A common question moms ask me is what does a newborn need when they come home from the hospital? When you think about the clothes, the diapers, the food, the bath, the carseat, it can feel like they need SO much. But then, when you look at how tiny and cute those little outfits are, it seems like maybe they don’t need that much after all. Knowing what is needed or not can help you feel prepared and most importantly, stay organized!
Today we are going to dive into your question and give you a checklist of all the things to buy for a baby. So you can keep your baby prep simple.
But first, while this list may seem long – we created a downloadable pdf so you can keep track of what you have and what you need!
Jump Ahead to Newborn Essentials For Sleep, Newborn Essentials For Eating, Newborn Essentials For Clothing, Newborn Essentials For On The Go, Newborn Essentials For Play
Newborn Essentials For Sleeping
The first month of your baby’s life is going to revolve around eating, sleeping and snuggling. On the top of your list for preparing your home for a baby is figuring out where your baby is going to sleep. Would you prefer your baby to sleep in a crib in their own nursery or would you prefer for them to room in with you for the first few months in a bassinet near your bed? If you haven’t decided, check out our guide to the benefits of cosleeping and how to actually get sleep with a newborn.
Either way, here are the essential things you will need to create healthy and sustainable sleep habits for your newborn.
A crib is the centerpiece of any nursery. Your baby will sleep in their crib until they are 18 months to 3 years old. Even when your baby is ready for a toddler bed, a simple conversion kit can turn your convertible crib into a simple and safe toddler bed. We recommend choosing high quality crib that will last for years. Which is why we love the options at Modern Nursery which are modern, functional and made with Eco friendly materials that are healthy for your baby as well.
A Crib Mattress
A good crib mattress will make a big difference to your baby’s sleep. Though we love hand me downs and repurposing, a crib mattress is definitely something we recommend buying new. Old mattresses can gather bacteria that can impact your baby. They also can lose their firmness over time. A firm mattress helps prevents SIDS and suffocation. You may notice that most baby mattresses are much firmer than what the average adult uses, and the reason is that it helps protect your little one.
3 Waterproof Liners
Do you really need a waterproof liner on your mattress? Well, if you can, yes. Babies may be cute, but they can also be quite messy. Spit up, pee, blow outs, throw up – all of it ends up on a mattress at some point. I know, it’s not the glamorous side of parenting. Beyond staining a mattress, these fluids can cause bacteria to build up in the mattress, which is not desirable. A waterproof liner prevents this and simplifies your cleanup duties.
3 Sets Of Crib Sheets
One great thing about a crib is that you don’t have much bedding. A crib shouldn’t have extras around it such as buntings, extra blankets (other than a swaddle), or stuffed animals. Not only do crib sheets add to the cute decor, but it’s a simple way to keep the bed clean.
Why do we recommend 3 sheets and liners? One trick a friend taught me when my babies were little is to make the crib with a waterproof liner and a sheet, then another waterproof liner and sheet, then another waterproof liner and sheet. That way, if your baby is sick in the night, has a leaky diaper or otherwise makes a mess in the bed, all you have to do is take off the top layer of liner and sheet and the crib is ready for your baby again. You aren’t left holding an upset baby and trying to remake their bed at 2 AM.
If your baby will be rooming in with you for the first month of life or through the first year, you will want a smaller bassinet that fits in your bedroom. It is nice to have your little one within arms reach the first few months. You can splurge on a beautiful bassinet, rent a SNOO rocking and monitoring bassinet for up to 6 months, or if you plan on moving your little one to their own crib within the first 6 months, use a travel crib in your room until you are ready to use the nursery.
4-5 Swaddle Blankets
Swaddling is a long standing practice of wrapping a baby up tight when it is time for them to sleep. Most babies will soothe much better and sleep longer if they are swaddled. If you aren’t sure how to wrap your baby in their blanket, check out our article how to swaddle like a pro mom.
There are also swaddles that have velcro that are a bit easier to use. We like the ones from Happiest Baby On The Block.
White Noise Machine
A white noise machine is an amazing way to help your baby sleep because it can be a reliable sleep association that is not mom or dad. A sleep association is a cue to your baby that it’s time to sleep. You turn on the white noise machine 15 to 20 minutes before bedtime. They recognize the sound and know that the next thing in the day is the sleep routine and bed. Typically babies with strong routines and sleep associations are easy to settle down at night and get back down easily if they arouse.
