Expecting a baby can be an exciting time, but there's a lot to do before they arrive. Check out our list of newborn essentials to help get prepared.
When you find out that you’re going to become a parent, you soon realise there are a million and one things to think about at any given time. It’s an exciting time, but also a very busy one, so getting organised with checklists can be very useful!
To help, we’ve created this guide to all those newborn essentials you’ll need to care for your new baby.
When to start buying baby stuff
There’s no ‘perfect’ time for parents to start shopping for baby items, but most people start making purchases during the second trimester of pregnancy.
There are some things that many parents do buy during the first trimester, though. These include…
- a pregnancy diary to record the next few months
- pregnancy vitamins like folic acid and vitamin D
Your newborn essentials checklist
Before you shop ‘til you drop, it’s a good idea to resist impulse buys and consider how much storage space you have at home. Remember too that you’ll be gifted a lot of the items on this list from family and friends (people love to buy presents for a new baby). So, don’t forget to add some of the following essentials to your baby shower gift registry.
- Nursing bras, breast pads and nipple cream: These are all essential if you’re planning on breastfeeding your baby.
- Breast pump: If you’re thinking of giving your baby breast milk in a bottle, you’ll need a breast pump to express milk from your boobs.
- Milk storage bags: These are designed to store your expressed breast milk and they’re pre-sterilised for convenience.
- Formula milk: If you’re planning on bottle feeding formula, it’s a good idea to have some stocked up at home before your baby arrives. Your midwife or health visitor will be able to help you choose from the many brands of formula available.
- Baby bottles: You can feed your baby breast milk or formula using a bottle, and there are lots of different types out there.
- Bottle nipples: Once you’ve got bottles, you’ll then need replacement teats in a range of flow rates to feed your baby as their appetite grows.
- Bottle warmer: A bottle warmer lets you heat breast milk or formula feeds to the perfect temperature.
- Sterilizing equipment: A baby's immune system is delicate, so all their feeding equipment needs to be sterilised to protect them from harmful germs.
- Bibs and muslin cloths: Feeding a baby can be a little messy. Bibs and muslin cloths can help mop up any spills and keep your baby clean and dry.
- Changing mat: It’s always a good idea to check that whatever mat you buy will fit snugly on top of your changing table (if you wish to have one).
- Changing table: While a diaper changing table isn’t exactly a necessity, it can help make changing times more convenient and less awkward. Just be sure to never leave your baby unattended on the changing table.
- Diapers, baby wipes and nappy rash cream: The holy trinity of changing time – nappies, baby wipes and nappy rash cream are three things you don't want to be without. We recommend keeping extras of all these things stored in your nappy changing bag to make sure you never run out.
- A nappy disposal bin: A diaper bin is a changetime must-have! They wrap dirty diapers and keeps nasty odours trapped away.
- Diaper bags or sacks: Searching for a diaper disposal facility when you’re out and about can be tricky. So, keeping extra diaper sacks in your changing bag allows you to store the dirty diapers safely and smell-free.
- Hand sanitiser: Staying stocked up on hand sanitiser is a great way to banish bacteria in emergency changing situations, keeping you and your baby safe while on the go.
- Moses basket: For the first six months of your baby’s life, they should always sleep in the same room as you – and a Moses basket is the perfect place for them to sleep, especially during the day.
- Cot: While your baby won’t be sleeping in their cot right away, buying one is a key part of the ‘nesting’ process for new parents. It’s a good idea to shop around, and it’s also safest to buy a new cot if you can. That way, you know it meets the latest safety standards. Whichever cot you choose, it should always have a firm, flat mattress with no raised or cushioned areas and, if you’re in the UK, it should meet British safety standard BS EN 716.
- Sleepwear: Baby sleepbags are a great choice. They help to keep your little one snug and safe as they sleep and mean that there’s no need for extra loose bedding.
- Baby monitor: Using a baby monitor to check in on your baby as they sleep is a great way to get a little extra reassurance. Lots of monitors also have a two-way talk feature, so you can talk to and soothe them from anywhere in the house.
