheels, sunshade, bottom storage, cup holder, a seat belt, and that it folds up nicely for storage. Here’s something else, most newborns can’t use one until they are able to hold their heads up on their own. This is not an essential purchase for newborns.
The Chicco Liteway stroller is the exact one that my son used till he was able to walk longer distances at 4-years old. It held up amazingly well, and we could easily keep using it with a new baby. Keep in mind, you can put this purchase off until your baby is over 10lbs, which is usually around two months.