Preparing to bring a new baby home can be overwhelming and it’s easy to forget stuff. Nursery furniture, clothes, and diapers are just the beginning, but which items are essential and which aren’t? This list will help you make sure you have everything you need and there is a printable checklist available also.
When you bring your new baby home, you’ll need a place for them to sleep. I have found that it’s nice to have a variety of options because sometimes it can be difficult to get a baby sleeping.
Start with a crib. The crib will be the primary piece of furniture in the nursery and will eventually be the place your baby does most of their sleeping. I recommend looking for a crib that can convert to grow with your child. We used the Delta 4-in-1 crib that can convert to a toddler bed, day bed and full size bed as our son gets older. Don’t forget that you’ll need a mattress and bedding for the crib also. For about the first year you will want to avoid using blankets or pillows in the crib but a waterproof mattress cover and fitted sheet are fine.
Room sharing is recommended for the first few months so you will want to have something for your baby to sleep in when they are in your room. You can get a fancy bassinet, but we just used a Graco Pack ‘n Play that has a bassinet insert. You can also try swings and rockers to help get your little one sleeping. A couple that my son liked are the mamaRoo and the Fisher-Price Cradle ‘n Swing.
When it comes to helping your baby fall asleep and stay asleep, you want to make sure they are comfortable. Babes like to be swaddled and there are a ton of great swaddling options out there. If you find it a breeze to swaddle your baby tightly with a blanket then stock up on those swaddle blankets (Aden + Anais are a great option) but if you are like me and my husband you may have a hard time keeping your little one wrapped up. I found that every time I tried to swaddle my son, he would break both of his arms out minutes later. We have used SwaddleMe and BundleBee to make things easier. You can also use wearable blankets (HALO Sleep Sack is a great option if your baby likes to have their arms free)
A few other nursery must haves for when you little one is sleeping are a white noise machine, night light, and baby monitor. You can find some great white noise machines that have a variety of sounds and songs to play depending on your baby’s preference. We use the Project Nursery Sound Machine that is great because it also has a built in nightlight. For the baby monitor you can choose a more traditional option that just does noise, or you can get fancy. These days there are a ton of high tech options that have cameras and even movement sensors.
We all know that a new baby means LOTS of diapers. Make sure you have plenty of newborn and size one diapers to get started. Every baby is different, but my son grew out of newborn diapers around 4 or 5 weeks. When you consider that a newborn can go through about 10 diapers per day, you’ll go through about 300 diapers in just the first month. The hospital will give you some so make sure you stock up and get as many as you can from them. I also recommend trying a few different brands to figure out what works best for your baby.
In addition to the diapers, you’ll need a few other items for diaper changing. For the nursery you will want a changing table. You can either get a stand alone changing table or an attachment for the top of a dresser. Whichever option you choose, you’ll need a changing pad and pad cover. You’ll also want to get a trashcan for dirty diapers.
Don’t forget the wipes. You’ll find yourself using wipes to clean all sorts of baby messes. Like the diapers, I recommend trying a few different brands to see which ones you like the most. Check out my top picks for every situation. If you want to give your baby a little extra pampering you can also buy a wipe warmer, but it’s not a necessity.
Reading books to your baby helps with early language development so you’ll want to make sure to have plenty of books around. Smaller board books are easier to manage while holding your baby and they can also be thrown in a diaper bag if you need to take them with you. One of my favorite books to read to my son is God Gave Us You. You will also want a bookshelf to in the nursery to keep your books on and also store toys. When it comes to reading to your baby, I recommend getting a comfortable rocking chair or glider. We have the Windsor Glider and Ottoman.
Dressed for Success
When you look good, you feel good, so you’ll want to make sure you have the right stuff to keep your baby looking good. You’ll want to make sure you have plenty of onesies. I recommend less newborn and more 0-3 month and 3 month clothes because most babies will grow out of newborn clothes so quickly. By 6 weeks my son was already wearing 3 month clothes. In addition to onesies, you’ll probably want some footed pajamas (especially if you live somewhere that gets cold).
Socks and hats will also help in cold weather but some babies don’t like to wear them. My son moves around so much that hats and socks don’t last long on him. You may also want to get some mittens to keep your baby from scratching themselves with those sharp little finger nails.
With all of these clothes you’ll need somewhere to keep them. A dresser is a good option, especially if you are going to be using it as your changing table also. If you prefer to have the clothes hung in the closet, then I recommend investing in some small children’s hangers.
Out and About
Leaving the house isn’t going to be as easy as it was before having a baby. Before you are able to leave the hospital you will need to have a car seat. My favorite is the Britax B Safe. You may also want a mirror for your car seat so you can see your little one. If you are planning on using a stroller, I would recommend getting one that works with the car seat you get.
If you don’t want to use a stroller, the alternative is baby wearing. You can find a huge variety of carriers and wraps. Look for ones that support your baby under their butt with their hips open and not with their legs hanging straight down. This is better for your babies hip development. When it comes to wraps, I would suggest trying a few different styles to see what you and your baby like the most. Babywearing International is a great resource if you are planning on going this route.
Any time you leave the house, you will also want to make sure you have a diaper bag with you to carry all of the stuff your baby needs. Most diaper bags come with a changing pad, but you can also buy them separate. You’ll want to make sure you always have one with you because you never know when or where you’ll have to change a diaper.