A good monitor will help you see what is going on with your baby without being in the room. Most monitors today connect to your phone so you can see your baby from across the house. That way, you can check in on them without having to open the door and risk waking them up.
There were definitely times when my little one wouldn’t sleep anywhere but my arms. And you know what, I cherished that time nursing them to sleep. It’s good to be comfy during this time. A good chair should offer support, have a bit of a rock and plenty of room for you and baby. We love the options at Modern Nursery for sleek, comfortable nursing chairs.
Blackout curtains are definitely a nice to have item, not a need to have item. But, with my own children, I found that having a dark room to sleep in made sleep a bit easier for them. Again, a dark room is a great sleep association.
Babies will sleep about 14-17 hours a day the first 3 months of life – but, even though your little one sleeps a lot, you may be more sleep deprived than ever. A simple app such as the Nara Baby app, which tracks when they are eating, sleeping, peeing and pooping can help you notice their sleep rhythms and help you develop them so that you can get a bit more predictability in your life.
Sleep is so important for your baby’s physical and mental growth – not just in the newborn stage but throughout life. Helping a child feel safe and learn to fall asleep is one of your most important jobs as a parent. But, the process sometimes feels more difficult than we expect. That’s why we recommend Batelle Sleep School for parents who are struggling getting their baby to sleep after the first few months.
What we love about this school is that their focus is on helping your baby feel safe enough to fall asleep and develop the skills to do so. Plus, once you graduate from sleep school, you have support through your child’s 6th birthday. So when they hit sleep challenges as they grow, you continue to have support.
Newborn Essentials For Eating
After sleeping, your baby is going to spend an enormous time eating. Choosing to breastfeed or formula feed is a very personal choice. Although there are many benefits to breastfeeding, there are also benefits to pumping and formula feeding as well.
Breast Pump – Handheld
Most moms will have a period of time about 3 days after they give birth that they have too much milk – or feel engorged. A handheld pump can help you relieve the excess milk. It can also be useful if your breasts become sore, inflamed or infected.
Compared to an electric pump, a handheld pump is very simple, easy to use and can travel easily. It has much fewer parts and is easy to clean. If you are not exclusively pumping and only need to pump to relieve engorgement or are pumping once a day or less then this may be the best option. They are also quite inexpensive.
Breast Pump – Manual
A manual breast pump simulates a baby nursing. You can use it to replace nursing sessions, and then bottle feed baby. A manual breast pump can also be useful when nursing isn’t an option. Sometimes nursing isn’t an option is when a baby is in NICU, having trouble latching, or when you return to work. (Though I would personally prefer a manual pump for travel, many people do prefer this option.)
Manual breast pumps are much more expensive than handheld ones – but, insurance will typically cover the cost. You can look at which pumps your insurance covers here.
Do you want to know something fascinating about your body while you are breastfeeding? Your breasts may grow up to four sizes when you are breastfeeding. And you may notice changes day to day. Nursing bras are usually made of soft, stretchable fabrics. They also usually offer more support and wider straps. This gives you the breastfeeding mom more support.
Nursing bras also are made to give your baby easy access to your breast. Many will have a clip so the cup can fold down. Others simply have a criss cross pattern so you can easily move the cup off of your breast.
We recommend starting with 3 bras. One to wear, one to wash and one to spare. Then, as you see what your needs are you can expand your collection as needed.
Kindred Bravely often has amazing deals on their nursing gear bundles here. We love their high quality, and super soft materials.
While breastfeeding is natural, it’s not always easy. The first two weeks can be especially hard as you and baby are still learning. We highly suggest having a soothing nipple cream on hand. Use early and often to help ease soreness and protect from cracking or bleeding. Though there are many good nipple creams – I highly recommend the organic niptstick from The Spoiled Mama.
If you plan on nursing while out and about, you may want a nursing cover. Though it is definitely not necessary, some moms prefer to be covered while the nurse and feel more privacy that way. Other moms prefer no cover. Either one is fine. Amazon has great covers for under $20.
