The Ultimate New Baby Checklist : Are You Prepared?

Your bundle of joy is on the way, and you suddenly start wondering, what do I need for a new baby? No worries, this baby checklist has everything necessary to welcome your new baby boy or girl into the world!
baby checklist

What Should I Buy For My Baby?

A new baby checklist will definitely help you focus on the essentials you will need. You will also find it can help you keep on track of what you have already bought and what you still need to get, in order to be fully prepared.

We’ve compiled this list based on what we know new moms need when caring for a newborn. There are a few significant areas–formula feeding, breastfeeding, first aid, clothing, and more, that we know can be areas of concern. Using the recommendations of pediatricians and seasoned moms alike, we know this comprehensive buying guide will make you feel confident and prepared. 

Additionally, don’t fret too much! Being a mom is a beautiful mix of uncertainty and surprises are par for the course. You’ll get the things you need and find that you’ll need more of this or that along the way.  Deep breaths! You’ll be as ready as you can be, and that’s just fine. 

For starters, let’s be honest, it’s both exciting and a little overwhelming when you go to put together the shopping list to send with your significant other to the store. Or if you’re like me, you’re going in alone because you’ll be too freaked out at home worrying if they got exactly what you asked for. 

That being said, what exactly are you supposed to get? More overwhelming for me than my actual baby arriving was the enormous variety of choices I had to pick from to prepare for their arrival. I kept asking myself, ‘what should I buy my baby?’ First-time parents experience this the most since they didn’t get to do a trial-and-error process like moms that have gotten a feel for what to get or hold off on.  

You want to look at certain factors when you’re about to buy your baby gear. While we’re giving you the list of what to buy, you’ll need to do a little research on the brands that you feel most comfortable purchasing. 

When you’re picking out what you need, one of the biggest considerations is safety, followed by durability, effectiveness, and usefulness. You don’t want to buy something that you’ll use once and then throw it in the closet, never to be seen again. 

Our baby checklist is separated into the must-haves and the “extras”; things that are nice to have but not necessary to ensure proper care of your baby. We’ve included the following categories:

  • Essentials for Clothing
  • Essentials for Changing (Diapers)
  • Essentials for the Nursery
  • Essentials for Bathing
  • Essentials for Sleep
  • Essentials for Travel
  • Essentials for Health and Safety
  • Essentials for Formula Feeding 
  • Essentials for Breastfeeding
  • Essentials for Playtime

*Each category will include a “Nice-to-Have” section at the end that gives different ideas on optional items to add to your list.

Without further ado, let’s get into the essential items to buy so that you can be ready to care for a new baby in your home.

What Do I Need For A New Baby?

One of the most popular sections that new moms and veteran moms tend to go crazy over is the clothing. It’s literally so hard to buy baby clothes and not go over the top! Of course, you can buy whatever you’d like your baby to have, but here’s what’s absolutely necessary. 

Pediatricians [1] recommend buying laundry detergent that’s fragrance-free and dye-free if you notice any irritation to your baby’s skin after washing their clothes.  

Essentials For Clothing

Our selected amounts of each item will get you through about a week’s worth of time. Many moms tend to try to do laundry on weekends, so the amounts below are sufficient for about five days before you give them a good wash. Also, keep in mind that you’ll likely do some light washing throughout the week because babies usually have lots of accidents regularly (spit up, blowouts, etc.).

It was tough not to buy a million outfits when I was shopping for my baby. You want to get everything that catches your eye at the store. But trust me, you really won’t need all of those clothes. Your son or daughter may end up outgrowing them in the meantime.

