Must-haves for Newborns: The Essentials and the Extras

There are some widely accepted ideas that we realize are really not true when we grow up. One is that adults know what to do in every situation. It is a bummer to realize that you don’t really receive that knowledge magically at 18 or 25 or even 35. Two is that when you are about to have a baby or even after your baby is born as their parent you just intuitively know what is needed and when. Turns out, you need to do quite some research and get help from other, more experienced, people like a pediatrician and even then you might have a crying baby in your hands with no clue as to what would help soothe the little human. 

Newborns especially depend on their parents for every single thing. They can’t speak yet so their only mode of communication is crying. That’s normal. It is tough to get enough sleep with a newborn in the house but that too is normal. Normal is good. 

That said, you need to be ready before your baby is born. Not just mentally for the big responsibility but also to gather all the essential things that a newborn will require. After the baby is born you will most certainly not have the time or the desire to go on long shopping hunts to furnish a nursery. 

On that note let’s talk about the necessary items for your nursery. First and foremost, you will need to have a crib. Invest in a new crib so that it fulfills all the safety requirements. You will need a crib mattress that is firm, flat, and fits well in the crib so that less than two fingers fit between the mattress and crib. A diaper changing table or dresser with a baby changing pad is another must-have. Other bedtime related items you should have include:

  • a swaddle to soothe a fussy baby
  • 3 waterproof mattress covers 
  • 4 fitted crib sheets
  • 4 light blankets that fit in the crib
  • Sleep sack

 You need to make sure you do not put pillows, sleep positioners, bumper pads, or mattress padding in the crib as these increase the risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS). Keep these away from the crib until your baby is at least one year old.

Babies are famous for three things: sleeping, feeding, and pooping. Since we have covered sleeping let’s go over everything needed for feeding your little one. If you are breastfeeding you already have most of the equipment naturally but there are still items that will make the process easier and less messy like bibs. You should have lots of bibs. Burp cloths are another must have. If you are a busy mum (all mums are!) then a breast pump along with milk storage containers would make life easier and give your body a break when you need it.

Other things that will give your body a break include:

  • A nursing pillow to relieve your arms
  • Nursing bras to save you from needing to remove it multiple times a day without sacrificing on the much needed support
  • Breast pads (disposable or washable)
  • Lotion for sore nipples 

If you are instead taking the formula feeding route, no worries. You will need bibs and burp clothes in the same quantity but instead of a breast pump you will just need baby bottles and trusted formula. It is also recommended you carry a thermal bottle carrier.

And we are at the third famous baby thing and this one is pretty gross but essential nonetheless. Yes, we are talking about pooping. You can go two ways with this. If you are more environmentally conscious then you can invest in several dozen cloth or re-usable diapers. For these you will also need snaps, velcro or safety pins to secure the diaper. If that option is not easily available or unsuitable then buy two boxes of newborn size diapers. It’s better to buy these as needed at first. Other things that you need with either option are:

  • 8 waterproof covers
  • Changing pad
  • Baby ointment or other barrier cream to prevent rash
  • Disposable wipes or a couple dozen washcloths for cleaning baby’s bottom

-A diaper pail might not seem necessary but if you have ever smelled a full diaper before you will know why that smell needs to be contained. A diaper pail is great for that because it helps prevent smells from leaking out. Put the diaper pail right beside the changing table so you don’t have to leave your baby’s side while disposing of the used diaper. When it comes to selecting a diaper pail something that will help is finding out if it works with regular trash can liners or if it can only be used with the special liner rings that the manufacturer sells separately. The special liners are better at trapping odors but are not very budget friendly and will cost more over the long run.

A clean baby is a happy baby and bath time can be a lot of fun. Initially, you will be surprised at how slippery babies can get but with some practice you will become a pro and there are some things that will help you get there. These are the baby must-haves for the bath:

  • A baby bathtub really helps in avoiding any mishaps from happening by providing just the right amount of space needed and the right support.
  • Baby shampoo and body wash
  • 2-4 hooded baby towels
  • Soft washcloths
  • Baby lotion. While babies have super soft skin that does not require lotion, if you see any dry patches it's best to use baby lotion.

Now clothing is obviously essential but what kind and how much? That is the question. It depends on whether your baby is a summer baby or a winter baby. All baby clothes are adorable so we don’t need to give any fashion advice yet. The most important thing is comfort and hygiene. So buy more and clean often. Here is a list of items to get from the clothing sections:

  • 8 undershirts or onesies (mix of short-sleeve and long-sleeve)
  • 5 nightgowns 
  • 8 one-piece stretchy sleepers 
  • 5 pairs of pants
  • 2 newborn hats
  • 8 pairs of socks or booties, to wear with nightgowns and outfits
  • 2 pairs of scratch mittens, to keep the baby from scratching their face
  • 2 cardigans or jackets
  • Bunting bag or snowsuit for winter baby
  • Laundry detergent for infants

And if there are some upcoming holidays or a special event then get an outfit to dress up for that particularly.

Straight out of the womb, babies need a lot of comfort and after physical touch what is more comforting than becoming a burrito in blankets. The must-have number we would say is a couple of large cotton blankets and around 8 receiving blankets which can also be used for swaddling.

While we try our best that our babies don’t fall ill, it is important to be prepared nonetheless. Here is a list of things to keep on hand, some will be used often, while others may not.

  • Nail clippers or scissors (yes, babies nails grow out as well and you have to trim them so that the baby does not accidentally scratch itself)
  • Bulb syringe for suctioning mucous (since babies are not that good at breathing through their mouths it is best to keep their nasal air passages open)
  • Baby thermometer
  • Eye dropper or medicine spoon
  • Medication in case of fever

A baby monitor is a lifesaver. There are so many available now. We would suggest opting for one with video and not just audio that can be connected to your mobile phone as well. That way you can keep tabs on your baby no matter where you go.

While in the first few days (or months) of the little one’s life you would not really be interested in traveling it is still highly recommended to purchase an approved infant safety seat for your car. In some places, it is required by law that you use one. Another important item for time spent outdoors is a stroller. One that reclines is best for newborns so that they can lie flat. As your baby grows they can sit up a bit and peek at the world. 

Now these are all the essentials, the must-haves, the absolutely necessary items but there are things that, while not necessary, are very nice to have. If you can afford it, really get these as well. Your experience as a new parent will be at least a little bit better. So here’s our last list for today:

  • Rocking chair for feeding and swaddling
  • Playpen
  • Sling or baby carrier
  • Diaper bag
  • 1 or 2 change pads
  • Plastic hangers for closet
  • Sun shade for car windows
  • 2 or 4 pacifiers (if you choose to use these it's better to have a few since they tend to get lost quite often)
  • Rattles and other baby toys
  • Colorful mobiles to hang above the crib
  • Night light