Pregnancy and postpartum is a time of high demands on your body. Your body is going to prioritize getting nutrients to baby, even if it means giving them nutrients that you need. Some teas have tons of easily absorbed iron, calcium, magnesium, silicon, potassium, and zinc. These are nutrients that moms often become deficient in in the postpartum time and that can help your body create breast milk.
A nursing pillow is one of those nice to have things – not need to have things. Any pillows or large cushions can work to give you support as you nurse. I’ve even see people prefer large plush animals that they’ve already had on hand as nursing support. If you do want a nursing pillow, we love the snuggle me organic for its simplicity and functionality.
Bottle Feeding Essentials:
If you are planning on pumping your milk, either exclusively or a few times a day so that you can work or so that a partner, nanny or grandparent can help with feeds, you will need a few more items.
If you are planning on bottle feeding only when you aren’t available to breastfeed, you probably only need a couple bottles.
On the other hand, if you are planning to usually bottle feed or always bottle feed your baby, you will want a few more.
Initially, you will be feeding your little one 8-12 times a day. So you may want about eight 3 to 4 ounce bottles. But, by the time they are old enough to eat 6+ ounces in a sitting, you will only be giving them a bottle about 5 time a day. So you will likely want 3-5 larger bottles when your little one is a bit older. We love the Ola baby bottle for newborns because of its slow flow nipple and anti colic system.
Milk Storage Bags
If you are pumping milk for your baby, you will need a place to store and potentially freeze milk for when you need it. These Nanobee storage bags are well designed and fit compactly and neatly into the freezer.
There are many reasons to formula feed. Many moms choose formula. To help you make the best choice for formulas, we wrote a simple article about what to look for and what to avoid in formula. Our favorite formula is Bobbie – an all organic formula that you can have autoshipped to your house so you always have what you need.
Newborn Essentials Clothing:
Baby clothes are so cute and fun to buy. But how much do you really need and what sizes should you have when you get home?
Unless your baby is born early or very small, they likely will outgrow the newborn size in a few weeks. Plus, if your baby will be spending plenty of time skin to skin with you the first few weeks you really won’t need many newborn sized clothing.
In newborn size, choose a handful of pajamas or gowns. Other than that, focus on getting size 0-3 months. This is what we recommend having on hand from the beginning.
Seven Bodysuits Or Rompers
Bodysuits are so simple and easy to get your baby in and out of. You can easily use them as an outfit on their own, or add pants + shorts + a shirt if you want to add layers for warmth (or cuteness!)
Seven Sleepers, Footies Or Gowns
Sleepers and footies are for much more than just sleep—they work for daytime too. They can also be paired with a swaddle for nighttime in colder climates. A gown is a great wardrobe addition. especially during those first few months when you want something quick and easy for frequent diaper changes.
5 Pairs Of Socks
Having a few pairs of 0-3 month socks are good to have on hand. Depending on what else you pick for their wardrobe, you may use them frequently. But, if you primarily have your little on in footie pajamas, you won’t need these at all.
Newborns have sharp little nails and like to touch their faces often. Having little hand mittens to prevent scratching can be very useful the first months home.
Winter Baby Essentials
If you are having your little one in the winter, their wardrobe will need a few things to keep them warm.
2 Sweatshirts Or Sweaters
You can easily add a sweater or sweatshirt over a onesie to keep your baby warm. Not only will it be ridiculously cute, but your little one will be warm and cozy as well.
A bunting is a body suit made out of coat like material. It goes over their clothes and keeps them warm when you are outside. Though they are so cute you may want a couple, one is all you really need.
Though your newborn won’t be walking around, you may want a cute pair of shoes for them to keep their feet warm when you are out and about. One or two pairs of booties is plenty in the 0-3 size.
Summer Baby Essentials
One Sun Hat
Babies have such sensitive skin. If you are planning to be out in the sun for a while, a cute sun hat or bonnet is a must.
Baby Clothes Organization
Keeping everything organized can be a bit tricky. If you are putting all your newborn items in one or two drawers, drawer dividers can help everything stay in place and be found easily.
If you are planning on hanging clothes or jackets in the closet, you will need a few newborn hangers. Tiny hangers to fit tiny clothes can be found on amazon.