Must-Have:

  • Sun hat (if you have a summer baby)
  • Infant snowsuit (if you have a winter baby)
  • 2-3 long-sleeved onesies (bodysuits/vests)
  • 4-6 short-sleeved onesies (bodysuits/vests)
  • 4-6 infant Sleep N Play suits with zippers/poppers (an excellent alternative to pajama sets)
  • 3-4 pairs of socks
  • 3-5 newborn/infant t-shirts
  • 3-5 pairs of stretchy cotton pants
  • 2-3 cotton hoodies or sweaters
  • 2-3 knit caps
  • 2-4 pairs of scratch prevention mittens
  • 4-6 outfits (appropriate for the season)

Nice-to-Have:

  • Baby nightgowns (makes diaper changes a lot easier at night)
  • Headbands for a baby girl (some babies don’t have much hair when they’re born, and I know a lot of moms that hate getting asked if they have a baby girl or a boy!)
  • Pajama sets (do look nice but can be awkward for diaper changes compared to sleep n play suits)
  • Extra caps
  • Extra booties
  • Extra scratch mittens

Essentials For Changing (Diapers)

Managing diapers is a large part of how you’ll spend the first few months with your newborn. It’s super important to make sure you’re adequately prepared in terms of the choices you have at your fingertips. 

You can choose to buy disposable diapers or reusable cloth diapers; the cloth diapers will save you a ton of money and help red, but they require more effort [2] concerning changing, cleaning, and laundry.

Don’t forget about baby wipes! There are many options for wipes, such as dry, wet, disposable, reusable cloth, etc. Many moms have found that a mix of these choices has worked out best, as different situations call for different types.

Must-Have: 

  • 1-2 changing pads/mat (and 1 travel version)
  • 4-6 packs of newborn diapers
  • Fragranced/odour neutralising diaper sacks or dirty diaper bin

-or-

  • 25-50 cloth diapers 
  • 12-15 cloth diaper covers (if you’re using cloth diapers)

Also,

  • Diaper rash cream
  • Petroleum jelly
  • Wipes / Cotton cloths / Cotton rolls or pads
  • Small bowl to hold water

Nice-to-Have:

  • Wipes holder (plastic)
  • Thermos (small; to hold warm water)
  • 2 grasping toys (serves as a distraction during diaper changes)
  • Changing table
  • 2-3 changing pad covers 

Essentials For The Nursery 

So literally, you only need to have a safe place for your baby to sleep. This section will include things that we think are essential from the standpoint of convenience, but you can get by without them.

Must-Have:

  • Bassinet (portable preferably) plus mattress

-or-

  • Crib plus mattress

Also,

  • Waterproof mattress protector
  • 2 fitted mattress sheets
  • Baby monitor
  • Chair
  • Dresser for clothes storage
  • Night light

Nice-to-Have: 

  • Baby hamper (laundry clothes storage)
  • Rocking chair
  • Vaporizer or Humidifier
  • Playpen
  • Playmat (for tummy time)
  • Toys bin
  • Bookshelf
  • Bouncer/Swing chair
  • Closet with hangers

Staying true to the theme of this baby checklist, we’re giving you the bare essentials that you’ll need to maintain proper care of your infant. Nonetheless, my absolute favorite part of preparing for my baby was decorating her nursery.

It was where I got to add those creative touches that made the space unique and all hers. I got a lot of great inspiration from sites that catered to nursery decor. I also felt really accomplished at the end of the process because I had done a lot of DIY projects to help me pass the time and save money on decorating. 

Remember though, it is recommended your baby sleep on their own bassinet/crib, in the same room as you for at least their first 6 months (and ideally up to a year).

Essentials For Bathing 

Since babies are so tiny, they don’t require much time when bathing. It also only requires minimal equipment. This was the least time-consuming, but I really enjoyed bath time with my baby because it was another opportunity to allow her to experience new sensations like touching the water, splashing, etc. 

You can find inexpensive infant tubs that’ll make bath time a breeze. Don’t forget to sanitize them beforehand!

Must-Have:

  • 1-2 packs of cotton washcloths
  • Infant bathtub or basin (with newborn insert)
  • Infant body wash
  • Infant shampoo
  • Nail Clippers (specifically designed for a baby)
  • Soft-bristle brush
  • Sponge
  • 2 bath towels

Nice-to-Have:

  • 2 towels with a hood
  • Cotton swabs
  • Bath toys

Essentials For Sleeping 

As a new mom, whether you already have children or not, you’ll see that you have to play around with your baby’s sleep schedule. The key to getting some shut-eye for yourself is to make sure your baby sleeps soundly.

If you want to create a warm, pleasant, comfortable sleep environment for your baby, there are a few things you should have on hand. Make sure that the blankets you purchase vary in thickness and weight to adapt to the temperature.

