The Essentials for Your Baby: A Tool Kit

Newborn baby items including bottles, socks, teddy bear, burp clothes and diapers.

August 26, 2022

Clinical Contributors to this story:
Victor Tuma, M.D.

For first-time parents, the list of items deemed “essential” for your baby seems never ending. The good news is, there is a difference between “must-have” items for your newborn, and things that would be “nice-to-have''.

It is important to recognize this when making decisions about what to buy so you can be as prepared as possible with everything you need upon birth. 

The Basics

Newborn babies are known for their simple daily routines of eating, sleeping, and pooping, so fueling these habits is a top priority. 

Eating 

There are two ways to feed a newborn baby, breastfeeding and bottle feeding. Each requires different equipment, so before your child is born try to understand both processes and determine which would work best for you.  Formula Feeding Necessities:
  • About eight bottles with newborn nipples - your baby will eventually have a preference
  • Bottle-cleaning brush and drying rack 
  • A cooler or carrier for travel and on-the-go
  • Cotton bibs and burp cloths 
  • Several weeks worth of baby formula to be prepared in the beginning

Breastfeeding Necessities:
  • Nursing bras
  • Freezer-safe storage bags or containers
  • A nursing pillow
  • A couple boxes of nursing pads
  • Burp cloths

Breast Pumping Necessities

  • Breast pump – it’s a good idea to research breast pumps ahead of your baby being born, if you plan to try pumping
  • Some women will breastfeed and pump, while others may pump exclusively
  • For moms who have babies in the NICU, are returning to work, need to boost their supply, or are looking to have help with feeding, pumping can be a great resource
  • Consider a pump that allows for mobility – one with a car charging adapter or one that holds a battery charge. This can help you pump on the go
  • Extra flanges and pump supplies – if you are exclusively pumping, having extra pump parts can help you to always have a clean, and dry set up for your next pump
  • Pumping bra
  • Milk storage bags

Around four to six months your baby will begin their journey with solid foods, which requires a different set of items such as a high chair and baby-safe silverware and bowls.

Sleeping

To sleep, in most cases, a baby just needs three necessary items: a bassinet or crib, a crib mattress, and a fitted crib sheet. Additionally, however, there are a multitude of add-ons to this list that can help ease your nerves and the overall experience of your sleeping newborn:

Nursery Amenities:

A bassinet or crib – the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends keeping your baby’s crib, bassinette or playard, in your room for the first six to 12 months. Babies should always sleep in their own bed, on their back, without blankets, toys, wedges or crib bumpers.

  • Fitted bassinet or crib sheets
  • Waterproof mattress covers
  • A couple sleep sacks – because infants can’t use blankets to stay warm, consider a zippered sleep sack
  • A baby monitor
  • Rocking chair
  • Humidifier
  • A sound machine

Pooping

In order to keep your child clean and comfortable you will need to change their diapers frequently. It is recommended that newborns get changed every two to three hours.

Babies can have anywhere from two to five bowel movements in a day, in addition to urinating every one to three hours. Leaving a dirty diaper on too long can lead to a diaper rash, skin irritation, or bladder infection.

Disposable Diaper Necessities:

  • Diapers
  • Baby wipes
  • Diaper cream
  • Changing table and pad covers
  • A diaper pail or trash can with a lid

The procedure for disposable diapers is different from that of cloth diapers. For cloth diaper practitioners, you will need at least two or three dozen diapers to keep up with the frequency of newborn bladder and bowel movements. The biggest necessity when using cloth diapers is to make sure they are being washed thoroughly.

Beyond The Basics

Babies need to be bathed in a comfortable, safe environment with products that are clean and simple.

Bath Time Goods

  • Infant tub
  • Baby bath wash and shampoo
  • Baby combs or brushes
  • Washcloths
  • A hooded towel
  • Nail care set with baby clippers

Clothing

Just like everyone else, your baby likes to be comfortable in their clothes. It is important to pay attention to the weather to make sure your baby can be warm in the winter cold and cool in the summer heat. 

Closet Essentials:

  • Snap-crotch onesies/bodysuits – this will help for easier diaper changes
  • Shirt and pant sets
  • Pajamas and/or sleeping gowns
  • Sun hat
  • Warm hat
  • Snowsuit for colder temperatures
  • Booties and socks
  • Snap-up rompers

Traveling

Babies can require a lot to travel, depending on how long your plans will keep you out of the house. To fuel their needs, it is recommended to prepare a “go-bag” with all the basic items you want to have accessible while out on your trip.

On-the-Go Items:

  • A newborn car seat for car travel
  • Diaper bag
  • Extra diapers
  • Baby wipes
  • Clothes in case a change is needed
  • Baby carrier and/or stroller that can safely hold a newborn
  • Blanket for colder weather travel
  • A portable playard – this can serve as a safe place for baby to play as well as sleep
  • Milk in a cooler and age appropriate snacks – based on your baby’s age, make sure you pack enough milk and snacks to keep them happy and full while on the move

It is important to remember that every family’s needs are different, and this list can be modified to fit the needs of any circumstance.

Next Steps & Resources:

The material provided through HealthU is intended to be used as general information only and should not replace the advice of your physician. Always consult your physician for individual care.

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