You may also want to consider a shopping cart cover, but you wont need this until your baby is a few months old and able to sit up on their own.
Toys Toys Toys
When you first bring your baby home they wont be awake much for playtime, but there are still some toy options that may be worth investing in. Tummy time from day one can be hugely beneficial for your baby’s development so toys designed to encourage active tummy time are great.
Another option for young babies is activity mats. They generally have some type of lights and music in addition to being able to hang other toys from them. I love the Bright Starts Activity Gym because it has a variety of play options as your baby grows. Toys that rattle or vibrate are also great options for babies of all ages.
As your baby grows, walkers and bouncers will help them build those leg muscles for walking. There will be more and more toy options as your baby grows and is able to interact more. Most toys will tell you what age they are for so keep an eye out as your baby grows.
You will also need a place to keep all of these toys that you’re buying so make sure you have plenty of storage. My favorite storage option is baskets on a bookshelf. I also bought a net that hangs in the corner to store stuffed animals.
Rub A Dub Dub
Once your baby’s umbilical cord falls off, you will be able to start giving them a real bath. You will want to start with a tub designed for newborns. You will want to use a soap designed specifically for babies also. My favorite is Johnson’s Bedtime. Use a small, soft washcloth like these made by Spasilk. Don’t forget a towel to dry off your little one when bath time is over. You can use a regular bath towel, but they also make some super cute options for babies.
Once your baby gets a little older and is able to sit up on their own, you can get bath toys to keep them entertained while they’re in the tub.
Eat Your Heart Out
Your needs for feeding will depend on if you are formula feeding, breastfeeding, bottle feeding breast milk, or a combination of the three. If you decide to use formula, I recommend trying a few different kinds to find one that your baby likes. You may be able to get free samples from your doctor. You will also probably want to try out a few different bottles. I mostly use Dr. Brown’s, but Philips Avent and Tommee Tippee are also popular options. (Check out reviews on some of the top formula and bottles) When it comes to cleaning bottles, you will want to make sure you have a bottle brush and drying rack.
It’s fine to feed your baby a room temperature bottle, but sometimes babies prefer warm milk. You can use a bottle warmer (especially if you are also bottle feeding breast milk) but I didn’t have much luck with them. The best option I found to make warm bottles is the Baby Brezza. When your baby is crying in the middle of the night, nothing beats having a warm bottle ready in seconds.
When you feed your baby, you will want to make sure you have a burp cloth ready. A lot of babies spit up regularly because they’re still developing and getting the hang of eating, so burp cloths and bibs will help keep you and your baby clean.
If you are bottle-feeding breast milk, you will need most of the same supplies as formula feeding, but you will also need a few additional things. For starters, you will need a breast pump. You can usually get a free pump through your insurance company. Check out Edgepark to see what your options are. Once you pump you will need either bottles or bags to store your breast milk until you are ready to use it.
If you decide to solely breastfeed, you won’t need to worry about all of the bottles and extra stuff. Even though there is a lot less to worry about, there are still a few things you will want to make sure you have. Nursing bras or tanks will make it easier to feed wherever you are. You will also probably want to invest in some nursing pads to avoid any embarrassing leaks.
If you are having pain or difficulty breastfeeding, there are a few options to make things easier. You can get a lanolin based nipple cream that will help with pain from dry, cracked nipples and is safe for breastfeeding. If your baby is having a difficult time latching you can use nipple shields, but they should be used only as a temporary solution.
When your baby is between 4 and 6 months you can start introducing solid foods. You will want to get a high chair so your baby has a place that’s easy for you to feed them. There are a variety of baby food and snack options so you can experiment with different flavors to find what your baby likes. On of my friends started mixing cereal, puffs, and yogurt melts to make a baby trail mix. If you are brave enough you can even make your own baby food using the Baby Bullet.
Under the Weather
We always want our babies to be happy but more importantly, HEALTHY. There are a few important things to keep around the house and in the medicine cabinet.
Whether you decide to breastfeed or bottle-feed your pediatrician will probably recommend introducing a pacifier. Pacifiers can be incredibly soothing for your baby, but they have also been shown to reduce the risk of SIDS. If you are bottle-feeding, you can start using a pacifier day one. If you are breastfeeding you may want to wait until your baby is about a month old and is breastfeeding well.
In your first couple weeks home you will need Q-tips and rubbing alcohol to keep your baby’s umbilical cord stump clean and dry. You will also want to have cotton balls he clean sensitive areas like their eyes. If you have a boy and get him circumcised, then you will also need Vaseline to keep his circumcision bell from getting stuck to the skin until it falls off.
In the event that your baby starts feeling under the weather, you will want to have a thermometer and a few other things. Like with everything else these days there are some high tech options for thermometers. Many of them can either sync wirelessly to your phone or plug directly into it. This is a great feature because it can help you keep track of changes in temperature and length of time that your baby has had a fever. I personally love the Nokia Thermo because it allows you to take your baby’s temperature without having to actually touch them. Things like a nose sucker and gas drops can also come in handy.
Every baby is different and everyone parents differently so there may be things on this list that you decide you and your baby don’t need. There may also be things that you need that aren’t on the list. Feel free to comment with anything that may be missing.