Never over-pad your baby’s sleep space; you don’t want to disrupt their breathing as they learn to turn their heads and rollover.

Additionally, this is an area where you want to check the safety disclaimers [3] that tend to be stamped onto newborn sleep products. 

Must-Have:

  • 4-6 receiving blankets
  • 4-6 cotton blankets
  • 2-3 waterproof liners / mattress protectors
  • 4-6 fitted crib sheets (cotton)
  • 2 crib or bassinet mattress pads
  • 2 thick cotton blankets (for cooler temperatures both indoors and outdoors)

Nice-to-Have:

  • 2-3 sleep sacks
  • 2-3 swaddling blankets
  • White noise machine
  • Lullaby mobile
  • 2-4 pacifiers
  • 2 pacifier clips (they’re going to spit it out and drop it a lot, save yourself the headache!)

Essentials for Travel 

You’ll have numerous opportunities (when you feel ready) to take your newborn out to get some fresh air. Some moms are wary of taking such a small little human outside so soon after bringing them home, but in reality, if you take the necessary precautions [4], you’ll be good to go. 

Just remember that the same things you need when you’re home are the exact items you’ll need when you’re out and about. So, pack accordingly!

It’s a good idea to invest in travel-size newborn items that can be conveniently transported in a bag, stored in the car, etc.

I say this from personal experience. 

Funny story, when my daughter was 3 weeks old, I decided to take her for a nice walk through the park. I thought it made sense just to take the products I already had at home and stuff them into my diaper bag. Big mistake!

I just threw the baby lotion (12 oz), gigantic wipes container, two diapers, diaper rash cream, and a myriad of other full-size products in the bag together. 

Well, long story short, my daughter needed a change halfway through our walk. I grabbed the bag, and to my disbelief, I had somehow ended up with a nice layer of baby lotion over the top of everything, a cracked baby powder container, soggy diapers, and just a huge mess. I was so frustrated! 

I did the best I could in that situation, but everything was saturated with the lotion, so my girl was clean, but she may have felt a little damp still after the change. 

I immediately headed over to my local discount store, right to the travel section, and I stocked up! 

Must-Have:

  • Infant car seat (rear-facing with head support pads)
  • Stroller
  • Travel/Diaper bag packed with travel size diaper changing necessities
  • Sun shields (for the windows)
  • Bag for cloth diapers (if necessary)
  • Mirror (it’s useful to be able to see your baby while you’re driving)

Nice-to-Have:

  • Portable bed (also called a “pack n play”)
  • Front carrier/Wrap/Sling
  • Car seat mobile
  • Carrier cover (for the car seat)

Essentials For Health And Safety

There are a ton of products out there to ensure your baby’s health and wellness. You’ll already be hyper-focused on protecting your baby from any and every form of harm, so this section of the baby checklist will make that task much more manageable.  

Your baby’s immune system is still developing, and therefore, you’ll want to have hygiene products readily available. Also, inform everyone who wants to touch or interact with your baby to wash their hands. Your little one is especially susceptible, and you have to keep germs at bay.  

We’ve also done the research and assembled a list of items you’ll need to form a first-aid kit. You never know what you’ll need, but it’s always better to be prepared!

You may also be interested in taking an infant CPR class [5]; I personally never needed these skills, but I sure did feel confident knowing how to do the process anyway.

Must-Have:

  • Petroleum jelly (useful to lubricate a rectal thermometer)
  • First-aid manual
  • Rubbing alcohol
  • Liquid soap
  • Antibiotic cream/ointment
  • Infant thermometer
  • Cotton balls (sterilized)
  • Tweezers
  • Cotton swabs
  • Saline nose drops and Nasal aspirator (this combo will help to clear up nasal congestion in those tiny nostrils)
  • Electrolyte solution for babies (helps to prevent dehydration in cases of moderate to severe diarrhea)
  • Eyewash (in the instance that your baby’s eyes come into contact with irritants)
  • Oral syringe (medicine dispenser)
  • Aloe vera gel (soothes mild burns)
  • Bandage tape (adhesive)
  • Gauze pads
  • Gauze rolls
  • Acetaminophen (or an alternative fever reducer that your pediatrician or local pharmacist recommends)
  • Band-Aids
  • Hot/Cold pack

Nice-to-Have:

  • Pre-assembled first-aid kit (back-up)
  • Disposable gloves
  • Antiseptic wipes

Essentials For Formula Feeding

Some mamas may choose to bottle-feed their newborns. It’s best to prepare your baby’s formula with water that you’ve boiled and allowed to cool to a temperature no lower than 70° F. In the instance that you can’t access boiling water, consider using sterile liquid baby formula. 