Newborn Essentials: Bath Time
Soap, Shampoo And Lotion
Your newborn will need to take a bath about 3 times a week. And, you will want to use gentle soaps and shampoos to take care of their sensitive skin. We love the clean coconut oil based skin care for babies from Bubbsi.
We really love bathtubs that go in the sink for the newborn stage. It is much easier to wash a tiny newborn in a sink rather than a huge bathtub where you don’t have to lean over so much. A newborn can bathe in a sink for the first 6-8 months. At this point they can sit and can take a bath in the regular bath.
But, if you want something that fits in the bathtub, you could use something like this that grows with your little one.
One Or Two Towels
You will want one or two little towels for your baby. It doesn’t get cuter than the Bubbsi Little Panda Towel. But there are plenty of good options out there.
One pack of washcloths is all you need when you bring your baby home. I’ve found that washcloths last a long time and are easy to replace if you find you need new ones in a year.
First Aid Kit
You will want to get a newborn first aid kit as well. This will have a bulb syringe that you can use to clear your baby’s nose, nail clippers, a thermometer and other odds and ends for baby care.
Depending on which laundry detergent you use and how sensitive your baby’s skin is, you may want to buy a special detergent to wash their items. The Molly Suds gentle detergent is one of our favorites.
Newborn Essentials Diapering
In general, newborns will go through 8-10 diapers a day in the first month of life. I recommend having one or two packs of newborn size diapers with the space for an umbilical cord. After that you can move to the next size up! When you sign up for a free trial of Amazon Family, you can get 20% of diaper subscriptions. Learn more here.
Most people will add a changing pad or basket on top of a dresser as a place to change babies diaper. You can also keep a basket with diapers, their rash cream and a couple clean outfits in the basket as well. That way you have everything you need within arms reach.
You will also want a changing basket in your living room or the space your baby will usually be. Keep another set of diaper cream, diaper pad, a clean outfit and extra diapers in this bag so you don’t always have to walk through the house to change. adiaper.
Diaper Rash Cream
Unfortunately, babies can get diaper rashes if they have a reaction to a food you ate before feeding them, are sick or are in a dirty diaper too long. Some babies have sensitive skin and just get rashes easily as well. A good diaper rash cream will help protect and soothe their skin.
If you have a nursery set up and will be usually changing diapers in there, make sure to grab a diaper pail so that you can throw the diapers away and not have to worry about the smell.
Newborn Essentials: On The Go
Your newborn definitely needs a carseat. If it’s your first baby, and you don’t have a stroller, you can get a carseat that can clip right into the stroller, so you don’t always need to take your little one in and out. Britax has a great travel system.
It’s also good to know that if you create an Amazon registry, you get a one time completion discount and an extended return period. Even if you don’t have a big baby shower planned, you can create a registry and shop off it it yourself, then use. the completion discount for your larger items.
You will likely want a stroller for your little one as well. If you are active, grab a running stroller, like the Thule. Otherwise, we highly recommend the Hot Mom Baby Stroller.
The first weeks home, your little one will likely want a lot of snuggles. If you are ready to be up and moving, it can feel really snug and sweet to wear your baby in a carrier. A moby wrap can keep your little one close and give you a bit more flexibility and movement.
You don’t really need to invest in a big chunky diaper bag. More modern options, such as backpacks are more stylish and very functional. Of course, you can find anything from expensive on trend bags from Gucci as a diaper bag to bags that are $30-$100 on amazon.
Playtime Newborn Essentials
Baby Gym Or Mat
Your baby will need a place to do tummy time, play and explore the world. We LOVE the mats from LOVEVERY that provide endless opportunities for your little one to discover.
Mostly, newborns just want their mom and dad. They love your voice, feeling your skin and hair, when you talk, tickle and interact with them more than anything. But, it can also be fun to have new things to introduce to them. Check out our article on the best newborn toys for 0-6 months.
I will be honest, when I brought my first child hold from the hospital, I had no idea what I was doing. Yes, she was cute, but what was I supposed to do with her. Do newborns play? Rose and Rex offers a simple class about baby play that can be very helpful if you are not really sure what to do with your newborn when they are awake.
Newborn Essentials Conclusion
Newborns do need a lot of items – there are quite a few newborn essentials. I hope this list of what to buy for a newborn makes your life a bit more simple. If you have any questions or suggestions, please let us know!