- Sleep aid: Light and sound can help to settle a baby at nighttime, and sleep aids are designed to create a calm environment and soothe little ones to sleep.
- Night light: A night light can be really helpful during mid-night feeds or nappy changes. It means you don’t need to turn on the main light and risk disturbing your baby.
- Sheets to cover their mattress: These will need to be changed often, so we recommend that you buy at least four.
- Waterproof mattress cover: Accidents happen, so a waterproof cover for your baby's mattress will come in handy at some point! Trust us, your future self will thank you!
- Blackout blind: Babies sleep best in a room that’s cool and dark, but that can sometimes be tricky to achieve, especially during the summer! A portable black-out blind can help and will come in extra handy if you're travelling to visit friends or family.
- Pacifiers: Some babies find swaddling, cuddling, or rocking comforting, and others like sucking on a pacifier. It’s always good to have a couple handy to calm your baby if they’re feeling fussy.
- Toy basket
- Some newborn sensory toys and a few story books
- Play mat for tummy time
- Comfort items like soft toys
- Baby bath: This one isn’t a must-have, but lots of mums and dads find it easier to bathe their newborn in a special baby bath. Alternatively, you can use a clean washing-up bowl or plastic tub.
- Baby hairbrush or comb: To get out any tangles after you’ve gently washed their hair.
- Bath thermometer: A bath thermometer will reassure you that your baby’s bath water is at the perfect temperature.
- Baby soap, shampoo, and lotion: When bathing and caring for your baby, you should always use gentle products that are specially designed for a baby’s sensitive skin.
- Soft baby sponge: To gently wash their delicate skin in the bath.
- Baby towels: To dry them and keep them warm before and after bath time.
Little ones grow very fast, so don’t worry if you don’t have a full wardrobe for your baby at first. All they need during the newborn stage is enough clothes to make sure that they’re always warm, comfortable, and clean.
- Cotton vests
- Short sleeved baby grows
- Long sleeved baby grows
- Pram suit
- Snowsuit for winter babies
- A sun hat for summer babies
- A wool or cotton knitted hat: Look for knitted clothes and accessories that are made using a close-knit pattern, so that your baby’s fingers and toes won’t get caught in the holes.
- Gentle laundry detergent: One thing you’ll learn as a new parent is that newborns go through a lot of outfits. So, it’s a good idea to use a detergent that’s kind to their sensitive skin and tiny clothes.
- Family first aid kit: Lots of parents also find it useful to complete an infant first aid course before their baby arrives.
- Baby nail file
- Baby thermometer
- Nasal aspirator: To safely remove congestion from your baby’s nose
- Portable healthcare kit
- Car seat: If you’re going to be travelling in a car with your baby, then a rear-facing car seat is non-negotiable. It's recommended that parents don't buy second-hand car seats and that they only use a car seat that conforms to the industry safety standards.
- ‘Baby on board’ sign: These signs attach to the back windscreen of your car and are designed to alert the emergency services that your baby is in the car with you if you get into an accident.
- Car window sunshades: As well as protecting your little one from the sun as you travel, these are also good at blocking out glare from streetlights at nighttime.
- Pram: There are so many pram brands out there, so it’s best to try before you buy. Whichever style or make you choose, you should always make sure that the pushchair you choose adheres to the latest safety standards, and that it will work well as part of your day-to-day life.
- Baby carrier: A baby carrier is a great option for parents who are wanting to get out and about with their little one while keeping them close. There are a few styles to choose from – wraps, slings, front packs, and backpacks. Just be sure to read the manufacturer's instructions carefully, and make sure that your baby is positioned correctly with their hips and neck comfortably supported. The Lullaby Trust has some great guidance on baby carrier safety.
- A sturdy bag: From bottles and bibs to nappies and a spare set of clothes, you’re going to need a dedicated bag to carry all your baby bits and bobs in when you’re out of the house.