Must-Have:

  • 4-6 bottles (4 oz)
  • 4-6 bottles (8oz)
  • 12-16 nipples (first flow, newborn and slow flow)
  • Bottle liners (if your bottle brand allows)
  • Bottle brush
  • 4-6 burp cloths
  • Formula
  • 4-6 bibs

Nice-to-Have:

  • Bottle warmer (eliminates those extra kitchen trips)
  • Bottle maker formula prep machine
  • Bottle sterilizer 
  • High chair
  • Small basket for the dishwasher (this helps to keep all your pieces together when you wash them)
  • Bottle-drying rack
  • Baby Utensils and Plates (for when they get a little older and start solid foods)

Essentials for Breastfeeding

The general consensus is that breast milk reigns supreme. Chock full of healthy, immune-boosting benefits [7], breast milk does your newborn a world of good. Check out our article on breastfeeding vs formula to find out more about this.

Everyone’s breastfeeding experience can be different; don’t become discouraged if it takes your little baby some time to get the hang of latching. It’s helpful to consult with a lactation specialist if you find that you’re still having trouble. 

As a breastfeeding mom, you’ll need many of the same things that a mom needs that uses bottles exclusively. There are, however, a few items that you should have in tow that are specific to breastfeeding.

Must-Have: 

  • Nursing pillow
  • 2-4 Nursing pads (for your nursing bras)
  • 2-4 Nursing bras
  • Nipple cream (Lanolin)
  • Storage bags/bottles (for your breast milk when you pump in excess)
  • Breast pump

Nice-to-Have:

  • Pumping bra (hands-free)
  • Electric double breast pump
  • Nursing cover

Essentials for Playtime

Playtime may seem like something that you can bypass, but it’s critical to engage your baby’s senses and get them interacting with their environment.

When you fill their space with tactile objects and toys that are colorful, shiny, noisy, and include some light element, it makes their playtime much more fulfilling. 

The first few years are of the utmost importance when it comes to your baby’s cognitive development. Toys will aid in improving your infant’s cognitive abilities [8] by stimulating their senses. 

You don’t have to go crazy with this section, but it’s advantageous to get at least a few things to start. You’ll love seeing your baby’s reaction while they play! 

Must-Have:

  • Baby books
  • Baby music
  • Baby ball (squishy or light up is excellent and makes them so smiley!)
  • Rattle or Maracas
  • Teething ring
  • Soft toys
  • Tummy time toys such as a pillow or floor mirror

Nice-to-Have:

  • Activity center
  • Baby bouncer
  • Walker

Make sure that none of the toys pose a choking hazard to your baby—no small toys that can be swallowed or any toys that have little, detachable pieces. 

Wrap Up

This baby checklist will give you a majority of the items that you’ll need when you bring your baby home. Most importantly, our list utilizes trusted research and recommendations from experts, such as doctors and, you guessed it, mommies!

Feel free to put your own spin on this list and add whatever you’d like. This buying guide will get you on the right track when browsing the baby aisles. It’s so easy to feel overwhelmed or anxious when you’re contemplating what you should buy for your baby. 

Having a sense of direction makes it slightly easier to start transitioning into your new role as a mom. Some of the optional items may be necessities for you, depending on your situation. You maybe offered some pre-used items from your family and friends whose kids no longer require them. Definitely consider this option if the item is suitable to be safely re-used; not only will you save money, but you will have a positive impact on the environment.

The most important thing is that you and your baby will adapt to the new circumstances together. We hope that our comprehensive list made you feel a little more at ease as you start preparing for a beautiful baby girl or boy. 

Next up, I’d recommend you check out our guide on how to choose a suitable stroller

Happy Prepping!

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